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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012


OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

PLANET

MANILA HAS ‘WORST’ BRAND VALUE – SURVEY

The reputation of Manila and Jakarta – the tailenders in the list of City Brand Rankings -- is impeded by poor infrastructure, fears over safety, concern about corruption and regular word of mouth accounts of poor visitor experiences.

ANILA has the “worst” brand value among 16 Asia-Pacific cities, according to the Location Branding 2012 report published by Public Affairs Asia and Ogilvy Public Relations. In the City Brand Rankings, Manila had the lowest score with 5.6, along with Jakarta (5.9). “The reputation of these two South East Asian nations is impeded by poor infrastructure, fears over safety, concern about corruption and regular word of mouth accounts of poor visitor experiences,” the report said.



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The ranking is based on a survey of 300 senior corporate communications and public affairs practitioners operating in Asia Pacific between June 20 and August 21, 2012. They were asked to rate the brand value of 16 cities on a scale of 10 (excellent) to zero (poor). Singapore topped the list, with a score of 9.7 out of 10. “The gleaming city state embodies many of the positive brand attributes our survey identified: it is low-tax, clean, safe, politically stable – and is developing a thriving arts, gaming and leisure scene,” the report said. The location branding report emphasized the importance of branding in economic and social development of towns, cities and countries. “But in this increasingly competitive region, getting branding right is central to economic success, both for today’s iconic cities as well as for those seeking to emulate locations which have already established global brand recognition,” the report said.

Formulating the right brand While the Department of Tourism has already launched the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign this year, it appears that it hasn’t made much of an impact based on the results of the City Brand Rankings. With the Philippines ranking last in the list, it appears that the government should take heed of the report’s findings on how to formulate the right branding campaign to attract investors and tourists. The survey showed that a location’s brand is a significant factor in attracting foreign investments and tourists. Key attributes that are important in attracting investors are business operating environment, political stability, built environment and infrastructure, and availability of qualified labor.

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Bus terminal scene: The brand should not just have a good and catchy message, but should also be rooted in reality.

Key attributes in attracting investors are business operating environment, political stability, built environment and infrastructure, and availability of qualified labor. To gain tourists, the location should have a brand campaign focused on the arts, culture, food and heritage. Other important factors are availability of hotel and leisure facilities, natural environ-

ment and shopping facilities. “In general, the positive attributes people like to see in cities are the polar opposite of the negatives – they want urban environments to be clean, not dirty and governments to be stable, rather than clinging to office by their fingertips,” the report said.

Rooted in reality The brand should not just have a good and catchy message, but should also be rooted in reality.

OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

“But building positive brand value involves more than simply overcoming negative perceptions about social and environmental issues. Building an iconic location brand needs a well-honed narrative which marries marketing and messaging with real-life experiences which reflect the brand position.” The report warned that a “disconnect” with the brand and the actual experience of tourists can have a negative impact. “A disconnect between the brand statement and the investor or visitor experience is likely to have negative effects on development. As this research confirms, word of mouth heavily influences brand reputation, so the real situation within locations has to live up to the branding,” it said. The City Brand Rankings: 1. Singapore 9.7 2. Hong Kong 9.5 3. Sydney 9.5 4. Tokyo 9.2 5. Melbourne 8.8 6. Shanghai 8.5 7. Seoul 8.2 8. Osaka/Kobe 8 9. Bangkok 7.9 10.Beijing 7.9 11.Kuala Lumpur 7.4 12.Ho Chi Minh City 6.6 13.Mumbai 6.1 14.Delhi 6 15.Jakarta 5.9 16.Philippines 5.6 (ABS-CBNnews.com) n

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FILIPINO CHEFS LOOK TO TAKE NATIONAL CUISINE MAINSTREAM

At the Centre for Asian Culinary Studies aspiring chefs are taught how to cook Philippine cuisine.

One of Chef Roland Laudico’s creations is the spring roll, or lumpia, that is shaped like an ice cream cone, and inserted in a small glass, with the vinegar placed right under it.

“We have a lack of pride in our own cuisine. For hundreds of years, when we’ve had guests in our homes, we’ve apologised and said to them: ‘I’m very sorry, I can only serve you Philippine food,’” a Filipino chef laments. By kate mcgeown

N Thailand, India, Malaysia, Japan - in fact, in almost every country in Asia - there is a distinctive, internationally acclaimed cuisine. The Philippines, though, is a rare exception. While Filipinos love their food, few foreigners have tasted or even heard of the country’s signature dishes like adobo, sinigang, lumpia and pancit. It is a situation that chef Rolando Laudico is desperate to change. “Philippine food is as rich and varied as other Asian cuisine - even more so,” he says confidently, as he sits by the window of his chic res-

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taurant in the heart of Fort Bonifacio, Manila’s new business district. With his long hair and personally designed outfit, Laudico is one

of a new generation of chefs determined to bring Philippine food to a wider audience. He and his wife, Jackie, run Bistro Filipino, a restaurant that serves a modern take on the national cuisine. “We base our flavours on traditional Philippine flavours, and we get inspired by them. We innovate, we do our own style, and we make it accessible for foreigners,” he says. He is especially proud of his version of lumpia - a spring roll made with coconut palm. It is usually seen as a starter or street food,

PLANET PHILIPPINES is a newsmagazine for overseas Filipinos published and circulated in various cities and countries all over the world. Launched in 2002, the paper carries news features written by professional and experienced writers from Manila covering a wide range of topics – lifestyle, entertainment, celebrities, current affairs, OFW-related issues, travel, sports, politics and business. Each edition of Planet Philippines is managed and run by an independent area publisher under an exclusive licensing arrangement. We pioneered a unique business model that simplifies operations and cuts cost while ensuring high editorial standard. For US$500 we provide the editorial content (stories and photos), design and layout for each issue. The area publisher solicits advertisements and keeps all the advertising revenue. For inquiries on how to become a publisher of Planet Philippines, email us at planetphilippines@gmail.com or visit us at www.planetphilippines.com.


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global chefs, and we create the Philippine global chef. But part of our curriculum is to teach Filipinos how to cook Philippine cuisine, and it’s imperative we do this,” he said.

An oft-heard criticism of Philippine food is that it is a bit too oily, a bit too sweet and a bit too strange. but the Laudicos have reduced the amount of oil and turned the roll into a cone. “It’s traditionally eaten with vinegar, but we’ve turned it into iced vinegar, so when you eat it in the restaurant, it’s more refined, less messy,” he said. Laudico believes the reason why Philippine food is not well-respected is because Filipinos themselves do not respect it. They might like to eat it, but they do not think others will. “We have a lack of pride in our own cuisine,” he explained. “For hundreds of years, when we’ve had guests in our homes, we’ve apologised and said to them: ‘I’m very sorry, I can only serve you Philippine food’.”

Image problem But the Laudicos - and increasingly others like them - face a tough battle in trying to change the perception of Philippine cuisine from cheap, everyday fare into a flavourful, varied cuisine. “When we first opened six years ago, even our chef friends were surprised we were opening a Philippine restaurant. They said: ‘Who will pay more than 500 pesos ($12, £7) to eat Philippine food?” And it is not just perception inside the country that is the problem. Philippine food also has an image problem abroad. If it is known at all, an oft-heard criticism is that it is a bit too oily, a bit too sweet and, frankly, a bit too strange. Balut, for example, might look like a normal egg on the outside, but as soon as you crack it open, you will see a fully formed duck

OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

‘Evolution’

What’s unique about Philippine food is that it’s got so many facets - ethnic tribal styles, Spanish colonial style, Chinese and Malay influences. fetus. Eating it is not for the fainthearted. Then there is isaw - barbecued pig or chicken intestines on a stick - and the wonderfully named betamax or cubes of dried chicken blood which look a bit like old video tapes. And on first glance, a visitor to the Philippines might well assume the national dish is fast food. Burger joints, pizza chains and fried chicken outlets are on almost every street corner.

‘Lifetime to discover’ But delve a bit deeper and Philippine cuisine has a wonderful array of textures and flavours, something chef Gene Gonzalez is on a mission to publicise. “What’s unique about Philippine food is that it’s got so many facets,” he said, with an almost evangelical zeal. “You’ve got the ethnic tribal styles, you’ve got the Spanish co-

Laudico believes the reason why Philippine food is not wellrespected is because Filipinos themselves do not respect it. lonial style, you’ve got the Chinese and Malay influences, and then you’ve got the city style that’s evolved from all of that. “Put it together, and multiply it by our 7,107 islands, each of which have their own specialties, and it’ll take a lifetime to discover Philippine cuisine.” Gonzalez owns a restaurant, Cafe Ysabel, in a beautiful colonialera house in central Manila. Most of his dishes are the usual restaurant fare of pasta and pizza,

but there is a section of more traditional options, cooked the same way as when the Philippines was a Spanish colony. It is clearly the love and not the economics that is behind this section of the menu - the Italian food seems a clear favourite among diners, who are more accustomed to eating Philippine food at home and foreign food when they go out. Gonzalez has adopted the same approach to his cooking school, the Centre for Asian Culinary Studies. Most of the dishes he teaches are Western or international in origin, acknowledging the fact that his pupils will probably be employed in kitchens that specialise in foreign food, and many will work in foreign countries as part of the huge network of Philippine migrant workers. But he is determined to put at least some Philippine favourites into his training course. “Filipinos are known to be

Gonzalez has a receptive audience in his students. Becoming a chef is one of the most popular professions in the Philippines right now - many dream of cooking their way to success. While not many envisage making a living from cooking Philippine food, every Filipino I have ever met loves their national cuisine, and given enough encouragement would be only too eager to share it with others if they thought there was a market for it. It is the early days yet, but the young pioneers who have already decided to take the risk - and hope that a market is there - seem to be succeeding. The Laudicos’ Bistro Filipino is packed most nights, and the couple opened another outlet last year because of the demand. They even count Imelda Marcos - widow of former President Ferdinand Marcos and a woman known only too well for her upmarket tastes - among their satisfied customers. Dr. Alex Orquiza, a historian at Wellesley College and an expert on the heritage of Asian food, believes Philippine cuisine has been ignored for much too long, and applauds efforts at modernisation. “Contemporary chefs are simply adding to a long series of development and evolution that is natural, considering the archipelago’s location and function as a trade centre,” he said. So perhaps the time will soon come, with a mixture of modernising and marketing, when Philippine cuisine can join other Asian foods on the international stage. (BBC News, Manila) n


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012



PHILIPPINES

ROACH:

MARQUEZ’S STYLE HARDEST FOR MANNY

Roach: We will come up with an answer.

IVE-TIME Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach called the skills of four-division title winner Juan Manuel Marquez “style-wise, the hardest style in the world” for Manny Pacquiao, whom he will meet for the fourth time on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Yet Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts) has chosen to face Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KOs) over a rematch with Tim Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs), whose controversial split-decision in June dethroned Pacquiao as the WBO’s 147-pound titleholder. In November 2011, Pacquiao won an unpopular and highlydisputed majority decision over Marquez, who has also battled Pacquiao through a draw and a split-decision loss previously. Bradley ended a 15-bout winning streak for Pacquaio that included eight knockouts. On September 13, Roach spoke to RingTV.com, as well as other reporters, during a round-table discussion at The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas.

‘He didn’t have to pick Marquez. He could have picked Bradley in a rematch. That’s an easier fight in my book. There were a lot of other choices out there but Manny picked this fight. He picked this fight, and he knows what he’s up against. He has balls.’

RingTV.com: What are your thoughts on the fourth fight with Marquez? Freddie Roach: It’s a tough fight. Style-wise, it’s the hardest style in the world for us. Manny is going to have to be at his best to win this one. I told Manny that we need a really, really good training camp. I mean, we really, really need to completely focus on this fight. He’s agreed to stay in America the whole time. We’re not going to train in the Philippines for this fight. We’re going to be very, very focused. Pacquiao and Marquez pose for a promotional photo of their fourth fight.

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Marquez presents the “hardest style” for Pacquiao, says Roach. RingTV.com: Will there be any other changes? FR: The game plan that I have set for him in the last three fights, I know that they’re the right game plans, but the thing is, it’s not working in the fights. I haven’t come up with a good idea yet of what I need to do to make him win that fight, but I’m thinking and thinking every day as I watch tapes of his opponent. We will come up with an answer. RingTV.com: How much of a challenge is it for you to be in what appears to be, more or less, a makeor-break fight with Pacquiao? FR: It’s going to be challenging for me. It definitely is. It’s a little bit of a contest between me and [Marquez’s trainer] Nacho [Beristain.] He wants to be the best trainer and I want to be the best trainer. So the winner of that fight, the trainer will be perceived as the better trainer. So, it’s competitive, yes, and it does get personal. To be honest with you about the game plan, me and Manny have to sit down together and watch the fight and come up with a game plan together

and not just watch separately and say, “You bring that to the table and I bring this to the table.” We need to work together on this. RingTV.com: Is this Pacquiao’s most challenging fight, mentally? FR: This is the most challenging fight, but the thing is, Manny picked it. He didn’t have to pick Marquez. He could have picked Bradley in a rematch. That’s an easier fight in my book. There were a lot of other choices out there but Manny picked this fight. He picked this fight, and he knows what he’s up against. He has balls. RingTV.com: Is there any physical or mental decline in Pacquiao? FR: No. He’s still the same. I told him, “When you start to slow down, I’m going to tell you that you should retire.” He said, “You promise me that you will do that?” And I said, “Yes I will.” And I said, “If I tell you to retire, will you retire?” And he said, “Yes I will. I will if you tell me that it’s over.” But right now, his discipline and his work ethic are as good as ever. But, you know, we haven’t started the training camp yet, so I will give you a report as it goes. (RingTV.com) n


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012


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The e-jeepney is among the sustainable forms of innovation needed to address our transport problems.

By carmela g. lapeña

R O G R E SS may be slow, but advocates for inclusive mobility will keep going until Metro Manila becomes a walkable city. “We have to move people, not cars… not only does this have positive impact on the environment, but also on a personal basis, on our individual health. We have to encourage people to walk, run, and bike, rather than commuting,” said Dr. Mario Villaverde, associate dean of the Ateneo School of Government, during the “Inclusive Mobility Research Forum” held last month. In Metro Manila, private motor vehicles contribute to 53.2 percent of all traffic composition, while catering only to 21.6 percent of transport demand, Tieza Santos of the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSEnt) said during the forum. “Because of these challenges in how we move people, goods et cetera, we’re incurring losses of P140 billion annually due to wastage of fuel and loss of productivity,” she said. Sustainable forms of innovations, businesses, and social enterprises are needed for inclusive mobility, Santos said. In her presentation on “Social Innovation Models for Inclusive Mobility,” Santos gave concrete examples such as Julie’s mobile bakeshop, cashless transactions such as Gcash or Smart Money, and the e-jeepney. “These are not implemented nationwide, but can serve as our peg for coming up with an inclusive mobility system in Metro Manila,” she said.

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MAKING METRO MANILA A WALKABLE CITY

‘We have to move people, not cars… not only does this have positive impact on the environment, but also on a personal basis, on our individual health. We have to encourage people to walk, run, and bike, rather than commuting.”

Priority on cars Another problem, according to Santos, is a lack of proper implementation of policies, as well as barriers like economics, development, and culture. “We have this culture of individualized mobility. We prioritize cars, so the construction of car ownership as a form of status symbol is another barrier,” In Metro Manila, private motor vehicles contribute to 53.2 percent of all traffic composition, while catering only to 21.6 percent of transport demand.

she said. Transportation economist Randolph Carreon also shared that some households resort to sacrificing food, electric and water bills, and health care in order to meet transport requirements. This was one of the findings in the study on “Mobility Characteristics, Costs, and Issues of the Poor and Vulnerable Groups” that was conducted among households in Old Balara, Barangay Bagong Pagasa, and Barangay Payatas in Quezon City. Carreon also shared that persons with disabilities (PWDs) said they preferred public transport modes were tricycles and taxis, which provide door-to-door service. The study also revealed that not all PWDs are aware that they are entitled to a 20 percent discount on public transport fares, as stated in R.A. 7277. The study also showed that PWDs view pedestrian facilities as inadequate in responding to their needs. On overpasses, PWDs think “the locations are inappropriate and were selected mainly for the benefit of private establishments; the steps are too high making it difficult for them to climb; it needs cover; and the location is too distant.”

Accessible to the poor Dr. Jun Castro of the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning said effective transportation planning requires a reliable database, preferably in Geographic Information System (GIS) format. “The developed GIS database can be used to understand transport conditions, and some of the socio-economic or demographic conditions as well,” he said during his presentation on “Mapping


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines Rolls Out its Anniversary Chicken Blow Out on October 16! Offers a one-day 50% off treat to customers in North America

O

ctober 16, 2012, Vancouver: Customerswill be making a beeline for Max’s Restaurant to try out the biggest fried chicken blow out ever. Known worldwide as the “house that fried chicken built,” Max’s Restaurant is continuously drawing in crowds for its famous, unbreaded fried chicken recipe with its crispy-golden skin and remarkably tender meat. As a way to say “thank you” to all its avid customers in North America, Max’s Restaurant is slashing off 50% from the regular price of its whole fried chicken on October 16. It’s one-day-only promotion that customers should not miss! From the original price of $14.99(+ applicable tax), customers can indulge in their favorite fried chicken dish for only $7.50! It’s a perfect meal to be shared with family and friends. Catch the Max’s Anniversary Chicken Blow Out at all Max’s Restaurant branches in the United States and Canada.

The bamboo bicycle is created by the Bambike Project, which is helping out people and the planet by “doing better business and [making] the most sustainable bikes in the world.” of the Public Transport System of Metro Manila: Responding to the Needs of the Poor and Vulnerable Sectors.” The study showed that public transport facilities are quite “friendly” to the poor and vulnerable sectors, as public transport terminals are quite accessible, and there is a wide range of available public transport modes. “Pagka may squatter colonies, marami ring informal public transport terminals. Very obvious naman, kasi sila ‘yung market ng terminals na ito. Sila rin ang may ari ng sasakyan,” Castro said. In her discussion of the presentation on mapping, Engineer Reina Macababad said there is a need for data sharing, and to reconcile databases from various agencies such as the Department

of Transportation and Communications, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Ban tricycles?

Macababad noted that public transport in Metro Manila is complicated. “There is perhaps a need to simplify it... Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is whether we should tolerate tricycles and pedicabs,” she said. “It can be done. Guangzhou was like Metro Manila before, but there, you will not see a motorcycle. Bawal ang motorsiklo, bawal ang tricycle. Nakakita kami ng electric bike, sabi nila, colorum ang electric bike na ‘yan,” Dr. Segundo Romero, director of Ateneo School of Government’s iBoP Asia Program, said during the forum. Romero said that housing

was up to eight floors, and residents would use a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system. “Without the BRT it would be bedlam,” he said, noting that it would take a long time to untangle the transport system in Metro Manila, which, as was pointed out during the forum, is not run the way places like Guangzhou are. “It’s really difficult if not all the entities will follow and observe,” shared Trina Cortez-Tolentino, who has been working with homeowners, schools and establishments along Katipunan Avenue to make the road a model area. She said their goal is to make Katipunan pedestrian- and commuter-friendly, with covered walkways with good lighting and 24hour security. (GMA News) n

A Legacy of Passion and Filipino Cuisine Max’s Restaurant recipes have been intricately developed for 67 years and infused with a modern twist to cater to the increasingly discriminating tastes of customers from all over the world. To customers who are looking for a unique experience, Max’s Restaurant is the “place-to-be” if they want to sit back and just enjoy great food and warm hospitality. For Filipinos living or working in North America, Max’s is their “home away from home.” It is a nostalgic place that reminds them of fun memories with loved ones back in the Philippines. To learn more about Max’s scrumptious home-cooked dishes, log on to www. maxschicken.com and visit www.facebook.com/maxsofmanilato sign up for Max’s official Facebook fan page in North America. About Max’s Restaurant, Cuisine of the Philippines: Originally located in the Philippines, Max’s Restaurant traces its roots to a country teeming with culture and heritage. Its name was derived from MaximoGimenez, 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 13 global and 135 Philippine-based branches. Media Contacts: Global Rey Marc San Juan Marketing Manager, International Contact Number: (+63) 908. 887. 1528 Email: mhsanjuan@maxschicken.com.ph


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

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One reason why many good Filipinos choose to shun away from running for public office is the very high cost of running for elections.

By harvey s. keh

ROM October 1 to 5 our political leaders and aspiring candidates will be filing their respective certificates of candidacies for the upcoming 2013 national and local elections. As in any democratic country such as ours, each one of us is given the unique chance and privilege to choose whom we want to lead our communities and country for the next three years. Yet, one major dilemma that we often face during elections is the reality that we often have to choose between the lesser of two evils. For example, we will have to choose between an incompetent but perceived to be clean candidate versus a current incumbent who is known to have strong ties to drug lords and jueteng operators. In the national level, it is the same names and families that have come up strong in the recent Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys. Nothing wrong with the same people running for office over and over again if they are able to deliver on their promises and do their job well, unfortunately, many of them fail to fulfill their promises when they already reach office. The untimely death of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo -- who like Among Ed Panlilio and former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca co-founded the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership -- has made us ask a simple question, if Naga City can elect an effective, ethical and empowering leader like Robredo, why can’t we? Where have all the good candidates and leaders gone? One reason why many good Filipinos choose to shun away from running for public office is the very high cost of running for elections. Now that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has moved the filing of candidacies to a much earlier date, all the more you would need more funds to sustain your campaign. Even if the campaign period officially starts in March, once you have filed your certificate of candidacy then you are officially a candidate and a likely “target” for your constituents to approach you to ask for help on all sorts of things such as buying medicines for their sick relatives, education for their children and food for their family. Unless the Comelec is able to strictly implement and enforce its limit to election spending then the playing field will not be leveled off and will place many of these good Filipinos whose heart is for genuine public service at a disadvantage. In a conversation I had with one of my friends who is currently

A poster of Kaya Natin featuring one of its founders, the late Jesse Robredo.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD LEADERS GONE?

Two of Kaya Natin’s founders who have left a legacy of good governance – former governors Grace Padaca of Isabela and Eduardo “Among” Panlilio of Pampanga. a City Councilor, he says that he and corruption acts such as putting totally understands why many of on their payroll “ghost” or non-exhis colleagues have to resort to graft istent employees just to be able to

Kaya Natin volunteers in Davao City engage in community work.

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The main reason why Pampanga and Isabela in the previous elections were able to elect good and upright leaders like Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, respectively, was because ordinary Filipinos chose to be involved to support and campaign actively for them. stay in public office. He says that this is also borne out of the fact that if they aren’t able to give to their constituents their needs as aforementioned, then they will no longer be able to win in the coming elections. According to him, they need to be able to raise funds albeit illegal in nature because once they are elected into office their constituents look to them as their benefactors for practically everything that they need. This is also why many good people have chosen to just leave politics altogether since they cannot in good

conscience continue to turn a blind eye to these corrupt practices but at the same time, they know that if they don’t do it then most likely, they might as well kiss their political career goodbye. Finally, one major reason why good leaders opt not to run for public office is because they fail to get support from ordinary Filipinos like you and me. Former Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca often laments to me that it is sad because sometimes it is the good people who are actually persecuted because the bad people are those who have the money to launch a public relations campaign against them. The main reason why Pampanga and Isabela in the previous elections were able to elect good and upright leaders like Among Ed Panlilio and Padaca, respectively, was because ordinary Filipinos chose to be involved to support and campaign actively for them. Both Panlilio and Padaca have nothing compared to what their political opponents have in terms of financial resources but in the end they were able to pull off scintillating wins because their constituents went out of their way to contribute their own small share for their campaign. In one perfect example, Panlilio was sharing that instead of him giving money or food to his constituents during the campaign, it was them who were giving their own small share to help him. If we want good leaders in our government, we have to work hard for it because saying or posting on Facebook that we want good leaders in our country is not going to be enough. As the saying goes, “We deserve the kind of government that we have.” (Harvey S. Keh is the Lead Convenor of the Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership and is also the Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government.) n


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

Aside from health complications, in most cases, the girl is forced to drop out of school. By ana p. santos

ORY Sucaguing was 19 when she gave birth to her first child. “It was very hard. We are not rich and even though I could go to the health center it’s not totally free. You’re still asked to give a donation of say, P20. Sometimes 600 people gather for a summit organized by the First National Youth Commission to discuss the issue of teen you are obliged to donate,” said Dory, speaking Over pregnancy and how best to address it. in Filipino. “I didn’t have enough money to buy pre-natal vitamins, and that was before the baby. When the baby came, my husband and I had to ask our relatives and friends for clothes.” Now, 24 years old, Dory is a mother of three. Dory’s sister, Angeline, was 13 when she found out when she was pregnant. “I was scared. Some friends even told me to get an abortion.” Now 19 years old, Angeline is separated from the father of her child and raising her child on her own. These were some of the stories shared at the country’s first National Summit on Teen Pregnancy held on Sept. 14. The summit, which was organized by the First National Youth Commission (NYC) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), is a response to the alarming increase in teen pregnancy in the Philippines. About one-third of all pregnancies in the Philippines occur between the ages of 15 and 24. According to the Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality study of 2002, by age 20, about 25% of all women of childbearing age have children or are pregnant. “Compared to ASEAN neighbors, the Philippines is the third highest in teenage pregnancy, next to LAO PR and Leste,” said Josefina Natividad, University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). More alarming, Natividad pointed out, is that it is only the Philippines, among its regional neighbors, that experiences increasing teen pregnancies. Changing lifestyles, shifting norms and an earlier onset of menarche

(first menstruation) are contributing to the rise in teen pregnancy. “These factors are further compounded by peer pressure and early sexual engagement,” said Natividad. In her presentation, Natividad explained that education and economic status have an impact on teen pregnancy. “The risk of early childbearing is not equally distributed among all women within this age group (15-19). Women with higher education level and belonging to a higher wealth quintile at less risk,” said Natividad.

Teen pregnancy an epidemic “Teenage pregnancy is an epidemic,” UNFPA Country Representative Ugochi Daniels said. “We all know that a young girl, pregnant in her teenage years faces a lot of risks. Her body is not yet fully developed and ready to carry a child. It puts her at risk of complications, even death. Aside from health complications, in most cases, the girl is forced to drop out of school.” “It (teen pregnancy) is not a choice she makes for herself, it is a consequence she has to live with out of lack of information and options. If no one takes action, this cycle will go on and ultimately contribute to the long standing issue of poverty that affects most young Filipinos,” Daniels added. Celebrity Andi Eigenmann also spoke at the summit sharing her own experience of becoming preg-

TEEN PREGNANCY ALARMING ‘It (teen pregnancy) is not a choice she makes for herself, it is a consequence she has to live with out of lack of information and options. If no one takes action, this cycle will go on and ultimately contribute to the long standing issue of poverty that affects most young Filipinos.’

nant at the age of 21. Though no longer a teen, Eigenmann shared that she went through the same feelings as Dory and Angeline. “I was scared. Being in show business, I was working already at the time, but I was still living with my parents.” Andi’s older sister had her first baby when she was 17. It was to her that Andi turned to for help.

About one-third of all pregnancies in the Philippines occur between the ages of 15 and 24. “I know I hurt my parents and disappointed them, but they knew that at the time, what I needed most was support. Not all girls in my situation are that fortunate,” said Eigenmann.

Urgent response needed The different government agencies (the Department of Social Welfare, Department of Education, Department of Health and the National Anti-Poverty Commission,

among others) and NGOs agreed that times are changing and old solutions are not enough to address the problem of teen pregnancy and a collective effort across all groups was called for. “Sinusuportahan ko ang RH Bill dahil ito ay karapatan. Maninindigan at di matitinag ang NAPC na suportahan ang pagsabatas nito,” said National AntiPoverty Commission Undersecretary (NAPC) Florencia Dorotan. “It’s time to have a national conversation about the issue of teen pregnancy,” said Percival Cendaña, NYC Commissioner-at-Large. “Tama na ang pagbulong-bulongan sa mga sulok sulok ng pagbubuntis ng kabataan.” “Across all sectors, classes and even agencies -- DSWD, DepEd, DOH, TESDA and UNFPA -- rising teen pregnancy was identified as a major ASRH (adolescent reproductive health) issue. And we need an urgent response to this issue,” stressed Cendaña. Speaking to the estimated more than 600 people who attended the summit, Cendaña said, “But all is not lost. The many people in this room who are here today to discuss this issue and possible solutions show that there is hope.” (Rappler.com) n


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By bayani san diego jr.

ALK of comebacks doesn’t faze singer-actress Nora Aunor. Without skipping a beat, she said in eloquent Filipino when asked about the secret of her staying power, “Only the Man upstairs knows the answer.” Regarded as the country’s superstar, Aunor’s life and career have been defined by amazing highs and heartbreaking lows. She’s currently riding on the high wave of indie films. Indies are giving her career a new lease in life. “We should all support indie films. The government should give additional assistance to independent producers,” she said.

Nora Aunor

BIG-TIME COMEBACK QUEEN In the past, her friends often admonished her to focus on work instead of matters of the heart. But then again, she has no regrets whatsoever. She said that every setback has led her to where she is now and has somehow helped her grow into the actress that she is now.

In the indie film, Nora plays a barren Badjao midwife who makes the ultimate sacrifice by searching for another woman who can give her husband a longed-for child.

Recently, she scored another triumph when she was given the Bisato d’Oro award for her performance in Brillante Mendoza’s Thy Womb, an entry at this year’s Venice International Film Festival. She was the first actor and Filipino to receive the honor from the Premio Della Critica Independiente, a critics’ group that is autonomous from the Venice fest, director Mendoza said in a previous interview. Aunor never imagined that she would be able to revive her career, much more win an international acting honor, when she was still based in the United States two years ago. “I had no expectations at all when I left for Venice last week,” she told the Inquirer in an impromptu visit at the paper’s Makati City office recently. “Even in the past, when I attend an awards ceremony,

I never expected to win. I hope, but I don’t assume that I’ll win so that it won’t hurt as much.” To think, pain is one emotion that she often had to feel both in reel and real life. Foreign critics from such renowned publications as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter praised Aunor’s ability to convey emotions with raw honesty in Thy Womb. In the indie film, she plays a barren Badjao midwife who makes the ultimate sacrifice: Searching for another woman (Lovi Poe) who can give her husband (Bembol Roco) a longed-for child. “Anyone can relate to my character’s story,” she

Vancouver Edition

Nora at the Venice Film Festival: “Maybe my life would’ve been more peaceful if I didn’t love too much.”


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said. She herself has experienced the same heartache, she quipped playfully. “I have also given up my own happiness for the person I love. That has happened at least thrice in my life.” In the past, her friends often admonished her to focus on work instead of matters of the heart. “Maybe my life would’ve been more peaceful if I didn’t love too much.” But then again, she has no regrets whatsoever. She said that every setback has led her to where she is now and has somehow helped her grow into the actress that she is now. All those experiences and emotions were on full display in Thy Womb. “The critics (at the Bisato d’Oro ceremony) asked me how I was able to express those emotions effortlessly,” she said. Mendoza asked Aunor and her fellow actors to fully immerse themselves in the lives of a Badjao community in Tawi-Tawi. “Bembol and I would fish in the open sea from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she recalled. “Toward the end of the shoot, I got dizzy. Na-heatstroke.” She learned how to fish, weave mats and deliver babies. Asked how she was able to do the live birth scene in Thy Womb, she related: “At first, I was scared. I didn’t want to hurt the baby. But when I saw the baby’s face, I told myself: Wow! It was like witnessing a miracle.” Miracles have become a recurring motif in her life as well. Apart from Thy Womb, Aunor had another film shown at this year’s Venice: the digitally restored Himala (Miracle), directed by National Artist for Film Ishmael Bernal. Aunor said that she was raring to do the sequel of Himala onstage. “Kuya Ricky (Lee, the film’s script-

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Nora holds her Bisato D’Oro award beside director Brillante Mendoza upon returning to the country from the Venice International Film Festival. writer) wrote it. I really want to do a play next year. I want to challenge myself.” She has three more items on her wish list. “I also want to do a TV show, a concert and a new record,” she said. When talk turned to music, those famous eyes turned misty. “There are nights when I find myself crying because I can no longer sing,” she said, candidly. “Singing was my life. I was able to feed my family because of music. It was my first love.” Singing was also her solace when her career hit a slump some years back, before she left for the United States. “I would play my old songs and remix them,” she said. Aunor hopes to undergo surgery and therapy in the US to restore her voice. “I’m saving up for that.” She’s likewise saving up for another indie movie. “I want to go

back to producing. Maybe I can direct, too. I want to express all my ideas and use everything I’ve learned from the directors I worked with in the past.” At one point, the interview sounded like a master class in acting, as she shared her experiences with the country’s best directors: Gerry de Leon (Banawe), Lino Brocka (Ina Ka ng Anak Mo), Ishmael Bernal (Himala), Mario O’Hara (Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos) and now Mendoza. She has been

known as the champion of the underdog. In Tawi-Tawi, she shared part of her salary not just with the film’s crew, but also with some of the residents in the community where they shot Thy Womb.

OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

She plans to return to TawiTawi and build a health center there. “Some pregnant women who live in the sea need to ride a boat for hours just to get to the nearest clinic. Some die as a result. I hope more doctors and nurses would volunteer there.” She saw for herself how tough life was in that part of the country. “But it’s a beautiful place. The people are so kind. It’s not the scary place depicted in the news.” Before she left for Manila, kids lined up to say goodbye and she gave them small gifts as souvenir. “It made me happy to see the kids happy,” she said. But surely she has learned to save some of her earnings by now? “Sometimes I still forget,” she said, laughing. “But that’s my happiness.” No matter how far she has gone in life, she insists on remaining down-to-earth, the same Nora who used to sell iced water in the train station of Iriga. “In the US, I did my own laundry.” In Venice, she kept looking for rice. When she was served risotto, she got upset. “Malabsa kasi (It was soggy),” she quipped. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


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CELEBR TY

Vancouver Edition

GERALD ‘MOVING ON’ AFTER SARAH

GERALD said that God is now “writing his love life” after his recent falling out with Sarah Geronimo. The Fil-Am actor, who earlier admitted that he had stopped courting Sarah, said he is already “moving on.” “Ang sa akin, masaya po ako

sa nangyari sa amin at mayroon po kaming moments na para sa amin lang,” Gerald said during a press conference for FHM Philippines’ September issue, where he appeared on the magazine’s flipside cover, opposite Walang Hanggan star Melissa Ricks. Asked if he has officially ended his love story with Sarah, Gerald replied: “Hindi natin masasabi ‘yan. Marami pang mangyari. I’m only 23 pa lang. Agad agad? Madami pa akong (mararansan).” He maintained that they never became a couple. “Well mahirap pong maghiwalay kung hindi naman naging [kami]. Kumbaga, like I said, I had the opportunity to share beautiful moments na kasama ko si

Sarah, ‘yun na po yon.” But even if things did not work out for them, the actor said he does not regret courting the Pop Star Princess. “No regrets. I live my life with no regrets, kumbaga sa bawat tama, sa bawat mali, sa bawat failure at bawat success ang dami nating natutunan, so no regrets.” Gerald also defended Sarah’s mother, Divine, against critics. “Bigyan na lang po natin ng respeto at katahimikan ang pamilya nila si Sarah, yung mommy niya. No one deserves that. Wala tayong karapatan para mag-comment lalo na at masama lang ang sasabihin natin. Sana ay sabay-sabay tayo na magmove and give everybody respect and privacy, pati po sa akin.”

NORA LAMENTS LACK OF SUPPORT FOR INDIE FILMS THE original Superstar, Nora Aunor, says she is sad over the lack of support in the country for independent films produced locally. “Pasensya na ho kung sinong masasaktan, pero kailangan na po malaman nila na kailangan ho ‘yung industriya ng ating pelikulang Pilipino ay suportahan naman nila,” said Nora. The veteran actress made the remark after her arrival from the Venice International Film Festival, where she received the Bisato d’ Oro Award for the Philippines’ entry, The Womb. The indie film was directed by Brillante Mendoza, who won was given the La Navicella Venezia Cinema Award by Rivista del Cinematografo, or Journal of Cinema. Direk Brillante echoed the same sentiment. “Masaya [kami] na kinikilala at naa-appreciate ang mga pelikula natin, at pinapalabas sa ibang bansa, pero siguro mas magiging masaya kami kung ang kapwa nating Pilipino ay tatangkilikin din ang mga pelikulang ginagawa natin,” he said. “Ang sinasabi po natin dito, sana naman, pag pinalabas dito sa Pilipinas, sana naman suportahan.” Nora also paid tribute to the skills of Filipinos in the movie industry. “Kagaya nito, ilang days lang natin ito [ginawa] -- walang 14

days – sapagka’t mas mabuti nga po ang Pilipino ay nakakagawa ng pelikulang katulad nito, na kahit kulang sa budget ay nakakagawa pa rin ng ganitong klaseng pelikula, na mahalaga at may katuturan na maraming maituturo sa mga kabataan,” she said. Brillante dismissed criticism that local producers of indie films are focusing on foreign markets and are not interested in the domestic audience. “Hindi po. Gumagawa po tayo ng pelikula, kami, kasama ko ang mga katulad ni Ate Guy, para sa lahat, at para sa ating mga Pilipino,” he clarified. Thy Womb is set to be released locally in November.

HEART MISSES ‘CHIZ CURLS’

HEART Evangelista seems to be teasing the public about the real score between her Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero. Recently she tweeted, “I miss you Chiz curls!” The tweet set off speculation about the real score between the two. Was Heart referring to the senator or the snack? She again tweeted, saying she wanted pichi-pichi, a local delicacy. But Heart was quick to try to dispel any romantic speculation with this tweet: “Chips di pwede

KC’S LOVE LIFE IS ‘KUMIKINANG-KINANG’

KC Concepcion has admitted that a 29-year-old French suitor is making her happy these days. The guy is Pierre Emmanuel Plassart, a French photographer and filmmaker. She described her current love life as kumikinang-kinang. KC said in an interview with The Buzz that Plassart came from a good family that used to own a supermarket empire. According to her, she met Plassart in an international event. KC used to live in Paris where she finished her college degree. Plassart visited KC in Manila recently. The two were sighted together in different places, including Boracay. Plassart was in the audience at one edition of the reality show X Factor Philippines, which is hosted by KC. “Malaking bagay sa akin na nagpunta siya sa bansa natin para bisitahin ako... para puntahan ako kahit na ang layo-layo ng pinanggalingan niya,” said KC . KC also disclosed that Plassart gave her a unique gift -- a real star named after her. “Oo nga, nagbigay siya ng star. E, nasa Boracay kami, we were looking at the star. Sabi niya, first time daw niyang makita ang star sa sky, dito sa beach, sa Philippines. Sabi niya, ‘One of those is yours.’ So, may isang star diyan na nakapangalan sa akin daw. Tapos, may certificate doon... constellation kunsaan yung star,” she shared. “He’s very sweet. Totoong tao siya,” she added. But she pointed out that she is not rushing into another relationship. “I’m going with the flow, kung ano yung maging relationship. . . Ang hirap din because we’re not even in the same country, so parang paano mo pagaganahin? But let’s wait, we’ll see. I’m not in a hurry naman.” KC said her last relationship was not easy to deal with, which is why she is taking things slowly. “Talagang natatakot pa rin ako, siyempre hindi naman biro yung napagdaanan ng family ko at saka ako last year. So, it was really something traumatic.” She was referring to her controversial breakup with Piolo Pascual a year ago.

ma miss pag diet?? Hahaha funny funny.” In a TV interview, Heart explained the controversial tweet. “Hindi naman ‘yun ‘yung tawag ko sa kanya. Chiz Curls talaga kasi nagda-diet ako ngayon, nagsa-South Beach kaya na-miss ko ‘yung Chiz Curls.” Asked if they are officially together, she replied, “Sasabihin

ko naman, eh [kung kami ni Sen. Chiz]. . . Ganu’n pa rin. Hindi kami nagmamadali, hindi ako nagmamadali. [It’s] just, you know, getting to know you and all that.” The senator’s first marriage was annulled earlier this year. Heart meanwhile broke off last year with her last boyfriend, Brazilian-Japanese model Daniel Matsunaga.


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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

CELEBRITYFILES

WHAT’S THE FUSS OVER JESSICA? SOMEONE is confused why Pinoys claim Jessica Sanchez as their own. Courtney Blooding, the former production assistant of award-winning record producer David Foster who was recently appointed by singer Charice Pempengco as her manager, recently aired her bewilderment on the matter via Twitter by posing a question to her followers via several posts. “Ok, I have a legit question. I am not trying to judge or anything, I just want to know. “Here is the question...why do the Philippines claim Jessica Sanchez? Jessica was born an[d] raised in the US. I don’t THINK she speaks [T]agalog. “Which, to me, makes her true American. How many people in

the US come from mixed cultural backgrounds? We r a melting pot. “AND I just read that this concert is her first ever trip to the Philippines.... “Isn’t a Filipino passport kind of a big indication of citizenship and a lack of one a big indication of no citizenship?” Apparently, Blooding feels that Pinoys “claiming” Jessica -- whose mother hails from Samal, Bataan -- is a big “turn-off.” Blooding said that she likes Jessica and that she is not aching for the “limelight,” only that she wants to understand Filipino mentality. “Please don’t condemn me for asking a cultural question,” she said. Jessica and the rest of the 10

WHY SAM-TONI ROMANCE DIDN’T PROSPER

finalists in the American Idol Season 11 held a concert a concert in Manila last Sept. 21.

VI GETS PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD

BATANGAS Governor Vilma Santos was recently given the Presidential Lingkod Bayan award by President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañan Palace, along with other individuals and group awardees. “I couldn’t have achieved all this on my own,” said Vilma. “I’m excited to show the plaque and medal to the people in the capitol. They worked side by side with me in pursuing my different programs

in the province. Our secret in Batangas is team work.” She said the award “recognizes my work in public service.” “I think I am the only governor in the line-up. This is a different world from show business. This is not just a best actress award. I’ve received other awards for government service in the past, but it’s my first national recognition. Plus, it was handed out by President

Aquino at the Malacañang,” she gushed. The Presidential Lingkod Bayan is the highest award given to a public servant in the country by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). The awardees are given a P200,000 cash prize, a promotion, medal and plaque. Vilma is running for a third term in the May 2013 mid-term elections.

NOW it can be told why the budding romance between Sam Milby and Toni Gonzaga did not blossom. When asked in a TV interview if the Fil-Am actor was masugid (persistent) in pursuing her then, Toni said, “Not very much [persistent]. ‘Yun ang ating frustration -- not very much, that guy.” It was in 2005 when Sam was “evicted” from Pinoy Big Brother (PBB), which was then hosted by Toni. The two were eventually paired off in several TV and movie projects, including the romantic-comedy films You Are The One (2006), You Got Me (2007), My Big Love (2008), Ang Tanging Pamilya (2009), and the drama series Maging Sino Ka Man (2007). Their “love team” translated into real life at the time, according to Toni. “Si Sam, first ever love team na legit. Kasi may mga, oh, totoong kilig na naramdaman,” she said about her fondness for the hunk actor. But Sam’s efforts to win her

over didn’t last long, because, by Toni’s admission, she had been too “conservative” to be easily won over. “Nalulungkot din ako, kung ano‘ng sugid ng iba, hindi naman siya. Wala talagang effect ‹yung mga conservative at that time, ‹yung mga pa-sweet, pakipot,” she said. “Hindi tayo hinabol, walang humabol,” she added, laughing. The two ended up with different real-life partners: Sam with Anne Curtis (they broke up in 2008) and Toni with film director Paul Soriano.

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CELEBRITYFILES

FROM SHOWBIZ TO POLITICS

SEVERAL showbiz personalities will soon be among the candidates whose names will be printed on the ballot for the 2013 elections. From being a board member of the second district of Batangas, Christopher de Leon has decided to run for a congressional seat in the upcoming mid-term elections, representing the same district. Joey Marquez, meanwhile, is gearing up to join the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, the political party of former president and former actor Joseph Estrada. Marquez is reported to be eyeing a seat in Congress representing Paranaque. In early August, Aga Muhlach took oath as a member of the President Benigno Aquino III-led Liberal Party (LP).Aga is seeking a congressional seat in his family’s native Camarines Sur in 2013. Jolo Revilla will run as vice governor of Cavite against Ronald Jay Lacson, son of Sen. Panfilo Lacson. Incidentally, Jolo is being linked to Jodi Sta. Maria, who is estranged from her husband, Pampi Lacson, another son of the senator. Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chairman Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares is running for senator. The daughter of the late film icon Fernande Poe, Jr. is included in the senatorial line-up of both the Liberal Party. Philip Salvador has announced his vice gubernatorial bid in Bulacan. The veteran actor will run against another former actor, Daniel Fernando, who is currently the vice

governor of the province. Fresh off his stint as a lead actor in the top-rating series Walang Hanggan, which will end in October, actor Richard Gomez will prepare for his 2013 bid to become mayor of Ormoc City. Former showbiz personalities who are already holding elective positions are gearing up for their reelection bids. Heading the list are Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, and QC Councilor Roderick Paulate Last but not least is former President Joseph Estrada, who is running for Manila mayor against the incumbent, Alfredo Lim.


JOHN LLOYD AND THE PLANET

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OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

ASSUMPTIONISTAS John Lloyd just wanted to be an actor because he has come to see his profession as a craft. He did not want to be a celebrity, and the rumors and intrigues and song and dance numbers that came with it. He signed up to perform an act but didn’t want to be with the circus.

By jerome gomez

E assume too much about John Lloyd Cruz. We used to assume he had made a habit of getting carried away with his drinks and then getting carried out of a bar, drunk out of his wits. Today, we assume he falls in love too often, sometimes even when he’s still carrying on with a still-unbroken relationship. Which is what we assumed had taken place when his last romance fell apart, and the name Angelica Panganiban started floating about in the rumor mills. We’ve been hearing about the John Lloyd-Angelica connection since April this year, so when a collage of their “perfect Sunday” appeared on Instagram only a few weeks before his new movie, The Mistress, was to open, we assumed, too, that its appearance had been timed to create noise around the film. I know: we’ve been very, very bad assumptionistas -- the types who get caught smoking on campus with our skirts too short. So we got a scolding from John Lloyd a few Sundays ago. In a twopart The Buzz segment which in the beginning felt like an episode of Inside The Actor’s Studio, with Boy Abunda the willing James Lipton. With heartbreaking seriousness, they discussed The Mistress as if it were the new Lars Von Trier. And then after a commercial break, Boy asked, almost apologetically, the one question we assumed he’d been meaning to ask from the beginning, the answer to which was the only reason we stayed home that Sunday afternoon. In so many words, John Lloyd admitted there is something special going on between him and Angelica. But before that, and with even more words, poured out something that put us assumptionistas in our rightful place. Regarding his private life, he said, we can voice out our opinions, and maybe share it with

people equally opinionated, but, he added, “In the end you have to realize na hindi kayo parte ng mga buhay ng mga taong ito. I mean, ano alam niyo para makapagbuo kayo at makapagkalat kayo ng kuwento?” He’s right, I thought. A little pompous, but right. He has the right to his own privacy and, like the rest of us, doesn’t appreciate people talking behind his back. But he is a celebrity, you might argue, public property. But he’s given us enough movies that made us feel good, so puwede ba ibalato na natin ‘to sa kanya? Besides, when he signed up for

There is really only one peg they keep bringing to each and every film set: the disarmingly cute, sensitive, funny, family oriented guy who is, essentially, well, John Lloyd this job at 14, he never thought the invasion of his personal space was part of the bargain. John Lloyd just wanted to be an actor -- in the beginning just

When he signed up for this job at 14, he never thought the invasion of his personal space was part of the bargain.

because it would help the family, and over the years because he has come to see his profession as a craft. He did not want to be a celebrity, and the rumors and intrigues and song and dance numbers that came with it. He signed up to perform an act but didn’t want to be with the circus. I met John Lloyd in 2003, right at that moment he was about to join the A-list, that rarefied circle inhabited at that time by Piolo Pascual and Jericho Rosales. Over the years I have interviewed him countless times, in the studio, on the set, in his house, on the phone, and even attempted to do it on Skype -- his suggestion -- while he was on holiday in Paris with Shaina (Magdayao). In his younger days -- he’s turning 30 next year - acting was this big thing for him, possessed of this yearning to play offbeat characters in movies that demanded more of him than to look good, and made audiences

want to feel something other than “feel-good.” But the actor’s projects seemed too long in coming. He never tired of asking for them in the beginning. He asked and asked, but his studio just kept giving him more and more of the same romantic lead parts. In the end, to put it in Hollywood terms, he is the Tom Hanks who never got to do his Philadelphia. But in the past few years, he has become more and more a Hugh Grant, happily taking on all the leading man roles without a trace of worry in his vast forehead. He has come to view his reality in a new perspective: that this succession of romantic lead roles actually ask so much more of him, because he has to create, in each and every rom-com script that come his way, a totally fresh character. He started to see that Palits, the boy who fell in love with his childhood friend in Close to You, can be different from


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COMMUNITYNEWS

TRUE BEAUTY: Winners of this year’s Vancouver seniors beauty pageant organized by the Multicultural Helping House Society (Photo by Mac Macasaet, Tel. 778 340 4128)

BEAUTY QUEENS WITH A HEART

by Joseph Lopez

The poster of John Lloyd’s latest movie, The Mistress, opposite long-time partner Bea Alonzo. Popoy, the guy who gets shattered to pieces when her long-time girlfriend breaks up with him in One More Chance. Or that Miggy Montenegro, the snobbish publisher who falls in love with an editorial assistant in A Very Special Love, has nothing in common with Apollo, the guy who left his bride at the altar only to fall in love with her again in My Amnesia Girl. John Lloyd works his magic in each of these roles, makes us fall in love with him, convinces us to take his side no matter what, brings out the incestuous mothers in us when he cries like a baby (and darn, he always cries like a baby), and makes us want to give up our careers to become that editorial assistant who, one fateful night, gets to drop by his house, find out he’s sick, and with a hot towel and instant noodles, nurse John Lloyd Cruz into wellness. But then that’s the thing: no matter that Cathy Molina insists he is different in each flick, and that he might find himself in different situations in each of them, we only really see John Lloyd. Because there is really only one peg they keep bringing to each and every film set: the disarmingly cute, sensitive, funny, family oriented guy who is, essentially, well, John Lloyd. It’s a role he can play over

and over, yes, and who knows if we will ever tire of watching him perform this amazing sleight-ofhand. Give me a John Lloyd romcom any day and I’d be happy to part with my hard-earned P160. But I’m excited about The Mistress, too. Not for me, really. I’m excited about it for him. Because he seems very taken with the project, and when he first told me about it in June, he seemed very impressed with the script. Also because we want to assume deep inside he has never let go of his dream to play something out of character, and his role in The Mistress appears to be just that: a suave, worldly lothario who will stop at nothing to get the woman he wants. Not that we don’t want him ever doing the romantic comedy routine ever again. We are still waiting for the Sarah-John Lloyd big screen reunion, which has already started grinding before it had to be shelved temporarily to make way for The Mistress. It’s a genre that has given John Lloyd so much success financially, and it has sealed his stature as the most bankable star not only in the ABS-CBN fold but in the whole of local entertainment. How can you argue with that kind of success? These days, John Lloyd Cruz seems to have no problem with it. (SPOT.ph) n

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rue beauty is timeless, as was proven on the coronation night of Ms. Multicultural Helping House Society.  MHHS is one of Vancouver’s most active community outreach to and across young and seniors alike.  On Saturday night, September 22, 2012, seven lovely women, 50 years old and plus, were crowned beauty queens with the first ranked titled as Ms. MHHS 2012. This year’s Ms. MHHS, Adoracion Kabyn, resplendent in her canary yellow gown, said her beauty secret lies within.  “No matter what your problems are, give thanks to the Lord, be helpful and be kind to others.  God will in return help you and bless you.”  Ms. Kabyn carries herself with a warm friendly stature that elicits respect from any gentleman. Another beauty queen, Ms. Visayas 2012, Mila Barrameda,

exudes a quiet sure-footed inner pulchritude that any male can tell. Like Ms. Kabyn, Ms. Barrameda said true beauty is one that shows compassion for others. The other winners are: Ms. Charity 2012, Redempta Ragasa; Ms. Hope 2012, Gloria Lorenzo; Ms. Faith 2012, Nelia Asutilla; Ms. Mindanao 2012, Bellia Uy; and Ms. Luzon 2012, Ligaya Garcia. Dancing at first to the lively beat of “In the Mood,” the beauty

queens, their consorts and the rest of Vancouver’s 300 cut a rug (actually hard wood) the rest of the night at St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Centre. Ms. Angie Igonia, MHHS program coordinator for Seniors, said this is the second year they have held the beauty pageant which is also a fundraiser to support the programs for senior Vancouverites.  Ms. Igonia said everyone from any ethnicity is welcome to join the Seniors gatherings at the MHHS facility located at 4802 Fraser Street (www.helpinghouse.ca).  “We are now accepting next year’s application, from all races, to join the beauty pageant,” added Ms. Igonia. “But you have to register membership with the seniors group and be at least 50 years old.”  

DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY: The crowd enjoying line dancing during the Ms. MHHS coronation night on September 22nd (Photo by Grace Labrador Cuenca, www.sincerelyyoursbbc.blogspot.ca)


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COMMUNITYNEWS

VANCOUVER Impressions By Mel Tobias

SURREY – POOR SISTER OF VANCOUVER TOPS REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT

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he City of Surrey was named one of the top five real estate investment cities in Canada by Business Review Canada. The cities were chosen based on factors ranging from market stability to housing prices and future growth potential.

Surrey was praised for its strategic location, increasing business opportunities and population growth. The city is currently a prime location for business and is the best place in Western Canada and British Columbia to invest in real estate. Other cities that joined the Surrey success story include, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Barrie, Ontario.

INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL SEASON BEGINS

Canada is now also known as an international film festival country. It has a year-round film festival that peaks in September and ends before Christmas. In Vancouver, it started with the 24th Queer Film Festival followed by the Latin Film Festival, Alfred Hithcock Retrospective, followed by the annual Vancouver International Film Festival, Asian Film Festival and Whistler International Film Festival. Over in Toronto, is the highly prestigious and publicized Toronto International Film Festival was right after the Montreal World Film Festival. Toronto had many A-list celebrities attending with an eclectic world cinema presentations, daring independent films and oddities by maverick directors. This year, there were over 372 features and short films. The emerging theme is cinema about the aging baby boomers and the political changes happening in different parts of the world. There are also many films that look backward and dealt with the history of some political movements and others are set very much in the present. Film festivals these days tend to look very different despite the glamorous aspects. That’s because their missions extend beyond the 10 to 15 days of the event itself. Canadian film festivals are important because of the expansive roles they play in world cinema culture. The two official entries from the Philippines at the Toronto International Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema) were: BWAKAW – directed by Jun Robles Lana – Starring Eddie Garcia, Armida Siguion Reyna and Rez Cortez. Bwakaw is a name of a dog, the faithful companion of an old retiree. A loner, he faces his homosexuality late in life and a chance encounter offers him a final change to find happiness. THY WOMB - directed by Brilliante Mendoza – Starring Nora Aunor, Bembol Roco

A childless Muslim couple who lives in a remote island makes a fateful decision in order to obtain they child they yearn for, that the husband take a second wife capable of giving them a child. The Vancouver International Film Festival is from September 27 to October 12 and the film line-up is equally impressive. Last year was a bumper year for Philippine cinema, but for 2012, there is only one entry. SHACKLED – a 94-minute drama starring singer Nico Antonio in his movie acting debut. It’s about a petty-crime like stealing smartphones. Antonio portrays the thief who gets a crash course in the workings of a deeply corrupted system. Directed by Lawrence Fajardo, the film gives the term “police procedural” a whole new meaning.

OIL SANDS BIG BUSINESS AND CONTROVERSY

The oil sands are now huge, controversial energy trove, supplying more than half of Canada’s oil, and constituting the third-biggest stock of oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The resource dominates the public agenda, igniting strong debates over its effects on Canada’s economic balance, and most important, how they will effect the environment. Oil sand exploration was developed in the 20s and by 1938, the first Canadian commercial oil sands projects produced diesel from oil sands. The oil was sold to the federal government after the Second World War. In I953, the Great Canadian Oil Sands was formed and in i962, a $250-million investment was made, then the biggest private investment in Canadian history. In 1985, 140,000 barrels a day can be pumped by using the technique of extracting oil from the Tar Sands of Alberta. With success comes controversy, there is now debate over the oil sands’ ecological impact on the country.

VANCOUVER SUN’S EMERGING MARKET SERIES

Vancouver Sun started a comprehensive series on the world’s emerging markets. It kicked off with Asia, focussed on countries and their risk/return profiles: India, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines. These are countries with high levels of growth that have them demanding more goods from within their own borders and from abroad. Follow-up features include Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Japan. A global management firm estimated con-

sumption in emerging markets to be in the $30 trillion by 2025. It will be the biggest growth opportunity in the history of capitalism. Economies will evolve and move out of agriculture into manufacturing. The change will increase productivity and increase income. At last, they have said something positive about the Philippines – “ An emerging country trying to move away from political instability and corruption that has held back the Philippines economically. It was not long ago that it was a mess, with a dictator Marcos, and the economy run by Marcos’ friends, most of the Filipinos were living in subsistence agriculture. They still have lots of problems in the Philippines but they have made a lot of progress in a single generation. Other countries have followed a similar pattern.” World Bank listed the Philippines with 3,490 Gross National Income per capita (Purchasing Power Parity), in 2007 to 4,160 in 2011, GDP growth predictions are from IMF. The Philippines is expected to grow by 5% a year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

SUM OF ALL FEARS

A new survey showed that 70% of Canadians considered the world a more dangerous place than five years earlier. Economic collapse holds the greatest fear for 35%, followed by climate change, overpopulation and hunger. A threat of terrorism that dominated economic and security policy in the years after September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were considered the greatest threat by just 9% today. With the fading terrorist threat comes renewed respect for civil liberties and privacy. A surprising 72% of respondents agree that “American dominance peaked in the last century”. On the rise are China and Southeast Asia. Though Canada and the U.S. are the world’s largest trading partners, Canadians seem to favor trying to create more trade with Mainland China, followed by the European Union and India. The U.S. is the fourth choice.

NO TIME TO RETIRE

a quarter of their retirement savings goal. Other findings: 46% is putting away only 5% or less of pay for retirement 41% of employees who will have to work longer than planned 41% of British Columbians spending at or in excess of regular net pay

GLOBAL AND CANADIAN LITERACY

Globe & Mail reported that the global rate of adult literacy is 84% but 775 million people still can’t read. But literacy rates in Canada are high, around 97%, but there is a controversy about what that measure actually means. Literacy measures once focused on a person’s ability to decipher characters and read text but it has been raised to consider economic productivity. According to 2008 Canadian reports, 48% of adult age 16 and older did not have literacy skills needed for the working world. It noted that while many were new immigrants, nativeborn Canadians with high-school diplomas also had difficulties. In other words, there are may people without skills and practical literacy.

IS SINGING WHILE DRIVING A DISTRACTION?

A new study suggested that drivers’ singing performances are not just a menace to their passengers but also to everyone on the road. A Canadian researcher found that singing while driving impairs people’s abilities behind the wheel, increasing perceived mental workload and decreasing hazard awareness. On the positive side, singing while driving is also linked to slower average speeds and better lane keeping abilities, both of which could be beneficial on the highway. The message of Accident Analysis and Prevention is simple – drivers should keep their eyes and mind on the road at all times.

UP-MARKET GLOBAL TALENTS IN VANCOUVER

October is a fabulous month when it comes to enjoying international musical artists on the A-List. Here are some “must see” shows in case you’re bound for Vancouver.

Canadians in their 50s found 53% of those polled said they plan to continue working after retiring in their 60s, in many cases to supplement their income. It also found that Quebec respondents were least likely to say they will work after retirement, at 47%. Manitoba and Saskatchewan respondents were the moat likely to say they planned to work after retirement. Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia were closer to the national average of 53%.

LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK

The Canadian Payroll Association said that Canadians are still struggling to make ends meet but are slowly improving their financial situation. The Association found that 47% of Canadian employees (and 46% in British Columbia) still live paycheck to paycheck. The survey indicated that people are trying to save more money and the overall trend is positive: with 66% able to increase their savings by 40%. But it is not totally good news. It found that 45% of employees close to retirement (age 50 and older) have saved less than

Rufus Wainwright at Orpheum RUFUS WAINWRIGHT in solo performance (October 2 at Orpheum Theater)

Wainwright is a Canadian original, a living musical icon, a cult singer known for his originality, showmanship, independence and originality. Only in his late 30s, he projects a tortured romantic persona. His concert


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VANCOUVERIMPRESSIONS coincides with the release of his latest album entitled “Out of the Game.” It is his most accessible collection of songs when compared to his past albums with somber, tragic thoughts. Wainwright’s charisma is legendary and you will surely be captivated with his “live” concert.

there is the huge Fringe Festival and the Vancouver Writers Fest from October 16 to 21 at Granville Island.

DINING IN THE DARK

Dark Table is the new Vancouver restaurant with the concept of blindfolding guests to give them an idea of what eating is like for a blind person. Maybe blindfolding is not the right word but dark instead. The restaurant is totally dark, except the exit signs. In Montreal and Toronto restaurants, even the exit sign lights are covered. In pitch-black setting, fusion Mediterranean cuisine will be served. It is a unique dining experience and time will tell if this type of restaurant will survive in lively Vancouver.

TWO MORE TAGALOG FILMS AT VIFF

APPARITION and OROS , both films from the Philippines have been added to the Dragons & Tigers selection of the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Clybourne Park at Stanley Alliance Theatre CLYBOURNE PARK AT STANLEY INDUSTRIAL ALLIANCE STAGE (From Oct. 12)

Bruce Norris’ Pulitizer-winning play is finally in Vancouver. It examines racial discrimination in 1959 when a black couple moves into a white area. It later becomes a black neighborhood. Fast forward to 2009 and the situation was reversed. This time around, a white couple moves in to the now black area. Provocative, funny but cerebral.

ANGELIQUE KIDJO AT CHAN CENTER (October 13)

Kurt Elling at NSCU Centre, Capilano University KURT ELLING AT CAPILANO UNIVERSITY

The popular, Grammy Award winning jazz singer Kurt Elling who is based in Chicago will be performing at the Performing Arts Capilano University on October 3. His version of “My Foolish Heart” was a standout at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Earlier in his career, he was singing in a scat style and improvised his own lyrics. Later, he developed his distinctive singing style that was influenced by Mark Murphy and Chet Baker. He is known for his vocalese, the art of writing and performing words over improvised jazz solos. His concert is greatly awaited by jazz afficionados.

For more than 20 years, Angelique Kidjo is known as “Africa’s Premier Diva.” Besides being a Grammy Award winning A f ro - f u -

sion singer/songwriter, she is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She is fluent in four languages and her own personal language which she occasionally uses in her songs. Angelique is reminiscent of a young Miriam Makeba, another acclaimed African singer. In 2010, Angelique performed in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics at the Place De La Francophone. Her return to the city will be a treat to many of her local fans. Her concert will definitely be a wonderful global musical experience. Also performing in Vancouver is Barbra Streisand in one of her several farewell concert series. Then,

Rust and Bone - Cannes Festival winner at Vancouver International Film Festival APPARITION was directed by Vicente Sandoval. It is about nuns in a cloister convent during President Marcos’ regime which sets the political tone in an environment riven by manias, secrets and power play. Sandoval’s debut film “Senorita” was shown at VIFF last year. OROS, a debut work of Paul Sta. Ana, brings viewers back to the slums of Manila. It deals with the subject of “black economy” which includes illegal gambling, fake funeral ceremonies, purchase of unidentified dead bodies and other bizarre activities in the lowest level of society in the Philippines. The director claims that his movie is not another “poverty porn” or “misery tourism.” n

Angelique Kidjo at Chan Centre


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Second of two parts O S T crime s are committed on the streets, while riding on public transportation, in shopping malls, and in other areas with high people concentration. The most frequent crimes perpetrated across the metropolis are pick-pocketing, robbery, confidence schemes, and to a lesser degree, credit card fraud. While these crimes are common to many other major cities, the names could be different for these are the ones used mainly in Metro Manila. Name of Crime -- Laslas Bag/ Laslas Bulsa Common Crime Scene(s) -Malls, open-air markets, and public transportation Description of Tactics – The perpetrators usually target victims in crowded areas. A man/woman/ child pretending to be lost or selling an item approaches the victim to distract his/her attention. An accomplice slashes the bag/pocket of the victim who is being distracted by an accomplice. Name of Crime -- Ipit Taxi Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -- Taxis Description of Tactics – This scheme usually involves three perpetrators. The trio uses a taxi cab that is spray painted with a different name and sporting stolen or fake license plates. Unknown to the victim, the locking mechanisms of both rear doors are not working. The driver drives the cab to a pre-arranged area, usually a dimly lit street, and then stops pretending to check an engine or mechanical trouble. At this juncture his cohorts approach both doors of the cab, jump in and sandwich the victim who is forcibly divested of his cash and valuables. After the victim is robbed, the driver takes the victim and dumps him in a deserted area. Name of Crime -- Estribo Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -Public transportation Description of Tactics -- Attackers prey on passengers inside a bus or jeepney by positioning them-

MANILA STREET CRIMES Too many people, too few opportunities: a recipe for crime.

As in any megacity, crimes of every scope and stripe are a daily occurrence in Metro Manila. Its 13 or so million people – residents and transients – are exposed to all sorts of street crimes, mostly petty offenses against property.

Commuters are not any safer from criminals than the pedestrians. selves near the estribo or vehicle’s schools. exit, staging a holdup and divesting Description of Tactics -- Thieves everyone of cash and valuables. In typically work in pairs. Spotting a other instances, a crafty criminal potential victim driving a car with will set up at the door of a crowded unlocked doors, the thieves will bus or jeepney and systematically force their way into an occupied pick the pocket of passengers pass- parked car or a vehicle stopped at ing through. an intersection. Other times, using a car of their own, the pair will Name of Crime -- Bukas Kotse force the victim to maneuver his Gang vehicle off the road. One of the atCommon Crime Scene(s) - tackers will force the victim to open - Main roads under heavy traffic, his door. The attacker pushes the parking areas in malls, churches, victim to the front passenger seat,

drives the car to a deserted area, and robs the victim. Sometimes, the attackers also steal the car. Name of Crime -- Dura Boys Common Crime Scene(s) - Public transportation terminals, jeepneys, and buses Description of Tactics -- This is usually carried out by a group of three. The first member informs the victim that someone spat on his sleeve and back. The victim will be distracted trying to wipe the spit on his sleeve or back while the other members of the gang steal the victim’s valuables, usually a wallet or a mobile phone. Name of Crime -- Akyat-Bahay Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -Residential areas Description of Tactics -- The Akyat-Bahay is the most common robbery scheme in the Philippines. This crime is usually orchestrated by three to five people. These thieves target homes that are unoccupied, especially during holiday breaks (Christmas, Holy Week, summer vacation) or during severe weather conditions when members of the household can barely notice breakins into their homes. The gang also employs children who can easily enter homes illegally through tight spaces. Name of Crime -- Pitas Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -Provincial and city operation buses, jeepneys, motorized passenger sidecars (tricycles), and schools Description of Tactics -Thieves usually target passengers seated near the windows of public buses, jeepneys, and tricycles. They snatch the victims’ wrist watches, rings, necklaces, mobile phones, and hand bags. Another tactic involves a group of thieves grabbing the ears of women and young girls and stealing their earrings, or snatching their bracelets. Name of Crime -- Zest-O Gang Common Crime Scene(s) – Pro-

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vincial and city buses Description of Tactics -- This scheme is usually executed by three members. One of the perpetrators wears a bus conductor’s uniform and asks their potential victim, “Ilan ho?” or “How many?” The unsuspecting victim assumes that the man is the bus conductor and responds with the amount of fare the victim should pay. The criminal then forcibly hands the victim a Zest-O juice or any food item and demands that the victim pay for the item. The two accomplices will vouch that the victim ordered from the vendor. The victim will then be forced to pay up. Name of Crime -- Laglag-Barya Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -Buses, jeepneys, railway stations Description of Tactics -- Members of the gang drop coins or small bills near their victim. While the victim helps to scoop up the money, other gang members will pick the victim’s pocket or handbag. In most instances, a gang member blends with the crowd and serves as lookout or “stopper” when someone tries to run after his companions. Name of Crime -- Baraha Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -Restaurants, shopping malls, department stores, supermarkets Description of Tactics -- Members of the gang are usually waiters and cashiers who target credit card users in business establishments. When the victim gives his credit card to the waiter/shop attendant the card is swiped to a skimming device that will capture the victim’s credit card account. Name of Crime -- Besfren Gang Common Crime Scene(s) -- Bargain malls and open-air markets Description of Tactics -- This gang targets shoppers checking out items such as watches, jewelry and mobile phones in malls and bazaars. A gang member stands next to the victim and asks to see or hold the item that the victim is interested in, pretending that he is a friend of the victim. The thief will quickly take the item away. The store owner or attendant will assume that the thief is an accomplice of the victim and will ask him to pay for the item. (This article has been passed around on the Internet; author and source unknown.) n


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By lorela u. sandoval

HE Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) assures overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that it is continuously preparing better benefits for all paying members, including their families, which can be availed of any time of the year, whether the members are in or out of the country.

PHILHEALTH CITES BENEFITS TO OFWS AND KIN

Gregorio Rulloda, PhilHealth vice president for corporate affairs, told Planet Philippines in an interview that OFWs and their families can now avail of health benefits for immediate and unexpected hospital and medical expenses, so long as they pay their contribution of P3.50 a day, a payment scheme which started in September 2011. “For now, effective this year, ‘yan lang binabayaran nila. The P7.00 a day [contribution] will take effect next year,” he clarified. The contribution may sound small, but the coverage is extensive, according to Rulloda. “Kaya namin ginagawang per day ay para makita nila ‘yong value. Hindi lang ‘yong OFW ang may benepisyo, kasama na rin ang kanyang pamilya, asawa, mga anak na 21 pababa ang edad, regardless kung legitimate, illegitimate, adopted, or stepchild, basta walang trabaho at walang asawa. Kasama rin ang magulang nang naghuhulog na 60 years old pataas na hindi aktibong miyembro ng PhilHealth.” He explained how the benefits can be shared among the members of the family. “’Yong benepisyo ay 45 days sa isang taon para doon sa principal member, and another 45 days in a year naman para sa buong dependents na. So pwede siyang pabalik-balik sa hospital. Halimbawa, nadiagnose siya ng dengue sa Enero, pwede ulit siyang bumalik ng Mayo kung ma-diagnose ulit. So halimbawa ulit, P18,000 ang nagastos noong Enero, tapos P18,000 ulit noong Mayo,” he said. Another good thing about this new scheme is portability. “Entitled pa rin kahit saan. Portable ang benefits saan man sila maabutan. Anytime pwede nila i-avail,” he assured. Wives of OFWs can avail any of the following benefits: • P8,000 for Maternity Care Package (MCP) for normal delivery administered in accredited non-hospital facilities like lying-in or maternity clinic and birthing home or midwife-

Philhealth is looking for ways to enable OFWs to file their claims via the Internet for reimbursement of hospital bills incurred abroad. The agency is also considering the possibility of contracting primary care physicians abroad to care for covered OFWs.

managed clinics; P8,000 for Normal Spontaneous Delivery Package (NSD) for Level 1 Hospital; • P6,500 NSD Package for Levels 2, 3, and 4 Hospitals; or • P19,000 for Caesarian Section Package (CSP) at Levels 2, 3, and 4 hospitals. These benefits include facility fee, professional fee, and prenatal care.

The newborns, on the other hand, can avail of a Newborn Care Package (NCP) worth P1,750, which includes essential newborn care, BCG vaccination, first dose of Hepatitis B immunization, newborn screening test, newborn hearing screening test, and professional fee. PhilHealth has also implemented +27

President Aquino hands out a PhilHealth membership card to a resident of Tondo, Manila.

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Surigao is virtually an island paradise 20 times over with pockets of coves and crystal-clear water here and there.

SURIGAO: CITY OF ISLAND ADVENTURE By bernard l. supetran

HERE was a time when Surigao City, provincial capital of Surigao del Norte, was simply known for its vast nickel deposits, the most abundant in Asia. But beyond its abundant mineral deposits in the mountain’s bosom, Surigao is a virtual minefield of natural wonders which have been overshadowed by its once-vibrant mining industry. Dubbed “The City of Island Adventures,” no city in the Philippines, and maybe the world, is so archipelagic as this urban center situated at the northeastern head

Surigao City takes pride in its merry mix of heritage, natural and island destinations that make it a tourism hub in the Caraga region. The city has the unique characteristic of having 21 of its barangays located in 17 charming islands scattered across the historic Surigao Strait. of Mindanao. Known during the Spanish era as the port village of Banahao, Surigao became a town in 1751 and proclaimed a city on August 30, 1970. According to Mayor Ernesto Matugas, the 42-year-old city takes pride in its merry mix of heritage, natural and island destinations that make it a tourism hub in the Caraga region. The city has the unique characteristic of having 21 of its barangays located in 17 charming islands scattered across the historic Surigao Strait. For beach bums and true blue adventurers, Surigao is virtually an

Street dancers in colorful regalia paint the town red with well-choreographed dance steps and scintillating music during the annual Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival.

island paradise 20 times over with pockets of coves and crystal-clear water here and there. Closest to the city and the most popular of the islands is Basul, a two-hectare uninhabited island which is almost a stone’s throw away from the Almost Hotel. Dotted by coconut trees swaying in the Pacific breeze, the island is a solitary world minus the madding crowd of the more developed resort islands. Its only physical amenities are nipa huts with wooden benches, but who cares? It is not every day you can have an island unto yourself. Hotel guests can actually kayak going to the island in keeping with the city’s adventure theme. Another interesting island is Hikdop, which boasts of a short strip of fine sand beach of Panomboyom and the Buenavista Cave whose impressive limestone formations, stalagmites, stalactites and magnificent columns will surely capture the fancy of spelunkers. Its main barangay, Buenavista, which literally means good view offers an exhilarating vantage point to the mainland and the neighboring islands. A unique sight is the 391-meter long wooden foot bridge, the longest of its kind in the country, which offers the thrilling experience of crossing the island barangays of Cantiasay and San Pedro on foot. Jokingly referred to as their version of the famed San Juanico Bridge, the bridge attracts mountain bikers because of the stunning views and the green waters below. Other idyllic islands worth exploring are Zaragoza, Berok, Danawan, Sumilom, Sibale and Sagisi, which are as alluring and mysterious as their exotic-sounding names. At the mainland, beach lovers can bask in the beaches of Looc and Mabua-Ipil, a unique mile-long stretch which boasts of smooth, multi-sized pebbles instead of sand. Separated by a hill, both beaches can be reached by ascending a 100-


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PHILIPPINESthe BEAUTIFUL plus step staircase and a 20-minute trail, but the seemingly punishing trek is rewarded by a commanding view of a vast expanse of sea and mountain as they meet in the horizon. Meanwhile, Day-Asan Floating Village, also called the “Little Venice of Surigao,” offers a quaint view of houses on wooden stilts amidst mangrove forests which can be accessed only by boat. There is also the Manjagao Mangrove Forest which is sanctuary to teeming species of marine life. Unknown to many, Surigao is also an emerging dive hotspot with its lush underwater marine life and World War II Japanese ship wrecks. Jake Miranda of Hotel Tavern is the exponent of diving in the city and has put up the city’s first dive shop at Punta Bilar beach. For spelunkers, the Silop Caves is a must-see with its 12 entrances

and impressive limestone formation to naturally carved stalagmites, stalactites and columns. Surigao is also a city of culture by virtue of being a hub of Surigaonon history. A glimpse of such a glorious past can be seen at the Museo nan Surigao (Surigaonon Heritage Center) which houses archaeological artifacts, as well as a rich collection of geological items and historical stuff. It also has a good collection of memorabilia from the colossal Battle of Surigao Strait where Allied Forces defeated the Japanese Navy during World War II in 1944. The dawn naval skirmish, which is part of the bigger Battle of Leyte Gulf, is memorialized at Lipata Port, the gateway to Mindanao which connects to the Maharlika Highway in Visayas and Luzon. A touristic historic landmark is Punta Baluarte, a hill overlooking the city, which was used as observation

Down the hill lies the Manjagao Mangrove Forest, a sanctuary to teeming species of marine life. point by the Spanish friars and later by the Japanese during WW II. Across the City Hall is the historical plaque memorializing the first raising of the Philippine flag in Mindanao by Filipino revolutionaries on December 26, 1898 which ended Spanish rule in the island.

But perhaps the most vibrant manifestation of Surigao’s rich culture is the annual Bonok-Bonok Maradjaw Karadjaw Festival which celebrates the feast of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, the city’s patron saint. Set on Sept. 9, the ritual dance

originated from the indigenous Mamanwa tribe, and was later attributed to San Nicolas. A most soughtafter cultural festival in the country, Bonok-Bonok means “heavy downpour” and Maradjaw Karadjaw meaning “all the very best” is based on the belief that the heavy rains ensure a bountiful harvest. Street dancers in colorful regalia paint the town red with wellchoreographed dance steps and scintillating music through bugles and percussion, with the “festival queen” or head dancer holding the image of St. Nicholas as a dance tribute to the patron. Now on its 28th year, the festival has consistently been named as an important cultural event by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP), along with the Tilaw Food Festival which showcases the city’s exotic local cuisine comprised mostly of seafood and served kinilaw style. (Manila Bulletin) n

PHILHEALTH CITES BENEFITS TO OFWS AND KIN

From page 25 a Case Rate Payment scheme for some medical cases and surgical procedures. This scheme indicates the exact amount of benefits prior to hospitalization. Along with their corresponding amount, medical cases include Dengue I (P8,000) and II (P16,000), Pneumonia I (P15,000) and II (P32,000), Essential Hypertension (P9,000), Cerebral Infarction (P28,000), Cerebro Vascular Accident (P38,000), Acute Gastroenteritis (P6,000), Asthma (P9,000), Typhoid Fever (P14,000), and the NCP mentioned earlier. For surgical procedures, these are Radiotherapy (P3,000), Hemodialysis (P4,000), Appendectomy (P24,000), Cholecystectomy (P31,000), Dilatation & Curettage (P11,000), Thyroidectomy (P31,000), Herniorrhapy (P21,000), Mastectomy (P22,000), Hysterectomy (P30,000), Cataract Surgery (P16,000), and the maternity benefits mentioned earlier as well. There’s also a new comprehensive treatment package for catastrophic illnesses called Z benefits, which started on June 21 this year, according to Rulloda. A PhilHealth pamphlet states, “Case type Z is any illness as primary condition that is life or limb-threatening and requires prolonged hospitalization, extremely expensive therapies, or

PhilHealth pamphlets list the numerous benefits it provides to members. other treatments that can deplete a family’s financial resources, unless covered by special health insurance policies.” Among those illnesses categorized as case type Z, with their corresponding rates, are Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (P210,000), early stage of Breast Cancer (P100,000), low to intermediate Prostate Cancer (P100,000), and low-risk Kidney Transplant (P600,000). Rulloda cited another challenge which needs to be addressed, too, for the OFW sector. “Ngayon gumagawa kami ng pag-aaral kung ano ang idadagdag sa grupo na ito. Kasi di ba may psy-

chological effect sa kanila kung may nangyaring di maganda doon? So iba ang medical needs nila. Iba ang nature ng pangangailangan ng OFW eh,” he said. And that is why he is encouraging everyone to be a PhilHealth member. “Sabi nila mahirap sila, eh bakit kaya nilang manigarilyo, uminom, magload? So bakit hindi nila kaya mag set aside ng P3.50 per day, or P7.00 later on?” Rulloda cited the different mindset of people as a contributing factor on why the health insurance is sometimes ignored. “‘Yong iba kasi hindi pa nila nakikita ang value. ‘Yong impormasyon talaga ay napak-

aimportante para ma-appreciate nila ang value. Pangalawa, ‘yong tulungtulong na pag-change ng behavior ng ating mamamayan, ‘yong consciousness nila sa ganitong bagay.” He added that PhilHealth is now looking at the option of making the mother the principal member. “Ang gusto nga namin ay ‘yong mga ina ang siyang magiging principal member kasi inisip palagi ng ina na secured ba ang pamilya? Para ang PhilHealth ay isa ‘yan sa kanyang checklist, along with the groceries.” Rulloda said more changes in member benefits will be implemented in the near future.

For one, Philhealth is looking for ways to enable OFWs to file their claims via the Internet for reimbursement of hospital bills incurred abroad. Dr. Eduardo Banzon, Philhealth president and chief executive officer, said this is one of the highly aggressive new strategies Philhealth is pursuing to deliver greater value to its members who work overseas. “We want covered OFWs to receive immediate financial relief in the event they become ill and seek hospitalization in their host countries,” Banzon said. “Our plan is to install by next year a system that will allow OFWs to simply submit online their individual claims for repayment,” Banzon said. He also said Philhealth is considering the possibility of contracting primary care physicians abroad to care for covered OFWs. “We hope to start doing this in selected foreign cities with large concentrations of OFWs,” Banzon said. At present, covered OFWs hospitalized abroad may file claims for reimbursement only by submitting hard copies of the necessary paperwork inside six months to the Philhealth office nearest their Philippine residence. For more information on PhilHealth, visit its website at www. philhealth.gov.ph. n


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PH-CHINA STANDOFF CONTINUES D

EADLOCK. That’s how Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas described diplomatic negotiations with China over disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). At a news briefing in Malacañang, Roxas reported on his 45-minute meeting on Sept. 21 with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in which both sides insisted on their countries’ territorial sovereignty over the region. “Nothing is off the table. All the options I reserved for our President, and I think that’s a good sign; that’s a good accomplishment that the full range of options remains with our President, so that he executes the foreign policy that he envisions for our country in advancing our national interest,” Roxas said. What Mr. Aquino achieved in sending Roxas to China was to tell the Chinese leadership that the Philippines “reserves the right to pursue our national interest in whatever practicable way the President deems it,” Roxas said. The secretary clarified that the country had not yet chosen a bilateral instead of a multilateral approach to the territorial dispute in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). The President sent Roxas as his special envoy to the China-Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo in Nanning, China, tasking him with conveying to Chinese President Hu Jintao through Xi the Philippines’ desire to improve relations with China and help find a peaceful solution to

their territorial dispute. Roxas saw no change in the position of Manila and Beijing in the interim until Xi, the president-in-waiting, takes office next year. He also had a separate hour-long meeting with Fu Ying, vice minister for foreign affairs, and invited him to visit the country. “I think it’s important to note that all of this is happening at a time when China is going through its once-ina-decade generational leadership change. So I don’t expect much progress in the interim, at least until that leadership change has been completed,” Roxas said. During the meeting, Roxas told Xi of the “near permanence” of Chinese vessels at Panatag, which, he argued, was “legally, historically and geographically ours.” However, Xi insisted on the Chinese ownership of the entire South China Sea, Roxas said. “Make no mistake, we, the Philippines, clearly conveyed our sovereignty claim to the Panatag Shoal,” Roxas said. Still, Roxas believed that maintaining an open channel of communication with Chinese officials was imperative amid the increasingly global role being played by China. “I conveyed to Vice President Xi

TRILLANES ROXAS (that) talk is better than no talk. So the fact that we are talking at the highest levels, the fact that messages are reliably conveyed, I think, it’s a good foundation,” he said. But he quickly added: “There is no improvement (in the bilateral relations because) both sides are still saying: ‘That’s ours.’ So there hasn’t been any change. What changed was the perception that both sides now recognize that while we’re saying, ‘it’s ours,’ we see that our relations are multidimensional, and perhaps the stumbling blocks to friendly relations can be resolved through (peaceful) means. That’s what happened here.” The Panatag Shoal standoff in April between Philippine Coast Guard ships and Chinese fishing vessels over illegal poaching resulted in “frayed relations” between the country and China, he said. n

CHINA TO PH: PAY BACK $500M LOAN FOR NORTHRAIL CHINA has asked the Philippines to pay China back around US$500 million of its official development assistance (ODA) for the construction of the North Rail, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said. The Aquino had previously wanted to have the contract reconfigured with the original contract found to have violated procurement laws. At the height of the territorial dispute with the Philippines, China called back the loan. This was discussed when Roxas met with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying on Sept. 21. “Sa gitna nitong kontrobersiya sa Panatag Shoal, biglaan na lang kinall (call) ‘yung ODA loan na ipinautang ng bansang Tsina para sa North Rail

project. Kinall (call) ito, ibig sabihin naging due and demandable. So napag-usapan kung ano ang pamamaraan para mabayaran natin ito, may pera naman tayo at babayaran natin ito,” Roxas said in a briefing in Malacañang on his trip to China. “Ayon kay Secretary [Cesar] Purisima ng Finance, nagsimula na sila ng negotiations na mababayaran ito in installments over the next two years. But this was a multi-year long-term loan na biglaan na lang na-call.” Roxas would not say if the call was due to the territorial dispute over Scarborough Shoal. “The timing maybe coincidental pero hindi naman natin masasabi. Maayos man o hindi ang relasyon natin, nangyari man o hindi ‘yung pang-

yayari sa Panatag Shoal, ay maanomalya pa rin ‘yung North Rail contract. Hindi pa rin natin maisasatuloy. So I think these are individual occurrences,” Roxas said. Roxas brought up the Chinese restrictions on banana imports form the Philippines. He said the Chinese side explained the phytosanitary issues involved when they imposed the restriction but mentioned their openness to continue the importation. “They said that this was part of their SPS or sanitary-phytosanitary protections for their domestic industry. Nonetheless, there was some mention of their continuing to be open to importing Philippine bananas. There was no talk at all about volumes, timetables, or such,” Roxas said. n

PRESIDENT BACKS TRILLANES STORY

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Sept. 21 disclosed that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s unofficial talks with the Chinese helped ease tensions between the Philippines and China over Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. But Mr. Aquino made it clear that going through the back channel was not Malacañang’s idea, but Trillanes’ and that he approved it to achieve a peaceful resolution of the confrontation with China at Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in April. That could be the last time an unofficial negotiator would speak for the government. Malacañang said it had learned a lesson from the controversy that Trillanes had caused: the government should speak with one voice in dealing with China on the West Philippine Sea dispute. Speaking to reporters after he opened the Aquino-Diokno Shrine and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Center for Human Rights Dialogue at Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija province, Mr. Aquino said Trillanes was in China at the height of the Panatag Shoal standoff. Trillanes called him to say Chinese officials approached the senator about being a back-channel negotiator, Mr. Aquino said. “So in the absence of any other channel existing beforehand, and as we wanted to resolve the Scarborough Shoal standoff peacefully, we decided we would lose nothing from hearing them out,” Mr. Aquino said. Trillanes disclosed his unofficial

role in the resolution of the standoff in a quarrel with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile last Sept. 19 over a bill that would divide Camarines Sur into two provinces. Enrile read into the Senate records diplomatic notes that suggested Trillanes was working to advance China’s interests and was undermining the Philippines’ position in the dispute. Trillanes, according to the notes from Ambassador to China Sonia Brady, claimed credit for the withdrawal of up to 40 Chinese ships from Panatag Shoal. Mr. Aquino acknowledged Trillanes’ contribution to the clearing of Panatag Shoal after Philippine vessels stepped back from the face-off with Chinese ships in mid-June. “When Chinese vessels arrived at Scarborough Shoal, we counted up to 18 ships, not including the fishing vessels, which would have added up to 30 vessels,” Mr. Aquino said. “The number of Chinese vessels eventually dwindled, so maybe Trillanes’ efforts to negotiate with Chinese officials should get some credit, as well as other efforts to prevent the tension from escalating,” the President said. Formal channels are the domain of diplomats, but Malacañang needs informal channels through which it can relay its views quickly on the Panatag Shoal dispute, he said. Mr. Aquino, however, did not disclose Trillanes’ agreements with his Chinese contacts. n


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NEWSROUND-UP

AQUINO GETS 78% TRUST, APPROVAL RATINGS

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III’s approval and trust ratings improved significantly in September, with 78% of Filipinos saying they’re not only satisfied with his performance but trust

him too. The Pulse Asia survey results are almost similar to his ratings of 79% approval and 80% trust in May 2010, at the height of the presidential elec-

tion which he eventually won by a landslide. The survey, conducted from August 31 to September 7, found that Aquino’s approval and trust ratings were both at 78%, an improvement from last May’s 67% approval and 65% trust ratings. Only 4% of Filipinos are critical of Aquino and distrust him while 18% are ambivalent. Aquino registered majority approval and trust ratings across all geographic areas (75% to 80% and 71% to 80%, respectively) and socioeconomic classes (72% to 83% and 75% to 86%, respectively). The survey, however, noted that Aquino registered higher approval and trust ratings among the poorest class, Class E, while indecision to-

PROBE ON ‘GRANDMOTHER OF ALL SCAMS’ SENATOR Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III has asked the Senate blue ribbon committee to investigate the P111billion President’s Bridge Program implemented during the term of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In a privilege speech last Sept. 17, Osmeña said that irregularities stemming from the program could qualify it as “the grandmother of all scams” under the Arroyo administration. Osmeña said the ZTE-NBN telecommunications deal that was investigated during that administration only cost P13.7 billion, while the NorthRail contract that was also questioned then only amounted to P21 billion. He said the P111 billion was the total amount of 14 bridge contracts that were misrepresented “as having been funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA) con-

cessional financing from such countries as the United Kingdom and France.” “These P111-billion serial scams are eight times the ZTE contract and five times the NorthRail contract… This is the grandmother of all scams,” he added. Aside from Arroyo, Osmeña said that “key officials from at least five government agencies” formulated a “highly complex scheme” that raised the prices of the bridges way beyond what was on the market. The senator said Arroyo “misrepresented” the bridge program by tagging it as an ODA project. This allowed her to justify the decision to forego a public bidding, he said. “She even issued two executive orders which overrode the provisions of the Government Procurement Act and other laws which mandate a

public bidding even for ODA-funded projects,” Osmeña said. “Mrs. Arroyo must explain to the Filipino people these very anomalous series of contracts that they forged with foreign companies. She and her cohorts could be held liable for plunder because this involves P111 billion in people’s money,” he said. Under the law, plunder involves irregularities in government projects or transactions valued at P50 million or more. It is a nonbailable offense. Osmeña said the actual cost of the projects was jacked up between 16 to 21 percent. “That amounts to roughly P20 billion which could have built all the classrooms that Filipino children have been needing so badly,” the he noted. n

BINAY’S WIFE LINKED TO RIGGED BIDDING

A commissioner from the Commission on Audit has tagged the wife of Vice President Jejomar Binay in alleged irregularities in the bidding for a P72-million government supply contract more than a decade ago. Testifying before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court on Sept. 26, Commissioner Heidi Mendoza said her audit team noticed indications of possible rigging of the bidding that was done in 2001 when Elenita Binay was still mayor of Makati City. Binay’s camp, on the other hand, denied the accusation and accused Mendoza of “using this case to project herself, considering that she has yet to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments.” In her testimony, Mendoza said they found out that two of the bidders — Office Gallery International Inc. and MFE International — shared the same office address in Taguig City. “During audit, we visited the warehouse and offices of [Office] Gallery International and it was [at] the same address as MFE,” she told the court’s

fifth division, which is hearing the graft complaint against Mrs. Binay, city councilor Salvador Pangilinan, former city administrator Nicanor Santiago Jr., then city treasurer Ernesto Aspillaga, and businesswoman Bernadette Aquino. Mendoza said they also found out that Aquino, supposedly the representative for one of the bidders, Asia Concept, received the purchase order for Office Gallery International Inc. “Basically the findings were about rigged bidding,” she said. The defense team attempted to have this part of Mendoza’s testimony stricken off the record, saying MFE was not included in the case. They were overruled, however, after Prosecution Bureau Director Omar Sagadal said this portion of the testimony showed a “pattern of collusion.” In her testimony, Mendoza also said there were similarities in the proposals of the three bidders. “In our report, we observed that bidders were able to offer similar specifications. They quoted the simi-

lar numbers [of fixtures], same types and similar specifications. We wondered how it was possible without any information. Without such information, the bidding should not have proceeded,” she said. Aside from this, Mendoza also pointed out that the notice for public bidding was only published in the local newspaper Metro Profile, which she said has a very small circulation. The COA and the Local Government Code require that bidding announcements be made in newspapers with national circulation. Mendoza added that the purchase order was issued to Office Gallery a day after the bidding was terminated on Aug 16, 2000. “It is significant because according to regular practice, the bidding should have been until the end of August 16, to allow other competitors to submit. But the bid envelopes were opened at 2 p.m. of the same day. Under the rules, you have to wait until the end of the day …then you have to conduct a pre-qualification process,” she said. n

ward his performance and trustworthiness was more manifested among the Classes A, B and C. Across all geographic areas, Aquino registered double-digit gains in his approval ratings (+11 to +18 percentage points) and socio-economic grouping (+10 to +14 percentage points). Presidential trust scores also go up by similar margins in practically all geographic areas (+12 to +16 percentage points) and socio-economic classes (+20 percentage points). Fighting criminality and combatting corruption are the “national concerns” that Filipinos are most satisfied with in terms of government performance (66% and 64%), according

to the same survey. The administration also scored high approval ratings in enforcing the law (59%), creating more jobs (51%) and increasing the pay of workers (51%). However, disapproval ratings are more manifest in terms of controlling inflation (26%). In an earlier survey, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said the President has received his highest net satisfaction rating since he assumed his post in June 2010. In its August 24-27 survey, the SWS said Aquino got a net satisfaction rating of +67. This rating, equivalent to “very good,” is a big jump from the record low of +42 that Aquino got in May, the SWS said. n

BUSINESSMEN SEE LESS CORRUPTION UNDER AQUINO SEVEN out of 10 business executives in the country see less corruption in the public sector under President Aquino compared to the previous administration, the latest survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed. Preliminary findings of the 2012 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption found 71 percent of 826 business executives saying they see less corruption in the government, and only two percent see more corruption now. The survey was conducted from July 16 to Sept.14, 2012. This was an improvement from the May 24 to 27, 2012 survey which showed 64 percent of executives seeing less corruption and five percent who saw more corruption. “There has been radical progress in the fight against corruption,” the SWS said in a statement. SWS said executives seeing “a lot” of corruption in the public sector fell to 42 percent in 2012 from 64 percent in 2009, after having been 60 percent or more from the start in 2000. Those saying that “most/almost all” companies in their own sector give bribes to win public sector contracts fell to 41 percent in 2012 from 48 percent in 2009, and was the lowest in all 10 rounds since 2000. Of 20 government institutions rated for sincerity in fighting corruption, 17 improved their net sincerity ratings from 2009 to 2012. The most radical change is in the Office of the President, which improved in net sincerity in fighting corruption to an “excellent” 81 in 2012, from a “bad” -37 in 2009. Two agencies have improved their sincerity ratings to “very good” from “good”: the Department of Health, with 60 in 2012 versus a good 37 in 2009; and Department of Trade and Industry, with 59 in 2012 versus a good 38 in 2009. Three institutions have improved their ratings to “good” from “neutral”: Department of Education, with 49 in 2012, from zero in 2009; the Senate, with 38 in 2012, from -1 in 2009; and the Office of the Ombudsman, with 38 in 2012, from -8 in 2009. Of six institutions with “moderate” ratings, four have improved: Sandiganbayan, with 27 in 2012, from a neutral 8 in 2009; Department of the Interior and Local Government, with 27 in 2012, from a poor -25 in 2009; Department of Budget and Management, with 22 in 2012, from a poor -17 in 2009; and Department of Transportation and Communications, with 10 in 2012, from a bad -30 in 2009. The other moderates are: the City Government, with 24 in 2012, a drop from a good 35 in 2009; and the Supreme Court, with 23 in 2012, a drop from a good 40 in 2009. The sole institution with a bad rating is the Bureau of Customs, which improved to -45 in 2012, from a very bad -69 in 2009. There is no longer any agency with a very bad rating in 2012, the SWS said. Malacañang said the SWS survey shows that the business sector recognizes the results of the Aquino administration’s relentless drive against corruption. “Indeed, the President leads by example and the Filipino people see in his leadership the embodiment of positive change and honest public service,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte. n


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NEWSROUND-UP

P2.6-T BUDGET TO HASTEN ECONOMIC GROWTH THE proposed P2.6 trillion national budget for 2013 will remove the roadblocks that hamper the country’s economic growth, a senator allied with the Aquino administration said. After a Senate finance committee briefing on the budget, Sen. Franklin Drilon cited five areas that the country needs to focus on to achieve high growth in the next few years based on an assessment by Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan: infrastructure, human capital development, transparency in governance, agriculture productivity, and the manufacturing sector. To boost infrastructure development, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is expected to bid out projects by yearend. “All infrastructure projects should be bidded out by December this year

so that come January 1 immediately awards would be made on the basis of the approved General Appropriations Act,” Drilon said. “In this manner we would be able to commence these projects during the summer months.” The DPWH has a proposed budget of P152.9 billion for 2013. Aside from poor infrastructure, Balisacan said the country has also failed to nurture its human capital, particularly in terms of providing good education and health services to the poor. Because of this, a big part of the budget will go social services, as in previous years. The Department of Education has an allocation of P292.7 billion, the highest allocation in the entire government. The Department of Health has P56.8 billion, and Department

MINING FIRM FINED P1-B FOR SPILL

of Social Welfare and Development P56.2 billion. “We have a very talented people. Unfortunately, because of inadequacies in investment in our people, we have lagged behind in terms of our educational attainment and preparing our youth for the future,” Drilon said. The Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, has the 5th highest budget in the government with P74.1 billion. This is to increase agricultural productivity by building more farm-tomarket roads and irrigation and postharvest facilities. In the long run, this would lower the cost of food, Drilon said. n

CEBU PRIEST PROBED FOR IVORY TRADE A Cebu priest known for his collection of religious icons carved from ivory may have incriminated himself with his revelations on the illegal trade in an investigative report appearing in the National Geographic and reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Msgr. Cristobal Garcia could face up to four years in prison unless he could show proof that his ivory collection was acquired legally, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said. The NatGeo report, titled “Ivory Worship” and written by Bryan Christy, who visited the country five times for the report, said Garcia had even advised him how to smuggle religious icons made from ivory into the United States. Mundita Lim, director of the DENRProtected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), said regional environmental officials launched a probe of the report that the priest was in possession of ivory Sto. Niño figures acquired using questionable means. “He has to be able to show that he has a CITES permit from us,” Lim said, referring to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. She said the only “legal” ivory allowed in the country was the kind that was taken before the convention took effect more than 30 years ago. “Otherwise we will charge him with illegal possession of ivory and illegal trade, if there’s evidence he is also involved in buying and selling,” Lim said in a phone interview. She said the National Bureau of Investigation would take the lead in the filing of formal charges against Garcia and possibly others who might be involved if the investigation turned up sufficient evidence. Msgr. Garcia is also facing child abuse charges in the United States. He has been suspended

Msgr. Garcia shows one of his prized Santo Niño collections made of ivory. and stripped of all his positions in the Archdiocese of Cebu on orders of the Vatican while the Holy See investigates the child abuse case that stemmed from accusations that he molested altar boys more than 20 years ago in the US. Msgr. Achilles Dakay, Cebu archdiocese media liaison officer, said Garcia’s suspension happened months before the monsignor was implicated on the illegal trade of ivory in the Philippines. Dakay said Garcia was suspended by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma in June on instructions of the Vatican because of the ongoing investigation of the child abuse case filed against him. As part of the penalties, Garcia is not allowed to say Mass in public and hear confessions, and has been stripped of his positions in the archdiocese, including his chairmanship of the committee on worship. The NBI’s Environmental and Wildlife Protection Investigation Division (EWPID) has been following up information on the illegal trade of ivory tusks, Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said at a Malacañang briefing. “The DOJ (Department of Justice) will be looking at the possible prosecution of those involved after the

investigation,” Valte said, quoting Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Valte said the outcome of the NBI investigation, began even before the NatGeo news broke, would be crucial to the filing of charges against the illegal traders. “The secretary of justice will be waiting for a final report from the NBI for the DOJ to be able to determine who are the personalities who will be up for possible prosecution,” she said. Valte said that the Bureau of Customs, which last week intercepted a P48-million shipment of rhino tusks, was closely coordinating with the NBI. Antonio Oposa Jr., an environmentalist lawyer, said he regretted that his hometown, Cebu, whose patron saint, the Sto. Niño, had been dragged into the illegal ivory business, which he described as “the new blood diamond of international trade.’’ “It saddens me to find out that my country, my hometown Cebu, and some of our people, including a man of the cloth, were allegedly involved in this despicable system,” Oposa said in a telephone interview. He noted that the killing of large animals for their ivory tusks to satisfy a perverted whim was not one of the 10 Commandments. Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said Garcia must show that Garcia’s ivory collection was antique, or acquired before 1981, the year the Philippines became a signatory to the CITES. But Paje said that based on Garcia’s remarks as quoted in the NatGeo story, it seemed that at least some figurines in his collection came after 1981, meaning he might be liable for violations. “That’s why our regional offices and the NBI are now validating whether that report is true,” the environment secretary said. n

THE Mines and Geosciences Bureau announced a P1 billion fine on Philex Mining Corporation for a tailings pond leak at its Padcal mine in Tuba, Benguet. MGB head Leo Jasareno informed Philex president Eulalio Austin Jr. of the penalty in a letter dated September 26. The agency said it based the size of the fine on the 20.66 million metric tons of sediment discharged from Padcal’s tailings pond number 3. Jasareno said the P1.034 billion fine excludes the penalty of P200,000 per day arising from violation of the Clean Water Act. He said Philex cannot avoid the penalty by invoking “force majeure” since this principle is relevant only in so far as criminal liability is concerned. “We asked [Philex] to submit comments within 7 days regarding the penalty and liability,” Jasareno said, adding that MGB followed standard procedure under the Mining Act. Philex officials acknowledged having received the MGB’s report and recommendations on the Padcal incident, which took place August 1. But the mining company expressed confusion over the fine, saying the MGB’s report “absolved” the company “from any fault in connection with the…spill.” Philex senior vice president for corporate affairs Mike Toledo said they will challenge the P1 billion fine, even as the company vowed to continue its cleanup and mitigation efforts at Padcal. In a statement, Toledo said, “The MGB officially concluded in its report that Philex’s personnel were not remiss in the maintenance and operation of Tailings Pond No. 3. This was confirmed by the MGB’s investigations and the contemporaneous reports of monitoring and inspection maintained and submitted by the company to the agency.” The Padcal tailings pond spill saw mining sediments discharged into the Balog and Agno Rivers in Benguet. Jasareno said that under the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, “a tailings fee of P50/MT would be imposed for excess tailings discharged.” This was the MGB’s basis for a P1.03-billion fine. n

NEW NUMBERS GAME VS ‘JUETENG’ PRESIDENT Aquino declared that the controversial small-town lottery (STL) would soon be stopped, but he said a new numbers game that would benefit the government and host communities would replace STL. “STL as an experiment is over,” Mr. Aquino told reporters on the sidelines of his visit to Lucena City to witness the mass oath-taking of new Liberal Party members in Quezon province. The President said there was a need to stop STL because it failed to stamp out illegal numbers games, particularly “jueteng.” Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, an antigambling advocate, said STL had long been “out of the picture.”

“STL was just a cover so now they are thinking about Loterya ng Bayan, which I am certain will be another fiasco, especially if it will use the standard jueteng hierarchy,” Cruz, head of Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, said in an interview. Mr. Aquino said the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, before his tragic death last month, had been preparing a comprehensive plan to combat jueteng. The President said Robredo had long been conducting an investigation of reports that jueteng operators were using the STL as a front and that STL operators were cheating the government of its share of bet collections to evade taxes. n


Vancouver Edition

PLANET

31

PHILIPPINES

OCTOBER 1-15, 2012


OCTOBER 1-15, 2012

PLANET

32

PHILIPPINES

Vancouver Edition


October 1-15, 2012 Issue