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SEPTEMBER 1-15, 2012


SEPTEMBER 1-15, 2012

PLANET The Quezon Memorial Circle, which used to be a green space, has been transformed into a giant tiangge and carinderia.



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DISASTER BLAMED ON RAPID DEV’T OF METRO MANILA The problem lies in Metro Manila’s poor planning, political gridlock, inadequate or inappropriate urban management, the inadequate implementation of zoning rules and land use plans, haphazard real estate development, among others, says an environmentalist. By kristine l. alave

HERE was no storm over Metro Manila in the first week of August. But why was there so much rain? Why was the flooding so severe? Those were the questions asked by Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan, CEO of the environmental group Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF)Philippines.

Filipinos, not the monsoon rains, are to blame for the deluge that paralyzed the metropolitan area of 14 million residents last week, according to Tan. In an analysis, Tan said the latest disaster to hit the Philippines was a result of an unfettered and mindless march to urbanization that had replaced soils and trees, which could absorb the rains and reduce flooding, with concrete jungles. One classic example is Quezon Memorial Circle. What used to be a vast green space has been transformed into a giant tiangge and carinderia. Construction by the Quezon City govern-


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ment of buildings continues unabated in the park, where grass is fast disappearing just a spitting distance from cavernous shopping malls. Now, during downpours, the areas surrounding the park are flooded and traffic is snarled. The buildings, the concrete and the asphalt have trapped and increased the temperature in the metropolis, making it an “urban heat island,” or UHI, Tan said. Pollutants from buses, cars and factories also contribute to the warming of the city as they block the heat rising to the atmosphere. Because of all these urban development and human activities, there is more heat that lingers on the ground that interacts with the weather, Tan said. In the case of Metro Manila this time of the year, the UHI worsens the southwest monsoon, the dominant weather system. Along with the Philippines’ location on the typhoon path and climate change, UHI is the third factor for the unusually heavy and relentless rains that crippled the capital last week, Tan said. “Urban heat islands” are aggravations that intensify the water cycle. They are “magnets” that draw in and enhance weather systems such as cyclones, low-pressure areas and the monsoon. “In some cases, they have been known to spawn local tornadoes. We saw that right in Quezon City just last year, where seven barangays (villages) were reported to have been badly affected,” Tan said. The monsoon drenching during



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The buildings, the concrete and the asphalt have trapped and increased the temperature in the metropolis, making it an “urban heat island,” or UHI. the first week of August produced the highest volume of rainfall seen in the city since the record-breaking downpours brought by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, claiming close to a hundred lives in the rampaging flood tides. The amount of rain from August 6 to 8 reached 1,007 millimeters. The weather bureau’s projected accumulated rainfall for August was only 540 millimeters. The torrential rains that enveloped the city forced 2 million people in Metro Manila to evacuate to safety and crippled 80 percent of the city. Tan’s statement aligns with the findings of a researcher at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa). The UHI effect distorts the heat balance, wind circulation and pre-

cipitation in the city, according to Nivagine Nievares, a weather specialist at the Pagasa. Nievares’s 2010 masteral thesis showed that rapid development in the city had made Manila hotter compared to the rural regions around it. Metro Manila’s buildings, the roads and the pollutants in the air absorb and trap the heat from the sun, pushing the mercury higher especially during summer, Nievares said. But the UHI effect could not be blamed on the vagaries of weather. Tan’s and Nievares’ findings clearly showed that rapid urbanization was the culprit for the UHI. “The problem lies in Met-

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ro Manila’s poor planning, political gridlock, inadequate or inappropriate urban management, the inadequate implementation of zoning rules and land use plans, haphazard real estate development, among others,” Tan said. “Like most megacities in Asia, Metro Manila has adopted the long outdated Western development model referred to as ‘the urban sprawl.’ Megacities that extensively convert porous and water-absorbent land to impervious expanses of concrete generate a tremendous amount of heat. When land conversion and real estate development are allowed to grow in a haphazard manner, it only makes things worse,” he said. Nievares said the concrete and the asphalt that covers Metro Manila generate a lot of heat that contribute to the warming of the city. The dark color of the city’s roofs is also a problem. Because Metro Manila residents tend to use gray or red paints on their roofs, the heat from the sun is not reflected to the atmosphere. Instead, it is absorbed on the ground. Tan warned that Metro Manila would see more extreme and erratic weather in the future, thanks to the triple whammy of the UHI effect,

climate change, and the country’s position on the typhoon path. “Historically, most typhoons entering the Philippines come from the Pacific Ocean. Over the last four years, however, we have seen extreme weather systems develop in the West Philippine Sea,” Tan said. “Although this was not a frequently recurring situation ten or twenty years ago, the West Philippine Sea is now occasionally warm enough to be a spawning area for a phenomenon called tropical cyclogenesis, i.e., the birth of storms. The province of Pangasinan has experienced this, first hand. With global warming, we should not be surprised if this is happening,” he added. “Climate change changes everything. Humankind created it. The haphazardly built megacities of Asia are aggravating it. Metro Manila’s garbage mess and woefully inadequate transport system just makes it worse. We started it. We can stop it. But, let’s stop pointing fingers at the monsoon,” Tan said. “Some of the decisions will not be easy. But we have no choice. We only have one Philippines, and one planet.” (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n

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JESSE ROBREDO’S JOURNEY BACK HOME

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The multi-awarded former mayor of Naga City did not run for a higher office because he had no money.

Robredo had a charisma that endeared him to the common man. It was not unusual, locals say, to see the mayor in slippers, shorts, and white shirt helping sweep the streets or cleaning up the drainage days after a typhoon.

By gemma bagayaua mendoza

E was probably the most awarded among Philippine local government leaders, with over 140 awards and citations to his name. Jesse Manalastas Robredo even won in August 2000 the award that would top them all -- the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize. Civil society groups and international donor associations working on governance reforms loved him. Yet until his appointment as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary in 2010, he never ventured beyond the city’s political confines. It came to a point when people began to wonder why -- for all the glory and honor conferred on him -- Robredo wouldn’t spread his political wings beyond Naga City.

Love affair with Naga Jesse Robredo and Naga City shared a love affair that spanned over 18 years. He got elected mayor of Naga City for the first time in 1988. He was 29 at the time. After he reached the 3-succeedPresident Aquino stayed overnight in Masbate to supervise rescue operations of his close friend and political ally and later returned to retrieve the latter’s body and personally bring it to his family in Naga City.

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in Public Administration at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government, Nagueños voted him back into office. He held the position for three straight terms until 2010.

Robredo signs as a witness to the historic peace agreement between two warring families in Basilan province forged last May. ing term limit set by the Constitution, he chose to take a hiatus from government in 1998 instead of vying for a higher post. Money was a consideration. In a 2007 interview with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Robredo said he did not even have the resources to run for a bigger jurisdiction, whether for Congress or for provincial governor. Naga City was his comfort zone. In an interview with this author for a Newsbreak article published in April 2006, Robredo said, “I am more comfortable at the local level, where you immediately see the results of your labors, where you have clear limitations.” Robredo had a charisma that endeared him to the common man. It was not unusual, locals say, to see the mayor in slippers, shorts, and white shirt helping sweep the streets or cleaning up the drainage days after a typhoon. But he became more known for the reforms he instituted in office. In the early years of his administration, Robredo had to contend with a practically stagnant economy that caused revenues to sink so low that Naga City was downgraded from being a first-class to a third-class city. The traffic problem then was fast becoming a huge headache. Thousands of squatters filled Naga’s vacant lots, hoping to land jobs in the city. The city was mired in gambling and other organized crime.

Award-winning reforms As mayor, among the first things the young Robredo tackled was helping resettle the squatters and slum dwellers who comprised some 25% of the city population. He also cracked down on gam-

bling and other illegal activities, and improved collection of taxes to close the budget deficit. To ease traffic, the bus and jeepney terminals were relocated to the outskirts of the city. From a third-class city teeming with syndicates and squatters, Naga City was eventually restored to a first-class city teeming with businesses and civic-minded citizens. His urban poor program, Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (Partner in Progress), was hailed as one of the Best Practices for Human Settlements by Habitat for Humanity. The city piled on so many awards in the Asian Institute of Management’s Galing Pook Awards that, it was eventually elevated to the Hall of Fame. In 1999, Naga was cited by Asiaweek as one of the “Most Improved Cities in Asia.” In 2004, the city’s I-Governance program was chosen as one of the Global 107 Best Practices at the Dubai International Awards. The city was also a recipient of the United Nations Public Service Awards for applying information and communications technology in governance. I-­Governance is essentially about making the budget and all the services, contracts, transactions, revenue collection, as well as names of accountable officials and employees of the city available to the public. The program was implemented either through the city’s website, www.naga.gov.ph, or through a directory of sorts that the city government published and gave away for free to all the households and establishments in Naga.

People’s partner Robredo himself said these accomplishments were not his alone.

SEPTEMBER 1-15, 2012

Going national

President Aquino joins the family of the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo - (from the President’s right) wife Leni and daughters Aika, Patricia and Jillian - during the arrival honors in Malacañang Palace where a two-day wake was held.

Because of his stature, he was regarded as the ideal “conductor” of the Aquino machinery. When this author asked him in 2006 what made his programs so successful, he responded, “You haven’t written about the people of Naga.” His role, he said, is to come up with an idea and make his constituents realize they have a stake in issues he wanted to address, services he wanted to improve, and sectors he wanted to reform. Then they pick up -- and keep the program going. Essentially, he said, he couldn’t have done it if the Nagueños were not willing partners. While the nation continues to grapple with how to allow people to participate in policymaking, Naga City and Robredo went ahead and set up the People’s Council, which included representatives of basic sectors and legitimate nongovern-

ment organizations. In effect, the measure gave citizens a direct hand in local decision-making for, while they did not vote directly, they took part in the deliberation, conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of programs and projects. The People’s Council demonstrated that it actually makes a local chief executive’s life more difficult, even halting the execution of some projects. That Naga’s own People’s Council was able to do so only indicated its success in developing participatory democracy, Sulpicio Roco, who succeeded Robredo as mayor in 1998, told Asiaweek. The Nagueños appreciated the reforms. For succeeding elections since 1988, they not only voted for Robredo, they supported candidates he endorsed and responded to his rallying call, “Ubos kung ubos, gabos kung gabos,” which essentially meant voting not just for him, but for his entire slate. In 1998, after his third term, they also voted straight for the team he endorsed, then led by Sulpicio, brother of former Sen Raul Roco. When Robredo came back in 2001 after taking his Masters degree

A close friend and ally of incumbent Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas III, Robredo joined the campaign team of then Sen Benigno Aquino III after Roxas agreed to slide down as vice president in the 2010 presidential elections. Because of his stature, he was regarded as the ideal “conductor” of the Aquino machinery. He was supposed to run not just the conventional, but also the “non-conventional” campaign, dealing with political parties and traditional politicians, as well as with civil society. Suddenly, the multi-awarded mayor -- who was deemed a shooin for the post of Interior and Local Government secretary -- was no longer standing on solid ground. It didn’t help that former Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, who beat Roxas as vice-president, was also interested in the post. Robredo was among the last to be named to Aquino’s Cabinet, appointed only on July 9, 2010 and even then, only in an acting capacity. On June 13, 2011, Aquino finally signed Robredo’s ad interim appointment, paving the way for the submission of his name to the Commission on Appointments (CA). Until his ill-fated flight on Aug. 18, however, Robredo had yet to be confirmed. Before his flight to Cebu on Aug. 17, he met with a national politician to discuss disaster risk reduction and his CA confirmation. It was among the few last acts he did as a politician. He was supposed to come home to Naga, his comfort zone, to spend the long weekend with his family. He never made it. (Rappler.com) n


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SEPTEMBER 1-15, 2012

WANTED A METRO MANILA GOVERNMENT

Without a unified, comprehensive traffic strategy, the Metro Manila gridlock will only get worse.

The day-to-day lives of Metro Manilans are regulated by 17 distinct political units that are basically answerable to the national government. The Metro Manila Development Authority has responsibilities for traffic along certain major thoroughfares like EDSA but it does not even have the power to impose a metropolitan-wide coding system. By dr. efren s. cruz

ETRO Manila needs a metropolitanwide land use, waste management and environmental planning and regulation body and this can only be done by a metropolitan government such as those existing in other metropolitan areas in the world like Bangkok, Tokyo, London and New York. The tons of garbage that washed up on Roxas Boulevard from Manila Bay a few weeks ago during a typhoon did not come from the city of Manila alone. The garbage must have come from ships anchored in the bay and from different areas of the metropolis.

The winds that carry air pollution do not recognize political boundaries and the esteros clogged with wastes cause floods in neighboring cities and towns. Most of the people who work in Makati and the Ortigas area do not live in those places. Certainly a great majority of the students of De La Salle University along Taft Avenue do not live in the city of Manila. It is, therefore, not unusual for a person who lives in Para単aque to go to work in Makati or Pasig while

his or her children go to school in Manila, Quezon City or Las Pi単as. On weekends, he and his family go to Las Pi単as or Makati or San Juan-Mandaluyong for shopping or entertainment. Even the working poor whose means of livelihood are in construction, security, janitorial services or scavenging must travel daily across political boundaries. Many, if not most, Metro Manilans spend most of their waking time in different cities and towns. Also, the basic necessities like electricity, potable water and food are

controlled and distributed by entities that also cross political boundaries. However, the day-to-day lives of Metro Manilans are regulated by 17 distinct political units that are basically answerable to the national government. The Metro Manila Development Authority has responsibilities for traffic along certain major thoroughfares like EDSA but it does not even have the power to impose a metropolitanwide coding system. There is a very pressing need for


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a Metro Manila solution to waste disposal. The current practice of using sanitary landfills must be replaced immediately. But all the proposals, like the use of incinerators, are beyond the financial capability of any of the 17 cities and towns in the metropolis. The unfortunate result of this unwieldy and unrealistic metropolitan structure is that Metro Manila problems have become the problems of the president and the national government. In most of the other major metropolitan areas of the world, the solution has been to have a metropolitan government. In Bangkok, Thailand, the organization which manages the entire city is the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration or BMA, which consists of two main parts -- the governor and the BMA Council. The governor is the chief executive of the BMA. He or she is elected for a four- year term. The governor then appoints four deputy governors to take care of the day to day administration. The members of the BMA Council are also elected by the people. There is one councilor to represent 100,000 people. The BMA Council is the legislative organ of



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The unfortunate result of this unwieldy and unrealistic structure is the problems have become the that of the national government.

Flooding can be effectively addressed by a strong metropolitan government that has control over the cities and towns that comprise Metro Manila. the Bangkok metropolitan area. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is composed of the governor and the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly. The governor is directly elected by the citizens of Tokyo for a four-year term. He or she has

overall control of metropolitan affairs and the authority and responsibility of managing the metropolitan administration. The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) is made up of 127 members directly elected by the citi-

zens to serve a four-year term. The President of the Assembly is elected from among its members. The TMA is the formal decision making body of the Tokyo metropolis. It has the authority to enact, amend and repeal metropolitan or-

dinances; approve the budget; and, approve or consent to important appointments, nominations and other designations made by the governor such as those of a vice-governor or administrative commission member. The Assembly also has the powers to investigate and inspect all aspects of the metropolitan government. In the London metropolitan area, the Mayor and the London Assembly are elected by Londoners and are supported by a permanent body that provides continuity in the ongoing development and delivery of services for London. This body is called the Greater London Authority (GLA). This London


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PHILIPPINES his work includes making it easier for people to move in and around the city, transforming open spaces into cleaner, calmer, greener places, and tackling housing and health inequalities. Allow the President of our country to focus on leading the crusade against corruption; ensuring that the country becomes a tiger economy; reforming an antiquated educational system; protecting the country against external and internal security threats; and realizing the vision of a nation where everyone, rich and poor, has equal oppor-

governance structure is fairly new and was meant to replace the old structure where London was divided into many districts and the City of London actually referred only to the financial district. The Greater London Authority was established in 2000, and in 2007 additional and enhanced powers were given to the Mayor of London and the London Assembly in many areas including housing, planning,

climate change, waste, health and culture. There were three main areas of responsibility cited, namely economic development and wealth creation, social development, and environmental improvement. The London mayor and Assembly have specific powers and duties and a general responsibility to promote economic, social and environmental improvement in London. According to the present Mayor,

Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo (holding microphone), explains to Navotas City officials and residents the government’s plan to resettle squatters to a relocation site near Metro Manila.

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tunity for a life of human dignity. At the same time, let us have a Metro Manila government that will give us a cleaner and pollution-free metropolis; safer neighborhoods; commuter-friendly streets; more open spaces; and the delivery of basic services such as electricity, potable water and garbage collection to even the poorest neighborhoods. (Business World) (The author is a professor of Strategic Management at the MBA Program, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University.) n


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By mylah r. roque

VEN as the country reels from the killing of Dutch aid worker Wilhelmus JJ Lutz Geertman, a Swiss couple who has lived and worked among Manila’s urban slum dwellers for over 10 years returns to share their story. Christian and Christine Schneider are white but they speak Filipino as if they were born and raised here. Like the slain Geertman, they are perhaps, more Filipino than most. Pastor Dennis Manas, executive director of Onesimo Foundation which the Schneiders founded, said locals are often awestruck upon meeting them for the first time. Eventually they fall in love with Christian or Christine not because they are both tall and good-looking with blue eyes, but because they are foreigners serving the Filipino people. In 1988, Christian left the prosperous city of Basel, Switzerland (home of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies and some of the best museums) to live in Caloocan’s Bagong Silang resettlement area (home of urban migrants ejected from other areas in Metro Manila). A trained nurse, he had earlier visited Manila as part of a missionary group who “lived in complete American luxury” inside guarded villages. Christian later became impressed with the work of another group of missionaries, Servants Asia, who “learned the language of the Filipinos and formed friendships with their neighbors in the slums.” In Rubble and Redemption, Christian and Christine tell for the first time the story of how they found life in the slums of Manila. It spans Christian’s experience when he was still a bachelor living in the slums, his long-distance romance with Christine, her decision to join him and raise two children in Manila, and their return to Switzerland. The book describes squatters’ life under four Philippine Presidents, when extreme poverty and violence were literally outside their door. It narrates Christian’s encounter with youth involved in drugs and how they are forced to engage in all sorts of activity to finance the vice. It also tells of the rape and violence to children and women and how these had inspired him to help lead teenagers to a life away from the slavery that permeates the slums. This was also the inspiration for Onesimo Foundation, named after the runaway Roman slave Onesimus who became a friend of the apostle Paul. By the time the Schneiders left Manila, they have built five youth rehabilitation shelters in the same five

THE SCHNEIDERS

Christian and Christine Schneider are white but they speak Filipino and they are perhaps more Filipino than most.

OF MANILA’S SLUMS Filipinos are often awestruck upon meeting the Schneiders for the first time. Eventually they fall in love with Christian or Christine not because they are both tall and goodlooking with blue eyes, but because they are foreigners serving the Filipino people. slum areas where they had lived, a camp in Mindoro where urban youth go during the summer, and a skills training center for adults. Today, the foundation operates eight shelters in Quezon City’s Payatas, Mendez, Baesa, Kaingin, Philcoa (2) and F.Carlos, as well as Tondo and Quiapo in Manila. The book is a very honest recollection — of their sincerity to help, the preparations Christian undertook before the trip but which still did not prevent his frustration and helplessness, Christine’s

In Rubble and Redemption, Christian and Christine tell for the first time the story of how they found life in the slums of Manila. culture shock and frequent worries on Christian’s well-being, the physical dangers they encountered every day, including Christine’s near-death experience from dengue and a subsequent depression, and Christian’s feeling of betrayal over

some trusted friends’ mishandling of the funds for a project. On the morning of July 10, 2000, the Schneiders were the only foreigners among the 300,000 inhabitants of “Lupang Pangako” in Payatas, Quezon City when the 90-foot high and

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Europeans find Filipino life extraordinary, like living in a room which is the bedroom, dining room & kitchen. mile-long garbage collapsed. The book reminds the reader about aspects of Filipino life that are common but which the European finds extraordinary, such as living in a room which is the “bedroom, dining room, kitchen — everything at once,” and Christine’s happiness when residents dug a hole for a water pump so they no longer had to fetch water in kettles far from the house. Christian’s accounts were sometimes tinged with deprecating humor, like the time he learned belatedly that their new landlord was the biggest drug dealer in the area, that his wife was addicted to crystal meth (a drug that stimulates the central nervous system) and that the reason they sought a big advance on their rent was to pay the bail bond for the husband who was arrested for procuring clients for an underage prostitute. Christian’s rich narrative also includes experiencing the effects of the explosion of Mt. Pinatubo, and of his long and hot trek in the mountains of Camarines Norte to accompany a friend looking for his brother who had joined the New People’s Army. In Basel, Christian now works as a nurse in a hospital while Christine is a school teacher. Before they left Manila, they turned over management of the foundation to a staff of Christian professionals. The couple, however, continues to help raise funds in Switzerland for Onesimo and visits Manila regularly. Their two teen-age children, Isabel and Noel, describe themselves as “third culture kids” which, according to Christian means that while they find Switzerland more beautiful, “they only feel really well in the tempo, the noise, and the tumult of the people in Manila.” A few months ago, Christian was diagnosed with dilative cardiomyopathy, a heart disease which could hopefully be slowed down through aggressive drug therapy. Rubble and Redemption was launched last July 19 at Galerie Hans Brumann, Greenbelt 5, Makati City. (Vera Files) n


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DON’T JUDGE ME BY MY ACCENT

‘I learnt to pray in Tagalog and sing nationalist hymns of God and country. Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya? I was enchanted by the possibility that I could really belong with these people who looked like me, who worked so hard and missed their families so much.’

By veronica pedrosa

WAS born in the Philippines, of Philippine parents, and I only carry a Philippine passport. I do not claim any other nationality. But when I speak in the Philippines my belonging is questioned. It’s just the way I speak that seems to prevent some people from even listening to what I am saying. No need for any foreign cultural references, I just need to open my mouth. Those people who have something to say about my accent are always and without exception my fellow Filipinos. I grew up in London, I was 4 when I arrived and it was another 15 years before I returned due to my family’s political activities. It wasn’t just the unauthorized biography of Imelda Marcos that my mother had written, but my parents’ dissident activities. Us kids tagged along with them as they organized Filipino migrant workers in London and then around Europe to help them lobby for lower passport fees, fairer immigration laws, amnesty for illegal workers and an end to double taxation. After 1983 and the assassination of Ninoy Aquino the activities became much more sharply political. Then there were the parties and fiestas, full of laughing Pinays and their barkadas, trying to welcome us, awkward and shy, into the fold. They tempted us with plates full of pancit, adobo, lumpiang ubod, they patiently taught us songs from home. I learnt to pray in Tagalog and sing nationalist hymns of God and country. Aling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya? I was enchanted by the possibility that I could really belong with these people who looked like me, who worked so hard and missed their

“Could we try to craft a language through which Philippine people can see themselves for the closely inter-dependent communities that they are?” families so much. Growing up, walking the streets in England I didn’t even have to speak to not-belong. Just one look and assumptions are made. It’s one reason that I’ve made it a point to battle on and try to stay on camera in the highly-competitive business of international news broadcasting. I think it’s important that Asian women are seen by a global audience in roles that help question the stereotypes and force an examination of what we are actually saying and doing. Here are some of the comments I’ve seen over the years: “What

Pedrosa: Being Filipino is more about what we stand for than how we look or sound. the f**k is something like : ‘this is Verowwwwnikah Pidrowsah reporting for Al Jazeera’. What phony crap to pronounce your own name THAT way. Some English ‘mate’ should throw her some beer bottle for taking on an accent that we all know she’s faking”, “but her face hehehehe pangong ilongga pa rin..that makes her sound really fake”, “Ang panget ng voice ng aljazeera_ tv reporter n2 pinay n british accent kuno.” Ironic for a country where 1 in 8 of our people live overseas and the dream of many is to leave for a better life elsewhere.

So why is it that, in other contexts, commentators are eager to put down people who’ve spent part of their lives abroad? I wonder if an upstart young writer who’d learnt to speak European languages and whose name was Jose Rizal would receive quite the praise now that he received a century ago. Would he instead be greeted with suspicion or even jail for raging against the status quo of corruption and mismanagement and publicly holding up a mirror to our own society? But wait he did go to jail and was publicly executed for his art!

I lived in Malaysia for several years recently. They have much more serious problems than the Philippines when it comes to racial tension and I’ve particularly followed Malaysian academic and activist Farish Noor, who’s been a disciplined public voice that questions notions of nationhood and culture. Perhaps it is time to attempt an experiment in the Philippines inspired by Farish. To paraphrase one description of his work, could we try “to craft a language through which Philippine people can see themselves for the closely interdependent communities that they are? That we all exist within a rich, vast and multi-dimensional global history, in the wider world way beyond the echo chamber of the mainstream Philippine media and politics? Could we, by doing so, see our society for what it really is and even try to fix it?” So here’s my two cents worth to your question “What is a Filipino?” I think it’s more about what we stand for than how we look or sound, and that covers a multitude of follies but also, perhaps, the occasional glorious moment of collective and decisive rejection of bigotry, cruelty and exploitation. Nationality and sense of belonging are about a sense of direction - the future. (InterAksyon.com) (The author is a journalist/ presenter/moderator at Independent. Previously she was a presenter at Al Jazeera English, anchor at CNN International, London & Hong Kong, presenter at BBC World Service, and presenter at BBC.) n


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DRAMA The Filipino Fascination With Asianovelas

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‘Filipinos love drama and stories that we can relate to,’ says a TV executive. ‘Most of the time, the Korean dramas are quite escapist and moving. Aside from the touching plotlines, the production is really a visual experience of places that most of us are not accustomed to seeing.’

By cherie m. del rio

HE daily mix of primetime shows are no longer just comprised of local soap operas. For years, the program listing for the TV networks have always included imported drama series, which are more commonly referred to as the Asianovela. These are TV shows originating mostly from South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan and are dubbed in Tagalog.

The biggest Korean drama of 2011, My Princess, topbills Asia’s premiere actor Song Seung Hun and Korea’s most beautiful woman Kim Tae Hee.

Tagalized A s i a n o ve las were first in-

troduced in the year 2000 and the list of aired titles continues to grow. Leading networks ABS-CBN, GMA 7, and TV5 all have their own Asianovela lineups. As soon as one Asianovela ends, another one will be aired. GMA 7 has its “Heart of Asia” programming that has been airing the so-called “Kapusonovelas” (Dong Yi, It Started With A Kiss, Iris, among the more recent titles). ABS-CBN, on the other hand, claims to be the true Home of Asianovelas with titles such as City Hunter and Dream High leading the ratings. TV 5’s Kapatid: Asianovelas (Home of the Asian Fanatic) is currently showing the following Koreanovelas: White Lie, Love You A Thousand Times, and Pink Lipstick. While Filipino TV programming has never really been free of imported teledramas and movies, the popularity of these shows didn’t flourish until the arrival of Mexican telenovelas and later on, the Korean dramas. Apart from the high ratings and viewer demands that have compelled TV networks to import the Asianovelas, another reason why these shows are already a regular part of both daytime and primetime programming is that they are comparatively cheaper to produce. The cost of importing Asianovelas is much less-


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er compared to producing a quality teleserye. Buying the rights to air an Asianovela and dubbing it in Tagalog is fairly less expensive than having to keep writers and actors on a payroll. The location, the shooting, the overall cost of production can be overwhelming. Integrated into these financial gambles is the risk that the teleserye may or may not even pick up and acquire good ratings. At least, with Asianovelas, the TV networks can select shows that have long ended and been reviewed by both local and international audiences. They can choose what previously hit shows to air locally. These Asianovelas have an extraordinary charm that enthralls Filipinos from the pilot episode all the way down to the series finale. In a 2009 interview, GMA Network VP for Program Management Joey R. Abacan shared: “Filipinos love drama and stories that we can relate to. Most of the time, the Korean dramas are quite escapist and moving. Aside from the touching plotlines, the production is really a visual experience of places that most of us are not accustomed to seeing.” True enough, the visuals, soundtrack, modern technology, cuisine, and fashion are only a handful of components that appeal greatly to Filipino audiences. Viewers are captivated by the setting in these Asian dramas, the music played, the food presented, the latest gadgets featured, and the clothes sported by the actors in the television show. But far more prominent than these factors, the plot of the dramas is relatively fresh and unique enough to mesmerize the audience and get them addicted to the stories. In the 90’s, the Mexican telenovelas took Pinoy TV by storm. Thalia, hailed as the Queen of Telenovelas, was a household name and her soaps Marimar, Rosalinda,

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Dong Yi, another Korean production, tells of the story of an ordinary woman catapulted to greatness by the love of a powerful man. complement to our Filipino soaps and viewers find them refreshing,” says ABS-CBN Head for Program Acquisition Leng Raymundo. Although Filipino viewers still can’t get enough of the rather predictable storylines presented in local soaps, they find invigorating balance from these Asianovela counterparts. Whatever seems to be lacking in the local soaps are reinforced in the Tagalized foreign dramas. For example, one of the major themes in Asianovelas is the historical fiction. There is a considerable lack The most watched Korean TV series of 2005, the romantic comedy My Name of this particuis Kim Soon, was also an instant hit lar theme in Filamong Filipinos. ipino teleserye Maria Mercedes, and Maria la del but Korean draBarrio were such massive hits that mas have this in they were later remade by the gi- abundance. The ant networks, featuring local talents stories of Kowith a few changes on the storyline. rean dynasties, Mexican telenovelas were not the complete with only ones remade. GMA has pro- melodrama and duced local adaptations of the Ko- martial arts, are rean dramas Stairway to Heaven, My presented in a Name is Sam Soon, and Full House. number of TV ABS-CBN also aired its remakes of series and many titles such as Lovers in Paris, My Girl, of these have been aired in and Green Rose, among others. “Koreanovelas are a perfect the Philippines.

Asianovela’s storylines are somewhat more diverse compared to that of Filipino and Mexian telenovela plots. A classic Filipino soap opera would revolve around ragsto-riches stories as well as rich boy falls for poor girl love affairs. Local soaps have also borrowed key elements (and clichés!) from Mexican telenovelas: revenge is a common theme along with love triangles and family conflicts. Money and relationships are always integral to the plot. There would also be a protagonist who will be revealed later in the series as a billionaire and will be reunited with a long-lost love. The villains will suffer a very cruel death or if they happen to survive, they will be permanently disfigured. Oftentimes, these antagonists do not die at the first occurrence of tragedy -- they will reappear towards the end of the drama waging the traditional flag of “back with a vengeance”. Mexican telenovelas tell similar stories and that is perhaps why Filipinos lately have been drawn more to the Asian dramas. Mexican soaps are also filled with sexual themes - something that is very rare in the common “Kdramas.” Out of 15 to 25 episodes in a single Korean dra-

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ma, there would probably be only one or two kissing scenes throughout the entire series. This makes Asianovelas more resonant among Filipino viewers regardless of age. Asianovelas have more complex but shorter plots -- and when it’s drama, it usually involves character death. The romantic comedies employ a fresh brand of humor that is well received by Filipino audiences. Asianovelas are plot driven and their characters are unique but mostly relatable, making the shows all the more endearing to the viewers. Although the Philippines continues to import the best Asianovelas, this is not an indication that the country has a shortage of quality teledramas. In fact, there are a number of Pinoy teleseryes that have been exported to Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Among the more popular shows that have been successful abroad are: Kapamilya telenovelas Pangako Sa Yo, Sana Maulit Muli, Lobo, Tayong Dalawa, Katorse, Kahit Isang Saglit, and Dahil May Isang Ikaw; and GMA 7’s Boys Nxt Door, Marimar, Kahit Kailan, Muli, Bakekang, Habang Kapiling Ka, Impostora, Dyesebel, and Mga Mata Ni Angelita. n


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CELEBR TY

ZSA ZSA HAS KIDNEY CANCER BARELY over a month since the death of her long-time partner Dolphy, Zsa Zsa Padilla is facing another challenge. The 48-year-old singer-actress has been diagnosed with Stage 1 kidney cancer. Her doctor at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California, have told her she has a malignant growth the size of a golf ball inside her kidney. Zsa Zsa is set to a surgery on Aug. 27 at Cedars Sinai to remove the tumor. If all goes well, she will be out of the hospital in two days and will be back to work in a month. “This is the first stage. Once it’s removed, I’ll be cancer-free. I’m going to take care of myself and eat well,” she said. She added that once she be-

comes a cancer survivor, she hopes to raise awareness. She is committed to staying strong. She said she is looking for the challenge and ready to live life day by day. Zsa Zsa said that she now looks at life differently after learning that she has a stage 1 cancer in her kidney and feels blessed that the Lord has given her “many chances at surviving.” “It can happen to anyone. I’m just blessed God has given me many chances at surviving – my back surgery, my ureter surgery and now this. I now look at life differently,” she said. While she is still grieving over the death of Dolphy, Zsa Zsa said she does not feel alone because she knows he is watching over her. “When life situations get rough,

SUSAN RECEIVES AWARD FOR FPJ

ZSA ZSA I find myself taking deep breaths... And I am ready to take on new challenges. Living life. One day at a time,” she tweeted.

ANGELICA OPENS UP ON JOHN LLOYD

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III bestowed the National Artist Award to the late Fernando Poe Jr., which was well-received by Da King’s wife, Susan Roces, and daughter Mary Grace Poe-Llamanzares, on Aug. 16 at the Malacañang Palace. “Salamat kay PNoy sa pagkumpirma kay FPJ. It’s worth waiting for to receive this award mula sa isang tunay na halal na pangulo, said Susan.

ANGELICA

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attempted to give the same award to the late King of Philippine Movies but the late actor’s family declined to receive the award. The Poe family has accused Arroyo of cheating in the 2004 presidential elections. Grace, who is currently the chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, explained the reason why they declined the award during GMA’s administration. “Kasi noon, hindi namin tinanggap, kasi naniniwala kami na ang isang karangalan ay dapat ibinibigay ng isang taong marangal.”

GRACE & PNOY

ANGELICA Panganiban has finally opened up about her closeness to John Lloyd Cruz even as she appealed to the media for some privacy to allow her to enjoy the happiness she has now. Although the actress neither confirmed nor denied that they are now in a relationship, she described the state of her heart as “perfect,” referring to the “perfect Sunday” post she made on the photo-sharing site Instagram on Aug. 12. She said it was John Lloyd who posted their photo in her Instagram account although she refused to say where the photo was taken. Angelica appealed to the media to give her the chance to enjoy her life. “Siguro may karapatan din akong huwag magsalita at piliin kong manahimik. Hayaan niyo na muna akong i-enjoy ko ‘yung

privacy at happiness na mayroon ako ngayon. In time darating tayo diyan kapag nag-desisyon ako at bumait akong magsalita at i-share sa inyo kung anuman ang nararamdaman ko. Sobrang proud ako na gagawin ‘yon, pero ngayon hayaan niyo muna ako na nasa ganito,” she said. What is important now, she said, is that she is enjoying life after her breakup with long-time boyfriend, actor Derek Ramsay “Nararamdaman ko na paganda ng paganda ang bawat araw na mayroon ako. At hindi ko kailangang hingin ‘yon sa ibang tao. Nararamdaman ko ‘yon sa sarili ko dahil nahanap ko kung ano ang gusto kong magachieve -- ‘yung panahon sa sarili ko, maalagaan ko ‘yung sarili ko, pagandahin lalo ang sarili ko - at mukhang achieve na achieve ko ang kagandahan na ‘yon,” she said.

RUFFA

GRACE ON PNOY: WE NEVER GOT THERE BESIDES being a host and news reporter, Grace Lee has become a household name when she started dating President Aquino. But the much-talked blooming romance has suddenly died down. In an exclusive interview with Philippine Entertainment Portal, the Korean radio-TV personality explained the real reason why it went kaput. “We dated for a couple of months and, you know, sometimes you date and it works out,

and you go to the next level, you become a couple, and you are in an exclusive relationship….We never got there,” Grace revealed. She dispelled allegations that she was only paid to date him, or that a suitor who gifted her with white Ferrari made her to stop seeing the bachelor President. But she admitted that she learned a lot from the president, who was an “interesting part” of her life. When asked if they have remained friends, she simply said: “Yes, yes.”

RUFFA: I’M ON LOVE SABBATICAL

AMID rumors romantically linking her to a number of personalities, Ruffa Gutierrez insists that she is on a “love sabbatical.“ Even before reports surfaced of a supposed blooming relationship between her and newly-single actor Derek Ramsay, Ruffa had said that she is taking time off from entertaining romance in her life. But her “sabbatical” from love may only last until November. Speaking to entertainment magazine Starstudio, Ruffa said of his potential suitors: “Magapply ulit [sila] sa November.” Ruffa also addressed rumors linking her to Derek, who is the former boyfriend of actress Angelica Panganiban. “Hindi totoo `yun. Friends lang kami [ni Derek]. It’s not true at all. We only saw each other once in London and 20 pa kami so wala kaming affair or anything, as in hindi naman kami masyadong close,” said Ruffa. In an earlier radio interview, the actress-host also explained that her “love sabbatical“ is only temporary, as she still sees herself settling down with a man in her life. “I have no problems naman in meeting people, it’s just that now I’m on a love sabbatical, at ayokong ma-distract sa aking trabaho and where I want to go in life. Pero sa life. Pero sa tingin ko naman, yes, I will have someone to be with me and hold my hand for the rest of my life,” she said.


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CELEBRITYFILES

SENATOR SOTTO CAUGHT IN THE ACT

HAYDEN GETS OFF THE HOOK

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the complaint filed by actress Katrina Halili against Hayden Kho over violation of Republic Act No.9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act. The complaint was related to the sex video scandal of Katrina and Hayden that spread like wildfire over the internet. “It is our considered view that public respondent did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying due course to the appeal,” the court said. The CA said that it was not the creation of the video that brought “emotional and psychological distress” to Katrina. Rather, the CA said that the stress of the actress may have come from the fact that the video was uploaded and circulated online. The CA also disclosed that the actress confirmed she knew she was being captured in video by Hayden. It wasn’t proven as well if Hayden uploaded the video himself and spread it online. Earlier, the CA affirmed a ruling of the Professional Regu-

KATRINA lation Commission (PRC) revoking the professional license of hayden as cosmetic surgeon, stemming from his controversial sex video with Katrina. In a decision promulgated last June 29, the appellate court dismissed Hayden’s petition seeking to reverse the findings of the PRC’s Board of Medicine that found him liable for immorality, dishonorable and unethical conduct. The CA upheld the authority of the PRC to suspend or revoke a certificate of registration and professional license of erring professionals.

SENATOR Tito Sotto is accused of plagiarizing some parts of his emotional speech against the Reproductive Health Bill. A blogger, Alfredo R. Melgar, said Sotto’s “scientific proof was copied entirely and almost word-for-word from an article by a blogger.” The blogger turned out to be Sarah Pope, an American who maintains a blog entitled “Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist.” The American blogger was never attributed in the senator’s speech, according to Melgar. GMA News also released a comparison of texts, which had revealed

SOTTO

that four parts in the senator’s speech were exactly alike with the said blogger. But the senator, who opposes the RH bill, claimed that they sourced out the information from Natasha Campbell-McBride, not the blogger. After learning about the controversy, Pope said: “A Senator in the Philippines plagiarized one of my blog posts to use in a speech. Can’t even believe this!!!” Atty. Hector Villacorta, chief of staff of Sotto, admitted to having copied parts of the speech from Pope’s blog.

BOY HITS BACK AT AMERICAN DIRECTOR

TALENT manager and TV host Boy Abunda was offended when Manila was described as “ugly” and “stinky” by American director-scriptwriter Tony Gilroy of movie The Bourne Legacy, which was filmed partly in Manila. “After the welcome they got in this country ... when interviewed by the BBC you say ‘I went to Manila because it stinks’? Unfair ‘yan,” he said. Gilroy made the comment about Manila in an interview on Bloomberg TV show “Tonight”

when asked why he thinks Manila has provided him what he really needed to complete the movie. But Gilroy had good words for the local film industry. Filipino actor John Arcilla, meanwhile, defended the movie against netizens. He said the movie has balanced out the good and the bad sides of the Philippines. Portions of the movie were filmed in Palawan, showcasing the country’s beaches and islands.

BOY


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FIESTA PINOY “Rita Mangune (one of many Manila Express winners of free round trip to the Philippines) happily try Manila Express very popular game”.

“Tessie Talastas and Len Atienza (holding balloons) and guests joined the parade”.

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AVAO City -- With many provinces in Mindanao having the country’s cheapest available food, the appearance of many Mindanao areas on the list of the country’s poorest towns would seem to indicate that the government has failed to shield many towns in Mindanao from teetering toward the poverty drain. The 2009 City and Municipal Level Poverty Estimates released recently by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed 17 of the 20 poorest municipalities in the country were in Mindanao, and many of them are in Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Norte and Davao del Sur. These were the same provinces where a separate NSCB survey on selected food items showed that beef and chicken meat were sold cheaper there or in their adjacent areas than anywhere else in the rest of the country. Siayan, an interior mountain town of Zamboanga del Norte, was tagged the poorest municipality in the Philippines with a poverty incidence of 79.9 percent. That would roughly translate into four of every five residents unable to meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. Six other Zamboanga del Norte towns of Baliguian (75.3 percent), Godod (71.1), Gutalac (70.4), Manukan (68.2), Sibuco (68.2) and Jose Dalman (68) were on the list. Others in the tailend were: Bucloc (77.2) and Lacub (67.2) in Abra; Kibungan (67.9) in Benguet; Jose Abad Santos (72.3) and Sarangani (72.1) in Davao del Sur; Panda (70.1), Guindulungan (67.7)  and Gen. SK Pendatun (67.1) in Maguindanao; Mabuhay (68.9) in Zamboanga Sibugay; Tagoloan (70.1), Nunungan (67.9), Munai (67.5) and Tangkal (67.4) in Lanao del Norte. On average, Zamboanga del Norte has a lower poverty incidence on its households despite hosting seven of the country’s poorest towns. Even then, its 55-percent average poverty incidence would mean half of its population are needing welfare assistance. Maguindanao, with three of the poorest towns, was in the company of Zamboanga del Norte, with a 55.64-average poverty incidence. A bright spot is Sulu island, once

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MINDANAO IS HOME TO COUNTRY’S POOREST TOWNS Siayan, an interior mountain town of Zamboanga del Norte, was tagged the poorest municipality in the Philippines with a poverty incidence of 79.9 percent. That would roughly translate into four of every five residents unable to meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing.

a perennial member of the country’s poorest provinces, but which has since shown a leap of faith in itself, with an average poverty incidence of 49.37 percent. Seven years earlier, in 2000, it had an incidence of poverty of 63.2 percent. Sulu shone brightest when the NSCB survey on selected food items lauded its selling of the country’s cheapest rice,

Residents flee their homes due to continuing armed clashes between government troops and Muslim separatists and terrorists.

Poverty drives many Badjaos, a Muslim ethnic group of sea gypsies, to move to urban areas to become beggars. much cheaper than those in Central Luzon, the country’s rice granary, and in the Cotabato provinces, the country’s rice bowl. The survey used the small area estimates of poverty among their population. Estrella R. Turingan, NSCB regional head for the Davao region, said the survey uses

Seventeen of the 20 poorest municipalities in the country are in Mindanao.

income figures of the localities and computed per capita. The 2009 survey “combined the latest data available such as the merged 2009 Family Income and Expenditure Survey [FIES]-Labor Force Survey [LFS], and 2007 Census of Population [PopCen],” the NSCB said in its web site posting. The media here grilled the NSCB here over the methods used in estimating the poverty of the municipalities, warning that the method of using per capita distribution would not reflect what international lending and ratings firms have seen as the widening income

disparity in the country. The independent research group, Ibon Philippines, said that the latest government poverty surveys have “excluded the poor from the poverty count.” “Halfway into the Aquino administration’s second year in office until today, the 2011 poverty methodology comes under fire for reducing the number of poor by sheer term and method redefinition and not by employing substantial programs and policies that would physically and strategically address the causes of poverty,” Ibon said in its July 31 posting. It said the “third revision to date [the first being in 1992, the second in 2003], the 2011 methodology yielded a lower increase in the number of poor by 970,000 or from 22.17 in 2006 to 23.14 in 2009.” “The new count also reduced the number of hungry Filipinos by 58,000 families, or around 290,000 individuals. As a result, the Philippines was deemed closer to reaching the Millennium Development Goal [MDG] of reducing poverty by half by 2015 than if the old poverty methodology were used,” it said. At the very least, it added, “this makes the country’s economy appear to be improving, which is supposed to be good news for businesses here and abroad.” (Business Mirror) n


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OUR OLYMPIC MEDAL HAUL SINCE 1924:

0-2-7

Roel Velasco, elder brother of Onyok and bronze medalist in Barcelona, was coach of Mark Barriga in the recent London Olympiad. By john rogelio e. austria

HE country’s fruitless campaign in the recent London Olympics has been extended to 16 years, spanning four Olympiads. The last time the Philippines landed a medal was in the 1996 Atlanta Games when light flyweight boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco placed second. Eleven Filipino athletes competed in London: boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, swimmers Jessie Khing Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skeet shooter Brian Rosario, archers Rachelle Ann Cabral and Mark Javier, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, tracksters Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera, and bicycle motocross (BMX) rider Daniel Caluag. If it’s any consolation, 118 other nations also failed to land a medal in London.

To date, the Philippines has produced nine medals in the Summer Olympics -- two silvers and seven bronzes -- since the country first joined in the 1924 Games. Five of the medals came from boxing, two from swimming and two from track and field. The national pride, no doubt, has taken another beating. But instead of focusing on our debacle, over which we ordinary mortals have no control, let us lift our flagging spirits by reliving our few glorious Olympiad moments. These heroic efforts prove that Filipinos are capable of pitting skills and talent against the world’s best.

9 Olympic medals To date, the Philippines has pro-

duced nine medals in the Summer Olympics -- two silvers and seven bronzes -- since the country first joined in the 1924 Games. Swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso holds the distinction of being the first ever Filipino Olympian to make it to the podium, taking the 200-meter breaststroke bronze in the 1928 Amsterdam Games. He also gave the Philippines the honor of being the first ever Southeast Asian country to bag an Olympic medal. Yldefonso duplicated his feat

in the same event four years later in Los Angeles, where the Philippines recorded its best Olympic showing with three medals -- all bronze. The other two medalists were Simeon Toribio in high jump and Jose Villanueva in boxing. Yldefonso died four months before his 42nd birthday at the Capas concentration camp after surviving the Bataan Death March. He is the great great grandfather of swimmer Daniel Coakley, who placed 40th in +22


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THE While most countries are curbing the evils of smoking, our politicians are dragging their feet on efforts to raise taxes on tobacco and liquor products.

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‘SIN TAX’ PEOPLE ARE DYING

AROUND THEM SO THEY CLOSE THEIR EYES

By manuel buencamino

HE Sin Tax, as passed by the House, faces tough opposition in the Senate. Senate President Enrile said it will be madugo. Why should it be bloody? --(Editor’s Note: The Sin Tax Reform Bill, one of the Aquino administration’s priority measures, seeks to raise taxes on cigarettes and liquor for universal health care. By making vice more expensive, the proponents say less Filipinos would smoke tobacco and drink alcohol. The money to be saved from treating the ill effects of smoking and drinking would be channelled to the underfunded public health system. The House of Representatives has already approved the bill. However, the Senate has yet to pass its counterpart measure.) --The bill, according to its opponents, deals primarily with revenue enhancement and only secondarily as a public health issue. And so, while people are dying from emphysema, cancer, liver cirrhosis and a whole host of ailments associated with smoking and heavy drinking, some senators will pretend that the issue at hand is fair and effective taxation and the welfare of those who depend on tobacco and alcohol for their living, not health. Sen. Ralph Recto, chairman of the Senate committee in charge of all tax measures, opposes the Sin

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Tax. He says it penalizes consumers. He believes it is his duty to protect smokers and drinkers from high taxes. “It’s not the cigarette or the alcohol company that would pay, but Juan dela Cruz, the public, me included, because I am a smoker and a drinker, occasionally. The job of the Senate is also to temper taxes that would be imposed on the public,” he said. Okay, senator, let me see if I understood you correctly. The Senate must temper taxes on tobacco and alcohol so as to make suicide,

If the Sin Tax does not earn as much revenues as projected, if all it will accomplish is to discourage smoking and immoderate drinking, it would still be a good law. It will have reduced public health care costs and more important, suffering and death from smoking and drinking.

A beer-drinking contest may appear like a fun activity but it sends a wrong message especially to the youth. which is what smoking and heavy Jeepney drivers, telephone operadrinking is, as painless as possible. tors in call centers, ordinary workThat’s what you’re saying, right? ers who could not afford heavy Senator Enrile shares Recto’s tax,” he said. concern for consumer welfare but But, tell us senator, shouldn’t with a pro-poor twist added. smokers and drinkers take respon“Sino ang tatamaan doon? sibility for their chosen addiction?

Why pass on the cost of their stupidity to the non-smoking, moderate-drinking taxpayer? Why not consider the Sin Tax as their down payment for the inevitable medical costs they will incur? Other senators who share Enrile’s pro-poor stance, Jinggoy Estrada for one, looks at the tax from the tobacco farmer’s perspective. “On my part, what about the plight of our tobacco farmers? Who will suffer the most? Is it our farmers? Who will gain the most? Is it the importers of cigarettes? Kasi kelangan balansehin natin,” he said. Good questions, senator, if we are talking only about farmers growing crops that do not cause death and disease. But tobacco causes death and disease so there’s an over-riding public health issue involved here. You might want to ask what would make more sense, spend billions to help tobacco farmers shift to other crops or protect a status quo that burdens the taxpayer


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with never-ending ever-increasing billions in health care costs? There are other costs as well. Tobacco growing is not environment friendly. Enormous amounts of pesticides are required from planting all the way to harvesting. Pesticides do not harm the farmers only, they harm all of us because they leak into the soil and the waterways thus finding their way into the food chain. Tobacco also extracts a lot of nutrients from the soil, more than most crops. Without fertilizers, land planted to tobacco would become barren. Thus tobacco-ed land becomes dependent on fertilizers. But the biggest cost of growing tobacco is the trade-off of land that can otherwise be used for food production. Why grow tobacco when you can plant crops that sustain life? The last Sin Tax law was passed in 2004. That bill was a carefully worked-out compromise between the tobacco and alcohol industry and government. Unsurprisingly, the compromise worked in favor of

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An Ilocano taboacco farmer dries his harvest of tobacco leaves. The challenge to our leaders is to find alternative means of livelihood for tobacco farmers. ment the universal health care protobacco and alcohol. From a purely revenue enhance- gram of the government. So why ment and collection perspective, the spill blood fighting against the new new Sin Tax is superior to the old bill? Because the revenue argument one. And there’s more. Part of the does not end there. Smuggling has been raised as incremental revenues from the bill will be used to help the transition an issue against the Sin Tax. It is from tobacco to more productive a valid argument. Countries that endeavors. More important, the imposed high sin taxes experienced bulk of sin tax revenues will aug- a corresponding increase in smug-

gling. However, the question is do you not do anything because you are afraid of smuggling or do you do what you have to do and try to control smuggling at the same time? Besides, will the revenue lost because of smuggling surpass the savings on the health and social costs of smoking and excessive drinking? Recto also asked a question that strikes at the heart of the revenue enhancement aspect of the bill. “Mahirap sabihin na kaya natin tinataas para ang tao di manigarilyo. Eh bakit nyo sinasabi kokolekta tayo ng napakalaki?” It is a sensible question if enhancing revenue is the only purpose of the Sin Tax. But there is a larger issue at stake. Public health. If the Sin Tax does not earn as much revenues as projected, if all it will accomplish is to discourage smoking and immoderate drinking, it would still be a good law. It will have reduced public health care costs and more important, suffering and death from smoking and drinking.

Vancouver Edition

The Sin Tax will penalize the hell out of smoking and drinking so only the rich will be able to afford cigarettes and alcohol. That means only the rich will die. Take note of that you pro-poor senators, your poor votes will be alive and well! But seriously, the high prices will lead not only to less consumption by current consumers but will also discourage first-time users. That’s excellent, isn’t it? “It’s bloody great!” as my Anglo cousins would say. So why make passing the Sin Tax madugo? Why defend a status quo that causes so much suffering and death? If senators opposed to the Sin Tax are truly concerned about the public’s welfare, they will introduce amendments to strengthen the bill passed by the House and not water it down to favor the purveyors of death. What do you think the Senate will do? (InterAksyon.com) (The author is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms.) n

OUR OLYMPIC MEDAL HAUL SINCE 1924: 0-2-7 From page 20

a field of 97 in the 50-meter freestyle during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Filipino - American Miguel White snared the Philippines’s fifth Olympic medal in the 1936 Berlin Games, a bronze in 400-meter hurdles. Four more boxers delivered in succeeding Games – Villanueva’s son, featherweight Anthony Villanueva, won silver in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; light flyweight Leopoldo Serantes garnered bronze in the 1988 Seoul Olympics; Roel Velasco, Mansueto’s elder brother, also a flyweight, placed third in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; and Mansueto Velasco, silver, in Atlanta in 1996. Serrantes, now 50, is suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) while the younger Villanueva, 66, is wheelchair-bound after suffering from three strokes. Toribio, White and the elder Villanueva have all passed away. Mansueto trains younger boxers after briefly dabbling in TV and movies.

Demonstration events Demonstration events gave the Philippines two golds and a bronze, courtesy of Arianne Cerdeña (gold) in bowling in the 1988 Seoul, and jins Stephen Fernandez (bantamweight gold) and Bea Lucero (featherweight bronze) in the 1992 Barcelona

Cojuangco: “Sports is not only the winning of medals but also an integral part of growing out citizens properly.”

Games. Wushu was staged as a special tournament outside of the 2008 Olympics and the Philippines produced a 1-1-2 effort from Willy Wang (gold), Mary Jane Estimar (silver), Benjie Rivera (bronze) and Marian Mariano (bronze). But none of these are reflected in the official Olympic medal count as the events are for “demonstration” purposes only. To make it in the Olympics, an event must be practiced by men in at least 75 countries and four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and three continents. The sport must also have a governing International Federation for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to recognize the sport. The governing body files an application for a demonstration sport and another application later to make a sport a recognized Olympic event.

Incentive scheme

This grainy photo of Anthony Villanueva winning the silver medal is one of a few memorabilia of the boxer’s heroic feat in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Sports not a priority Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) vice president and London Games chief of mission Manny Lopez, acknowledges that the government does not give sports much importance, which he blames for our pathetic performance in international competitions. “Sports is not a priority of the [Philippine] government, even of the private sector,” said Lopez, citing the country’s P500-million Olympic budget, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the funds allotted to sports by other countries. “There is no easy way to sports excellence.” Senator Francis Pangilinan

called for closer coordination between the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). “We should make sure that the efforts of PSC and POC are efficient and effective. There could be some things that we fail to implement, and things we are taking for granted. Let us do this for the sake of our athletes,” Pangilinan said in a statement. Added Pangilinan: “Representing the country is a huge undertaking. We must prepare our athletes for the pressure of competing on a global scale and do all that we can to provide them the necessary tools and skills to ensure victory.”

For her part, Senator Miriam Santiago proposed two new incentives for the Filipino Olympic gold medalist: P2 million and a Medal of Valor. The P2-million incentive will be on top of other benefits the gold medalist is entitled to under Republic Act 9064 or the Sports Incentives and Benefits Act of 2001. “It is a small token but it is a symbol of the appreciation of the country for the honor and prestige that will go with the achievement,” Santiago said in her explanatory note on Senate Bill 3248 (Olympic Gold Medal of Valor Act of 2012.) Santiago said “there is still a lot of room for improvement... The Philippines is a country with a population of 97 million (12th most populous in the world) but has been consistent in sending a very small delegation.” POC chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, the President’s uncle, said the government will play the biggest part in realizing the Philippines’ Olympic dream. “What is needed is the value that the government will give to sports,” Cojuangco said. “Sports is not only the winning of medals but also an integral part of growing our citizens properly. All the countries in the world have a training center. We not only have none but we also don’t have training facilities.” n


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COMMUNITYNEWS

Superb Artists’ Vancouver show

ROD PEDRALBA’s Fountain of Four Rivers (in Rome, Italy) on exhibit at LUMEN Espace Galerie, Vancouver, September 8th - 23rd By joseph lopez

LEO CUNANAN, JR. and three of his paintings on exhibit at LUMEN Espace Galerie, Vancouver, September 8th - 23rd.

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rilliant Vancouver artists Rod Pedralba and Leo Cunanan, Jr. will have a joint Art Show at the LUMEN Espace Galerie, International Village Mall, 88 West Pender. The exhibit starts on September 8th and will run until September 23rd. Rod Pedralba is a unique artist who combines Realism with Cubism. You never get perplexed in his paintings. Instead you come out refreshed at viewing life from angles that seemingly portray both literal and figurative perspectives of hu-

man existence. Mr. Pedralba discovered the artistry in his soul early on in life when his elementary teacher would frequently ask him to draw on the chalk board images related to the class’ subject matter. Since then, Mr. Pedralba has progressed

to oil and acrylic. A man with a quiet demeanor, Mr. Pedralba said, “I am inspired to paint when I go to places like Rome, or see people in rural areas in their everyday life, or where there is a myriad of colors like a market scene in the Philippines.” Leo Cunanan Jr. is a multi-faceted young man - a publisher, musician, a digital artist and for the past decade an intellectual painter with a raison

d’être. Well-versed in charcoal, pen and ink, pastel, and watercolor, Mr. Cunanan said he will venture soon in acrylic and oil. All these qualities are evident in the precision and detail of Mr. Cunanan’s pieces. He said, “The new works I have done will hopefully show more of my passion for the arts by way of the feel, style, execution, and love I put into the painting.” Mr. Cunanan advises the person who wants to be an artist, “to

really study the very basics in drawing, focus on doing the drawing well because that is the first step to everything, and practice, practice, practice. Most importantly, believe in yourself and focus your attention on your intention.” Both Mr. Pedralba and Mr. Cunanan Jr. were mentored by maestro SYM Mendoza, founder and leader of the renowned Dimasalang Group. n

Don Bosco Past Pupils (DBPP) summer picnic (Held on Saturday, July 28, 2012 at the Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) Soccer field in Surrey.)

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he Don Bosco Past Pupils of British Columbia (DBPPBC) held their annual summer picnic on Saturday, July 28 at the OLGC Parish soccer field. The get-together was a gathering of members of the Salesian Family of Don Bosco, with Soccer and Bocce as game highlights. The soccer game was played amongst the Bosconians who formed two teams namely, Don Bosco World and Don Bosco Mandaluyong. Team members came from different Don Bosco schools in the Philippines who are currently residing in British Columbia. Last year’s champion, DB (Don Bosco) World won this year’s game once again. A game of Bocce was also played between the Salesian Cooperators and the Don Pupils Past Pupils, with the Cooperators claiming the title. The winning teams received their respective trophies, namely: The Phillip Rinaldi Trophy

The Salesian Cooperators won this year’s first Bocce Showdown versus the Past Pupils. Photo shows George Castro, President of the Don Bosco Past Pupils (in white shirt) awarding the trophy to Joe Amabili (4th from right) of the Salesian Cooperators.

SALESIAN FAMILY of DON BOSCO. Photo shows the Salesian Family after a sumptuous lunch: Salesian priests, Deacon, Salesian Cooperators and DB Past Pupils with families and friends. - Soccer Award, and the Michael Rua Trophy - Bocce Award. A short talk and presentation about the Salesian Family focusing on the strengthening of ties among the members preceded the games.

The upcoming Annual DBPP Dinner Dance, scheduled on Saturday, October 20th, was likewise announced. This year’s theme is: “One Heart, One Spirit, One Salesian Family”. n


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By kara santos

A T E R c a s c a ded from the sides of the gorge and fell just a few feet from our raft. We followed the river as it snaked through the canyon, awed by what we were seeing—lush forests, centuries-old rice terraces carved from the hills, and waterfalls that seemed to burst from the mountain walls themselves. But the serene moment was broken when the raft lurched forward. Our guide’s voice rang loud and clear: “Left-Right-Left-Right” while we paddled to keep the raft steady. This was Kalinga’s famous Chico River, and its churning whitewater seemed determined to test our spirit of adventure. While the onset of the rainy season can put a damper on most travel plans, the months of August to December are peak season for whitewater rafting in Kalinga. Since these months have the most rainfall, the river’s water levels are at their highest, resulting in more exciting rapids. In fact, extreme rafters prefer to head to the river after a typhoon has just passed to ensure a more thrilling ride. Adrenaline junkies can take their pick as different areas of the Chico River offer a variety of rapids that cater to different skill and thrill levels. Class 1 rapids are defined by smooth water and light ripples that offer little challenge to paddle through and are ideal for beginners. Meanwhile, Class 5 rapids are characterized by steep drops and violent currents that are best run by expert paddlers.

RIDING THE RIVER WILD

Whitewater rafting can best be described as a combination of relaxing paddling through long stretches of calm water, and sudden exhilaration every time you plunge into the rapids. Over 174 kilometers long, the Chico River is considered as the premiere white water rafting destination in Northern Luzon.

Whitewater rafting is an extremely fun activity ideal for friends, families and colleagues.

The Chico River offer a variety of rapids that cater to different skill and thrill levels. During our trip, we encountered mostly Class 3 rapids, with moderate to irregular waves that were difficult to avoid and required complex maneuvering to keep our raft from capsizing. Over 174 kilometers long, the Chico River is considered as the premiere white water rafting destination in Northern Luzon. The breathtaking scenery alone makes the trip worthwhile. You can catch plenty of this great scenery on the two-hour jeepney ride from Tuguegarao in Cagayan to Kalinga’s capital Tabuk. For city dwellers like me who only see buildings, traffic jams and pollution on a typical jeepney ride, the twohour drive is an adventure in itself. The best way to enjoy the mountain views is to “topload” or ride on the roof of the jeepney as it traverses the winding mountain roads that barely hug cliff walls. But the real adventure begins when you hit the water. Whitewater rafting can best be described as a combination of relaxing paddling through long stretches of calm water, and sudden exhilaration every time you plunge into the rapids. Enthusiasm was high whenever we spotted a bend in the river where the smooth stream would meet huge boulders. On most of these spots, we would just glide through without incident. On other spots we would be spun around like clothes in a washing machine. At one point

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we hit a large rock that led to a steep descent which could have flung all of us into the water. We managed to make it past that amid sighs of relief. To add to the fun, whenever other rafts would get within shouting distance of each other, water fights would ensue, as other rafters would use paddles and even helmets to splash water on riders of the other rafts. Though a few people fell into the water, none of the rafts had tipped over during the whole ride. On our final stretch we were allowed to jump into the chilly water, and drift downstream with the current. So should you try it even just once? According to river rafting guide Argel: “You never run the same river twice. Every time you go whitewater rafting, it’s a new experience.” Whitewater rafting is an extremely fun activity ideal for friends, families and colleagues. It can provide physical exercise while also rewarding rafters with a great view and helping foster teamwork, since everyone has to work together to maneuver the watercraft. Because of its extreme nature, whitewater rafting attracts outdoor enthusiasts and a relatively young crowd of adventure-seekers. Since Kalinga can be reached by land travel, this can be an ideal weekend activity, especially for those based in Manila. Companies that offer package tours for whitewater rafting provide the gear, protective equipment, safety vests, and food for the four-hour trip. For whitewater rafting trips, contact Anton Carag of Adventures and Expeditions Philippines Inc., Mobile: +63917-5327480; Landline: 63 (078) 8441298. (Philippine Daily Inquirer) n


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BEAUTIFUL P

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ILIPPINES

By tricia aquino

Swiss friend who was in Manila for about a month was asking for places to go to on a weekend trip. He had already been to Zambales and Bulacan, both of which are relatively near the metropolis. He had also gone on a walking tour of Intramuros the previous weekend. He had no plans of booking a plane ticket and jetting off to faraway Philippine isles. So where to suggest he go? A blessing came in the guise of the website of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), which contained a link to historic sites all over the country. Even better, the sites were organized by regions, locations, dates historical markers were installed, and types (“House of Worship” has 88 entries, “Monument” has 31, and “School” has 23. There are single entries for “Thermal Bath House,” “Prison Cell,” and “Convent.”) The sites were also categorized into national historical landmarks, national historical sites, national monuments, national shrines, heritage

10 The old Legislative Building was designed in 1918 by American architect Daniel Burnham, who was known for his classical style, patterned after the structures of Greece and Rome. This building now houses the National Museum, which contains the country’s anthropological and archaeological treasures.

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HISTORIC PLACES TO VISIT IN METRO MANILA

houses, heritage zones or historic centers, and UNESCO world heritage sites. Hooray! Foreign friend could find places to go to right within the metro! Should you find yourself in a similar bind here are some of the more intriguing sites catalogued online. 1. Simbahan ng Las Piñas, Las Piñas City -- It is written on the church’s historical marker: “Ginamit na kampo ng mga bihag noong panahon ng pananakop ng mga Hapon at bilang pagamutan noong liberasyon. (Used as a prison during the Japanese occupation, as well as a hospital during the liberation.)” It’s something worth thinking about while hearing Mass. A structure that took more than 20 years to build, the church was erected from 1797 to 1819. Housed within is an organ made of 902 bamboo tubes and 129 metal ones. 2. Church and Monastery of Guadalupe, Makati City -- A testament of true “love in the time of cholera,” the church, which was constructed from 1601 to 1629, was the “site of an orphan asylum and trade school administered by the Augustinian Order for the benefit of the children of the victims of the cholera of 1882.” After taking the building’s Byzantine beauty – which makes it the ideal venue for wedding ceremonies – visitors can take a jeep to Rockwell for a completely different kind of tour. 3. Unang Pagawaan ng Sapatos sa Marikina, Marikina City -- Fondly called “Kapitan Moy” by locals, this home-turned-shoe-factoryturned-events-venue (among others) is the birthplace of Laureano Guevara, nicknamed Kapitan Moy. He was the leading shoemaker in the city known for this craft. He began learning his trade in 1887. A short stroll will take tourists to the Shoe Museum, where some 600 of Imelda Marcos’ famous footwear are on display. 4. Mira-Nila Heritage House, Quezon City -- Built in 1929 by The old Legislative Building is now the National Museum.


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PHILIPPINESthe BEAUTIFUL Conrado and Francisca Tirona Benitez, this ancestral home is a “grand Filipino house with [an] Italianate façade, meticulously preserved interiors and graceful lawns and gardens.” Overlooking Manila, it bears the name Mira-Nila because it “prompts the viewer in Spanish ‘to look at Manila.’” It is a beautifully landscaped and furnished home, “one of the few surviving examples of what life used to be in pre-war Philippines,” according to the same site. 5. Libingan ng mga Bayani, Taguig City -- Neat rows of white crosses dot the grassy expanse of this national shrine. Visitors are greeted with a quote attributed to General Douglas MacArthur: “I do not know the dignity of his birth but I do know the glory of his death.” He is supposed to have said this when he visited the Philippines in the 1960s to pay tribute to his comrades who died in World War II. Guests can view the final resting places of former Philippine Presidents, National Artists, and military men, among others. And if the weary travelers get hungry, they can always grab a bite at any of the restaurants in McKinley Hill. 6. First Shot in Filipino-American War, San Juan City -- Yes, one of the default “tourist spots” Pinoys like to bring their foreign visitors to is Greenhills, as well as other similar bazaars where one can score a bargain or ten. While on the way to shop, how about a little detour? At the San Juan Bridge are two markers, one in English, the other in Filipino. The former reads, “Here, at 9:00 o’clock in the evening of February 4th, 1899, Private William Grayson of the First Nebraska Volunteers fired the shot that started the Filipino-American War.” The three-year conflict left “4,200 Americans and over 20,000 Filipino combatants” dead. 7. Ang Bahay ng mga Nakpil at Bautista, Quiapo, Manila -- Built in 1914, this historical structure was the home of Petrona Nakpil and husband Dr. Ariston Bautista Lin, who formulated medicine to fight cholera. Also among its residents were Julio Nakpil, a revolutionary and composer of songs for the Katipunan, and his wife Gregoria de Jesus, “Lakambini” of Katipunan and widow of Andres Bonifacio. The house is a museum of sorts for the Katipunan, containing, among others, furniture used by some Philippine national heroes. 8. Lichauco House, Sta. Ana, Manila -- The Lichauco House was

SEPTEMBER 1-15, 2012

CANADA’S NEW IMMIGRATION RULES PUT PREMIUM ON YOUNG PEOPLE

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TTAWA – New immigration rules will target workers aged 18 to 35 as the Conservative government provides the clearest sense yet of how Canada will rely on young immigrants to soften the fiscal pain of a demographic crunch.

The Las Piñas Church houses the famous organ made of 902 bamboo tubes and 129 metal ones.

A marker at the foot of the San Juan Bridge reads: “Here, at 9:00 o’clock in the evening of February 4th, 1899, Private William Grayson of the First Nebraska Volunteers fired the shot that started the Filipino-American War.” originally the “O’brien House,” built by the latter’s family “during the early American period,” according to the NHCP. When they transferred to another home during the Japanese occupation, it became a “refuge for many civilians.” The second heritage tree in the city of Manila, a century-old balete, can be found in the compound, as well. The first is found in Malacañang. NHCP said the house was a living “example of structures built during the American colonial era and a… witness to the development of the historic district of Santa Ana.” 9. Old Legislative Building, now National Museum, Ermita, Manila -- Here’s a place that deserves a day at least of exploring. The former legislative building was designed in 1918 by American architect Daniel Burnham, who was known for his classical style, patterned after the structures of Greece and Rome. This building now houses the National Museum, with exhibits in the “arts and natural sciences.”

Works of National Artists can be found here. Adjacent to the structure is the National Museum of the Filipino People, which contains the country’s anthropological and archaeological treasures. 10. Presidential Museum and Library, Malacañan Palace, Manila -- Yes, Malacañan—without a ‘g’ at the end, referring to the palace—is open to visitors. Located in Kalayaan Hall, the Presidential Museum and Library is filled not just with objects from the lives of Philippine presidents and heroes, but stories, too. Which President enjoyed chess so much, he continued to visit his chess set even from the grave? Which war-time flag on display was bought off eBay from an American who had no idea what to make of it? Which painting is so valuable, selling it would fund the entire reconstruction of Malacañan, should the latter fall? Visits should be set at least seven working days prior by contacting the Tours and Visitor Relations office. (InterAksyon.com) n

The federal regulations reveal a sweeping overhaul of the points system used by Canada for approving foreign worker applications. The new points grid provides details that are in line with previous government pledges to gear the immigration system toward younger workers with strong language skills in English or French who already have a job lined up in Canada. Under new rules that will take effect next year, workers aged 47 and over will receive no points for age, compared with 12 for those between 18 and 35, the most coveted age group under the Federal Skilled Worker Class of immigrants. The available points for applicants decrease by one for each year above 35. The government says the change, announced on Aug. 18, is based on clear evidence that older immigrants are much less likely to succeed in the work force, although that position is not without its critics who say that the government points system should be more flexible. Driving the change is the concern that the ratio of working-age Canadians to retirees is shifting dramatically. “An aging population … represents a significant policy challenge for Canada,” a federal analysis of the changes says. “The immigration of young people able to work at relatively high wages for a number of years can help lessen the consequences of this phenomenon.” Independent research supports the government’s claims that younger immigrants perform better financially, but some say there shouldn’t be hard and fast rules. “The next Frank Stronach could be 38 years old, and then what do we do?” said Ratna Omidvar, president of the immigration-focused Maytree Foundation and board chair of the Toronto Region Immigrant and Employment Council. “I think a little less rigidity would be preferable.” On language, the new rules will give significantly more points to applicants who have strong language skills in either English or French, but points for speaking both official languages will be cut in half from eight to four. Some immigration experts say this could, at least temporarily, have the effect of curbing immigration from regions with relatively poor average English or French skills like China and South Asia. A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney rejected such theories as “innapropriate.” In addition to changing the Federal Skilled Worker Class, the new regulations also create a new Federal Skilled Trades Class and update the Canadian Experience Class, which was created by the Conservative government in 2008. Over all, the changes aim to help employers bring in the workers they need and make it easier for temporary workers to apply for citizenship while in Canada. The rules also decrease the points for work experience outside of Canada. Citizenship and Immigration has posted an extensive rationale for the changes in the Canada Gazette, citing numerous academic studies to support specific measures. (See CIC website at www.cic.gc.ca/english) One of the cited researchers, McMaster University economics professor Arthur Sweetman, who co-authored a paper called “Immigrant Earnings: Age At Immigration Matters,” says the federal age rules are clearly supported by data. “It makes a lot of sense,” he said. “Immigrants who arrive later in life – on average – have a lot more difficulties in the labour market.” However, on the broader objectives of the federal rules, Dr. Sweetman noted that the government discusses how they will benefit employers and new immigrants, but is silent on their potential impact on existing Canadian workers. “If you were going to design an immigration system that was going to help employers keep wages low, this is pretty close to what you’d want,” he said, noting that it will be important to ensure employers are really making an effort to find Canadian workers before turning to the immigration system. NDP immigration critic Jinny Sims said the government’s approach to changing demographics seems poorly thought out. She said that listing workers over 35 as “too old” to come to Canada seems at odds with the government’s plans to have Canadians work until 67 before qualifying for Old Age Security. “It just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. (The Globe and Mail)


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SERENO IS FIRST WOMAN CHIEF JUSTICE P RESIDENT Benigno Aquino III made a historic appointment on Aug. 24, appointing Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno the Philippines’ first female Chief Justice,

Sereno becomes the country’s 24th Chief Justice. At 52, she is the second youngest to be appointed Chief Justice (the first was Chief Justice Manuel Moran, who was 51 when he was appointed in 1945). With 18 years to go before she retires, her service will span the terms of three more presidents after President Aquino. Supreme Court justices serve until they turn 70. Sereno said she was “overwhelmed” when she learned that she was the President’s choice for the new Chief Justice. “I would like to thank the President for the trust he has reposed in me, but most of all I give all the glory to God from whom all this goodness has happened,” Sereno said. Asked about her independence, she replied, “Everyone can be assured that will be something that they will see.” She added: “I would like to assure our countrymen I will keep my oath of office faithfully to the end of my term. We will deliver to the people our priorities and schedules in

due time.” Sereno said she would emulate the good governance started by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, whose death in a plane crash on Aug. 18 the nation is mourning. The nation, she said, “can be assured that the good governance initiatives started from the life of a very good man will find resonance here in our court.” Sereno said: “We will deliver to the people our priorities and schedules in due time. You will know about it soon.” Sereno was President Aquino’s first appointee to the Supreme Court. He appointed her to serve on the court as associate justice on Aug. 16, 2010. Sereno replaces former Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom the House of Representatives impeached last December for violation of the Constitution and the Senate fired after finding him guilty on May 29 at the end of a four-month trial. Sereno beat seven other nominees for Chief Justice recommended by the Judicial and Bar Council

Leni Robredo (right), widow of Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, comforts youngest daughter Jillian, by the flag-draped coffin of her late husband during Mass at Archbishop’s Palace in Naga City on Aug. 21. At left are her two other daughters Aika and Patricia. (JBC): Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, Supreme Court Associate Justices Roberto Abad, Arturo Brion and Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza, former Rep. Ronaldo Zamora and former Ateneo College of Law dean Cesar Villanueva. Sereno is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Economics in 1980. She obtained her Bachelor of Laws (cum laude, class valedictorian) from the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1984, and took her Master of Law at the University of Michigan Law School in 1993. She is married to Mario Jose Sereno. n

DE LIMA SECURES ROBREDO DOCUMENTS SOME of the “personal and official documents” left by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo have been secured, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said. De Lima said she personally secured the classified documents held by Robredo at his condominium unit last Aug. 21 upon the request of the widow, Leni Robredo. “He (Robredo) handles many documents on important matters. We need to conduct inventory and preserve the records and documents in the office of Secretary Jesse, including those in his condominium. We need to know what these documents are because we’re sure these are sensitive records,” she explained. De Lima on Aug. 22 handed over the records to Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who takes over as officer-in-charge of the Depart-

ment of the Interior of Local Government (DILG). Robredo’s office at the ground floor of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City was also placed under guard by the PSG. On orders of President Aquino, top officials of the DILG – Undersecretaries Austere Panadero and Rico Puno along with PNP chief Director General Nicanor Bartolome – have agreed to initiate measures to secure the offices of Robredo. De Lima though found herself at odds again with Sen. Panfilo Lacson, rumored to be a possible replacement for Robredo. De Lima believes it was improper and disrespectful of Lacson to recall and even link Robredo to their conflict. “What is that all about? Why does he have to say that at this point?” asked a visibly irked justice chief.

Lacson, on the other hand, said he does not understand why De Lima is griping about his tribute to Robredo. “I was just paying tribute to the kindness of Secretary Robredo. I don’t want to comment. I don’t want to pick a fight under these circumstances. I was just paying tribute (to Robredo),” Lacson said. Lacson had disclosed Robredo had quietly helped him while he was in hiding two years ago. Not known to all, he (Robredo) tried his level best to convince DOJ Secretary De Lima to comply with the Court of Appeals decision reversing the Manila regional trial court’s probable cause ruling against me,” Lacson said. At that time, Lacson said it was De Lima who was preventing him from returning to the country right away because of her threats to arrest him in spite of the ruling of the Court of Appeals. n

AQUINO ORDERS NATIONAL MOURNING, STATE FUNERAL FOR ROBREDO

JESSE Robredo isn’t going to like this one bit. He eschewed VIP treatment, doing his job quietly but surely. But in death, he will be given the works: Full state honors—the highest to be accorded to a worthy son of the Republic. The body of the late interior secretary will lie in state in Malacañang from Aug. 24 to 26 as part of state funeral preparations. “The wish of the Robredo family and the President’s order is to give our countrymen an opportunity to condole and pay their respects,” Communications Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III told reporters at a briefing in Malacañang. He said the public could come in any attire that they deemed appropriate. For six days, beginning Aug. 22, all government buildings and installations around the country were enjoined to lower the national flag to half-staff in compliance with the President’s proclamation declaring national days of mourning for Robredo from August 21 until his interment. The military, police and the Presidential Security Group will accord Robredo official honors, culminating in a gun salute at his interment on Aug. 28 in his hometown in Naga City, according to Quezon. “The state funeral is the highest possible kind of a funeral that a republic can give. Whether you are a medal of valor winner or a president, the essential elements are the same. There would only be minor differences based on your rank and that’s in the number of guns in the gun salute,” Quezon said. “Everyone is invited to pay tribute to the exemplary life and work of Secretary Robredo through your testimonials and remembrances. In consultation with the media, people are encouraged to use the unified hashtag #salamatjesse for their Twitter messages. We also invite all those who wish to share their thoughts, memories, and messages of sympathy for the Robredo family to please visit www.gov.ph/salamatjesse,” Quezon said. A state funeral is accorded to a President, Senate President, House Speaker, a national artist or a medal of valor awardee, or anybody that the President deems “worthy,” he said. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Robredo’s family had accepted the rare honor. Malacañang announced the state funeral for the 54-year-old Robredo, whose body was retrieved on Aug. 21 from the wreckage of a four-seater light plane that crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Masbate Airport. Robredo was en route home from Cebu City, where he had delivered a speech on behalf of President Aquino. n


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‘100,000 SLUM FOLK MUST GO’ THE squatters’ colonies blocking major waterways in Metro Manila will soon be but a bad memory. In one of his last official acts before his untimely death, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said on Aug. 14 the national government was planning to relocate some 100,000 informal settlers living near danger zones in Metro Manila. He said shanties and other illegal structures built along creeks, canals and other waterways would be dismantled to allow the construction of flood-mitigating systems. Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said as much earlier, saying government would “blast” the houses of informal settlers and other blockages that worsen flooding. He was blasted by urban poor groups. Blast the shanties? Not even the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos issued such a threat, bristled the leader of Urban Poor Associates (UPA). “Did you hear the language used about poor people? Singson said he’d blow up homes. Did you ever hear that before, even during the Marcos’ years?” UPA executive director Denis Murphy said in a phone interview. Faced with the furor, Singson said that when he talked about blasting structures, he was referring to the blasting of illegal fish

Shanties along creeks and canals block the flow of floodwater. pens in the Pampanga delta during the watch of then President Fidel V. Ramos. “There will be no blasting of illegal occupants in Metro Manila,” he said by phone. “I’m not that violent.” Robredo said “we have actually taken the first step when we started the inventory of informal settlers (in Metro Manila) and where we could

locate them.” Robredo also said the target is to complete relocation within five years. Robredo said an interagency body tasked with finding a solution to the perennial problem of flooding in Metro Manila had asked President Aquino to earmark P10 billion for the relocation project. But Robredo acknowledged that

the interagency body was having difficulties finding the areas where the affected residents would be transferred, noting that the law mandated permanent shelters to the relocated informal settlers. “The law also stipulated that the resettlement areas should be within the city or at least near the city. This is the (policy) that we should

SENATORS FIND OFW VOTERS’ LISTUP COSTLY

SENATORS have asked two government agencies to ensure that the absentee-voting rights of overseas Filipinos next year would be efficiently promoted, after noting the disappointing voter turnout at various consulates and embassies in 2010. Quoting Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Senate finance committee chairman Franklin Drilon said that of the 589,000 Filipinos who registered abroad for the 2010 elections, only 153,323 or “not even 50 percent” voted. Drilon said the “dismal” turnout hardly justified the P205.9 million that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was asking for to finance the absentee-voting operations in 2013. This is apart from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) request for a separate P100 million for its participation in the exercise. Drilon chastised both government offices for the poor turnout, comparing the number of registered overseas Filipinos to “just about the size of two congressional districts” and their actual turnout to “the size of one congressional district.” “I lay the blame on the Comelec

and the DFA for not being able to increase awareness of the importance of this law,” he said. “When we crafted the law on absentee voting, we had a very good intention. We wanted to empower the overseas Filipinos in the hope that they could influence the elections by electing qualified leaders,” Drilon recalled. Sen. Edgardo Angara seconded the observation, noting that the overseas voters were exposed to different cultures and perspectives and could significantly influence the manner and outcome of national elections in the Philippines. The DFA assured the senators it planned to add more than 200,000 registered overseas Filipino voters to the current list to reach its 800,000 target. Of the P205.98 million the Comelec asked for overseas voting next year, Drilon questioned the inclusion of P21-million honoraria for foreign service officers (FSOs) who would supervise the exercise abroad. Drilon said he had issues about the “validity and reasonableness” of the P21-million honoraria “that would only

observe,” he said. Robredo said the interagency body had found an area in Pasay City where the government could construct permanent housing units. State-owned properties registered with the National Housing Authority (NHA) and the Government Service Insurance System may also be used as resettlement areas, Robredo said. “The government has started the negotiations for a property in Sitio Imelda property in Quezon City. That is about four to five hectares,” he said. He said the President himself had joined him and other government officials in surveying idle public lands along the Pasig River where the government could build medium-rise residential buildings. “The challenge is for the government to ensure that these solutions to the flood problem would be fully implemented because we cannot just turn our back and abandon the projects,” he said. Medium-rise buildings (MRBs) will soon be constructed in viable sites in Metro Manila to serve as permanent relocation sites for informal settlers, according to Vice President Jejomar Binay. “While the MRBs are still to be constructed, the most viable option for relocating these families would be to use the available resettlement sites on a temporary basis,” said Binay, also the NHA chair. n

OFW FAMILIES AFFECTED BY FLOODS GET GOV’T HELP

Filipinos cast their votes at the Philippine Embassy in Singapore during the May 20120 presidential election. produce the votes of 200,000” overseas Filipinos should the two agencies again fail to convince more people to participate in next year’s elections. The senator said the honoraria might only be used for junkets by Comelec officials supposedly assigned to assist in the absentee voting. “You cannot undertake an information campaign through trips. We must show some rationality in the allocation of expenses…rather than taking foreign travels to promote kuno absentee voting,” Drilon added. The senator said the two agencies could do better by crafting a reliable communication plan “to increase the registration, to raise the consciousness among our overseas Filipino voters, and more importantly, to improve the voter turnout.” n

RELATIVES of overseas Filipino workers whose homes are located in areas under a state of calamity due to the recent heavy rain and floods may avail of a loan from the Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-ibig Fund). The OFWs must be active members of Pag-ibig Fund for the kin to avail of such loans. Under Pag-ibig Fund’s calamity loan program, members may borrow up to 80 percent of their total contributions to be paid in two years. Interest rates for calamity loans have been reduced by almost 50 percent. Qualified Pag-ibig members may apply for calamity loans within 90 days of the declaration of state of calamity of a particular area. OFWs who are now out of the country may designate a representative to submit required documents to the Pag-ibig branches where they remit their contributions, he added. The OFW representatives will need a Special Power of Attorney authenticated by the Philippine Embassy in the OFW’s host country. They must also present two valid IDs. Families of OFWs affected by the recent floods will also get assistance from the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA). OWWA teams visited at least three areas to distribute relief goods to families of OFWs victimized by the floods - Navotas in Metro Manila and Mabitac and Binan towns in Laguna. The relief assistance will come in kind and include grocery packs, canned goods, bread, rice, and personal hygiene kits. Cash assistance is also being considered and has been proposed to the OWWA board for action. n


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PH SEEN AS 6TH FASTEST GROWING ECONOMY IN NEXT 40 YEARS THE Philippines is projected to have the world’s sixth fastest growing economy in the next 40 years, according to Knight-Frank and Citi Private Bank’s 2012 Wealth Report. The report predicted that the Philippines will have an average yearly gross domestic product growth of 7.3 percent from 2010 to 2050. The country will surpass Mongolia at 6.9 percent, Indonesia’s 6.8 percent, Sri Lanka’s 6.6 percent and Egypt’s 6.4 percent. Nigeria topped the Wealth Report ranking with a GDP growth of 8.5 percent, followed by India at 8 percent, Iraq at 7.7 percent, Bangladesh at 7.5 percent and Vietnam at 7.5 percent. “Citi research shows that while China and India are likely to grow rapidly over the next 40 years, there are other key countries with promising chances for growth that do not

necessarily match the traditional assumptions about where future growth will emanate from,” said Grainne Gilmore, Knight Frank’s head of UK Residential Research. Thus, instead of including Brazil and Russia on its list of Global Growth Generators (3G), “Citi include[d] countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam on this list,” the head researcher said. Willem Buiter, Citi’s chief economist, defined 3G as the “countries, regions, cities, trade corridors, sectors, industries, firms, technologies, products and asset classes that over the next five, 10, 20 and 40 years are expected to deliver high growth and profitable investment opportunities.” Meanwhile, Europen countries dominated the bottom 10 of the Wealth Report as they have the low-

est projected GDP growth. Spain and France were ranked at the bottom at 2 percent; Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland at 1.9 percent; Austria at 1.8 percent; the Netherlands and Italy at 1.7 percent; Germany at 1.6 percent; and Japan at 1 percent. Consistent with the region’s growth, Knight-Frank and Citi Private Bank also noted a “shifting emphasis to the East” when it comes to a majority share in global GDP. Developing Asia is predicted to have a 44 percent share of the total world economic growth in 2030. This could even grow further to 49 percent in 2050, the report said. Meanwhile, North America – currently at 22 percent in 2010 – is predicted to contract to 15 percent in 2030 and 11 percent in 2050. Western Europe’s share of 19 percent in 2010, will decline to 11 percent in 2030 and 7 percent in 2050. n

BUSINESSMEN BACK CHINA-PH PROJECTS

PHILIPPINES-CHINA relations could get a boost from the private sector initiatives even with Manila standing its ground on the dispute over the West Philippine Sea, experts said at a Makati Business Club (MBC) membership meeting in Makati City. Individual projects by private companies are good, they help maintain relations without giving away the Philippines’ claims, which only the government can decide on, according to MBC chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. Speaking after the meeting, he cited as an example the efforts of businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan to consider possible cooperation with state-owned China

National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) on the exploration of Recto Bank. Pangilinan has said Philex Petroleum Corp., which he chairs, is ready to abandon a proposed partnership with CNOOC on the Recto Bank if the sovereignty or commercial issues are not resolved to the satisfaction of his group and the Philippine government. Philex Petroleum is a subsidiary of Philex Mining. More than the energy project, however, the agriculture sector, particularly banana exporters, was hit hard by the dispute. Since March this year, China has tightened entry rules for Philippine bananas. Reports have even reached banana

Filipino businessmen support efforts for a joint Philippine-China partnership in the disputed West Philippine Sea. exporters that the Latin American country of Ecuador had had talks with the Chinese government to fill the void left by Philippine bananas, which are more difficult to get into China due to claims that the fruits carried diseases. China has also issued a travel advisory against the Philippines earlier this year but authorities have reported that tourists from China and Hong Kong still come to Manila despite the notice. Despite continuing trade promotion efforts, however, the Philippines should still strengthen its capacity to defend its borders whether in the case of territorial disputes or simply fighting off piracy and poaching, said Jose Almonte, former National Security Adviser and director-

ATENEO BACKS CHURCH ON RH BILL

FACULTY members who are facing possible charges of heresy for supporting a population control bill aren’t getting any sympathy from Ateneo de Manila University. A day after a ranking official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called for an investigation of Ateneo’s 159 faculty members for purportedly going against Church dogma, their president, Fr. Jose Ramon Villarin, said that the university supports the bishops. “Together with our leaders in the Catholic Church, the Ateneo de Manila University does not support the passage of House Bill No. 4244 (The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Bill),” Villarin said in a letter to the Ateneo community posted on the university’s website. “As there is a spectrum of views on this ethical and public policy issue, I ask all those who are engaged in the Christian formation of our students to ensure that the Catholic position on this matter continues to be taught in our classes, as we have always done,” Villarin said. The university will also support the Church in its future actions should the bill be passed by Congress, Villarin said. “Should the bill with whatever amendments be passed, we should neither hesitate to bring to the judiciary whatever legal questions we may have nor cease to be vigilant in ensuring that no coercion takes place in implementation.” Villarin acknowledged that there were members of his faculty who were advocates of the measure pending in Congress. He expressed appreciation for “their social compassion and intellectual efforts” and urged them “to continue in their discernment of the common good.” Bishop Leandro Medroso, the CBCP’s canon law expert, said the professors’ stand, contained in a statement circulated last week, should be investigated. He noted that educators in Catholic institutions should follow Church teachings inside their classrooms. n

general of the National Security Council. Chito Sta. Romana, former Beijing bureau chief of ABC News, said Philippine-China relations have reached “the lowest ebb” since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1975, and China would remain a major challenge for Philippine diplomacy in the future given its size and proximity to Manila. “It is important for us to study and understand what is happening in China,” Sta. Romana said. Experts point to at least three underlying issues in the dispute between the Philippines and China: the sovereignty or territorial issue over the Spratly islands and the Scarborough Shoal, as well as the maritime zones from these islands or reefs; the economic issue on who has the right to exploit the resources in these islands or the surrounding waters and seabed; and the strategic or geopolitical issue on who will control the important sea lanes in the South China Sea, which the Philippines calls West Philippine Sea. China is in the midst of a leadership transition and a new line of leaders is expected to emerge in the upcoming Communist Party Congress. Moreover, the Communist Party has been going through an intense factional struggle with the sacking of Bo Xilai, the Politburo member who was originally expected to rise to the country’s top leadership body, Sta. Romana said. n

350 FOREIGNERS NABBED FOR INTERNET FRAUD

MORE than 350 foreigners, mostly Taiwanese and Chinese, were arrested on Aug. 23 by agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission in what authorities called the “biggest and most resolute operation” against cybercrime. Among those arrested were the alleged financiers of the Internet fraud ring, Filipino-Chinese Maria Luisa Tan and Johnson Tan Co. CIDG deputy director for operations Senior Superintendent Keith Singian said the suspects would call potential victims in China over the Internet and, posing as Chinese police, tell them their bank accounts were being used to launder money for terrorist activities. The modus operandi used to be common in China until authorities cracked down in 2010, driving crime rings to move their operations overseas. On May 27, authorities also arrested 37 Chinese for a similar scam. n


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GMA’S CARDIOLOGIST FACES ETHICS PROBE

THE cardiologist of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has apologized after being scolded by the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) for publicly saying that she needed immediate cervical spine surgery and that she should get it abroad because there were no specialists here who could handle the operation. Dr. Leo Olarte, a PMA governor, said in a separate interview that Dr. Roberto Anastacio might have broken the organization’s code of ethics by recommending treatment for Arroyo even though he was not a bone expert. “You should stick to your field, especially in sensitive cases,” Olarte said. Asked if Anastacio’s statement to the committee meant that he admitted being wrong in saying Arroyo needed surgery abroad as soon as possible and that there were no specialists who could handle the operation here, Olarte replied: “Exactly. He said he did not advise surgery in the US.” Dr. Mike Aragon, PMA spokes-

man, said in a phone interview that the organization’s ethics committee had called Anastacio to explain his statements to the press that Arroyo had no choice but to go abroad for cervical spine surgery. Aragon said the PMA ethics committee questioned Anastacio to determine if he had violated the organization’s rules. Anastacio called a news conference on August 17 and told reporters that the titanium brace that had been implanted in Arroyo’s neck had shifted, blocking her air and food pathways. The condition, Anastacio said, was dangerous, as it could cause cardiac arrest and “sudden death.” When asked by reporters if Arroyo’s condition was life-threatening, Anastacio firmly replied, “Yes.” He said, however, that he ordered Arroyo discharged from Makati Medical Center (MMC) but advised her to seek surgery in the United States or Austria. Arroyo is suffering from cervical spondylosis, a degenerative condition of the cartilage and bones of the neck caused by the chronic ero-

AQUINO UPS REWARD FOR PALPARAN, REYES, ET AL.

sion of the cervical spine. She has had three surgeries since July 2011. On August 18, Olarte challenged Anastacio’s statements and criticized MMC for allowing the press conference. The MMC responded quickly, denying it had sanctioned Anastacio’s news conference, adding that his statements were his own. Reacting to the seeming urgency of Arroyo’s condition as described by Anastacio, Malacañang said on August 18 that it would consult an independent medical expert to evaluate her condition before deciding whether to allow her to travel abroad. n

PIQUED that the nation’s most wanted fugitives remain scotfree, President Benigno Aquino on Thursday raised the bounty for the capture of Jovito Palparan, a retired general known as “the butcher,” and other high-profile figures facing criminal charges. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Mr. Aquino was “displeased with the lack of progress” in arresting Palparan, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother Mario, real estate developer Delfin Lee, Dinagat Representative Ruben Ecleo, and communist guerrilla chiefs Benito Tiamzon and Jorge Madlos. He said the President’s action would “assist the authorities in their task of capturing these fugitives.” Mr. Aquino doubled the reward from P1 million to P2 million for information leading to the arrest of Palparan, who is facing charges of kidnapping for the disappearance of students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño in 2006.

The President also raised the reward from P1.55 million to P2 million for the capture of Reyes and another P2 million for his brother, who is mayor of Coron, Palawan province, while a reward of P2 million each was set for Lee and Ecleo. Mr. Aquino reminded the public of the existing reward of P5.6 million each for the capture of Tiamzon and Madlos, ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). The two have outstanding warrants of arrest. Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, appearing in the Palace news briefing with Lacierda, admitted that previous efforts of the “tracker teams” put up by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group had all failed. “[So] there is an additional order from the President to double up efforts to hunt them down,” said Robredo, assuring the public that all seven are still in the country. n


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Jesse Robredo Cover. September 1-15, 2012 Issue