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January 2013

Philippines set to quit Marcos wealth chase

President Ferdinand E. Marcos

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THE Philippines is to wind down a near30-year hunt for the embezzled wealth of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, with more than half the supposed $10 billion fortune still missing, the man in charge of the search said. With Marcos’ widow and children back in positions of political power, and the government tightening its belt, the cost of the pursuit has become prohibitive, said Andres Bautista, head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government. “It has become a law of diminishing returns at this point,” Bautista told AFP in an interview at the commission’s offices, a now rundown building where Marcos’ oldest daughter Imee used to hold office. “It’s been 26 years and people you are after are back in power. At some point, you just have to say, ‘We’ve done our best’, and that’s that. It is really difficult. “In order now to be able to get these monies back, you need to spend a lot.” Bautista, 48, left a high-paying corporate job two years ago to answer a call to help the government of President Benigno Aquino, who promised to end corruption and uplift the lives of millions of poor Filipinos. He and like-minded young lawyers who joined the agency soon found out that reforming the under-funded commission — itself prone to corruption — while at the same time going after powerful people, was no easy task. Despite numerous criminal and civil

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cases being filed against them, none of the Marcos heirs or their cronies, who have been accused of plundering government coffers, have so far been successfully prosecuted, while high-powered lawyers have been used to tie up the judicial process for years on end. Long-term chronic mishandling of the commission led to an unmanageable paper trail and evidence went missing that led to bitter losses in litigation, Bautista said. “These accusations (against the commission officials) are not without basis. They were the ones in charge of guarding the chicken coop and some of them helped themselves to the eggs,” he said, refusing to name names. The president’s late mother and democracy icon, Corazon Aquino, replaced Marcos after a bloodless people power revolt ended his 20-year regime in 1986 and sent him and his family into US exile. She made it her first priority to create the commission, tasked with recovering all of Marcos’s wealth. Conservative estimates put the worth of assets and funds looted from government coffers at $10 billion. But before she left office she allowed Marcos’s flamboyant widow, Imelda — known for her thousands of pairs of shoes — and their son and two daughters to return home. And over the past two decades the Marcoses have regained and consolidated their political base. Marcos’s son and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Junior, is a senator who has hinted at contesting the presidency in the 2016 elections. Imelda is expected to run for a second term in the House of Representatives in May 2013, while her daughter Imee, governor of the family’s Ilocos Norte provincial bailiwick, is also widely thought to want a second term. “There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the fabled wealth, and my

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sense is there is still much more out there,” Bautista said. “Our problem now is that everyone is back in power. That does not in any way make our job any simpler.” Since its creation, the agency has recovered 164 billion pesos (about $4 billion), some invested in prime New York real estate, jewellery, and about $600 million stashed in secret numbered Swiss bank accounts. The jewellery, including a 150 carat giant Burmese ruby and diamond tiara, is locked in a vault at the central bank, and at one point the international auction house Christie’s estimated it could fetch up to $8.5 million. More recently Bautista worked closely with the New York district attorney’s office to charge a former personal secretary of Imelda and two others over a conspiracy to sell a Monet painting that had been bought by the family. Marcos, an astute art buyer, distributed the priceless collection of at least 300 artworks to cronies when his regime was about to crumble. Only half have been recovered so far and the rest are missing, Bautista said. The official said he had recommended to President Benigno Aquino that the commission wind down its operations, and transfer its work to the justice department. If Aquino agrees he would have to get parliament to pass a law abolishing the agency. “They (the Marcos family) have the resources to go head-to-head with us in respect to litigation. Why do you think forfeiture cases are still languishing 26 years after?” Bautista said. The agency’s annual budget of less than 100 million pesos was only enough to pay its staff of about 200, many of them young lawyers who turned down high paying jobs elsewhere, he added. “It’s a lonely job. It doesn’t win you any friends.” ■ (AFP/ Tuesday, January 1st, 2013)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Fireproofing ‘inadequate’ at Japan nuclear reactors JAPANESE regulators have found inadequate fireproofing at more than one fifth of the nuclear reactors that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima crisis, a major daily said on Tuesday. The finding could delay their restart by several years in some cases, the Mainichi Shimbun said. More than 10 of Japan’s 50 reactors, excluding those at Fukushima, have flaws in fireproofing, the paper quoted sources at the industry ministry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) as saying.

The Mainichi said these include the use of combustible electrical cables and equipment and machines sited too close together, potentially allowing a fire to spread even though the equipment is indispensable for maintaining safety. The industry ministry has been investigating the issue while the NRA will soon conduct hearings with power companies, it said. At some reactors the work to replace cables and renovate facilities could mean a delay of several years in restarting them, it quoted industry ministry sources as saying.

If renovation proves to be too costly, the reactors could be decommissioned, the sources said. All but two of the nation’s reactors remain offline after they were shut for safety checks in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima meltdowns, sparked by a quake and tsunami. The pro-business Liberal Democratic Party-led government said last week it would give the green light to restarting any reactors deemed safe by regulators. New prime minister Shinzo Abe has also voiced his willingness to build new reactors. ■(AFP/Tuesday,January1st,2013)

Gang-rape victim’s body back home in grief-stricken India NEW DELHI - The body of a gangrape victim arrived back in New Delhi on Sunday after her death from sickening injuries in a Singapore hospital as India was engulfed by a mass outpouring of grief and anger. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was at Indira Gandhi International Airport for the arrival of the speciallychartered plane when it touched down at around 4.15 am (6.45am Singapore time), according to security sources and an AFP journalist at the scene. A convoy carrying the gold-coloured coffin and the victim’s parents then drove towards the Janakpuri district of Delhi where she had been living while studying for a degree in medicine. The area was sealed off to journalists. The 23-year-old’s body was repatriated barely three days after she was flown to a Singapore hospital in a desperate final bid to save her life. Thousands of people took part in late-night candlelit vigils for the medical student who has been the focus of a wave of protests ever since she was savagely attacked by a gang of men on a bus two weeks ago. As police said the six accused of

murdering the unnamed woman could face the death penalty, Dr Singh led appeals for calm to prevent a repeat of the sometimes violent protests that followed the Dec 16 assault. Thousands took part in fresh demonstrations on Saturday but they passed off peacefully as mourners vowed the student’s killing would serve as a tipping point for how the nation deals with violence against women. Doctors who had been treating her at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth

Hospital after she was airlifted there on Thursday were unable to prevent multiple organ failure and she died before dawn on Saturday. No details of her funeral have been released. Protesters who gathered in the Jantar Mantar thoroughfare in central Delhi, scene of the largest protest, said the death was a wake-up call for a country in denial about the levels of violence that women face. The numbers swelled into the evening, with some 5,000 taking part

Tens of thousands march against Hong Kong leader

TENS of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Tuesday, calling for the city’s embattled leader to quit and demanding greater democracy 15 years after it returned to Chinese rule. Organisers of two New Year’s Day processions against Beijingbacked chief executive Leung Chun-

ying claimed a combined turnout of 140,000, while the police put the figure at 28,500. Since taking office in July Leung’s popularity ratings have tumbled and he has faced a no-confidence vote in the legislature amid a row over illegal structures at his luxury home — a politically sensitive issue in the city.

Protestors march during a protest against the city’s leader Leung Chung-ying in Hong Kong on January 1, 2013.

“We have to keep voicing our concerns even though the situation is getting worse,” 27-year-old university student Billy Li said as the demonstrators marched through the city to the government’s harbourfront headquarters. Holding up posters of Leung portrayed as a vampire and a wolf, the protesters — some waving flags from the British colonial era — chanted “Give us universal suffrage immediately” and “Step down, Leung Chun-ying”. Traffic at a main road in central Hong Kong was brought to a halt at one point as hundreds of defiant protesters from the radical People Power party staged a sit-in. Television news footage showed a few protesters including maverick lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwokhung being taken away by police. Pro-government groups who staged separate and smaller rallies claimed a total of 62,500 people. Police put the figure at 8,560. Leung has acknowledged and apologised for the structures, which were built without planning

in a candlelit vigil after nightfall despite near freezing temperatures. Similar protests and vigils were held in other cities including Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Bela Rana, who was among the protesters in Delhi, said women were no longer prepared to suffer in silence. “We are aware that this is not the first case, nor will it be the last case of gang-rape in India, but it is clear that we will not tolerate sex crimes any more,” said Ms Rana, a Delhi-based lawyer. Some of the protesters carried placards that read “Hang the Rapist” against the backdrop of a noose. While six men who had already been arrested have yet to be formally charged, they are now accused of murder. “It is a non-bailable offence which carries the death sentence,” police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP. Gang-rapes are a daily occurrence in India and many go unreported by victims who have little faith in an often painfully slow justice system and are deterred by the response they can receive from male police officers.

But the particularly savage nature of the attack in Delhi has brought simmering anger to a boiling point and prompted the government to promise better security for women and harsher sentences for sex crimes. After being lured onto a bus, the student was attacked by the men who took turns raping her and assaulted her with an iron bar before throwing her and her male companion off the moving vehicle. “We have already seen the emotions and energies this incident has generated,” said Dr Singh. “These are perfectly understandable reactions from a young India and an India that genuinely desires change.” As crowds mourned the student’s death in Singapore, the Press Trust of India reported a new series of sex attacks, including the gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl who then tried to commit suicide by swallowing poison in Gujarat state. And an 18-year-old rape victim committed suicide in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after police allegedly failed to take action against the accused. ■ (AFP/ Sunday, December 30th, 2012)

permission. He became chief executive after his rival for the post, Henry Tang, was brought down by a row over illegal structures at his own home. Demonstrators have used the scandal to press for universal suffrage in choosing the leader of Hong Kong. The territory was returned to Beijing in 1997 but has a semiautonomous status, with guarantees of civil liberties such as the right to protest which are not found in mainland China. Leung was elected in March by a 1,200-strong committee dominated by pro-Beijing elites, amid rising anger among the city’s seven million inhabitants over what many perceive to be China meddling in local affairs. Beijing has said the city’s chief executive could be directly elected in 2017 at the earliest, with the legislature following by 2020. “Because we don’t have a democratic government, most of the policies introduced by this government do not directly reflect the interests of the people,” said Jackie Hung, a spokeswoman from the largest protest organiser, the Civil Human Rights Front.

In a bid to tackle discontent, Leung has banned mainland Chinese women from giving birth in Hong Kong to secure residence rights for their children. He has also introduced policies to prioritise housing for locals, a move which analysts say was a reaction to mainland buyers who were blamed for pushing up prices in one of the world’s most expensive property markets. But a survey by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Programme on Monday showed those dissatisfied with the city’s development rose 11 percentage points to 46 percent compared to a year ago. “People are getting more dissatisfied because they don’t trust Leung, judging from how he handled the illegal structures issue,” political analyst Joseph Cheng from Hong Kong’s City University told AFP. “They marched to tell Beijing and the world that they want universal suffrage.” A government spokesman said the authorities would listen to views expressed at the mass demonstration “in a humble manner”. ■ (1 Jan 2013)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Philippines criminalises forced disappearances

THE Philippines has passed a landmark law that criminalises “enforced disappearances”, a presidential spokeswoman said on Saturday, in a move hailed by human rights groups. Under the new law, enforced disappearances -- or abductions carried out by government forces -- will be treated as a separate category to ordinary kidnapping and could invite up to life imprisonment as punishment. It means the military can also no longer cite the so-called “order of battle”, a list of supposed communist insurgents that until now was used to justify holding a person. President Benigno Aquino approved the legislation late Friday, spokeswoman Abigail Valte said amid a growing outcry over alleged abductions of activists and government critics by security forces. The law also prohibits secret detention facilities and authorises the government to conduct “regular, unannounced... inspections of all places of detention and confinement”. Valte said both government employees and ordinary people were now required to report cases of enforced disappearances. “The important thing is that we now have a duty to report if

we know of any case of enforced disappearances. It also provides for the creation of an updated list of all the people held in our detention facilities,” she said. Human Rights Watch welcomed the new law, saying it was “the first of its kind in Asia and a major milestone in ending this horrific human rights violation”, and the group urged the government to act quickly to enforce it. “This law is a testament to the thousands of ‘disappearance’ victims since the Marcos dictatorship, whose long-suffering families are still searching for justice,” HRW said. Congressman Edcel Lagman, who authored the bill, said the new law would force government officials who are accused of enforced disappearances, to report if they are holding anyone. “The law seeks to end impunity of offenders even as it envisions a new... breed of military, police and civilian officials and employees who respect and defend the human rights and civil liberties of the people,” he said. “Disappearances” of activists rose sharply after then-president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Although Marcos was toppled in a popular revolt in 1986, activist groups say the abductions still continue.

This file photo shows a relative of a victim under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos regime looking at pictures of Marcos at the Martial Law Museum in Manila, on September 21, 2010. Disappearances of activists rose sharply after Marcos declared martial law in 1972. Although Marcos was toppled in a popular revolt in 1986, activist groups say the abductions still continue

Communist guerrillas have been waging an armed rebellion in the Philippines since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have

died in the conflict, according to the government. The military estimates the current strength of the guerrillas

at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s. ■ (AFP/Dec 22, 2012)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Have Arroyo arrested again, Comelec asks CA

Gambling school students take a class in Macau on Nov 25, 2012. The students sitting around the roulette table are getting schooled on how to quickly calculate payoffs for the casino game by glancing at how the bets are placed.

Macau gambling revenue hits record $46b in 2012 HONG KONG - Macau’s gambling revenue jumped 13.5 per cent to a record 304.14 billion patacas (S$46 billion) in 2012, official figures showed on Wednesday, despite the pace of growth in the world’s largest gaming hub slowing from a year earlier. Gaming revenue rose to 304.14 billion patacas from 267.87 billion patacas in 2011, according to statistics posted on the official

Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau website. But the pace of growth slowed from 2011, when revenues surged 42 per cent year-on-year. The former Portuguese colony of Macau, the only part of China where casino gambling is legal, overtook Las Vegas as the world’s gaming capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002. ■ (AFP/ST Asia Jan 02, 2013)

Suspected norovirus outbreak kills four in Japan hospital A suspected norovirus outbreak has killed four people and infected almost 100 others at a hospital in the Japanese city of Yokohama south of Tokyo, officials said. Four patients aged between 80 and 97 died of breathing problems and pneumonia between Wednesday and Friday after suffering vomiting and diarrhoea, officials at the city’s Denentoshi Hospital said late Saturday. A total of 72 patients including the four and 27 hospital staffers have been infected since Tuesday, they said. The norovirus, which strikes in winter and causes vomiting and

diarrhoea, killed six elderly patients at a hospital in Miyazaki in the south and two others at a hospital in the western city of Osaka earlier this month. It is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person. The virus has been detected in stool samples from 11 of the infected people in Yokohama, the hospital’s director Seiji Shibuya told a news conference. “Many patients are still suffering from the symptoms and we can’t see an end to the situation,” Shibuya said. “We apologise for our inability to prevent it.” ■ (AFP/Sunday, December

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has gone to the Court of Appeals (CA) to end former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s temporary freedom and have her arrested again. Comelec law department head Esmeralda Ladra confirmed on Friday, December 28, that the poll body, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), has filed a petition before the CA to reject Arroyo’s bail, which was earlier granted by a Pasay City court. The Comelec received its copy of the petition for certiorari, which was prepared by the OSG, last December 13. In a 48-page petition, a copy of which was obtained by Rappler, the Comelec said Pasay RTC Branch 112’s Judge Jesus Mupas committed grave abuse of discretion when he allowed Arroyo to post bail last July for her electoral sabotage case. The Comelec wanted the CA to nullify this order and another that denied Comelec’s motion for reconsideration. The Comelec presented two basic arguments: • The prosecution “sufficiently established” that Arroyo is a coprincipal and co-conspirator to the crime charged. • The testimony of former Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas, the star witness in the case, “is credible and need not be corroborated.” Arroyo ‘induced’ Ampatuan. In particular, the Comelec said Arroyo

committed electoral sabotage as a “principal by inducement.” Under the Revised Penal Code, this term refers to “those who directly force or induce others” to commit a crime. Arroyo, as the most powerful person in the Philippines then, allegedly “exerted her influence and moral authority” when she supposedly instructed former Maguindanao Gov Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr to rig the 2007 senatorial elections in favor of her senatorial candidates. In his testimony, Unas said he heard Arroyo instruct Ampatuan to cheat in favor of the administration’s Team Unity candidates. “Dapat 12-0 sa Maguindanao, kahit pa ayusin o palitan ninyo ang resulta,” Unas allegedly heard the former President say. (It should be 12-0 in Maguindanao in favor of the administration, even if you have to manipulate the results.) For the Comelec, Arroyo “did not have to participate in the execution of the crime since her mere inducement to Ampatuan Sr and her moral ascendancy to her co-accused are sufficient ‘overt acts’ for her indictment as principal by inducement.” The Comelec said Arroyo “hatched and devised the evil plan of ensuring a ‘12-0’ victory” for the administration’s bets. Arroyo’s instructions also show there was a “conspiracy” between her, Ampatuan, and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol, the Comelec said. Citing a Supreme Court ruling, ©File photo by Natashya Gutierrez

30th, 2012)

Philippine communists call off truce

MANILA - Communist insurgents in the Philippines called off a truce with the government on Wednesday, almost two weeks ahead of schedule, raising concerns about the future of peace talks. The Communist Party of the Philippines blamed the government for their action but a spokesman for President Benigno Aquino said the CPP just wanted an excuse to cut the ceasefire short. A CPP statement said the truce, originally scheduled to run from December 20 to January 15, had ended at noon Wednesday because it believed the government only wanted a truce to remain in place until then. “The (communist New People’s Army) and the people’s militias should immediately assume an offensive posture and confront and frustrate the enemy campaigns of suppression,” the statement said. However Aquino’s spokesman

Edwin Lacierda said the government would observe the ceasefire until January 15. He said the rebels had found an extended ceasefire to be “detrimental” to them so they chose to cut it short and blame the government. “The CPP-NPA has always been making excuses... and now they’re coming up with other stumbling blocks to peace,” Lacierda told reporters. The government and the CPP agreed to the ceasefire in midDecember when they held their first high-level peace talks for 13 months. Southern Philippine military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Lyndon Paniza said Wednesday the CPP had already violated the ceasefire. He said communist gunmen descended on the outskirts of the southern city of Davao on Monday and Tuesday, briefly holding two

TEMPORARILY FREE. Comelec wants former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo back in detention.

government militiamen and three civilians to intimidate them. The CPP pulled out of peace talks in November 2011 after the government rejected rebel demands to free jailed comrades whom they claimed were consultants to the negotiations. The Maoist rebels have been waging an armed rebellion to seize power since 1969 and more than 30,000 people have died in the conflict, according to the government. The military estimates the current NPA strength at about 4,000 fighters, significantly down from more than 26,000 at its peak in the late 1980s. ■ (AFP/Jan 02, 2013)

©Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

STAR WITNESS. Former Maguindanao provincial administrator Norie Unas testifies that former President Arroyo ordered Ampatuan Sr to ensure a 12-0 victory for her senatorial slate in Maguindanao in 2007.

it added that conspiracy does not require a formal agreement. “It is sufficient that their minds meet understanding so as to bring about an intelligent and deliberate agreement to commit the offense charged.” ‘Credible’ star witness. The Comelec also said its star witness, Unas, is credible. Mupas earlier said Unas’s credibility is “tainted with doubt,” with the judge discarding the latter’s testimony because no other witness can corroborate it. The Comelec however cited a “well-settled principle that the absence of corroborating testimony will not affect credibility.” What corroboration can the court expect from Unas, it added, when no one else heard the alleged ArroyoAmpatuan conversation? “Here, Engineer Unas’ testimony is credible. It was not hearsay.... Furthermore, the testimony has been consistent and straightforward. It must always be borne in mind that the quality of evidence must prevail over quantity,” the Comelec explained. When defense lawyers crossexamined Unas, however, he admitted that he did not personally witness cheating in 2007. Defense lawyers said this weakens his testimony. This bolstered critics’ claim that the case is weak in the first place. Pretrial for Arroyo’s electoral sabotage case, which was filed on Nov 18, 2011, will begin in January. One of the most unpopular leaders in Philippine history, she also faces graft and plunder charges before other courts. ■ (Rappler)

Rebels celebrate the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Mindanao on December 26, 2010 (AFP/File, Geonarri Solmerano)


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Rights victims angry at end to Marcos wealth hunt PHILIPPINE torture victims under the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos vented their anger Wednesday at a government plan to wind down its hunt for the late dictator’s embezzled billions. The proposal, now under consideration by President Benigno Aquino, would give the signal that people in power can commit crimes with impunity, said the group which calls itself Selda, the local word for a prison cell. “We cannot just forgive and forget

what the Marcoses did to us, nor must the Aquino government stop pursuing justice for martial law victims and the rest of the Filipinos,” the group said in a statement. The Presidential Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering the Marcos wealth, said last month that it would soon wind down its operations after almost 30 years. Its head Andres Bautista told AFP he had recommended to Aquino that the agency’s work be transferred to

the justice department. He said pursuing all of the Marcos wealth on a limited budget had become difficult with Marcos’s widow, Imelda, and her three children back in positions of power. Both Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda and the justice department confirmed Wednesday that the proposal had been sent to Aquino, and that it was under study. Marcos was toppled by a popular revolt in 1986 and replaced by Corazon Aquino, the incumbent’s

late mother. Her first act was to create the commission to try to recover the plundered assets. Bautista said the commission has recovered 164 billion pesos ($4 billion at the prevailing exchange rate), or less than half of the estimated 10 billion dollars in wealth believed plundered by the Marcos family. Selda groups anti-Marcos activists who were jailed and abused during martial law. A US court in 2011 awarded some 7,500 rights victims

7.5 million dollars in compensation for their suffering, in what was seen largely as a token victory. The funds came from assets held in the US by a crony of Marcos that were seized. ■ (AFP/02 January 2013)

2013’s first: ‘Auring’; Signal number 1 up in Palawan In New Year tweet, Arroyo takes dig at Aquino

(UPDATE) The low pressure area hovering over Mindanao that has turned into a tropical depression may be out of the Philippine Area of Responsibility Friday, the state weather bureau said Thursday. “Auring”, the first tropical

depression of 2013, has maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour, but may soon be out of PAR, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its updated 5 pm bulletin. Estimated

rainfall amount would be around 5-15 mm per hour, Pagasa added. Signal number 1 is hoisted only in Palawan and earlier declared storm signals in the Southern part of Negros provinces and Siquijor Island, Lanao Del Norte, Lanao Del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay have already been lowered. Potential impact of the winds brought about by “Auring” may include broken tree twigs and branches, “unroofed nipa houses”. “Auring” may also bring “significant damage to rice in flowering stage.” Pagasa says by Friday afternoon “Auring” is forecast to be at 440 km Southwest of Puerto Princesa City or may be out of the country. ■ (Asia News Network/January 4, 2013)

In search of rare metals, Philippines eaves no stone unturned MANILA - The Philippines is leaving no stone unturned in its quest for rare earth elements, or REE-a major component of electronic products. The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said the government had earmarked an initial budget for REE development work, with the exploration phase to begin sometime in the next three months. “The budget of 500,000 pesos (US$12,200) is just for fieldwork this year,” MGB director Leo Jasareno said in a phone interview. Additional resources would be allocated when an agreement has been signed with a technical partner. The Philippines is considering

partnering with China. The MGB has already found potential areas to explore, and these areas are also close to copper-gold mines. Palawan and Mindanao have been identified as the best places to start, but authorities have yet to determine if there are enough resources in those areas for commercial production, MGB said. Last year, the country’s plan to produce REEs stalled after Beijing reneged on earlier commitments to help Manila despite several “reminders” by the MGB. This came amid a dispute between Manila and Beijing over the Panatag Shoal in the West Philippine Sea. Before the dispute, Manila and Beijing were set

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to sign a deal to jointly explore for rare earth elements. Producing rare earth elements became a serious consideration for many countries last year when China decided to cap exports. At the time, the Chinese Commerce Ministry announced an initial cut of 27 per cent in its exports quota for 2012, reportedly as part of a crackdown on illegal mining of rare earth oxides. China controls 97 per cent of REE supply globally and has been reducing its export quota to secure greater control over pricing, thus leading to a surge in prices over the past two years, according to observers. ■ (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network/Jan 3, 2013)

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MANILA, Philippines - It’s the start of a new year, but some animosities die hard. Former President turned Pampanga Rep. Gloria MacapagalArroyo on Tuesday took a swipe at the Aquino administration in her New Year’s message, saying that its anticorruption drive was not backed by deeds and was belied by the abuse of power in going after political enemies. Arroyo also noted that the administration’s much touted publicpartnership (PPP) program had failed to take off, and that there were still only few foreign direct investments coming in that would bring about the kind of economic progress that everyone could feel. “These are the challenges that face our leadership, even as the rest of us hope that we may still reap the rewards of the momentum for advancement that had brought us so far ahead over the last decade,” she said. Arroyo was president from 2001 to 2010. Currently under house arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center on plunder charges, Arroyo posted her message on her official Twitter account through her staff. The former President is barred from using electronic communication devices but was recently allowed to have a television set. Blamed for PH problems Her administration is usually criticized and blamed for the country’s present ills by President Aquino in his speeches. “We are concerned the slogan of anticorruption still remains to be validated by measurable progress and continues to be mocked by the abuse of political power to favor those on the inside while persecuting

those on the other side,” said Arroyo in the message. The administration has been accused of going after politicians who do not belong to the Liberal Party (LP) which is chaired by President Aquino. Aside from Arroyo, the more recent targets, opposition politicians charge, were Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). Garcia continues to defy a government-issued sixmonth suspension order in an administrative case, while Espino is being investigated for alleged links to the illegal numbers game “jueteng.” The LP has denied allegations it was going after its rivals ahead of the May elections. Arroyo, who was Mr. Aquino’s economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, said the administration had yet to build on the economic gains she achieved during her term. Substantial infrastructure She said the PPP program, which the administration has long been trumpeting, “remains to be realized by the actual start, let alone completion, of new projects that will improve upon the substantial infrastructure we have already built.” “The fiscal stability and macroeconomic resilience that was first achieved under my watch still remains to be translated into more foreign direct investments that will ultimately deliver the inclusive growth that the business sector and the impoverished three million unemployed Filipinos are still waiting for,” she said. Arroyo said that in order for the people to benefit from an economic improvement, contracts must be respected and there must be a practical understanding of how free markets operate. Also needed is a “willingness to adhere to genuine economic data and not just propaganda,” she said. The former President, who is also facing graft and electoral sabotage charges for which she is out on bail, also wished for “true justice” for all Filipinos. “Most of all, we pray that true justice be administered to all without bias and prejudice,” she said. ■ (Inquirer News/Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Noy: AFP never been ‘spoiled’ during previous administrations Jaime Laude AQUINO cited the ₱28 billion allocated to the AFP for its modernization program in just the past 19 months. Addressing the AFP on its 77th anniversary, the President and commander-in-chief said the military has been receiving so much support from his administration he might soon be accused of spoiling the AFP. Aquino eschewed using the military jeep or “white carabao” for trooping the line and instead walked alongside top AFP officers as he saluted the troops. In his past AFP-related speeches, Aquino said weeding out widespread corruption in his administration has so far resulted in record budget savings and surplus in a short span of time. For one thing, the past administrations took 15 years to accumulate ₱33 billion for the AFP Modernization Program, but under his watch, ₱28 billion has already been collected in only 30 months since he took office in June 2010. The Commander-in-Chief bragged that the ₱28-billion allocation his

government made is nearing that of his three predecessors over the last 15 years. Aquino used as examples the two Hamilton class cutters the AFP acquired, the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, which is now patrolling Philippine territorial waters, and BRP Alcaraz that is now being refurbished. This is apart from the housing program his administration has provided, not only to members of the AFP, but also to the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Bureau of Fire Protection. The housing program for both AFP and PNP could be finished by August 2013. Now, running jokes about the “all air but no force” of the Philippine Air Force is a thing of the past. The same pun has been extended to the Philippine Coast Guard that was widely known to have “all coast but no guard.” Aquino assured them that ₱75 billion is all allocated for the modernization of the AFP. Armaments will also be upgraded to higher caliber firearms and fighting equipment.

“It is about time to put into retirement some of our old and antique military trucks to be replaced by more modern and faster means of transporting troops that would include modern tanks,” he said. “Of course, we have to have more modern firearms and force protection equipment to protect our citizens,” he added. “Our sailors’ fear of getting infected by tetanus from our rusty ships have ended.” He added the Navy should now start preparing its ports to accommodate modern warships that would be deployed to protect the country’s maritime domain. Aquino was apparently referring to four modern warships that the Department of National Defense (DND) is negotiating to acquire from Italy. Last week, Aquino signed into law the new decree that extends for 15 more years the revised Modernization Program of the AFP to make it at par with foreign government military capabilities. Republic Act 10349 gives the AFP Modernization Program a budget of ₱75 million for the first five years.

MANILA, Philippines - Compared to previous administrations, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has never been so favored as it has been under his watch, President Aquino said yesterday.

Aquino said this would “boost the AFP’s capability upgrade program as it shifts from internal to external defense capability.” It also aims to institutionalize the defense system of management, which incorporates a collegial and collaborative planning and decisionmaking process by senior defense and military leaders. Aquino said the new law also allows additional funding from public-private

partnerships entered into by the DND as well as multi-year contracts. Aside from this, it exempts from the value added tax and customs duties the sale of weapons, equipment, and ammunition to the AFP. The law exempts from public bidding major defense purchases such as aircraft, vessels, tanks, armored vehicles, communications equipment and high-powered firearms. ■ (PhilStar/ Jaime Laude/Updated December 22, 2012)

Telecommunications giants bring SMART Pinoy to serve Filipinos in the UK PLDT Global Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of PLDT Group, the Philippines largest telecommunication firm, has made another breakthrough

entry in the European market. Through an MVNO partnership with one of the most established operators and platform providers, Teleena – the

PLDT Global and Teleena heads seal the deal with a long term partnership, servicing Filipinos in the UK. From Left: PLDT Global’s Vice President and Head of Business Development, Rey G. Yu, and President & CEO, Alex. Caeg; Teleena’s Co-Founder and Sales Director, Michiel van der Pant, and UK Country Manager Sam Copsey.

Mobile Virtual Network Enabler of Vodafone in the United Kingdom, the collaboration is deemed to set the bar in the UK MVNO market specifically catering to the Filipinos. Sealing the deal with a special PreChristmas celebration on 15 December 2012 at the Brewery in London - they launched the home-grown SMART Pinoy SIM card, ready to serve the Filipino community in the UK. The alliance of the two formidable firms has brought forth to the Filipinos a well differentiated product that brings the unique Smart experience and a slew of services familiar to them. Some of these product features include local and international Pass-aload and E-Load services, affordable Data bundles, an ever reliable free 24/7 Filipino-speaking customer service and access to the SMART Pinoy Store. But one of the key features of

this service is that it gives the most affordable call and text rates to the Philippines and within the UK. Calling their loved ones back home on PLDT landlines, they can make 0.04p/ minute calls through the Sulit TipIDD feature, giving them more time to catch up with relatives despite the distance. SMART Pinoy subscribers can also make calls to any Philippine mobile number at 0.13p/minute without any minimum top-up. They can also send text messages to that to any mobile number in the Philippines at 12p per SMS. With its unique value proposition, it is without a doubt that Smart Pinoy will warm the hearts of the Filipinos this Christmas. “The UK is a very competitive and attractive market in Europe and a lot of parties are launching here as an MVNO. We are happy for a company

like PLDT to have chosen Teleena as a partner to enable them in the UK and maybe we can look beyond the UK in the near future” says Michiel van der Pant, Sales Director and Co-Founder of Teleena. Alex Caeg., President and CEO of PLDT Global further underscored the future cooperation by saying: “It is our goal to make the 75 Million subscribers of PLDT, Smart and Sun in the Philippines accessible to all our countrymen in the UK and soon the various parts of Europe. We will continue to explore possible partnership with Teleena not only in the UK but in other parts of the EU.” Indeed, with the coalition of the two giants, PLDT Global and Teleena, Filipinos in the UK and across Europe can envisage a uniquely Filipino set of services going beyond telecommunications. ■

Giada Technology F-Series – Fanless Mini PCs for Industries, Digital Signage and Offices

Manila, Philippines - Hardly larger than a paperback, Giada Technology`s F102D is a harmonic composition of performance and functional design. Its compact size, its energy efficiency, and its high performance make it a perfect and highly functional solution for end users; its solid metal housing makes possible application in rough industrial environments as well. Quiet offices profit from its low noise level, ensuring creative, effective, and concentrated work. What is more, it can be used as a small server or gateway with two LAN ports. The VESA holder which is available as an optional component allows easy positioning behind monitors, for example. The new F102D Mini PC from Giada Technology`s fanless series is a small computer giant, hiding the latest

PC technology inside. At its heart is an Intel Atom N2600 processor with a 1.6 GHz dual core based on Intel`s Cedar Trail technology. An almost silent solution, the F102D offers a broad range of ports and connections: 2 GB LAN, a 4-in-1 card reader, Bluetooth, WLAN (802.11n), as well as five USB and two COM ports. It has 2 GB RAM (DDR3 SO-DIMM) which can be upgraded to 4 GB, and an internal hard drive with 320 GB. Building in a hard drive with a capacity of up to 1 TB, or an SSD is possible as well. Additionally, the Mini PC features HDMI and VGA video output which can be used simultaneously as well to work with two HD screens at the same time. The latest PC technology in industrial environments

With its solid, black metal housing, the F102D is ideally suited for rough industrial environments, ensuring smooth operation even under very hot (up to 65°C) or very cold (down to -15°C) conditions. Its compact size of only 190 mm x 149 mm x 26 mm (D/W/H) makes possible operation in small areas as well. With its low energy consumption of not more than 14 W, there is no need for a noisy fan. Combined with its small heat development, the F102D meets all requirements for an industrial PC. Another field it is a perfect fit for is Digital Signage. With its slim size around 2 cm, it can be placed behind a monitor or used as an embedded system. Automatic start-up and shutoff can be realized using Wake on LAN (WoL). It easily plays 1080p content

The New Fanless Giada Mini PC F102D with Atom N2600: Slim, Silent, Dust-Proof, And Energy-Efficient

and can easily be placed behind a monitor or on a wall with the VESA holder available from Giada as well. Giada F102D Mini PC: the most important performance specifications • Ultra-compact size – 190 mm x 149 mm x 26 mm, 0,7-liter housing • Metal housing, black

• Energy consumption of not more than 14 W • Extremely silent without a fan • Robust and tight for industrial application • Network: WLAN 802.11n, Bluetooth, 2 GB LAN ports • Full-HD 1080P video • 2 GB DDR3 SO-DIMM RAM (max. 4 GB) • 320 GB SATA 2.5 ’’ hard drive • Intel Atom N2600 (2 x 1.6 GHz, Cedar Trail) • Optional: Windows 7 Professional • Intel NM10 Express Chipset • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3600 with Microsoft Direct X9 support • Large range of tolerance for outside temperature: from -15° to 65° C. ■ (Tempo/Jan 4th, 2013)


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Philippines seeks unity after birth control law signed Philippines raises PHILIPPINES

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino’s government called for reconciliation on Saturday after a “divisive” birth control act was signed into law despite bitter opposition from the influential Catholic church, AFP reports. Making sex education and contraceptives more widely available to the poor, the landmark legislation takes effect in mid-January, Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said. “The passage into law of the Responsible Parenthood Act closes a highly divisive chapter of our history — a chapter borne of the convictions of those who argued for, or against this Act,” Valte said in a statement. “At the same time, it opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation... engagement and dialogue characterised not by animosity, but by our collective desire to better the welfare of the Filipino people.” Both chambers of parliament

passed the final version of the act on December 19 after an acrimonious debate pitting non-government organisations and women’s groups against the country’s dominant church and its lay organisations. Aquino, who was once threatened with excommunication by church leaders for pushing the bill, signed the act two days later and said it gives couples the tools and information needed to plan the size of their families. Proponents say it will help ©AFP/File

Supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill celebrate as legislators passed the landmark birth control bill at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Dec 17, 2012.

moderate the nation’s rapid population growth, reduce poverty and bring down its high maternal mortality rate. Church leaders in the Catholicmajority nation have vowed that the fight is not over. Groups allied with the church are expected to challenge the law in the Supreme Court, while the church itself plans to ask its flock to oust the supporters of the birth control law in next year’s general election. The Philippines has one of Asia’s highest birth rates, with the United Nations estimating that half of the country’s 3.4 million pregnancies each year are unplanned. The government’s Commission on Women said that maternal mortality also remains high, with 162 deaths for every 100,000 live births, while 10 women die every day from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. ■

(AFP/Sunday, 30.12.2012)

Strong currency hurts Philippine call centres MANILA - The peso’s rise is hitting call centres in the Philippines, handicapping the global leader in the lucrative business as it combats a challenge from top rival India, industry officials said on Wednesday. Forty percent of the members of the Business Processing Association of the Philippines had cancelled expansion plans and an equal number reported losing business to other destinations, the industry group said. Nearly half disclosed in a group survey that they were having trouble meeting revenue targets because of the strong peso, it said in a statement. The association said the local currency had become uncompetitive compared to the rupee in India, the Philippines’ main rival for outsourced business services. “The combination of an appreciating peso and a depreciating

Indian rupee has provided India with a meaningful cost advantage,” the statement said. The Philippine peso has strengthened by about seven percent from about 43.90 to the US dollar on January 2 to about 41.05 at the close of last week. Industry president Benedict Hernandez said Philippines-based call centres must be able to operate “within acceptable market prices”, but added: “That’s becoming increasingly difficult as the peso continues to appreciate”. The Philippines overtook India as the world leader in call centres in revenue terms in 2009 and in manpower terms in 2010, according to industry figures. Manila is also making strides in other outsourced businesses like medical and legal transcription,

accounting, software writing and animation. Earlier this year the association had forecast that call centre revenues would rise to $8.4 billion this year with 493,000 people employed. They said this should increase to $14.7 billion by 2016, when the sector is tipped to employ 862,000 people. Hernandez did not say if the targets were now in danger of not being met. ■ (Dec 26, 2012)

©AFP/File, Joel Nito

Filipino call center emplyees are pictured in Manila, on August 25, 2005

Philippines’ Arroyo declined Christmas reprieve MANILA - Detained former Philippine president Gloria Arroyo is to spend Christmas at a military hospital after a court rejected her bid for a temporary reprieve, an official said Wednesday.

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (L), now a sitting lawmaker in the lower house of Congress, talks to her husband, Jose Miguel, inside the courtroom of the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court in Quezon City, Manila October 29, 2012. A Philippine court rejected her plea to spend Christmas out of a military hospital where she is recuperating while a case for misuse of state lottery funds against her is being heard.

The 65-year-old will not be allowed to leave the Veterans Memorial Medical Centre over the holidays, said Sandra Palugay, a staff member of the Sandiganbayan special anti-graft court which handed down the ruling. “There is a denial of the request of the former president,” she told AFP, declining to give the court’s reasons for its decision. Arroyo had asked to go home from December 21 to January 7 next year. Her lawyer Anacleto Diaz expressed surprise at the ruling. He would not say what her legal team would do next. Arroyo has been charged with plundering US$8.8 million (S$10.7 million) from state lottery funds during her years in office from 2001 to 2010. She is free on bail on a second criminal charge of committing vote fraud for allegedly rigging the 2007

senatorial elections to ensure her allies won. She denies both charges. Arroyo ended her time in power as one of the country’s most unpopular presidents; amid allegations she had cheated to win elections, embraced feared warlords as allies and was involved in widespread corruption. Her successor, Benigno Aquino, won a landslide election after vowing to fight corruption and prosecute Arroyo. Since her arrest for vote fraud in November last year, she has spent most of her time under detention at a military hospital, where she was treated for a spinal disease that requires her to wear a neck brace. Court resolutions to these cases are expected to drag for years in the country’s slow justice system. Arroyo continues to serve as a legislator after winning a seat in the lower house of parliament in the 2010 elections. ■ (GULF NEWS/December

19, 2012)

tobacco, alcohol taxes

MANILA - The Philippines on Thursday raised tobacco and alcohol taxes in a reform President Benigno Aquino hailed as helping to liberate “more Filipinos from the vices of smoking and drinking”. Aquino, a smoker himself, said the “sin tax” law was a victory against the powerful tobacco lobby and would provide extra funds for better health care and facilities. “The enemy was strong, noisy, organised and had deep pockets... but as I have always said, there is nothing that can stop Filipinos who are marching in the right direction,” the president said in a speech at the signing ceremony. Aquino spokesman Ramon Carandang said the sin taxes would raise 33 billion pesos ($800 million) in 2013, rising gradually over the succeeding years. Aquino said the government had first asked parliament to raise excise taxes on “sin” products such as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in 1997, but these were only passed in 2004 amid strong opposition by the tobacco lobby. The lobby included members of parliament representing tobaccogrowing regions as well as powerful cigarette companies that enjoyed one of the lowest tobacco taxes in Southeast Asia. The government says the Philippines has the highest incidence

©AFP/File

Cigaratte vendor Alex Santiago waits for customers on a street in Manila on Nov 21, 2012. The Philippines on Thursday raised tobacco and alcohol taxes in a reform President Benigno Aquino hailed as helping to liberate “more Filipinos from the vices of smoking and drinking”.

of smoking in the region, with tobacco-related diseases costing the country 177 billion pesos ($4.3 billion) last year. Aquino assured the country’s tobacco farmers that they would not be hurt by the higher taxes, but did not elaborate. The tax hikes were considered crucial for the government to meet the revenues necessary under the 2.005 trillion-peso budget for 2013 that Aquino signed into law on Wednesday. It was a second major parliamentary victory for Aquino after getting a controversial birth control act passed after it had been delayed for more than a decade due to opposition from the dominant Catholic church. The act, which gives the poor greater access to sex education and contraceptives, is due to be signed by Aquino soon. ■ (AFP/AL/Thu, Dec 20, 2012)

Philippines objects to new Chinese gunboat

THE Philippines on Friday said it “strongly objects” to China’s deployment of a new patrol vessel in the South China Sea, where the two countries have a seething maritime territorial dispute. Such patrols will not boost China’s claim to the disputed territory where the two countries have had a standoff since April, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement. “The Philippines strongly objects to the Chinese patrol of Philippine maritime domain in the West Philippine Sea,” the statement said, using the local name for the South China Sea. It called on China to respect the country’s “territorial sovereignty and EEZ”, referring to the Philippines’ 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday an oceangoing patrol vessel equipped with a helipad would be deployed to the South China Sea, the first of its kind in the area. In late November, China said it had granted its border patrol police the right to board and turn away foreign ships entering the disputed waters, raising fears of a confrontation.

Both the Philippines and China have overlapping claims over parts of the South China Sea, a major shipping route that is also believed to hold vast mineral resources. Tensions between China and the Philippines have risen in the area since April after ships from both countries had a standoff over a rock outcropping known as the Scarborough Shoal. While the Philippines has withdrawn its ships, it says China reneged on an agreement to pull out its own vessels. China claims the shoal as well as nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighbouring countries. The Philippines says the shoal is well within its EEZ. ■ (Dec 28, 2012)


MANIGONG BAGONG TAON 2013! A VERY BLESSED AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR 2013! THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!

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Air traffic between Philippines, Europe seen rising

©AFP/File, Jay Directo

A campaign poster showing an image of Ronaldo Bae hangs from a shanty house in Kawit, near Manila, on January 4, 2013

Man held as Philippines probes deadly gun rampage

MANILA - A man accused of helping a Philippine gunman kill seven people and wound 12 others has been detained as police investigate the motive for the drugfuelled rampage. Witnesses told police the arrested suspect helped reload a semiautomatic pistol as the gunman, later killed by police, went house to house Friday looking for neighbours to shoot at a slum in Kawit town outside Manila. Police arrested John Paul Lopez in Imus town near Kawit late Friday, hours after gunman Rolando Bae was killed in a firefight with police, national police spokesman Generoso Cerbo said. “We are investigating the level of his involvement, but definitely he faces criminal charges,” Chief Superintendent Cerbo said of the alleged accomplice. Lopez, the caretaker of Bae’s house, said he was blameless because the gunman forced him at gunpoint to load the clip of the .45-calibre pistol between the shootings, Cerbo told AFP. “If that is proven false, he would be charged with many murders,” Cerbo added. The arrested suspect tested positive for methamphetamine, an illegal stimulant, said Kawit police investigator Plaridel Daprosa. He told AFP the authorities were looking into the possibility that the murder spree, which police said was preceded by a four-day drug and alcohol binge, was triggered by problems in Bae’s marriage. “That’s a possible reason that we’re looking into. We know that the couple split a few months back,” Daprosa added. Cerbo, the national police spokesman, said 12 people were being treated for gunshot wounds in hospitals in Manila and Cavite following the rampage. Police said a pregnant woman and four children were among those shot, and that two of the children had died. They said Bae, whom police believe to be in his early 40s, had

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been an elected member of the village council but left the community after being defeated in a 2010 ballot for the post of village chief. Bae and Lopez began their drink and methamphetamine binge on New Year’s Eve, according to governor Juanito Victor Remulla, governor of Cavite province where Kawit is located. Derrick Carreon, spokesman for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, said that drug use may have played a role in the killings, explaining that frequent methamphetamine use can lead to anti-social or even psychotic behaviour. “They may start seeing demons during withdrawal. You take it from there,” he told AFP Saturday. Methamphetamine is the most commonly used narcotic by the nearly two million illegal drug users in the country, Carreon added. Friday’s shooting rampage followed the New Year’s Eve deaths of two children by celebratory gunfire in Manila, which has triggered outrage and condemnation of the Philippines’ poorly enforced gun laws. There were 1.2 million registered firearms in the country last year, with another 600,000 unlicensed weapons in circulation, according to police. But pro-gun lobby spokesman Ernesto Tabujara said Saturday it was unfair to punish licenced firearms owners like himself with a gun ban for the shooting deaths in Kawit as well as the two young victims of stray bullets in Manila. Less than one percent of gun crimes in the Philippines were committed by licensed gun owners, said Tabujara, secretary-general of Pro-Gun Philippines. “We feel we have an inadequate number of policemen protecting our citizens... Our 125,000 policemen could not possibly guard and protect 100 million Filipinos,” he told AFP. “In the critical moments before the police arrive (at a crime scene), homeowners have a right to protect themselves and their families.” ■ (AFP /January 4, 2013)

MANILA - Airlines from European countries are taking a second look at Asian destinations, including points in the Philippines, to take advantage of the region’s bright economic prospects. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said it already had several bilateral negotiations lined up for the first quarter of 2013 to secure additional air rights between the Philippines and European countries. This was despite the standing ban on all Philippine carriers from flying to points in Europe, or even over the continent’s air space due to concerns over the enforcement of safety rules by regulators on local airlines. “We are already scheduled to meet with a lot of countries, including European countries. The others are China, Japan, Taiwan and even Brazil,” said CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla, who sits on the Philippine air panel that negotiates for air rights with its foreign counterparts. “The interest is coming from both ways. Several European countries have expressed new interest in the Philippines,” Arcilla said in an interview, noting that local companies, too, were exploring the possibility of mounting European flights. “PAL (Philippine Airlines) wants to

return to Europe and of course Cebu Pacific plans to start long-haul flights in 2013,” he said. Flag carrier PAL earlier said it wanted to mount flights to popular destinations like the United Kingdom, Spain and France, as it adds more planes to its fleet and diversifies its route network. In December, the airline asked the CAB for rights to be able to mount flights to Turkey. The main reason for demand for flights in the Philippines was the country’s solid economic performance, Arcilla said. “There’s renewed interest in the Philippines because of the growing economy, especially the tourism sector,” he said. Tourism department data showed that 3.83 million foreign tourists came to the Philippines from

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January to November of 2012, up by 8.73 percent over the same period a year earlier. The government wants to attract 4.6 million tourists to the Philippines for the entire year. Another reason was the expected scrapping of the common carriers tax (CCT) and gross Philippine billings (GBP) taxes imposed by the government on foreign airlines. This year, Air France-KLM halted non-stop flights between Manila and Amsterdam, the last remaining direct link between the Philippines and Europe. Air France-KLM’s Manila-Amsterdam flights now have stops in Hong Kong. Air France-KLM said the CCT and GBP taxes made non-stop flights to the Philippines unprofitable for the company. ■ (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asian New Network)

Remittances of overseas Filipinos hit record $2.1 B in October MANILA – Personal remittances from overseas Filipinos (OFs) posted an 8.2 percent year-on-year growth in October 2012 to reach US$ 2.1 billion, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. On a cumulative basis, remittances totaled US$ 19.5 billion for the first 10 months of the year, higher by 5.9 percent than the level recorded in the comparable period in 2011. Personal remittances continued to expand on the back of the 13.8 percent growth in fund transfers by sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts, as well as the 3.6 percent expansion in remittances by land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) with work contracts of one year or more. Personal remittances represent the sum of net compensation, household-to-household transfers in cash. The United States, Canada and Saudi Arabia remained the top

three source of remittances. Others with big remittances are those from Japan, United Kingdom, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. Cash remittances, which help power domestic consumption, is expected to grow 5 percent this year and next year. Cash remittances in 2011 reached $20.12 billion. Cash remittances from overseas Filipinos coursed through banks posted a record-high level of US$ 1.9 billion in October, representing an increase of 8.5 percent from the year-ago figure. This brought cumulative cash transfers in January-October to US$ 17.5 billion, higher by 5.8 percent than the level posted in the same period last year. Remittances of land-based workers, which grew by 3.7 percent to reach US$ 13.5 billion in the first 10 months of the year, accounted for 77 percent of total cash remittances. Remittances of sea-based workers rose by 13.7 percent yearon-year to reach US$ 4 billion during

the ten-month period. More than three-fourths (78.2 percent) of the total cash remittances coursed through banks came from the U.S., Canada, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Japan, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. Remittances remained strong despite fragile economic conditions in advanced economies and renewed geopolitical tensions in some parts of the Middle East. Remittance flows were supported by the steady deployment of skilled and professional Filipino manpower abroad, combined with commercial banks’ continued efforts to build up their network of remittance business partners worldwide. Preliminary reports by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) indicated that 41.9 percent (or 302,173) of the total approved job orders of 721,338 in January-November 2012 were processed during the period. Processed job orders were intended mainly for manpower demand for overseas Filipinos in the fields of service, production, and professional, technical and related job categories in countries in the Middle East region, particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar. The sustained demand for overseas Filipino manpower provides support for a continuing favorable outlook for remittances through end2012. ■ (Philippines Today/24 Dec 2012)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Cebu governor defies Aquino suspension order, gets break in spirit of Christmas

CEBU CITY – Holed up in the provincial capitol with her supporters, suspended Cebu governor Gwendolyn Garcia will be allowed to cling to her seat after all but only during the Christmas season. This was disclosed no less by purported acting Governor Agnes Magpale who said the decision was made “in the spirit of Christmas,” reported Manila Standard Today’s Bart Ochea and Philippines Today correspondent in Cebu Pol Bulilan. Bulilan reported that the decision will give time for Garcia to wait for the decision of the Court of Appeals on her petition for a temporary restraining order which has been delayed by the Christmas recess. This developed as Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. has been directed to answer the plunder complaint filed against him over allegation he collected about P1 billion in jueteng payola as Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Quezon Gov. Danilo Suarez, Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia, Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, La Union Gov. Manuel Ortega and Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis Chavit Singson were reported to be at risk of possible suspension. “Over my dead body,” the defiant

lady governor said earlier on plans to bodily remove her at her office in the provincial capitol. Magpale, brother of Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, however, warned Garcia that the governor will undergo intensified scrutiny, especially in the release of funds, as part of the drive against corruption. The decision was confirmed in Malacanang as a Cabinet member supported Magpale and said they will let the holidays pass before dealing with Garcia’s defiance of the President Aquino’s suspension order. “There is no new directive yet from the President. I think it is something that we can deal with later on,” said Presidential Communications Development Secretary Ramon Carandang. There was no official explanation on the softening of Malacanang and Magpale’s stance on Governor Garcia who continued to defy her sixmonth suspension by the President. But this came as the country’s number no. 2 and no. 3 officials – Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile – together with former President Joseph Estrada visited Garcia at the capitol and advised her not to leave her post, claiming that the suspension order was ill-timed,

unlawful and tinged with political harassment. Garcia herself described her suspension a “patently illegal order” and “plain and simple power grab to overturn the will of the Cebuanos.” Sources said that Garcia had originally been recommended for a 60-day suspension but surprisingly this was upgraded to six months or until June 2013 or when the elections are over. Under the rules, the recommendation should have been acted upon within 30 days, but it took the President 144 days to make its order. Garcia would have been a senatorial candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) headed by the triumvirate of Binay, Enrile and Estrada but she later opted to run for congresswoman to replace her brother, Rep. John Pablo Garcia, who is running for governor against Liberal Party (LP) candidate Hilario Davide Jr. President Aquino’s aunt, former Tarlac Governor Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, earlier also visited Governor Garcia at the capitol to lend moral support. This developed as the Magpale came under fire from local and international media organizations for closing down the provincial

Hiring of Domestic Workers from the Philippines PURSUANT to the revised UK immigration rules that took effect on 6 April 2012, only diplomats stationed in the UK/Northern Ireland (NI) are allowed to hire domestic workers from overseas. As such, POLO will only verify employment contracts of domestic workers from the Philippines whose employers are diplomats stationed in the UK/NI. Following are the requirements for verification: A. For Direct Hires: 1. Duly-accomplished POEAprescribed Employment contract*, notarized by a UK/ NI solicitor and legalized by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 2. Duly accomplished employer’s profile* 3. Certified true copy of the data page of employer’s passport 4. Certification from the employer’s Embassy or Consulate that s/he is a diplomatic staff 5. Copy of the data page of the employee’s passport 6. Copy of the employee’s visa 7. Letter request to POEA requesting exemption from the No Direct Hiring Policy *Please go to link on downloadable forms. http://philembassy-uk.org/ consular-matters/forms B. For Agency Hires: 1. Job Order (JO) issued by the employer to the Philippine Recruitment Agency, legalized by

a UK/NI solicitor and legalized by the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) 2. Special Power of Attorney (SPA) issued by the employer to the Philippine Recruitment Agency, notarized by a UK/NI solicitor and legalized by the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) 3. Duly accomplished POEAprescribed Employment contract*, notarized by a UK/ NI solicitor and legalized by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 4. Duly accomplished employer’s profile* 5. Certified true copy of the data page of employer’s passport 6. Copy of the data page of the employee’s passport 7. Copy of the employee’s visa *Please go to link on downloadable forms. http://philembassy-uk.org/ consular-matters/forms Procedure: 1. Submit two (2) sets of the above documents (1 original and 1 photocopy) to POLO at Building

6, Philippine Embassy, Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HG. Office hours are from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm then 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday except on holidays. 2. If found complete and in order, pay to POLO the verification fee of £14.00 per document (i.e. employment contract, JO, SPA). Payments should be in cash. 3. The documents will then be processed and verified. 4. Pay to the Philippine Embassy the authentication fee of £18.00 per document (i.e. employment contract, JO and SPA). 5. Wait for release of documents. For those transacting by post: 1. Payment/s by postal money order for verification fee/s should be made to “POLO-London.” 2. Payment/s by postal money order for authentication fee/s should be made to “Philippine Embassy-London.” 3. Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope for mailing of documents back to sender. ■ (The Philippine Embassy London)

SUPPORT FOR GWEN. Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada visit embattled Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia at the Capitol.

government’s Sugbu TV, a 24-hour cable channel, and the provincial newsmagazine Sugbo News. The media outlets’ office was also padlocked on order of Magpale. Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino joined the National Union of Journalists and the National Press Club in demanding that Magpale recall her order to shut down Sugbu TV and newspaper, saying the action deprived Cebuanos of their constitutional right to information. In answer, Magpale said the two media outlets will be re-opened in due time after an audit of its

expenses and performance. Magpale earlier insisted that Garcia respect the rule of law and submit herself to the President’s suspension order. Magpale also denied that the order was an attempt at “power grab” in Cebu, pointing out that she is not a candidate for governor. Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who was criticized by UNA, also denied allegations of political harassment of opponents of Liberal Party candidates like Governor Garcia. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)

Philippines anger at logging ban murder MANILA The Philippine government has voiced outrage at “ruthless” illegal loggers intent on defying a nationwide ban on destroying forests, following the New Year’s Day murder of an environment officer. Two unidentified men armed with M-16 rifles shot environment department officer Alfredo Almueda in the head as he waited at a forest checkpoint to intercept a truck carrying logs on Tuesday, the government said in a statement. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of yet another environment officer. We are angered and outraged by the attack,” Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said in the statement issued late Wednesday. Paje said Almueda, 59, was the victim of persistent efforts by illegal loggers to silence “environmental defenders”. “This attack clearly demonstrates the ruthlessness of those responsible for the rape and destruction of our forests,” Paje said. Almueda’s killing brings to 21 the number of environment department personnel, deputised workers and volunteers who have been killed since a nationwide logging ban was imposed two years ago, according to government data. The Philippines, a tropical Southeast Asian archipelago, has lost more than half its forest cover over the past century with only about 7.6 million hectares (18.8 million

acres) left, Paje told reporters last year. These forests are guarded by underfunded, outnumbered and poorly armed government personnel who often face resistance from illegal loggers often linked to powerful businessmen and corrupt officials. Clemente Bautista, national coordinator for the non-government environmental group Kalikasan (Nature), said illegal loggers felt they could operate with impunity. “Initially, they will be intimidated and if that does not work, (the loggers) file a case against the officials or have them removed from their post. If the officials are hardheaded they will even kill them,” he said. Out of all the 21 murders since the start of 2011, only one suspect for one of the cases has been caught, environment department assistant secretary Danny Nicer told AFP on Thursday. ■ (AFP/Thu, Jan 3, 2013)

AFP © Farmers work on a rainforest turned field on the flank of a hill in the northern province of Samneua, Laos on April 5, 2008. The Philippine government voiced outrage at “ruthless” illegal loggers following the New Year’s Day murder of an environment officer.


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Boy killed, over 400 hurt in Philippine revelry CELEBRATORY gunfire killed a four-year-old boy and more than 400 others were injured by powerful firecrackers in typically rowdy New Year celebrations in the Philippines, according to officials. A bullet hit the boy in the back as he was playing outside his home in Manila’s suburban Mandaluyong district, said the city’s police chief Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina. He said police are trying to trace the gun owner but admitted it may take time in a country where unlicensed firearms are widespread. “We caught 10 people firing indiscriminately, most of them were private security guards who were drunk,” he said over DZBB radio. Espina said policemen found to have fired their guns to usher in the

A boy, injured by a firecracker, arrives at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, early on January 1, 2013.

Quirky traditions that mark New Year

AS the clock strikes 12 on Monday, millions will pop champagne corks and light fireworks while others indulge in quirkier New Year’s rituals like melting lead, leaping off chairs or gobbling grapes. One of the world’s oldest shared traditions, New Year’s celebrations take many forms, but most cultures have one thing in common — letting one’s hair down after a long, hard year. For much of the globe this involves sipping bubbly with friends until the sun comes up, seeing out the old year with bonfires and flares and off-key renditions of Auld Lang Syne. But others have rather more curious habits, often steeped in superstition. In Finland, say tour guides, people pour molten lead into cold

water to divine the year ahead from the shape the metal sets in. If the blob represents a ship it is said to foretell travel, if it’s a ball, good luck. In Denmark, people stand on chairs and jump off in unison as the clock strikes midnight, literally leaping into the new year. (The Danes also throw plates at their friends’ homes during the night — the more shards you find outside your door in the morning the more popular you are said to be.) The Dutch build massive bonfires with their Christmas trees and eat sugary donuts — one of many cultures to consume round New Year’s foods traditionally believed to represent good fortune. Spaniards, in turn, gobble a dozen grapes before the stroke of midnight, each fruit representing a

month that will either be sweet or sour. In the Philippines, revellers wear polka dots for good luck, while in some countries of South America people don brightly coloured underwear to attract fortune — red for love and yellow for financial success. Despite regional and cultural differences, for most the New Year’s festivities are a chance to let off steam before the annual cycle starts all over again. “This is a holiday that is about relaxation and letting go,” explained George Washington University sociologist Amitai Etzioni. “The whole year people are chained by social requirements, morals, laws... “And then there comes some occasion in which society says for today, 24 hours, for this evening, all bets are off, all norms are suspended, and it’s OK.

New Year would also be disciplined. Health Secretary Enrique Ona said 404 people nationwide were either burned or maimed by firecrackers, about half of them young children. “Some of the injuries were serious and could lead to lifelong disabilities,” he said. Among them was a teenage boy whose hand had to be amputated. “He picked up what he thought was an unlit firecracker left on the road. It exploded in his hand,” the boy’s mother, Mariel Lou Pateno, said at the packed trauma section of one Manila government hospital. “We hope the numbers will not rise but we are expecting more to arrive within the day,” Alfonso Nunez, one of the doctors at the hospital who worked through the night, told reporters.

An AFP photographer saw two men in their 50s in hospital with burns to the eyes and face due to firecrackers. The capital’s fire department said 12 blazes were reported overnight, including a school that caught fire due to fireworks near a sprawling slum area. No one was injured although dozens of families were left homeless. It is a tradition in the mostly Catholic nation of about 100 million to greet the New Year by making noise, in a belief it will drive bad spirits away. However hundreds are hurt annually by firecrackers and stray bullets, despite strict orders from President Benigno Aquino for police to clamp down on guns and ban powerful firecrackers. ■ (Tue, Jan 1, 2013)

“The next day we have to get back in line.” Historians say people have been marking the year change for thousands of years. The ancient Romans, who gave us the solar calendar, celebrated in a way similar to ours. “It was a day of public celebration. People spent the day playing, eating and drinking,” according to French historian John Scheid of the College de France. “During the period of the empire, the first four centuries AD, this originally Roman custom became a general festival in the whole Roman world, and so it remained until today.” January 1 became the day widely marked as New Year’s Day only in 46 BC, when the emperor Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar. March 1 had been the first day of the year until then. Medieval Europe, though, continued celebrating New Year’s

Day on dates with religious significance, including Christmas. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Julian calendar with the Gregorian one, correcting mathematical inconsistencies. Most Catholic countries immediately adopted the calendar and its January 1 start, but Protestant nations did so only gradually. Britain and its then-colonies, including the United States, were among the last to introduce the new calendar, from 1752. While most of the world has now adopted January 1 as the official start of the year, some still hold their festivities on other dates. Orthodox churches celebrate on January 14 (January 1 on the Julian calendar), while the Chinese New Year can fall on any date between January 21 and February 20, depending on the position of the moon. This year, it will be February 10. ■ (AFP/Sat, Dec 29, 2012)

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'No Christmas' for Typhoon Pablo victims

MANILA - Survivors of a typhoon that ravaged the southern Philippines will bypass Christmas this year as they hole up in evacuation centers and continue to bury their dead, officials said Sunday. Instead of presents and carols, thousands of people on the island of Mindanao will be more concerned with food, water and shelter, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos said. Instead of a traditional Christmas dinner, the government will distribute special packs of spaghetti, corned beef and fruit salad.

“There will no celebrations. It is just too sad. It will just be a regular day. We do not call it Christmas,” he told AFP as relief workers rushed supplies to towns flattened by Typhoon Pablo (Bopha), which slammed into the island on December 4. So far 1,067 people have been confirmed dead, with more than 800 missing, according to the government. Ramos said that—unlike in the rest of the majority-Catholic Philippines—there would be no Christmas parties in the storm hit towns, just the burials of bodies. Many of the dead are in an advanced state of decomposition

after failing to be identified. Ramos denied reports that bodies had been dumped in a mass grave on Sunday. “There was a semblance of a decent burial after the 17 bodies were identified,” he said. The burial was helped by the donation of 500 coffins from a province north of Manila, he added. Ramos’s office said there were still 13,940 people living in evacuation centers almost three weeks after the storm. More than 959,000 others have returned to the ruins of their homes or are staying with relatives. Dr. Martin Pareno, nutrition coordinator for Action Against

“The number one problem is shelter, clearing debris, sanitation. There is no electricity or water service. They will have to provide for that before any social activities.” ■ (AFP/December 23, 2012)

Eight dead, thousands homeless in Philippine fires

©NOEL CELIS/AFP PHOTO

A resident searches for salvageable materials amongst destroyed homes after a pre-dawn fire engulfed a slum area in Manila on December 25, 2012.

MANILA - Eight people were killed and thousands left homeless as two fires struck the Philippine capital on Christmas Day, with one of the blazes sparking a riot in a slum, officials said. Seven charred bodies, all believed to be from one household, were recovered after a blaze razed a row of old apartments in northern Manila at dawn, fire officer Francisco Mabunga told AFP. The cause of the blaze, which broke out as the metropolis of 14 million people held Christmas Eve parties that lasted until dawn Tuesday, is under investigation, officials said. “They are all believed to be from a family that owned the apartment

North Korea launches long-range rocket NORTH Korea launched a longrange rocket on Wednesday, in defiance of UN sanctions threats over what Pyongyang’s critics insist is a disguised ballistic missile test. “It (the rocket) has been launched,” a South Korean defence ministry spokesman told AFP without elaborating further. The Yonhap news agency, citing a government source, said the rocket had taken off from the Sohae satellite launch centre at 9:51 am (0051 GMT) and was immediately detected by navy vessels deployed by Seoul in the Yellow Sea. There was no immediate report on the success of the launch, but the Japanese government said the missile had passed its southern island chain of Okinawa around 12 minutes after take-off. “The missile that North Korea calls a satellite passed over Okinawa around 10:01 (am). We launched no interception,” it said. Japan had deployed missile defence systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looked set to fall on its territory. The United States had also deployed ships from its Pacific fleet equipped with ballistic missile defences.

Hunger International, said in a recent visit to the affected area he had seen people desperate for help. “It’s a heartrending thing. There is no sign of Christmas in the whole area,” he told AFP.

Yonhap said the three-stage rocket’s first stage had separated as scheduled and splashed down in the sea off South Korea’s southwest coast. In Seoul, President Lee Myung-Bak called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council to discuss the implications of the launch. Japan’s government found the launch intolerable, chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said. “It is extremely regrettable that North Korea went through with the launch despite our calls to exercise restraint,” he said. The launch followed reports in the South Korean media and satellite imagery analysis by US experts that suggested the rocket had been removed from the launch pad to repair an apparent technical problem. North Korea had originally provided a December 10-22 launch window, but extended that by a week on Monday when a “technical deficiency” was discovered in the firststage control engine. North Korea last attempted to launch its three-stage Unha-3 carrier in April, but the rocket exploded shortly after take-off. A successful launch this time would carry profound security implications,

marking a major advance in the North’s bid to mate an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability with its nuclear weapons programme. Washington and its allies insist the launch is a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions triggered by Pyongyang’s two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. In 2006 the Security Council imposed an embargo on arms and material for ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. It also banned exports of luxury goods and named individuals and companies to be subject to a global assets freeze and travel ban.

row and lived in one of the units where the fire was suspected to have started,” Mabunga added. A second blaze broke out at a sprawling shantytown, sparking riots that left one man dead and lead to two suspected rioters being arrested, said Manila fire marshal Santiago Laguna. “They (residents) started grabbing hoses from our firefighters, who could not do anything as they feared for their own safety,” Laguna said in a radio interview. He said a man was beaten up and later died from his injuries in the melee as the blaze consumed the shantytown in the San Juan district. Arson is believed to be the cause of the blaze. Laguna said residents were

apparently angered by the delayed arrival of firefighters. He said the emergency workers could not get their fire trucks through narrow streets jammed with parked vehicles. Volunteer firefighter Willy Tiongson, his bloodied head wrapped in a bandage, told GMA television that his team was met with a shower of rocks and other projectiles as they drove into the slum. The shantytown blaze left some 2,000 families homeless, Laguna said, adding that equated to around 8,000 people without a roof over their heads at Christmas. An AFP photographer on the scene saw hundreds of people left homeless huddled on the floor of two basketball courts nearby. ■ (AFP/December 25, 2012)

In 2009, it imposed a ban on North Korea’s weapons exports and ordered all countries to search suspect shipments. The United Nations and European Union had joined calls for Pyongyang to cancel the mission and warned of more sanctions if it pushed ahead. According to Japanese reports, Japan, the United States and South Korea have agreed to demand the Security Council strengthen sanctions on North Korea to levels that match those on Iran. That would include increasing the list of financial institutions, entities and individuals subject to asset freezes.

The North’s decision to launch the rocket in winter has led analysts to suggest a political imperative behind the timing, which may have overruled technical considerations. New leader Kim Jong-Un was believed to be extremely keen that the launch fell around the first anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-Il on December 17. Russia had joined the calls for Pyongyang to cancel the mission, while China, North Korea’s sole major ally and its biggest trade partner and aid provider, had expressed concern. ■ (Aljazeera/12 Dec 2012)

Philippines expects N. Korea rocket debris MANILA - Debris from a rocket launched by North Korea Wednesday was expected to fall off the main Philippine island of Luzon, an official said, without confirming if that had happened. “North Korea has launched their rocket at 8:49am (0049 GMT) Philippine time. It is expected to reach our area in about 30 minutes,” civil defence chief Benito Ramos said, urging fishermen to avoid the northern coast of Luzon. “Our people should avoid the Pacific Ocean from Santa Ana (a northeast Luzon town) to Polillo

island,” he said in repeated radio broadcasts. North Korea carried out the widely criticised rocket launch on Wednesday, seen by many in the international community as a disguised ballistic missile test There was no immediate report on the success of the launch, which Pyongyang insists is a scientific mission aimed at putting a satellite in orbit. Ramos said the Philippines did not have the technology to track the trajectory of the rocket and had asked South Korea for guidance. ■ (AFP/Dec 12, 2012)


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Philippines: Christmas Fires Kill 7, Leave Thousands Homeless In Manila

MANILA, Philippines - Angry residents beat a man to death and threw rocks at firefighters after a shantytown fire left thousands of people homeless, and another Christmas Day blaze in the Philippine capital left seven people dead, officials said Wednesday. A resident was beaten to death by his neighbors after shouting that he started Tuesday’s shantytown fire in suburban San Juan city, Senior Fire

Officer Domingo Cabog said. The man was reportedly drunk and was not responsible for the fire. Cabog said the fire started in a house where children were playing with lighted candles. Some 5,000 people were left homeless and 13 people were hurt in the shantytown. The injured included two firefighters and a volunteer hit by rocks that were thrown by residents who were impatient and tried to grab

©NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

fire hoses to save their own shanties, Cabog said. As firefighters struggled to penetrate the narrow alleys, one of them was mauled by a mob and rescued by a police officer, Cabog said. Two fire trucks also were damaged in the violence. “It’s Christmas and many of the men in the neighborhood were drunk,” Cabog said, adding that some residents brandished knives. The homeless were given shelter at a gymnasium and in tents near a basketball court. Police were investigating the beating death but no one was immediately arrested Wednesday. In Quezon City, another of the 16 cities that make up metropolitan Manila, a predawn fire Tuesday killed a veterinarian and six household members who were trapped inside a house, said arson investigator Rosendo Cabillan. The blaze was suspected to be triggered by an overloaded electrical circuit, he said. ■ (25 Dec 2012)

No attempt to shoot down N.Korea rocket: Japan govt TOKYO - Japan did not try to shoot down a North Korean rocket as it passed over its southern island chain of Okinawa, the government said Wednesday, strongly condemning the launch. Tokyo confirmed the launch had taken place and that said it believed parts of the rocket had fallen into the sea off the Korean peninsula, with another part dropping into the ocean near the Philippines. “Launch time was around 9:49 am (0049 GMT). The missile that North Korea calls a satellite passed over Okinawa around 10:01. We launched no interception,” a government statement said.

Japan had been on high alert since the 13-day lift-off window opened, despite a suggestion from Pyongyang that it could delay the much-criticised blast-off. Tokyo deployed missile defence systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looked set to fall on its territory, with missile batteries in and around Tokyo and in the Okinawan archipelago. Japan reacted quickly to the launch on Wednesday, with national media informed by government-run alert system. “It is extremely regrettable that North Korea went through with the launch despite our calls to exercise

restraint,” chief government spokesman Osamu Fujimura said. “Our country cannot tolerate this. We strongly protest to North Korea.” The impoverished but nucleararmed nation insists the longrange rocket launch — its second this year after a much-hyped but botched mission in April — is for peaceful scientific purposes. But the United States, and allies South Korea and Japan, say Pyongyang’s launch was a disguised ballistic missile test that violates UN resolutions triggered by its two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. ■ (AFP/Dec 12, 2012)

Six hurt in Philippine bus bombings, police say no immediate suspects

SIX people were injured when two buses were bombed on a southern Philippine highway, police and the military said yesterday. Improvised explosives set the vehicles ablaze one after the other as they were being driven near the town of Isulan in Sultan Kudarat on Saturday, said the provincial police chief, Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin. Four passengers and the driver and conductor of one of the vehicles were slightly injured as firemen were called out to put out the blazes, said regional military spokesman Col. Prudencio Asto. Wounded and treated at Sultan Kudarat provincial hospital were Hapinat Hilmor Bornales, 36, Delfin Jonathan Salmoren, 23, Dolfo Kevin Venus, 19, Catequista Rachel Mayornejo, 27, Yellow bus driver Salutan Robenson Matias and his conductor Sangki Emil Fantilaga. “Initial findings of the explosives

and ordnance team revealed that the explosions were caused by an improvised explosive device made out of ammonium nitrate, fuel and oil with common nails,” Asto told reporters. Balquin said they had no immediate suspects, and it was unclear if the buses which were on regular runs between the cities of Cotabato and Tacurong, were carrying the explosive devices before they went off. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. More police checkpoints have been established in pubic terminals in Sultan Kudarat province as commuters rush home for the New Year celebration. Army armored personnel carrier were deployed near bus and jeepney terminals in Isulan and Tacurong City, all in Sultan Kudarat to thwart any bombing attempt.

Balquin also advised bus firms to pick up passengers ony on bus terminals where soldiers and policemen are strictly checking passengers’ baggage. ■

January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Philippines braces for bloody New Year celebrations MANILA - The Philippines braced on Sunday for its annual orgy of New Year’s Eve merrymaking which leaves hundreds of people maimed by firecrackers or shot by bullets fired in the air by armed revellers. A total of 164 people have been injured by fireworks since the Christmas weekend, half of them in Manila, while one person was wounded by a stray bullet, according to the health department. President Benigno Aquino interrupted his Christmas holidays to meet with emergency services officials on government preparations for mass casualties, fires, and other potential mayhem from the often drunken revelry.

The government reported 454 firecracker-related injuries from hospitals across the country as 2012 was welcomed, many of them children and drunk adults who ignored government warnings. ■ (AFP/Dec 30, 2012) ©AFP/File

A Philippine policeman displays confiscated firecrackers, including one (bottom centre) called “Bin Laden,” in an effort to minimise the use illegal pyrotechnics ahead of the coming New Year festivities, at police headquarters in Manila on Dec 29, 2012.

Chronology of North Korean missile development SEOUL - North Korea on Wednesday launched a long-range rocket which Japanese authorities said passed over its southern island chain of Okinawa. It was the second launch this year, after a failed attempt in April. North Korea has said the rocket is aimed at putting a satellite in orbit, but much of the international community sees the launch as a thinly veiled ballistic missile test, banned by UN resolutions. These are key dates in the reclusive nation’s missile programme: Late 1970s: Starts working on a version of the Soviet Scud-B (range 300 kilometres or 186 miles). Testfired in 1984 1987-92: Begins developing variant of Scud-C (500 km), Rodong-1 (1,300 km), Taepodong-1 (2,500 km), Musudan-1 (3,000 km) and Taepodong-2 (6,700 km) Aug 1998: Test-fires Taepodong-1 over Japan as part of failed satellite launch Sept 1999: Declares moratorium on long-range missile tests amid improving ties with US July 12, 2000: Fifth round of USNorth Korean missile talks ends in Kuala Lumpur without agreement after North demands $1 billion a year in return for halting missile exports Dec 2002: 15 North Korean-made Scuds seized on Yemen-bound ship March 3, 2005: North ends moratorium on long-range missile testing, blames Bush administration’s “hostile” policy July 5, 2006: North test-fires seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 which explodes after 40 seconds July 15, 2006: UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1695, demanding halt to all ballistic missile activity and banning trade in missile-related items with the North Oct 9, 2006: North conducts underground nuclear test, its first Oct 14, 2006: Security Council approves Resolution 1718, demanding a halt to missile and nuclear tests. Bans the supply of items related to the

programmes and of other weapons April 5, 2009: North Korea launches long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific, in what it says is an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. The United States, Japan and South Korea see it as a disguised test of a Taepodong-2 April 13, 2009: UN Security Council unanimously condemns launch, agrees to tighten existing sanctions. North quits nuclear disarmament talks in protest and vows to restart its plutonium programme May 25, 2009: North conducts its second underground nuclear test, several times more powerful than the first June 12, 2009: Security Council passes Resolution 1874, imposing tougher sanctions on the North’s atomic and ballistic missile programmes July 4, 2009: North test-fires seven ballistic missiles off its east coast Feb 18, 2011: Satellite images show the North has completed a launch tower at its new west coast missile base at Tongchang-ri, experts say May 15, 2011: North Korea and Iran are suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology, according to a UN sanctions report, diplomats say March 16, 2012: North Korea announces it will launch a long-range rocket between April 12-16 to put a satellite into orbit April 13, 2012: Rocket is launched from the Tongchang-ri base but disintegrates soon after blast-off and falls into the ocean December 1, 2012: North Korea announces it will launch another rocket in December, triggering condemnation from its foes and concern from ally China December 9, 2012: Pyongyang says the launch may be delayed, as analysts say technical problems or snow may be hampering preparations December 12, 2012: North Korea launches the multi-stage rocket. Japan says it passed over its southern island chain of Okinawa but it did not attempt an interception ■ (AFP/Dec 12, 2012)


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HELLO PHILIPPINES

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Get Lucky With Marites Allen - 2013 World of Feng Shui

January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Your Luck in the Year of Water Snake 2013 Marites Allen HAPPY NEW YEAR Our Dear Readers!!! May all your dreams come true and wishing a GREAT START in 2013! Have you got your horoscope guide for 2013 yes? Make sure to grab a copy of your horoscope book or come and join us for our Philippine Feng Shui Convention on the 19th January 2013 at F1, Best Western Premier Hotel – one of the finest hotels in Global City, Philippines. You can also join our London Feng Shui Event on 23rd March 2013 at Kensington Close Hotel, London. Please call 07792 117 914 of reserve a seat through wofsphilippines@ gmail.com. You can also keep in touch with me through Twitter or Facebook: Marites Allen. As promised, as we await for the arrival of the Chinese New Year

of the Snake on the 10th February 2013, below are my different astrological forecast which you can only find and read exclusively from HELLO PHILIPPINES NEWSPAPER. Keep your copy of Hello Philippines newspaper and visit www.hellophilippines.com as I will be giving you more and more tips in the coming months on how to make your 2013 more fabulously wealthy, healthy & happy! Rat (1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) You are in for plenty of good news, provided that you manage to overcome the Star of Reducing Energy. There is strong income and promotion luck in your chart, so you must strengthen your personal chi energy. One way to do

this is to wear clothes designed with mystic knot symbols. This will help you gain more opportunities in life. Expect some tough competition, which can be countered by displaying the Victory Flag in your home, and by tapping the luck of your secret friend, the Ox, and your allies, Monkey and Dragon. Displaying their images on your work desk and by wearing shirts bearing their symbols will give you the support you need from helpful friends. Be sure your wardrobe includes clothes designed with antahkarana symbols to strengthen your health luck. Ox (1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009) A lucky year awaits

you as you play host to a number of very auspicious stars. Interpersonal relationships may be afflicted, but the Snake is your ally, which brings additional luck this year through friendships. Enhance your wealth luck by installing an auspicious water fountain in the Northeast sector of your home & office or wear a 9 or 21 eyed dzi to aid you fulfill your dreams. Carry an image of your secret friend, the Rat and your allies, Snake and Dragon either as a keychain or as decorative figurines on your desk. Wearing clothes designed with the symbols of your allies and friends will help you benefit from their supportive energies. To protect yourself against misfortune, consider wearing clothes designed with the fiveelement pagoda or carry with you a 5 element pagoda charm. Try to incorporate auspicious designs into your wardrobe especially for relationship and marriage luck with auspicious flowers or mystic knot prints.

Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010) You have the lucky #8 star in your chart, which will bring wealth and other good news. Unfortunately, a number of malicious stars will cause mischief and bring obstacles. Expect a few mishaps brought about by your conflict situation with the Tai Sui. You also have the Robbery Star in your chart, so make sure you always carry the NIGHT AMULET PROTECTION. Place a RHINO and ELEPHANT figurine in the West corner for protection. Take care of reduced vitality by activating Water energy near you – water fountain will be very auspicious. For enhanced health and longevity, try to incorporate wu lou and antahkarana prints into your daily fashion. Rabbit (1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011) The Argument Star has flown into your chart this year making you short-tempered. Other malevolent stars likewise make their appearance, thus you have a lot of controlling to do. Always carry the Peace and Harmony amulet. Place a Ksitigarbha with the 3 Celestial Guardians in the East for protection against negative energies and other forms of bad luck. Try to have calmer days by wearing images of your allies (Sheep and Boar) and your secret friend (Dog) in your daily fashion. Wear different dzi beads for fulfillment of your dreams. Clothes designed with ruyi, mystic knot prints will also help you attract positive energies for more harmonious relationships.

Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) Your relationship luck improves though this is a year for you to stay low key owing to a number of negative energies that could bring about challenges. Wear or display an image of your ally the Snake or your secret friend, the Rooster, to activate their helpful influences. Clothes bearing their symbols will help energize their support. Choose the colors that suit your mood or specific intentions. Enhance your wealth luck this year by displaying a pair of Wealth-bringing Elephants in your living room. You may also wear auspicious fashion designed with wealth coins, mystic knot or symbols of your allies and friends. Carry the Peace & Harmony Amulet together with the Annual Amulet of Protection to ensure you are well protected against gossip and being backstabbed. Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013) This is your year and you have the support of the Tai Sui, thus you must try to be always on his good side. Carry the Tai Sui keychain or display the Tai Sui Plaque in the Southeast. Because you are bound to suffer from waning energy, try to boost your inner strength by wearing or displaying images of your secret friend (Monkey) and allies (Ox and Rooster) on your work desk. You may also wear clothes bearing their symbols to activate the supportive energies you need. Activate your wealth luck by wearing jewelry that has the infinity sign of 8. For your daily fashion, you can consider wearing mystic knot prints, wealth ship symbol or ruyi to boost your wealth and power luck. PLEASE REMEMBER to pickup a copy of HELLO PHILIPPINES NEWSPAPER FORTNIGHTLY ISSUE for the Astrological Signs of the Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Boar. For your lucky charms and enhancers: Please call our London office at 07792 117 914 or visit Philip De Vera salon at Earls Court, London. Else, see you soon on our January 19, 2013 at our Philippine Feng Shui event or in London, on March 23, 2013 at Kensington Close Hotel. Please call now to confirm your seats!!! Metro Manila inquiries: Please call our World of Feng Shui boutiques near you: WOFS North Edsa – 442 0113, WOFS Megamall 470 7661, WOFS Mall of Asia 556 0615, WOFS Glorietta IV 818 8858, WOFS Serendra 659 2405, Hotline no 0920 950 9390 or emails us at wofsphilippines@gmail.com. For your lucky clothing please shop on line at www.frigga.co.uk or connect through www.maritesallen.com. ■


26

HELLO

ENTERTAINMENT

www.hello-philippines.com

January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Metro Manila Film Festival movies PHILIPPINES

El Presidente Starring: Jeorge ER Estregan, Cesar Montano, Cristine Reyes, Nora Aunor Directed by: Mark Meily Studio: Scenema Concept International Genre: Action Historical Drama Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱15 Million A young general from Cavite rises to power as the country fights for its independence against Spain. His rise comes with heavy costs that test his mettle at every turn.

One More Try Starring: Angel Locsin, Angelica Panganiban, Dingdong Dantes, Zanjoe Marudo Directed by: Ruel S. Bayani Studio: Star Cinema Genre: Drama Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱15 Million A single mother is forced to reunite with her estranged husband to save her child from a deadly disease.

Shake Rattle and Roll 14 Starring: Carla Abellana, Dennis Trillo, Herbert Bautista, Iza Calzado, Janice de Belen, Lovi Poe, Paolo Avelino, Solenn Heussaff, Vhong Navarro, Dennis Padilla, Empress Schuck, Snooky Serna, Dimples Romana, Makisig Morales, Ronnie Lazaro, Carlo Aquino Directed by: Chito S. Roño Studio: Regal FIlms Genre: Horror Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱14 Million A family is haunted by the characters of an inherited comic book collection. A team of soldier fights off a zombie plague. A group of young ghost hunters encounter a more dangerous threat.

Si Agimat, Si Enteng at Si Ako Starring: Judy Ann Santos, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., Vic Sotto Directed by: Tony Y. Reyes Studio: Octoarts Films, M-Zet Productions, Imus Productions, APT Entertainment, and GMA Films Genre: Fantasy / Comedy / Action Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱40 Million Heroes of three worlds join forces to fend off a monstrous threat.

Sisterakas Starring: Ai-Ai de las Alas, Kris Aquino, Vice Ganda Directed by: Wenn V. Deramas Studio: Star Cinema and Viva Films Genre: Comedy Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱25 Million Feuding half siblings reunite when a down-on-her-luck socialite is hire by her successful half-brother to be his assistant. He resolves to torment her, but the two are forced to work together to overcome a powerful rival.

Sosy Problems Starring: Bianca King, Heart Evangelista, Rhian Ramos, Solenn Heussaff Directed by: Andoy Ranay Studio: GMA Films Genre: Comedy Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱10 Million Four girls belonging to the upper class deal with problems associated with their status as they seek out happiness in their lives.

The Strangers Starring: Cherry Pie Picache, Enchong Dee, Enrique Gil, Jaime Fabregas, Julia Montes Directed by: Lawrence Fajardo Studio: Quantum Films, MJM Productions and Star Cinema Genre: Horror Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱5 Million A family taking a roadtrip breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and gets caught in the middle of a conflict between a small village and a mysterious hunter that lives in the woods.

Thy Womb Starring: Bembol Roco, Lovi Poe, Mercedes Cabral Directed by: Brillante Mendoza Studio: Centerstage Productions Genre: Drama Lobbying Placement Fee: ₱2 Million A Badjao midwife unable to bear children for her husband consents to him taking a second wife. She scours all of Tawi-Tawi looking for a suitable bride. ■


“Wash down Pure Foods Corned Beef with Red Horse Beer.”


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HELLO

PHILIPPINE EMBASSY AROUND THE WORLD

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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Filipina Ballet Dancer Competes in the Genee International Ballet in Wellington, New Zealand PHILIPPINES

SIXTEEN-YEAR old Filipina ballet dancer, Irene Kim Abrogena, was chosen as a semi-finalist in the Genee International Ballet Competition 2012 held in Wellington, New Zealand on December 12. She joined 65 young dancers from all over the world in one of the most exciting and prestigious international ballet competitions. This was the first time that the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) staged the Geneee International Ballet Competition in Wellington, in association with the Royal New Zealand Ballet and the New Zealand School of Dance. The organizers described the Genee International Ballet Competition as the “Olympic Games of Ballet.” Miss Abrogena is trained by Ms.Marlinda Claravall, the Director and Choreographer of Claravall School of Dance in the Philippines, a Teaching Member of RAD and part of the International Team of Tutors for Certificate of Ballet Teaching Studies, one of RAD’s Dance Education Program. To be chosen as a semi-finalist in the Genee International Ballet Competition is already a feat and Ms.Abrogena’s thrilling performance of ballet interpretation of “Save the Tree” with music accompaniment of “Ugoy ng Duyan” and choreography by Ronilo Jaynano, as well as her presentation in the classical ballet portion, was much applauded and admired by the audience. According to Ms.Claravall, Ms.Abrogena is an outstanding student in her school and possesses the distinctive talent, dedication, discipline and commitment to develop her artistic potentials and launch a successful career as a top ballerina of the Philippines. During the dinner hosted by Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez at “Ang Bahay” on December 12, she conveyed the congratulations of the Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community

to Ms. Abrogena for “bringing pride and honor to her country, gaining international distinction and acclaim and showing to the organizers, the public and other competitors that the Philippines is home to worldclass talents in the performing arts.” Ambassador Benavidez also paid tribute to Ms.Abrogena’s mother, Mrs.Ludy Abrogena for her exemplary support and sacrifice in every stage of development of Irene Kim’s artistry in ballet and to Ms.Claravall for her passion, vision, generosity and bigness of heart to enable her students to reach unprecedented heights in ballet and provide scholarships to deserving Filipinos blessed with talent and creativity in music and dance. Other guests joined the dinner, namely: Mr. Ariel Abrogena, Mrs. Fe Abrogena, Consul General Marcos Punsalang, Mrs. Marissa Punsalang, Mr. Paul Angell, Mrs. Wilma Angell, Ms. Fe Clouston and Ms. Bianca Benavidez. ■ (Philippine Embassy Rome/ 31 December 2012)

(From left) Mr. Paul Angell, Ms. Fe Clouston, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, Ms. Marlinda Claravall, Ms. Irene Kim Abrogena, Mr. Ariel Abrogena, Ms. Athena Abrogena, Mrs. Marissa Punsalang, Mrs. Wilma Angell, Consul General Marcos Punsalang, Mrs. Fe Abrogena and Mrs. Ludy Abrogena

Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez delivers her message and congratulates Ms. Irene Kim Abrogena for bringing pride and honor to her country

Dinner hosted by Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez in honor of Ms. Irene Kim Abrogena at “Ang Bahay” on 12 December 2012. (From left) Ms. Marlinda Claravall, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez, Mrs. Ludy Abrogena, Mrs. Wilma Angell, Ms. Fe Clouston, Ms. Athena Abrogena, Mr. Ariel Abrogena, Consul General Marcos Punsalang, Ms. Irene Kim Abrogena and Mrs. Fe Abrogena

New Phl Honorary Consul General for Catalonia and Aragon, Spain Sworn In

PHILIPPINE Ambassador to Spain Carlos C. Salinas administered the Oath of Office of Mr. Jordi Puig Roches, the new Barcelona-based Philippine Honorary Consul General for Catalonia and Aragon last December 05 at the Philippine Embassy Chancery in Madrid. Mr. Puig, a known Catalan architect and businessman, was selected by the Department of Foreign Affairs among 16 candidates after a rigorous screening process conducted by the Philippine Embassy in Madrid and the former Philippine Consulate General in Barcelona. After the oath-taking ceremonies, Mr. Puig was given a briefing on

consular, administrative, and financial procedures, as well as updates on cultural and trade activities undertaken by the Embassy. The Labor, Welfare and Defense Attachés also conducted a briefing for Mr. Puig on their respective areas of interests. The re-opening of the Philippine Honorary Consulate General office in Barcelona is in line with the commitment of the Philippine Government to continuously provide consular services to the Filipinos living and working in regions of Catalonia and Aragon after the closure of the Philippine Consulate General office in Barcelona last July 30. ■ (Philippine Embassy Rome/30 December 2012)


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HELLO

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PHILIPPINE EMBASSY AROUND THE WORLD

January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Speech of President Aquino at the 77th founding anniversary of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, December 21, 2012 PHILIPPINES

Talumpati ng Kagalang-galang Benigno S. Aquino III Pangulo ng Pilipinas

SA ika-77 anibersaryo ng pagkatatag ng Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas [Inihayag sa Camp Aguinaldo, Lungsod ng Quezon, noong ika-21 ng Disyembre] President Fidel Valdez Ramos; Secretary Voltaire Gazmin; General Jessie Dellosa; excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; honorable members of the Armed Forces Attaches; Lt. Gen. Noel Caballes; Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento; Commissioner Ricardo David; Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista; Lt. Gen. Lauro Catalino dela Cruz; Vice Admiral Jose Luis Alano; Police Dep. Dir. General Alan Purisima; Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena; other generals and flag officers present; former chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; officers, men, and women of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; fellow workers on government; honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan: Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Ilang araw na lang po’t Pasko na, at malapit na ring sumapit ang Bagong Taon. Kaya naman ngayon pa lang, binabati ko na po kayo at ang inyong mga pamilya ng isang maligayang pagdiriwang. Batid natin ang tunay na diwa ng Kapaskuhan: ang paggunita sa araw ng pagsilang ng dakilang tagapagligtas na si Hesukristo, na Siyang bukal ng pagmamahal at pagmamalasakit sa ating kapwa. Ang mga prinsipyo nga pong ito ang isinasabuhay ng ating mga kawal sa pagtupad ng kanilang tungkulin sa kalakhang lipunan. Sa ngalan ng sambayanan, taos-puso po akong nagpapasalamat sa ating Sandatahang Lakas; sa inyong dedikasyon at paninindigan, posible ang mapayapang pagdiriwang ng Kapaskuhan at nasisiguro nating talaga namang mas maganda at masagana ang Bagong Taon nating lahat. Mahigit tatlong henerasyon na nga po ang nakalipas mula nang maitatag ang Sandatahang Lakas ng Pilipinas. Isinilang ito mula sa kolektibong pangangailangan ng mga Pilipino, hindi lamang para labanan ang mga banyagang kumikitil sa ating mga karapatan. Binuo din ito bilang tanda ng kahandaan nating magsarili’t manindigan para sa ating kasarinlan, habang kinikilala ang kapangyarihan ng taumbayan bilang bukal ng lakas at siyang dapat na paglingkuran. Sa loob ng pitumpu’t pitong taon, naging sandigan ng taumbayan ang pambansang tanggulan na binubuo ng mga kalalakihan at kababaihang walang-alinlangang nagtataya ng dugo’t pawis bilang puhunan ng isang maaliwalas at makabuluhang kinabukasan. Sa ating mga opisyal na nagtimon sa AFP: kina

Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at General Jessie Dellosa, at siyempre sa buong kasundaluhan lalo na sa mga kawal na pinarangalan natin ngayong umaga: nagpupugay ang taumbayan sa inyong walang-patid na kabayanihan. Maraming salamat sa pangangalaga sa seguridad at kapayapaan ng bawat kalupaan, kalangitan, at karagatang sakop ng ating bayan. Hayaan po ninyong pangunahan ko ang pagbabalik-tanaw at pagpupugay sa ilang mga tagumpay na nakamit natin dahil sa mga positibo’t makabuluhang pagkilos ng ating kasundaluhan. Batid nating may masasamang elemento pa ring patuloy na pinagbabantaan ang kaligtasan at payapang pamumuhay ng ilang pamayanan sa bansa. Subalit dahil sa halos dalawandaang tactical operations na isinagawa ng AFP sa mga pook na naiipit sa karahasan, may isandaan at labinlimang indibidwal tayong nahuli, bukod pa sa pagsuko ng halos dalawandaan at dalawampung rebelde. Nasabat din natin ang mahigit isandaan at pitumpu’t limang mga armas at napalaya ang apatnapu’t anim na barangay mula sa masasamang elemento. Kung ikukumpara sa nakaraang taon, dalawampu’t tatlong porsyento po ang ibinaba ng insidente ng karahasang dulot ng CPP-NPA-NDF. At hindi po tayo makukuntento hangga’t may mga pamilya pa ring naiipit sa mga walang katuturang bakbakan. Kumpiyansa at inaasahan po nating sa pag-iral ng IPSP Bayanihan, napipinto na ang paglaganap ng malawakang kapayapaan sa mga lugar na dati’y pugad ng armadong hidwaan. Matapos ang makasaysayang kasunduang pangkapayapaan sa

Moro Islamic Liberation Front at sa pagtataguyod ng Bangsamoro, inaasahan po nating matutuldukan na rin ang deka-dekadang alitan sa katimugang bahagi ng bansa at magsimula nang mapitas ng ating mga kapatid na Muslim at Lumad ang pangako ng kanilang lupang tinubuan. Ang kapayapaang magsisimulang umusbong sa Mindanao ay inaalay po natin, hindi lamang sa mga kawal at mandirigmang nagbuwis ng buhay, kundi lalo na sa mga inosenteng sibilyang naipit sa hidwaang sa wakas ay matatapos na. Mulat tayo sa malaking papel na gagampanan ng AFP para sa maayos na transisyon ng inisyatibang pangkapayapaan na ito. Kaya naman po nananalig akong magpapatuloy pa ang inyong malasakit at pagkalinga sa ating mga kababayan. Dahil sa inyong mga sakripisyo, makakaasa pa rin kayo na sa patuloy na suporta ng pamahalaan at sambayanan. Sa sobra nga pong pag-aalaga natin sa ating mga kawal, hindi po ako magtataka kung sa susunod na taon ay pagbibintangan na tayong “spoiled” sa tuwid na daan ang AFP. Mantakin po ninyo: Mahigit dalawampu’t walong bilyong piso ang agad nating inilaan para sa AFP Modernization Program sa loob lamang ng isang taon at pitong buwan. Mula sa pagiging kawawang cowboy, itinulak natin ang AFP bilang mas moderno’t mas maaasahang tanggulan. Dumaong na ang BRP del Pilar, at paparating na rin ang BRP Alcaraz, ang ating mga Hamilton class cutters. Nagkaroon rin tayo ng BRP Tagbanua, ang kauna-unahang landing craft utility na gawang Pinoy. Nariyan din ang 21,800 na bahay na itinayo para sa

mga pulis at kasundaluhan, at ang karagdagang 31,200 na kabahayan pa na inaasahan nating makumpleto sa Agosto 2013, hindi lang para sa mga pulis at sundalo, kundi pati na sa mga bumbero at kawani ng BJMP. Gusto ko lang hong pagdiinan, ‘yang proyekto pong ‘yan ay nagmula sa kunsultasyon sa inyong hanay nang kami’y nagtanong, “Paano bang mapapadama sa inyo ‘yung pag-aaruga at pagmamahal, pagkalinga ng sambayan?” Iyan po ang naging resulta ng proyekto. At lalo lamang mas nagiging makahulugan ang ikapitumpu’t pitong taon ng ating Sandatahang Lakas dahil sa paglagda natin ng New AFP Modernization Act kamakailan. Ito ang susi tungo sa mas moderno, mas matatag, at mas mapagkakatiwalaang kabanata sa kasaysayan ng ating kasundaluhan. Wala pong ibang paglalaanan ng pitumpu’t limang bilyong pisong pondo sa susunod na limang taon kundi para sa mga bagong kagamitan at kinakailangang kasanayan ng Sandatahang Lakas. Ibig sabihin, tapos na po ang yugto kung saan—sabi nga po ng iba— puro “Air” at walang “Force” ang Hukbong Himpapawid: Ihanda na ang tarmac para sa mga bagong eroplanong babagwis sa ating papawirin. Tapos na rin po ang araw kung kailan mas pinangangambahan po ng Hukbong Dagat ang tetanus mula sa mga kinakalawang na barko kaysa sa mga banyagang umaangkin sa ating teritoryo; ihanda na po ang mga daungan para sa mga moderno’t dekalidad na barko ng Navy na magtatanggol sa ating mga baybayin. Panahon na rin para magretiro ang mga antigong trak ng Hukbong Katihan; hindi

magtatagal, mas mabibilis at mas makabagong mga tangke, trak, at ambulansya ang inyong sasakyan, ‘yong iba po ay nandiyan sa gilid natin. [Applause] Siyempre mas dekalibreng armas at force protection equipment ang gagamitin ninyo upang ilayo sa panganib ang mga Pilipino. Ituring po ninyong maagang aguinaldo ang mga itong nagmula, hindi lamang sa akin, kundi lalong lalo na, sa sambayanang Pilipinong nag-uumapaw pa rin ang tiwala’t kumpiyansa at pagpapasalamat sa inyong lahat. Unti-unti na rin pong bumabangon ang ilang bahagi ng Visayas at Mindanao na sinalanta ng bagyong Pablo. Habang tumatanaw tayo ng malaking utang ng loob sa bawat kawal na nakibalikat sa panahon ng sakuna, huwag sana nating limitahin ang kaya pa nating magawa. Huwag sana tayong makuntento sa kung ano ang kaya nating iambag pagkatapos lamang ng sakuna; sa halip, tumutok tayo sa kung ano ang kaya nating gawin bago pa man ito sumalanta. Ibig sabihin, bago pa man madapa ang ating mga kababayan, dapat ay nakahanda na tayong pigilan ang kanilang pagbagsak at isinagad natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para maiwasan ito. Sumadsad man siya, nakaposisyon na dapat tayo para mabatid niyang hindi po siya nag-iisa; na katuwang niya ang buong kasundaluhan para gamutin ang tinamo niyang sugat; na handa tayong maging saklay para sa kaniyang pagbangon; na handa tayong manatili sa kaniyang tabi hanggang mula sa paghilom ng kanyang mga sugat; hanggang sa kaya na niyang tumayo sa sarili niyang mga paa. Sa pagsalubong natin sa bagong taon, sinasalubong din natin ang mga bagong pinuno’t opisyal; mga kawal na umangat ang ranggo, hindi dahil sa palakasan o padrino, kundi dahil sa disiplina, dedikasyon sa katungkulan, at katapatan sa bandila. Sumasalamin rin ito sa paninindigan nating magtalaga ng mga sundalong patuloy na tutupad sa mandato ng AFP: ang ipagtanggol ang bansa at ang paglingkuran lamang ang kaisa-isa nating mga Boss—ang taumbayan; wala na pong iba. Sa lahat ng kawal na Pilipino: Pangalagaan ninyo ang mahabang tradisyon ng karangalan, katapatan, at malasakit ng Sandatahang Lakas. Huwag kayong lilihis sa tuwid na daan; manatili kayong kakampi’t takbuhan ng nangangailangan; manatili kayong bayani’t tagapagligtas ng taumbayan. Ulitin ko lang po, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year po sa inyo at sa inyong mga pamilya. Nawa’y maging mapayapa ang ating Kapaskuhan. Magandang araw po. Maraming salamat sa lahat. ■ (Philippine Embassy Rome)


Philippines Ranks 2nd in Top 10 Travel Destinations MANILA, Philippines — Some parts of the world may still be oblivious of the Philippines as a hot beachholiday destination but American travel magazine Condé Nast Traveller predicts that the country’s heavenly islands and white sand beaches are among the newest destinations to watch for in 2013. On the magazine’s online site (www.cntraveller.com), the

Philippines ranked second in its “Top 10 hot destinations that will be big news for travelers in 2013.” Brazil topped the list. The Netherlands’ city of Amsterdam was ranked third; Africa, fourth; Galapagos Islands, fifth; Kashmir, sixth; Mayan Riviera, seventh; New Zealand, eighth; Panama, ninth; and Oman, 10th. Condé Nast’s Laura Fowler wrote in her article that “the Philippines may still not be

the most obvious beach destination but it soon will be.” The writer also compared the country’s more than 7,000 islands to the islands of Maldives: “Sorry, Maldives... We love you, but we’ve got a new flame.” Especially mentioned in the piece as must-see places are Bicol, where travelers can swim with the huge but gentle whale sharks; Siargo, a stunning little known island perfect for deep-sea fishing; Palawan, “palm-fringed whitepowder beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, natural lagoons for wild swimming all of it protected by UNESCO.” According to the article, the Philippines is becoming “particularly popular among serious divers, who come for the incredible underwater life, unspoilt coral gardens with rainbow-bright fish, green sea turtles and dugongs.” This year, the country’s countless world-class beaches may well be on the radar for wide-eyed travelers looking for the next best tropical paradise. ■ (Wed, Jan 2, 2013)

PH birth control law faces first challenge

A Catholic couple has asked the Philippines’ top court to stop a historic birth control law, their lawyer said Thursday, in the first of many legal challenges church leaders have vowed against the measure. The petition was filed Wednesday at the Supreme Court by lawyer James Imbong and his wife, who claim the law signed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd two weeks ago was unconstitutional. Imbong’s mother Jo, who is representing the couple in the case and is the lawyer for the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, told Agence France-Presse that “the state has no business entering the bedroom”. “This law corrupts Philippine culture, mainly the emphasis we put on family values and marriage, taking care of children and parenting,” she said, having earlier warned that lay Catholics would challenge the law in court. The Philippine constitution guaranteed the protection of the family and in passing the law “the government overstepped its powers,” Jo Imbong said. “This is just the first salvo,” she added. “We are paving the way for other similar suits from many faith-based groups.”

Imbong said that big “prayer rallies” were also being planned across the country in the weeks to come. The law will take effect on January 17, unless the Supreme Court issues an injunction. Court officials have not indicated if they will hear legal challenges to the law before then. The law requires government health centers hand out free condoms and birth-control pills, benefiting tens of millions of the country’s poor who would not otherwise be able to afford or have access to them. It also mandates that sex education be taught in schools and public health workers receive family-planning training. Proponents have said the law will slow the country’s

rapid population growth, cut poverty and reduce the number of mothers dying at child birth. The Catholic Church had managed to stall the legislation for more than a decade, cowing legislators and presidents by threatening to turn the public against them. Eighty percent of the country’s roughly 100 million people are Catholic, and the church helped lead “people power” revolutions that toppled two corrupt presidents over the past 27 years. Nevertheless, public opinion surveys have consistently shown a majority of Filipinos support the “Responsible Parenthood Act.” ■ (The Manila Times)


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Miss Philippines 2012: Why Janine Tugonon did not win Miss Universe 32

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The Philippines has not won the pageant since 1973 when Margarita Moran won

EVEN as Miss USA Olivia Culpo was crowned Miss Universe 2012 and the most beautiful woman in the world, her victory came as a big surprise as a majority of viewers were expecting Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon to win the crown. Tugonon ended up in second place, but a number of users, especially Filipinos, exploded on Twitter with their disappointment over the loss. The Philippines has not won the pageant since 1973 when Margarita Moran won. The only other time that the country has won the contest was in 1969 when Gloria Diaz was crowned Miss Universe. Shortly after her first runner-up finish in this year’s Miss Universe pageant, Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon shared her disappointment at not winning the crown. Janine said she honestly thought that she could have easily become the third Filipina to get the coveted Miss Universe title. “I want to be honest na siyempre, oo naman, naisip ko na ‘yun, may pag-asa ang Pilipinas. Pero

siyempre, inihanda ko na rin ang sarili ko [na matalo],” she said. “Dapat mag-expect ka ng best pero at the same time, maging humble ka na rin to accept na hindi ka rin mananalo. Parang ganoon,” she added. But the Filipina beauty was gracious enough and said she felt nervous yet happy that she made it to the Top 2. “Nagpra-pray lang ako noon. Sabi ko ‘Lord, thank you. Thank you talaga,’” she said Miss Universe 1969 Gloria Diaz said it does not matter that Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon did not clinch the crown during the Miss Universe 2012 pageant, and said that what’s more important is what she intends to do after the international competition. “They were all gorgeous, each one. Some like white, some like black, some like brown. Let me tell you once and for all, it doesn’t matter whether you win or you lose. It’s what you do after,” she said. Gloria is the first Filipina to take home the Miss Universe crown, noted

©AFP/File

©AFP/File,

Miss Philippines, Janine Tugonon

that there have been beauty queens who simply quietly faded away after winning, as well as runners up who have capitalised on their exposure. She shared why she thought Miss USA Olivia Culpo won the competition. “You can see we all identify with her answer. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the smartest or the wittiest. Sometimes, it’s the most acceptable,” she said. During the competition, Miss USA was asked to name one thing she would never do again. “Picking on my siblings growing up,” she replied.

Nonetheless, Gloria praised Tugonon’s performance during the question and answer portion. “I just thought she was gorgeous and she gave a very good answer. That’s the way that I felt about Venus (Raj, 2010 Miss Universe fourth runner up), Shamcey (Supsup, 2011 Miss Universe third runner up) and Miriam (Quiambao, 1999 Miss Universe first runner up). Parang there was no other choice,” she said. The mother of 2012 Miss Universe first runner-up Janine Tugonon said she was disappointed that her daughter did not win the crown.

But in a phone interview, Tess Tugonon said Janine will still be her queen even without the crown and the title. “I’m a little disappointed but the judges have made their decision. Deep in my heart, I know Janine deserves the crown. A lot of people also feel the same way that I do. I’m sure of that. I love her. It’s just a crown,” she said. What do you think: Should Janine Tugonon have won the Miss Universe 2012 competition? Or was Miss USA Olivia Culpo the deserving winner? ■ (Dec 3, 2013)

FRESH from their win as Artista Academy Best Actress and Best Actor, Sophie Albert and Vin Abrenica flew to Dubai to entertain Filipino fans last December 1 during the annual “Bayanihan Festival” held at the famed Zabeel Park, one of the largest and most modern outdoor parks in Dubai. TV5 International and its partner Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) were among this year’s sponsors of the annual Filipino get-together. The young couple—now known as SoVin to their fans—were thrilled to be part of this exciting event. It was their first international trip together since their big win. “Sobrang excited po talaga [kasi] makikita na namin yung mga Kapatid natin sa Dubai,” Sophie revealed. “Tapos siyempre first time po namin magkakasama ni Vin [na magtravel] together.” Sophie and Vin weren’t the only artists present during the event. Dingdong Avanzado, Jessa Zaragoza, and Jon Santos were also there to entertain our kababayans. The Kapatid stars and their guests braved the rare Dubai rain to entertain the Pinoys at the event. Dingdong serenaded the

audience with an a capella version of his hit song, “Basta’t Kasama Kita,” while wife Jessa sang her ever-famous “Bakit Pa”. Veteran comedian Jon Santos provided the laughs with his hilarious stand-up comedy routine. That same evening, another show was held at the Boracay Club of Asiana Hotel where all the artists graced the event much to the delight of the packed venue. Vin performed “Hinahanap Hanap Kita” with the hotel band and Sophie got everyone dancing with her rousing performance of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” The Artista Academy couple shared the stage as they joined the crowd in dancing “Oppa Gangnam Style”. During their downtime, Vin and Sophie had the chance to go around Dubai and visit iconic landmarks like the Burj Al Arab and the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa. It was indeed a memorable trip not only for Sophie and Vin but also for the Filipinos who shared their time with them. TV5’s international channels Kapatid TV5 and Aksyon TV International are available in the Middle East and Europe via OSN. ■ (19 Dec 2012)

Nora Aunor and Dingdong Dantes hailed Best Actress and Best Actor Sophie Albert and Vin Abrenica charm Pinoy fans in Dubai at the 2012 MMFF Awards Night; One More Try wins Best Picture

PINAGHATI-HATIAN ng tatlong pelikula ang karamihan ng mga tropeyong ipinamahagi sa Gabi ng Parangal ng 38th Metro Manila Film Festival na ginanap ngayong gabi, December 27, sa Meralco Theater, Pasig City. Ang Thy Womb, El Presidente, at One More Try ang nakakuha ng pinakamaraming awards. Ang One More Try ng Star Cinema ay nagwagi ng limang tropeyo; kabilang na ang Best Picture, Best Screenplay, at Best Actor para kay Dingdong Dantes. Pitong tropeyo naman ang nakamit ng  Thy Womb ng Center Stage Productions; kabilang na ang Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award, Best Director para kay Brillante Mendoza, at Best Actress para sa Superstar na si Nora Aunor. Ang historical film na El Presidente ng Scenema Concept International, CMB Films at Viva Films ay nagwagi ng anim na awards; kabilang na ang 2nd Best Picture at Best Suporting Actor para kay Cesar Montano. Dalawang tropeyo naman ang napanalunan ng Sisterakas  ng Star Cinema at Viva Films, at isa ang napunta sa Shake Rattle & Roll 14 ng Regal Entertainment. Walang nakuhang awards ang Si Agimat Si Enteng Kabisote at Si Ako, The Strangers, at Sosy Problems. ACTING WINNERS. Napanalunan ni Nora Aunor ang kanyang ika-walong Best Actress trophy sa MMFF. Tinalo ni Nora sa kategoryang ito sina Angel Locsin (One More Try), Angelica Panganiban (One More Try),

Dingdong Dantes, Nora Aunor and Cesar Montano

Janice de Belen (Shake Rattle & Roll 14), at Judy Ann Santos (Si Agimat Si Enteng Kabisote at Si AKO). Sa kanyang acceptance speech, sabi ng Superstar, “Kahit lima na lang manonood ng pelikula ko, patuloy pa rin akong gagawa ng makabuluhang pelikula.” Balita kasing na-pullout na ang Thy Womb  sa ilang sinehan dahil sa mahinang kita nito sa takilya. Bago ang panalo niya ngayong gabi para sa Thy Womb, huling nanalo ang Superstar noong 1995 para sa kanyang pagganap sa Muling Umawit Ang Puso. Ang nag-present ng Best Actress trophy sa MMFF this year ay si dating Pangulong Joseph “Erap” Estrada. Nagkaroon ng alitan noon sina Erap at Nora dahil sa pagsuporta

ng Superstar kay dating Pangulong Gloria Macapagal Arroyo imbes na sa yumaong King of Philippine Movies na si Fernando Poe Jr. Napanalunan naman ni Dingdong Dantes ang kanyang ikalawang sunod na MMFF Best Actor trophy. Ang Kapuso actor din ang nanalong Best Actor noong isang taon para sa role niya sa horror-suspense film naSegunda Mano. Ang mahigpit na kalaban ni Dingdong sa Best Actor ay si Governor ER Ejercito para sa pagganap nito bilang si President Emilio Aguinaldo sa El Presidente. Ang iba pa nilang mga nakalaban ay sina Herbert Bautista (Shake Rattle & Roll 14), Bembol Roco (Thy Womb), at Vice Ganda (Sisterakas). ■ (PeP/Jan 2, 2013)


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CELEBRITY, SHOWBIZ & ENTERTAINMENT Rizzini Alexis Gomez comes home after winning Miss Tourism International 34

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NEWLY crowned 2012 Miss Tourism International Rizzini Alexis Gomez came home Thursday night, four days after winning the pageant held in Kuala Lumpur on New Year’s Eve. Gomez arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board Cebu Pacific flight 5J500 from the Malaysian capital. The 22-year-old Cebuana bested 55 contestants from around the world to clinch the Miss Tourism International less than two weeks after Janine Tugonon won first runner-up in the 2012 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas. Gomez met the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday when she paid a courtesy call to Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia, J. Eduardo Malaya. She was joined in the courtesy call by her brother Jim, D’ Touch International marketing and promotion executive Valerie Chua and event marketing executive Sara Jolene Tan. D’Touch International is the organizer of the Miss Tourism International Pageant. “This is a beautiful start of the new year for the Philippines, as another Filipina showcased the talent, beauty and grace of our race, and gave further honor to the country. The Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur is honored to be among the first to congratulate you on your victory, and I hope that you will be a continuing

inspiration to other Filipinos,” Ambassador Malaya told her. Gomez related how she felt after winning the crown, as well as her experiences in the pageant. “The day after winning the pageant, I still cannot believe it. I was still floating, asking myself if this [winning the title] really happened. I am honored to represent the Philippines in this pageant,” she said. Gomez, a registered nurse who stands 5’10”, is the second Filipina to win the Miss Tourism International title, after Ma. Esperanza Manzano’s victory in 2000.

She earned the honor to represent the Philippines in the pageant after winning the 2012 Mutya ng Pilipinas Tourism title. “She has a very warm persona, and mixes with people very well,” remarked community member Jean Mendoza as Gomez gamely posed with Filipinos applying for passports and other services at the Philippine Embassy’s consular area. Gomez is the eldest child of former professional basketball player Roel Gomez of Alaska. Her mother is a nurse working in New York. ■ (InterAksyon Friday, January 4, 2013)

©Eric B. Apolonio/InterAksyon

2012 Miss Tourism International Rizzini Alexis Gomez beams upon arrival at the NAIA on Thursday night.

©Eric B. Apolonio/InterAksyon

2012 Ms. Tourism International Rizzini Alexis Gomez is accompanied by her brother Jim.

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Sarah Lahbati, Richard Gutierrez to leave GMA? ONLY weeks before the release of their much-anticipated sexy drama film “Seduction”, real-life sweethearts Sarah Lahbati and Richard Gutierrez have separately announced plans to leave the GMA Network. Sarah fired the first salvo with a series of tweets Wednesday by prefacing the not-so-good news by thanking her fans for their loyalty and support. The 19-year old MoroccanFilipina actress who was born and raised in Switzerland then dropped the bombshell: “I’m grateful to all of you but unfortunately you will be seeing less of me this year for reasons that are hard to explain through Twitter… I’ve had misunderstandings with the people who are handling my career. I am still thankful to them for the efforts they have shown in the… ..past but now I feel neglected and my back is against the wall… Therefor I have to do something. Just to clarify this issue that’s… been going around, I signed a contract with Royal Artist (Tita Annabelle Rama) as a co manager with GMA Artist Center because I needed… “someone to protect & help my well being in this cut throat industry. Tita Annabelle only wants the best for me, with her years of experience “and success in this industry I know that she’s the right person to help me. When my family made this decision ,we were already sure that… “an artist tied up with GMA Artist Center such as myself can be co-managed by another talent company because I was offered by top management “of GMA to sign a contract with ICONS management just a few months before i signed with Tita Annabelle. I didn’t sign with ICONS because… “they wanted to deduct another 15% on top of the 25% that is being deducted by GMA Artist Center. We found that too steep of a deduction… “for someone who just started such as myself. Because of all of this uncertainty and stress, my family and I decided that I go back… “to Switzerland and study there … This does not mean that I will be gone from the industry and craft that I love… Just a breather… “from all the chaos… Nakakalungkot na umabot pa sa ganito…

“But I’m also excited to study… I trust God’s plans for me…” Best remembered for her title role in the GMA afternoon soap, “Kokak”, Sarah Lahbati was also Richard’s love interest in last year’s short-lived primetime teleserye “Makapiling Kang Muli”. She also made headlines as a spokeswoman for breast cancer awareness. Sarah – the Ultimate Female Survivor of GMA’s talent search “Starstruck V” in 2009 — is part of the cast of GMA’s historical drama, “Indio”, set to start airing this month. On Thursday morning, it was Annabelle Rama’s turn to deliver her own breaking news in behalf of son Richard — who has no official Twitter account — with her own series of tweets. “Ang sarap ng gising ko! I’m in cloud 9, can’t believe about the good news of 2013! 1) Little birdie told me last night that Richard will be a freelancer soon to make movies with other studios. 2) Yeahhhhhhh…..I’ve been longing for this day. Thank u Sto Niño for answered prayers. 3) Lahat ng hinihingi ko binibigay sa akin including my political career. I’m super blessed… 4) Lahat ng manghuhula sa buong cebu,puro positive ang sinabi maski di ko sila kilala. 5) My wish is to personally meet u para magpasalamat. The GMA Artist Center has yet to release a statement on these twin developments. 6) And i will work harder para di kayo mapahiya sa akin. Mabuhay ang team Rama” Ruffa Gutierrez, sister of Richard and daughter of Annabelle, also retweeted one of the tweets each of her mother and Sarah’s. The other studios that Rama was referring to may include Regal Films which has already produced “Seduction”, Viva Films which has successfully engineered the return of sexy films with last year’s “Rigodon” and Star Cinema, which has produced movies that yielded two consecutive Metro Manila Film Festival Best Actor awards for another GMA star, Dingdong Dantes. Sarah has not indicated if she will still be in the country by the time “Seduction” opens on January 30. ■ (InterAksyon/January 4, 2013)


January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

CELEBRITY, SHOWBIZ & ENTERTAINMENT

A serious matter: Ai Ai is madly in love

YES, Virginia, the Comedy Queen Ai Ai delas Alas maybe walking infront of the altar soon. Not for reel but for real. The actress, who is the current Box Office Queen, hinted this herself when she revealed that she and current boyfriend Jed Salang, who is only 27, have been discussing wedding plans lately. She admitted that wedding plans have been discussed but cautioned that there is no wedding happening this year between her and her nonshowbiz boyfriend. And she doesn’t want to confirm nor deny also that there is a ceremony happening next year, wrote showbiz columnist Shirley Matias-Pizarro. “Ayaw kong sabihin for sure kasi we never really know, ’di ba? But yes, we have been talking about a wedding,” she said. She told the columnist that details of the possible wedding have been discussed. “ May mga details din naman. Siyempre gusto ko naman maganda ang maging wedding ko, if ever.” Aiai said.” Ang gown ko dapat Monique Lhuillier para bongga!” The actress said she is in no hurry to get married. She pointed out that there are no concrete plans for the wedding actually.” “At huwag kayo mainip,” she said.” Ang importante masaya ako at tanggap siya ng mga anak ko.”

Ai Ai also revealed that her “in-laws” accept her for their son. “They are very decent people. Kapag nababanggit nga ang kasal, sila ang nagsasabi na dapat may prenuptial agreement. Okay naman sa akin. Pero mas tinalbugan pa ’yun ng gusto ng father ni Jed. Ang gusto ng daddy niya, ang pre-nup all the way, hindi lang before the wedding date,” she said as reported by Shirley Pizarro. After the interview, Shirley described the actress as “looking every bit in bliss with her boyfriend. Ai Ai was also quoted as saying that the level of her relationship with Jed “equals, if not surpasses, the level and depth of her relationship with former husband and father of her kids Miguel Vera.” “Ganun kaseryoso ito. Kaya masaya ako,” she said. From her own words, Ai Ai’s romance with her current boyfriend is, indeed, not a laughing matter anymore. She is serious and madly in love. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)

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Nora Aunor shoo-in for best actress in filmfest AT first, “Thy Womb” which features superstar Nora Aunor, was not chosen as one of the official entries to the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival. But by sheer luck, it joined the elite group of eight entries when one of those approved backed out because its production would not be able to catch up with the opening of the festival. The entry of “Thy Womb” suddenly made Nora the star in two movies, bolstering her chance for the best actress award. Her second and original movie to the filmfest is “El Presidente” which is expected to vie for top awards. “Thy Womb” is directed by awardwinning director Brillante Mendoza. Columnist Shirley Matias-Pizarro said “Thy Womb” has a very small cast led by Nora Aunor who plays the role of Shaleha. Her husband Bangas-an is played by Bembol Roco. Lovi Poe, who doesn’t appear on the screen in, we think, the first 45 minutes of the film, plays the role of Mersila, the girl who would sire a child for Bangas-an upon the prodding and instigation of Shaleha. Mercedes Cabral is Ayesha, a friend of Shaleha. The movie’s quiet narrative presents a juxtaposition of contrasts from beginning to end. And you can find Nora Aunor at the center of it all, said the columnist.

“That’s why we won’t be surprised if the prediction of a runaway Best Actress win for Ate Guy will be realized come awards night,” she added. Shirley Matias Pizarro stated that she (Nora) shows what a true and real actress is as she tackles this role of an aging midwife, barren and unable to give her husband the glory of a child by her, the only way a Nora Aunor can do it. Selfless and self-deprecating, she searches for another woman who could, finding Mersila, and ultimately losing the very family she hopes to protect. As part of the dowry, Mersila asks Bangas-an to leave his wife as soon as their child is delivered. The columnist said that Brillante Mendoza is also a force to contend with in the Best Director category for the movie :”Thy Womb.” She reported that so far, the

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movie has already earned plaudits in film festivals abroad: at the 69th Venice International Film Festival: La Navicella/Venezia Cinema Prize, P. Nazareno Taddei Award – Special Mention, Bisato d’Oro Award for lead actress for Nora Aunor; at the Toronto International Film Festival 2012: Official Selection; at the Busan International Film Festival 2012: Official Selection; at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards 2012: Best Director, Brillante Ma Mendoza, Best Actress, Nora Aunor; at the 55th Asia Pacific Film Festival (2012): Nominated for Best Director, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Nominated for Best Actress, Nora Aunor. If Nora Aunor bags the best actress award, this will be a big boost to her career since her return to Manila after 15 years in the United States. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

Kris rules out reconciliation with James, teased with Brazilian Daniel Matsunaga

TOP television host and actress Kris Aquino has ruled out any reconciliation with former husband James Yap. The presidential sister told “Gandang Gabi Vice” on ABS-CBN on Sunday that she was not in good terms with the father of her youngest son James Yap Jr. “Alam niyo kasi everytime I’m being honest in answering that ako ‘yung nagmumukhang kontrabida and I don’t want to cry kasi magkiChristmas na. Pero kasi hindi kami okay and I don’t think we’re gonna be okay,” Kris said when asked what would she do if Yap asks her if she’s still in love with him. Kris earlier rebuffed James for saying that his relationship with his ex-wife was good, adding that they even joke with each other. James chose to be silent about the matter later on. Kris said she is just happy with her two sons. Kris, who stars in the Metro Manila filmfest entry, the “Sisterakas,” is now being teased to Brazilian model Daniel Matsunaga, the former boyfriend of actress Heart Evangelista. Meanwhile, Kris said she would have wanted her mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino, to see her youngest son now that he is already five years old. Interviewed by GMA 7 host and Philippine Star entertainment editor Ricky Lo, Kris said what makes her sad is that her mother

died when James Jr. was only two years old. “She would have really, really enjoyed seeing him now at five na ganito kadaldal …and parang I’m sad that my mom didn’t live to see the day na Josh would be able to lose 90 pounds and be able to run at 10-kilometer,” Kris said in the interview published by Philippine Star and reported on by ABS-CBN. Kris said his son Bimby once asked her to tell him more about his grandparents. ‘When I show my sons pictures of who their lolo was, nasa-sad ako na ‘yun, na they did not experience growing up with grandparents. ‘Yun yung parang that’s the only thing that I feel my sons really missed out on,” the TV host-actress said. Kris said her two sons are the most important people in her life right now, adding that although they have a six-bedroom house, they sleep together in just one room. She also said she is happiest when she is with them, such as when they travel together. “Kasi there are times when you travel na I allow the yayas to parang have a night-off, ‘yung parang maka-relax naman sila, so talagang it’s just really the three of us. So, nag-e-enjoy kami talaga na ano, eating out together tapos kami ni Josh papaliguan namin si Bimb, tapos ibibilin kay Josh na bihisan niya ‘yung brother niya habang naliligo ako and then kami together.

‘Yung parang ewan ko, happy na talaga kami na just the three of us. So ‘yun, we enjoyed that. We enjoyed our moments talaga na abroad. We enjoy actually kahit anong gawin namin na together kami, maligaya na kami,” she said. Kris even said this is probably the happiest time in her life. “I like myself now (Laughs). No, I mean I like who I become, I like everything that, uhm, I’ve molded myself to be and ‘yung I’ve learned how to prioritize and I think what I like most is I feel like I’m so much more mature and ‘yun, I’m just really positive. Happy lang talaga ako sa buhay ko siguro this is the happiest I’ve been talaga because ‘yung uncomplicated joy ang nafifeel namin in my small family unit na kaming tatlo na parang ‘yung ano it’s really true that you don’t need to be in a relationship to feel complete because I really feel fulfilled, complete and content,” she told Ricky Lo. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)

CESAR Montano is an awardwinning actor, director and producer. But in the biographical and

historical movie, “El Presidente,” Cesar plays second fiddle only to fellow actor ER Ejercito, who topbills this Metro Manila filmfest entry.

What made Cesar, who played Dr. Jose Rizal in an award-winning historical movie, accept the second or third lead role?

©Universal Records

Cesar Montano plays second fiddle but all praises for ‘El Presidente’ Did he make the right decision? Is he happy with the outcome? At the premier screening of the movie, Cesar answered the questions. Interviewed by showbiz columnist Shirley Matias-Pizarro, the top actor said he was quite satisfied with how his role as Andres Bonifacio played out on the big screen. “It was good. We are happy with the outcome,” he told the columnist. He added that he feels that the role assigned to him was given careful consideration by the writer and director of the movie. Cesar is one of serious actor who is personally very much interested in the life and times of the great Katipunan Supremo. The actor is one who would not compromise the integrity of a hero even when it is told from the point of view of a perceived dissenter, the columnist stated. Cesar, according to her, pointed out that his role as Andres Bonifacio went well in “El Presidente.” And Cesar thanked Laguna Gov. ER Ejercito (who plays the title role as President Aguinaldo) for giving him the privilege of working on the movie.

“First of all, I am very happy that a producer like Gov. ER comes along in our industry, committed to deliver movies that are destined to be remembered. Gov. said he got inspired to do an epic film after he saw what we did in ‘Jose Rizal.’ He wants ‘El Presidente’ to tread along these grounds. That’s always good news for us who work in this industry of movie making,” Cesar told the columnist. “Gov. is such a kind soul. I will be forever grateful to him for giving me such importance in this project. His performance in this movie is also something to watch out for,” Cesar added. Cesar also cited fellow actor Christopher de Leon’s performance in the movie as Gen. Antonio Luna. “Magaling si Boyet dito, abangan ninyo,” he said. “El Presidente” is the only historical piece in this year’s MMFF race boasting of cast of thousands. Written and directed by Mark Meily, it tells the story of President Emilio Aguinaldo and the foundation of the first Philippine Republic. The movie has been endorsed by the Department of Education for students to view. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)


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BOXING Donaire feted by Malacañang, named ESPN’s ‘Boxer Of Year’ MANILA - President Aquino honored the “Filipino Flash” Nonito Donaire Jr. during a call in Malacanang last week. Later, Donaire, the boxing champion who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area of San Leandro, was named the “Boxer of the Year” by respected sports website, ESPN,com. Veteran boxing writer Dan Rafael of ESPN said Donaire, currently the junior featherweight world champion, has been described as having a year for the ages after four decisive wins as he moved up weight at the beginning of the year. He first vacated his bantamweight titles when he fought for the first time at junior featherweight in February by outpointing and dropping former world champ Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. In July, Donaire entered the ring against Jeffrey Mathebula and carved out a unanimous decision to unify their belts after breaking the South African’s jaw. This was followed by a showdown in October with former titleholder

FOOTBALL

and one of the best at super batamweight, Toshiaki Nishioka, whom he stopped in Round 9 to solidify his supremacy at the weight division. Donaire’s biggest win was in front of a crowd of 7,250 at the Toyota Center in Houston earlier this month when he knocked out Mexican former world champion Jorge Arce in three lopsided rounds. “The result was Donaire’s best showing of 2012… It was the exclamation point on a year in which Donaire seized the mantle from Pacquiao, his idol, as the Philippines’ best boxer and continued to assert himself as one of the best fighters in the world, period,” wrote Rafael. Donaire now joins an elite list of fighters who had been named ESPN’s Boxer of the year, including Manny Pacquiao in 2006, 2008, and 2009; Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2007; Ricky Hatton in 2005; Sergio Martinez in 2010; and Andre Ward in 2011. President Aquino welcomed Donaire in Malacañang Thursday.

The Filipino boxing superstar called on President Aquino at the presidential palace, fresh from his successful defense of his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title against Mexican Jorge Arce last December 15. Also on hand to welcome Donaire were Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang and Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. After the meeting, Donaire, who described the President as “very chill” said he and the President discussed the various plans and strategies he had lined up to improve the lives of Filipinos. “In American words, we call him (President Aquino) very chill. He just has a very positive aura, he’s just very relaxed and he talks about his ideas for the Philippines,” Donaire said. Donaire said he was awestruck at the eloquence, will and dedication of the President into fulfilling these ideas so that all Filipinos could rise

DONAIRE IN MALACAÑANG. President Benigno S. Aquino III shares a light moment with the Philippines’ pride, the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super Bantamweight Champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, Jr. during the courtesy call at the Music Room of the Malacañan Palace last week.

above and become better people. “This is one person na nakita ko talaga who just wants a good nation, wants our nation to improve. Makikita mo talaga from his words and from his demeanor and his emotions that he really loves this country and to me, it was such an honor that I was able to talk to him,” Donaire said.

He added that the President also offered him advice particularly on his boxing career. “Binigyan niya ako ng pointers as to- there is a beginning and there is an ending- and that when that time comes for me, especially in boxing, I should do (and decide) things the right way,” Donaire said. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 2, 2013)

The Year In Sports: Azkals Attain Final Four Glory Twice

YAHOO! PH Sports looks back at the year that was with a series of blogs recalling the highlights and lowlights of Philippine sports. Any way you slice it, 2012 was a banner year for the Philippine Men’s National Football team. The Azkals played 32 games in 2012, of which nine were friendly scrimmages, and twenty two were full FIFA “A” international games. Another encounter, a friendly against Laos, a 2-1 loss, was stricken off the list of official International friendlies by FIFA because the Laotians made too many substitutes. The 32 matches in 2012 was eight more than the squad played in 2011. But more importantly, the team ventured into uncharted territory with semifinal runs in the Challenge Cup and AFF Suzuki Cup, and a first title in almost a century in the Peace Cup. Their Challenge Cup campaign in March started off inauspiciously in the rarefied Nepalese air with a 2-0 loss to defending and eventual champs, North Korea. Two days later the Azkals rebounded with a handsome 2-0 win over India thanks to a pair of strikes by Phil Younghusband. In the last group game the Philippines needed a win against Tajikistan. The Tajiks picked up a goal just before the half, but the Azkals showed character in the second 45 minutes. ©Photo by Bob Guerrero

The Azkals had reason to smile in 2012.

Angel Guirado worked hard to pry the ball from a Tajik defender near the end line in the 54th minute. He centered it to an unmarked Phil Younghusband for the equalizer. With ten minutes to go Guirado nodded in the go-ahead strike to make it 2-1 and book the Philippines’ slot in the semifinals. Against Turkmenistan the Azkals took the early lead with a rare headed goal by Phil Younghusband off a terrific pass from Paul Mulders. But the fairytale would grind to a halt for the Azkals as Arslanmyrat Amanov and Gahryman Chonkayev scored twice in the last ten minutes for a come-from-behind 2-1 win. To make matters worse, Neil Etheridge was tossed for tripping a Tajik, rendering him suspended for the third place game. The tournament ended on a happy note as his backup, Ed Sacapano, did just enough as the Philippines won the bronze medal game, 4-3. Phil Younghusband struck twice while the Guirado brothers tallied one score apiece. Phil’s haul of six strikes gave him the tournament’s Golden Boot award as best scorer, three more than the next -most prolific scorer, North Korea’s Pak Nam Chol. The Azkals had a September to remember, sweeping aside Guam, Macau, and Chinese Taipei to win the Peace Cup. The silverware was nice, but it was wholly expected against those lower-ranked sides, even without the Younghusbands, who were acrimoniously dropped for that mini-tournament. A greater achievement was to follow for the team in Bangkok for the AFF Suzuki Cup. As they did in Nepal, the team lost

©Photo by Bob Guerrero

Chieffy Caligdong’s goal against Vietnam saved the Azkals’ Suzuki Cup campaign.

their opening group game to a stylish Thailand, 2-1. Paul Mulders’ maiden Azkals strike was really the team’s only chance as the home team was dominant. Deep into the second match against Vietnam, tied 0-0, came the turning point of the Cup. Chieffy Caligdong trotted on to the pitch as a sub and with less than five minutes

to play, wrote another chapter to his legend. His goal was straight out of the NFL: Angel Guirado played the role of quarterback and served up a deliciously-weighted pass. Caligdong was the wide receiver, splitting the seam of the zone defense and nudging the ball to his left, giving him a few precious yards between him and the defender. His stiff left-footed rocket zoomed over the keeper’s shoulder. 1-0 final. The Philippines’ flagging Suzuki Cup campaign had been spectacularly jolted alive. Three days later the Philippines confirmed their place in the semifinals with a 2-0 win over Myanmar. Phil Younghusband scored just after the half with a fine effort, and Guirado exploited a stretched Burmese defense to score his eighth Azkal goal. But as was the case in 2010, the Philippines was unable to find the net in 180 minutes of Suzuki Cup semifinals play, and bowed to Singapore 1-0 on aggregate. The season ended on a downer,

but nonetheless it was a year that Azkals fans can be proud of. The team emphatically proved that 2010 was no fluke. It has become clear we have no reason to fear teams anymore. With European-bred players in all phases of the team, the Azkals cannot be taken lightly anymore, not even teams like Bahrain and Kuwait. During the Middle East tour we drew Bahrain 0-0 and lost a close one at Kuwait 2-1. At 147th in the FIFA rankings, we are still seven slots clear of AFF champs Singapore. Only Vietnam and Thailand are ranked higher in the ASEAN Football Federation. The Philippines now looks forward to 2013 and 2014 Challenge Cup qualifying, where we host Turkmenistan, Cambodia, and Brunei at home in March. Coach Michael Weiss speaks about the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, and the only way for us to crash that party is to win the Challenge Cup. The Azkals are leveling up, and the future definitely looks bright. ■ (Yahoo

Sports Ph/Dec 24, 2012)

FOOTBALL Azkals captain Chieffy Caligdong

receives TOYM award for football excellence PHILIPPINE national men’s football team skipper Chieffy Caligdong is set to receive an award as one of The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of 2012. The news was confirmed in a release by the organization Wednesday. Caligdong, who has been a member of the Azkals for almost a decade, is being recognized for the “excellence and luster he brought to Philippine football.” “No Filipino player has better captured the imagination of the public since the height of football’s popularity

in the Philippines six decades ago. In Philippine football, he has reached the status of, and has been compared with, the Argentine football legend, Diego Maradona.” Caligdong was also hailed for his efforts in promoting football in the grassroots. “His increasing number of students is evidence that football is regaining the popularity it used to enjoy in the country. This popularity and the excellence it will bring, he hopes, will be a positive promotion for our country through the medium of sports.”

The TOYM awards are given every year to a select number Filipinos to recognize significant contributions to the country in different fields. ■ (Interaksyon/ Wednesday, December 12, 2012)


SPORTS

January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

BOXING

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Pacquiao moves to Forbes Park mansion, agrees to return to the ring by September

MAKATI CITY - Multi-millionaire congressman and world boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao has moved to his new and most expensive mansion in the village of the elite, Forbes Park in Makati City, where he started making plans for his next fight after a devastating defeat at the hands of his nemesis, the Mexican warrior Juan Manuel Marquez, in Las Vegas last December 8. Pacquiao relaxed at his Forbes Park mansion last week as he moved on from his defeat, thankful that it was just one blow that knocked him down, otherwise he could have suffered from more telling blows that could have been more devastating for him.

The Sarangani lawmaker has more reasons to relax in the meantime like savoring his newest and perhaps biggest real estate investment and his sure victory in the next elections considering that he is unopposed. The Forbes Park mansion was bought last year by eight-division boxing champion and pound-forpound king for many years for about $10 million or more than P400 million and immediately had it renovated at a cost of several millions of pesos more. It was not known if the Pacquiao family has officially moved to the mansion from their house in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna as no house blessing has been made public

BASKETBALL

James Yap offers no excuses for nightmare performance, credits Rain or Shine defense

SAN Mig Coffee superstar James Yap had a series to forget as the Mixers succumbed to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the Philippine Cup semifinals. He failed to score more than six points in three of the last four games of the series. Yap was particularly woeful in the deciding Game Six, shooting 2-of-15 from the field, including 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. His mental game was visibly affected too, as he went 1-of-5 from the free throw line. Yap, who suffered an knee injury in the series opener, refused to use that an excuse for his struggles. “Balewala na yung injury or pagod. Kapag semis naman, dumadating na talaga yan,” Instead, he gave all the credit to the Rain or Shine defense.

“Napag-aralan nila ako at naging successful sila doon,” Yap said. “Medyo nawala ako sa rhythm ko.” All series long, Elasto Painters coach Yeng Guiao rotated a phalanx of defenders on the two-time Most Valuable Player. Jireh Ibañes, Gabe Norwood, Ryan Araña, and Ronnie Matias all took their turn against Yap. Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said his team’s depth played a factor, but also noted that the Elasto Painters were also fortunate. “We’re really just lucky that their guys don’t explode at the same time,” said Guiao. “James was really struggling again.” Yap, meanwhile, wants to put the nightmare series behind him. “Learn and move on. Charge it to experience,” he said. ■ (Interaksyon/ Thursday, January 3, 2013)

and because they had earlier announced that they will be there early next year. The three-storey Forbes Park mansion on Cambridge Circle sits on a 1,500 square meter lot which was redesigned to include a tennis court and other facilities. Interviewed at his Forbes Park home, the fighting congressman said it was a blessing that he was already up and about shortly after being counted out in his fourth bout with Marquez at the MGM Hotel and Resort last December 8. Despite his loss, Pacquiao was assured of more than $23 million in the fight against Marquez. This became possible as the bout had hit a record 1.25 million pay-per-view hits or a revenue of $70 million, one of the highest of any boxing bouts. Except for his first fight against Marquez which was not aired on HBO pay-per-view, Pacquiao’s fights had been blockbuster in the boxing world. His third battle in November 2011 generated 1.125 million buys. Pacquiao’s fourth fight with Marquez equalled the record PPV buys in his fight in December 2008 against former champion Oscar Dela Hoya. That fight drew 1.25 million. Pacquiao’s other big hits were against Puerto Rican champion Miguel Cotto in 2009 with 1.2 million PPV buys, Shane Mosley of the US in 2011 (1.2 million) and Antonio Margarito of Mexico in 2010 (1.15 million). “It could have been worse and I could have been in serious trouble,” Pacquiao said in Filipino. Pacquiao said he was grateful that he did not get the chance to face the furious fists of the Mexican after the one big punch hit him. “If I had the strength to get up at that time, I would have fought back with Marquez and I would probably have received more punches,” said Pacquiao, who turned 34 last Dec. 17. Pacquiao said that had it not been for that one perfect punch Marquez threw in the dying

seconds of the sixth round of their welterweight war, he would have been in a more fragile state. “The result would have been more devastating,” Pacquiao said, hinting that he could have lapsed into a coma from the accumulation of hard punches. Owing to the way he lost to Marquez, the Nevada Athletic Commission has slapped Pacquiao a 120-day suspension starting on the night of the fight. This meant that he would not be allowed to fight in the next four months or up to April next year. Pacquiao wants to fight late in April, despite calls by his wife Jinkee, mother Dionisia and many supporters to hang his gloves and retire while still strong. Top Rank chief Bob Arum said said it would be ideal for Pacquiao to take a long rest before returning to the ring, hinting of a fifth clash with Marquez during the Mexican Independence Day celebrations in mid-September 2013. Pacquiao, however, said a September would be too long a

wait, adding he wanted to fight again in the third week of April. His long-time trainer, Freddie Roach, also want his ward to fight in September, if he finally decides to return to the ring. Roach said Pacquiao has agreed to the proposition for a September bout. “We spoke about (his next fight)… I told him that I think he should come back around September, and he agreed with me,” Roach said. Pacquiao was originally scheduled to fight on April 20, 2013 with unbeaten fighter Brandon Rios as a potential opponent, according to published reports. No opponent has been chosen for his September fight, but a fifth bout with Marquez was possible, it was learned. In Mexico, Marquez’ wife, however, has pleaded for him to quit boxing. Marquez revealed that he had promised to his wife Enriquietta before his fight against Pacquiao that he would quit after the bout. ■ (Philippines Today/Jan 1, 2013)

BOXING Pacquiao ally wants random drug

testing in case of fifth fight with Marquez

©PBA Image/Nuki Sabio

THERE ought to be mandatory random drug testing in the event a fifth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez is made. A member of Team Pacquiao voiced this out a recently as the possibility of a fifth clash between the rivals began to make the rounds again. The Pacquiao ally who asked not to be named said it would be much better that Marquez and even Pacquiao agree to random testing following the sudden ending to the fourth fight between the two last December 8 in Las Vegas. “Rumors that Marquez was on

PED was hot topic,” he said. Even the fellow, who had a few chances to see Marquez up close in the final days leading to the fight, expressed surprise over the massive physique of the 39-year-old Mexican. “I got the opportunity to see him and I could not believe what I was seeing. He had muscles shaped like big watermelons and I was asking myself if what I was seeing was right.” Marquez went on to post one of boxing’s most vicious victories, a one-punch knockout of the Filipino icon in the sixth round before a

stunned sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “They said that it was a product of hard training and science but I don’t know. Maybe it’s true but I would like that random drug testing be done should they fight again.” Marquez hasn’t decided yet whether he would continue boxing since his wife wants him to hang up his gloves. Pacquiao said he would like to see a fifth clash. Promoter Bob Arum said a fifth showdown should be a dandy. ■ (Interaksyon/Friday, January 4, 2013)


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January 2013 – No. 1 • UK & Europe Edition

‘Best Filipino fighter’: ESPN names Nonito Donaire boxer of the year

Nonito Donaire has been named Boxer of the Year by ESPN in a 2012 campaign that saw him win four fights after moving up to the junior featherweight division. ESPN’s Dan Rafael noted that “Donaire seized the mantle from Pacquiao, his idol, as the Philippines’ best boxer.” Pacquiao, who won the honor three times in the past, lost both of his fights this year — a controversial decision against Timothy Bradley last June and a

shocking sixth-round knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez this month. Donaire, on the other hand, has been both busy and impressive. He dominated Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in February before dispatching Jeffrey Mathebula last July. ‘The Filipino Flash’ followed that up with a onesided knockout of respected Japanese fighter Toshiaki Nishioka last October before capping the year with a resounding victory over Jorge Arce. ESPN also lauded Donaire for

signing with the Voluntary AntiDoping Association, which imposes tests more stringent than those required in boxing today. Under VADA regulations, a fighter can be tested any day at any time. “I don’t mind it. I think it’s a good for the sport and I am going to do it,” Donaire said. “It’s a good idea. I have nothing to hide. I would love for all fighters to follow me, but not everybody is like me.” ■ (InterAKTV/ Wednesday, December 26, 2012)

BOXING NEUROLOGIST SAYS PACQUIAO HAS SHOWN EARLY SIGNS OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE

A neurologist who is president of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines has been quoted as saying that Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao has shown early signs of Parkinson’s disease which his trainer Freddie Roach and heavyweight icon Muhammad Ali are suffering from. ABS-CBN’s website reported that Dr. Rustico Jimenez told radio station dzMM that among the early signs of Parkinson’s shown by Pacquiao include stuttering and hand twitching. While Dr. Jimenez conceded that he could be wrong in his observations since he had not personally examined the eight division world champion but that he had noted the signs of Parkinson’s during TV interviews marked by the twitching of his hands. The neurologist joined several others in urging Pacquiao to hang up his gloves in order not to risk a worsening of what is described as a

progressive disorder of the nervous system. ABS-CBN quoted Dr. Jimenez as saying he noted the movement and although Pacquiao’s reflexes were quick his personal view was that he appeared to show early signs of Parkinson’s disease. He said he noted the hand twitching although he didn’t notice a similar twitching of the head at once although he said it also twitched slightly although he didn’t see him close up.

The neurologist told the Manila Standard “we all want him (Pacquiao) always in the pink of health. We want him to ride into the sunset and enjoy his fortune, fame and family ad a healthy man when he gets old.“ Dr. Jimenez supported the position of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum who told the Manila Standard a couple of days after Pacquiao suffered a crushing 6th round knockout at the hands of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez last December 8

Bible and boxing: Pacquiao plans ‘preaching session’ after Bradley fight BOXING

BAGUIO, Philippines — Philippine boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has combined his new-found religious fervour with his training for an upcoming fight, holding bible-reading sessions after daily workouts. The 33-year-old Pacquiao, who faces unbeaten American Timothy Bradley on June 9 in Las Vegas, said he would also follow up his fight with a “preaching session” at one of the country’s biggest coliseums. “It is open to all religions,” he told reporters late Saturday in the mountainous resort city where he began altitude training last week. Pacquiao, formerly known for enjoying late-night parties and gambling, now ends almost every training day with a bible session in an auditorium in the hotel which serves as his training camp. These sessions, which can go for over two hours, have attracted scores of people who come to see the boxing hero ask religious questions and quote from the bible. American boxing promoter Bob Arum who handles Pacquiao’s fights, said he preferred this more

devout fighter to the one who used to drink and gamble long into the night. “It is much better than the things he did in the past,” said Arum in a telephone interview on Sunday. Earlier this year, Pacquiao, regarded by many in the sport as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, announced he had undergone a religious conversion and was giving up all of his vices.

As well as holding bible-reading sessions with the country’s top broadcasting officials, Pacquiao has also carried out his duties as an elected legislator and host of a popular television gameshow. However he has insisted that his faith has not affected his fighting skills which have made him an eight-time world champion with a record of 54-3 with two draws. ■ (AFP/Sunday, April 22, 2012)

that he would insist on Pacquiao having a thorough brain evaluation at the world famous Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Brain Center in Las Vegas. Dr. Jimenez urged Pacquiao to undergo a battery of tests in the US just to make sure. He said there are several neurological centers in the US which he could choose where he could undergo tests such as PET Scans and the like. The Standard said the neurologist noted there are chemical tests that could be undertaken which are “very complicated and not available here” in the Philippines. Longtime friend and confidant, promoter Rex “Wakee” Salud agreed with Dr. Jimnenez’ suggestions for tests in the US. Salud said he personally didn’t notice any twitching or stammering but he (Jimenez) is a doctor and he knows. He should undergo the tests for peace of mind. Both the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Filipino doctors

have cleared Pacquiao following tests conducted after the Marquez fight but because of head traumas suffered over 17 years of boxing against such big and strong fighters as Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito and his three fights against Erik “El Terrible” Morales and two fights with Marco Antonio Barrera. Dr. Jimenez stressed “we don’t want him wheelchair bound. Parkinson’s is a progressive disease, once it hits it it will continue and we don’t want that to happen to our source of national pride.” His unsolicited advise from a doctor’s viewpoint is “it would be best if he retires because the more blows to the head he gets, the bigger the chance of getting the disease.” Pacquiao is in Israel along with his family and is expected back home on January 8. Efforts to contact his adviser Michael Koncz have proved futile. ■ (Philboxing/Fri, 04 Jan 2013)

BASKETBALL

Alfrancis Chua to take over as Ginebra coach, Siot Tanquingcen to be lead assistant NEW Year, new coach. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has made another coaching change, promoting erstwhile consultant Alfrancis Chua as head coach. Former Gin Kings coach Siot Tanquingcen, who has been subject of much criticism from Ginebra fans over the team’s roller coaster performance this season, will stay on staff as Chua’s top deputy. Ginebra executive Robert Non, who currently serves as PBA chairman, confirmed the news to InterAKTV, describing it as “pahiyang.” “Palit muna silang dalawa. Siot will be first assistant, which is the role of Alfrancis at present,” said Non. “We’ve done that before, positive naman ang result.” The situation is similar to another coaching shift Ginebra went through a couple of years ago, when former coach Jong Uichico gave way to then-assistant Tanquingcen for the top bench spot. The two were billed as “co-coaches” but Uichico later confirmed that Tanquingcen was

head coach and he was assistant. Curiously, Ginebra has not made a finals appearance since Uichico was coach in the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup, where the Gin Kings lost to Talk ‘N Text in six games. It will be Chua’s third stint as head coach in the PBA. He last called the shots for the Sta. Lucia Realtors in 2007, taking over for Norman Black in 2004 after also serving as the latter’s coaching consultant. He was also the coach of the Tanduay Rhum Masters after the franchise returned to the PBA in 1999. ■ (InterAKTV/ Tuesday, January 1, 2013)


January 2013 A issue  

Filipino news, sports, entertainment

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