Thursday, 31 December 2009

(UPDATE) Filipino nabbed for Pinay housekeeper's murder in Vienna

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino has been arrested by police in Vienna for the murder of Filipina housekeeper Romalyn Basalo, whose body was found inside the residence of a Lebanese ambassador on December 29.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has yet to obtain the name of the suspect, who has reportedly confessed to stabbing the 30-year-old victim to death inside the residence of Lebanese Ambassador to Vienna Ishaya El Khoury.

Basalo's body was found by a Filipina stay-out cook of the ambassador at 10 a.m. on Tuesday (Vienna time).

An investigator told ABS-CBN Europe New Bureau that the "murderer might have strangled the victim with an electric wire and stabbed her" repeatedly.

Police investigators said the possible motive for the murder could have been jealousy because Basalo has reportedly maintained several "acquaintances while she guarded the ambassador's residence.

It was not disclosed if the suspect is one of the "acquaintances" of the Filipina housekeeper.

Investigators said the suspect confessed at the first hearing that he killed the victim with multiple stab attack and revealed to the investigators the location of the knife used in the murder.

The relatives and friends of the victim were completely shocked about the result of the investigation. Nobody wanted to talk.

Filipino religious groups in the city have started to offer masses for the victim. Novenas were also held in several places where Filipinos usually meet.

The police findings would likely be a shock to the husband, who is expected to arrive in Vienna on Thursday.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Armed Ampatuan followers sighted in Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao, Philippines – Police and troops sighted yesterday armed Ampatuan partisans in the hinterlands of Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat and in Cotabato City.

Army Maj. Randolph Cabangbang told The STAR about 60 of them were seen scampering in different directions as troops and police advanced.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces in Sultan sa Barongis town have reinforced troops hunting down the remaining Ampatuan fighters, he added.

Cabangbang said troops will raid more areas in Maguindanao in search of high-powered firearms as soon as the military gets the search warrants from the General Santos City Regional Trial Court.

“Out of the 25 municipalities in Maguindanao, we are targeting 16 of them for the raid and these are the municipalities known as controlled by the Ampatuans,” he said.

“We can get a lot more evidence and high-powered firearms,” he said.

Ampatuan trial starts Jan. 5

The trial of Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, principal accused in the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre, will start at the Police Non-Commission Office Club in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Jan. 5.

In Cotabato City, Judge Melanio Guerrero of Cotabato RTC Branch 15 has not ordered the transfer to Metro Manila of the Ampatuans jailed in Cotabato City, General Santos City and Davao City.

Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, Philippine National Police spokesman, said indignation rallies will not be allowed inside Camp Crame.

“We are very optimistic that it would be all systems go for the hearing come Jan. 5,” he said.

“We will allow the (protesters) as long as they have permits. We will observe maximum tolerance.

“I expect those who will be covering the trial to observe camp rules. They do not have to express their indignation because they have properly expressed it,” he added.

Espina said 300 policemen will be tasked to maintain peace and order inside Camp Crame during the proceedings.

“They (policemen) will be manning strategic posts, the ingress and egress of people, traffic and all points of interest regarding the hearing,” he said.

GMA wants conviction

President Arroyo wants the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre convicted before she steps down in June next year, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential economic spokesman Gary Olivar said he is not surprised that Mrs. Arroyo would like the mass murder resolved before her terms ends.

“The important thing is to administer justice impartially, fairly, and then as quickly as possible consistent with those objectives,” he said.

Olivar said Malacañang is satisfied with the pace of the investigation and prosecution of the case.

“I haven’t seen anything yet to tell me people are dragging their feet on this,” he said.

“I think people are moving on this as fast as the process will allow them in the administration of impartial justice (but) sometimes some cases really do move slower than others for various reasons.”

While everybody wants justice to be immediately served, it is also prudent that the case be resolved carefully to ensure fairness, Olivar said.

Mrs. Arroyo will preside over a Cabinet meeting in Baguio City today where the Maguindanao situation would be on top of the agenda.

Cabinet officials said she will study the possible lifting of the state of emergency in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and General Santos City as peace and order appear to be improving.

DOJ ends probe

The Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded yesterday its investigation into the cold-blooded killing of 57 people in Maguindanao last Nov. 23.

Around 60 of some 200 respondents were able to file counter-affidavits during the proceedings that lasted a month.

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said all respondents have been given ample time to answer the charges in two hearings.

However, most of them, including alleged masterminds Adal Jr. and his father Maguindanao Gov. Andal Sr., waived their right to submit a counter-affidavit, she added.

Devanadera said the consolidated complaints filed by the PNP and National Bureau of Investigation have been submitted for resolution.

“The panel will now study the submitted counter-affidavits and evidence, which will be the bases for the resolution,” she said.

Devanadera said the panel led by Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag would issue a resolution on or before Feb. 2, 2010 to comply with a DOJ rule that preliminary investigations must be completed within 60 days after filing of complaint.

Among those to be considered by the panel are the defense submitted by five Ampatuans – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy, Acting Maguindanao Gov. Sajid Islam, Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar, Akmad Tato and Saudi Jr. – and over 50 police officers tagged in the killing, including those being considered as state witnesses, she added.

The five Ampatuans were represented by lawyer Roberto Villanueva, who refused to reveal to reporters contents of the defense they have submitted to the panel.

Ampatuans given more time to submit defense

The DOJ has given seven Ampatuans and others accused of rebellion more time to submit their defense.

State Prosecutor Lamberto Fabros said all 638 respondents are given until Jan. 12 to submit counter-affidavits.

Only Barira town Mayor Alexander Tumawis submitted his counter-affidavit in yesterday’s preliminary investigation.

“There is no truth to this (allegation),” he told reporters.

“I have many friends to prove that I have nothing to do with it (alleged rebellion).”

Tumawis said he is not related to the Ampatuans and only deals with them as political allies.

He could not be involved in the rebellion as his town is two hours away from the bailiwick of the Ampatuans, he added.

Police have tagged five Ampatuans - Rajah Buayan Mayor Yacob Ampatuan, Mamasapano Mayor Banarin Ampatuan, Datu Ulo Ampatuan, Datu Ipi Ampatuan and Datu Kanor Ampatuan - as alleged leaders of the rebellion.

Can Peace be Achieved in Maguindanao?

MANILA, Philippines - The Maguindanao massacre was triggered by two clans' struggle to gain power over the province.

This kind of conflict is not exclusive in Maguindanao but local leaders in other provinces have found a way to maintain peace among clans.

In an interview on ANC's Talkback with Tina Palma on Monday, Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez said their peace program not only involved residents but local authorities and insurgents as well.

"First thing we did was invest in the culture of peace training where we invested in leaders and developed what we call peace and development advocates in every barangay, even went to the extent training our army, police together with the MILF..." Dominguez said.

Sarangani was among the recipients of the "Galing Pook Award" for its peace efforts.

The Galing Pook Foundation honors yearly outstanding practices of local government units ranging from peace and conflict resolution to environmental management.

Another awardee is Tabuk in Kalinga Province where Mayor Camilo Lammawin Jr. combined traditional ways of resolving conflict with local government institutions.

"Ten years ago Tabuk was dubbed as the most dangerous place in the Cordilleras because of so many killings, tribal vendettas... so we helped organize all these tribes. A tribe has Bodong holders, the peace pot holders... so we had to organize these Bodong holders and have to meet them thru Bodong warming wherein two tribes meet again, renew their peace pact..." Lammawin Jr. said.

Former Congressman Nereus Acosta who is also a member of the National Selection Committee of Galing Pook said the awardees were successful in their peace efforts due to their innovations.

He however admits it could take time before peace can be achieved among the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus in Maguindanao.

When asked if martial law is the solution to the Maguindanao massacre, Dominguez said it is, so long as its implementation is only temporary.

"On the short term, as a party we support martial law, given we dismantle, disarm every single person in Maguindanao to level the playing field. Second, those responsible should be arrested and charged, once we achieve that, martial law should be lifted as soon as possible."

But Lammawin Jr. and Acosta are against it.

They believe government can solve the killings and prevent further violence without martial law.

Despite opposition from various sectors, martial law stays in effect in Maguindanao.

But whether or not this will actually solve the Maguindanao massacre and stop the violence in the province remains to be seen.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Great Pili Tree - Miriam Coronel Ferrer

Less known but just as versatile and hardy as the legendary coconut is the pili tree. Both plants grow profusely in the Bicol region, where typhoons and volcanic eruptions frequently visit. Resistant to strong winds and hot weather conditions, the pili tree will cope better with the adverse impact of climate change than most plants.

An indigenous species (scientific name, Canarium Ovatum) that grows up to 100 years old and up to 35 meters in height, the pili tree starts bearing fruit at around age six. Upright with leaves and branches roundly spread, they are beautiful as shade trees lining up avenues or marking borders.

Like the coconut, harvesting of pili nuts is year-round. According to government argriculturists, a tree bears one to two thousands nuts per year, or around 33 kilos of kernel. Needing no chemical input, the pili nut is thus produced “organically.”

All parts of the pili tree are useful to humans. The hard shells of the nut are used for fuel, handicrafts and charcoal briquettes. Recently, we used it as additional filling material for soil eroded by typhoon Ondoy in our farm in Rizal. The pulp is eaten boiled, pickled, sweetened or sautéed; the surplus, fed to the pigs. Oil extracted from the pulps and kernels can be used as cooking oil, fuel oil for lamps, and for making insect repellants, moisturizers and perfumes. Pili oil is said to possess the high qualities of olive oil.

Tasty pasalubong

Everybody who has been to Albay and Sorsogon provinces, the country’s pili heartland, has tasted the caramelized pili nuts, turrones de pili, and pili tarts.

Other places in the Bicol region have their own delicacies, or at least their own names for the same products. In Tagalog-speaking Vinzons, Camarines Norte, one will find the alinamnam, caramelized candy made from condensed milk and whole pili kernels, wrapped in colorful cellophane sheets. Our friends also like the pandecillos bought from this Ferrer hometown as pasalubong. These are rectangular pastries filled with sweetened, chopped pili.

Another favorite is the pili roll called pianono: a delicious spread of chopped pili cooked in condensed milk and spread on a thin layer of chiffon-like cake and rolled.

Bottled santan is jam made from coconut milk and molasses, liberally sprinkled with whole pili kernels, and patiently stirred a long time over low fire. According to my 85-year mother-in-law, a special kind of binao (or coconut bowl)-shaped molasses called balikutsay is used to produce the jam’s soft, granule-free thickness.

Other uses

Resin from the bark called Manila elemi is being exported to China and Europe for industrial uses such as transparent paper used as window panes, and as additives to plastic, plaster, printer ink and various paint products. Locally, the wood is used to caulk boats.

In Camarines Sur, now glamourously called “CamSur” after earning a place in the faddy tourist map, spas offer facial and body treatments using lotions made from the nut, which is rich in moisture and vitamin E..

Also rich in phosphorous, calcium, protein, and potassium, the pili nut is a good alternative to the expensive pine nut in pesto sauce, and can be thrown into all kinds of breads, pastries and sautéed food.

Interestingly, despite the highly commercial value of the pili nut, machines for depulping and shelling have yet to be commercially available. This must be because the country, including Bicol where 82 percent of pili production takes place, is rich in labor.

One prototype shelling machine developed by a Bicolano scientist and produced only upon order sells for around P15,000.

For small entrepreneurs, using several small, thick chopping knives, and mobilizing all the free hands in the household is more cost-effective. Our household help finds it easier to crack nuts with a piece of rock, a hammer or the geologist’s piko (rock pick).

Tree of life

Given the unmet demand for pili supplies, the pili tree is highly recommended for agroforestry projects, especially in typhoon-frequented areas. Since the nuts can be stored for long periods, it is also ideal for rural communities with poor roads and transportation facilities. Not surprisingly, the Samar Island Biodiversity Project that began in 2005 includes the planting of pili seedlings in about 100 hectares of nonproductive land.

On this, my 50th year, I have embarked on a mission of propagating pili seedlings using nuts harvested from our farm. As I watched each seed sprout, I pondered the mystery of how the pod manages to knock off a perfect almond-shaped hole from its hard shell to emerge as a delicate drooping bud. Then I follow with excitement its progress into a straight stem with two leaves outstretched like hands opened wide in joy.

In between deadlines, meetings and field research in different parts of the country and Asia the last 12 months, I have sprouted about a thousand seedlings of this great tree. I have been giving these out to friends or friends of friends who have space on which to grow even one single tree.

For colleagues in Mindanao like Fr. Bert Alejo and Irene “Inday” Santiago in Davao, and university professors Malou Nanaman, Radzma Suhaili, Samson Molao and Domingo Non from Iligan, Sulu, North Cotabato and General Santos, respectively, it was more practical to give out the newly harvested fruit, which they can easily soak to remove the pulp, and then plant. Planted within two days after depulping, the seeds are viable almost 100 percent.

The pili seedling bank I began this year is a small way of giving back life for the blessing of life that I have received. In this holiday season, I am pleased to share the seedlings to all those who want to spread the good news in the pili tree.

The offer is good while supplies last.

Toyota to recall 43,000 cars in China

TOKYO - Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling about 43,000 cars in China due to a defect that may cause engine oil to leak, a company spokesman said Friday.

The recall affects four models, the Lexus ES 350, the Lexus RX 350, the Highlander sports utility vehicle and the Previa minivan, said the spokesman, Yuta Kaga.

It comes just months after Toyota announced its biggest ever recall in China, affecting about 688,000 vehicles, due to a defect in the electric window system.

Toyota's reputation for quality has been dented recently by a series of recalls or safety issues, including a fatal accident in California involving an accelerator pedal that jammed under the floor mat.

Missing passengers may be trapped inside sunken ferry

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-four people on board the ill-fated passenger ferry Catalyn B may have been trapped inside the vessel after it smashed into a trawler off the coast of Limbones Island in Cavite, the Philippine Coast Guard said Friday.

Rescuers said they planned to spend 10 days searching for survivors and would also look into the fitness and discipline of the crew involved in the crash.

"I would say that we should stay there for about 10 days and then find out if we can be successful in (finding) the remaining unaccounted passengers," Coast Guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said in an interview.

Catalyn B, a flimsy, wooden vessel taking holidaymakers to their home village on a small island off the mouth of Manila Bay, smashed into Anathalia, a metal-hulled fishing boat, killing 3 people on Christmas eve. Forty-six survivors were fished out of the water on Thursday.

On Friday rescue boats combed sea waters of Bataan, Cavite and Batangas, hoping to find any sign that might point to the exact location of the missing ferry passengers. The PCG said some of the missing passengers may have been swept out to sea.

Some survivors warned that some of the missing could have been trapped inside the vessel, which the Coast Guard said sank in 67 meters (220 feet) of water within minutes of impact.

"Usually people can survive afloat for two to three days in Philippine waters," Ensign Jhoe Barbasa, a Coast Guard spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse

"But other factors also play a big role. Hunger, injuries or ailments, like hypertension, and the weather, can affect that window," she added.

Boat operations suspended

President Arroyo on Friday suspended operations of the boat owners, pending a full investigation of the ferry collision.

Since there were no reports of engine trouble or bad weather during the predawn collision, Tamayo said that "obviously" someone failed to observe nautical rules on rights of way, leading to the disaster.

"We're also looking at conditions of the watch at the navigating bridge -- whether the crew or the captain are in good physical condition, whether they (were) drunk or tired or maybe they were not awake at that time."

A formal inquiry will start "maybe in three or four days", he said.

Relatives of the missing passengers, meanwhile, spent Christmas at the PCG headquarters in Manila while waiting for news about the rescue efforts.

Ludy Magat, who has three relatives among those missing, could not help but cry over the fate of her relatives. “Ang hirap. Masakit, ‘di [namin] alam kung ano ang hinihintay namin," she said.

The relatives are requesting the PCG to send frogmen and find out if the missing people were indeed trapped inside Catalyn B.

The PCG, however, said they are focusing their efforts on searching for survivors first. It added that the Catalyn B is too deep for the PCG's divers.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Mayweather - I will defeat Pacquiao

Unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather, Jr. claims he will knock out WBO welterweight world champion Manny Pacquiao when the two boxing giants lock horns next year.

Speaking on HBO TV's Joe Buck chat show, the 32-year-old Mayweather -- who has an unblemished record from 40 fights -- said: "Pacquiao's a good fighter but I've been around the sport a long time and I've dominated boxing for around 15 years now.

"Nobody has defeated me yet so we'll have to see. The thing is, I don't want the fans to be really shocked by what will happen when we do happen to meet up -- because it's not going to be anything new for them."

"The things is, Manny has been knocked out before and he's taken losses. I'll be victorious."

Pacquiao will come into the fight following a remarkable 12 months which has seen him defeat Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.

Meanwhile, Mayweather has fought only once in two years, a unanimous points victory over Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas.

Although definitive plans for the mega-money contest are yet to be confirmed, a date of March 13 is widely rumored to be agreed, with three possible venues in the running to stage the contest.

The two fighters are regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world right now and the fight is expected to generate record levels of interest, easily surpassing the previous record of $18.4 million for gate receipts, which was generated for Mayweather's bout with de la Hoya in 2007.

Two NFL stadiums are reported to be bidding to host the fight. Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is competing with the Superdome in New Orleans, as well as the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The two stadiums could accommodate up to 100,000 spectators, while the MGM Grand seats about 16,000.

Candle lighting held in Italy for Mindanao massacre

BOLOGNA, Italy – The Filipino community in Italy organized a candle lighting activity to demand among others, justice for the massacre that claimed the lives of at least 57 people in Maguindanao.

The “Fiaccolata” ceremony was attended by about 200 people of various nationalities. The Filipinos and Italians were joined by people from Morocco, Romania, Bosnia, Bangladesh, Chile, and Germany.

The event held at the old Piazza del Nettuno in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, also called for an end to the killings of journalists and activists in the Philippines and genuine and long lasting peace in Mindanao.

Around 30 journalists, civilians, lawyers and members of a political clan were among those killed in the massacre last November 23 in Maguindanao.

It was the first time that the Filipino community in Bologna led and organized a public mass action. Although held a day earlier, it was also intended to be part of the International Day Against Impunity on December 9.

Among the speakers at the peaceful and solemn rally were University Professors Gianni Sofri and Giulio Soravia; Gerardo Bombonato, president of the Association of Journalists in the Italian Region of Emilia-Romagna; Leonardo Barcelo and Bouchaib Kaline, both officials of the city and province of Bologna, respectively.

The Filipino community was represented by Adelle Ignacio, Councilor of the Province of Bologna and one of the lead organizers; Jose Avenido, president of the Federation of Filipino Associations of Bologna (FedFab) and Edwin Biglas of Migrante Sectoral Party.

At the start of the program, a child sang “One Little Candle” while candles were being lit in the Piazza. After the song, the names of the 30 journalists killed in the massacre were read.

Ignacio read the statement of the organizers saying that the activity was symbolic.

“We should not remain silent in the face of such atrocities. In one of the darkest period of our history, we light the candles as a condemnation of the violence and our desire for justice and long-lasting peace,” Ignacio said.

Sofri, an Italian professor of history explained the context surrounding the massacre for the benefit of the non-Filipino community in the crowd. He also observed how the incident gathered little attention from the European media. He said the event is one way of increasing the European's awareness of such issues.

Bombonato, representing the journalists in the region, said he usually does not go to such rallies, especially to participate because his job is to cover these events. However, what happened in the Philippines was deeply moving and he decided to join.

He said journalists are also under attack in Italy for exposing the truth, mainly scandals involving the Mafia, and he also read a poem about why people should stand up against the violation of our basic freedoms.

Excerpts from the statements of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, translated in Italian, were also read.

Kaline, a Moroccan immigrant, said that it is important as a member of the larger community of nations, to express their solidarity to the people facing such atrocities and condemn the perpetrators.

Barcelo, originally from Chile, who sought asylum in Italy after the Pinochet coup, shared his country's experience under fascist rule and the need to fight tyranny together.

During the program, many Italians who were just passing by the Fiaccolata, most of whom were doing their early Christmas shopping, stopped and listened.

The Fiaccolata also enjoyed the broad support of political, religious and regional organizations in Bologna. Among them were the Forum Immigrazione of the Partido Democratico (PD); CGIL, an institution for worker's rights; Migrante Sectoral Party; the Council of Foreigners in the Province of Bologna; El Shaddai; El Elohim; FedFab; Lafa, an organization of Laguna residents; Lampada Milan; Kakampi; Guardians; Christian Joint Fellowship; Liwanag; Flussi; and San Pedronians.

Monday, 7 December 2009

2nd disqualification case vs Arroyo filed

MANILA - Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel on Monday filed a petition before the Commission on Elections seeking to disqualify President Arroyo from running for Congress next year.

In a four-page petition, Hontiveros-Baraquel said Mrs. Arroyo should be barred from running in next year's polls because the Constitution bars the president and vice-president from running for re-election.

"If people in the two highest elective positions are barred for re-election, how much more a lower position? Mrs. Arroyo isn't even qualified to run for barangay tanod," she said.

She added that Mrs. Arroyo's congressional bid also violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution since she could tap government resources for her campaign.

Lawyer Oliver Lozano earlier filed a similar petition to disqualify Arroyo from running in next year's polls. He noted that the 1987 Constitution provides that "the president shall not be eligible for any re-election."

He said the word "any" refers to any elective post, and this includes Arroyo's bid to represent the 2nd district of Pampanga in the House of Representatives.

Randy David dreads 2010 no-proclamation scenario

MANILA – University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Randy David is not giving up the fight against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Interviewed on ANC's Strictly Politics on Tuesday, David said he has just transferred the battle to another arena.

“This is the arena of public opinion which involves the entire Filipino nation and not just voters in the second district of Pampanga. I really believe President Arroyo crossed the line of public decency and trust which govern all public officials when she filed her Certificate of Candidacy,” David told ANC's Pia Hontiveros.

“I'm now pressuring all our countrymen to ask her to relinquish all powers of the president, to resign if she doesn't want to be impeached or driven from office,” David added.

He is also calling on presidential candidates to ensure fair elections next year.

He said they should sign a collective letter urging the President to step down now “in order to ensure non-partisan electoral exercise in 2010.”

No match

David was widely expected to challenge Arroyo's congressional bid.

“I'm not an electoral animal myself. I think there's a way of fighting in which the battle is not so unjust. The President has been engaged in premature campaigning since 5 months ago after almost 50 visits to the province. You can't possibly match that,” David said, explaining his decision not to run.

“She's using as means to patronage, public funds that are at her disposal as president. I would have lost in an election where the entire game has been rigged from the start,” he added.

The UP professor also said he refused to give credence to Arroyo's political plans.

“Running against her, presenting a serious candidate against her - somebody who has no qualms about using the power of the president - would have been an acceptance, it would be conferring legitimacy on exercise that's false from the start. What she's doing is totally unprecedented. It's a breach of public trust which is ground for impeachment" he stated.

Dreaded scenario

Arroyo's congressional bid is suspected to have something to do with plans to change the country's system of government from presidential to parliamentary, with herself as Speaker of the House.

According to David, the President and her allies could be plotting another scenario entirely.

“There is another scenario which I really dread as a Filipino. It will continue political destabilization in the country... a no-proclamation scenario of all candidates of all offices - senator, vice-president and president,” he said.

“Only local officials will be proclaimed and that includes congressmen. You might possibly have a House Speaker, but no president, no vice-president, no Senate president. You'll only have an acting president,” ended David.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Taiwan social drama tipped to win Chinese-language 'Oscars'

TAIPEI – Taiwanese director Leon Dai's social drama "No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti" is tipped for top honours Saturday at the island's Golden Horse Film Awards, considered the Chinese-language "Oscars", critics said.

The emotionally charged movie, based on a true story of a diver's desperate fight for custody of his daughter, is the favourite for best picture and would be the first local movie in seven years to win the coveted award.

"It has a slight advantage as the best picture hasn't gone to a Taiwanese film for a long time," said Steven Tu, an influential film critic who recently published a book about the island's cinema.

The Golden Horse Awards, broadcast by Chinese-language channels as far away as Canada, are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival.

Dai's movie, whose title is Spanish and means "I Can't Live Without You", is competing in a rich and varied field that stretches from romantic drama "Like A Dream" to art-house picture "Face" and black comedies "Cow" and "Crazy Racer."

"The films represent different genres and they are evenly matched, so it's really anybody's guess," said Tu.

Indeed, Chinese director Guan Hu's "Cow" could surprise with its lively portrayal of a Chinese farmer entrusted by the communist army to look after a cow during the war against Japan in the 1940s, critics say.

"Guan uses one man (Huang Bo) and one cow to reflect the struggles of that period in a dramatic and epic-like story," said Ryan Cheng, a critic associated with the Kaohsiung Film Festival in southern Taiwan.

For the best director title, Dai faces better-known rivals Clara Law of Hong Kong ("Like a Dream") and Taiwan-based Malaysian high-brow director Tsai Ming-liang ("Face").

"Law has a long history with the Golden Horse awards while Tsai has an intense personal style that sets him apart, so either could be the winner," Tu said.

Tsai, who won the best director in 1994, has staged a comeback with "Face" ("Visage"), which is the first of a new series of works produced by The Louvre and has bagged five nominations.

Law, now based in Australia, has been nominated for best director three times but walked away empty-handed each time.

"Like A Dream," about a man chasing a girl from his dreams, leads the race with nine nods, including Chinese leading lady Yolanda Yuan for best actress, a category dominated by mainland names this year.

Also representing China in this category are Zhou Xun and Li Bingbing from espionage thriller "The Message". The only exception is Taiwanese-French Sandrine Pinna ("Yang Yang").

"I think the best leading actress is hardest to predict as the contenders are all very impressive. Zhou might have a better chance as she's now widely recognised," said Cheng.

For best actor, Cheng's pick is Huang from "Cow", but other observers beg to differ.

Bob Dylan brings Christmas cheer to those without homes

LONDON – Singer Bob Dylan reminisces about Christmas past, turkey dinners and his favorite holiday songs in a rare interview in a magazine for homeless people.

The 68-year-old singer has baffled fans and critics with his new album "Christmas in the Heart" -- a collection of carols and traditional yuletide songs delivered in his croaking voice.

All proceeds will go to charities for the homeless and hungry in the United States, Britain and 80 poor countries.

Asked why he picked those organizations, Dylan told the interviewer: "They get food straight to the people. No military organization, no bureaucracy, no governments to deal with."

The exclusive interview appeared in The Big Issue magazine in Britain and similar street papers in North America.

Dylan -- born Robert Allen Zimmerman -- said that although Jewish, he never felt left out of Christmas as a boy growing up in Minnesota.

He recalled "plenty of snow, jingle bells, Christmas carolers going from house to house, sleighs in the streets, town bells ringing, nativity plays."

His idea of a good Christmas dinner was roast turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, collard greens and all the trimmings.

The songs on the Christmas album were "part of my life, just like folk songs," he said.

Why does Christmas have the best songs? "Maybe because it's so worldwide and everybody can relate to it in their own way."

The release of the Christmas album has only added to the enigma of Dylan and caps an eventful year for him.

He played more than 100 shows in Europe and North America as part of his "Never Ending Tour" and topped the charts in Britain and the United States with his album "Together Through Life."

He was also detained by police in New Jersey in July when homeowners spotted a hooded man wandering around their street in the rain. The young police officer failed to recognize the Oscar and Grammy-winning songwriter.

The Christmas album has also renewed speculation among Bob-watchers about his current faith, if any. He was a Born Again Christian from 1979-81 and released three religious-themed albums.

He cryptically told the interviewer: "I am a true believer" but did not elaborate further.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Comelec is ‘stupid,’ says Boy Abunda

MANILA – Television host Boy Abunda has branded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as “stupid” after the latter turned down the accreditation of “Ang Ladlad” due to "moral grounds."

"Ang Ladlad" is an organization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT).

Reports said Comelec rejected “Ang Ladlad” for party-list accreditation on the grounds that it advocates "sexual immorality" and "immoral doctrines."

Abunda did not take this statement sitting down. Abunda lambasted the poll body for reportedly calling the group a “source of immorality.”

He said in his show "SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon:" "'Yong sinabi ng Comelec na ‘Ang Ladlad’ is parang the source of immorality, sabi ni Mayor [Rodrigo] Duterte (of Davao City) ngayong araw (Tuesday) sa mga front page, it is bigotry of the highest order. Para sa akin, 'yan ay isang katangahan."

"Para sa akin, isang malinaw talaga na walang pang-unawa na tama [ang Comelec]. And you are a government agency, 'yon lamang," Abunda added.

Abunda’s co-host and close friend Kris Aquino also defended her gay friend.

“You are mean. And the gay people naman are taxpayers. So, what's the problem?" Aquino said.

On November 11, the Comelec said although the party presented proper documents and evidence for their accreditation, its petition was "dismissable on moral grounds."

Page 5 of its ruling states that “Ang Ladlad's” definition of the LGBT as a marginalized sector "makes it crystal clear that the petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs."

The document quotes passages from both the Bible and the Koran that describe homosexuality as "unseemly" or "transgressive."

The Comelec also went on to state that accrediting “Ang Ladlad” would pose risks for Filipino youths.

"Ang Ladlad" also applied for party-list accreditation in 2007, but was denied due to the lack of regional membership in the Philippines.

In a previous phone interview with, “Ang Ladlad,” through its head Danton Remoto, said the group would contest the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court.

Remoto, who taught literature at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University for over 20 years, criticized the Comelec's allegation that older homosexuals are threats to the youth.

He also took issue against the Comelec ruling's frequent citation of Internet-sourced reports, saying that a legal document should at least use primary sourcing. Remoto said this spoke of "intellectual bankruptcy" among Comelec officials.

Remoto said the Comelec ruling is offensive to the LGBT community and an insult to their human rights.

Journalists condemn Maguindanao massacre

MANILA – Philippine and foreign media organizations on Tuesday condemned the massacre of at least 47 people, including journalists, in last Monday’s incident in Maguindanao.

Rowena Paraan, coordinator of the Media Safety Office of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) challenged the government to take immediate action.

“We challenge PNP (Philippine National Police) and Malacañang na huwag protektahan kung sino yung gumawa nito kahit gaano kalapit sa inyo. Kasi kung proprotektahan ninyo ang pumatay sa mga mamamahayag na ito, parang kayo na rin yung nag pull ng trigger,” Paraan said.

Paraan confirmed that 12 journalists were killed in Maguindanao and some of them were members of the NUJP.

Death toll to climb

However, she clarified that the list provided to them by their local chapters is not yet the final figure. They believe the number of journalists killed in the incident could still climb as authorities continue to recover more bodies.

“We think na yung 12 hindi pa yun ang buong bilang kasi based sa info na nakuha namin, there were actually 30 media practitioners who were invited to join the coverage,” said Paraan.

She added that they have tapped the help of local journalists to find out who actually went to cover the supposed filing of the certificate of candidacy of Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.

About a hundred armed men stopped the convoy of Mangudadatu’s wife while on their way to file the vice mayor’s COC on Monday afternoon. Aside form the group of journalists, Mangudadatu’s wife, several of his relatives, and supporters were also killed in the incident.

Police and military recovered some of the bodies in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.

Highest number of journalists killed

“Ito ang isang incident with the highest number of journalists killed. A single incident kung saan we have at least 12 members of media slain. Wala kaming maalalang ibang kaso kahit sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas na mas dadami pa sa bilang na ito na mga mamamahayag na pinatay,” Paraan said.

According to Paraan, most of the victims came from General Santos, Koronadal and Sultan Kudarat.

“Mayrong mga miyembro ang NUJP doon sa mga nasa listahan so medyo napakahirap para sa amin. Yung ibang hindi namin myembro some of them were actually participants sa mga trainings that we conducted in those provinces,” she said.

Data from the NUJP shows that 104 journalists have been killed since 1986. Of the total, 67 were killed under the Arroyo administration.

“Wala pang nahuhuli. Kung may nahuli man at naparusahan, puro gunmen. Not a single mastermind has been arrested and prosecuted,” Nonoy Espina, NUJP’s vice chairperson said.

“Its been so much a tradition that people expect that when media are there, nothing bad can happen because nothing bad usually happens in the glare of cameras. But yesterday was totally raw abuse of power,” he added.

For Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the group of journalists who went to Maguindanao was there to cover a legitimate story.

“And they were not taking sides. There was nothing, no evidence of them taking sides,” Mangahas said.

She lamented not seeing the local government of Maguindanao “feeling as concerned about what happened”.

In solidarity

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) also expressed outrage and condemned the massacre.

According to KBP President Herman Basbaño, the carnage is another blow to the already battered image of Philippine media. Basbaño said the perpetrators in the incident showed disregard for law and order.

He likewise called on the national government and all law enforcement authorities to thoroughly probe and put the culprits behind bars.

The Philippine Press Institute (PPI) echoed the sentiments of other media groups and joined the call to urge the government to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

"The perpetrators should be arrested, prosecuted, and, after trial, punished. We must put a stop to the culture of impunity in the killing of journalists and make the country safe again for media people," PPI chairman-president Isagani Yambot said in a press statement.

The PPI also urged President Arroyo to disarm all political warlords, dismantle private armies, and intensify the drive against loose firearms, of which there are more than 110,000 in Mindanao alone.

In another statement, the Samahang Plaridel condoled with the victims and deplored what it described as “the most gruesome incidence of political violence involving rival clans in Mindanao.”

“No less than a swift and decisive action from Malacañang can prevent further escalation of violence that already snuffed the lives of local mediamen who were simply doing their jobs when caught in the crossfire,” the group said.

It added that “such politically-motivated heinous crimes demand a critical response not just to serve justice to the victims' families but more importantly, to put a stop to the culture of violence in Mindanao during election season”.

For members of the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC), the massacre worsens the prevailing climate of impunity in the county.

“We, officers and members of the Malacañang Press Corps seek justice for our colleagues, who were massacred in the line of duty in Maguindanao. The incident is terrible and sickening,” the group said.

A reminder

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), in a statement, said the killings “are likely to trigger a cycle of reprisals and counter-reprisals that will raise even higher the levels of violence in Maguindanao, quite possibly in the rest of Mindanao, and even the entire Philippines itself. Violence has a way of begetting further violence, as Philippine experience demonstrates.”

It condemned the Maguindanao massacre as “not only an attack on a local politician, on his supporters, and on journalists. It was also an attack on what’s left of Philippine democracy, in which free and peaceful elections have never been as urgent an imperative as today.”

“Only the quickest and most decisive response in terms of arresting and bringing the perpetrators to court can prevent the November 23 killings from turning into one more incident to inspire the killers—of journalists, political activists, local officials, priests, lawyers and judges—who roam this country with impunity to keep on killing.,” said CMFR in the statement.

CMFR likewise rejected Malacañang’s declaration of a state of emergency in the province as well as in neighboring Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City.

“The local military and police are widely known to be partial to certain groups, and are likely to harden that partisanship as elections in May 2010 nears. Indeed policemen are said to have been part of the group of 100 that waylaid the convoy the slain journalists were accompanying. A state of emergency will provide a convenient cover for military and police partisanship, among other reasons because it will provide them a legal basis for preventing the media from covering the impact on the citizenry of the political rivalries, based on clan disputes, that haunt Maguindanao and other areas of Mindanao as well as the overall conduct of the elections there,” said CMFR.

CMFR asserted the crucial task of media “to provide the citizenry the information it needs so it can make such decisions as to who to vote for as well as others related to its well-being and safety.”

“We reiterate, however, that no story is worth the life of a single journalist. Journalists must take the greatest care to assure their own safety, and to evaluate the risks involved before covering any event of public relevance anywhere. Journalists must thus take care to steer clear of partisanships likely to transform them into casualties of the clash between political parties and feuding clans, and to affirm through their work and actions their sole loyalty to the professional and ethical imperatives of fairness and truth telling,” said CMFR.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urged the international community to intervene to demand a full probe to bring to justice those responsible for the crime.

“This is an event which shocks journalists around the world to the core. We need a strong and urgent response from the Philippine government and the international community,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Michelle Van Eimeren's mountain top wedding

AUSTRALIA - Former Miss Australia Michelle Van Eimeren will literally feel like she’s on top of the world when she marries boyfriend Mark Murrow at 3 p.m. this Saturday.

The ceremony will be held at the summit of Wollongong’s Mt Keira. The mountain is 464 meters high and boasts expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and rainforests.

Ex-husband Ogie Alcasid and girlfriend Regine Velasquez arrived from the Philippines yesterday to attend the event.

As early as June, the Philippine Entertainment Portal reported Van Eimeren had already purchased her wedding gown. Alcasid, who will walk down the aisle as a groomsman, told ABS-CBN he will wear a tuxedo. “Sila ang nagpagawa. I haven’t tried it on yet,” Alcasid said upon arrival at the Sydney International Airport. Velasquez will be wearing her own dress as she sings the wedding march, “I Love You So”.

Van Eimeren, who now works as a wedding planner in Richardson, New South Wales, appeared to be attending to all the last minute details herself.

“Later I have to go to the venue to deliver flowers!” she said.

Velasquez, once rumored to be the reason for the break up of Van Eimeren and Alcasid, says she’s eager to help. “She’s been very busy so hopefully I’ll be able to help somehow,” she said. She says she and Van Eimeren are “like sisters” now.

ABS-CBN contacted Van Eimeren a day before the wedding to find out if she would consider giving an interview. The news team didn’t want to steal footage and risk upsetting the bride-to-be, so it sought Van Eimeren’s permission.

“Oh you’re not upsetting me at all!” Van Eimeren seemed happy and upbeat and said, “I’ll talk to you. I don’t want to let anyone down. I just can’t talk right now because I have to go to my eldest daughter’s High School orientation. But I’ll call you back later.”

Minutes later, it was ex-husband Alcasid who rang to say Michelle would not be giving any interviews. “We’re from GMA. You know how it is. If we give you an interview, GMA will give us a hard time.” When it was pointed out that Van Eimeren is not a talent of the rival network, Alcasid turned to Van Eimeren and asked what she wanted to do. Van Eimeren told Alcasid, “I don’t want to let anyone down. But you’re my family, it’s up to you.” Alcasid then told ABS-CBN, “If it’s up to me, then the answer is no.”

Alcasid did not respond to ABS-CBN’s comment that if GMA wanted to cover the wedding, it would have sent a crew to Australia.

Aquino meets Cojuangcos on Hacienda Luisita issue

MANILA - Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, Liberal Party standard bearer for the May 2010 polls, held a meeting with other members of the Cojuangco family Tuesday to talk about the Hacienda Luisita dispute.

The family meeting comes on the heels of the fifth anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita massacre where 7 people died and hundreds of farm workers were wounded in a clash with police and soldiers during a blockade on Nov. 16, 2004.

In an interview on ANC’s Strictly Politics on Tuesday, Hacienda Luisita Inc. (HLI) spokesman Atty. Antonio Ligon said, the Liberal Party presidential candidate has a minimal stake in the land.

“It will have no material impact,” Ligon told ANC’s Pia Hontiveros on Strictly Politics.

Ligon also defended the Stock Distribution Option (SDO) on which the sugar estate was placed to comply with the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

“Kung ibibigay mo ‘yong lupa, ang social justice provision natin is not automatically land distribution,” he said.

Akbayan Chair Emeritus Rep. Etta Rosales meanwhile is pushing for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) and had indicated so in an open letter addressed to Aquino last week.

She cited a recommendation from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for the redistribution of land to farmers.

“You know, the argument given was, this was put to a vote, that farmers voted in favor (of the SDO). I think logic and good faith would let us know na hindi umubra. Let us not blame anybody. The SDO did not work,” Rosales also told Strictly Politics.

Rosales added, the DAR recommendation came out in early 2005, but was blocked by a 2006 temporary restraining order (TRO) granted to the Cojuangcos.

“That was 3 years ago. The TRO is still in effect,” Rosales said.

Rosales appealed to Aquino to do what he can to resolve the issue.

“This is bigger than your family. Dumistansya ka,” Rosales addressed the LP standard bearer.

Ligon meanwhile maintained that the farmers were given lots by HLI.

“There’s the 33.296% ownership (of the land). On top of that, they’ve been given 3% of gross sales from 1989 to 2004 – that was given to 10,500 farmers. They were given 240 square meters. Everything is under progress,” Ligon enumerated.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Susan Boyle reveals she was hit, bullied as a child

LONDON - Scottish singing star Susan Boyle revealed Tuesday how she was hit as a child at school by teachers.

Boyle, whose frumpy appearance hid a soaring voice which made her a global star, said she was also bullied by other students.

"You’re looking at someone who would get the belt every day. ‘Will you Shut up, Susan!’ - whack!" Boyle said in interviews published in Britain's tabloids.

"I was often left behind at school because of one thing or another. I was a slow learner," Boyle said in The Mirror, ahead of the release of her album next week.

"I’m just I’m a wee bit slower at picking things up than other people. So you get left behind in a system that just wants to rush on, you know?

"That was what I felt was happening to me."

She added: "There was discipline for the sake of discipline back then. But it’s all very different now. I think teachers are taught to understand children with learning disabilities a lot better."

She admitted one of the worst times of her life was when she started to get bullied at school. "There’s nothing worse than another person having power over you by bullying you and you not knowing how to get rid of that thing."

Boyle, a spinster from a small town in Scotland who was starved of oxygen at birth and has mild learning difficulties, had a meteoric rise to fame earlier this year.

The church volunteer became a star around the world after footage of her singing "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables" in the "Britain's Got Talent" auditions became a YouTube hit, with at least 100 million viewings.

Boyle was rushed to a London health clinic suffering from exhaustion after she was defeated in the final of the television talent show in June.

Dollar stable in Asia after Bernanke remark

TOKYO - The dollar was steady in Asia Tuesday after getting a brief boost from a rare comment on currencies by US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, who voiced support for a strong dollar.

The dollar was at 89.04 yen in Tokyo midday trade, against 89.05 in New York late Monday. The euro slipped to 1.4966 dollars from 1.4972 and to 133.25 yen after 133.32.

Bernanke's remark in a speech Thursday caused the dollar to shoot up against the euro, but the rally soon fizzled out as traders bet that the low level of US interest rates would continue to pressure the greenback.

The dollar lost ground against the yen Monday as dealers bet that the Fed is unlikely to raise its key interest rate any time soon from the current level of close to zero. Investors generally prefer currencies offering high yields.

"This bout of selling pressure on the dollar appears to be easing following Bernanke's remarks, which signalled US interest rates will stay low for the time being," said Yosuke Hosokawa, head of forex group of Chuo Mitsui Trust.

"But the dollar is likely to face another bout of selling," Hosokawa said.

Bernanke said the central bank was closely monitoring exchange rates with the dollar having lost its gains from safe haven flows during the height of the financial crisis.

"We are attentive to the implications of changes in the value of the dollar and will continue to formulate policy to guard against risks to our dual mandate to foster both maximum employment and price stability," the Federal Reserve chief told the Economic Club of New York.

"Our commitment to our dual objectives, together with the underlying strengths of the US economy, will help ensure that the dollar is strong and a source of global financial stability."

But "the reality is that the Fed is probably quite comfortable with a weak dollar given the positive impact on the economy and lack of associated inflation pressures," said Calyon analyst Mitul Kotecha.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Clinton to visit storm-hit Philippines

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday she will travel to the Philippines next week to "show solidarity" with the storm-battered nation, just after her visits to Singapore and Berlin.

Clinton also announced she will join President Barack Obama during his visit to China from November 15-18, her second trip as chief diplomat to the country the Obama administration recognizes as a key global player.

In a flurry of travel announcements this week, Clinton and her aides announced her tour of Europe and Asia, one that comes on top of a tour of Pakistan and the Middle East that only ended on Wednesday.

"I'll be going to the Philippines, to show solidarity with our friends in the Philippines who have been battered by typhoons and have just suffered so much over the last weeks," Clinton said in a speech in Washington.

Typhoon Santi (international name Mirinae) swept over the main island Luzon on Saturday, dumping heavy rain and bringing strong winds just weeks after Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) and Typhoon (Pepeng) Parma left about 1,100 dead and tens of thousands homeless.

During her visit to Manila from November 12-13, "the secretary will hold consultations with senior Filipino officials, highlighting the US-Philippines treaty alliance," Clinton's spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

Her trip starts with a stop in Berlin for official ceremonies on Monday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She was due to give a speech in the German capital on Sunday at the Atlantic Council.

In a speech in Washington to many of those who supported her during her presidential campaign last year, Clinton said the wall's fall marked the end of a Cold War era in which the world was divided into clear blocs.

"So we find ourselves now in a much more complex world, and we just have to be up for it and we have to be smarter about it," Clinton said. "And we have to demand more from ourselves and our partners."

Clinton will then visit Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting ahead of the APEC summit, at which President Barack Obama will make his inaugural appearance.

She will be in Singapore from November 10-12, before returning a day later from the Philippines to join Obama at the summit, aides said.

Kurt Tong, the State Department's pointman on APEC, said this week that the various APEC meetings, including those attended by Clinton, will focus on economic recovery following the massive global recession.

Clinton said in her speech that she will join Obama on a visit to China, which is scheduled from November 15-18, which she called a "very important trip to further the dialogue between our two countries."

China was a key stop on Clinton's first overseas tour as secretary of state, in what analysts said was a US bow to an increasingly powerful region in a bid to tackle the global economic crisis, climate change and nuclear weapons.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Teenager shot dead in gang war

MANILA, Philippines -- A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed Saturday evening allegedly by members of two rival teenage street gangs in Manila.
Arnold Pantaleon, reportedly a member of the Young Trouble Maker (YTM) gang, of M. Hizon Street in Sta. Cruz, was declared dead on arrival by attending doctors at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC) from a bullet wound in the chest.
Manila Police District (MPD) homicide section personnel have fanned out to hunt two suspects, identified only as an “Alvin” and a certain “Brando,” aged 16 and 17, who are reportedly members of the Batang Malabon Gang and the Tropang Kulet, who immediately fled after the shooting.
PO3 Jay Santos, case investigator, said the shooting happened at around 7:30 pm, Saturday, in front of a building at 1844 Oroquieta Street in Sta. Cruz, while Pantaleon was walking along the sidewalk to fetch his girlfriend from a friend’s house.
Santos said Pantaleon was approached by Brando, the 17-year-old member of the Tropang Kulet, who briefly chatted with him. The ploy, the case investigator stressed, seemed to have been a diversionary tactic as the 16-year-old member of the Batang Malabon Gang appeared a few minutes after.
Armed with a gun, Alvin shot Pantaleon in the left side of the chest. Alvin and Brando then fled after the 15-year-old boy fell bloodied on the pavement.
Although badly injured, Pantaleon was able to seek the help of bystanders who brought him to the nearest hospital where he later died.Homicide investigators are conducting follow-up operations to determine the motive for the assault and to arrest the suspects.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

What is bodyweight training?

I JUST attended a three-day training summit in California which featured all the latest exercise equipment. Aside from cardio exercises, it covered all the other aspects of fitness like strength, power, agility, balance, stabilization and flexibility.Bodyweight training is the simplest form of exercise where you use your own bodyweight as resistance. It teaches how to control your body without using external loads like dumbbells.To improve bodyweight training:Use a weighted vest which is adjustable. It ranges from half pound-30 pounds or more and comes in different sizes and extra features which can be used while performing squats and push-ups. Other models can be used for running and jumping.Other popular bodyweight progression equipment are adjustable ankle, shoe, hand, and wrist weights or irons. One can use hand iron for boxing drills like jabs and crosses or ankle weights for knee lifts.Suspension-training system is the latest training form for coaches. The TRX suspension trainer professional which improves strength, core control, balance and flexibility can be secured to any sturdy attachment point which allows one to perform exercises for chest, back and lower body and core muscles.Strength training When additional equipment loads are used to increase strength, muscle mass, speed and power, use dumbbells, barbells, strength-training machines and kettle bells. Your choice of program would depend on your fitness level, goals and accessibility to equipment.Functional training machines that are available in fitness centers provide unlimited range of motion as opposed to traditional resistance-training machines where one is freer to execute rotational movements that target core muscles. The machine is effective for those who are into golf and tennis.Kettle bell (KB) is like a canon ball with a handle on top that comes in a variety of weights and sizes. The function is similar to a dumbbell but according to Brett Jones, CSCS, one of the summit lecturers, it is safer, more convenient and more efficient to use. It can be done in just two moves during a 15-20 minute session, three times a week. The “KB getup” trains the core, shoulder and body to work as one unit. The “KB swing” is a great power move for the hips and core.According to Mike Boyle, a world-famous strength and conditioning coach, medicine-ball training allows one to develop power in the core and upper and lower body. The latest medicine balls have grasp handles or ropes for a secure grip while performing rotations and chops.Exercise-band trainingMost clients and trainers underestimate the use of exercise bands and tubes because these tools look very simple and lack challenge. But, according to Diane Vives, president of Vives Training Systems in Texas, the versatility and mobility of bands can be applied on corrective exercises and strength, speed and circuit training for weight loss.Exercise tubes with handles are useful for upper body exercises like pulling movements for the chest, front shoulders and triceps and for the back, rear shoulders and biceps. Exercises involve more core muscles since movements can combine rotations with stabilization. Some models even allow two to four people to work against each other.Bands that are secured around legs help improve agility, balance and lower body strength. This band training system allows one to perform forward, backward and do lateral walks, shuffles and squats. The lightweight feature of the band, especially the mini band allows one to strengthen the lower body while at home, in the gym or even while traveling.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Comelec extends registration hours

In anticipation of last-minute registrants, the Commission on Elections will be extending by at least four hours the daily voters' registration being conducted across the country until the end of the month. "We are aware that a lot of Filipinos choose to register at the last minute. So in order to accommodate them and also address the growing crowds at our field offices as we near the registration deadline, the Comelec en banc has ordered the extension of office hours in all registration centers nationwide," said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez. Jimenez said that starting October 22 until October 30, registration hours in Comelec field offices will be open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Registration on October 31, the last day for registration, will be open until 12 midnight. Jimenez was quick to clarify, however, that they are only extending the registration hours, not the registration days. "We need the remaining time this year to finalize the list of voters so that we can finalize also our allocation, if we cannot finalize out allocations on time, we might have shortages on election day and that is something we want to avoid," he told reporters. For this purpose, Jimenez said they are also fielding 62 new data capturing machines used in the registration process. “Nagkaroon ng sobrang daming dating ng bagong rehistro (There was an influx of new registrants), in order to accommodate the overflow, we will be fielding 62 new data capturing machines throughout various places in Metro Manila," he said. Jimenez said these machines will definitely boost the number of registered voters listed with the poll body. "What you need to really appreciate I guess is the impact of these new machines. The reason why we are moving really slowly is isang makina o dalawa lang sa isang place (there is only one or two machines in one place)," he said. Earlier, the Comelec had also opened the registration for two Sundays in areas greatly affected by typhoons “Ondoy" and “Pepeng." "Those that were affected by the floods will have Sundays but other places outside Luzon will not have registration day on Sunday," said Jimenez. The offices of the elections officers opened last October 18 and will also be open on October 25 including those in Regions I, II, III, IV-A, V, CAR, and NCR. The Comelec had also earlier allotted last Friday, October 16, as a special registration day for persons with disabilities in six cities, specifically Cagayan De Oro City, Davao City, Cabanatuan City, Zambonga City, IloIlo City, and San Fernando City in Pampanga. Meanwhile, the poll body spokesman said they are also looking into reports that some Comelec field offices have not been doing their work properly. "We’ve been receiving reports of this, we’re trying to figure out on a case to case basis. Obviously, bawat isang lugar mayroon siyang sariling set of challenges na kung minsan (every place will have their own set of challenges which would sometimes) lead them to open late or sometimes not open at all," he said. Figures from the poll body indicate that as of July 2009, there are a total of 45,638,243 registered voters for the 2010 elections. In the 2007 elections, there were 45,029,443 registered voters

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Double Trouble: Worst 'X Factor' Performance Ever? Or BEST?

Sure, American Idol had Sanjaya Malakar. But identical twins John & Edward, the controversial contestants on Britain's X Factor whose polarizing performances are causing fistfights to break out at pub viewing parties across the United Kingdom, make Sanjaya seem like Adam Lambert in comparison. Seriously, if there was such a thing as Vote For The Worst U.K., John & Edward would be that site's proud posterboys.

By this, I mean they are jaw-droppingly, gob-smackingly, compulsively watchable, even if they might be better watched with the telly's sound turned to mute.

Looking like Vanilla Ice bookends (a better stage name for this duo might be Double Scoop) and singing just about as well as Vanilla Ice raps, John & Edward have generated English outrage ever since they shockingly advanced to Bootcamp Week over arguably much more gifted, if much less fascinating, vocalists. But much like Sanjaya's notorious Kinks-mangling performance or electric-socket-shocked fauxhawk during American Idol season 6, it's the John & Edward moments that people REMEMBER. These are the moments that Brits are gabbing about over their beans and toast on Sunday mornings.

Like this latest twin-terror tour de force:

I personally think John & Edward are pop-culture geniuses, and they even have some famous fans, like Boy George ("If X Factor is about fun then the twins are the winners!" he tweeted this past weekend, revealing that he'd voted for them several times) and celebutante Peaches Geldof (who tweeted, "I have their hotline number on speed dial on my phone. Embarrassing? Sure. Amazing? Yep," and then when the twins miraculously made it through another round unscathed, tweeted again: "JOHN AND EDWARD GOT THROUGH!!! THERE IS A GOD!!!!")

But as for The X Factor's MOST famous associate, Simon Cowell, it's hard to say whether or not he's a fan of the "double divas from Dublin." Yes, Simon did declare their Saturday night Britney routine "THE WORST LIVE PERFORMANCE" he'd ever seen in the entire history of The X Factor, and likened it to something out of The Exorcist. (The X-orcist Factor? That has a nice ring to it; I predict/pray for a John & Edward spinoff show...) But he also said the twins' fun and fearless performance had made him like them more (they'd had "likability issues" on past episodes, due to their constant sassing back to the judges). And coming from Simon, that is high praise indeed.

But was it really the worst performance ever? I dunno...I say that an identical-twin duet of Britney Spears' "Oops I Did It Again"--complete with shiny red PVC suits inspired by Brit's iconic plastic catsuit and a bizarre Titanic skit mid-song (both nods to the original song's video), plus a fleet of dancing Daft Punk-esque robots--just might be the BEST X Factor performance ever, really. Pure genius.

Now, if these wondertwins take a cue from Simon's Exorcist comment and spew Linda Blair-style pea soup during next week's number, I will figure out some way to rent a U.K. mobile phone and vote for them multiple times myself.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Central Luzon folk bracing for new storm

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga , Philippines – Still reeling from adversities caused by tropical storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng,” thousands of Central Luzon residents, particularly those living near the Pampanga River, were told yesterday to brace anew for an approaching “super typhoon.”

“We have not even had the time to fully lift the alert in still flooded towns, particularly in the fourth district in Pampanga, now we have to tell them we are raising full alert again because of the approaching typhoon,” Filipina Sevilla, chief of the Pampanga Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC), told us.

Chief Superintendent Leon Nilo de la Cruz, Central Luzon police director and Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) head, said, “We are now on the watch. We will enforce evacuation anytime if we see that the situation would warrant this.”

In Nueva Ecija, PDCC officer Efraim Leonardo said all evacuees, except the 19 whose homes were buried by landslides in Barangay Puncan in Carranglan town, have gone home.

“But we are again raising the alert in towns affected by the pathway of water releases from the Pantabangan Dam, particularly those traversed by the Pampanga River,” he said.

Because of the approaching typhoon, evacuation alerts were again issued to residents in riverside communities in the towns of Rizal, Bongabon, Quezon, Zaragosa and San Antonio, he said.

Nathaniel Cruz, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, said the tropical storm with international name “Lupit” was expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility last night or early today.

Said to have the potential to become a super typhoon, the storm would be named “Ramil” once it entered Philippine territory. It would be the 18th storm to enter the country this year.

Sevilla said Masantol, Macabebe, San Simon, San Luis, Candaba, Sto. Tomas, Minalin, and Apalit towns in Pampanga’s fourth district have remained flooded since Ondoy battered Luzon last Sept. 26.

Civil defense authorities have also raised an alert for Ramil in disaster-prone areas in Baguio City and other parts of the Cordillera region.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Philippine weather forecasters face angry storm

MANILA (AFP) - – A storm threatens to wallop the Philippines but a huge computer that dominates the forecasting room of the nation's weather service is in screensaver mode showing a cartoon pattern of unexploded bombs.

While tropical storm Parma ominously hovers near the main island of Luzon, the computer has no data to receive as the main weather radar on a hilltop in the northeastern resort of Baguio is out of action -- again.

This scenario played out Tuesday when AFP visited the forecasters in Manila to examine why they failed to predict the ferocity of tropical storm Ketsana which killed nearly 300 people in and around the capital on September 26.

"Our old radar has limitations," said Fredolina Baldonado, a meteorologist at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

"It has a blind spot to the south and that includes Metropolitan Manila."

This, she said, explained why the forecasters were unable to warn the residents of Manila before 42 centimetres (17 inches) -- the heaviest deluge in more than four decades -- was dumped on the nation's capital.

Asked why the radar was not working on Tuesday as Filipinos looked to PAGASA for guidance on tropical storm Parma, senior weather forecaster Rene Paciente gave a matter-of-fact explanation about the radar breakdown in Baguio.

A landslide had disturbed the alignment of its antenna, and as a result could not transmit data to the forecaster's headquarters, Paciente said.

Stuck in the middle of the Pacific typhoon belt, the impoverished Southeast Asian archipelago's first line of defence for dangerous weather is PAGASA, an acronym which without any intended irony is the Filipino word for "hope".

The weather service has a limited network of radar stations to track an average of 19 typhoons that approach the country each year, with nine or 10 of those storms making landfall to claim a combined tally of hundreds of lives.

While weather forecasters around the world are often subject to derision for getting their predictions wrong, PAGASA is a particularly vulnerable target with critics using the events of recent weeks to strengthen their arguments.

However, PAGASA operations chief Nathaniel Cruz insisted he was in charge of a "24/7" system, manned at any one time by up to four forecasters.

They were supported by as many as three cartographers who plotted the weather systems on graphs, up to two weather satellite experts and two meteorological telecommunications men, he said.

Cruz also rejected one common assertion that PAGASA was not getting the government funding needed to perform properly.

"It is incorrect to say PAGASA has been left begging for funds," Cruz said, adding the government had given the weather service four billion pesos (about 86 million dollars) for equipment upgrades over the past five years.

Nevertheless, PAGASA's headquarters is an old, squat building on a sprawling government compound in northern Manila that has been overrun by squatters.

One side of the street houses PAGASA, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and other government agencies, while on the other side and behind the buildings are shanty towns housing thousands of squatters.

Cruz urged people to focus on a plan to buy five modern Doppler radars worth 100,000 dollars each that would dramatically improve PAGASA'S forecasting abilities.

The radars would give the country warnings six hours ahead of typhoons, and would be able to predict the intensity of rain expected to fall within an area as small as two square kilometres (0.8 square miles).

The plan is for two of the radars to be installed next year on either seaward flank of Manila, remedying the current radar's blind spot that caused the deadly miss when tropical storm Ketsana hit.

4 to 6 more cyclones to enter RP before yearend

After "Ondoy," "Pepeng" and "Quedan," about four to six more cyclones are due to enter Philippine territory in the last three months of 2009, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Monday.

Pagasa weather bureau head Nathaniel Cruz said that while not all of these incoming cyclones would make landfall, some may still directly affect the country.

"Mga apat hanggang anim pa, pero di lahat yan tatama sa kalupaan (We expect four to six more cyclones to enter Philippine territory till yearend, but not all of them will make landfall)," Cruz said in an interview on dzRH radio.

Cruz cited the case of typhoon "Melor," which was named Quedan after entering Philippine territory Monday afternoon. He said it is not expected to directly affect the country.

Other cyclones after Melor"/"Quedan for this year would be named "Ramil," "Santi," "Tino," "Urduja," "Vinta," "Wilma," "Yolanda," and "Zoraida," according to Pagasa.

Earlier, Cruz said Melor is keeping tropical storm Pepeng (international name: Parma) over Northern Luzon and preventing it from leaving Philippine territory.

He said Melor is expected to re-curve northward upon entering Philippine territory and head for Japan. Once Melor leaves Philippine territory, Pepeng may eventually follow suit, he said.

"Pag alis ni Melor dito sa area of responsibility, unti-unting susunod si Pepeng papunta na rin ng bansang Hapon. Pero di biglaan yan, parang start uli ang makina ni Pepeng, parang unti-unti gagalaw siya sa northeast direction," he said.

(Once Melor leaves our area of responsibility, Pepeng will follow towards Japan. But it will not be sudden. Pepeng will move towards Japan slowly.)

Facebook measuring the mood in the US

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - – Facebook is tracking how happy people are in the United States. Mother's Day was predictably upbeat, according to a Gross National Happiness index graph on the popular social networking service's blog on Tuesday, but for reasons unknown people's moods evidently sank days later.

The pattern was the same for Father's Day.

Facebook began earlier this year gauging the nation's mood by tallying the numbers of positive and negative words used in status updates posted by users, intern Adam Kramer of the firm's data team said in an online post.

In brief messages posted to social networking pages, Facebook users keep friends up to speed with thoughts and activities.

"Every day, through Facebook status updates, people share how they feel with those who matter most in their lives," Kramer said.

"These updates are tiny windows into how people are doing. Grouped together, these updates are indicative of how we are collectively feeling."

Facebook worked with psychologists and some of the more than 300 million members of its service to create collections of sunny and gloomy words indicative of whether people were having bright or dark days.

The list of positive words includes "happy," "yay" and "awesome," while negative words include "sad," "doubt" and "tragic."

Holidays were consistently peak happiness days, and the GNH index shot up to double the average happiness reading the November day that the nation celebrated the election of President Barack Obama.

The saddest day in the GNH index was January 22, 2008, after the Asian stock market crashed and actor Heath Ledger died of an apparent accidental drug overdose at the age of 28.

The death of King of Pop Michael Jackson on June 25 of this year marked the second sadest day in the two years measured by the index, according to Kramer.

GNH results are currently based on updates in English but more languages may be added so indexes can be made for other nations, according to Kramer.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Arroyo reveals 2nd reason for nationwide state of calamity

Aside from allowing local governments to access their calamity funds, President Arroyo bared a second reason Saturday for placing the entire country under a state of calamity: to go after profiteers.

Fears have been raised that the government was taking advantage of the crisis caused by tropical storm “Ondoy" to raise funds for next year’s general election.

Critics wondered why other provinces not affected by Ondoy were also being allowed to tap emergency funds when they are not really suffering from a state of calamity.

But Mrs. Arroyo explained that the nationwide state of calamity will allow government to run after traders who will go to areas not under a state of calamity to sell their products at higher prices.

“What was observed was that when there was price control imposed in a given area some supplies were diverted. So (this was also) for purposes of price control," she said at a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

On the other hand, she said one of the shortcomings of the present Price Law is that the local government can use the calamity funds in an actual state of calamity and not for risk reduction.

Earlier, Favila admitted the decision stemmed from the executive session of the NDCC in Cainta, Rizal, where they discussed the matter.

“There are unscrupulous traders who go to nearby areas not under a state of calamity, then sell at higher prices. We discussed it in the NDCC meeting’s executive session," he said in an interview on dzBB radio.

He said the nationwide state of calamity was a recommendation of the National Price Coordinating Council. -

Friday, 2 October 2009

Kanye West and Lady Gaga tour canceled

Kanye West and Lady Gaga's highly anticipated tour is over before it even began.

Just days after announcing dates for an ambitious joint show that was to kick off next month, the tour was canceled.

Live Nation announced the news in a brief statement Thursday that did not offer any explanation. Refunds are available for those who brought tickets for the tour. It was to kick off Nov. 10 in Phoenix and was scheduled to run through at least January.

The name of the tour was to be "Fame Kills" — a sentiment West may have been feeling in recent weeks. The Grammy-winning rapper has endured a firestorm of negative publicity since he hijacked the award-winning moment of country-pop sweetheart Taylor Swift at last month's MTV Video Music Awards.

Swift had made history as the first country act to win at the VMAs, and was giving her acceptance speech after nabbing a trophy for best female video. West — who has a long history of awards-show meltdowns — grabbed the microphone and declared that Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" was one of the "best videos of all time."

A crushed Swift did not finish her speech then but did later when Beyonce brought her back on stage after winning video of the year.

West endured boos from the celebrity crowd that night, and the negative reaction kept growing — even President Barack Obama was caught calling him a "jackass" during remarks to reporters that the White House believed were off-the-record.

An almost tearful West gave one of three apologies for his behavior during the premiere of "The Jay Leno Show" last month. He said that hadn't fully taken time to grieve for his mother, who died suddenly in November 2007, and hinted that a break would be coming.

"So many celebrities, they never take the time off," he said. "I've never taken the time off to really — you know, just music after music and tour after tour. I'm just ashamed that my hurt caused someone else's hurt. My dream of what awards shows are supposed to be, 'cause, and I don't try to justify it because I was just in the wrong. That's period. But I need to, after this, take some time off and just analyze how I'm going to make it through the rest of this life, how I'm going to improve."

But shortly after that, the "Fame Kills" tour — which had been in the works for months — was announced.

Publicists for both West and Lady Gaga did not immediately return requests for comment. A representative for Live Nation said there was no further information.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

(UPDATE) 'Pepeng could be super-typhoon'

Major dams to release water for buffer storage

MANILA - Weather bureau PAGASA on Thursday said typhoon Pepeng (international codename Parma) is forecast to bring more rains and very strong winds in Northern Luzon including Metro Manila once it makes landfall Saturday afternoon.

"There is a big possibility that it will become a supertyphoon. This is a very strong storm, packing winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 210 kph. Most likely it will make landfall in the afternoon of Saturday. That is when it is most critical," Nathaniel Cruz, PAGASA director for operations, said in a press briefing.

Cruz said Pepeng is much stronger than last Saturday's tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana), which brought record amounts of rainfall and triggered the worst flooding in Metro Manila in 40 years.

"In terms of wind intensity, Ondoy was only half of the strength of Pepeng. When it made landfall, Ondoy only had winds of 85 kph while Pepeng is 175 kph. However, we cannot really compare the two because it was the rain that was really destructive about Ondoy," he said.

He added: "Our major concern with Pepeng is the disastrous winds - 175 kph to 210 kph. We expect typhoon Pepeng to intensify further as it moves towards northern Luzon."

He said the weather bureau will give a forecast on the typhoon's estimated rainfall intensity before it makes landfall.

As of 10 a.m., the new typhoon was sighted 520 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar and is moving 24 kilometers per hour in the general direction of Northern Luzon and the Taiwan area.

Cruz said the typhoon is forecast to make landfall over Aurora-Isabela by Saturday morning. It said the typhoon will bring occasional rains over the eastern section of Luzon and Visayas and more frequent rains in Samar and Bicol Thursday afternoon.

Storm Signal no.1 remains hoisted in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, he added.

Similar to 'Reming'

Cruz also likened typhoon Pepeng to super-typhoon Reming (international codename Durian), which killed at least 734 people in the country in 2006.

"This could be like Reming. We are not just talking here about Metro Manila. We are talking of the entire Luzon area where there is probability of devastation in terms of flooding...and wind," he said.

Dr. Susan Espinueva, assistant weather services chief of the Hydro Metrological Division of PAGASA, said major dams in Northern Luzon will be releasing water today until Friday before Pepeng hits.

"All major dams in Northen Luzon wll be releasing water to lower the water level so that when the storm hits, there will be a buffer of storage capacity in our dams and the spillover will not be as severe,' she said.

The government has started preparing more evacuation centers as it anticipates more people to be displaced by the new storm.

Disaster officials fear more rains spawned by the typhoon could trigger another massive flood as streets and drainage systems remain clogged from the tons of debris left by the previous deluge caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana).

As of 6 a.m., the National Disaster Coordinating Council said more than half a million families of 2.50 million individuals have been affected by Ondoy in 11 regions, including Metro Manila and the Calabarzon area in southern Luzon.

It said that a total of 686,699 people are now staying in 726 evacuation centers. It said Ondoy’s death toll has reached 277 and 42 were still missing.

The storm, which also devastated Vietnam and Cambodia, damaged crops and infrastructure worth at least P4.80 billion.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Loren hints at dropping 2010 political ambitions

Amid the spate of declarations from prospective presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the past weeks, Senator Loren Legarda on Monday dropped hints of foregoing whatever political plans she has in 2010 and instead, focus on her humanitarian works.

"Mas mabuti pa siguro ang hindi kakandidato. Mas magandang wag nang tumakbo at kung ano ang gagastusin sa pagtakbo ay gamitin na lang sa humaniratian help, siguro ganun. Wag na lang tumakbo," Legarda told reporters Monday.

(I think it’s better not to run anymore and instead use your campaign funds to finance humanitarian works.)

Legarda issued her statement as the country reels from the effects of tropical storm "Ondoy," which struck Luzon over the weekend.

In dropping hints that she may abandon her political plans for next year's polls, Legarda believes that politics and campaigning get in the way of governance.

"Kasi pag kampanya anim na buwan yan na-immobilized ka, lahat ng iyong resources ay nasa posters at television ads at pangangamay ng tao. Nakakain ba nila yun? Hindi. Kaya pinag-iisip isipan ko rin," Legarda said.

She added: "Really it’s dawning upon me because ano ba naman yung power, ano ba naman yung posisyon? Ang gusto mo talaga ay maglingkod e, kung yun talaga ang pakay mo. I don’t need to be famous anymore because I’m already famous. I don’t need to prove anything anymore. I’m thinking about it because really what I want to do is humanitarian help."

The senator said it bothers her to spend millions of money for advertisement and at the same time seeing people who badly need help.

"In such a poor country that is disaster stricken it’s so unconscionable to be spending so much on campaign and politics. It bothers me," Legarda said.

She also said that she is seeing the realities of life as against the dirty maneueverings in politics.

Legarda is one of two senators belonging to the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) who have been reported to be eyeing the presidency in the 2010 elections. The other is Francis Escudero.

In 2004, Legarda sought the vice presidency but lost to former ABS-CBN colleague Noli de Castro. In the 2007 polls, she won as senator, and will serve until 2013.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Papa Manny in the eyes of Camille

Potential First Daughter Camille Villar sat with the movie press the other day to announce the concert (admission is free) Rockatropa set for tomorrow (Sept. 26) night at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) concert grounds, hosted by Cristine Reyes and Valerie Concepcion and featuring Bamboo, Parokya ni Edgar, Kamikazee, Sandwich and Itchyworms.

Very clearly, Sen./Presidentiable Manny Villar’s unica hija is in-charge of mobilizing the youth sector during the 2010 campaign.

“I am young, too, and I know the pulse of the youth,” said Camille, 24. “My dad decided to hold the concert so he can reach out to the young and inspire them with his life story, how he rose from poverty. But most importantly, Rockatropa will launch (the Nacionalista Party’s) BDABOSS (Be The Boss), a youth entrepreneurial campaign. Bibigyan niya ng pondo ang mga kabataang may magandang business ideas. We want to empower the youth. Basically, my dad just wants to have fun; gusto niya makapiling ang kabataan at makisaya kasama nila.”

The movie press then asked Camille (who has two older brothers, Mark and Paolo) how Sen. Manny is as a father and what the youth can learn from him.

“Sobrang bait,” said Camille. “I’m his favorite daughter,” adding with a laugh, “being the only daughter. He’s very malambing and very caring. It doesn’t matter how big his own problems are, but when we children have problems he’s always there for us. I think being a father is one of the things he’s proud of kasi buo ang pamilya namin, maayos niya kaming pinalaki. He taught us to live simply.”

That’s one side of him that Sen. Manny will be telling the youth at the Rockatropa concert.

“And he’s faithful,” added Camille, “both to us and to our mom (Rep. Cynthia Villar). He’s basically a family man. Sabi niya, sobrang complicated na ang political life niya, pati business minsan magulo, so he always has our family to fall back on. Gustong-gusto niyang kasama kami and he always makes time for us.”

Is Sen. Manny picky with food?

“He likes street food kasi ‘yon ang kinalakihan niya. Batang Tondo ‘yan, eh. Sanay sa hirap. He likes all kinds of saging, especially saging na saba — turon, nilagang saba, bananacue, all of them. He likes peanuts, corn, tamalis, siopao, mooncake. His favorite dish is tilapia, dati fried but now steamed na lang. Naging favorite din namin ang tilapia because of him. Hindi siya sanay sa beef. He used to sell shrimps in the market and that’s also his favorite, shrimps.”

Would he be happy having dinner at, say, Le Cirque?

“I doubt it,” laughed Camille. “Ayaw niya ng fancy dinner. Maiilang siya doon.”

Those casual-dressing (denims and tees) crowd in tomorrow’s Rockatropa can easily identify with Sen. Manny who shuns designer clothes not because he can’t afford them but because he’s used to wearing “cheap” ones.

“Hindi siya pihikan sa damit. We shop together. He buys simple clothes, ‘yung hindi mahal.”

Told that her dad doesn’t seem to get angry, cool as a cucumber and gracious under pressure, Camille begged off.

“Marunong din siyang magalit, especially when he is hit below the belt...kapag pagkatao na niya ang nasisira because of lies. I know dad. Ayaw niyang nakikipag-away. He finds it a waste of time; he wants to be productive rather than away nang away na wala namang nari-resolve. In general, he’s a steady and cool person; he is in public what he is at home — cool. My mom is the disciplinarian and my dad, well, he’s just, you know, calm and collected.”

So how do they know that their dad is already angry?

“Hindi na siya nagsasalita,” Camille laughed. “Kapag tumatahimik na siya. That’s when we start to behave. Pero hindi siya nagfri-freak out or anything like that.”

Does he spare the rod and spoil the children?

“He doesn’t have to. Behaved kami. He never fails to remind us what his own mom, our Lola, always tells him, ‘Don’t forget where you come from’. Even now that we can afford it, he doesn’t spoil us with money or material things. Luckily, we don’t derive much pleasure or happiness from material things. We are thankful that we are a happy family and our parents sent us to the best schools.”

There’s a ha-ha-ha rumor that Wowowee host Willie Revillame is “eyeing” her as a potential, well, girlfriend. Totoo ba ang tsismis? (Willie has a “harmless” habit of insinuating that he might court this and that girl, including Gloria Diaz’s daughter Isabelle who starred with him in his music video and — what!?! — Lorna Tolentino who thought that the little gifts Willie has been sending her were, you know, mere tokens of friendship and not paramdam for something more serious.)

“It’s funny!” said Camille.

Asked what her “type” is, she smiled.

“Somebody like my dad. It’s hard to find one like him or ‘yung katulad ng mga kuya ko.”

Join the Rockatropa tomorrow and, while enjoying the rock bands, learn more about Sen. Manny and his family.