Thursday, 26 March 2009

Adam Lambert hit all the right notes on `Idol'

NEW YORK - Adam Lambert showed his softer side on "American Idol," earning a standing ovation for his smooth performance of "The Tracks of My Tears."

Guest mentor Smokey Robinson, who originally performed the classic song with the Miracles, rose to his feet after watching the 26-year-old theater actor hit all the right notes during Wednesday's Motown-themed installment of the "Fox" singing competition.

Lambert, who's from Los Angeles, ditched his rocker duds for a sleek silver suit and smoothed his black hair back into an Elvis-style pompadour.

Judge Simon Cowell said Lambert delivered the night's best performance and became a star in his eyes. Fellow judge Kara Dioguardi agreed, saying Lambert showed "true artistry."

The four judges were also equally impressed by the vocal stylings of Allison Iraheta, Matt Giraud and Kris Allen. Cowell liked Allen's cover of "How Sweet It Is" but said the 23-year-old married heartthrob from Conway, Ark., needs to show more swagger and confidence.

Lil Rounds and Danny Gokey scored mixed reviews for their respective renditions of "Heat Wave" and "Get Ready." Cowell told Rounds, 24, of Memphis, Tenn., she'd missed a potential "Idol"-defining "moment" by picking the wrong song (he'd rather hear the soul singer belt "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"). But the cranky judge had harsher words for Gokey, deeming the 28-year-old crowd pleaser "clumsy and amateurish."

Michael Sarver and Megan Joy had a tougher time on stage. Judges slammed Sarver's cover of "Ain't Too Proud To Beg." Even sugary-sweet Paula Abdul chimed in, comparing the 27-year-old oil rig worker from Jasper, Texas, to an old-school Vegas lounge act.

Joy, 23, of Sandy, Utah, was targeted for her shaky take on "For Once in My Life." Cowell called Joy's performance "horrible" while Randy Jackson declared it a "train wreck" and "mad crazy."

One of the 10 finalists will be sent packing on Thursday's elimination show _ unless judges act on the new rule that allows them to save a favorite contestant they feel has been unfairly booted by voting viewers.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Ludy's peanut butter tests positive for salmonella

MANILA, Philippines – Popular Ludy’s peanut butter has joined the list of local peanut butter products contaminated with salmonella, reports said today.

The Bureau of Food and Drugs had earlier ordered the recall of Yummy Sweet and Creamy Peanut Spread with batch numbers 3040905 and 11240810, and expiry dates 90409 and 52409 for salmonella contamination.

Salmonella is a known disease-causing organism. Among the illnesses it can bring are typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, and diarrhea.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Body Talk with Kim Chiu

In the three years since she emerged as the top “graduate” of the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen Edition, Kim Chiu’s life has been turned upside-down in a positive way.

“No more privacy, pero okey lang,” said Kim, a Cebuana, who is now on her third ABS-CBN soap, Tayong Dalawa (after Sana Maulit Muli and My Girl), all with Gerald Anderson as her partner (and in two movies, too, Star Cinema’s I’ve Fallen For You and an episode in the Regal long-running, box-office-hit franchise Shake, Rattle & Roll).

Of the three soaps, Kim said she finds Tayong Dalawa the hardest to do because it is her “most mature role” so far and it involves a lot of emotions, including crying in most of her scenes.

“But I can cry easily,” said Kim who draws inspiration from her sad experiences, such as the trauma of having been left father-less at an early age. Asked if she has made peace with her estranged father, Kim sounded sad. “We’re okay but he doesn’t live with us anymore; I don’t think he will live with us again. He lives with his other family in Cebu.”

At 19 (on April 19), Kim is the breadwinner in the family (her mother and four siblings, three of whom are in school and one already working).

“Since I joined showbiz, I have become responsible. Para akong tatay at nanay ng family. That’s why I am focused on my work,” she added with a laugh. “No love life!”

Which means that she and Gerald may look such a handsome pair in soaps and movies — and even in their commercials together for Whisper, Coke and CloseUp — but that’s all make-believe. Kim goes solo in the new Enervon commercial.

“We are friends lang talaga,” Kim admitted, “but we are not committed to each other. He can go out on dates with other girls. Walang ‘Yes, tayo na!’ We just enjoy each other’s company.”

Kim has gained one inch after she joined showbiz. She now stands 5’5” but is much too light at 98 lbs. (“So I’m trying to gain weight”) and wears small-size shirt and size-5 shoes.

With your busy schedule, do you get enough sleep?

“Oftentimes, around four hours. But I do try to get as much as eight hours when there’s not much work.”

What’s the last thing that you do before you go to sleep?

“I wash my face kasi if I sleep with make-up on, nagkaka-pimples ako.”

And the first thing that you do when you wake up?

“I take a bath. I have to rush because I don’t want to be late on the set.”

Do you snore?

“Sometimes...when I’m very tired.”

Do you talk in your sleep?

“Yes daw, sabi ng yaya ko who sleeps with me in my room. I’m afraid kasi of being alone; takot ako sa dilim.”

Who do you call when you talk in your sleep, Gerald?

“Ay, hindi! My yaya said tinatanong ko daw kung ano ang sequence treatment.”

Do you sleepwalk?

“No, I don’t.”

How many pillows do you sleep with?

“Marami! I don’t want any space baka may tumabi sa akin. Hehehehe!

Favorite sleep wear?

“Loose T-shirt and short shorts.”

Do you have time to work out?

“Yes, during my free time. I do it at Fitness First. I have a trainer.”

What part of your body needs improvement?

“My arms and my upper body. No matter how much I eat, hindi lumalaki ang arms ko, so dinadaan ko na lang sa workout para magkalaman.”

What part is most vulnerable?

“My legs. Mahina ang puwersa ng legs ko.”

And what part of your body is your favorite?

“My arms kasi naiikut-ikot ko siya... kahit maliit siya.”

What part naman of a guy’s body do you notice first?

“His eyes.”

What is it about a guy that turns you off?

“‘Yung medyo mataba at ‘yung medyo may amoy.”

What kind of diet do you follow?

“Hindi ako nagda-diet. Ang payat ko na nga, eh! But I don’t usually eat breakfast. Basta, ayoko lang. But I take lunch — rice and viand. My favorites are kare-kare and eggplant. But I don’t eat chicken and seafoods kasi allergic ako dyan. I eat dinner only when the viand is okay; kapag hindi masarap ang ulam, wala akong gana mag-dinner. For snacks, sandwiches which I bring as baon to the set.

How much water do you take per day?

“Lots of water. If I crave for soda, I take Coke.”

What vitamins do you take?

“Enervon-C. It has everything. I also take iron kasi low blood daw ako.”

Are you afraid of the sun like most girls?

“Yes, I am. If I stay in the sun, I get tanned easily; mabilis ako maging negra. Okey lang sana kung maging mestiza ako pero hindi, eh. Hehehehe!”

How do you take care of your skin?

“I get a body scrub; I apply lotion morning and night.”

Are you vain like most girls?

“Not so much. But I take time fixing myself. Hirap mag-choose kung anong damit ang isusuot!”

What’s your outlook in life?

“Masayahin ako. Teka, mukha akong masaya because I know how to hide my problems.”

How do you cope with stress?

“I sleep. I watch DVDs. Nagpapahangin sa labas. Nag-iisip-isip ng mga bagay-bagay.”

Favorite city?

“Hong Kong dahil maraming shopping places. And Baguio dahil malamig.”

Name three of your crushes.

“John Prats. Piolo Pascual. Sam Milby.”

Gerald not included?

“Siempre kasama siya sa listahan.”

Using only body language, how would you make a guy know that you admire him?

“Nagpapa-cute ako sa kanya. You know, if a guy sends me a text message, I would text back — kung type ko siya. Kung hindi, sorry na lang siya!”

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Search: 'Nicole' leaves for US, settles for P100,000

MANILA, Philippines - Saying she was bothered by her conscience and she wanted justice served, the woman who said she was raped in the back of a van in Subic by a US Marine has recanted her statement.

“Nicole” has accepted P100,000 in moral and exemplary damages from Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith and has left the country to stay in the United States “for good,” according to her former lawyer.

Her statement has been submitted by Smith’s lawyers to the Court of Appeals, where his appeal of his conviction awaits decision. The criminal aspect of the case can still be pursued.

Lawyer Evalyn Ursua, talking to reporters, confirmed that she had been fired by Nicole and that her former client was now in the US.

“Yesterday (March 16), at about 5:30 in the afternoon, Nicole’s mother personally handed me a letter addressed to me, purportedly from Nicole. The letter is brief. It reads that it serves as Nicole’s notice of termination of my services as her counsel in the criminal case against Daniel Smith and all other cases arising from or related to it which are pending before the Court of Appeals (CA) and the Supreme Court,” Ursua said.

She said Nicole expressed gratitude for the time and effort she dedicated to Smith’s prosecution which resulted in the latter’s conviction in December 2006 before the Makati City regional trial court (RTC).

Nicole’s mother told Ursua that her daughter “had left for the US last week for good,” adding that the decision to terminate her services as counsel stems from their “loss of confidence” in the country’s justice system.

The lawyer said she is respecting Nicole’s decision but expressed her desire to continue fighting for her “as a citizen who loves this country.”

Smith’s counsel, lawyer Jose Justiniano, in a two-page manifestation with the 12th division of the Court of Appeals that is hearing the appeal, said his client has satisfied the civil aspect of his conviction and has indemnified the victim.

The counsel submitted to the appellate court the receipt and release signed by the victim as proof of payment of damages.

Justiniano said Nicole also terminated the services of her lawyer on the same day she accepted the payment for damages from the camp of Smith before she reportedly flew to the US.

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, for his part, said he believes Nicole’s decision to go to the US would not affect the conviction of Smith.

He denied that the government had a hand in facilitating Nicole’s visa to the US, recalling that the rape victim had asked the government’s help in securing a visa to Italy where her brother is reportedly staying.

“I did not help. Hands off. That’s a very taxing issue. That’s a sensitive case for a lot of people, especially the activists and the ultra-nationalists,” he said.

But Gonzalez commented that the decision of Nicole to go to the US showed that “her supposed path of hatred (against the US) expressed before was not very genuine.”

“If she just went to Italy maybe that would be more illustrative of her feelings against the US, but she did not go to Italy, she went to the US,” he said.

“You should remember that there was a time when she wanted to remove some meaty portions in her affidavit, indicating that she may have been in doubt of the so-called rape, in doubt about the truth that she was raped,” Gonzalez said.

No legal implication

The justice secretary reiterated that this latest development “will not disturb the decision (convicting Smith) anymore.”

“We don’t compromise a decision that is final,” he said.

The DOJ chief said that interpreting a Supreme Court ruling requiring Smith’s detention in a place actually controlled by Philippine authorities, not the US embassy, could be construed to mean that he may be detained at the Philippine embassy in Washington.

“Assuming there was a settlement, you can’t undo the judgment of the judge, that is not a newly discovered evidence. You can only reopen that for similar purpose if you have newly discovered evidence. We can only reopen that for similar purpose if we have newly discovered evidence,” Gonzalez explained.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal agreed with the position of Gonzalez that Nicole’s flight to the US will not affect her case against Smith.

“As a matter of fact, she has nothing to lose but everything to gain. Remember the case is on appeal at the Court of Appeals. So either the appeal will be granted or denied by the court.”

“If it is denied, then Smith will go to RP jail and Nicole enjoys her trip to the US. If appeal is granted, Smith goes free and Nicole still enjoys her trip to the US. Let’s just wait for the CA decision,” he said.

Macalintal said Nicole can no longer withdraw her complaint against Smith, especially after the “people of the Philippines had already proven its case against Smith with her as its witness.”

MalacaƱang reacted by saying that nothing could be done if Nicole has lost interest in the case.

“If it’s true Nicole is in the States and no longer interested in the case, we should respect her decision,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.

He, however, emphasized that Nicole’s departure should have no bearing on the case.

“At any rate, even if Nicole withdraws from the case, it’s already with the CA and the case would continue,” he said.

“So Nicole has nothing to lose but everything to gain. But the Palace has nothing to do with that.”

The fight goes on

Ursua, although disheartened, expressed optimism about the case.

“It should not affect the criminal case. It (rape) is a public crime. Only the civil aspect can be settled,” she told The STAR.

She said Nicole’s decision to terminate her as legal counsel no longer affects Smith’s criminal case at the CA, adding her services actually ended when Smith was found guilty of the charges and sentenced.

The case is on appeal and being handled by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

Ursua explained that the personal decision of a complainant is immaterial in its prosecution when all the evidence needed to convict had already been presented.

“In fact, the trial court had already found Smith guilty. It is now up to the Court of Appeals to decide on the case on the basis of the evidence presented before the trial court,” she stressed.

“The Nicole that I and other lawyers represented is beyond the woman that Nicole and her family thought she is. Nicole is every Filipino woman who was and will be raped by American soldiers. Nicole can happen again,” Ursua said.

She said the fight against the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the presence of US soldiers in the country will continue even without Nicole.

At the Senate, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Nicole’s decision to leave the country and settle in the United States “is an indictment of our justice system that is perceived to favor the wealthy and the powerful and is perceived to be biased against the ordinary folks like Nicole.”

“This is terribly disheartening news. We cannot blame Nicole and her family. The responsibility of ensuring that cases are disposed of fairly and swiftly lies with the state. Nicole did not fail us, our justice system did,” Pangilinan said.

He called on the Court of Appeals to resolve Smith’s case immediately even as calls mounted for the termination of the VFA.

“Nicole’s case represents the tens of thousands of cases languishing in our courts, in the Office of the Ombudsman, and our prosecutors’ offices nationwide. Many have given up on our justice system and we cannot blame them for doing so,” he said.

No comment

Meanwhile, the US embassy in Manila was mum on the granting of an immigrant visa to Nicole, saying the embassy does not comment on consular services sought from them.

“Thousands of Filipinos come to the embassy everyday seeking consular services. For privacy reasons, we don’t comment on who seeks services or what services sought,” US embassy spokesperson Rebecca Thompson said.

The immigrant visa granted to Nicole is seen as part of a deal in the case against Smith.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Daughter confronts Austrian incest father in video

ST. POELTEN, Austria - The woman who bore seven children through incest and was allegedly locked in a squalid dungeon for 24 years confronted her father Tuesday in a videotape shown in court _ testimony that could send him to prison for life. Josef Fritzl, 73, has been charged with murder, enslavement, incest and rape in a case that has drawn media attention from around the world for its shocking allegations.

On Tuesday, jurors, Fritzl and the rest of the court viewed videotaped testimony from his daughter Elisabeth, the key witness against Fritzl. Now 42, she was 18 when he allegedly imprisoned her in the cramped, windowless cell he built beneath the family's home in Amstetten.

Fritzl watched his daughter's testimony "very carefully and very attentively and provided answers to questions" by the prosecutor, jury and judge, court spokesman Franz Cutka told reporters after the closed-door session.

Those in court also saw videotaped testimony from Harald, one of Elisabeth's brothers, Cutka said.

Fritzl has pleaded guilty to incest with Elisabeth and false imprisonment, but is contesting negligent homicide and enslavement charges against him and has acknowledged only partial guilt on rape and coercion charges.

Fritzl has been charged with homicide in the death of an infant _ a male twin born to Elisabeth in April 1996 _ who prosecutors say might have survived with proper medical care had he and his mother not been locked in the basement.

Police say DNA tests prove Fritzl is the biological father of all six of Elisabeth's surviving children, three of whom never saw daylight until the crime came to light 11 months ago.

Fritzl could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of homicide. He faces up to 20 years behind bars if found guilty of enslavement, up to 15 for a rape conviction, and one year for an incest conviction.

Fritzl again hid his face behind a blue binder and stayed silent Tuesday as he was led into the court in St. Poelten, west of Vienna, for the second day of his trial.

Reporters were not allowed into the courtroom Tuesday, but Cutka said they would be let in for part of Wednesday's session. He said the jury was expected to start its deliberations Thursday morning and a verdict could come as early as Thursday afternoon.

In her opening statement Monday, prosecutor Christiane Burkheiser said Fritzl refused to speak to his daughter during the first few years of her ordeal, coming downstairs only to rape her. Burkheiser said the rapes sometimes occurred in front of the children, and she described Elisabeth as a "broken" woman.

Three of the children grew up underground in Amstetten and the other three were brought upstairs to be raised by Fritzl and his wife, Rosemarie, who apparently believed they had been abandoned.

Elisabeth and her six surviving children, who range in age from six to 20, have spent months recovering from their ordeal in a psychiatric clinic and at a secret location.

Fritzl's lawyer, Rudolf Mayer, said he did expect any surprises at the trial.

"The facts are relatively clear ... there can't really be any surprises in a situation that has already been cleared up," Mayer said.

Cutka said a psychiatrist has been caring for Fritzl before and during the trial to ensure he does not attempt suicide.

Erich Huber-Guensthofer, deputy head of the St. Poelten prison, told reporters that Fritzl had a mysterious visitor to his jail cell earlier this month who apparently posed as a real estate agent. He said the visit was cut short after officials realized the man was trying to pursue "very personal" business with Fritzl.

He did not elaborate, and it was unclear whether Fritzl had been in any danger.

The Associated Press normally withholds the names of victims of sexual assault. In this case, the withholding of Elisabeth's name by the AP became impractical when her name and her father's were announced publicly by police and details about them became the subject of publicity both in their home country and around the world.

Austrian media ridiculed Fritzl on Tuesday for hiding his face in court when the trial began Monday.

"Now he's ashamed _ 25 years too late," the Heute newspaper said in a front page headline over a photo of Fritzl trying to shield himself from news cameras.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Sirius XM to roll out iPhone app in second quarter

NEW YORK - Sirius XM Radio Inc looks to expand the reach of its satellite radio service with the second-quarter launch of an iPhone application as it explores a potential marketing partnership with satellite TV provider DirecTV Group.

The company, which had to sell a 40 percent equity stake to John Malone's Liberty Media to resolve looming debt problems, is looking for new revenue streams as its primary distribution outlet, new car ales, is looking "terrible" this year, management said on Thursday.

Sirius said the iPhone application would be available to its 19 million subscribers and to Apple Inc's 7 million U.S. iPhone users. It can also be used by iPod Touch Wi-Fi users,

"This is a large and interesting opportunity that will maintain our subscription-based economics while providing customers easier access to our content through means other than our traditional satellite-based platform," Sirius President of Operations and Sales Jim Meyer said on a call with analysts.

Sirius also sells satellite radios through traditional retail outlets, but it had a very weak fourth quarter, when electronics chain Circuit City, a major customer, filed for bankruptcy.

"There's a lot of opportunity for with iPhone," said Miller Tabak analyst David Joyce. "Unlike buying a new car, it's not an expensive proposition, but it's a tough time for consumers to be trying new products."

Based on January and February data, car sales for 2009 are projected to fall to between 9 million and 9.5 million, a far cry from historical volumes of 16 million to 17 million a year, according to Sirius management.

But the company said it was benefiting from "truly extraordinary" operating efficiencies following its protracted acquisition of XM Satellite Radio, which closed last year.

Sirius said it would post positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2009, the first year it would do so. It expects 2009 EBITDA to exceed $300 million, compared with the analysts' average estimate of $303.4 million compiled by Reuters Estimates.

However, Sirius said the U.S. recession made it impossible for it to forecast revenue or give a more detailed earnings outlook.

Sirius Chief Executive Mel Karmazin said he had held talks with DirecTV Chief Executive Chase Carey and Liberty Chief Executive Greg Maffei in recent days about possible joint marketing opportunities.

Liberty has a 48 percent controlling stake in DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite TV provider, and there has been much speculation of an operational partnership with Sirius.

"We think that there are opportunities to work with lots of partners, including DirecTV, on ways of adding subscribers for both companies," said Karmazin.

"It wouldn't be hard to think about the fact that DirecTV might be able to have a special package for many of their subscribers to be able to get Sirius at an attractive price."

A DirecTV was not immediately available.

Sirius shares were up 21.9 percent at 19.5 cents in afternoon Nasdaq trade.

Monday, 9 March 2009

US protests 'harassment' by Chinese vessel

WASHINGTON – Chinese ships surrounded and harassed a Navy mapping ship in international waters off China, at one point coming within 25 feet of the American boat and strewing debris in its path, the Defense Department said Monday. The Obama administration said it would continue naval operations in the South China Sea, most of which China considers its territory, and protested to China about what it called reckless behavior that endangered lives.

At one point during the incident Sunday the unarmed USNS Impeccable turned fire hoses on an approaching Chinese ship in self defense, the Pentagon said. At another point a Chinese ship played chicken with the Americans, stopping dead in front of the Impeccable as it tried to sail away, forcing the civilian mariners to slam on the brakes.

"We view these as unprofessional maneuvers" and a violation of international law, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The incident had overtones of spycraft, but the U.S. ship is not, strictly speaking, a spy ship. It maps the ocean floor with sonar, compiling information the Navy can use to steer its own submarines or track those of other nations.

The Impeccable was specifically designed to augment the Navy's anti-submarine capability, although military spokesmen would not be specific about the ship's duties when it was surrounded.

A Pentagon accounting of the confrontation documents the actions of the startled and cornered American crew as a Chinese vessel closed to within 25 feet. Pictures released by the Navy give a sense of the surreal scene: The Chinese mariners had stripped to their underwear following the blast by the Impeccable's fire hoses.

Whitman called that "immature," and said the confrontation was the most aggressive of a series of incidents recently in the same area.

Impeccable's crew radioed to tell the Chinese ships that it was leaving the area and requested a safe path to navigate, the Pentagon said.

But two of the Chinese ships stopped directly ahead of the Impeccable, forcing it to an emergency stop, the U.S. account said. The Chinese also dropped pieces of wood in the water in Impeccable's path.

The incident came just a week after China and the U.S. resumed military-to-military consultations following a five-month suspension over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. And it came as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was due in Washington to meet with U.S. officials.

"We're going to continue to operate in those international waters, and we expect the Chinese to observe international law around that," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

A protest was lodged with the Chinese government by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing over the weekend and was repeated to a Chinese defense attache at a Pentagon meeting Monday.

In Beijing, Chinese officials did not immediately respond to voicemail messages and e-mail regarding the U.S. allegations.

Pentagon officials said the incident followed "increasingly aggressive" acts by Chinese ships against the Impeccable on Wednesday and Saturday and against the USNS Victorious surveillance ship on Thursday while it operated in the Yellow Sea.

The Chinese ships included a Chinese Navy intelligence collection ship, a Bureau of Maritime Fisheries Patrol Vessel, a State Oceanographic Administration patrol vessel and two small Chinese-flagged trawlers, officials said.

China views almost the entirety of the South China Sea as its territory. China's claims to small islets in the region have put it at odds with five governments — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Pentagon officials said the close encounter followed these other incidents last week:

_On Wednesday, a Chinese Bureau of Fisheries Patrol vessel used a high-intensity spotlight to illuminate the Victorious, an ocean surveillance ship, as it operated in the Yellow Sea, about 125 nautical miles from China's coast, the Pentagon said. The next day, a Chinese Y-12 maritime surveillance aircraft conducted 12 fly-bys of Victorious at an altitude of about 400 feet and a range of 500 yards.

_On Thursday, a Chinese frigate approached USNS Impeccable without warning and crossed its bow at a range of approximately 100 yards, the Pentagon said. This was followed less than two hours later by a Chinese Y-12 aircraft conducting 11 fly-bys of Impeccable at an altitude of 600 feet and a range from 100-300 feet.

_On Saturday, a Chinese intelligence collection ship challenged Impeccable over bridge-to-bridge radio, calling her operations illegal and directing Impeccable to leave the area or "suffer the consequences."

Sunday's incident near Hainan Island is reminiscent of a much more dramatic foreign policy crisis with China that played out in the same area. The forced landing of a U.S. spy plane and China's seizure of the crew in April 2001 came just four months into President George W. Bush's tenure.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

KSA wants 4,000 more Filipino medical workers

MANILA, Philippines - Six of the largest military hospitals in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have recently placed a job order for over 4,000 Filipino health care professionals and medical personnel.

Lito Soriano, CEO of LBS E-Recruitment Solutions, Corp. and Mega Manpower Corporation, said in a statement on Saturday that the Defense Ministry of Saudi Arabia confirmed the huge job order during their recent visit to Manila. He said that interviews are currently being held for the six military hospitals that urgently need to the fill thousands of vacancies for the expansion of their facilities, specifically its specialty wards and laboratories.

Doctors with M.A. degrees and 1,000 specialty nurses in surgery ICU, burn ICU, cardio lab, coronary care, pediatrics, specialty wards, and other units are invited to apply. The hospitals are also reportedly in need of medical technicians in radiology, cardio labs, CT scan, and nuclear medicine. In addition, administrative assistants, medical transcriptionists, housekeeping, horticulturists, gardeners, equipment technicians for HVAC, fire fighting, water treatment, civil technicians, plumbers, painters and all maintenance positions are also needed.

Soriano said that competitive salaries as much as $2,400 or almost P120,000 will be offered to doctors while nurses may get $980 up to $1,260 or about P48,000 to P62,000 depending on their qualifications and experience. Likewise, technicians and other administrative personnel will be offered higher than the average salaries given to expatriates working in the Kingdom. In addition, an annual paid vacation will be awarded to nurses and allied medical personnel, with their tickets included in the package. A ten percent allowance adjustment for inflation will also be given to all job categories.

There will be weekly interviews with representatives of the following hospitals:

• February 25 to 26 (Al Hada Armed Forces Hospital, Taif , KSA); • March 9 to 11 (Northwest Armed Forces Hospitals Program Tabuk, KSA); • March 26 to 28 (Armed Forces Hospitals Programme Southern Region, Khamis Mushayt, KSA); •April 11-24 (Prince Sultan Armed Forces Hospital Madinah Al Mounawarah, KSA); •2nd week of May (King Khalid Military Hospital Northern Area Armed Forces Hospital Hafr Al Batin, KSA); •3rd week of May (Armed Forces Hospital Sharourah, KSA).

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply in person at LBS E-Recruitment Solutions, Corp Medical Services Division, Room 304, Gochangco Bldg. T.M. Kalaw cor M. Orosa sts. Ermita Manila or you may also email your resumes to or call 302-7101 for particulars. They may also go to Mega Manpower Corporation located at the Rms. 401 and 502 Gedisco Terrace 1148 Roxas Blvd in front of the US Embassy or call 5246636 or email your resumes to

Friday, 6 March 2009

Dolphy grandson loses P50K, valuables to robbers

MANILA, Philippines - The grandson of Philippine Comedy King Dolphy (Rodolfo Quizon in real life) has fallen victim to robbers over the weekend.

A GMA Flash Report said actor Boy2 Quizon (Manuel Villegas Quizon II in real life) was victimized by the so-called Basag-Kotse Gang Saturday night in Sucat Road, ParaƱaque City.

Carted away from the victim were cash worth more or less P50,000 pesos, cellphones, and his passport.

The report quoted Quizon as saying that he and his girlfriend parked his Ford Expedition for about two hours in front of the building where their gym was located. When they got back, they found the glass window of one of the vehicles' doors smashed and their belongings gone.

Quizon reportedly appealed to the robbers to return his passport.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

YouTube, Universal mull video venture: reports

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - - Google-owned YouTube and the world's largest music recording company Universal Music Group are reportedly discussing collaborating on a premium music video website.
The New York Times on Thursday cited unnamed sources as saying that talks between the companies are "advanced" but still in flux.

Google has been striving for ways to make money on hugely-popular YouTube while avoiding alienating notoriously transient Internet users and assuring film and music studios that video copyrights are being respected.

Neither YouTube nor UMG, owned by France-based Vivendi, would officially comment on reports of talks that have appeared this week in the Times, Wall Street Journal and several other US news publications.

Music videos are extremely popular at YouTube and major labels have reportedly been seeking to renegotiate licensing deals inked in 2006 and 2007 in bids for better terms.

Agreements in place assure recording labels small fees when videos are watched and cuts of advertising revenue generated on the Web pages.

Sony Music Entertainment reached a new agreement with YouTube this year but other labels continue to negotiate with the video-sharing site.

The sides are divided regarding "how to compensate the music industry for the use of their music in things which are promotional," Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said at an investor conference this week.

A licensing arrangement UMG has with YouTube is reportedly set to expire at the end of March. Music videos on the UMG channel at YouTube have received billions of views.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

How Robin became Totoy Bato

Perhaps no other actor takes his craft as seriously as Robin Padilla, almost to a fault.
“Before he started shooting Blackout in which he plays an edgy role,” recalled his manager Betchay Vidanes, “Binoy insisted on staying on the location...and abandoned house in Cubao, Quezon City... to get the feel of the milieu.”

For (Carlo J. Caparas’) Joaquin Bordado, his last GMA action-series in which he plays the title role (a man whose tattoos would come to life to help him fight goons, played by former Sen. Ramon Revilla Sr. in the movie version), Robin did Pilates to look lean and practised yoga to de-stress himself.

“One morning,” continued Betchay, “I visited him at home and I was surprised to find him standing on his head. It turned out that he was copying yoga poses from a book.”

He went even farther for Totoy Bato (also by Carlo J. Caparas), his new GMA starrer (with Regine Velasquez and Manny Pacquiao among his co-stars) which started airing last Monday. Robin is cast as a prize fighter, the same role played by FPJ in the movie version.

As early as middle of last year while finishing his scenes in the horror movie Sundo (unreleased), Robin asked his staff to look for a copy of the FPJ movie not to duplicate FPJ’s portrayal but to study how he could give the role a new twist. Also, he watched movies about street-fighting and mixed martial arts.

“I have to look like a fighter,” said Robin. “For Joaquin Bordado, talagang nag-diet ako.”

For Totoy Bato, he did the opposite.

“Kain naman ako nang kain,” laughed Robin, “but I chose what to put in my mouth. I ate mostly boiled camote, banana and corn.

The result: From his 140-lb. Joaquin Bordado look, Robin expanded to his current 184-lb. Totoy Bato build.

For the rigorous training, Robin enlisted the help of Edcel Ngina, member of the Wushu and Muay Thai national teams, 2005 Wushu gold medalist in the Pre-Asian Indoor Games and coach of the Muay Thai Philippine Team.

His workout buddies included Jerome Lumagas, SEA Games gold medalist in Wushu and Sanshu; Jerome Calica, SEA Games gold medalist in Wushu; George Ludasan, World Wushu Championship gold medalist; Jason Balabal, member of the Philippine Wrestling Team; Perlito Siador, member of the Wrestling and Muay Thai Philippine Team; and Muay Thai fughters Jessie Matias, Edgar Paasa, Daniel Boyucan and Jason Siador.

Robin and his buddies even went to Baguio to continue the training.

“Their daily schedule was back-breaking,” said Betchay. “Binoy would wake up at 4 a.m., and pray before preparing for a hard day. By 4:30, he was in his tracksuit ready for the jog around the village where the Padillas have a house. The jog lasted until 6:30 a.m.”

Sometimes, he jogged around the Baguio Country Club and Camp John Hay, and climbed up and down the hundred steps. From 7:30 to 10 a.m., he lifted weights, and took snacks after that. After a break from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., he was at the gym from 3 to 7 p.m. to lift heavy weights and do Muay Thai, Arnis de Mano, wrestling and mixed martial arts. After dinner, by 8:30, Robin was asleep. The same routine followed the next day.

“I got bruises in my legs,” said Robin. “Nagkapaltos-paltos ang mga paa ko dahil naging mas mabigat ang timbang ko. Up to now, the bruises are not healed.”

Through it all, Robin insisted that he did his own laundry.

“Ayokong magpalaba. That’s part of my training.”

The training was capped by a trek to Mt. Pulag in the Cordilleras (from Jan. 18 to 21), 2,992 feet above sea level, for a pictorial with Jun de Leon.

“I started the climb on the night of Jan. 18 and I reached the peak at 6:30 a.m. the next day.”

And that’s how Robin Padilla became Totoy Bato, which was well worth it because the TV action-drama got a high rating on its premiere last Monday and continues to do so.

(Note: A Robin Padilla photo exhibit is being held at the Mall of Asia. Go catch it before it goes on a nationwide tour.)