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.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Coco Martin recuperating from wounds

Coco Martin recuperating from wounds

Actor Coco Martin gets hurt while shooting an action scene for "Tayong Dalawa.

MANILA – Coco Martin is in good condition and now taking a rest following an accident in the “Tayong Dalawa” set.

In his statement sent to “SNN: Showbiz News Ngayon,” the young actor said he is taking antibiotics every six hours. His doctor also gave him medicine for his wounds.

“Medyo okay na naman po ako. Mahapdi lang iyong mga sugat ko sa mukha at malabo pa iyong paningin ko sa kaliwang mata,” he said.

Early Tuesday, tension gripped the set of “Tayong Dalawa” when Martin, one of the cast of the hit television series, was hurt while shooting an action scene.

Martin, who plays the young thug, Ramon, was shooting a “firing” scene when the accident occurred.

A behind-the-scene footage showed Martin shooting at his enemies. A blank round had been fired back but the smoke powder inadvertently hit his eyes. The footage showed the actor dropping to the floor as he writhed in pain.

One of the crew could be heard asking for water apparently to douse his eyes with it.

The crew and co-actors Jake Cuenca and Gerald Anderson rushed Martin to the University of Santo Tomas Hospital where he underwent a series of medical tests. He was later discharged from the hospital.

Two "Tayong Dalawa" crew rush to aid Coco Martin.

Martin said: “Magpapagaling ako agad nang makapag-trabaho ng muli. Salamat sa lahat ng tumawag, nag-text at nagdasal. Salamat sa ‘Tayong Dalawa’ cast at staff; at sa lahat ng taga-UST Hospital at sa pamilya ko sa Star Magic at sa management ng ABS-CBN.”

Meanwhile, a concerned Maja Salvador said she called the young actor when she heard the accident.

“Check-up niya ngayon. Mamaya po malalaman ang resulta kung makakapag-taping ba siya o hindi. Siyempre, titignan natin kung kakayanin ba ng artistang mag-trabaho," she said.

Martin is Salvador's leading man in their upcoming television show "Nagsimula Sa Puso."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Comelec chief faces contempt rap

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo faces contempt raps after he disclosed Wednesday that the Supreme Court (SC) gave automated elections a go.

SC spokesman Jose Midas said that University of the Philippines lawyer Harry Roque filed a motion seeking to have Melo, also a former SC jurist, held in contempt of court for leaking the SC decision on the poll automation case.

The High Tribunal voted 11-3-1 to junk the petition filed by Roque and the Concerned Citizens Movement which sought to have the P7.3-billion automation contract between Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Consortium nullified.

Melo told the media that they won the case a day before the High Court released the decision. He said, however that there is no leakage as he claimed that he received the information from another Comelec official, Professor Renato Garcia. Garcia allegedly heard of the news from radio reports.

Last February, the SC was caught in a similar controversy. Then Justice Ruben Reyes’s decision on the disqualification case against Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong fell on the hands of one of the petitioners, Louis Biraogo.

The draft of the decision showed that 14 justices voted to have Limkaichong removed from the post because she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen. Biraogo then accused Chief Justice Reynato Puno of sitting on the case because he is the only one who did not sign the draft.

The high court later traced the leakage to Reyes himself, who by then has retired already. He was fined P500,000.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Miracle rescue in shark-infested Philippine waters-updates

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AFP) - – A woman who survived more than 24 hours in shark-infested waters off the southern Philippines after a ferry sank was hauled to safety Monday in what officials hailed a "miracle" rescue.

A specialist airforce rescue team found Lita Casunglon bobbing in the ocean off the Zamboanga peninsula, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from where the Superferry 9 sank on Sunday morning in a tragedy that left nine people dead.

"She's very lucky she survived," regional navy commander Rear Admiral Alexander Pama told AFP, noting that the tropical waters of Zamboanga were notorious for being infested with sharks.

"While its not uncommon to hear of stories like this, I would definitely consider it a miracle, if I were her."

Pama said the airforce rescuers had jumped into the water to save Casunglon, and she was in a stable condition.

However he said he was still to receive the full circumstances surrounding her ordeal, such as whether she was wearing a flotation vest or had clung to anything.

The Superferry 9 officially had 968 people aboard, and an immediate rescue effort on Sunday after it began sinking saw most of the people safely ashore.

It was not all good news on Monday, with at least one person from the ferry still believed to be missing, officials said.

Coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said vessels continued to scour the waters for any other survivors.

Two people had been listed on Monday morning as remaining missing and Tamayo said it was not yet clear whether Casunglon was one of those.

The number of missing dropped from 63, given by the coast guard on Sunday night to two, after authorities were able to gain a clearer picture of who was on board.

But Tamayo said he could not discount the possibility that there could have been more people aboard the vessel than officially registered on the manifest, meaning other passengers could still be missing.

While illegal, it is common practice among Philippine shipping companies to allow people aboard without listing them on the manifest.

Another concern Monday was that the ferry, now believed lying on the sea bed 18 kilometres off the coast at a depth of more than five kilometres, may spill thousands of litres of bunker fuel, the coast guard said.

And with no explanation yet over why the ferry tilted and sank, the highest authorities in the Philippines were demanding answers.

"Somebody must definitely be punished, whoever may be held liable for this mishap," presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo told reporters after an official inquiry was launched.

"We have to ensure that this will not happen again."

Questions have been raised over the sea-worthiness of the 23-year-old Japanese-built vessel, as it went down despite relatively calm weather.

Ferry travel is an extremely cheap and popular form of transport in the Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,100 islands, but it is also notoriously dangerous.

Old ships, overloading and badly trained crew members are often cited as causes of deadly sea accidents here.

In a separate rescue operation on Monday, the coast guard hauled to safety four South Korean sailors and 15 Filipinos from a life raft after their cargo vessel, the MV Hera, also sank.

The Panamanian-registered Hera began taking water late Sunday off Eastern Samar in the central Visayas region, about 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the ferry disaster, while it was making its way to China.

The crew members had been drifting for several hours in their life raft before they were rescued, Tamayo said.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

hundreds rescued from Philippines ferry, five deads!

MANILA (AFP) - – Five people were killed and dozens were left missing after a ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers sank in darkness off the southern Philippines on Sunday, officials said.

In the latest tragedy to hit the Philippines' notoriously dangerous maritime transport industry, survivors reported mass panic as the Superferry 9 began tilting sharply well before dawn.

"They told us to stay calm but we could see no sign of rescue. Not for two hours," survivor Manuel Malicsi told radio station RMN.

Nine hundred people on board were rescued but five were confirmed killed and by late Sunday afternoon 63 passengers or crew members remained unaccounted for, the Philippine Coast Guard said in a statement.

"We are searching all possible areas (for the missing people)," coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said in a radio interview.

"Navy ships (and) airforce aircraft are still scouring the area."

Tamayo offered hope for the relatives of those still missing, saying some may have drifted away in life rafts or been picked up by private boats that took part in the rescue.

Philippine Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro also said local officials were checking to see if any survivors had already reached shore.

The ferry issued a distress call around 3.30 am (1930 GMT Saturday), 11 kilometres (seven miles) off the coast of Zamboanga peninsula and some 19 hours into its journey from General Santos City.

Regional coastguard chief Commodore Rudy Isorena said the cause of the accident was not yet clear and the weather in the area had not been too bad.

"We cannot say yet as to the cause as the attention right now is being given to the search and rescue of passengers," he said.

However tropical storm Dujuan, off the Philippines' northeast coast, has heightened the seasonal southwest monsoon winds, bringing rough weather across the country, according to the weather bureau here.

Deadly ferry accidents are common in the Philippines, especially during the typhoon season.

Ferries, from large ones such as the Superferry 9 to small wooden dugouts with bamboo outriggers, form the backbone of mass transport in the archipelagic nation of 92 million people.

Aside from bad weather, poor maintenance, overcrowding of vessels and lax enforcement of regulations have also contributed to the disasters.

The coastguard report said the Superferry 9, a steel-hulled vessel made in Japan in 1986, had reported having 968 people on board, below its legal capacity of 1,120 passengers and crew.

Authorities and passengers said some people had jumped into the water in panic as the vessel began to tilt to the right, while others were able to get into life boats.

"The ship shifted suddenly and some people just panicked," Roger Sicharon, one of the passengers from the stricken vessel, earlier told DZMM radio by mobile phone as he waited to be transferred to another ship by life raft.

The coast guard said nearby fishing and other private boats, as well as those from the military, had all helped in the rescue operation.

The world's deadliest peacetime maritime disaster occurred south of Manila in 1987 when a ferry laden with Christmas holidaymakers collided with a small oil tanker, killing more than 4,000 people.

In June 2008, a huge ferry, "Princess of the Stars" capsized during a typhoon off the central island of Sibuyan, leaving almost 800 dead.

In the most recent major incident, 12 people were killed after a small ferry sank in rough waters south of Manila in May.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

When Facebook turns fatal

On March 2, 26-year-old Hayley Jones changed her Facebook status from "married" to "single." Ten days later, the mother of four and longtime girlfriend of 31-year-old Brian Lewis, was dead.

Murdered in her UK home and found by her children, aged 3 to 10, Jones had been spending more time online as her relationship of 13 years unraveled.

"Hayley started to expand her social life and was spending a lot of time on internet sites, in particular Facebook," prosecutor Mark Evans told the court, according to the BBC.

Jones and her boyfriend referred to themselves as married, but the prosecutor argued that she had made it clear to the boyfriend that their relationship was over. Although she reportedly kept her Facebook activity private, Lewis told friends that he would not lose her to another man.

Court reports offer differing arguments about why the couple's relationship was ending. One rationale is that Lewis lost his job, placing financial strain on the family. The other is that Jones was spending too much time online.

"Lewis told police the only tension between him and Hayley was the use of the home computer," the prosecutor told the court.

Lewis allegedly stabbed Jones with a kitchen knife while she was sleeping. Lewis reportedly called police but fled before they arrived at the scene. In the interim, Lewis and Jones' children discovered their mother's body. Jones' was fatally wounded through three layers of clothing and two bags that covered her.

Lewis later turned himself into authorities but now denies that he killed his girlfriend.

While the trial continues and the life of a young mother is mourned, it is worth noting how violence within relationships seeps into all aspects of daily living. While abuse between partners often only occurs behind closed doors, it is common for work, friendships, family, church, and other parts of a victim's life to be brought in to play to attempt to justify the violence. In a 2.0 world, it was sadly only a matter of time before social network sites and status updates would be pulled in to rationalize horrific acts such as this one.

I wonder if and how we can protect people who are at risk for abuse -- or even murder -- by their partners while they are online. Although virtual friendships and support networks can greatly impact our health and well-being, I wonder if it is even possible to prevent abusers from infiltrating sites that make us feel like we are surrounded by friends.

This isn't the first time a Facebook status update has spurred a murder.
And as much as I hate to say it, I can't imagine it will be the last.

What do you think we can do to protect ourselves and our own social network tribe from being the victim of a crime like this?

Have you ever felt unsafe about publishing your relationship status online?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Nokia unveils new smartphones to rival iPhone

HELSINKI (AFP) - – Nokia, the world's leading mobile phone maker, unveiled Wednesday three new smartphones as the Finnish firm tries to claw back market share from Apple's popular iPhone and RiM's Blackberry.

The three new Nokia phones, two of which feature touch screens, are scheduled to be in stores during the fourth quarter of 2009 as Nokia increasingly focuses on applications and services.

"Nokia aims at reaching the many, not the few, with our rich portfolio of services. We are doing this through an increasing number of open partnerships with world leaders in many fields," chief executive Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said in a statement.

Nokia is the world's largest maker of smartphones, with 45 percent of the market in the second quarter, but its product line has been seen as ageing as Canada's RiM and Apple have snatched market share with more advanced models.

The new Nokia N97 mini will have a touch display and will feature the Lifecasting with Ovi application, enabling users to update their account on the Facebook social networking site with their cell phone.

Meanwhile the Nokia X6 and X3 will update the Finnish company's music phone selection.

In recent weeks Nokia has also launched a mini laptop "Booklet 3G" and the N900 smartphone, and announced that Microsoft Office software will be available on Nokia smartphones as of next year.

But while analysts said Nokia was moving in the right direction, they do not expect the new devices to have a big impact on profitability this year.

"It is not likely that there will be much impact from this in terms of sales or profitability during the remainder of this year, but it will be visible next year," FIM Bank analyst Michael Schroeder told AFP.

"Time will tell how Nokia can turn these (new products) into sales and how consumers will accept them," he said.

Analysts said that while big scale was to Nokia's benefit, it had its disadvantages too.

"Nokia has to think about large volumes and it cannot make changes that quickly. And its Symbian S60 (smartphone) user interface is not very modern," Pohjola Bank analyst Hannu Rauhala said.

Schroeder also criticised the Symbian user interface as outdated and complex and said he considered the N900 smartphone, running the new Linux Maemo platform, the most interesting of Nokia's new products.

Nokia's sales have been sliding since the third quarter of 2008 and it has boosted its profitability by slashing costs and reducing its workforce by some 4,000.

In July Nokia reported a second-quarter net profit down by 66 percent on a 12-month basis to 380 million euros (541 million dollars).

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

SC junks graft case vs. Joey Marquez

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court (SC) junked the graft case filed against former Parañaque City mayor and actor Joey Marquez in connection with the city government's acquisition of almost 6,000 pieces of walis tingting (broomstick) in 1996 without public bidding.

In its decision, penned by Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, the High Court also acquitted Ofelia Caunan, then officer-in-charge of the general services offices of Parañaque, for lack of sufficient evidence.

The verdict reversed the Sandiganbayan’s Aug. 30, 2007 decision and Mar. 10, 2008 resolution, which found the two former city officials guilty of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

"The gross and manifest disadvantage to the government was not sufficiently shown because the conclusion of overpricing was erroneous since it was not adequately proven," the SC decision said, noting that the Sandiganbayan merely relied on the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) regarding the alleged overpricing.

Though the COA finding was based on the special audit team's report, it did not include a signed price quotation from the broomstick suppliers of Parañaque City.

The SC maintained that "the absence of a public bidding may mean that the government was not able to secure the lowest bargain in its favor and may open the door to graft and corruption. However, this does not satisfy the third element of the offense charged, because the law requires that the disadvantage must be manifest and gross."

In January 1996, Parañaque officials entered into a contract with businessman Antonio Razo of ZARO Trading for the purchase of 5,998 broomsticks at P25 each, totaling to P149,950, sans a public bidding.

COA later discovered that a broomstick only costs P11 each, overpricing the acquisition by P83,972