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.