Sunday, 27 February 2011

Tigers spring back to life in Tubod

MANILA, Philippines – Powerade hit its stride and went on a decisive turnaround in the third period en route to a 103-96 win over B-MEG Derby Ace in a PBA Commissioner’s Cup road game at the Mindanao Sports and Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte Saturday night.

The Tigers made a 19-point swing in the third quarter and sustained the heat in the final canto as they sprang back from an 86-106 blowout by the Alaska Milk Aces Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Russel Carter had another explosive performance and his local teammates put in the needed help, enabling the ball club to snap a long nine-game losing streak dating back to the all-Filipino tourney.

Carter, a product of Notre Dame who had stints with the Solsonica Rieti, the Tulsa 66ers, the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the Austin Toros in the NBA D-League, showed up debuting Derby Ace import Samari Spears, collecting 36 points, 19 rebounds and six assists.

The energetic guard-forward himself helped the Tigers pick up their game in the third period, allowing the team to erase a five-point halftime deficit and erect a 14-point spread going to the payoff period.
Gary David and Chico Lanete were local Powerade players who logged double-digit numbers in the game, serving as the second leg of the Phoenix Fuel PBA on Tour series.

The Llamados waged their own rally in the fourth but self-destructed at the finish with crucial errors and missed free throws.

It didn’t help that Rico Maierhofer hyper-extended his left knee, causing him to sit down long minutes in the second half.

Derby Ace suffered a second straight defeat following a close 94-95 loss to Rain or Shine Wednesday.

The Llamados played then with Rob Brown as import. Brown scored more with 29 points compared to Spears’ 22 last night.

Groping for form, Spears had his first basket with already 19 minutes into the game.

Nevertheless, the Llamados took control in the first half through the efforts of the Derby Ace local crew led by James Yap, PJ Simon and Jonas Villanueva.

The Llamados enjoyed a double-digit spread at 47-36 as Spears started to connect his shots, nailing four straight field-goal baskets.

Carter went to work early for the Tigers, scattering 22 points in the first two quarters.

Gov. Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo took the center court at halftime, thanking “the PBA for giving Lanao del Norte a chance, time and again, to prove to the Philippines that the province is a land of peace, beauty and bounty.”

Meanwhile, three teams go for a second straight win at the resumption of action at the Cuneta Astrodome today.

Rain or Shine and Meralco Bolts mix it up at 4 p.m. then Alaska Milk and Barangay Ginebra square off at 6:30 p.m.

The Elasto Painters, the Aces and the Kings all look for a follow-up on their winning debuts while the B-Boys are out to bounce back from a loss in their initial outing.

UST's 'Sampung Mga Daliri atbp' concert to be held at CCP

MANILA, Philippines - Ten grand pianos will be used in a special performance by faculty, alumni and students of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Conservatory of Music at a concert this Sunday, February 27, 7 p.m. at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater.

Dubbed "Sampung Mga Daliri atbp", the concert will also feature the Conservatory's Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Band, Jazz Band, Rondalla, Guitar Ensemble, USTEmundo Ethnic Ensemble, Vocal Ensemble and the choruses.

The different ensembles will be conducted by Profs. Herminigildo Ranera, Renato Lucas, Arnel Feliciano, Ruben Reyes, Michael Jacinto, Ricardo Calubayan and Teresa Montes.

They will perform classical favorites such as “Egmont Overture” by Beethoven, “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saens, “Carmen Fantasy” by Bizet, “Die Fldermaus” by Strauss, Jr., and "Malaguena/Andalucia” by Lecuona.

They will also perform Filipino melodies and kundiman arranged by Raul Sunico, and hits from the 50’s and 60’s arranged by Emi Munji.

The concert, to be held in celebration of UST's quadricentennial (400th) anniversary, will also feature the UST quadricentennial song "Ako'y Tomasino" by Gerry de Leon.

The grand finale will be "Aida" of Verdi to be performed by the 10-piano group, a large chorus and the orchestra.

58 Filipino evacuees from Libya arrive in Egypt

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 58 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who fled Libya made it safely through the Egyptian border on Saturday.

The first batch to arrive at the Philippine Embassy in Cairo, Egypt was composed of 13 OFWs.

Most of them were engineers working for a Korean construction firm.

They were welcomed at the embassy by Philippine Ambassador, Eduardo Pablo Maglaya.

“They should be leaving anytime this afternoon via Gulf Air. They should be arriving in Manila tomorrow, Sunday,” reported ABS-CBN Middle East Bureau chief Danny Buenafe.

The second batch of evacuees were 45 OFWs who worked from two separate construction firms in Libya.

Buenafe reported that the second batch are currently working on their travel documents and could be repatriated to Manila on Monday.

He said the Philippine Embassy is expecting more evacuees to break through the Egyptian border in the coming days.

“According to Ambassador Maglaya, from the border dito sa Egypt, they expect another batch, at least 51 [OFWs] by Monday,” said Buenafe.

Harrowing ordeal

Buenafe said most of the evacuees shared harrowing tales about their situation in Libya.

“Talagang grabe daw talaga ang sitwasyon and they said that the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) should now act fast, intensify efforts to repatriate the Filipinos, dahil talagang nakikita nila na talagang exposed sila sa hostilities within the Libyan border,” he said.

None of the evacuees were able to bring their passports, which were kept by their employers.

“’Yung employers tumakas na rin, ‘yung iba naman hindi nakabalik because yung mga branches of their offices are quite distanced from where the [OFWs] were situated as a group sa Benghazi, [Libya],” explained Buenafe.

11 Pinoys still missing in NZ quake: DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Eleven Filipinos have remained missing in the aftermath of a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Sunday.

The earthquake has killed 146 people so far.

The DFA said a certain Elisa Torres, who remained missing and was thought to be Filipino, was determined to be of another nationality.

The missing Filipinos are Jesse Lloyd Redoble, John Christopher Chua, Ezea Mae Medalle, Emmabel Anova, Jewel Francisco, Ivy Jane Cabunillas, Mary Louise Anne Amantillo, Valquin Bensurto, Rhea Mae Sumalpong, Erica Nora, and Lalaine Agatep.

Through the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) and the Regional Consular Office (RCO) in Cebu, Charge d’Affaires (CDA) in Wellington Giovanni Palec conducted a telephone conference Saturday with the Cebu-based families of the 5 missing Filipinos believed trapped in the rubble of the CTV building.

Palec informed them on the latest updates from New Zealand police and other officials and the initiatives undertaken by his team.

No person has been rescued alive since last Wednesday.

The parents of 2 missing Filipinos arrived Saturday in Christchurch.

New Zealand authorities are refusing to identify those who perished until they have recovered the bodies and verified their identities through DNA testing.

Police have also yet to release a consolidated list of missing persons with their nationalities, despite repeated requests by New Zealanders and other families searching for answers regarding the status of missing loved ones.

The remains of those recovered are transported to a military camp in Christchurch, where the identification and processing will take around 3 weeks.

Arrangements are underway to have the relatives of the 11 missing Filipinos to go to New Zealand to assist in the identification of the fatalities, the DFA said in a press statement.

The Philippine embassy team arrived in Christchurch on February 23 to coordinate efforts with authorities, as well as look after the welfare of the 2,000-strong Filipinos in Christchurch.

Philippine officials had repeatedly asked and prodded rescue officials to continue on with the search, given the text messages that were sent by a number of missing Filipinos immediately after the quake.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Miriam: PNoy correct for not saying sorry to Taiwan

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Tuesday defended the Philippine government's decision not to issue any apology to Taiwan, saying the country is bound by its “one-China” policy.

Santiago, an expert in international relations, told reporters that issuing an apology to Taipei over the deportation of its citizens to China will put in the Philippines in one diplomatic problem after another.

"Once we do that, China will demand an explanation from us, and then we'll lurch from one crisis to another in diplomatic relations," she said.

The senator said the Philippines is just being consistent with its commitment to China of not recognizing Taiwan as a separate nation.

"We are only pursuing our duties under international law. On that matter, we do not make a clear decision on who is right. We are simply being consistent with a policy we have announced long ago," Santiago explained.

OFW deployment to Bahrain, Yemen, Libya deferred

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine government has deferred the processing of contracts of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.

“We were informed by [Labor] Sec. Linda Baldoz that she has today ordered the deferring of processing contracts and deployment to Bahrain, Libya and Yemen of overseas contract workers due to a travel advisory issued by the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs],” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference.

For his part, Administrator Carlos Cao of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) appealed to applicants for understanding.

"We are implementing a deferment of the processing and deployment of OFWs bound for Bahrain, Libya and Yemen until the political and security conditions have normalized," Cao said.

Cao said that based on the data from the POEA, there were 13,593 Filipinos in Bahrain, 10,901 in Libya and 1,081 in Yemen in 2010.

Lacierda said the deferment will be in place “until such time that the travel advisory is lifted by the DFA”.

Defer non-essential travel

On Monday, the DFA advised Filipinos planning to travel to Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to defer non-essential and non-urgent travels until the security situation in those countries have stabilized.

According to the DFA the Philippine government issued the travel advisory because it is deeply concerned about the worsening peace and order situation in the 3 countries.

“Certainly, we are concerned kapag tuloy-tuloy ang tension sa Middle East and if it escalates, then we would have to protect our citizens. We have to make sure their lives are protected--those who are already in the Middle East and those who are about to leave the country for Middle East,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda added that protocols are in place in Libya if the tension escalates.

“We’ve identified exit points by land and by air and evacuation centers. We have appointed sectoral coordinators to be in constant touch with the communities,” he said.

He also announced the hotline numbers for the Philippine posts in Manama and Tripoli:

Manama: (Embassy) +973 177 212 34; (Labor Attaché) +973 177 409 51; (Labor officer) +973 177 219 08.

Tripoli: +218-918 244 208.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Mom of Pinay on death row in China seeks PNoy's help

MANILA, Philippines – Three Filipinos will be meted out with the death sentence next week for drug trafficking charges in China.

In a press statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the death penalty will be carried out against the following:

  • a 42-year-old male who was convicted for smuggling 4,113 grams of heroin on December 28, 2008 in Xiamen;
  • a female, 32, convicted for smuggling 4,110 grams of heroin on December 24, 2008 also in Xiamen; and,
  • a female, 38, convicted for smuggling 6,800 grams of heroin on May 24, 2008 in Shenzhen.

ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol was able to interview the mother of one of the women scheduled to be executed next week.

Mrs. Edith Ordinario said she can hardly sleep and is deeply concerned about the fate of her daughter, Sally Ordinario Villanueva, in China.

Mrs. Ordinario of Echague, Isabela province said she was summoned by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for important news about her daughter.

Sally was sentenced to death after being caught with 4 kilos of heroin in Xiamen on December 24, 2008.

“Nagulantang ako noong sinabi nilang February 21 ma-execute ang anak ko. Gumuho ang mundo ko talaga, di ko na kaya," said Mrs. Ordinario.

Ma appeals to PNoy

Mrs. Ordinario appealed to President Benigno Aquino III to help spare her daughter.

“Tulungan ninyo naman kami! Ikaw lang ang pag-asa namin President Noynoy Aquino. Tulungan mo ang anak ko doon na biktima ng drug syndicate, walang kaalam-alam. Mabait yung anak ko,” she said.

She maintained that her daughter was a victim of a drug syndicate and illegal recruiter.

Sally started working as a domestic helper in Macau in 2006. When her contract ended, she went back to the Philippines but was again recruited to work as a cell phone store helper in China.

Before the mother of 2 left for China, her recruiter told her to bring a luggage for their boss.

“May maletang ipapadala sa kanya para ibalik sa amo, parang ganun. Pero walang kaalam-alam ang anak ko na may laman pala yun, drugs,” she said.

Sally was only able to send 2 letters to her husband and children during her 2 years in jail and while her case was being tried in court in Xiamen.

In her last letter, Sally seemed happy and conveyed her love and longing for her family.

“Kawawa yung dalawang apo ko. Walang kaalam-alam sa nangyari sa nanay nila na ganyan. Mababalitaan mo mae-execute na anak mo, ilang araw na lang gahol na kami sa oras,” a crying Mrs. Ordinario said.

DFA seeks commutation of sentence

“I can assure you na hanggang ngayon, dahil yun ang utos ng ating pangulo, patuloy ang ating engagement with the Chinese authorities,” said DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr.

The DFA said the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) in Beijing has reviewed and decided on 5 cases of Filipinos sentenced to death by courts in the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong for drug trafficking.

The DFA said the SPC sustained the lower courts’ decisions against the 3 Filipinos, and the death sentences will be carried out in accordance with Chinese law.

The two other Filipinos earlier meted the death penalty were given two-year reprieves.

Under Chinese law, the original verdict may be commuted to life imprisonment if the prisoner displays good behavior while incarcerated. Also, smuggling of 50 grams or more of heroin or equivalent drugs is punishable by death.

The Philippine government has provided assistance to the 3 Filipinos to ensure that their legal rights were observed and their welfare protected from the time of their arrest and throughout the judicial process. Their families were also informed of the SPC’s decision.

The DFA expressed its “grave disappointment” and sadness at this turn of events. Despite this, the government is still conducting representations for possible commutation of the death sentences.

Filipino overseas workers and travelers are urged not to fall victims to international drug syndicates. The DFA said travelers should not agree to carry any luggage for strangers or bring packages from dubious individuals in exchange for money.

Big leap in 'brain drain' of Filipino science workers

MANILA, Philippines – More and more Filipino science and technology workers are leaving the country for employment offers abroad, according to a study by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Based on the initial findings of the Science Education Institute (SEI) on the Migration of S&T workers, the number of outbound S&T workers in the Philippines has increased to 9,877 in 1998 to 24,502 in 2009 or about 148%.

“Though it is laudable that our S&T professionals seem to be really sought after, it is a sad fact that we are losing them. We hope that we could find ways to make more of them stay in the country and use their talent here,” said DOST-SEI Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Director Dr. Leticia Catris.

From 2000 to 2001, the country experienced a big leap in the deployment of workers abroad from 11,186 to 17,756. From there, the number increased to 18,771 in 2007, followed by 24,330 in 2008 and 24,502 in 2009.

The study also showed that between 2000 and 2005, more female workers left the country than males.

“Consistently there were more female S&T migrants than male ones across the years, which was particularly pronounced in 2001, wherein almost three quarters of S&T workers who left the country to work abroad were women,” Catris said.

Occupation-wise, most of the S&T professionals were nurses and midwives with the biggest percentage in 2001 at 53.23% or 9,452 individuals.

Engineers came in second with as many as 21.82%, or around 5,308 engineers.

Health professionals like medical doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and pharmacists came in third with as many as 6.28% of the OFWs in 2004 or around 838 health professionals.

Catris said the study shows a grim scenario of how the outflow of S&T professionals would affect the Research and Development (R&D) sector of the Philippines.

“We need more of our S&T R&D professionals to be here in our country to provide the lifeline of our research and development agenda. Our country currently stands at 165 R&D personnel per million Filipinos which is way below the UNESCO recommendation of 380 needed for economic development. We are optimistic that our S&T professionals will feel the need of our countrymen for R&D outputs that could, in the end, change their lives,” she said.

The 2010-2011 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum ranked the Philippines 96 out of 139 nations in terms of availability of scientists and engineers.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Workers strike vs. Fiat; major cities in Italy paralyzed

MILAN, Italy - Thousands of metal workers in Italy staged a national strike against automaker Fiat last January 28.

The general strike led by the Federazione Impiegati Operai Metallurgici or Federation of Metal Workers (FIOM), the metal workers’ arm of the left-wing union paralyzed the major cities of Italy including Bologna, Rome, Genoa, Termini, Cagliari, Naples, Brescia, Florence, Sicily, Ancona, Turin and Milan.

The move came after an agreement was signed between Fiat management and some moderate trade unions without FIOM at the Mirafiori plant in Turin.

For FIOM, the agreement would result in a new work contract, cancellation of the National Collective Agreement, worsening of work conditions and cutting of some basic trade union rights. These were the conditions set by Fiat to invest in the plant.

Mirafiori plant workers approved the deal by a slim margin. Of the more than 5,000 workers who voted, 2,735 voted "yes" (54%) and 2,307 voted "no" (45.95%).

FIOM claimed that the "yes" votes won because of this blackmail: If the yeses don’t win, Fiat will divert its investment to another country.

Milan protest

Ninety tour buses had pulled in from all over Lombardy to Milan for the protest.

Demonstrators carrying red flags flocked to Via Palestro as early as 8 a.m.

They marched in demonstrations through major streets of the city and stopped at Duomo Square. Some proceeded to Via Larga where the office of Assomlarda, the largest territorial association of the entire entrepreneurial system in the country is.

While the Fiat’s hotly contested deal was the rallying cry in the protests, many workers from different sectors joined the general strike.

Filipino activists also took part in the demonstration.

“Ang laban ng mga manggagawa ng Fiat at ang laban ng lahat ng mga manggagawa dito sa Italya ay hindi kaiba sa laban ng mga manggagawa natin sa Pilipinas,” said Edwin Bigcas, chairperson of Migrante International-Milan Chapter.

Police were scattered to ensure peace and order. Tension occurred when police stopped some 3,000 students from joining the protest. After a while, the students were allowed to march to Via Larga where other protesting workers were.

Etheridge makes Brit-Pinoys proud

LONDON - Fulham Football Club’s reserve goalkeeper Neil Etheridge is a source of pride for many young British-Pinoy football enthusiasts.

In the recent event organized by the Philippine Embassy in London, which gathered students and young professionals from various fields, Etheridge delivered a message.

The first British-Pinoy to be part of the English Premier League (EPL) also took the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting the Philippine national team--Azkals.

“It’s great to be here and it's great to have everyone supporting us, especially in this country. There’s a lot of support that has grown over the months in the Philippines. Obviously, basketball is the number one sport over there. But we, myself, and the other Filipinos playing for the team, want to change it. Football is the world’s number one sport, and we want it to continue over there [Philippines],” he said in the opening message.

The Azkals will be playing against Mongolia in the home ground at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on February 9 for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup.

Before qualifying for the semis in the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, the Philippine squad was not even in the consciousness of many Filipinos. Much of the credit of the recent achievement of the Azkals was given to the British-Pinoy players such as the Younghusband brothers--Phil and James, Rob Gier, Chris Greatwich and Neil Etheridge.

Etheridge hopes that the support from the fans won't fizzle out.

“As I mentioned earlier, we got to the semi-finals in the Southeast Asian Cup which was unheard of. That’s why Twitter blew up for us, almost all websites, it’s unbelievable. The amount of fans we have is just phenomenal,” he said.

While securing a golden opportunity to build on his football career in the UK, Etheridge has also high hopes for the national team.

“I hope to carry on playing in the premiership. I’m about to sign a new contract there, hopefully for the next 3 years,” he announced.

He is out to give his 100% support to the Azkals to turn the state of the game around in a country where football infrastructures still need to put in place.

“We hope that more local-based players will compete for positions in the national team,” he said.

He ended in a high note and remained very optimistic of the future of football in the Philippines.

“Hopefully, in the next 10, 20, 30 years, things can change. After my football career, I will venture over to the Philippines, buy a house over there and hopefully make things go into the right direction,” said Etheridge.

Etheridge also welcomed questions from the attendees. Most of those who asked questions have been following his career.

Etheridge will arrive in the Philippines on February 5 and will immediately join the team for the pre-match training and conditioning routine.

Pinoy menu keeps Filipino-owned resto alive in Utah

UTAH – A Filipino restaurant owner decided to revamp his menu to cater to the growing Pinoy population in Salt Lake City.

The Five Star Restaurant is giving residents a chance to tour the Philippines with their taste buds.

“I think it's great because it gives the people of Salt Lake an opportunity to try a type of food that they probably never had before," said resident Parker Paulsen.

The restaurant isn’t just a hit with Americans, it's also attracting Salt Lake's growing Filipino community.

"Sisig, kaldereta at saka pritong tilapia. Masarap," said a Pinay, Laurdes Tulin.

Business has not always been this good at Five Star Restaurant. In fact, back when the eatery only offered Thai and Chinese cuisine, its owner was struggling to make a profit.

“The economy went down and so of course, the restaurant business is the first one that will be affected,” said restaurant owner Rudy Padua.

That's when Padua decided to change the make-up of his restaurant. In September, he revamped the menu with classic Pinoy dishes and desserts.

Since the switch to the Filipino theme, Padua said profits have skyrocketed.

“My Filipino customers are the only ones that's keeping me alive right now,” said Padua.

20 more Pinoys may leave Cairo next week

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Saturday said that 20 more Filipinos may be repatriated from Egypt next week.

DFA spokesman Ed Malaya said that the 20 Filipinos, who have availed of the Philippine government's offer to leave Egypt, may leave the violence-stricken country either Monday or Tuesday next week.

Malaya, meanwhile, clarified that only 26 Filipinos will depart from Cairo International Airport at 6:55 p.m. (Egypt time) on Saturday (Feb. 5) abroad an Emirates Airlines flight.

Of the 26 repatriates, 14 are women, 10 minors and 2 men.

From Cairo, the Filipinos will be brought to Dubai, where they will take a flight to the Philippines. They are expected to arrive in Manila at 4:20 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 6).

The first batch of repatriates consists of Filipino scholars from Al Azhar University and their families, 3 nurses from Dar Al Faoud Hospital and household service workers.

He said that the original number of Filipinos that was supposed to leave Egypt on Saturday was 27, but a family of 4 backed out.

The 4 Filipinos were replaced by 3 more, bringing the number of those to be repatriated this weekend to 26.

Malaya said that a number of Filipino nurses working in a hospital near the Tahrir Square are "relatively safe."

He said that the number of Filipinos availing of the voluntary repatriation was still minimal because majority of them are staying in safer areas in Egypt. At least 6,500 Filipinos are based in Egypt.

The DFA has set aside a P25-million emergency fund for the repatriation of Filipinos from Egypt.

Malaya said that a Philippine Airlines plane on standby in Riyadh can be dispatched to Egypt anytime.

"We have the resources para madaling maiuwi ang mga kababayan natin (We have the resources for the immediate repatriation of our fellow Filipinos)," he said.