Monday, 22 August 2011

Evacuation of Pinoys in Libya set

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Philippine embassy officials in Libya are going around hospitals in the nation's capital, Tripoli, as well as nearby cities to convince Filipinos to leave the country, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said Monday.

The DFA, however, said it will not force overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to leave if they do not want to.

It is still up to the Filipinos to decide if the want to leave Tripoli, the department said. If they decide to leave, the government will provide everything they need to bring them home.

The DFA on Monday raised Alert Level 4 in Libya, which means the mandatory evacuation and repatriation of Filipino nationals in the area at the Philippine government's expense.

"We are still convincing the 2,000-plus, especially the 1,600 who are still in Tripoli and in the suburbs," Hernandez said.

Philippine Ambassador to Libya Alejandrino Vicente told TV Patrol on Monday night that only 86 Filipinos have expressed their desire to leave Libya.

He said a majority of OFWs want to stay in the country because they fear that they won't have good-paying jobs when they return to the Philippines. "Nangingibabaw iyung economic reasons po. Sinasabi po nila, makikipagsapalaran po sila dahil walang katiyakan po ang trabaho."

Tripoli falls

Rebel fighters have swept into the heart of Tripoli and crowds took to the streets to celebrate what they saw as the end of Moammar Gaddafi's 4 decades of power, but a government fightback was reported as dawn broke on Monday.

Tanks emerged from Gaddafi's stronghold in the center of the Libyan capital and were shelling the area, Al Jazeera television reported.

Despite euphoria among rebels and their backers in Tripoli and elsewhere, a rebel spokesman, identified on Al Jazeera as Nasser, said government troops still controlled "about 15 to 20 percent of the city."

The Philippine government on Monday warned Filipinos in Libya to stay indoors as it arranged for a ship to get them out of the country, amid the final thrust by rebels into the capital.

DFA Undersecretary Esteban Conejos said the government has the funds and the capacity to bring the Filipinos back home.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has allocated 400 seats on a chartered ship to take Filipinos from Tripoli to Alexandria, Egypt.

From Alexandria, a commercial flight will take the Filipinos back to the Philippines.

Wait and see first

The DFA, however, wants to see how the situation develops in Libya in the next 24 hours before implementing the forced evacuation OFWs, according to the department's acting secretary, Antonio Rodriguez.

"Wait and see tayo next 24 hours baka di na kailangan i-repatriate," he said. If rebel forces succeed, baka tapos na ang boxing."

"Baka naman kasi pag pina-uwi natin, babalik din sila kasi may mga contracts ang mga yan," Rodriguez added. "Malalaki rin ang sweldo ng mga health worker sa Libya."

Conejos, meanwhile, expressed confidence that all Filipinos still in Libya are accounted for and can be reached if the situation turns for the worse.

"We have contingency measures, we have coordinators... 1,600 filipinos are all accounted for," he said. "They are documented, the DFA is in touch with them."

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is ready to help the repatriated Pinoys. "DOLE has a return reintegration program. It is a P2-billion program."

He said the program includes soft loans for former OFWs to start their own business, as well as local employment opportunities and entrepreneurial programs.

Zero hour for Gaddafis

After a 6-month civil war, rebels have moved quickly into Tripoli, with a carefully orchestrated uprising launched on Saturday night to coincide with the advance of rebel troops on 3 fronts. Fighting broke out after the call to prayer from the minarets of the mosques.

Libyan rebels have captured 2 of Gaddafi's sons, but the whereabouts of leader himself were unknown.

Rebel National Transitional Council Coordinator Adel Dabbechi confirmed that Gaddafi's younger son Saif Al-Islam had been captured.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague, which wants Saif along with his father on charges of crimes against humanity, confirmed he had been held and said he should be handed over for trial.

Gaddafi's eldest son Mohammed Al-Gaddafi had surrendered to rebel forces, Dabbechi told Reuters.

In a television interview, the younger Gaddafi said gunmen had surrounded his house, but he later told al-Jazeera in a phone call that he and his family were unharmed.

Only 5 months ago, Gaddafi's forces were set to crush the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, the leader warning then that there would be "no mercy, no pity" for his opponents. His forces, he said, would hunt them down "district to district, street to street, house to house, room to room."

The United Nations then acted quickly, clearing the way for creation of a no-fly zone that NATO, with a campaign of bombing, used ultimately to help drive back Gaddafi's forces.

"It's over. Gaddafi's finished," said Saad Djebbar, former legal adviser to the Libyan government.

In Benghazi in the east, thousands gathered in a city-center square waving red, black and green opposition flags and trampling on pictures of Gaddafi as news filtered through of rebel advances into Tripoli.

Mohammed Derah, a Libyan activist in Tripoli, told Al Jazeera: "This is another day, a new page in Libya's history. We are witnessing a new dawn and a new history of freedom. The regime is finished."

"We are living historic moments, moments that we haven't witnessed since we were born, since we came out of our mothers' wombs," said We'am Mohanna.

Celebratory gunfire and explosions rang out over the city and cars blaring their horns crowded onto the streets. Overhead, red tracer bullets darted into a black sky.

"It does look like it is coming to an end," said Anthony Skinner, Middle East analyst, Maplecroft. "But there are still plenty of questions. The most important is exactly what Gaddafi does now. Does he flee or can he fight?"

"In the slightly longer term, what happens next? We know there have been some serious divisions between the rebel movement and we don't know yet if they will be able to form a cohesive front to run the country."

Gaddafi, in his second audio broadcast in 24 hours, dismissed the rebels as "rats."

"I am giving the order to open the weapons stockpiles," Gaddafi said. "I call on all Libyans to join this fight. Those who are afraid, give your weapons to your mothers or sisters.

"Go out, I am with you until the end. I am in Tripoli. We will ... win."

A Libyan government official told Reuters that 376 people on both sides of the conflict were killed in fighting overnight on Saturday in Tripoli, with about 1,000 others wounded.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Fil-Am twins at the top of their game

MENLO PARK, California – Seventeen-year old Jesse and Christian Perkins are Filipino-American twins who seem to have it all.

The boys are respected athletes, winning the Grand Prix for Doubles and Northern California’s Athletes of the Week.

They are also promising musicians, singers and upcoming models. The twins were recently chosen as 2 of the top 60 most gorgeous men in the world by Nigel Who! Males 2012.

The Perkins family.

Their grades can’t be beat as well, as the boys both have 4.5 GPAs.

The twins credit their parents for their achievements.

"Our parents are a driving force in our lives and they instilled in us to be the best that we could be, in... school, athletics. That helps us get motivated," says Jesse.

Tess and Tarny Perkins said they raised their boys as Christians, prayer warriors who strive to live a good life.

“We wanted to make sure they would be role models, not only for themselves but for the family and the world,” said Tess.

To be the best they can be, the Perkins laid down rules for the boys.

"No partying," Christian said. "We're cool with that. We don't want to drink, we don't want to do drugs or smoke."

The twins also cannot use Facebook.

"We're not going to have any of that, even instant messaging," Jesse said.

"And no girls," Christian added. "Not right now. My parents said no for now."

But they do have their celebrity crushes. Jesse likes Kim Chiu, while Christian thinks Erich Gonzales is pretty.

For now, nothing and no one can distract the boys from achieving more in life.

Top colleges all over the United States, including Stanford and Yale, have sent letters to the twins.

"God gave them gifts," said their father, Tarny. "It's up to them to take advantage of the gifts God gave them. If they do, their world is frighteningly great."

The Perkins twins are considering taking a year off and living in the Philippines to pursue show business. The possibilities are endless for them, but what’s certain is that they have what it takes to be even more successful in life.

Petron takes Game 7, wins PBA Governors Cup

MANILA, Philippines - It was sweet redemption for the Petron Blaze Boosters as they defeated the Talk N Text Tropang Texters in Game 7 of the PBA Governors Cup Finals, 85-73, taking home the title by winning the series, 4 games to 3.

Arwind Santos named finals MVP.

A series that many thought would be easy for the Texters instead went all the way to a do-or-die Game 7, where both teams left everything on the court.

With their victory, Petron not only won the championship, but also avenged their loss to Talk N Text in last conference's Finals. They also prevented Talk N Text from achieving a historic grand slam.

Arwind Santos sealed the win for Petron with 37.5 seconds to go, when scored on a dunk after Talk N Text turned the ball over.

The Texters were unable to get their offensive going, and also suffered several defensive breakdowns that led to easy lay-ups for Petron.

Talk N Text had to finish the game without spitfire guard Jason Castro. Castro suffered a sprained ankle in the 2nd period, and left the game for good in the 3rd quarter.

Anthony Grundy bounced back from a horrible Game 6, leading the Blazers in scoring while also playing defense on TNT counterpart Maurice Baker.

With the victory, Coach Ato Agustin became the 2nd coach to win a championship in his rookie season.

Kelly Williams was able to keep Talk N Text in the game in the third period, as he scored 9 points in the quarter, most of which came from lay-ups.

Season MVP Jimmy Alapag also gave the Texters a lift with a buzzer beating 3-pointer to end the period.

But Petron still led by double-digits, 64-53, going into the final period

The Blazers started the game on fire from the floor, with Denok Miranda scoring the first 7 points for Petron.

Grundy immediately made his presence felt with a 3-pointer that gave Petron an early 5-point lead at 10-5.

Ranidel De Ocampo kept the Texters in the game with timely baskets midway through the opening period.

Momentum shifted the Texters' way in the 2nd quarter, when Jojo Duncil was sent off the court after incurring a flagrant foul against Maurice Baker.

Duncil had stuck out his foot while Baker was taking a shot.

De Ocampo had a chance to get Petron's lead down to 4 at the end of the half, but his lay-up was soundly rejected by Santos.

Petron led 40-34 going into the break.

Adding to the Texters' 1st half woes were the 4 fouls called against Baker, forcing Reyes to go to his bench for a stopper against Grundy.

TNT's scorers, meanwhile, had trouble connecting from the field, with Larry Fonacier and Kelly Williams both unable to find the bottom of the net on their scoring attempts.

Miranda had 11 first half points to lead Petron, while de Ocampo had 15 points for TNT.

Friday, 5 August 2011

2 Pinays charged for 'sex in public’ in Dubai

DUBAI - A Filipino women’s group advised their compatriots in the United Arab Emirates to strictly follow the laws of their host country particularly on morality and public decency following two separate cases involving Filipinas who had sex at Dubai’s public beach recently.

In a report published in UAE’s major dailies, a Filipina housemaid was sentenced to one year in prison by the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors on Tuesday after her Emirati employer reported to the police that she had become pregnant during her several late night trysts with her Pakistani lover at the Jumeirah Open Beach.
The 26-year-old Filipina admitted in court she had consensual sex with her 25-year-old Pakistani boyfriend who works as an accountant. Presiding Judge Mohammad Ahmad Shoaib said the couple will be deported following the completion of their jail terms.
In another report, the Dubai Court of Misdemeanors heard in the same week another illegal sex-on-the-beach case involving another Filipina and her Lebanese boyfriend who were “caught red-handed by the police kissing and having sex at a secluded spot on Umm Suqiem’s public beach” last July 5.
According to police records, the 30-year-old Filipina salesgirl and her 21-year-old Lebanese waiter boyfriend admitted to their act.
"We were at the beachside having a walk along with my two friends. I took her to a poorly lit spot near the rocks. When we finished and were getting dressed, the police arrived,” the Lebanese said.
The court charged the two with having "sex out of wedlock and public indecency" but the pair did not attend the hearing and the next trial was moved on August 18.
Gabriela-UAE Coordinator Jhasmin Cipriano said Filipinos should strictly follow UAE rules.
“Nananawagan ang Gabriela-UAE sa lahat ng ating mga kababayan – babae man o lalaki – na mag-ingat at sikaping gawin ang lahat para maitaguyod ang dangal ng ating lahi,” Cipriano said.
Chona Nocido, who works as personal assistant in one of the multinational companies based in Dubai’s business district, shares the same view.
“Bukod sa hindi sila kasal, bawal talaga iyon. Sana matuto na sila,” Nocido said.
Gay Mendoza, finance administrator at Westin Mina Seyahi, said she was scandalized after hearing the news.
“Are they idiots or are just plain dumb? This is a Muslim country and they should know better. Nakakahiya. At any rate, regardless of what country and nationality, I believe stuff like that should be done in a private place,” Mendoza said.
Cipriano, however, warned others not to make sweeping generalization and pass quick judgment on Filipino women’s morality.
“Hindi nakapagtataka na sa isang patriyarkal na lipunan na may relihiyong Muslim man o Kristiyano, na lagi na lang babae ang mas naituturing o lumalabas na masama sa paningin ng nakararami lalo't patungkol sa usaping katulad nito,” added Cipriano, who works as a Social Science teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Dubai.
“Totoo na hindi akma lalo na't sa publikong lugar nila ito ginawa, hindi pa rin maipagkakaila na ang mga bagay na katulad nito ay gabutil lamang kumpara sa mas malaking suliranin ng mga kababaihan tulad ng talamak na human trafficking, prostitusyon at sinasapit ng mga kasambahay na pagmamalupit sa kamay ng kanilang mga employer. Ito ang mga suliraning kailangang mas tugunan ng pansin ng mga nasa otoridad lalo na ng ating Embahada at Konsulado dito sa UAE,” Cipriano concluded.

Evans confident of beating Ortiz

MANILA, Philippines – Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is confident that he will defeat Tito Ortiz in the upcoming UFC 133 event.

"I'm confident no matter where the fight goes, I'm gonna destroy him," Evans told UFC.com.

Evans and Ortiz will fight in the main event of UFC 133, a rematch of their 1st bout in UFC 73, which ended in a draw.

"It's been a long time, and I actually gave up on the hope that this match-up may happen again," Evans said. "But fate has shown me differently, and I'm very excited and pleased that Tito Ortiz stepped up so we can have this fight."

Evans, who was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter season 2, believes that he has the advantage over Ortiz.

"I'm much faster than him. As long as I keep my movement, keep using my speed, he should be a couple of steps behind me," he said.

Evans holds a 20-1-1 win-loss-draw record and is coming off victories over Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson.

"He's making a mistake when he steps into the cage with me," Evans said. "There is no doubt in my mind that I will defeat Tito Ortiz."

Turqueza scores win in World Juniors Chess

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino chess player Mari Joseph “MJ” Turqueza notched a win in the 50th World Junior and 29th Junior Girls Chess Championships in Tamil Nadu, South India on Thursday.

Turqueza defeated India’s Abhilash Reddy in the third round for his first win in the tournament.

In the women's event, Filipina Janelle Mae Frayna suffered another setback against Russian Aisa Imeeva.

Turqueza will meet Benjamin Vincent Hercules of South Africa in the fourth round. Frayna, on the other hand, plays opposite Zsofia of Slovakia.

The country’s best finish in the tournament was back in 1991 when GM Rogelio "Banjo" Barcenilla Jr. won the bronze medal

Pacman wants default ruling vs Floyd in defamation case

MANILA, Philippines – Boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao is seeking a default ruling from a US District Court regarding his defamation suit against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

According to USA Today.com, the boxing congressman from Sarangani province sought a default ruling because of Mayweather's refusal to give a court deposition in relation to the case.

Pacquiao filed the defamation suit over claims made by Mayweather and his trainer uncle, Roger Mayweather, that Pacquiao was using performance-enhancing drugs (PED).

The Filipino boxer is asking up to US$10 million in damages plus attorney's fees.

"[Mayweather's] lawyer has to respond to the motion, and the judge will need to decide," Pacquiao’s lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli said in the report.

"Judges can and do issue defaults against parties who do not obey their orders and won't participate in the discovery process according the rules. And you forfeit your opportunity to be a litigant when you defy the rules," he added.

Pacquiao’s camp reportedly offered 24 dates for Mayweather to make his deposition.

Mayweather allegedly declined all the dates, citing that he is busy training for the Victor Ortiz fight.