Friday, December 30, 2011

Egypt unrest, Charlie Sheen 2011 hottest tweets

So what exactly did the whole world tweet about this year?
The prodemocracy movement in Egypt and the ramblings of Hollywood actor Charlie Sheen emerged as the hottest topics on Twitter in 2011.

“This reveals what grabbed our attention most dramatically in 2011, and which events, inventions, changes and ideas made the deepest impression on us,” the popular social networking and microblogging site said in its official blog Wednesday.                                                            Charlie Sheen AFP FILE PHOTO

A source of brief, real-time information for its users since its launch in 2006, Twitter groups together messages related to the same subject, which are marked with a hashtag (#), defining the collective consciousness of its over 200 million registered members.

The No. 1 topic discussed all-year round was #egypt, from the massive protests that swept the Arab country in January, the resignation the following month of President Hosni Mubarak after 30 years in power, to the recent parliamentary elections.

This was followed by #tigerblood, referring to Sheen’s controversial public rants and his dispute with the producers of the CBS show, “Two and a Half Men.”
The fifth most tweeted topic was #japan, which peaked following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and 10-meter tsunami that devastated the country’s northeastern region on March 11.

Other top hashtags were personal conversation topics—#threewordstoliveby (third); #idontunderstandwhy (fourth); #improudtosay (sixth)—and a major US sporting event, #superbowl (seventh).

Other hot topics covered a wide range of subjects, from world news to food and drinks.

Bin Laden, Gadhafi
Apart from the upheaval in Egypt, the most tweeted news items were the killing of Osama bin Laden by US forces in Pakistan in May; the capture and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in the hands of freedom fighters in October; and the swine flu outbreak in the United Kingdom and the shooting of American congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona in January.

Users also got obsessed with “McLobster,” a seasonal offering of the McDonald’s fast-food chain in Canada and New England.

The US series “Pretty Little Liars” topped the television category, while “Thor” was the most discussed film of the year.

Topping the music, actor and actress categories were posts on Rebecca Black and her much-criticized song “Friday,” Charlie Sheen, and Elizabeth Taylor, respectively.

The “Mac App Store” was the most popular techie subject.

“More than anything, these trends demonstrate how Twitter connects people with common interests. Instead of watching the news, the Super Bowl and Pretty Little Liars at home alone, we watched them together on Twitter,” the networking site said.

“We shared our thoughts about the world we live in, and we listened as others around the globe chimed in,” Twitter added.

Most Tweeted News Philippines

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Microsoft Philippines focuses on family for holiday campaign

MANILA, Philippines—Microsoft Philippines recently announced its theme for its holiday campaign, “It’s A Great Time To Be A Family,” along with a showcase of its entire range of retail products including Windows 7, Microsoft Office and Windows Phone 7.

In October, Microsoft conducted a survey on MSN called “Families and Technology 2011,” which polled more than 3,700 respondents across seven countries in Asia. Mae Moreno, Windows client product manager of Microsoft Philippines, said that according to the survey, Filipinos keep in touch with their loved ones through technology. Thirty four percent of Filipino respondents also prefer to use social networking sites such as Facebook, in keeping in touch to their relatives overseas, while SMS are preferred in China with 75 percent and Indonesia with 41 percent.

In the total share of respondents, however, telephone was still the most popular mode of communication, with 67 percent.

The survey also said 36 percent of Filipino families have more than 10 gadgets, the highest in the region, she added.

“The findings show that technology has become an intrinsic part of our daily lives. Filipinos are big believers that technology helps us to communicate better and it is obvious from the rate of adoption that everyone from young kids to grandparents is finding technology easier to use,” added Moreno.

The survey also said that 69 percent of respondents in the Philippines are likely to teach a family member how to use internet so they can keep in touch with each other.

The relevance of technology has also become apparent during the holiday season, with 46 percent of respondents said they would spend at least 15-30 minutes each day connecting with their loved ones, while 23 percent said they would spend time even up to an hour.

Seventy-three percent of Filipinos in the survey chose photos as the most shared content with their family in social networking sites, while it is only 50 percent in the region.

“The results of the poll show that the popular notion of technology being a purely negative influence on family relationships is a misconception. The increasingly globalized nature of the world economy has no doubt greatly dispersed families far and wide around the region, but Microsoft’s focus is on delivering technology that makes it easier for families to stay together,” Moreno also said.

As an early Christmas present treat, Moreno also introduced a promo wherein a trip to Singapore for four and a brand new Mitsubishi Montero Sport are up for grabs. One can join upon purchase of a device pre-installed with Windows 7 or a Windows 7 Full Packed Product from any Star Partner retailer and then sign a raffle coupon at

Most Shared News Philippines

Monday, December 26, 2011

Most Popular News in 2011 Philippines

1. Kate and William’s royal wedding
It’s a bit peculiar that fashion’s arguably biggest moment for 2011 was a wedding. But the world watched in awe on April 29 as, after months of speculation and guessing games, commoner Kate Middleton stepped out from her London hotel room in a wedding dress designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. The classic, Grace Kelly-esque dress minted the new duchess’ status as fashion icon, and made Burton, her late mentor’s protégé, a star designer overnight. A few months later, the dress drew a crowd of 600,000 when it was exhibited at Buckingham Palace.

2. Alexander McQueen retrospective at the Met
Who knew that a seemingly esoteric subject would be a top museum draw? For three months beginning in May, “Savage Beauty,” a retrospective exhibit of the works of the British fashion designer who took his own life in 2010, drew record crowds at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Visitors lined up outside for hours so that the exhibit had to be extended for a week. When it closed on Aug. 7, “Savage Beauty” made it to the Met’s Top 10 most popular exhibits, with over 661,509 visitors.

3. Designer meltdowns, firings
In March, Dior’s flamboyant creative director John Galliano was fired from his post after an anti-Semitic rant in a Paris café. The quest for his successor has been a big guessing game in the industry, drawing a long list of possible candidates, including Marc Jacobs, Riccardo Tisci, Alexander Wang, Jason Wu. After nearly a year, the post Galliano vacated remains empty, with the Belgian Raf Simons as the most recent frontrunner. The house of Balmain also parted ways with its designer Christophe Decarnin, who created those popular and extravagantly priced rocker-chic jeans and jackets for the brand. The designer was reportedly getting treatment for depression. The movements suggested that the era of the star designer is on the wane, and a poor bottom line no longer justifies star behavior.

4. Shakeups
After its overtures of an Hermès takeover failed, LVMH announced it had acquired the storied Italian jewelry house Bulgari. Francesco Trapani, Bulgari’s chief executive, was the only member of the founding family to still hold a prominent position in the company’s operations, and the lack of interest in younger family members to get involved in the business was seen to have bolstered the sale.
In another luxury company, Jimmy Choo cofounder Tamara Mellon stepped down from the company as chief creative officer after it was sold to a German luxury goods group which also owns Bally and Derek Lam. Mellon, who no longer has a financial stake in the company, started Jimmy Choo 15 years ago in London with its namesake cobbler of Malaysian descent.
Louis Vuitton also announced recently that its longtime chief executive Yves Carcelle is stepping down in 2014 to assume another post in the company. He has been CEO for two decades, and was responsible for growing the brand into a global behemoth and the most profitable luxury fashion house. Carcelle, 63, will become president of Fondation Louis Vuitton, which is building a Frank Gehry-designed museum in Paris.

5. Christian Louboutin sues YSL over red soles
Christian Louboutin, he of the signature red soles, filed an injunction to stop YSL from selling a pair of red shoes that also had red soles. Louboutin argued it infringed on his trademark. His suit was denied, and so was his eventual appeal. Tiffany & Co. of the “Tiffany-blue” boxes also later filed its own brief in support of Louboutin, claiming signature colors should be trademarked.

6. Filipina wins Supermodel of the World
After years of playing bridesmaid in the prestigious modeling tilt, a Filipina finally won this year’s Ford’s Supermodel of the World contest in New York. Seventeen-year-old Danica Magpantay, a freshman at UP Diliman, won the $250,000 modeling contract with Ford Models.
7. Valentino virtual museum
Valentino Garavani draws raves with his newly launched virtual museum, replete with 5,000 images and 180 videos spanning a 50-year career, and set up in a 3D palazzo. The virtual museum is 10,000 sqm and has seven different galleries. Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s longtime partner, said the project cost “a lot of money.” But if the reviews are anything to go by, it looks like money very well spent.

8. Auction of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection
The vast jewelry collection of the late actress fetched a lot more than the projections. The 80-piece collection took $116 million at the end of the Christie’s auction in New York. The star piece was a 16th-century pearl given her by Richard Burton, whom she married twice. He bought it at $37,000 in a 1969 auction; it sold for $11.8 million. Taylor’s haute couture collection, including the two dresses she wore to her weddings with Burton, sold for $2.6 million, about 10 times the pre-sale estimate.

9. Belo opens US clinic; Calayan staffer caught in US sting
While the Belo Medical Group marked the opening of its first clinic in the US, local rival Calayan Surgicentre Corp. got embroiled in a controversy when a staffer in its West Hollywood clinic was caught in a sting operation, reported the Los Angeles Times. The county prosecutor, according to the report, was considering charges of practicing medicine without a license. In their bid for the US market, the tally so far: Belo-1, Calayan-0.

10. Paris Hilton, Ed Westwick visit; post-Volcanoes billboard ruckus, Bench lands on US reality TV show
Hotel heiress and reality TV star Paris Hilton and “Gossip Girl” actor Ed Westwick were just two of the stars to visit the country. Hilton was here to unveil a beach property she’s co-designing as well as her eponymous bag boutiques. Westwick was introduced as the face of the clothing brand Penshoppe, though some say it was Thai actor Mario Maurer, also a Penshoppe endorser, who was a bigger hit among the young market.
After its controversial Philippine Volcanoes billboard, which were taken down when two city mayors claimed the images of the athletes in their skivvies were offensive and inappropriate, lifestyle brand Bench landed stateside exposure when it was featured in an episode of “America’s Next Top Model.”

11. Andrea Jung’s Manila jaunt
One of the big beauty industry events this year was Andrea Jung’s Philippine jaunt, her first in 12 years. The Avon CEO was here to meet with 8,000 Avon sales reps for the “Avon Believe World Tour,” marking the brand’s 125th year. It was the largest gathering of Jung’s 16-city global tour, meant to rally and boost the morale of women worldwide. The CEO and her company are proponents of women empowerment, and the Philippines is one of its top markets.

12. SM inks deal with Uniqlo.
SM lands another global fashion brand, not the Swedish H&M as long rumored, but the Japanese label Uniqlo. Last year, SM also brought in the Korean-owned fast-fashion chain Forever 21. Uniqlo is known for well-made casual clothing, and will open its first Manila store in early 2012.

Read more of the Most Popular News in 2011 Philippines

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cebu officials sending mobile morgue, aid for flood victims

Material and cash assistance are being sent by Cebu City Hall, the Capitol and the Police Regional Office for the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan, which were struck hardest by Tropical Storm Sendong over the weekend.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said they will send a mobile morgue via Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. to help identify the unclaimed remains of the flooding victims fished from the seawaters of neighboring provinces.

The mobile morgue was donated by Interpol through its Disaster Victims Identification (DVI) unit to the National Bureau of Investigation to identify victims of the 2008 sinking of the Princess of the Stars.

Rama said Iligan and Cagayan de Oro officials told him over the phone that their biggest problem lies in disposing of the dead since their funeral parlors are overflowing with unclaimed remains.

“In the funeral parlors the bodies are piled on top of the other. The smell in due time will already be beyond anybody’s imagination,” the mayor said.

Rama said he has yet to determine if they will send coffins to the two cities.
The mayor met with city disaster personnel yesterday morning to evaluate the city’s assistance to the two cities and neighboring areas in Central Visayas that were ravaged by Sendong.

Rama said Cagayan de Oro and Iligan officials also asked for bottled mineral water, relief and canned goods for the victims.

He will also send quick response teams to assist in the relief and recovery efforts.
Rama said the city government tied up with Abag Cagayan-Iligan, a group formed by JCI, the Cebu Association of City and Municipal Public Information Officers and McDonald’s for their relief campaign.

Relief and food donations can also be given at any McDonald’s stores in Cebu City and at the Mayor’s office at Cebu City hall.

City Information Officer Carlo Dugaduga said they scheduled a turnover of donations to the affected local government units on Dec. 23 and 30 respectively.
More funds may be sent later depending on how much the city government and its private sector partners would be able to raise from a benefit concert that they would organize with Cebuano bands on Dec. 30.

Rama said he will ask the City Council to hold a special session so they could pass a resolution authorizing the release of financial assistance.

The mayor said he plans to send P3 million to be sourced from the city’s P11-million unused calamity funds.

In an interview in Medellin town, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said she asked shipping line owner Bob Gothong to deliver bottled water and relief goods to Sendong victims in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan through his vessels. The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) is canceling its Christmas party today.

Supt. Marcelo Garbo, chief of Police Regional Office (PRO-7), said they decided to donate the budget of the party to the typhoon victims of Typhoon Sendong in Mindanao and Negros Oriental. Edison A. Delos Angeles with Carmel Loise Matus and Chito Aragon, Correspondents

Help Sending Victims

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peso almost flat as traders assets Euro zone debt developments

MANILA, Philippines — The peso moved sideways on the first trading day of the week as investors assessed the developments in the debt-ridden Euro zone.

The local currency closed at 43.61 against the US dollar on Monday, up by three centavos from Friday’s close of 43.64:$1.

Intraday high hit 43.52:$1, while intraday low settled at 43.63:$1. Volume of trade amounted $909.16 million from $1.366 billion previously.

European policymakers met last week to outline a set of additional measures, such as more bailout funds and austerity initiatives, to address the debt crisis in the Euro zone and prevent a worse situation in 2012.

Traders said the meeting of European officials last week was a positive development as far as investors were concerned as it indicated commitment to address the problem. Nonetheless, traders said, investors have remained tentative about whether the debt crisis could actually be solved with the implementation of the measures.

Philippine Peso Exchange Rate

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crack import beefs up Philippine Patriots

MANILA, Philippines—No less than last season’s Best Import will reinforce the AirAsia Philippine Patriots who are leaving for a preseason tournament in Bangkok Wednesday.
Nakiea Miller, an athletic 6-foot-10 American, opted to suit up for the Patriots a year after copping the top import plum with the Westports Kuala Lumpur Dragons in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).

Miller will team up with fellow American import Anthony Johnson, who had stints in the PBA, when the Patriots head into the final stretch of their training before the league fires off on Jan. 14.

Five of Season 3’s eight-team cast will clash in the fund-raising tournament, dubbed as “To Be No. 1 Basketball Challenge,” starting on Thursday.

Miller also saw action for Indonesia’s Satria Muda BritAma in the inaugural season.

“He’s a role player and we know he can deliver at crunchtime,” said team manager Erick Arejola. “Aside from being tall and mobile, one good thing about him is that he can shoot from afar.”

The 6-foot-6 Johnson, who had reinforced PBA teams Coca-Cola and Sta. Lucia, had a brief stint with the Patriots last season as he was hampered by a hamstring injury.

Former Smart Gilas mainstay Aldrech Ramos and veteran guards Al Vergara and Warren Ybañez lead the local Patriots, who have Glenn Capacio as their new coach.

The Patriots, champions of the inaugural season, aim to reclaim the crown they lost to the Chang Thailand Slammers last year.

Rounding out the squad are Marcy Arellano, Rob Wainwright, Jonathan Fernandez, Reed Juntilla, Erick Rodriguez, Ardy Larong, Eder Saldua, Angel Raymundo and Eddie Laure.

The San Miguel Beermen, the other Philippine team debuting in the home-and-away regional league, will also compete in the fund-raiser along with the Slammers, Singapore Slingers and the Bangkok Basketball Holdings Cobras.

An idiot’s guide to the UP Oblation Run

NAKED men in masks! Angry protesters waving banners! Bunches of blood-red roses! Throngs of screeching women! What more can you ask for?

To wide-eyed freshmen and curious outsiders, the UP Oblation Run sounds like the best thing since sliced bread, but what actually happens during the event is a lot less exciting than news reports make it out to be?if anything that involves nude men can be considered unexciting.

But who are we to spoil your fun? If watching a bunch of masked naked men amble through a crowd sounds like your thing, make sure you?re ready for it. Here?s 2bU?s guideline for maximizing the UP Oblation Run experience?if you?re ready, visit the campus at noontime on Dec. 17. Come with an open mind, and remember that malice is all in the mind!

Grab the perfect spot
Contrary to popular belief, UP students aren?t overliberated sex fiends who just want to watch men jiggle their bats and balls in the cool December air. There are also plenty of overliberated, sex-crazed outsiders who want in on the show.
Kidding aside, the UP Oblation Run is actually a proud university tradition that began in 1977 when the members of APO fraternity protested against Marcos?s banning of the film, ?Hubad Na Bayani.?
How to grab a prime spot? Park yourself in the AS Lobby (Palma Hall) three hours before the show begins at noontime to get the front row (standing room). You?ll seem like a sex fiend or repressed virgin, but that?s the price you pay for unobstructed view.

What to do when you?re late
If you can?t skip class to get a prime spot, bring something you can stand on?a stool or stack of books. This will let you see over the shoulders of the giggling, worked-up freshmen who have been camping out the whole morning.

If you?re not satisfied with the foot-tall height advantage a stool offers, find a sturdy-looking friend who will let you sit on his shoulders. Not only will you snag an aerial view, you might also land on the evening news (headline: Oblation Run gathers sex fiends and maniacs of all ages).

Bluff your way to the front
Keep in mind that the AS Lobby isn?t the only vantage point. An hour before the run finishes, the place will be packed with giddy students and toothless old ladies who make it a point to see the Run every year. Don?t be daunted by the throng?bluff your way to the front.

You can pretend either to be a martial (shout with authority, wear black and furrow your brow) or that you?re just passing through minutes before the show. When the boys start running, press your body into the throng and throw an apologetic look at the freshman who?s sure to be first in line.

If this is against your code of ethics, drop the idea of watching in the AS Lobby and just wait by the pavement, where the van of naked frat men unloads them. Make sure you keep a decent distance?you wouldn?t want to be charged with harassment.

Get yourself on TV
The Oblation Run is a big media event. For some, it?s a chance to see yourself on the
six o?clock news. Up your chance of a TV cameo by bringing a few props?like a banner. Since activists take advantage of big crowds, it?s not uncommon to see protesters waving banners.

You can either join them and inch your way to the front, or make your own. Hold up a banner??I love you, Oblation Runners!? ?I?m joining the Oblation Run next year? is another.

You can try other gimmicks?wear a full Santa Claus outfit, pole dance in the lobby, or scream, ?Ang ganda-ganda! I watch every year!? before a TV camera. Fainting as the boys pass by works, too.

How to embarrass the runners
If you ever wonder if people blush only up to their cheeks or turn red all over, this is the time to find out. While the runners are doing their thing, shout random common names for guys and see if any of them turns around in recognition.
Names such as Paolo, Michael, Joel, Ryan, Joseph, Richard, Jonathan, Jeffrey, Noel and Ronald will surely turn a few heads. However, if you actually know someone from APO and don?t want to see what they look like naked, keep silent and enjoy the show.

How to get roses from runners
Plant yourself in front, wear something bright, and reach out to them with open arms. Good looks are an advantage, but not a requirement. If all else fails, resort to the attention-grabbing methods above, or buy yourself a rose and claim that it came from a runner.

How to deal with insecure boyfriends
Assure your boyfriend that you?re there to live the UP tradition. If he still has his doubts, cover your eyes (but peek through your fingers), but roll your eyes as he tosses a couple of sniveling comments at the runners.
E-mail the author to

By Bianca Consunji
Philippine Daily Inquirer
source: Last updated 23:11:00 12/05/2008

UP Oblation Run

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Transferring CGMA from St. Luke’s to VMMC

Around 4:10 p.m., December 9, 2011, Friday, Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was transferred from St. Luke’s Hospital Taguig to VMMC or Veterans Memorial Medical Center, a government-owned hospital, to spend her hospital arrest.

From St. Luke’s Hospital Taguig to VMMC
According to current events in Philippines, Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was seen smiling, though silent, when she arrived in VMMC after her transfer from St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig.

Arroyo alighted from the white coaster that took her from her luxury suite in St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City, walked to a waiting wheelchair, and passed through a metal detector on her way to her quarters.

“She was smiling but she did not say a word when she entered the room and looked around,” Dr. Nona Legaspi, the VMMC director, told the Inquirer by telephone. Legaspi said Arroyo, who is under arrest for alleged electoral sabotage, was accompanied by her husband and sons to the suite.

Though many expected that doctors would hand-over Arroyo’s medical records to VMMC, it was the doctors from the Philippine National Police that turned over Arroyo’s medical records to VMMC records. According to Dr. Nona Legaspi, apart from the hospital management and PNP officials, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista was there to meet the former President and now Pampanga representative.

Outside the hospital, Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, the former President’s younger son, said his mother would now be able to rest. He said his mother had been ready as early as 6 a.m. to leave St. Luke’s but that some confusion arose on the method of transfer. 

Disagreements about the Mode of Transportation 
A disagreement over whether Arroyo would be flown or driven to VMMC took about nine hours to resolve, with Arroyo’s lawyers and representatives playing hardball with authorities.

“Besides, who would want to fly in this weather?” said Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer of Arroyo’s husband, as rain poured outside the state-of-the-art St. Luke’s.

In addition to that, according to current events in Philippines, there were also disagreements about which land transportation would take the former president from St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig to VMMC on Quezon City. The police suggested in using a medical ambulance, but Arroyo’s camp had suggested to using an armored vehicle to transport her. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two weeks to Christmas

With only over two weeks to go before the much-awaited holiday of Christmas, already it looks like Christmas all over town, with the lighted parols and belens along the streets proclaiming the celebrations, initially, of Pasko sa V. Rama, and now, Pasko sa Colon and Pasko sa Osmeña Boulevard. These should help offset the current disturbing political strife and surfacing investigations of malfeasance in local and national government. So for this week, we look back in Philippine history to a couple of literally earth-shaking events, of which, surprisingly, as I started writing this yesterday, no mention has been made by our normally watchful media.

The day before yesterday, Dec. 7th in 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, now observed in the U. S. as Remembrance Day. For those of us who remember that far back, it was a distant geographical news event. Until the Japanese occupied the Philippines the next day, Dec. 8th, signalling for us the start of our involvement in World War II. And it was only after the States dropped that memorable atom bomb on Hiroshima that the Japanese were eventually defeated, World War II ended, the States granted us our independence on July 4, 1946, and the Republic of the Philippines was established.

Dec. 8th, yesterday, was significantly, especially for our predominantly Catholic nation, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holiday of obligation for Catholics.

While we observe the significance of dates, and in anticipation of Christmas, last Dec. 7th was the Feast of St. Nicholas. He was a 4th-century bishop in Asia Minor, is a patron saint of Russia, revered as a protector of children, who secretly gave to others, and was a helper to those in need. He is a prototype of the children’s Santa Claus who is supposed to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve when everyone is asleep, to fill the stockings the children have hung out for him, for them to discover when they awake on Christmas Day. I suppose his riding a sleigh drawn by reindeer as they come in through the snow from the North Pole completes the children’s concept of Santa (Ho! Ho! Ho!) Claus. While the evergreen Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights (topped with a star and hung with Christmas gifts) is an American practice from the mid-1700s.

Hmm-mmm… we Filipinos have added the belen either under or beside near the tree.

Which leads us on to the subject of Christmas parties now cropping up all over town. The first I attended was the traditional Aboitiz annual Christmas party for media held Friday last week, Dec. 2nd, at the newly opened Harolds Hotel. After the opening welcome message from President and CEO Eramon Aboitiz of the Aboitiz Group of Companies, dinner followed and a video showing Aboitiz’s involvements. This year there was Trivia Night emceed by Carol Go and Sam Constanilla. There were guessing games galore for media, supposed to be in on news in entertainment, the theater, movies, music, and even in math, Philippine and Asian history with some questions on Greek mythology and some answers to be written in Roman numerals!

Then topping the program was a Recycled Runway show featuring the informal, to mod to formal getup, but with a difference: all in recycled stuff, the formal evening gown in plastic cut from like black plastic garbage bags, pants and jacket from white rice bag containers printed with red trademark names, many jackets and short pants from woven plastic material in color, and for the current rain weather, an umbrella of vari-colored woven plastic bag material… all strutted in light flippancy! The much awaited raffle of many gifts at the end were climaxed with three main and three secondary gift prizes. The first gift prize everyone was eyeing was a small refrigerator filled with groceries and food products. This Bystander, often never a winner at raffles, got the second prize, also of groceries and food products. But some years ago, I won a Samsung TV. Well, some years are lucky, while some years are not, I supposed.

Then last Saturday, Dec. 3rd, I attended an On-the-Spot Children’s Painting Contest held at and hosted by Montebello Villa Hotel in partnership with Cebu Artists, Inc.(CAI). It was participated in by children aged 4 to 6, submitting 40 entries in various art media, from nine participating schools on the theme “Christmas in Philippines.”

Entries were judged with 50 percent for visual impact; 30 percent for composition; and 20 percent for relevance for relevance to the theme. Judges were Gregorio Borromeo Cancio Jr., president and GM of Montebello; Rosebud Sala, art collector and connoisseur; Guido Lubango, Remy Rault, and Celso Duazo Pepito, all CAI members; and Artist Sonia Yrastorza, CAI president. All winners portrayed the elements of Christmas in the Philippines: the nativity, the three magi, and the star that led them to the manger.

The musical program held before the announcement and awarding of winners featured a striking hand mime of “The Prayer” performed with lights out by dark-costumed members of SOS Children’s Village, with only their glowing luminescent hands performing.

Winners proclaimed at the main lobby by the Christmas tree were: first prize to 10-year-old Therese Martinez of the University of San Carlos-BED-SC, second prize to 12-year-old Koreen Rodriguez and third prize to Raili Ann Kapuno of St. Theresa’s College. Consolation prizes were won by 12-year-old Katrina Veloso of Bright Academy, 12-year-old Dave Padilla of Zapatera Elementary School and 11-year-old Kris Castanares of Golden Gate Children’s House.

Two other events, the San Miguel Christmas Party for Media held at the Cafe Laguna, and our monthly meeting of Curta (Cebu United Radio and TV Artists ((CURTA) Inc. will be in my report next week.

Till then, as always, may God continue to bless us, one and all!

Christmas in Philippines

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Still zero for Aquino’s love life on Christmas

Unless a miracle happens, President Benigno Aquino III will remain loveless and car-less during the Yuletide season.

At the Christmas Party of the Bulong Pulungan forum Tuesday at Sofitel in Pasay City, Mr. Aquino resorted to humor in fielding questions about his love life.

One journalist tried to ask about the state of President Aquino’s love life in a subtle  way.

“I will not talk about your love life but I have a question about Coke, is it still zero?’’ asked columnist Donny Ramirez,  eliciting laughter from the audience. 

“Is that the question?’’ a laughing President said, apparently not clueless as to the real meaning of the query.

“What I drink is regular,’’ he replied, but added: “The reference to Coke zero is still the same.

President Aquino had earlier likened his love life to “Coke zero,’’ in reference to the variant of a soft drink brand that contains no sugar.

Another told the President she would ask him about his love life but requested Mr. Aquino to talk  about poverty first.

“Somehow, they’re interrelated,” he said.

Christmas in Philippines

Monday, December 5, 2011

Asian markets mostly higher on euro hopes

HONG KONG – Asian markets mostly rose Monday, lifted by strong US jobs data and Italy’s agreement of new austerity measures, while dealers were also looking ahead to a Franco-German meeting to save the euro.

Investor confidence remained high after last week’s rally that was spurred by the decision of six major central banks to provide cheap dollars to under-pressure lenders in a bid to boost financial markets.

Tokyo was 0.43 percent higher by the break, Hong Kong gained 0.34 percent, Sydney added 0.78 percent and Seoul was flat but Shanghai dipped 0.20 percent.

The region was given a positive cue after the US Labor Department said unemployment dropped to a 32-month low of 8.6 percent in November, surprising most analysts who forecast it would hold at 9.0 percent.

The economy created a net 120,000 jobs, close to forecasts and 20 percent above October.

On Sunday Italy’s cabinet agreed an austerity plan that aims to eliminate its budget deficit by 2013, including 17 billion euros in new taxes, 13 billion euros in public spending cuts, and 10 billion euros in measures aimed at boosting growth.

“News that Italy will accept new growth and austerity measures at least gets us on the right track and may yet be another reason for investors to pull the buy trigger this morning,” said Ben Le Brun, Market Analyst at OptionsXpress.

Markets have slumped in recent months amid fears that Italy — the eurozone’s third biggest economy — would be the latest nation to succumb to the region’s debt crisis, which has already dragged under Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

The leaders of France and Germany are due to meet on Monday to hammer out a plan for further fiscal integration of eurozone economies, which is seen as the only real chance the bloc has of surviving.

In what is seen as a crucial week for the euro, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold a mini-summit ahead of a meeting of all European Union leaders on Thursday and Friday.

Whatever proposals emerge from the talks must be seen as a credible guarantee that eurozone governments will at last bring their deficits under control and thereby satisfy markets.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has said he could then take action, with many hoping the ECB will intervene to protect European banks from a credit crunch.

However, some analysts remain nervous.

“There is a substantial precedent for expecting disappointment here given that the very nature of the crisis does not lend itself to a quick fix,” said Stewart Hall, Senior Currency Strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

Focus this week “will fall on how a ‘re-founded’ Europe will look in terms of deeper integration and the push for fiscal union,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.

On currency markets the euro fetched $1.3410 and 104.57 yen in Tokyo morning trade, almost flat from $1.3403 and 104.56 yen in New York late Friday. The dollar was changing hands at 77.98 yen, compared with 78.05 yen.

New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in January, was up 33 cents to $101.29 a barrel.

Brent North Sea crude for January delivery rose 48 cents to $110.42.
Gold was trading at $1,748.50 an ounce at 0200 GMT, from $1,749.20 late Friday.

Philippine Peso Exchange Rate

Meralco repeats over Powerade

MANILA, Philippines — Meralco got huge plays on both ends from Gabby Espinas down the stretch and repeated against Powerade, 100-98, Friday night to remain on track for a high playoff ranking in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Espinas scored his four fourth quarter points inside the final 4:35 and had two key blocks to seal the eighth win in 13 games that kept Meralco in the upper half of the standings.

The Tigers saw a two-game run end and dropped to 5-8 overall, still within a win of formally clinching a quarterfinal slot for the first time in the last eight conferences.

Meralco nosed out the Tigers, 98-96 last Nov. 16 when Mac Cardona hit the marginal basket in the dying seconds.

Cardona again had a huge contribution last night, scoring seven of his 17 in the fourth period, including a layup at the 2:05 mark that made it 96-91.

Just when it looked like the Tigers were ready to roll over and call it a day, Sean
Anthony had a free throw and Gary David a triple that sandwiched a Chico Lanete layup to put Powerade within 95-98 with still 1:33 left.

Then came Espinas’ heroics.

Left wide open in the keyhole, the 6-foot-4 forward knocked in a long jumper and then blocked attempts by Doug Kramer and Anthony as the Bolts took a 100-95 lead in the dying seconds.

Rookie Marcio Lassiter then drained a meaningless three-pointer at the buzzer for the final count.

“We’re in the playoffs, but that is not our final destination,” Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio told reporters. “Seven was the most wins of this franchise in a conference. It’s like golf, we are playing against ourselves now.”

The worst case scenario for the Tigers at this point is to be dragged into a playoff for the eighth and final playoff spot by Alaska in the event that Powerade loses its last game against Barako Bull and the Aces win their last two outings.

Barangay Ginebra, which is playing Petron Blaze at press time, also has five wins and will have three more shots at nailing a playoff spot after its match with the Boosters.

The Aces, meanwhile, fight for their lives Sunday when they battle short-handed Talk ‘N Text also at the Big Dome in the 6:30 p.m. game.

Barako Bull and B-Meg slug it out in the 4:15 p.m. contest with both squads also looking for victories to finish the elimination round in the upper half.

The scores:

First Game

MERALCO 100—Mercado 23, Cardona 17, Espinas 14, Lanete 9, Macapagal 9, Hugnatan 6, Yee 5, Taulava 5, Borboran 4, Isip 4, Omolon 4, Timberlake 0.

98—David 25, Kramer 16, Anthony 14, Casio 13, Lassiter 9, Vanlandingham 7, Lingganay 6, Adducul 6, Cruz 2, Crisano 0, Antonio 0.

Quarters: 24-22, 49, 54, 76-76, 100-98

Ecuadorian beauty crowned Miss Earth

WINNING BEAUTIES Ecuador’s Olga Alava (left) is crowned Miss Earth 2011 in the beauty pageant held at UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City. The Philippines’ Athena Imperial (right) won the Miss Earth-Water title. JOSEPH AGCAOILI

Put another star in the UP sky.

Athena Imperial, another graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP), on Saturday night won the Miss Earth-Water title at the 2011 Miss Earth pageant held at UP Theater in Diliman, Quezon City.

Imperial, a communication research major, is among UP beauty queens who brought honor to the country in international competitions this year.

Fine arts student Danica Magpantay became the first Filipino to be proclaimed Ford Supermodel of the World early this year, while architecture magna cum laude graduate Shamcey Supsup placed fourth in the Miss Universe pageant held in September.

Ecuador’s Olga Alava was proclaimed her country’s first Miss Earth winner, edging Imperial. Ecuador also had its first Miss International winner this year with Maria Fernanda Cornejo capturing the crown in China in November.
Brazil’s Driely Bennettone failed to duplicate her compatriots’ Miss Earth victories in 2004 and 2009 and settled for the Miss Earth-Air title. Heavy favorite Caroline Medina of Venezuela, a former Miss Hispanoamericana winner, was hailed Miss Earth-Fire.

Environmental protection
Pageant host Sonia Couling said the “elemental titles” Air, Water and Fire were of equal importance and thus had the same ranking.

One of the shortest candidates in this year’s pageant at 168 centimeters, Imperial soared at every stage of the competition, edging out leggier, more curvaceous candidates.

With the pageant advocating environmental protection, Imperial showed her excellent grasp of environmental issues and impressive communication skills.
This year, the pageant introduced the “Miss Earth Declaration,” a manifesto in which the candidates pledged support for a common environmental mission to be implemented in their respective countries.

The 84 candidates focused on education as an important tool in the battle to save the environment. This was also the theme of the final question given to the top 4 finishers during the final round of the competition.

Asked why the candidates chose education as the “environmental initiative that world leaders should prioritize,” Imperial said: “It is in education that everyone will be aware of the environmental condition today, not just in the Philippines but in the whole world. We have different environmental issues. We should be concerned of all the environmental issues in the world. And we should act now.”

Alava said “education is the base for everything” and appealed for a campaign to teach the children, who she said would manage Mother Earth for future generations.

‘Among the stars’
She took home a $20,000 management contract with pageant organizer Carousel Productions and will have the Oakwood Premier at Joy-Nostalg Centre in Ortigas, Pasig, as her official home in the Philippines whenever she comes to the country. She also won a slew of prizes from pageant sponsors.

In an emotional interview with the Inquirer, Imperial said: “I’m happy for the Filipinos. I shot for the moon and landed among the stars. Oh my God!”

Imperial confessed that she was saying the rosary whenever she appeared on stage. “While I was smiling, I was praying at the same time. And that gave me confidence, together with the cheers and the applause of all the people in UP Theater.”

She offered her victory to all Filipinos. “This is not only for me, this is for every Filipino,” she said, adding in Filipino: “Let us continue dreaming because we can reach our dreams as long as we have faith in God.”

Imperial praised her fellow candidates: “We are all beautiful. Actually, the choreographer said she had an easy time with us because we quickly picked up the steps. Also, we were very much aware of each others’ environmental advocacies. We know what kind of beauty each one of us possesses.”

Saving Mother Earth
Alava said “all of us deserve to win.” She invited her fellow candidates to help her in her mission for the environment. “We are all here for a purpose and we have to continue working for it,” she said.

The Ecuadorian beauty sees her crown as “a tool to help save Mother Earth.”

The pageant was supposed to be held in Bangkok, but the devastating floods that inundated the country in October forced Carousel to move it back to its birth place—the Philippines.

Carousel president Ramon Monzon said: “It would have been insensitive, even irresponsible, to go ahead with the event in Bangkok at this time.”

In a statement, the organization said: “With the natural calamities that have befallen Thailand, Turkey and other parts of the world, more than ever this is the best time to stage Miss Earth to call attention to pressing environmental problems.”

Among the judges this year were educator and entrepreneur Vivienne Tan, daughter of tycoon Lucio Tan; Philippe Charriol, founder and CEO of the Charriol Group; Iocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson; Vivien Tan, “StarAsia Travel” host and Singaporean singer and entrepreneur; and Dave and Anthony Semerad, both college basketball players.

Current Events in Philippines

Aquino lashes out at Supreme Court

President Benigno Aquino III. FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino lashed out against Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona on Monday, from the latter’s ascension to the high court to decisions of the high court that had to do with investigating and arresting former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Speaking at the first ever National Criminal Justice summit held at the Manila hotel, the President did not mince words in criticizing the controversial decisions made under the Corona-led high court.

Throughout Mr. Aquino’s 10-minute speech, Corona sat a few meters away from the President and took the presidential tirades in stony silence.

The President first slammed the high court decision’s junking of the Truth Commission he created to investigate the alleged corruption in the Arroyo administration.

“Unang hakbang pa lamang, may barikada na agad (It was just the first step, there is already a barricade),” President Aquino said.

The Chief Executive then slammed the high court move to stop the Department of Justice from implementing its watch list order against Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo.

He said the high court had issued certain conditions on the temporary restraining order it made against the watch list order but he noted that it later said there was no need to implement these conditions.

“Aba e, naglagay ka ng patakaran kung wala ka naman palang balak na masunod ito (You gave rules but you don’t intend to follow them),” the President said.

Mr. Aquino said that the Executive had followed the process and yet the high court was saying the Palace was the one looking for a fight.

“Sino ba naman ang hindi magdududa sa tunay nilang hangarin (Who will not doubt on its real intention)?” he said, adding that this was not the first time the high court had made decisions “hard to understand.”

Then President Aquino also took the opportunity to question the appointment of Corona, noting that Arroyo had made sure that Corona would be Chief Justice before she steps down.

When before the high court had ruled that it was against the law to appoint someone two months before the next election unless it was just a temporary position in the executive, it then flip-flopped and agreed that Corona’s appointment was legal.

“The question now: did the Supreme Court violated the Constitution,” he said.
Mr. Aquino’s speech was interrupted once with an applause when he pointed out that those who took office owe the people and that they should serve their interest.

President Aquino vowed he would continue to pursue his fight against corruption.
“Sa lahat ng nakikibalikat sa atin sa tuwid na daan, manalig kayo: Hanggat’ nasa tama tayo, wala tayong laban na aatrasan (To those who are with us in following the straight path, have faith: As long as we’re right, we will not back off from any fight),” he said.

After his speech, the President shook hands with officials sitting at the presidential table, including Corona. He shook hands with the Chief Justice two times more –when he first arrived at the summit and when he eventually left the occasion.

Current Events in Philippines

Friday, December 2, 2011

9 days of ‘Simbang Gabi’ starts

MANILA, Philippines. As the nine-day Simbang Gabi starts Wednesday, Dec. 16, to officially start the Christmas season, a Catholic bishop reminded churchgoers that the series of novena Masses are supposed to help them prepare spiritually for Christmas Day.

Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, who chairs the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, stressed the significance of the very special novena Masses that were originally held before dawn.

Since Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ,  we prepare for this through nine days of novena, Iñiguez said.

Since this is a spiritual event, the theme of our preparation should also be a spiritual one. We should prepare ourselves, we should know Christ, the truth of what he did for us and accept him in our lives as our Savior, the bishop added.

The only Christian nation in Asia, the Philippines has the longest Christmas celebration in the world, as Christmas officially starts on Dec. 16 with the start of the Simbang Gabi and ends up to the first Sunday of January or the Epiphany that celebrates the visit of the Three Kings to the infant Jesus.

In other countries, Christmas starts on Dec. 25 itself and ends on Epiphany.

Iñiguez said the nine-day Simbang Gabi is unique to the Philippines, which adopted Christianity as its dominant religion after four centuries of Spanish colonial rule.

The novena Mass traditionally was held around 4 a.m., thus the name Misa de Gallo or Mass of the rooster, since the animal crows at the break of dawn.

Since the Mass is held while it is still dark, it was called Simbang Gabi or night Mass.
But for some years now, the novena Mass has no longer been strictly held before dawn. The Catholic Church has adjusted to modern urban schedules and has agreed to hold anticipated Simbang Gabi the night before.

But originally the Mass can not be held after noon, Iñiguez said.

By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer

First Posted 07:06:00 12/16/2009

Simbang Gabi Schedules

‘Merry Christmas’ a no-no at airport

Warm smiles are encouraged. But welcoming visitors with “Merry Christmas” greetings are not.

The Manila International Airport Authority on Wednesday told its employees and personnel to refrain from greeting arriving and departing passengers “Merry Christmas” to avoid the impression that they are soliciting Christmas gifts, whether in cash or in kind.

“I strongly discourage them from extending the ‘Merry Christmas’ or other similar greetings to passengers because such a gesture, no matter how casual or sincere, might be misinterpreted as asking for a tip,” Miaa General Manager Jose Angel Honrado explained.

“A warm and friendly smile is enough—and, of course, very efficient service,” he added.

Honrado said the “reminder” is especially aimed at employees and personnel manning airport counters or those who are tasked to assist passengers.
“It is not good for airport personnel, including immigration and customs officers, to be perceived as gift solicitors,” he said. Tina G. Santos with Jerome Aning

Originally posted at 04:47 pm | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Filipino Christmas Greeting

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Garcia on the way out? Gomez, Juico eyed as PSC chief

MANILA, Philippines—The winds of change appears to be blowing once again for Philippine sports.

But it might not be the one Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia had in mind.

While the longtime PSC official said he agreed that the sports body may have outlived its usefulness and that it should be abolished in favor of a cabinet-level body, speculations were rife that he may be very well on the way out.

This developed after Garcia and PSC commissioner Buddy Andrada were summoned to Malacañang to meet with President Aquino on the heels of the country’s disastrous performance in the recent Southeast Asian Games.

Also present during the meeting was Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., who is generally acknowledged as the chief backers of Garcia and Andrada in their new PSC posts.

Nobody among the officials returned calls and text messages, but sources said it was a “crucial meeting.”

The country is fresh from a much-maligned performance in Indonesia where it came up with 36 golds, 56 silvers and 77 bronzes and a sixth-place finish in the 11-nation Games.

Interestingly, the rest of the PSC commissioners were not summoned to the meeting. Commissioners Chito Loyzaga and Jolly Gomez took their posts as direct appointees by the President, while Olympian swimmer Akiko Thomson was a holdover from the previous administration.

Sources said Garcia “will have to go” after the SEAG debacle, adding that Gomez or former PSC chair Philip Ella Juico are in line to replace him.

The SEAG was the latest issue to rock Garcia’s reign in the PSC which drew flak after he and Cojuangco downplayed the achievement of the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat Team which won five golds and two silvers in the World Championships last August in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Earlier, Garcia said he is amenable to change for the sake of Philippine sports in reaction to a planned bill to abolish the agency in favor of a cabinet-level body.
“As long as it is for the good of sports, we will welcome any reform or reorganization,” said Garcia.

Garcia agreed that some of the crucial provisions in Republic Act 6847, the law that created the PSC in 1990, are already outmoded and should be changed to keep up with the times.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had earlier announced he would sponsor a bill seeking to abolish the PSC and replace it with a cabinet-level government office.

Trillanes, recently elected president of the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines, said establishing a department for sports would make sports a government priority since its top official would enjoy the same rank as the other secretaries of the Cabinet.

“If our lawmakers find it wise to make the head of sports a secretary, we’ll go with whatever the law would allow us to do,” said Garcia.

The PSC czar also agreed that some of the provisions in the PSC law should be carefully studied, especially the relationship between the agency and the Philippine Olympic Committee.

The PSC strictly provides financial assistance only to national sports associations recognized by the POC, a private entity.

“There are certain functions that should be studied. For instance, the PSC couldn’t meddle into the affairs of the national sports associations because it could be tantamount to government intervention,” said Garcia.

He cited the paradigm being implemented in China, Brunei and Vietnam, countries where the government provides funding and takes full control of the national team.

2011 Southeast Asian Games