Monday, November 28, 2011

Malacañang: SEAG debacle? What debacle?

Rey Saludar, right, the designated flag carrier for the PH delegation in the SEA Games, and sports officials from left; PSC chair Richie Garcia, VP Jejomar Binay, POC pres. Jose Cojuangco, Jr. and dep. chef de mission Julian Camacho during the send off ceremonies at the ULTRA before the competition. Photo by Romy Homillada
MANILA, Philippines—Contrary to the observation that Filipino athletes did poorly at the recent 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia, Malacañang Thursday marveled at their performance.

“We commend them for their performance in the Southeast Asian Games,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing.

Lacierda said the Palace did not think that the country came up with a poor performance despite winding up sixth in the medal tally—its worst finish since 1978, when the Philippines first joined the regional Games.

“Certainly there’s always room for improvement, but we congratulate our Philippine contingent for their noble performance in the Southeast Asian Games,” he told reporters.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr., earlier said the country must follow the path taken by its neighbors by increasing the budget for sports.

“We have to really review what the others are doing,” Cojuangco said in Thursday’s Usapan POC” radio show. “Why Singapore is spending so much, [as in the case of] Vietnam and Myanmar. Why can’t we do it here.”

Singapore reportedly spent the equivalent of P4.8 billion for sports this year. In contrast, the PSC worked on a budget of about P600 million that came from its share of the gross income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. and from the General Appropriations Act.

Early this year, the PSC set aside a total of P400 million for all the national sports associations (NSAs). The PSC received P168 million from the GAA which was spent for the agency’s daily operations and facilities upkeep.

“Right now Myanmar is changing its attitude,” said Cojuangco. “The [Philippines’] decision makers will have to realize where we are going… How much do we really want and how much importance do we give to sports.”
PSC chair Richie Garcia said it’s unfair to put all the blame on the sports agency.

“Why blame us? We don’t pick and train the athletes,” said Garcia referring to the NSAs, which all have the discretion of choosing, training and monitoring the national athletes.

The Philippines managed only 36 golds, 56 silvers and 77 bronzes in Indonesia. Singapore had a 42-45-73 tally to finish fifth behind Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Myanmar will stage the 2013 Games, and at the rate it is preparing for a breakout performance, disgruntled sports officials said the country might even slide to seventh place.

Magical Parade of Lights

The “Magical Parade of Lights” at Araneta Center in Quezon City features multicolored electric floats from Roxas City, depicting sea creatures illuminated by thousands of flickering bulbs. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Gloria Arroyo fit to leave hospital

HOUSE OR HOSPITAL? What will it  be for Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Continued hospital arrest in a government military hospital or house arrest? AP

After one of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s physicians affirmed in open court that she was “medically fit,” prosecutors asked that she be detained at any government facility, “preferably the Southern Police District.”

Arroyo’s lawyers attempted to block her doctors from testifying at Friday’s hearing at Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 and proposed her house arrest, withdrawing an earlier plea for her continued detention at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

Lead defense counsel Jose Flaminiano admitted that his client, who has a bone ailment, was “fit for discharge” but did not specify which house he preferred her to be detained.

In a phone interview with the Inquirer later in the day, Flaminiano said it was up to Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, to say where she should stay. “We will consult her and lay down her options. We will know by Tuesday,” he said.
Arroyo has a house in the exclusive La Vista Subdivision in Quezon City and another in her district in Lubao, Pampanga province, near the Macapagal ancestral home.

According to Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, the government can better secure Arroyo at the Armed Forces of the Philippines Medical Center (previously known as V. Luna Medical Center) in Quezon City.

Robredo said authorities would treat Arroyo “no different from Erap,” referring to deposed President Joseph Estrada, who was initially detained at Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City before he was moved to a military camp in Tanay, Rizal province, and later to his rest house nearby during his trial for plunder.

“But this is the call of [Pasay RTC Judge Jesus Mupas],” Robredo said in a text message to the Inquirer.

Questions on health
As far as Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is concerned, the move by Arroyo’s lawyers to have her put under house arrest instead of hospital arrest was “an implied admission that her health is really improving.”

“There is nothing in her medical abstract stating that her condition was worse at the time she asked for an allow-departure order. That’s why I denied it,” De Lima told reporters in an ambush interview.

She also said she had received reports that Arroyo’s doctors were being “harassed” by the latter’s lawyers.

Talking to reporters outside the court after the hearing adjourned at past 10 a.m., Arroyo’s legal spokesperson, Raul Lambino, insisted that because she was no longer president, she did not have to make a full disclosure on her state of health.

The matter had been expected to be disclosed by her attending physicians, who were subpoenaed to court on Thursday.

The summonses were issued after lead election prosecutor Ma. Juana Valeza requested that Arroyo’s medical condition be revealed in court in order to determine the necessity of her detention at St. Luke’s—a request Flaminiano made last week only to be withdrawn at Friday’s hearing.

Flaminiano argued that since the defense had admitted Arroyo’s fitness to leave the hospital, it would be irrelevant to have her doctors disclose in open court her present medical condition.

“It’s not an issue anymore,” he said, adding that making any disclosure on the former President’s health could infringe on her right to privacy, and that a person’s medical condition was covered by the doctor-patient confidentiality rule.

Judge Mupas said the court could not rule on Arroyo’s transfer unless it heard from her doctors. He reminded the members of the defense that they were lawyers like himself and that it would be best to hear of Arroyo’s state of health from her doctors themselves.

GLORIA ARROYO’S DOCTORS. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s doctors— (from left) Roberto Mirasol, Juliet Gopez-Cervantes and Mario Ver—leave the courtroom after the hearing on Friday in Pasay City. Arroyo, who tried to leave the country on medical grounds while the government scrambled to file charges against her, is well enough to leave the hospital where she was arrested last week, according to her doctors. AP

“The court is interested in the present medical condition of the accused,” he said.

Despite the defense’s insistence on not putting the three doctors—main attending physician Juliet Gopez-Cervantes, orthopedic surgeon Mario Ver and endocrinologist Roberto Mirasol—on the stand, Valeza managed to have Ver testify on his patient’s fitness.

After Ver replied in the affirmative to the question of whether Arroyo was “medically fit,” Valeza asked no more questions.

But Mupas asked Ver to qualify his answer and elaborate on the patient’s “conservative management and treatment.”

“As far as my subspecialty is concerned, she is fit to be treated as an outpatient,” Ver said.

He said that Arroyo was being treated for pain in the lower back with painkillers and muscle relaxants, and that she recently complied with the mandatory bed rest and was undergoing physical therapy.

SPD HQ ‘preferable’
Arroyo’s rehabilitation can be continued “for the next several weeks as an outpatient,” Ver said.

Valeza, a lawyer at the Commission on Elections, moved that Arroyo be transferred to any government detention facility in light of her camp’s declaration of her fitness.

She mentioned the Southern Police District headquarters in Taguig as among the “preferable” detention places.

Earlier in the hearing, prior to Ver’s remarks on Arroyo’s condition, Valeza sought the patient’s transfer to a government hospital.

Defense co-counsel Jay Flaminiano acknowledged the prosecutor’s gesture but maintained their stand on their client’s house arrest.

Jose Flaminiano also said Arroyo could waive her appearance at every court hearing. He said this was among the considerations the legal team would look into after picking her place of detention.

“The only time she will appear is during the arraignment because her presence is mandatory,” he said.

In a radio interview, Robredo said Judge Mupas would “determine whether [Arroyo] needs house arrest or not.”

“Wasn’t President Erap in a government hospital, and it turned out to be OK? And [we just have to] make sure and make it clear that she is in the custody of the government,” Robredo said.

“If the court decides that she will be in a government hospital, then [it will be so]. But if the court [specifies] a regular detention facility, then we will prepare a detention center for her,” he said.

Arroyo and her husband attempted to leave the country, ostensibly to seek medical treatment for her abroad, on Nov. 15, after securing a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Supreme Court on her inclusion in the immigration watch list.

But they were blocked by De Lima, who said the watch-list order on her was still in effect because the Department of Justice (DOJ) had yet to receive a copy of the TRO.

Arroyo was subsequently charged with electoral sabotage along with Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Lintang Bedol, former Maguindanao governor and election supervisor, respectively, on the recommendation of a joint DOJ-Comelec panel that looked into the purported fraud in the 2007 senatorial elections in parts of Mindanao.

Up to the court
President Aquino also said it was up to the court to rule on the defense’s request for Arroyo’s house arrest.

Speaking to reporters after attending the first National Media Conference on Climate Change Adaptation held at Bicol University in Legazpi City, the President said: “They are the ones in power to decide where to incarcerate people that they ordered arrested. We are the executive [branch]; we are tasked to follow the mandates of the court when it comes to questions of the law.”

He also said “prudence” dictated that he not comment on the matter.
“Being the Chief Executive of this land, I might be construed as trying to influence the decision of the court,” he said.

Asked whether he felt vindicated now that Arroyo’s lawyers and doctors had attested to her medical fitness, Mr. Aquino said: “If the doctors did say that, then they became true to their profession. They told the truth, and we thank them.”
In Manila, De Lima likewise said it was up to the Pasay court to rule on whether Arroyo should be put under house arrest.

But she said this would “also be difficult because there’s a perception of special treatment,” which, she pointed out, “the administration is trying to avoid.”

She added that the other options available were Arroyo’s “private arrest” in a government or public hospital, or detention at an “appropriate jail facility.”

De Lima stressed that Arroyo’s health condition was “a matter of public interest.” She said this was one of the reasons cited by the DOJ in asking the Supreme Court to also have the former President’s doctors summoned.

The high court is expected to rule on the DOJ’s request on Tuesday. Chief Justice Renato Corona said that if the tribunal granted the request, the doctors would be asked to appear on Thursday at the resumption of the oral arguments on the suit filed by Arroyo against the government in connection with the ban on her travel. With reports from DJ Yap in Manila and Christine O. Avendaño in Legazpi City
First posted 12:39 am | Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Arroyo Corruption

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wizards cast magic in Christmas Village

The magical world of wizards is captivating the young and old alike in Bacolod, the City of Smiles.

They are flocking to the ancestral home of an artist-designer on San Juan Street to see Harry Potter, Professor Dumbledore and other famous wizards.

No, these are not the real Harry Potter and the well-loved Dumbledore in the popular book-series that has been made into a movie franchise. These are miniature replicas that have become added attractions to the famous Christmas Village created by Bamboo Tonogbanua.

The replicas are floating in the “clouds” above the village that fills a 6-by-8-meter room on the second floor of Tonogbanua’s home.

The magical world also features the famous London Bridge, cathedrals, castles and a train that looks much like the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter series, which are placed close to the ceiling at the center of the room.

17th year
Now on its 17th-year run, the Christmas Village has fascinated thousands of children and adults who visit it during the holidays.

Tonogbanua started the project in 1996 and has since increased his collection of miniature Christmas houses and objects. Some of the items were bought during his travels abroad, while others were gifts from his friends.

When he was a child, Tonogbanua said he was fascinated by Victorian and New England villages on Christmas cards, so he decided to recreate them.

The first Christmas Village covered only 32 square feet, but it has expanded every holiday. This year, it fills an entire room to the ceiling.

Opened on Nov. 21, the snow-covered village will run until Jan. 8, 2012, the Feast of the Three Kings (Epiphany of the Lord).

With its ski slopes, railroad tracks, rivers, tunnels, mountain tops, shops, bike trails and castles, the Christmas Village is a sight to behold because of the details and intricacy of the design. It has several moving objects, such as cable cars that carry the miniature skiers up and down the slopes, carnival rides, dancers twirling to a waltz inside a gazebo, trains running through tunnels, skaters in the park, and Santa Clauses dancing and flying on sleighs.

‘Sky’ view
Scattered throughout are nativity scenes and tiny blinking lights in all shades and shapes. Christmas music coming from various sections of the room boosts the festive atmosphere.

This year, Tonogbanua’s added magical treat has caught the fancy of many children craning to the “sky.” Parents have to lift them so they can take a closer look at the minute details amid the clouds.

In a room in front of the Christmas Village is another attraction. Miniature replicas of Jack Sparrow and other characters of the famous “Pirates of the Carribean” franchise stand in a giant treasure chest with a glass window. Of course, not far are their ships, weapons and many treasures.

Tonogbanua has again outdone himself.

Christmas in Philippines

Movie Guide, November 26, 2011

 Movie Schedule Philippines

Celebrating Daddy at the Christmas table

This year, said son Mol, let’s plan the Christmas menu as dad would have, as if he were still alive. “All meat??!!” shuddered Son No. 2’s wife Lilli-Ann.
“How can it be complete,” wailed Wendy, “when there’s no Collins Street Bakery fruitcake this year? Dad was so ill in May I’m sure he forgot to order it or it would have arrived in November.”
That imported fruitcake! From Texas, Dad had ordered it faithfully for a good 15 years. It became a family joke, the cover of its can showing a snowy scene with an antique carriage and a couple in top hat and bonnet.

The children dissed him about it, but come parting time everyone would demand their share to take home because the corny cake, oozing with nuts and glazed fruits, was truly delicious.

Three weeks before would be the preparation of the tamales which defined our Christmas season, like carols. It would be the Cavite tamales, Dad’s mother’s recipe, consisting more of ground roasted peanuts than toasted rice, and a brilliant red-orange achuete color that made all other tamales pale in comparison.

Our tamales was rich in flavor, thicker and tougher to stir as the broth was absorbed, the cook soon yelling for the driver (who loved to cook more than to drive) to take over the stirring. Top with hard-boiled egg, bacon and chicken strips, wrap in banana leaves, tie by twos and simmer.

The batch of tamales in the wok was tightly guarded by Daddy; it was for immediate family only. Each offspring claimed his rightful share, eating the tamales sparingly in their homes and saving some in the freezer to last all of the holiday season.

Like a blob
Dad’s special old-fashioned galantina was made a week before Christmas. Spread deboned chicken on kitchen table—it will look like a blob. Force into a small slit on its belly the galantina stuffing of ground pork mixed with pickle relish.

Also whole Vienna sausages, hard-boiled eggs, green olives, and pimientos. It will now look like a fat blob. Shape the blob into a roll and sew up (an obstetrician in the family would help). Simmer in a broth of chicken bones. Cool. Make sure the thread is removed before slicing, or it will be a holy mess.

Galantina was the gift for close friends and relatives approved by Dad. Once I purloined one for my pal Mariel, but was immediately detected since Benny de la Cruz’s had gone missing. The gifts were wrapped in red, green or yellow cellophane and tied with recycled ribbon.

The galantina was also part of our Christmas spread but not the star. Dad always insisted on making the pica-pica himself—the classic stuff, no fusion or creative variations allowed. So it was jamon Serrano wrapped around a small slice of melon, Italian salami in loose rolls with black and green olives, various European cheeses and dips, and Planters mixed nuts. Dad always managed to sneak in a big bowl of deadly Lapid chicharon with laman sticking to it (groan). This was always wiped out first.

From Arcus came the unending supply of vintage wines from travels abroad. At one time a canned ham was also a side attraction. All that awful meat was served with huge piles of great, daddy-directed mashed potatoes. Another accompaniment was a healthy tossed salad of romaine, arugula, lolo rosso, apples and nuts (which nobody touched).
Also a fruit salad of green apples, canned fruit cocktail, peaches, nata de coco and grapes, all laved with thick cream which didn’t know whether to be a part of the meal or the desserts. BTW, the soup was the eternal Fernando chicken asparagus soup. For peace, the reigning carnivores would serve a token baked fish on the wayside.

On two Christmases, Dad had insisted on having roast turkey instead. He loved carving meat, and turkey always looked elegant. We suspected Dad just wanted to show off his set of expensive carving knives. On both occasions the turkey breast ended up in the baon of the grandchildren for a week.

When the native lechon regained its popularity, the lamb and roast beef and turkey were edged out. BingBing’s Cebu lechon, ordered from some secret source, reigned. It was always the driver assigned to do the chopping of the lechon—on a thick slab of stand-alone chopping board dragged in from the kitchen.

The desserts were the assignment of sweet-tooth Lanelle and also Bing Bing, from macadamia sans rival to decadent chocolate cake, to Estrel’s caramel cake, to lemon meringue, to ube cake, to pili nut tarts and Kisses.

Our kids’ families enjoyed one another’s company and stayed all day on Christmas. After the musical numbers and the distribution of gifts (name called out, each person approaching, including all the help from the four houses), we napped or chatted on the bed, the sofas and the rug.

As if that were not enough, at 5 p.m., as inevitably as the impending 7 o’clock Mass, Mol would serve his special toasted pancit. And the eating resumed again—the wine, the coffee and the desserts, the pica-pica, the cheeses, the ham, the fruits that Wendy and Roy brought. Finally it was time for Mass, and thereafter everyone and their gifts were gone.

One Christmas, a grandson, Franco, wrote a play for the kids to stage. It was called “The Slaughter of the Animals,” a morality tale on the lamb, the cow, the pig, the turkey and the chicken sacrificed for Dad’s Christmas table. Do you think it made anyone feel guilty? Guess again!

Christmas Sale Philippines

Paskong Pinoy

You too can be featured here! Show us how you celebrate Christmas in your country by sending us your photos and videos to Read submission guidelines here.

Paskong Pinoy

Christmas gifts you’d love to receive

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving. At our annual Christmas party all the girls make a wish-list and I find that some products are main-stays we girls dont mind getting every year. Here are some gift suggestions you may want to add on your list, or give as a gift.

Christmas Gift Philippines

Philippines’ new tourism slogan out before Christmas

A new branding campaign to sell the Philippines to the world is in the works and will be ready before Christmas.

Newly appointed Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said that all it needs is a catchy slogan.

Jimenez told the Senate finance subcommittee scrutinizing his department’s P4 billion proposed budget for 2012 that his other major plan is to involve all Filipinos in the effort to attract tourists.

“There are many well-meaning suggestions as to what the slogan should be.  Even journalists are giving their inputs. We’re getting strong encouragement and inspiration from interested people,” Jimenez told reporters in Filipino in an ambush interview after the Senate hearing.

He refused to elaborate, however.

“Bear with us about our plans,” Jimenez earlier told members of the subcommittee. “We will show you when our new branding campaign (is ready). The possibilities are very real and well within our grasp. Our best estimate is in about two months, we will be ready to talk to people about our new campaign,” he assured.

This prompted subcommittee chairman Senator Ralph Recto to say he expects something “better than Chickenjoy,” a popular fast-food product whose promotion was handled by Jimenez’s own advertising agency.

“The lack of money has never been a serious obstacle for…Filipinos,” Jimenez said, noting his department’s relatively small budget.

“We are creative. I said (during a meeting with Department of Tourism officials) that the Thais, the Malaysians are already worried because of what we are about to do in tourism,” Jimenez said.

“We have beaten them before with a whole lot less in resources and we can do it again,” Jimenez added.

Jimenez also said the effort to lure travelers also requires the concerted effort of all Filipinos who need to believe in the product first.

“Tourism is a national activity. I cannot overstate the importance of Filipinos talking about it on Facebook. Brag about your country, talk about it. Sometimes, it is one’s face that betrays whether you have confidence in your country. We must not be squeamish about competing with the rest of Asia. Selling is a delicate exercise and it shows on your face if you do not believe it,” he explained.

In its presentation, the Department of Tourism said it plans to attract 4.1 million foreign and domestic tourists next year and earn P1.2 billion from tourism-related industries. Hopefully, the increase in arrivals would generate jobs for 4.4 million Filipinos.

Tourism Undersecretary Daniel Corpuz said the Philippines had a measly 3 percent share of the 3.5 million tourists that went to Southeast Asia in 2010.
A tourist in the Philippines spends $700 on the average and stays 8.2 nights in the country. Koreans constitute the biggest market.

Christmas in Philippines

Birds ‘welcome’ visitors to NPD Caloocan office

Visitors to the Northern Police District (NPD) headquarters in Caloocan City may be surprised to be greeted at the entrance by the most unlikely hosts at this time of the year—big white birds.

“They hang around there, especially when it rains. They like playing in the puddles after the rain,” said PO1 Joel Baliong of the NPD investigation unit.
The birds flock near the entrance of the main headquarters of the Philippine National Police in the city.

The NPD has jurisdiction over the cities of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.

The Inquirer heard policemen imitating bird sounds, as they looked down from the terrace of the second floor of the main building.

Baliong said the birds were someone else’s pets.

“They have been here for quite some time now, but they only come out to play during the rainy season,” Baliong said.

Numbering around 20, the fowls are usually found   near the office of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team when it doesn’t rain since there was usually a lot of water in the area even in sunny weather.

Baliong said the animals were fed by the policemen with rice or leftovers.
SPO1 Ernesto Arroz of the investigation unit said that the birds have long been fixtures at the  NPD.

He said policemen were used to seeing the birds, and did not mind their presence.

“They just walk around and don’t bother us,  so there’s  no problem. And with too much work to do, you don’t  really notice them at all,” he said.

“Pretty soon, we’ll have another police battalion—composed of birds that is,” Baliong  joked.

Current Events in Philippines

Clickers eye elusive breakthru win vs Tigers; E-Painters try to stop resurgent Llamados

MANILA, Philippines—Rain Or Shine tries to keep its second-running position when the Elasto Painters collide with the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“They’re one of the teams chasing us down, so it’s important to stop them on their tracks,” said Rain Or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, who is hoping to boost the

E-Painters card to 8-3 in the 7:30 p.m. game.
With a 6-4 record, B-Meg can forge a tie for third with Rain or Shine and idle Petron Blaze with a victory. attempts to pull off victory No. 1 in the first of its last three games in the conference when the Clickers tackle the skidding Powerade Tigers in the opening game at 5:15 p.m.

The Clickers (0-11) are hoping to avoid matching Welcoat Paints’ 12 straight losses in the 2007 Philippine Cup. Great Taste (1982 Reinforced Conference) and Country Fair (1984 Reinforced Conference) share the record for consecutive setbacks with 13.

But the task is difficult for the Clickers as the Tigers (3-7) are favored to end a four-game losing streak.

After clobbering the Barangay Ginebra Kings recently, the Llamados will go for a fifth consecutive win while the E-Painters (7-3) are determined to bounce back from an overtime loss to the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in an out-of-town game last Saturday.

“We could have won it, but we got several bad breaks on the calls in the final stretch,” said Guiao. “We showed character and determination, so I’m still confident.

“Our game against B-Meg will be very crucial,” he added. “I can say that we’re not giving up on our bid to finish in the top two.”

B-Meg coach Tim Cone is not looking beyond today’s game, however.

“We’re slowly climbing up the ladder,” he said. “It’s a slow climb but we’re happy. We’re just hoping to get into the top six. The top two is far away but you never know. Strange things happen in the PBA.”

The top two teams after the eliminations will secure a twice-to-beat edge over the seventh- and eighth-ranked clubs in the quarterfinals. Teams finishing third to sixth will go into a couple of best-of-three series.

Size and length pose a problem for the E-Painters, who will rely heavily on Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Ronjay Buenafe, Ryan Arana and rookie Paul Lee.

“I think they’re (Llamados) the tallest team,” said Guiao. “We have a big problem, literally and figuratively. If they settle with their half-court game, we’ll have a problem. We need to run and dictate the game with our transition offense.”

Aside from two-time MVP James Yap, the Llamados can also lean on Kerby
Raymundo, Joe De Vance, PJ Simon, Roger Yap, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis and rookie Mark Barroca.

B-Meg also acquired 6-foot-9 Yancy De Ocampo in a trade with the Kings.

Calapan Ventures debut shares up in stock market trading

MANILA, Philippines—Shares of Calapan Ventures Inc., owner of the waterworks system of Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro, traded higher during the company’s stock trading debut on Thursday despite the sluggish market environment.

CVI, which listed shares under the ticker H20, saw a 7.2-percent share price increase to finish at P2.68 per share, giving the utility company a market capitalization of P405 million.

“I guess this is mainly because the issue size is very small so it’s very easy for punters to push the issue. Basically, there’s speculation of further uptick due to the limited number of shares in the market,” said Asiasec Equities chief strategist Manny Cruz.

CVI, a subsidiary of publicly listed Jolliville Holdings Corp., sold to the public 42.16 million shares at P2.50 per share, bringing to public hands 26 percent of its outstanding capital stock.

The company listed on the PSE’s second board, which is devoted to companies with high growth potentials, a minimum market capitalization of P250 million and one year in operating history. Unicapital Inc. arranged the offering.

The offer generated P105.4 million in gross proceeds and about P95.15 million in net proceeds, which will be used to finance various water projects.

Specifically, P52 million will be used for the expansion of storage facilities, including the construction of one overhead reservoir as well as the installation of transmission and distribution lines from the reservoir to the water system, based on the company’s final prospectus.

The company also plans to invest in zoning works in 26 barangays (villages) such as the installation of district meters and isolation valves. Also included is the cost of massive meter replacement in order to reduce leakages or non-revenue water (NRW)  to its target level of 20 percent.

NRW – referring to water lost in its distribution system due to leakage, pilferage and metering errors – has been lessened from 64 percent in 1997 to around 33 percent by 2010.

CVI has an ongoing rehabilitation, expansion and improvement plan for its waterworks system in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. This plan seeks to bolster water pressure, improve water quality and increase production to accommodate more households into its network.

Philippine Peso Exchange Rate

A Slow Turn of Events in the Philippine Economy

The progress of building a “Matuwid na Daan” that was promised by President Ninoy Aquino, or P-Noy, had been quite sluggish for quite some time now, which is a bad sign according to Neda (National Economic and Development Authority) director general Solita Monsod.

The progress of building a “Matuwid na Daan” that was promised by President Ninoy Aquino, or P-Noy, had been quite sluggish for quite some time now, which is a bad sign according to Neda (National Economic and Development Authority) director general Solita Monsod.

From the PPP to ODA Route
The PPP, or the Public-Private Partnership, which was P-Noy’s flagship program since he started to sit as the head of the country, had been re-written and was pushed aside to give way into yet another program which is the Official Development Program or the ODA.

The Public-Private Partnership, or simply known as the PPP, is a program in which a government program or private business is funded and operated through a partnership of government and one or more private sector companies.

According to current events in Philippines, at the Makati Business Club, many investors were waiting for Manuel Roxas II to discuss the many facts about the PPP, but were surprised that the program was scratched to give way to another, but similar, program which is the ODA.

The ODA or Official Development Assistance is a program in which the government will seek outside help, normally through foreign donors, to fund the government’s infrastructure projects. Only when it’s completed that investors may invest on that project.

Slow Progress due to Slow Decisions
According to Monsod, both programs are good, her only concern is that projects are taking too long to be finalized due to these delays.

“What happened to the projects that were ready?” Monsod asked. “What the hell is this? What are they looking for? If they’re looking for the perfect project, it’s not going to happen.”

However, according to her, Neda had already foreseen this before it happened through “leading indicators”, such as the President’s limited experience as a “conductor” of the large executive branch. This can be easily remedied, according to Makati Business Club chairman, Ramon del Rosario Jr, by having the best advice from the best Cabinet members and advisers.

“The economic managers have a lot more flexibility to do the things they do as long as they stay within the parameters set by the President,” Del Rosario said.

However, according to current events in Philippines, things are still not too late, that everything can still be saved. What it needs, however, is haste in the decision of which program will be chosen to get all of these started.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Philippine stocks down over reports of weak US economy

MANILA, Philippines—Risk aversion continued to weigh down trading as share prices again fell on Wednesday on weak US economic data, marking the local bourse’s sixth straight day in the red.

The main Philippine Stock Exchange Index (PSEi) lost 18 points, or 0.42 percent, after Wednesday’s trading to close at 4,271.59 points. The broader all-share index sank by 0.24 percent, or 7.14 points, to 3,000.93 as decliners led advancers 80 to 65, while 52 stocks were unchanged.

Stocks tracked losses on Wall Street the night before that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.5 percent; the Standard & Poor’s 500 by 0.4; and the Nasdaq composite by 0.1 percent.

“Worries abroad continued to stifle the foreign buying momentum. The weaker than expected US GDP growth also contributed to the uncertainty towards the local market,” a local brokerage firm said.

The index’s losses were led by property giant Megaworld Corp. (3.57 percent), infrastructure firm Metro Pacific Investments (2.24 percent), holding firm JG Summit (1.60 percent), and construction company DMCI (1.33 percent).

The market’s lackluster performance also follows the downgrade of the World Bank’s growth forecast for the country to just 4.5 percent, below the government forecast of as much as 6 percent.

Philippine Peso Exchange Rate

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Philippine graft problem bigger than Arroyo

President Benigno Aquino III has hailed the arrest of his predecessor, former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as proof his antigraft drive is working but analysts say much more needs to be done to end the country’s corruption plague.
Arroyo, who ruled the Philippines from 2001 to 2010, was charged on Friday with rigging senatorial elections, and Mr. Aquino has vowed to pursue her for a wide range of other corrupt acts she allegedly committed while in power.                     President Benigno Aquino III. AP Photo
“This is the fruit of our reforms to fight corruption. The principle behind these reforms is that the guilty must be made to account,” Mr. Aquino said over the weekend in his first comments on Arroyo since she was arrested.

Mr. Aquino won a landslide election victory last year after campaigning almost exclusively on a platform of ending widespread corruption across all sectors of society, which is one of the main reasons for the country’s crushing poverty.

The bachelor President and son of a democracy heroine is widely regarded as being corruption-free and he has used his clean image as one of the key drivers in trying to change the public’s tolerance for graft.

Mr. Aquino has also vowed to hold even the most powerful people to account, and has made the pursuit of Arroyo one of his administration’s top priorities.
Arroyo stood down last year with opinion polls showing her to be the most unpopular Philippine leader since dictator Ferdinand Marcos of the 1980s, largely because of the belief she was corrupt.

She is alleged to have approved multimillion-dollar government contracts that enriched herself, her family and supporters. Arroyo is also accused of cheating to win the 2004 presidential election. She denies all the charges.

Major reforms
Political analysts say that, while the determination of Mr. Aquino and his aides to hold Arroyo to account signals a good intention to fight graft, they have not yet taken the major reforms needed to dig out the roots of corruption.

“Their idea seems to be to get one big fish, but that won’t be enough,” said political science professor Francisco Magno of De La Salle University.

“It has to go beyond the campaign promises, the rhetoric of change.”
Magno said one of the government’s top priorities should be to strengthen agencies that held officials to account, such as the Office of the Ombudsman.
“The (watchdog) institutions are weak. They need to be strengthened, put more resources, put in more lawyers and pay them better,” he said.

Political scientist Bobby Tuazon, director of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance, criticized Mr. Aquino for backtracking an election campaign to back a freedom of information bill.

“By backtracking … he is sending a mixed signal of whether he is serious in the fight against corruption,” Tuazon said.

On a macro level, Tuazon said the entire political system of patronage, which was entrenched more than 100 years ago during US colonial rule, needed to be addressed if corruption was to be seriously tackled.

Bribery an institution
Under this system, politicians hand out the spoils of office to their supporters in exchange for their loyalty, or seek bribes in return for contracts or favors, Tuazon said.

“Bribery is an institution,” he said.

Tuazon alleged that Arroyo was one of the most flagrant offenders, but that corruption infested all levels of politics.

“Political patronage is usually identified with the president. But if you go down the line, it is also real in Congress, provincial governments, local governments, even down to the village level,” he said.

Unexplained wealth for politicians is a common theme across the Philippines.
Provincial governors earn just P50,000 ($1,150) a month while city mayors make about P45,000, according to Mars Buan, a political scientist who advises firms for risk consultancy Pacific Strategies and Assessments.

But Buan said in many parts of the country, the houses of governors, mayors and other politicians were usually the most luxurious, and would cost much more than their salaries allowed.

“There are hazy ethics, low salaries, the pressure of the system . . . the need to get back all the money they spent in elections,” Buan said in describing Filipino politics.

Originally posted: 11:32 pm | Monday, November 21st, 2011

Arroyo Corruption

Ginebra feeling urgency, battle rejuvenated Alaska

MANILA, Philippines—Barangay Ginebra hopes to fast-track it’s transition phase and prevent a charging Alaska from exploiting its current situation in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Meralco, meanwhile, tries to inch closer to a sure playoff spot against Barako Bull in the other game.

The Gin King infused fresh fuel into their frontcourt, a move that has to fall into place since they have no recourse but to bounce back in their 5:15 p.m. meeting with the Aces. Another defeat could spell
                                                                             Photo by PBA/Nuki Sabio
doom for the playoff chances of the  Photo by PBA/Nuki Sabioleague’s most popular squad.

Ginebra is coming off a loss to the B-Meg Llamados last Sunday, sliding to seventh at 4-5 despite completing a trade that had forwards Rico Maierhofer and Allein Maliksi beefing up their ammunition.

“I hope we could fast-track the transition phase but it’s going to take some time,” said Ginebra coach Siot Tanquingcen. “It’s a process and we understand that we have to go through that.”

Jayjay Helterbrand was lethal last time around but sputtered in the homestretch along with Mike Cortez, Niño Canaleta and JC Intal as Ginebra allowed the Llamados to finish them off with a 13-1 windup. Ginebra star Mark Caguioa hardly contributed, going 2 of 10 for six points.

“It’s not looking good right now, although we’re hoping to get to the position where we can beat other (stronger) teams,” Tanquingcen added.

The Aces (3-7) are hoping to sustain a revival of sorts following back-to-back victories against sub-.500 squads Clickers (0-11) and the Powerade Tigers (3-7). Going up against another team with yet another losing record may be all the Aces need to boost their playoff hopes.

“For the past five games we’ve been winning on the boards and we’re beginning to capitalize on our size advantage,” said Alaska coach Joel Banal.

Refreshed by a week-long rest, the Bolts need two victories more to assure themselves of a quarterfinal stint and a win at 7:30 tonight over the Energy will solve half of the problem.

The Bolts (6-4), who have been getting a regular lift from Gabby Espinas, Mark Cardona and Sol Mercado, downed the Powerade Tigers, 98-96, while the Energy (5-4) absorbed their fourth loss in nine games against Petron Blaze last week.

Rear more PBA News here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dina Bonnevie wants a boyfriend for Christmas

“I can feel it coming. Siyempre mas masarap pag hindi malamig ang Pasko,” says actress Dina Bonnevie, who wants a boyfriend for Christmas. “I still have to decide whether to spend Christmas with my dad here or fly to Switzerland to be with my mom and sisters. Dyahe naman maki-join ako sa celebration ni Tin and Oyo or Danica and Mark.”

What about Bossing Vic? “We keep in      touch,” she says. “But not to the point of                                DINA Bonnevie
meddling in each other’s lives. Ang cheap naman if I ask him who he’s dating. He should be the one to wonder who I’m dating (laughs).”
May Ms D’s heart have its D-day soon!

Excited ‘lolo’
Mark Gil sounded like the excited lolo-to-be that he was when he called me.

“Andi is due to give birth on the third week of November,” he said. “She’s bored and spends most of her time online. I hope I won’t have work when she gives birth because I want to be with her in the delivery room. Still, I’ll definitely rush to the hospital to be with her.”

No more paternity issue. Andi and her coming baby are assured of the Eigenmann’s full support from maternity to eternity.

Big lie?
A concerned friend of Benjie Paras and his wife Lye sent me this text message: “Benjie refuses to talk about Jackie Forster, who has been bad-mouthing him. He doesn’t want to give her the attention she craves. But as someone who knows the truth, I feel the need to clarify things. Jackie claims they were supposed to be partners in ‘Survivor’ but he declined. That’s a big lie. GMA had plans of getting Benjie but not to pair him with Jackie because his kids would object. The two main reasons why he didn’t join: He can’t bear being away from his family that long and they couldn’t agree on his talent fee. His wife is not show biz at all.

Jackie mentioned that Lye might be the reason why Benjie refused to pair up with her. The kids are more upset with Jackie now. Benjie is such a good man. He doesn’t deserve such negative talk.”

Being a good friend of Benjie and Lye, I know how much they value family.  Despite his busy schedule, Benj makes sure he drives his kids to and from school. Jackie has no place in his life anymore. It’s a whole new ball game for the former PBA MVP/Rookie of the Year.

GMA Films’ psycho-thriller “The Road,” which opens Nov. 30, is loaded with cliffhangers that will capture the viewers’ imagination from beginning to end. Directed by Yam Laranas, it is top-billed by Carmina Villaroel, Marvin Agustin, Rhian Ramos and TJ Trinidad. Brace yourself for one hell of a road trip!

Christmas in Philippines | Movie Schedule Philippines

Monday, November 21, 2011

PBA: Alaska Aces dodge upset axe

MANILA, Philippines—Alaska coach Joel Banal shivered at the thought of winless pulling off a breakthrough win at his Aces’ expense.

Sonny Thoss extinguished Banal’s fears Sunday night, imposing himself with Alaska’s pride on the line to lift the Aces past the Clickers, 86-80, in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Thoss struck twice down the stretch, his putback over the high-leaping Elmer Espiritu with 54.3 seconds left giving Alaska an 84-80 lead after the Clickers had come within a basket.
                                                               PBA Image/ Nuki Sabio

“At some point in the game, I was a little bit scared,” said Banal, whose Aces are now tied with the Powerade Tigers at 3-7 in their drive to remain in contention for the last quarterfinal spot.

B-Meg’s devastating 13-1 windup sent Barangay Ginebra to its knees, 88-76, for a share of fourth with the Meralco Bolts in the second game.

James Yap had 17 points but it was rookie Mark Barroca, Kerby Raymundo and Marc Pingris who inflicted a fifth defeat against four wins on the crowd-favorite Gin Kings.

“Our guys made some clutch plays in the stretch. They neutralized James but it kind of opened up the floor for everybody else,’’ said B-Meg coach Tim Cone.
The Llamados earned their sixth win against four setbacks after limiting the Gin Kings to a free throw in a four-minute stretch.

Yancy De Ocampo, who was earlier shipped by the Kings to the Llamados, saw little action while Rico Maierhofer, Ginebra’s newest acquisition in that trade, was good for just 11 minutes.

The Clickers, who dropped their 12th straight game, seemed on the verge of ending a long slump before they were doomed by successive misses by Espiritu, Paul Escobal and RJ Jazul.

Jazul finished with a career-high 24 points after going six of nine from three-point range.

They are now tied for the third all-time longest losing streak in a conference with Welcoat Paints, which also lost 12 straight outings in the 2007-08 Philippine Cup.

One more defeat and the Clickers will tie Great Taste and Country Fair with 13 losses in the 1982 and 1984 Reinforced Conference, respectively.

Thoss finished with 15 points and eight rebounds while Jay-R Reyes had 13 and 17 boards, his second career-best, for the Aces, who squandered a 13-point lead midway in the fourth.

The scores:
First Game

ALASKA 86—Thoss 15, Reyes 13, Baguio 12, Custodio 10, Dela Cruz 9, Baracael 8, Tenorio 8, Salamat 4, Bugia 4, Eman 3.

SHOPINAS.COM 80—Jazul 24,Duncil 13, Sena 8, Hubalde 8, Sison 7, Espiritu 7, Escobal 6, Ritualo 3, Mirza 2, Daa 2, Menor 0, Aquino 0, Se 0.
Quarters: 19-18, 45-40, 71-58, 86-80

Second Game

B-MEG 88—J. Yap 17, Barroca 14, Simon 12, Urbiztondo 10, Pingris 10, Raymundo 10, Yap R. 7, De Vance 5, Reavis 3.

GINEBRA 76—Helterbrand 17, Villanueva 13, Intal 10, Wilson W. 10, Cortez 10, Caguioa 6, Mamaril 4, Canaleta 3, Maierhofer 2, Wilson J. 1, Labgala 0, Tubid 0.
Quarters: 24-19, 44-38, 61-55, 88-76

More PBA News here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

‘Manny Pacquiao deserves the title in 3rd rematch with Marquez’

MANILA, Philippines—Amid dismal reviews and controversy, many readers still believed that pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquaio deserved to win in his last bout with Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez.
In a poll conducted on the website, which began Sunday and ended Wednesday, 965 readers or 57 percent of those who voted said that Pacquaio deserved to retain the title.

On the other hand, 732 readers or 43 percent of the total voters believed that it was Marquez who should have declared a winner.

The controversy came after the crowd, mostly Mexican supporters of Marquez, who watched the fight live at the MGM Grand Garden Arena last Saturday night (Sunday morning in the Philippines) expressed displeasure at the decision of the judges.

Marquez also blasted the decision of the judges and insisted that he should have been declared as the winner.

Meanwhile, Pacquaio fans did not take this sitting down and a viral video entitled “Foot Stopper Trick by Juan Manuel Marquez” immediately spread on social networking sites which showed Marquez stepping on Pacquaio’s foot six times during their fight.

Pacquiao had also admitted disappointment at his performance during the fight but insisted that he deserved to win.

However, in Wednesday night’s various TV interviews, he dismissed the viral video, saying in Filipino, “I am not the type who complains a lot. It’s (Marquez’s foot-stepping) OK with me. It’s part of the game.”

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