Thursday, November 22, 2012

Lifestyle list of Best Desserts 2012

‘Tis the season to be jolly and extra sweet! So, make your holidays doubly sweet with our 2012 list of Best Desserts. From refreshing gelato treats and homemade ganache chocolate cakes to brandy-infused prune cakes and super suman with a twist—all these are guaranteed to whet your sweet appetite. Enjoy!


Come-on: An impressive dessert both to the eyes and palate, bursting with the fruity flavors of blueberry, strawberry and vanilla gelato on a crust of crushed graham. The beautifully crafted artisan gelato cake makes for great gifts, or simply for indulging yourself.

Cara Mia has a wide range of tempting gelato cakes, but if you must settle for two more sinful sweets, go for Di Lusso, a neat combo of pistachio, chocolate and strawberry gelato covered in a layer of rich chocolate ganache; and Mango Passion, mango chunks blended in gelato arranged in layers of rich shortbread pie crust and topped with strips of mango slices.

Cost: P134/slice; P1,280/whole
Creator: Cara Mia of Amici (Tessie Moran and Philip Moran)
Call: Don Bosco, Makati, tel. 8184444; Greenhills, San Juan, 7244804; Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati, 6216111; Tomas Morato, QC, 3766458; SM Megamall Atrium, Mandaluyong, 6361340; Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa City, 4039373; Venice Piazza, Taguig City, 5551000; Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas Center, Pasig; Robinsons Place, Manila; and UP Ayala Technohub

Come-on: Two layers of fluffy meringue embellished with walnuts and whipped cream. The sweetness comes from the peaches, which also add a comforting flavor base for the entire slab. It has creamy flavor you don’t want to miss.

Cost: P160/slice; P1,400/whole. Available daily. For bulk orders, call two days in advance. For pick up and delivery for a minimum fee.

Creator: Nic’s Gourmet Desserts (Rina Go)
Call: 5711818, 3549081 and 0999-9933231; 172 A. Mabini St. Addition Hills, San Juan City; visit www.facebook/nicsbakeshop

Come-on: Plain-sounding, but this Cassava Cake topped with grated cheese and coconut milk is simply divine. Dr. Boy Vazquez takes pride in the old family recipes which he has tweaked and further improved, such as this homey afternoon delight. Unlike the typical cassava that’s thick and too heavy on the tummy, this version is served warm, soft and made creamier with a butterscotch-like sauce.

Cost: P89/serving
Creator: Café Juanita (Dr. Boy Vazquez)
Call: 6320357 and 7101562;  19 West Capitol Drive, Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig City.


Come-on: Desserts at Restaurant 101 are simple but they hit the sweet spot. Like the Louie XV, dark silky smooth chocolate ganache over crispy luscious praline bar and adorned with edible gold leaves for that royal effect. This dessert can only be savored in two restaurants in the world: Enderun and Alain Ducasse’s three-star Michelin restaurant in Monaco.

Louie XV is made fresh every day, and we just heard that no student can graduate without knowing how to execute this heavenly dessert. It has a nice biscuit-like crunch, and the way the chocolate melts in your mouth is unforgettable.

Cost: P260/order. Dine-in only.
Creator: Restaurant 101, Enderun Colleges
Call: 8565000; 1100 Campus Avenue, McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

Come-on: A treat that pays homage to dessert god Pierre Herme. Ispahan showcases macaron shells crammed with fresh raspberries, lychee (in the middle) and rose essence, and further enhanced with a velvety Chantilly cream. It has just the right amount of fruity flavor. Great when paired with Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

Cost: P280/order. For dine-in and take out.
Creator: The Cake Club by Diamond Hotel Manila.
Call: 6213176; Bonifacio High Street Central, 7th Street, BGC, Taguig; Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati.

Come-on: Cool your palate with the refreshing Gianduja Amara, which has chunks of Ferrero Rocher chocolate, crushed pistachio, chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis. It makes for a magical finish to a memorable meal.

Cost: P366/order. Dinner only. The gelato is also part of the buffet selection at Marriott Café. Buffet costs  P1,550 for lunch and P1,650 for dinner on weekday; P1,550 lunch, P1,850 dinner on weekend;  P2,000 for Sunday brunch.

Creator: Cru Steakhouse, Marriott Hotel Manila
Call: 9889999 loc. 8109; Lobby Level, No. 10, Newport Boulevard, Marriott Hotel Manila, Newport City Complex, Pasay City.


Come-on: Dedet de la Fuente’s dessert is a unique, playful, out-of-the-box creation. The festive Super Suman is gorgeously arranged in a big bilao and peppered with all-time favorite sweets—macapuno balls, fresh mangoes, langka balls, pili nut, choc nut, yema, sweetened langka, ube pastillas with latik on the side. It is a feast for the eyes as well as for the taste buds. Each Super Suman takes around four hours to make.

Cost: P2,500/order. Earliest time of pickup is 11:30 a.m.  The suman, covered with banana leaf, is best eaten on the day of pickup. But the leftovers, if any, can be refrigerated and eaten cold or can be microwaved.

Creator: Dedet de la Fuente
Call 4254605 and 0917-8660662. No. 6 San Pablo St., Magallanes Village, Makati City


Come-on: Ube Cake with two layers of fluffy ube chiffon, accentuated with homemade ube jam as filling and enrobed with buttery frosting made more flavorful with more ube jam. The ube is very fresh, light and not overwhelming at all.

Also try her Chocolate Blackout Cake, one layer of deep dark chocolate cake hiding beneath a blanket of luxurious chocolate ganache, covered with chocolate shavings and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Cost: P550 for an eight-inch cake. Three days advance notice requested to ensure product freshness.

Creator: Dorothy Ferreria of Dorothy’s Cooking School
Call 7239722 and 0919-5669977. For pickup only at Hemady St., New Manila, QC.

Come-on: Chef Tatung jazzes up a traditional Filipino favorite with its pandan-flavored pichi-pichi (steamed cassava dumpling), which comes with melted leche flan and grated quezo de bola, then brûléed on top for that smokey flavor. It’s soft, warm and chewy. The combination of ingredients creates a nice balance of salty and sweet, especially with the sharpness of the quezo de bola.

Cost: P100/order (with three cassava dumplings). For dine-in and takeout. Better to consume right away.

Creator: Chef Tatung Restaurant (chef Michael Giovan Sarthou)
Call 6617703 and 4665390. Molave Lane, Acacia Estates, Brgy. Ususan, Taguig City

Come-on: From The Vegetarian Kitchen comes this creamy, zesty Orange Cheesecake, which is ideal for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Not so dense, but the extra smooth cheesecake melts in your mouth. Instead of the usual graham crust, it has a buttercrust base.

Tita Soliongco and her pastry-loving kids Kiko and Camille have made sure their desserts are low-calorie and great for dieters and weight watchers. The desserts don’t call for much sugar and dairy. Their other bestsellers include Apple Pie Cheesecake, Eggless Dark Chocolate Cake and Vegan Carrot Cake—all nicely paired with Soy Coffee.

Cost: P140/slice; P900/whole. For dine-in and pickup only. Call two days in advance.

Creator: The Vegetarian Kitchen (Tita Soliongco)
Call 5447733, 0915-8300511 and 0906-4362533. No. 62-B Mother Ignacia Ave., Brgy. Paligsahan, QC. Operating hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9 p.m.
Come-on: Who can resist the combination of chocolate cake, hazelnut mousse and wafer? This rich chocolate-based cake is infused with smooth hazelnut mousse nestled in layers of crisp chocolate wafer and dressed up with crunchy Loacker wafers. The surprise: It’s not as sweet as one might expect.

Also try Cravings’ Mango Sans Rival, three layers of chewy meringue with fresh mangoes covered with white chocolate shavings and mango syrup.

Cost: P790/8-inch cake; P130/junior 4-inch cake
Creator: Cravings Restaurant
Call Cravings, 287 Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights, QC, 4334498; 5/L Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong, 6356672; 31/F, Fraser Place Serviced Residences, Makati, 8154271; 3/L Chefs Avenue, Festival Supermall, Alabang, 8504437; 3/L Eastwood Mall, Libis, QC, 4703500; 2/F Il Terrazzo Lifestyle Mall, QC, 6685845; and Molito Complex, Madrigal Ave., Alabang, 0915-6219211. Visit

Come-on: A welcome change from the usual holiday desserts is this Riped Mango with Sticky Rice. It’s light and tasty, but do not be deceived; before you know it, you might find that you’ve finished more than half of it. The sliced mangoes blend perfectly well with the sweet sticky rice.

Cost: P190++. For dine-in only.

Creator: Benjarong Royal Thai Restaurant, Dusit Thani Manila
Call 8673333; Mezzanine Level, Dusit Thani Manila, Edsa cor. Pasay Road, Ayala Center, Makati. Operating hours: daily, 12 p.m.-2:30 p.m. (lunch); 6 p.m.-10 p.m. (dinner)
Come-on: Halo-halo for a cake? Yes, UCC has taken the most-loved Filipino dessert and transformed it into a cake, one with layers and layers of soft ube chiffon, leche flan, ube halaya and cream, plus caramelized banana, langka, macapuno and red beans. It’s served with cornflakes-topped nangkasuy ice cream. Every spoon is filled with clumps and clusters of the sweet stuff—perfect for the holidays!

Cost: P250/slice; P1,650/whole

Creator: UCC branches
Call 6594408 or visit 2/F Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay; The Clubhouse, Corinthian Hills, Temple Drive, QC; 3/F Greenbelt 5, Makati; Tomas Morato Plaza, QC; 59 Connecticut St., Greenhills; G/F The Podium, Ortigas Center; 2/F Main Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay; 5/L, Rustan’s Makati; (UCC Café Terrace) 26th St., Forbestown Center, BGC, Taguig; G/F Paseo Center, Salcedo Village, Makati; G/F Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo; G/F One Rockwell Center, Makati; Central Westgate Center, Alabang; 1/L Midtown Wing, Robinson’s Place, Manila; Lobby Level, TriNoma, QC; G/F The Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City; (Park Café) G/F Dell Building, Eastwood Mall Promenade, Bagumbayan Libis, QC; Burgos Circle, BGC, Taguig; Glorietta 3 Park, Ayala Center, Makati

Come-on: Gorge on this moist, velvety three-layered chocolate cake with Valhrona ganache filling. For a goosebump effect, it has chopped prunes and rum infused in the cake. This is the baker’s own interpretation of the late Pope John Paul II’s favorite chocolate cake.

Cost: P2,000/three layers; P1,500 two layers; additional P500 per layer. For pickup only. Order three days in advance.

Creator: Sweet Serendipities (Christian Talento)
Call 0927-9831938

Come-on: A decadent three-layered chocolate cake with tons of chocolate ganache, finished off with beautiful, intricate rosette designs on top.
Cost: P900/8-inch round cake. Order three days in advance. For pickup only.
Creator: Au’s by Aurora Su Calubad
Call 0917-5359459; e-mail aurora.calubad
Come-on: Bring your holiday meal to a satisfying close with these Nutella-filled desserts—rich chocolate cupcakes with pure gooey Nutella centers topped with, what else, more Nutella buttercream. They taste as good as they look.

Cost: P550/box of nine pieces Call two days in advance.
Creator: Sinful Sweets by Joy Roxas
Call 0920-9518849. Pickup points: Salcedo Village, Makati (weekdays); Sta. Cecilia Village, Las Piñas (weekends).

Come-on: Brandy gives this cake a pronounced flavor that blends perfectly with the butter icing, walnuts and prunes. Delightfully creamy yet light enough, and ideal with a warm cup of coffee.
Cost: P695/7-inch round; P1,150/9-inch round. Call three days in advance, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

Creator: Butterbelle Bakeshop (Tani Bautista)
Call 5346359, 5322495, 0915-3106522 and 0917-5320816. Pickup only at 583 Tanglaw St., Mandaluyong City. Other pickup point: No. 8 San Antonio St., Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig.

Come-on: Risa Chocolates makes fresh and handmade treats using only pure cacao, plus fine complementary Pinoy ingredients such as pili nuts. The Chocolate Truffles are also made from pure chocolate with variants such as Cookie Dough, Cerveza Negra, Dark Rum, Orange. The Crave Bars include Coffee (crushed coffee beans on 60-percent Belgian chocolate; Roasted Milk with Pili (white chocolate with pili); Venezuela Milk with Hazelnuts (roasted hazelnuts plus Dark Milk chocolate that will make you swoon); 60-percent South Cotabato-Coco Sugar (a healthier version of organic, single-origin cacao, sweetened naturally with organic coco sugar.)
Cost: Chocolate Truffles, P450/box of 12 and P230/box of 6; Crave Bars (coffee and roasted milk with pili) P130/35g mini and P230/85g major, (Venezuela Milk) P300/85g major. Order two days in advance or three days for bulk orders. It offers door-to-door delivery and free drop-off delivery service.
Creator: Risa Chocolates (Pam Cinco and Paulyn Navales)
Call: 6223436, 0917-5657185 and 8527328. Website: and
Come-on: Churned by a vegan chef, this artisanal ice cream is dairy-free, egg-free, cholesterol-free, vegan and low-glycemic. A guiltless pleasure that tastes like the real thing. Flavors include vanilla bean, vanilla cacao nib, mint cacao nib, dark chocolate, coffee, black sesame, strawberry, mangoes and cream. Quality ingredients used in these creations are cold-pressed coconut milk, cashew milk (soy option), coconut sugar and real vanilla.
Cost: P350 for pint (½ liter); P700 for 1 liter; P1,300 for ½ gallon. For pickup only in Alabang.
Creator: Kitchen Revolution (Chef Marie Gonzalez)
Call: 0917-8945086. Visit, Currently scooping at Ritual, The Collective on Malugay St., Makati, and soon at Edgy Veggy, Brixton St., Pasig
Come-on: Nothing beats the sensation of biting into creamy, dense Quezo de Bola cheesecake nestled on a base of crushed cornflakes. Nice and light, not too salty or too sweet, and perfectly washed down with a rich and thick demitasse of hot chocolate or strong barako coffee.
Cost: P200/slice; P1,200/whole
Creator: Crisostomo (Chef Florabel Co-Yatco)
Call: 8469275, 2/F Newport Mall, Newport City, Pasay City; 7101693, 2/F Eastwood Mall, Libis, QC; 8690988, G/F Alabang Town Center; and 5028106, Solenad Lakeside Evozone, Nuvali, Sta. Rosa City

Come-on: Mara de la Rama-Poblete lives up to her well-earned sweet reputation, so to speak. She’s known for her Gateau de Crepe creations, but now she’s come up with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Torte—a concoction of crushed chocolate shortbread, chocolate ganache and chocolate “Pain de Genes” salted caramel mirror. It’s chocolaty-rich, luscious and stimulating. Just stay a little longer at the gym after eating the torte.

Cost: P1,200 for 9-inch round. Serves 10-12 people. Allow 48 hours lead time. For pickup only.
Creator: Dessert du Jour by Mara de la Rama-Poblete

Call: 8069511, 0917-8116272 (Mara) and 0917-8036272 (Shirley). Unit 51 Ecology Village, Dasmariñas Village Side, Gate 5 Edsa, Makati City.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PAL eyes stake in Cayman Islands airline

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines is in negotiations to acquire as much as a 50-percent equity in the national airline of the Cayman Islands in what could be the long-awaited solution to the downgraded aviation safety status that has hounded local carriers since 2008.

PAL president Ramon Ang on Tuesday confirmed that both parties were in the process of working out a deal that could see both airlines coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“Yes, we are currently in talks with Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands government for a number of investment opportunities,” he said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

His statement comes after the government of Cayman Islands disclosed the deal, some details of which were published late Tuesday in the Caymanian Compass publication.

According to the publication, the Cayman Islands government was evaluating a proposal put forward by PAL—and one of its significant stakeholders, San Miguel Corp.—for a 50-percent stake in the small airline.
The scheme will call for Cayman Airways to issue new preferred shares that San Miguel will subscribe to. The fresh capital to be generated from the equity infusion will be used by the Cayman carrier to acquire new aircraft, which will then be rented out to PAL under a so-called “wet lease” agreement.

Under a wet lease deal, the aircraft are registered and domiciled in the Cayman Islands and flown, operated and maintained completely by Cayman Airways.

Cayman Airways’ Category 1 status with the US Federal Aviation Administration will allow the airline to mount additional flights between the Philippines and the US mainland.

The Cayman airline operates only four Boeing 737s and two De Havilland Twin Otter turboprops.

PAL, on the other hand, is prohibited from increasing its number of flights to the US mainland or replacing planes currently used for the route since the Philippines is under category 2 status with the FAA due to weaknesses in the local aviation regulator.

A statement released Tuesday by the Cayman Islands’ Ministry of Finance, Tourism and Development said its government was also in talks with San Miguel for the conglomerate to upgrade the infrastructure on the resort island chain, including modernizing one of its biggest airports.

“Cayman Airways is currently in discussions with Philippine Airlines to ascertain if there are ways for the two airlines to work together,” the statement said. “The exploration of this potential collaboration is covering a variety of areas, but includes reviewing the ability to code share, to provide aircraft operations and includes other strategic areas.”

“San Miguel Corp. is a multibillion-dollar company and has expressed great interest in investing in the Cayman Islands,” the statement added.

“We welcome this exploration of potential investment and trust that they will ultimately choose to invest in these islands. With their controlling ownership of PAL, there also appears to be some potential opportunities for Cayman Airways and the Cayman aviation sector, in general, to benefit from an investment by San Miguel Corp.”

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Volkswagen, Ayala ink car dealership partnership

MANILA, Philippines–European car giant Volkswagen AG has engaged the diversified Ayala group into a new car distribution partnership, seeking to harness an increasing consumer affluence in the country as part of its ambition towards global leadership.

Volkswagen, which is headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, announced on Wednesday the appointment of Ayala’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Ayala Automotive Holdings Corp. , as the Philippine distributor for Volkswagen passenger vehicles.
This distributorship agreement brings together two premier corporate names to compete in an industry with high-growth potential.

“We are very excited to bring Volkswagen’s technology and engineering expertise to the Philippine market. This partnership will no doubt enhance our current portfolio of auto brands given the dominant position of Volkswagen in the global automotive market. This will allow us to offer a much wider range of passenger vehicles in the local market, which will reinforce further Ayala’s strong presence in the local automotive industry,” Ayala Corp. president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala said in a press statement.

Weiming Soh, President, Commercial Operations, Greater China/ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Volkswagen AG, commented: “Building on the Ayala group’s excellent reputation and market knowledge, we are excited about offering consumers in the Philippines Volkswagen’s outstanding line-up of vehicles and providing them with an unparalleled level of sales and service experience.

“As an important part of Volkswagen’s ASEAN growth strategy, we, jointly with the Ayala Group, plan to rapidly and robustly establish the brand Volkswagen in the Philippines, contributing to our vision to become the world’s number one car manufacturer by 2018,” Soh said.

The Volkswagen group is the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer as of 2011, with global sales of 8.265-million units accounting for a 12.3 percent share of the passenger car market. It has has 99 production plants in 27 countries and employs more than 500,000 employees worldwide as of end-2011. Volkswagen vehicles are sold in 153 countries.

Ayala has diversified business interests in the Philippines and is a leading player in real estate development, banking and financial services, telecommunications, water infrastructure development, electronics manufacturing, and business process outsourcing. It has recently entered new sectors with investments in power generation and transport infrastructure development.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Actor arrested for mauling partner

An actor and former reality TV show contestant faces charges of violence against women and physical injuries after he reportedly hurt his live-in partner who had just given birth and beat up her brother.

Matt Evans, 25, was arrested by the Pasig City police in his house on Mercedes Avenue in Barangay San Miguel, Pasig City, on Saturday night.

According to the initial investigation conducted by the Pasig City police Women and Children Protection Desk, the incident happened at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

The police report said that Evans, who at that time wasallegedly under the influence of alcohol, got into an argument with his live-in partner, 20-year-old Johnelline Hickins, who had just given birth to their child three weeks earlier.

As tempers flared, the actor pushed Hickins, sending her tumbling down a flight of stairs inside their house.

Upon hearing the commotion, Hickins’ brother stepped in to stop Evans from further harming her but he got beaten up instead.

Concerned neighbors called the attention of policemen who were on patrol in the area. They immediately arrested Evans.

The actor who is now detained at the Pasig police headquarters will be charged with violation of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004 for allegedly pushing Hickins. He will also face charges of physical injuries for hitting her brother.

Evans joined the 2006 edition of ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition before he became a full-fledged actor for the network.

Radio reports quoting Evans’ counsel said the actor denied hitting Hickins. According to him, he was the one who got beaten up during their argument.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

‘Charlie’s angel’ Filipino ‘slur’ stirs cyber storm

LOS ANGELES—A random comment made by Hollywood actress Lucy Liu on “The Late Show with David Letterman” has sparked a debate in cyberspace.

Did the Chinese-American film and TV star (“Charlie’s Angels,” “Ally McBeal”) intend to insult an entire country when she said she was careful not to look a “little Filipino”?
Netizens weighed in on the Inquirer website (www.inquirer.
net) and Twitter account (@InqEnt).

One jested: “Maybe she meant she might look like Pokwang.” (Filipino comedienne Pokwang has claimed that she is Liu’s long-lost twin.)

Another pointed out: “I’m singkit (chinky-eyed) but kayumanggi (brown-skinned). I’m proud of it and I’m not offended.”

Understandably, there were a lot of angry comments. This one was harsher on those: “Pilipinas, ang OA mo (Philippines, you’re overacting)!”
Out of context
In the meantime, Liu has apologized.
“I am so sorry that my comment was taken out of context, as I would never insult another group or ethnicity,” the actress told the Inquirer when asked to comment about her controversial statement as Letterman’s guest on October 11.

When the TV host asked Liu, who is shooting her new TV series, “Elementary,” if she enjoyed running indoors or outdoors, she replied: “I run on a machine—it’s easier for me. Also, if I get really dark, I’ll start to look a little Filipino. It wouldn’t match if I start getting darker, you know what I mean? I can get really dark if I’m in the sun too much.”

Liu’s remark quickly elicited criticisms and complaints in online blog posts and social media sites, for being “racist.”

In a statement given to the Inquirer through her publicist, Carrie Gordon, Liu explained: “Just to clarify, I was explaining why I do not run or exercise outdoors, as my skin tans very easily. Because I am presently playing a character with New York during the autumn/winter season as backdrop, it is important that I keep my look consistent with this type of environment.”

At press time, Liu has not answered the Inquirer’s follow-up question: Why she used the phrase “a little Filipino” if she had been concerned only about the consistency of her character’s skin color. Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson to Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes in “Elementary,” a modern-day take on the popular detective fiction series.—With a report from Bayani San Diego Jr.

Friday, October 5, 2012

‘Marce’ accelerates, moves out of PH Saturday

MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image 12 noon., 05 October 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Tropical storm “Marce” further accelerated as it moved away from the country and is expected to be out of the Philippine territory by Saturday, the state weather bureau said.
Marce was last seen 390 kilometers west of Subic, Zambales with maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph.
It is forecast to move west at 15 kph and be 670 km west of Iba, Zambales by Saturday morning or outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
Although there are no longer storm signals, Marce will bring rains 10–25 mm per hour (heavy- intense) within its 500-km diameter.
Fishing boats and other small seacraft are still advised not to venture out into the western seaboard of Luzon and Visayas. 

Latest weather forecast philippines as of

Aquino: Evidence of plunder vs Arroyo strong

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga—President Benigno Aquino III said here Friday that the government had a strong case of plunder against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“We don’t file a case if the evidence is not strong, otherwise we will end up getting embarrassed,” the President told reporters here when asked if the case against his predecessor was strong enough to end in her conviction.

Mr. Aquino was in Pamapanga Friday for a mass oath-taking of Liberal Party members.

Read more Latest Breaking News here.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Media groups, Filipinos protest tough cyber law

MANILA, Philippines—Media groups and Filipinos stepped up calls Wednesday for repealing a tough new law that targets cybercrime but activists fear will be used to suppress online freedoms in the Southeast Asian nation.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act took effect Wednesday despite last-minute petitions to the Supreme Court to stop it. The justices said they will take up the issue next week.

The law is envisioned as a measure against hacking, identity theft, spamming, cybersex and online child pornography. But citizens and groups who protested on social networking sites, blogs and out in the streets fear politicians will use it to silence critics.

The law contains a provision that says libel — which is already punishable by up to six years in prison — is also a cybercrime. It doubles cumulative penalties for online offenses and allows government agencies to search, seize and destroy computer data deemed libelous.

Human rights and media groups have unsuccessfully campaigned for years to downgrade libel from a criminal to a civil offense, saying politicians often use the law to harass journalists and other critics.
Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s husband sued 46 investigative journalists and publishers in more than 50 libel cases from 2003 to 2007 but later dropped them in a “gesture of peace.”
The journalists wrote stories alleging Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo was corrupt, which he denied. He is now facing two corruption cases linked to an overpriced government deal and the sale of secondhand helicopters to police.

Read more here...

Star power marks Day 2 of COC filing

The magic of star power on Tuesday replaced the flamboyant atmosphere that marked the first day of the formal entry of aspirants in the Senate derby next year.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero was alone when he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC).

Gone were the brass bands and ati-atihan and dragon dancers that gave the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a carnival air on Monday as eight senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) trooped there to file their COCs in the elections next May.

Clad in a leather jacket and tight jeans, Escudero—the reelectionist  guest candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party (LP) and UNA—gamely posed for photos for all and sundry who asked, including the Comelec staff processing COCs.

But he was also pounded by questions on why he did not come with celebrity Heart Evangelista, his rumored girlfriend. “She’s resting, I think,” he told a reporter.

A shrieking and camera- and mobile phone-toting mob also gathered when actor and TV host Willie Revillame arrived to support and endorse former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, a senatorial aspirant of the ruling party, to make her candidacy official yesterday.

Accompanied by her husband, Sen. Manny Villar, and her son, Mark, an incumbent Las Piñas representative, Cynthia Villar was the first LP candidate to file her COC in the Comelec.
“We were busy yesterday because of the proclamation rally so we thought this would be a good time,” said Villar, who will run on a platform focusing on the care of overseas Filipino workers and the protection of the environment, among others.

‘Manang Henia’ mobbed
Actress Susan Roces also commanded a modest, star-struck crowd when she came Tuesday afternoon with her daughter Grace Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. Grace filed her COC for senator.

Comelec employees took turns posing for photos with the actress while the others were content with just ogling her through the glass panels that divided the main hallway of the Palacio del Gobernador and the Comelec’s project management office, where the COCs were being filed.

Others merrily called her “Manang Henia,” a role Roces currently plays on ABS-CBN’s telenovela, “Walang Hanggan,” which also stars Richard Gomez, Dawn Zulueta and Helen Gamboa.

The actress said the Comelec office brought back bittersweet memories of her late husband, actor Fernando Poe Jr., who ran and lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the presidential race in 2004.

“A lot of memories came rushing back to me the first time I accompanied my husband, Ronnie, to register. I also remembered the first time I accompanied [Grace] to her school when she was in kindergarten,” Roces told reporters in an interview. Her recollection almost brought her daughter to tears.

For her part, Llamanzares said she decided to join the senatorial race to be of service to the Filipino people through hard work and also to push for social welfare programs, particularly for children, that her father had wanted to pursue.

Read more latest news on celebrities here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ateneo and the RH bill

Back in college, my friends and I immersed ourselves in the communities of Smokey Mountain.  We marvelled at the scavengers’ ingenuity in creating products from scrap, but we despaired over the appalling living conditions and the enormity of the task of providing healthcare and education for so many children.

Mothers tearfully said they did not want any more kids, but abstinence was out of the question, and they knew next to nothing about natural family planning.  Two decades later, nothing seems to have changed.

I knew of an upper-class mother who seemed to be healthy enough, but who suddenly died.  Rightly or wrongly, her family attributed her death to the use of the pill (or something like it) to regulate her monthly periods.

Searching the Internet, they found out that the medication could lead to bleeding, strokes or heart attacks.

I refrained from writing about the RH (reproductive health) bill because I had not yet made up my mind and heart.  But I followed discussions, especially the Inquirer columns of Ateneo Law School dean emeritus Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., and University of the Philippines sociology professor Randy David.

Last month, Ateneo colleagues urged me to sign their letter of support for the RH bill. Though I found the message credible and reasonable, I did not sign because I was still undecided.

As a semi-public figure, I also did not want anyone to sensationalize or misinterpret my stand.
I was not going to air my views until some bishops started excoriating the professors who signed the letter.

Fresh air
Born years after Vatican II, I have been influenced by the religious who, though toeing the official Church line on reproductive health, never damned our souls for future sins.  My classmates and I dutifully memorized bits of “Humanae Vitae,” but we also learned about “Humanae Salutis” and Pope John XXIII’s call for the Church to open its windows to let in fresh air.

I never felt any conflict between science and religion, and considered my faith so vital that I chose Ateneo over UP (my parents’ alma mater). I reveled in the intellectual discourse under brilliant and....

Read more rh bill in the philippines.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Senate flare-up shows Palace factionalism, say lawmakers

Last week’s flare-up in the Senate involving the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China was evidence of the worsening strife between rival factions in the Aquino administration, party-list lawmakers said Sunday.

“On one level, [it’s] the factional rivalry [between] Balay and Samar playing itself out. On another, the [conflict between Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV] is a personal rivalry between an old padrino and his protégé,” Rep. Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers said in a text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“Unfortunately, the hope of a strong, independent position on the territorial dispute with China has been undermined by this conflict,” Tinio said.

“Balay” is the faction identified with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, referring to the Roxas mansion in Cubao, Quezon City, used as the Liberal Party (LP) campaign headquarters in 2010.

“Samar” is the faction led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, referring to the campaign headquarters of Binay on Samar Avenue in South Triangle, Quezon City.

Enrile, an ally of Binay, and Trillanes, an ally of President Benigno Aquino, clashed in the Senate on Wednesday over a bill that would divide Camarines Sur into two provinces. Their exchanges led to a tussle over Trillanes’ earlier admission that he was Mr. Aquino’s backroom negotiator in the talks with China in the territorial dispute over Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Enraged by Trillanes’ brashness, Enrile disclosed notes from Trillanes’ meeting with Ambassador to China Sonia Brady in Beijing in August that tended to show Trillanes as undermining the Philippine position in dispute and criticizing the efforts of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Unable to stand the heat, Trillanes walked out. Enrile called him a “fraud” and “coward.”
Originally posted: 9:37 pm | Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Younghusbands ditched by Azkals for Peace Cup

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals will be without leading international scorer Phil Younghusband and brother James when they vie in the Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup starting Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The lineup released Sunday by the team did not include the Fil-British brothers, who missed the training camp in the United States and the match against Malaysia last June because of prior commitments before coming back to play in the series of friendlies early this month.

The Azkals are toughening up for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and have matches lined up against Bahrain and Kuwait in October.
“Having greatly benefited from Suzuki Cup 2010, we expect our players to work harder than ever this year,” a statement from the team said yesterday.

“Unfortunately, not everyone in the team could assure us of this; a few have already signified their unavailability for some crucial activities leading up to the tournament.”

The team added: “While this is admittedly a setback in our plans, we understand that family obligations and club/work commitments sometimes take precedence.”

Speaking through their manager Cathy Rivilla, the Younghusband brothers expressed shock over the decision, which was relayed to them by coach Michael Weiss, who, she said, only informed the brothers via a text message.

“Anything else after the Peace Cup remains to be seen,” Weiss told the brothers whom he tried to reach Sunday.

Sources said the brothers could not commit to the Azkals’ schedule in October because of their commitment to their United Football League club, Loyola Meralco Sparks.

The Sparks still have semifinal matches in the Singapore Cup in the first week of October, which also marks the start of the UFL Cup.

Sparks chair Randy Roxas said they are ready to release the Younghusbands for national team duty on the Fifa dates.

“We remain 100 percent committed to the national team,” the brothers said through Rivilla. “We do not know what transpired as we have been in talks with coach Weiss. But we respect whatever decision management has and we will be available for whatever call up.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Federal Land doing well in Queen City of South

CEBU CITY—Federal Land Inc., the Metrobank Group’s real estate arm, introduced here recently the newest addition to its list of residential development—the Parkview Residences.

This followed strong demand of the first two towers, the Marco Polo Residences.

Federal Land president Alfred Ty says the strong appetite for investment from the locals and demand for condominiums are just a few of the factors why they chose the Queen City of the South as the location of this exclusive community.

Five towers will rise in Nivel Hills district, 500 feet above sea level in this P20-billion luxury condominium development.

The Residences (first tower) and the Two Residences (second tower) were launched last year while the Park View Residences (third tower) was launched early this year.

All towers will have bare units and basic fixtures. Units range from 47 to 140 square meters and cost about P4 million to P15 million. Since the project is owned by Metrobank’s subsidiary, Ty says the bank will provide lower interest rates for buying units in the towers.

Senior marketing manager Johanna Clavecilla says the 26-story Parkview Residences will have the best landscape view of the city. Buyers can also choose units with either a mountain view or a sea view.
“The Residences is almost a hundred percent pre-sold while the other two towers are nearing 50 to 65 percent,” Clavecilla says.

Dennis Lim, vice president for sales and marketing of Federal Land says most of their buyers are locals of the city who already have big houses near the location of Marco Polo Residences.

“Some investors tell us that they want to own a unit, not to lease it out but to use it sometimes,” Lim says.

The favorable market response, according to Ty, is attributed to low maintenance of condo living and to Cebu being a haven of tourists since there are direct flights from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea.

Lim says another reason behind the success of this modern-contemporary development is the quality of service provided by the Marco Polo Plaza, a 5-star hotel which is just beside the site of the Marco Polo Residences along Cebu Veterans Drive.

The hotel was formerly known as the Cebu Plaza Hotel, the renowned 20-year-old hotel in this city, which closed in March 2003.

In 2006, the Metrobank Group and Hong Kong’s Marco Polo company decided to reopen the hotel.
“Most of the local business people who invest in this development feel the nostalgia of the old hotel and they want to entertain that piece of history of their families and the memories of this place,” Lim says.

Jose Mari Banzon, executive vice president and general manager of Federal Land says almost a hundred percent of the people they employ in their projects here in Cebu are locals.

“Almost all of our workers here are from the city except our consultants who come from different places in the country,” Banzon says.

Coupled with the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in Cebu, Banzon says these projects will generate more jobs for the locals thus soliciting full support of the local government.

In its 40 years in the real estate industry, Federal Land Inc. continues to establish its reputation in real estate management and property development with a vision to provide quality and affordable lifetime investments for the Filipinos.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Palace tells DFA chief, Trillanes to shut up on West Philippine Sea dispute

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang moved swiftly to contain the fire stoked by revelations of infighting between Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and pro-administration Senator Antonio Trillanes IV over the issue of the West Philippine Sea being disputed by China.

President Aquino ordered both officials to keep things to themselves until he has separately met with them.

In a Palace briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda disclosed that the President had already talked with Del Rosario.

“The President intends to speak to Senator Trillanes also,” said Lacierda, but was quick to say that Trillanes was authorized by the President to talk with Beijing officials via back-channel negotiations.
This, he said, was during the height of the tensions between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal.

“And the President said let’s keep our options open. The President was approached by Senator Trillanes that there’s a way forward to hold these things … and so, that’s what happened,” said Lacierda, adding, “But you must remember that Senator Trillanes also mentioned...   Read more here...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New PH map with ‘West Philippine Sea’ name to be out soon – Namria

TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines — The new official government map showing the South China Sea being renamed as the West Philippine Sea could be out in two weeks’ time, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (Namria) said on Tuesday.

John Fabic, Namria Information Management Department director, said the map would also show the extent of the country’s maritime borders based on its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (ECZ) under the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“We’ve seen the first draft. There’s a new appellation for that area. It could be out in two weeks,” Fabic said at a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council conference.

Fabic said the initial draft has been submitted to Malacañang for review.
The new map was produced after President Benigno Aquino III last week  issued an administrative order renaming the South China Sea as the West Philippine Sea.
To demarcate the nation’s territory, Namria map experts also established the baseline around country for its exclusive economic zone.

The map clearly shows that the Kalayaan islands (the portion of the disputed Spratly islands claimed by the Philippines) and Panatag shoal are well within the country’s ECZ, according to Fabic.

However, he declined to say if the islets, shoals, and reefs claimed by the Philippines were also renamed.
“We’ve seen the template but we also have to recall the old maps this would replace,” Fabic said.
“Let’s wait for the announcement from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) and Malacañang,” Fabic said.

Aquino said the government would deposit a copy of the map and his order with the UN secretary general and notify relevant international organizations like the International Hydrographic Organization and the UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names.

Read more south china sea news here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lawmakers assail dropping of Puno probe

Why let President Benigno Aquino’s friend Rico E. Puno so easily off the hook?

Lawmakers on Sunday criticized the decision to halt a planned probe in the House of Representatives into a P1-billion firearms deal for the Philippine National Police and the role in it of Puno, who resigned on Monday as undersecretary at the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Zambales Representative Ma. Milagros Magsaysay, a minority member, said the cancellation of the inquiry was a blow against transparency and was meant to make the issue against Puno, a presidential shooting-range buddy, die down.
“They want to nip the issue in the bud by ordering allies to bury it and hopefully it won’t stick in the people’s mind,” Magsaysay said.

“Daang matuwid (The straight path) is a myth,” she said, referring to the President’s oft-repeated catchphrase of his reform program.

“The stoppage of the Congress hearings is a clear sign that this administration doesn’t want the truth to come out and [wants to] to protect the alleged shenanigans happening. The people have been misled into believing that this administration is for transparency and accountability,” she said.

But even members of the House majority think the hearings must go on.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr. of the Liberal Party said the investigation should delve deeper into the issues involving the PNP transactions to show that people close to the President were not being treated with kid gloves.

“To ensure that there’s no iota of doubt about the impartiality of the administration on a perceived P-Noy (President Aquino) friend, the probe must go on until the issues are thoroughly discussed,” Baguilat said. Corruption allegations must not be taken lightly, he said.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño said one Senate hearing was not enough to put closure to the issues.

Other experts who played no part in the firearms transaction, such as the Commission on Audit and the Government Procurement Policy Board, must be consulted as well about the explanations offered by the officials involved in the bidding process, Casiño said.

The House probe, earlier requested by Agham Representative Angelo Palmones and Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop, was supposed to center on the alleged irregularities in the PNP’s arms purchases.

Sereno approves release of fringe benefits to court officials, employees

MANILA, Philippines—Good news for the Judiciary officials and employees, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has approved the release if fringe benefits for all court officials and employees.

Under the law, a Chief Justice is allowed to grant fringe benefits to court officials and employees of the judiciary “to help them overcome the present economic difficulties, to boost their morale and to further their commitment and dedication to their jobs.”

Also following tradition, a new Chief Justice is also allowed to grant a one-time financial assistance to employees on occasion of his or her appointment.
Based on Memorandum Orders 29-2012 and and 29-A-2012, justices, officials and personnel of the Supreme Court, Presidential Electoral Tribunal shall receive P15,000 benefits while justices, officials and personnel of the Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan and Court of Tax Appeals shall receive P10,000.

The funds shall be taken from the Fiscal Management and Budget Office of the Supreme Court and the PETs Fiscal Autonomy Account.

Meanwhile, judges, officials and employees of lower courts shall receive P7,000 each. The funds for these will be sourced from the lower court’s fiscal autonomy account.

The resolution stated that the FBMO has already certified the availability of funds for the financial assistance.

Under the high court’s implementing guidelines, those who worked for the judiciary for at least 4 months as of Aug. 31, 2012 shall receive the amount in full while those who worked less than 4 months shall receive an amount on a pro-rated basis.

DOT sees 4.5M tourist arrivals by year’s end

MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Tourism expects tourist arrivals to the Philippines to hit the 4.5 million target for the full year of 2012, DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez said during the Philippine economic team’s briefing held Monday at the Philippine International Convention Center.

He said that estimated tourist arrivals in the first half stood at 2.2 million, up year-on-year by 11.68 percent.

Monday, September 17, 2012

MANILA, Philippines–Cash remittances from Filipnos overseas amounted to $1.8 billion in July, up year-on-year by 5.4 percent.

This was announced by Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas during the economic briefing of the Philippine economic officials at the Philippine International Convention Center on Monday.

‘When you play football, there’s no religion, war’

To drum up support for the peace process in Mindanao, the Philippine national men’s football team will teach children in conflict-affected communities about peace and sportsmanship through football, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said over the weekend.

OPAPP spokesperson Polly Michelle Cunanan said the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), represented by the Philippine Azkals, had sealed a partnership with the government to support the peace process through the “I Choose–Peace” youth program.

This program aims to teach youths aged 8-12 in conflict-affected communities about peace and sportsmanship through football.

The PFF and the Azkals, who were named Ambassadors for Peace, will hold a peace caravan consisting of a series of football clinics and will dedicate all their games to the cause of peace.

“When children play, there are no religions or wars, just peace and football,” said PFF head Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, noting that even the Fédération Internationale de Football Association or Fifa had initiatives for peace.

Araneta said the PFF aims to establish a football center in Bukidnon to harness football players from Mindanao.

“Our sport promotes the same values that we hope we share with all the parties at the negotiating table that are working on a peace agreement,” Araneta said.

“All of our games, we dedicate them to peace in the country. We are partners in achieving greater consciousness of the peace process,” he added.

According to Araneta, the PFF will inaugurate later this month the Philippine Football Peace Cup, a tournament funded by Fifa. The Philippine national men’s football team is slated to play against teams from China, Taiwan, Macau and Guam.

Early this month, the Azkals took part in the kick-off of the observance of the 9th National Peace Consciousness Month with the theme “Ako. Ikaw. Tayo. Magkakaiba, Nagkakaisa sa Kapayapaan.”
The Azkals showed their full support for peace with a football clinic where about 100 kids from diverse backgrounds met the players and learned from them the basics of the sport.
Azkals team captain Aly Borromeo earlier said that teaching football to children was a “great avenue” to promote peace.

“Just like [playing football as a team], if you want to promote peace you need to work together, you put aside the differences,” Borromeo said.

Azkals member Jason Sabio stated the theme of unity and teamwork with the peace process.
“In the peace process, no one’s the same. It’s really about finding a way to explore everyone’s uniqueness to increase the welfare of everybody,” Sabio said.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Active LPA now tropical depression ‘Karen’

MANILA, Philippines — The active low pressure area monitored by the state weather bureau east of Mindanao has intensified into a tropical depression and has been named “Karen.”

As of 10 a.m., Karen was spotted 700 kilometers east of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, packing maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and was moving northwest at 7 kilometers per hour, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Moderate to heavy rains were seen within the 300 kilometers of the tropical depression.

Although it is still too far to affect any part of the country, Karen is likely to intensify within the next six to 12 hours, Pagasa said.

It is forecast to be 600 km east of Siargao Island by Wednesday morning, 460 km East of Borongan Eastern Samar by Thursday morning and 390 km East of Virac, Catanduanes Friday morning.

Find more Pagasa weather forecast here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Aquino back from Russia, cites gains

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III and his entourage arrived in Manila on Sunday afternoon from the 20th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok, Russia.

The President’s plane landed at around 5:35 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2, 40 minutes early because of a tail wind.

In a five-minute speech delivered in Filipino, the President said that the APEC’s goals — make regional investments and trade strategies productive, the supply chains continuous and financial systems able to withstand crisis — have remained on track.

He highlighted his meetings with the leaders of Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Chile. He said Chilean President Sebastian Piñera invited him to visit the South American country and discuss investments on aquaculture and mining, exchange of geothermal energy technology as well as the deployment of Filipino teachers.

He said the Singaporean, Malaysian and Vietnamese leaders also extended their “warm support” on matters pertaining to the West Philippine Sea.

“We have successfully imparted the new face of the Philippines: more open to business opportunities, fairer to those who are ready to invest and a lucrative center of commerce and trade not just in the Asia-Pacific but in the whole world,” he said.

He said the international community was abuzz over the fact that the “Philippines is now very different, more developed than others.” He said Filipinos should be ready to contribute to increasing globalization by reconsidering the country’s economic barriers that might hamper further development.

Aquino was met at the airport by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Philippine National Police Director General Nicanor Bartolome, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Jessie Dellosa and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, among others.

After 40 years, Azkals topple Singapore

SINGAPORE—Fueled by a virtuoso performance from Stephan Schrock and the quality finishing of Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband, the Philippines finally broke a long winless spell against Singapore with a 2-0 thumping Friday night at the Jurong West Stadium here.

In one of the national side’s finest performances, Caligdong and Younghusband supplied the finish to well-crafted counter-attacking moves as the Filipinos won for the first time in 40 years against one of the traditional powerhouses of Southeast Asia.

Both teams were making use of the friendly match to sharpen up for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November, but for a Filipino side always aching to prove itself, the win meant so much more.

“I’ve always believed that we could be there with the best in Southeast Asia and tonight we were able to prove that somehow we can actually win against a strong team in the region,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.

“It’s a massive statement,” said defender Rob Gier. “We’ve always been in the shadow and people saying that we were lucky in the Suzuki Cup. This shows that we are contenders for this year’s tournament.”

Schrock’s brilliance, a resolute defense anchored by Gier, Jerry Lucena and Jason Sabio and quicker combination plays compared to the scoreless draw against Cambodia helped the Azkals avenged their 0-2 loss to Singapore in October last year.

“It just shows that we have come a good way from last year,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss. “But definitely by far we’re still not at the level where we could be.”

Against the run of play, Schrock found Caligdong, whose classy right-footed finish took a fortunate bounce of a rough patch of grass in front of goal before finding the back of the net.

Younghusband atoned for a couple of early misses with a left-footed strike in the 49th that came after Schrock floated a measured ball into his path just outside the box.

Caligdong could have made it 3-nil when he latched unto a cross from Carli de Murga in the 62nd minute, but only managed a foot save from Singapore goalkeeper Hyrulbizam Jumaat.

Singapore actually had the first clear chance when Shi Jiayi’s low shot was stopped by Neil Etheridge in the fourth minute. The Lions had a goal disallowed for offside in the 36th minute when Fazrul Nawaz tapped in from close range and almost forced an own goal when Etheridge bobbled a header by Shi five minutes later.

Read more news on Football Philippines here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

PBA legends unite for a cause

Having inspired many to pursue their hoop dreams, six PBA legends continue to do the same even after retirement.

But this time, Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Jojo Lastimosa, Ronnie Magsanoc, Jerrry Codiñera and Johnny Abarrientos turn inspiration into something more tangible.

Tapped by Alaxan FR to spearhead “The Galing Mo” campaign, these former pro greats came together to support community-led construction of basketball courts in chosen barangays around the country.

“There’s a social value into it,” said Magsanoc. “It’s just a basketball court for some, but it has a long-term effect on the communities we visited.”

With volunteer residents also pitching in, the program had already built five concrete basketball courts in Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Butuan and Sarangani. Projects are also lined up in Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban and Zamboanga.

“It’s a chance for the legends to bless the chosen community,” Patrimonio, a four-time PBA MVP, said in a press conference Tuesday.

“It’s one way of giving back to the basketball community,” added Codiñera.

In their community visits, the six stars said the reception had been overwhelming.

“Most of the places we’ve been to haven’t been reached by PBA out-of-town games,” said Abarrientos. “So we really had a warm welcome.”

Lastimosa said what makes the project even more special was the fact that their own hoop dreams also began in the barangay courts.

“We all had humble beginnings,” said Lastimosa.

“We really hope we can inspire more players and communities,” said Paras.

PFF suspends penalties on Weiss, 2 others; new hearing set

PHNOM PENH—The Philippine Football Federation Appeals Committee yesterday suspended the penalties imposed on national team coach Michael Weiss, manager Dan Palami and player James Younghusband.

The decision penned by committee chair Gregorio Larrazabal said the two-game ban on Weiss and Palami as well as the one-game ban on Younghusband will not be implemented pending a hearing on their case on Sept. 14 at the PFF office.

With the appeal granted, Weiss and Palami will be allowed to resume their duties for the matches against Cambodia slated last night and against Singapore on Friday, where the Azkals will have Filipino-German standout Stephan Schrock in their squad.

Younghusband was set to play against Cambodia also last night.

The sanctions stemmed from the sexual harassment complaint filed by AFC match commissioner Cristy Ramos, who actually accused players Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.

The two players have been cleared although the Disciplinary Committee slapped one-game bans on Moy and Guirado and Younghusband for a “breakdown in discipline” during the pre-match inspection of the Malaysia-Philippines friendly, while Weiss and Palami were punished for “failure of leadership.”

The Appeals Committee noted that Weiss, Palami and Younghusband were not part of the complaint filed by Ramos.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Clinton heads to China with hopes over sea tensions

AKARTA—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton heads Tuesday to Beijing after talks in emerging US ally Indonesia as she voiced hope for progress in managing soaring tensions in the South China Sea.
Clinton, on her third visit to the region since May, encouraged a united front among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations as she stood firm in calling for freedom of navigation in the strategic sea.

The top US diplomat travels to China after sounding an optimistic note in Southeast Asia’s largest nation Indonesia, where she will meet Tuesday with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and visit the headquarters of the ASEAN bloc.

Clinton said she saw positive signs in Southeast Asia and was optimistic for movement on a code of conduct governing the South China Sea in time for an Asia summit in Cambodia in November to be attended by President Barack Obama.

“I think we can make progress before the East Asia Summit and it’s certainly in everyone’s interest that we do so,” she told a joint news conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

Clinton refrained from criticising China directly before her visit but signalled unease over Beijing’s recent establishment of a remote garrison in the South China Sea where six nations have often overlapping claims.

“The United States believes very strongly that no party should take any steps that would increase tensions or do anything that would be viewed as coercive or intimidating to advance their territorial claims,” Clinton said.

“We believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively together to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and certainly without the use of force,” she added.

The United States has taken a vocal stance on the South China Sea — through which half of the world’s cargo flows — as the Philippines and Vietnam accuse a rising Beijing of intimidation to exert its claims.

But when Clinton visited Cambodia in July, ASEAN foreign ministers for the first time failed to reach a joint communique at their annual meeting as the nations stood divided on how to deal with an increasingly active China.

The United States and its partners believe a code of conduct would establish dialogue and mechanisms to manage disputes in the South China Sea and prevent flare-ups of the kind seen recently from escalating into full-blown conflicts.

In an effort that heartened Clinton after the divisive meeting in July, Indonesia’s foreign minister spearheaded a recent statement of ASEAN principles that includes the 10 nations working together on a code of conduct.

Natalegawa, who welcomed Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to Jakarta last month, said that his initiative was not aimed at countering China as a code of conduct was in the interests of all nations in the region.

“Absent a code of conduct, absent a diplomatic process, we can be certain of more incidents and more tensions in our region. So it is a win-win,” Natalegawa said.

The Obama administration has supported a greater role for Indonesia, seeing the populous and historically moderate Muslim-majority democracy as a positive force for the region and beyond.

US relations with China have been fraught with tensions, despite what US officials say is quiet cooperation in several areas including on pressuring Iran over its disputed nuclear programme.

Chinese state media have accused Clinton of trying to contain the Asian power’s rise. China claims most of the South China Sea and has generally preferred to negotiate individually with each nation instead of a united ASEAN.

Clinton’s last visit to China in May was overshadowed by a crisis over prominent dissident Chen Guangcheng, who fled to the US embassy after reporting beatings under arbitrary house arrest in his home in Shandong province.

China eventually allowed the blind activist, who angered authorities by exposing forced abortions under the one-child-only policy, to leave for New York to study.

A US official said that Clinton was expected to discuss human rights but that it was unclear if Chen’s case would again come up.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Clinton to urge ASEAN unity on South China Sea

BRISBANE, Australia – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling for Southeast Asian states to present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Clinton will be in Indonesia’s capital Monday to offer strong U.S. support for a regionally endorsed plan to ease rising tensions by implementing a code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands. Jakarta is the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Clinton will also press the group to insist that China agree to a formal mechanism to reduce short-term risks of conflict and ultimately come to final settlements over sovereignty.

She wants “to strengthen ASEAN unity going forward,” a senior U.S. official told reporters on board Clinton’s plane as she flew from the Cook Islands to Australia for a brief refuelling stop en route to Indonesia.

Indonesia played a leading role in putting the six-point plan together after ASEAN was unable to reach consensus on the matter in July. The official said the U.S. is “encouraged” by the plan but wants it acted on — particularly implementation and enforcement of the code of conduct, which has languished since a preliminary framework for it was first agreed in 2002. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly preview Clinton’s meetings.

The U.S. has asserted a national security interest in the peaceful resolution to South China Sea disputes and hopes for progress to be made before a November summit of East Asian leaders that President Barack Obama plans to attend.

The U.S. position has riled China, which has become increasingly assertive in pressing its territorial claims with its smaller neighbors and wants the disputes to be resolved individually with each country. The U.S. says it takes no position on the conflicting claims but wants to see them resolved between China and ASEAN, which has collective clout that its 10 members do not have individually.

Clinton will travel to China on Tuesday to continue talks on the South China Sea and a number of other issues, including the crisis in Syria and ways to deal with Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.

Clinton will be in Indonesia on the second stop of an 11-day, six-nation tour that will take her to East Timor, Brunei and Russia’s Far East after her stop in China.

In Indonesia, the official said, Clinton would also raise human rights concerns, including a recent uptick in mob violence against religious minorities.

The official described the incidents as “disturbing” and said Clinton would be asking Indonesian authorities how they intend to deal with them. The U.S. has championed Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, as a model for a moderate Islamic democracy.

Human Rights Watch on Sunday called for Clinton to bring up such cases and press the government “to take concrete steps to address rising religious intolerance” in Indonesia. It also asked her to address Indonesian authorities’ use of blasphemy and criminal defamation laws that it says are being used to persecute minorities and political activists.

“Indonesia needs to recognize that oppressive laws and policies against religious minorities fuel violence and discrimination,” the human rights group said.

Ramos rips decision clearing two Azkals

ASIAN Football Confederation match commissioner Cristy Ramos slammed Friday the decision of the Philippine Football Federation Disciplinary Committee that found no basis in the sexual harrasment charges she filed against members of the men’s national team last March.

In a television interview, Ramos, also a former president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, said she was disappointed and disgusted at the decision that cleared Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.

But while Guirado and Moy were cleared, the two players were also handed one-game suspensions as the PFF Disciplinary Committee noted “a breakdown in discipline” when Ramos conducted the prematch inspection for the Philippines-Malaysia international friendly last February.

Azkals manager Dan Palami has already appealed his two-game suspension for the “failure of leadership” during the time of the incident. But Palami felt relieved that the sexual harassment charge has already been dismissed.

Also handed a two-match ban was Azkals coach Michael Weiss, while skipper James Younghusband was also suspended for one game—the same sanction given to assistant coach Edzel Bracamonte.

Ramos accused Moy of sexual harassment, after she felt alluded to by a comment about bra size. Guirado, Ramos claimed, was only wearing underwear during the inspection.

“It is to the relief of the team and the management that such a serious charge has been found to be without foundation but this is no surprise to us,” Palami said in a statement Friday.

In the same interview with News 5, Ramos blasted the PFF, saying the verdict showed that the federation tolerates disrespectful behavior. The Disciplinary Committee, PFF president Nonong Araneta said, is an independent body.

The daughter of former president Fidel Ramos also felt that the six-month wait for the verdict worked against her.

Read more news about Football Philippines here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Only Mercado to miss Fiba Asia Cup

WAS PRESIDENT Aquino serious when he threatened to write a letter to PBA ballclubs to make their players available for the national team?

If he was, then a number of clubs should expect communication coming from the Office of the President soon.

About half of the teams in the league had earlier failed to notify the PBA office of their intent to lend their players to Smart Gilas.

* * *

To be honest, as of this writing, I’m still not clear on the process that was supposed to be followed, if there was one, in the formation of Smart Gilas.

Was Smart Gilas head coach Chot Reyes supposed to request the PBA Commissioner’s office for the players he wanted for the forthcoming Fiba Asia Cup in Japan, with PBA Commissioner Chito Salud in turn writing each team for the players requested?

The way a senior colleague explained it to me, the clubs were expected to submit a sort of conforme letter to the PBA office, since “the teams must be aware of the players Chot wants,” he said.

“The names are always in the papers.”

* * *

Yesterday afternoon I touched base with commissioner Salud for some enlightenment. Did Chot ask for specific players? Was there a process?

The commissioner’s reply: “Yes, Chot did have a list of 16 at first. Then the board said he could have a pool of 20. Then they (Chot and company) went around asking the players to sign a commitment letter.”

I stopped to mull what the commissioner said, trying to read between the lines. Perhaps there was no need to have a letter of commitment signed; perhaps the transactions should have been coursed through the PBA Commissioner’s office, ensuring a hundred percent cooperation from all teams.

Minutes after my talk with Salud, I got a call from PBA media bureau head Willie Marcial who assured me that all the players who participated in the Jones Cup, except for Sol Mercado, will be able to play in the Fiba Asia Cup this September in Japan.

“Sol was disqualified because of a technicality,” he said.

Willie also explained that Chot needed a formal commitment from the players, before proceeding to the next step, which is to secure the approval of the team.

“Chot wants to make sure the national players are willing to undergo the demands of training for two teams. During the training period for the national team, they may not even have time for their families,” he said.

* * *

Not everybody in the PBA contingent heard the President’s offer to write “unpatriotic” teams a letter.

According to a member of the group, one of the officials was asked by the President if he could do anything to help the national team. The official told him that one of their biggest problems was that some of the PBA ballclubs would not allow their players to render service to flag and country.

“I will write them a letter. Sasabihin ko sa kanila, boss, thank you for being (less) nationalistic,” the President was quoted as saying. I don’t know if those were his exact words. He could have been just joking. The President, I mean.

* * *

“The move by the NCAA to transfer network is already seeing positive results,” reports Paul Mata of AKTV.

The oldest collegiate league in the country signed a deal with TV5 to air the games on AKTV on IBC starting this school year.

“Based on the ratings released by Nielsen, NCAA has a big margin of viewers watching its basketball games compared to the UAAP in Mega Manila. The average number of viewers reached 120,000 viewers against the 70,000 average of the UAAP on Studio 23,” he said.

“Two games registered high numbers as well in the National Urban Television Audience Measurement. The tightly fought match between San Beda and Perpetual registered the highest number of viewers with 374,296. The opening-day game between Letran and San Sebastian placed second with 297,460 watching Kevin Alas score 31 points to lead the Knights.”

Read more PBA finals news here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pagcor allocates P8.14M for relief operations for flood victims

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has allocated a total of P8.14 million for victims of last week’s massive flooding in the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.

“We have allocated a total budget of P8.14 million for our relief operations. We hope to be able to give help to at least 20,000 families,” Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. said in a statement on Monday.

“There were so many of our countrymen who were badly affected by this recent flooding. Itong aming relief operations ang paraan ng Pagcor para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan na labis na naapektuhan ng kalamidad na ito (Our relief operations is Pagcor’s way of helping our countrymen who were severely affected by this calamity),” Naguiat added.

So far, the state-gaming firm conducted nine relief operations to 10,000 families in several cities and localities gravely affected by the flooding.

It distributed relief packs to 2,000 families in Barangay (village) Baseco, Tondo and 3,000 families in Tumana and Nangka, Marikina City; Sta. Ana, Manila; and Malabon City.

In the provinces, Pagcor conducted relief operations for a total of 5,000 families in Concepcion, Tarlac; Guiguinto, Bulacan; Rosario, Cavite; Taytay, Rizal; and San Isidro, Tanay, Rizal.

The beneficiaries of the relief operation and their city officials were quick to express their gratitude to Pagcor.

Aida Olivo, a 61 year old resident of Barangay Tuktukan in Guiguinto, was among those who benefited from PAGCOR’s relief operations.

“Nasalanta ang bahay namin. Iniwan na lang namin sa bahay ang karamihan ng gamit namin kasi natakot na kami nung tumaas na ng husto ang baha. Matanda na kami ng asawa ko kaya inuna naming isalba ang mga sarili namin. Hindi kami handa kasi ngayon lang kami binaha (Our house was destroyed. We left our house and many of our belongings when the water level rose. My husband is old so we saved ourselves first),” she narrated.

Last week’s flooding that submerged the town of Guiguinto, Bulacan in chest-high waters and displaced 10,000 families was a first in the history of the municipality, councilor Ariel Arcero said.

Rehabilitation efforts are now being initiated by the local government of Guiguinto but since such efforts will take time, Arcero said, the immediate priority is to provide the residents with clothing, food, water and shelter.

Pagcor also conducted relief operations in Concepcion, Tarlac where 25 out of 45 barangays submerged with floodwaters when the Loong River overflowed due to the incessant rainfall last week.

“Napakalaking tulong po ng relief operations na ito ng Pagcor dahil napakarami pong residente dito sa aming bayan na labis na naapektuhan ng pagbaha. Ang Pagcor po ang unang ahensyang dumayo rito sa Concepcion para magbigay ng tulong kaya’t maraming-marami pong salamat (Pagcor’s relief operations is a big help because many residents in our area were severely affected by the flood. Pagcor is the first agency that came to Concepcion to give aid so we are very thankful),” said Purok Mabo Barangay chairwoman Herminia David.

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