The Filipino Express v27 Issue 51



The Filipino Express v27 Issue 51
Wishing you all a very happy, prosperous and blessed New Year
VOL. 27 w
NO. 51 w
DEC. 27, 2013 - JAN. 2, 2014 w
(201) 434-1114 w
President Aquino
cites Filipinos'
inspiring resiliency
By Michael Lim Ubac
President Benigno Aquino III
exhorted the nation to “show the
light and hope of Christ” in the
wake of back-to-back calamities
that, he said, tested the limits of
millions of Filipinos this year.
In his traditional Christmas
message, the President said this
year's Christmas should be a
“reminder of how God so loved
the world.”
Saying Christmas reminded
everyone of what Christianity is
all about, Mr. Aquino said that God
showed love when He offered “His
only begotten Son for the
salvation of everyone.”
“This Christmas, let us keep
alive the flame of Christ's love. Let
us serve as a source of hope for
our fellow Filipinos,” he said.
The President, who visited
disaster-stricken areas in Visayas
and Mindanao on Sunday, also
Page 3
CHRISTMAS CHEER. Survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” decorate a giant lantern among the debris from destroyed houses at Magallanes District in Tacloban City on Christmas Eve, in time for
Wednesday's celebration of the birth of Jesus in their ruined communities. Yolanda's winds flattened the gritty neighborhood, then swept up everything else with giant waves on Nov. 8. AFP
Migrant Center director
welcomes TPS
By Grace G. Baldisseri
REWARD FOR HONESTY. An official of Y.C.S. Yellow, Checker and Star Group of
Companies (right) shakes the hand of Gerardo “Gerry” Gamboa as the official
presents a $1,000 check for Gamboa's honesty for turning over $300,000 cash in a
paper bag left in his taxi last Monday, Dec. 23, in Las Vegas, Nevada to his taxi cab
company. He said returning the money to the rightful owner “was the right thing to
do.” (FAXX Photo grab from CBS TV KLAS)
Fil Am driver returns $300K
left in his taxi Story on Page 8
MANILA -- A Mexican drug
group is operating here, the
Philippine National Police said
Thursday, Dec. 26 following the
discovery of a “shabu”
Page 9
'Yolanda' among top 2013 stories - AP poll
Associated Press
devastation wrought by
S u p e r t y p h o o n “ Yo l a n d a”
(international name: Haiyan) in
the Philippines last November 8
was among the top news stories
of 2013, according to The
Associated Press' annual poll of
U.S. editors and news directors.
The glitch-plagued rollout
hydrochloride) storage facility in
of President Barack Obama's
health care overhaul topped the
“This is the first time, and we
survey, followed by the Boston
have confirmed the Mexicans
Marathon bombing and the
[are] already here,” said Senior
dramatic papal changeover at
Superintendent Bartolome
the Vatican.
In this aerial photo taken on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, and released by the
Tobias, PNP-Anti-Illegal Drugs
The saga of “Obamacare” as Philippine Air Force, a ferry boat is seen washed inland from a massive
Page 7
the Affordable Care Act is storm surge caused by Typhoon Haiyan, in the City of Tacloban, central
Page 4 Philippines. AP FILE PHOTO
Mexican drug
cartel now in PH
By Jamie Elona
Fr. Julian S. Jagudilla OFM, Migrant Center
Director, St. Francis of Assisi Church, New York City
New York City -- The
Migrant Center Director of St.
Francis of Assisi, Fr. Julian S.
Jagudilla OFM, is anticipating
the approval of the
Temporary Protected Status
(TPS) this coming January
2014.This was a result of the
request of Philippine
President Benigno C. Aquino
to the US government to
d e s i g n a t e Te m p o r a r y
Protected Status for some 500
thousand undocumented and
overstaying Filipinos in the
U.S. The TPS would help these
Filipinos in the US to be
gainfully employed so they
would help rebuild the nation.
F r. J a g u d i l l a i n a n
exclusive interview with The
Filipino Express welcomes
the new immigration
program as this will benefit
undocumented Filipinos to
stay and work in the USA.
As director of the Migrant
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 2
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 3
‘Calamities test ...
From page 1
pointed to the resilience that Filipinos
all over the world are known for.
“Like the Star of Bethlehem that
served as an inspiration for the Three
Kings, our fellow Filipinos affected by
recent tragedies gave us inspiration
and hope,” he said, noting that
tragedies failed to break the spirit of
the survivors.
Most expect happy Christmas
Despite the deadly disasters, the
Social Weather Stations (SWS) on said
that its nationwide survey earlier this
month found that 62 percent of
Filipinos expected a happy
Christmasdown slightly from 64
percent in 2012 and 2011.
Those expecting a sad Christmas
in 2013 stood at only nine percent, the
same level as last year, according to
the survey results.
The SWS said that in the Visayas,
which bore the brunt of the disasters,
the number of people expecting a sad
Christmas rose to 11 percent this year
from 7 percent last year. It did not give
a reason for the increase. Those in the
central islands expecting a happy
Christmas fell to 57 percent this year
from 66 percent last year.
Inspiration to others
President Aquino said that this
year, Filipinos showed they could
serve as an inspiration to others
through their efforts to recover from
great tragedies.
He was referring to the series of
disasters, both manmade and natural,
that affected millions of Filipinos,
triggering humanitarian emergencies
that depleted the resources of
In September, followers of Moro
National Liberation Front founding chair
Nur Misuari attacked parts of
Zamboanga City, but they were
eventually repulsed by government
troops after a three-week battle.
In October, a 7.2-magnitude quake
devastated Central and Western Visayas,
killing more than 200 people in Bohol,
Cebu and Siquijor provinces.
Last month, Supertyphoon “Yolanda”
barreled through the Visayas, bringing
strong winds and a storm surge that
flattened communities and killed more
than 6,000 people. In the case of quakeaffected towns in Bohol, Mr. Aquino
noted that Boholanos showed fellow
Filipinos “what is possible.”
Lesson from God
“This is one of the most important
lessons from God: Do your best, God will
do the rest,” he said.
The President made special mention
of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),
saying they have also shown that they
could be united with their families, even
if they are thousands of miles away.
He acknowledged that the year had
been a particularly “difficult time” for
many OFWs who had to spend Christmas
away from their loved ones.
“Despite this, we celebrate
Christmas as one people, regardless of
where we are” and even during tragedies,
he said.
The President, whose bouts of
coughing interrupted his speeches the
past weeks, will continue to work
through the holidays except on Dec. 27,
when he will take a one-day off upon the
advice of Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Ona has been urging the President to
take a much-needed rest amid the
seemingly endless problems of the
country and other concerns of the
presidency that are evidently taking a toll
on the health of the President .
Pope Francis delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” (to the City and to the World) message from the central balcony of St. Peter's
Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Pope Francis on Christmas day is wishing for a better world, with
peace for the land of Jesus' birth, for Syria and Africa as well as for the dignity of migrants and refugees fleeing
misery and conflict. Francis spoke from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica Wednesday to tens of thousands of
tourists, pilgrims and Romans in the square below. He said he was joining in the song of Christmas angels with all
those hoping “for a better world,” and with those who “care for others, humbly.” AP/Gregorio Borgia
Pope's Christmas wish:
hope for a better world
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis
on Christmas Day is wishing for a
better world, with peace for the
land of Jesus' birth, for Syria and
Africa, as well as for the dignity of
migrants and refugees fleeing
misery and conflict.
Francis spoke from the
central balcony of St. Peter's
Basilica Wednesday to tens of
thousands of tourists, pilgrims
and Romans in the square below.
He said he was joining in the song
of Christmas angels with all those
hoping “for a better world,” and
with those who “care for others,
Among places ravaged by
conflict, Francis singled out Syria,
South Sudan, the Central African
Republic, Nigeria and Iraq. He
also prayed for fruitful peace talks
between Israelis and
Pilgrims celebrated
Christmas Day Wednesday in the
ancient Bethlehem church where
tradition holds Jesus was born, as
candles illuminated the sacred
site and the joyous sound of
prayer filled its overflowing halls.
This year's turnout has been
Page 6
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 4
Yahoo Philippines reveals
'2013 Year in Review'
Yahoo Philippines has
announced its 2013 Year in
Review (YIR), an annual look
back at top trends and stories
that reflect the daily habits of
Internet users in the
Philippines. The YIR section on
Yahoo news shows the most
searched topics, celebrity
searches, viral stories and
unforgettable sports moments,
based on what Internet users in
the Philippines looked for in
YIR combines search trends
and editorial selections of what
users read, recommended and
shared most on the Yahoo
network in the Philippines in
Topping this year's search
on Yahoo Philippines was
Yolanda, the super typhoon to
have made landfall, and claimed
thousands of lives. Millions of
people used the Yahoo network
to get breaking news stories and
in-depth coverage on rescue
and relief efforts.
Meanwhile, the 2013
elections, pork barrel scam, the
Sabah standoff and the
Zamboanga crisis were also
among the top searches in
Yahoo Philippines.
For Celebrity searches,
Megan Young, Miss World 2013,
emerged for the first time as the
most searched celebrity in
Yahoo Philippines. Among other
most searched celebrities was
Marian Rivera, a consistent
search trend entry, who also
won the Celebrity of the Year
Award at the Yahoo OMG!
Awards 2013. Chito Miranda,
who was in the news for his
leaked sex video with girlfriend
Neri Naig, was also in the
Celebrity Search trend.
I n a n o t h e r c a t e g o r y,
businesswoman Janet Lim
Napoles emerged as the one of
top newsmakers of the year for
2013 for allegedly
orchestrating the pork barrel
Grace Poe-Llamanzares,
daughter of Fernando Poe Jr.
also made waves by topping the
senatorial race in her Senate
In sports, boxing figured
well in 2013 with the victories
of sports icon Manny Pacquiao
over Brandon Rios, and Nonito
Donaire over Vic Darchinyan.
Collegiate basketball was at its
most dramatic with the rivalry
of the Teng brothers who played
for opposing teams, UST and
DLSU, in the UAAP finals.
Among the most endearing
stories that went viral in 2013
was the heroism of dog Kabang
who made headlines when she
saved two girls who were about
to be hit by a motorcycle and in
the process lost her mouth.
Tailored around various
topics, below are the highlights
of some interesting categories:
Top News Searches
1. Typhoon Yolanda
2. Pork barrel scam
3. 2013 elections
4. Visayas earthquake
5. Manny Pacquiao
6. Zamboanga crisis
7. Territorial disputes
8. Sabah standoff
9. MV Thomas Aquinas sinking
10. Violent crimes
Top Celebrity Searches
1. Megan Young
2. Marian Rivera
3. Chito Miranda
4. Miley Cyrus
5. Wally Bayola
6. Cristine Reyes
7. Maja Salvador
8. Anne Curtis
9. Angel Locsin
10. Ariella Arida
Top Viral Stories
1. Graduation photos inspires
2. UPLB grants posthumous
degree to exceptional student
3. Pinoy graduates with honors
from US Air Force Academy
4. Japan allows multiple-entry
visa for Pinoys
5. Hero dog Kabang comes
6. Bye Pilipinas, hello Filipinas?
7. MMDA to ban each car twice
a week?
8. Cop cries during SONA
9. Airline discriminated against
10. UP student tagged as
'photo thief'
Top Emerging Destinations
1. Batanes
2. Apo Island
3. Panglao Island
4. Danjugan Islands
5. Mt. Kanlaon
6. Biri Island Rock Formation
7. Caramoan Islands
8. Tubbataha Reefs Natural
9. Lake Sebu
10. Calaguas Island
Top Unforgettable Sports
1. Nonito Donaire rallies late to
stop old rival Vic Darchinyan
2. The Boston Marathon is hit
by two bomb blasts
3. A Malaysian MMA fighter
and a Chinese golfer donate
their winnings to Yolanda
4. Sports world pitches in to
help Yolanda victims
5. Teng brothers go head to
head in UAAP Finals, share
embrace afterwards
6. The NBA hits town with the
2013 Global Games
7. LeBron James visits Manila
8. Ray Allen's triple forces
overtime and denies the Spurs
the NBA title
9. Manny Pacquiao's battering
of Brandon Rios lifts a battered nation
10. Gilas Pilipinas ends the
Korean jinx and makes it to the
FIBA World Cup
Top Filipino Candidates in
International Pageants
1. Megan Young
2. Mutya Datul
3. Ariella Arida
4. Cindy Miranda
5. Annalie Forbes
6. Gil Wagas
Top Newsmakers
1. Janet Lim Napoles
2. Juan Ponce Enrile
3. Joseph Ejercito Estrada
4. Grace Poe-Llamanzares
5. Nancy Binay
6. Mar Roxas
7. Maria Lourdes Sereno,
Conchita Carpio-Morales, and
Leila de Lima
8. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
9. Nur Misuari
10. Jamalul Kiram 3rd
For more information on other
categories, log on to Manila Times
‘Yolanda’ among
top ...
From page 1
widely known received 45 first-place
votes out of the 144 ballots cast for
the top 10 stories. The marathon
bombing received 29 first-place votes
and the papal transition 21.
Other strong contenders were the
bitter partisan conflict in Congress
and the leaks about National Security
Agency surveillance by former NSA
analyst Edward Snowden.
Last year, the top story was the
massacre of 26 children and staff at
an elementary school in Newtown,
Connecticut. That result came after a
rare decision by the AP to re-conduct
the voting; the initial round of
balloting had ended Dec. 13, a day
before the Newtown shooting, with
the 2012 election at the top.
The first AP top-stories poll was
conducted in 1936, when editors
chose the abdication of Britain's King
Edward VIII.
Here are 2013′s top 10 stories, in
The White House had hoped the
Oct. 1 launch of open enrollment
would be a showcase for the upside of
Obama's much-debated health care
overhaul. Instead, the website
became a symbol of dysfunction,
providing Republicans and late-night
comics with ammunition, and
worrying the president's Democratic
allies. The site gradually improved,
but a wave of cancellation notices
from insurers undercut Obama's oftrepeated promise that people who
liked their existing coverage could
keep it.
In seconds, a scene of celebration
transformed into one of carnage, as
two bombs exploded near the finish
line of the Boston Marathon in April.
Three people were killed and more
than 260 injured, including at least 16
who lost limbs. Authorities soon
identified two suspects 26-year-old
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a
shootout with police, and his brother,
Dzhokhar, 20, who faces multiple
charges, including 17 that carry a
possible death penalty. Though jolted
by the bombings and a subsequent
lockdown, the city rallied under the
slogan “Boston Strong.”
Pope Benedict XVI stunned
Catholics around the world with his
announcement in February that he
would resign. The Argentine cardinal
elected to succeed him, soon known
as Pope Francis, proceeded to
captivate many Catholics and nonCatholics alike with a new tone of
openness, modesty and tolerance.
Without challenging core church
doctrine, he suggested it was time to
rethink policy on divorce, focus more
on serving the poor, and devote less
rhetoric to condemnations of gay
marriage and abortion.
Opinion polls showed Congress
with historically low approval ratings,
and the key reason was seemingly
intractable partisan conflict. Among
the consequences were the harsh
automatic spending curbs known as
sequestration, the partial shutdown
of the government in October, and
bitterness in the Senate after
Democrats used their majority to
reduce the Republicans' ability to
stall presidential nominations via
The ripple effect continues, seven
months after the world learned of
Edward Snowden. The former NSA
analyst leaked vast troves of secret
documents detailing NSA
surveillance operations, including
programs that collected Americans'
Page 5
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 5
UK allocates P1 Billion for ‘build back
better' program for ‘Yolanda victims’
By Tarra Quismundo
MANILA -- Vowing to support the
Philippines for the long-haul, the United
Kingdom has allocated at least P1 billion in
fresh funding for government's “build back
better” program to rebuild typhoon-ravaged
Eastern Visayas, the British Embassy in Manila
has said.
Justine Greening, the UK's International
Development Secretary, announced the new
funding commitment on Christmas eve, saying
the amount will also send UK experts to the
country to assist in the long-term recovery
“The UK was at the forefront of the
international emergency response in the
Philippines, getting vital humanitarian aid to
hundreds of thousands of survivors. Now,
British money and expertise will help rebuild
homes, get people back into work, and protect
the most vulnerable, especially girls and
women,” Greening said in a statement sent out
by the Embassy.
British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif
Ahmad also reaffirmed the UK's commitmentboth its government and people- to staying by
the Philippines' side throughout the rebuilding
“The people of Britain continue their
massive fund raising effort to help the victims of
Typhoon Yolanda. This is a strong message to
the UK Government from its citizens to sustain
our work in the Philippines. Our hearts and
minds are with Pinoys as they rise again from
this tragedy,” Ahmad said.
The UK made the announcement just days
after the Philippines announced its
Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda (RAY)
program, government's reconstruction
blueprint for the typhoon corridor where
houses and other critical infrastructure were
‘Yolanda’ among
top ...
From page 4
Phone records and eavesdropped on
allied leaders. After a stay in Hong
Kong, Snowden spent a month in
Moscow's airport before obtaining
asylum in Russia. The leaks have roiled
diplomacy, triggered lawsuits and calls
for reform, and prompted warnings
that terrorists could benefit from the
GAY MARRIAGE: Capping decades
of activism, the gay-rights movement
won a monumental victory in June in
the form of two Supreme Court
decisions. One cleared the way for
ending a ban on same-sex marriages in
California, the most populous state.
The other struck down a 1996 law
passed by Congress that banned
federal recognition of same-sex
marriages. In subsequent months,
Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico
boosted the number of states allowing
gay marriage to at least 17.
A freedom fighter, a political
prisoner, a statesman revered for
preaching reconciliation in a nation
torn by racial strife. Nelson Mandela
was all that and more the icon of the
anti-apartheid movement and South
Africa's first black president. With his
death at the age of 95, his compatriots,
world leaders and countless other
admirers mourned the loss of a one-of-
The new funding pledge is expected to
benefit at least a million of the affected
residents, raising to at least P5.4 billion the UK's
total assistance to survivors of Yolanda by far.
The amount is among the largest foreign aid
the Philippines has received for the typhoon
response. The British government had provided
emergency relief supplies and logistics support
through the royal military in the early part of
disaster response.
“The UK is providing the money and
expertise needed to start the longer term
recovery of the Philippines and the restoration
of livelihoods and buildings destroyed by the
typhoon. The UK's support will help people to
earn an income again, by providing rice seeds,
restoring irrigation systems on farms, and reestablishing fisheries,” said the Embassy in a
Breaking down the new assistance package,
the UK Embassy said the funding will go to
building permanent shelter for the displaced,
restoring public infrastructure, reestablishing
education and health services, restoring rural
agriculture fisheries systems and providing
skills and entrepreneurial training.
The amount will also cover the
deployment of British experts to assistin
protecting vulnerable sectors, particularly
women and children, while the social
infrastructure on the ground is being restored.
The United Nations expressed concern that
human trafficking might ensue in the disaster
zone, as predators take advantage of families
desperate to earn a living in order to get back on
their feet.
Climate experts will also help the country
develop weather resilience while business
specialists will provide expert advise on
restoration of infrastructure and creating
a-kind hero.
T h e re w e re d i re wa r n i n g s
beforehand, but the toll wreaked by
Typhoon Haiyan was still stunning in
its scope after it struck on Nov. 8. More
than 6,000 people died; hundreds
more remain missing. The typhoon
damaged or destroyed the homes of
more than 16 million people, with
rebuilding expected to take years.
The death toll mounted inexorably,
past 120,000, as Syria's nearly 3-yearold civil war raged on with no signs of
resolution. The government of Bashar
Assad did agree to eliminate its
chemical weapons, but prospects for
peace talks were complicated by
infighting among anti-government
rebels. Nearly 9 million Syrians have
been uprooted from their homes, with
many of them seeking refuge abroad.
The call for help came on May 6,
and the revelations that followed were
gripping and grim. A former bus driver,
Ariel Castro, had abducted three
women from the streets of Cleveland
from 2002 to 2004 when they were 14,
16 and 20. He periodically kept them
chained, restricted access to food and
toilets, and repeatedly raped and
assaulted them until their escape.
Castro pleaded guilty to multiple
charges, and in September, faced with
life in prison, hanged himself in his cell.
SHIPS washed ashore in the coastal villages have slowed down retrieval operations in Tacloban City.
15 ships washed ashore slow
down recovery of bodies
By Shiena M. Barrameda
What about the dead buried under cargo
ships and tugboats that were washed inland
when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” whipped up
giant waves in Leyte and Eastern Samar
Heads of government agencies under
Task Force Yolanda agree that the unmoved 15
vessels in the coastal communities have been
slowing down the recovery of bodies there.
The official death toll from the typhoon,
however, has been kept at 6,069.
According to the Philippine Coast Guard
(PCG), nine mostly cargo ships, two tugboats
and a barge are still stuck in Tacloban City and
three other ships in different areas in Guiuan
town, Eastern Samar.
Senior Supt. Pablito Cordeta, regional
director of the Bureau of Fire Protection and
head of Task Force Yolanda's cadaver
collection group, said the presence of the
ships had slowed down missions to search for
bodies that might still be underneath the
debris and the boats.
Lt. Paul Gonzales, PCG Tacloban station
commander, said he was still coordinating
with ship owners to finalize plans on bringing
the vessels back to the sea and away from
residential areas. Insurance companies were
still assessing damage following claims of the
owners that the equipment to remove the
vessels were not yet available, Gonzales said.
“We are hoping that the ship owners will
start work on retracting these vessels before
the end of this year. Some owners have been
sending engineers to assess and determine
the materials and equipment needed,”
Gonzales said on the phone on Friday.
The possibility of an oil spill is a factor to
consider in the movement of the vessels, he
A regional PCG report identified the
Page 7
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 6
Even the dead got Malampaya funds
By Cynthia D. Balana
Unscrupulous people from
bogus non-government
organizations (NGOs) had
submitted at least 12 names of
dead recipients of assistance from
the alleged scam involving the
misuse and abuse of the P900million Malampaya Fund,
according to the Commission on
Audit (COA).
A 2012 COA special audit
report on the fund, released on
Dec. 21, said the ghost
beneficiaries were among the
9,862 names submitted by NGOs,
which were not named, as
supposed recipients of
agricultural inputs that included
farming tools, fertilizers, safety
gear and seeds.
The funds were funneled
through the Department of
Agrarian Reform (DAR) because
the farm assistance projects were
intended for agrarian reform
beneficiaries (ARBs) such as
former tenant farmers who have
been awarded ownership of land
they were tilling.
Of the dead beneficiaries, 3
supposedly came from Atok in
Benguet, 12 from Umingan in
Pangasinan and 7 from other
provinces in the Ilocos and
Central Luzon regions.
Not registered
The report also said only 89
names had been validated to be
legitimate ARBs based on the
audit, others were legitimate
farmers but not ARBs while the
bulk were not registered as
residents or voters in the towns
they were listed in.
The COA then scoffed at DAR
officials for insisting that the
P6-B payoff in rice
smuggling revealed
By Gil C. Cabacungan
The alleged main characters of the P900-million Malampaya
Fund scam are former secretaries and ex- and current
undersecretaries of the agrarian reform, budget and finance
departments, together with Janet Lim-Napoles. Inquirer photo
department observed the rules in
disbursement of funds.
Accordingly, the initial batch
o f l e t te r - re q u e s t s s e e k i n g
agricultural assistance for ARBs
came from mayors whose towns
were greatly affected by
Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”
in 2009. This was followed by
subsequent requests for
additional assistance for farmerbeneficiaries in the next two days.
On October 22, 2009, then
DAR Undersecretary Narciso
Nieto also sent a letter-request to
the Department of Budget and
Management seeking the release
of P900 million for the farmers.
No thorough evaluation
“…(T)here could have been no
thorough evaluation that could be
undertaken on the requests in
such a short period of three days,
especially considering that these
LGUs (local government units)
were located in different
Pope’s Christmas ...
From page 3
the largest in years in Bethlehem and the
celebrations have been marked by
careful optimism amid ongoing IsraeliPalestinian peace talks. Leaders
expressed hope that the coming year
would finally bring the Palestinians an
independent state of their own.
The top Roman Catholic cleric in the
Holy Land, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal,
led a prayer for some 1,000 worshippers
as bells rang and tourists from around
the world flocked to the fourth-century
Church of the Nativity complex to see the
grotto that is Jesus' traditional
“The whole world now is looking at
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus,”
Twal said in his annual address. “The
Holy Land is where Jesus was born in the
grotto and we have to reflect this bright
picture of Jesus by representing the
morals of Jesus, the message of Jesus the
provinces of Luzon,” the COA
report said.
The P900 million were then
split into sums of 10 or less and
awarded to the 12 questionable
NGOs which signed a
memorandum of agreement with
the DAR for the purchase of said
agricultural supplies.
The COA said that the
Government Procurement Law
and COA Circular No. 76-41
(1976) prohibited the practice of
breaking down the transactions
into smaller amounts to go
around the rules.
“This amount (P10 million) is
the limit of the signing authority
of the Undersecretary of DAR, and
appears to be the only plausible
reason for the splitting,” COA
pointed out.
It said that Nieto claimed he
merely acted on instructions
issued by then DAR Secretary
Nasser Pangandaman.
message of love and reconciliation.”
Bethlehem lies 10 kilometers (6
miles) south of Jerusalem. Entry to the
city is controlled by Israel, which
occupied the West Bank in 1967.
Following a Palestinian uprising that
began in 2000, the numbers of visitors to
Bethlehem had plunged, including for
But thanks to a period of relative
calm, they have been steadily climbing in
recent years and while still below the
record levels of the 1990s, got an extra
push this year following the resumption
of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Iskandar Salameh, an 18-year-old
Palestinian, said the Christmas spirit
was uniting those gathered Wednesday.
“We all feel that Jesus is with us
today,” he said.
Later, Pope Francis will deliver his
first Christmas message as pontiff from
the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica
to pilgrims, tourists and Romans
g a t h e r e d i n t h e p i a z z a b e l o w.
A Goliath in rice smuggling has
cornered the trade in this grain by
plying Bureau of Customs (BOC)
officials and rank-and-file employees
with cash gifts that have amounted to
P6 billion over the last two years.
A former BOC official, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, said one of
the main challenges facing the new
management at the bureau was
whether it would dismantle the
network built by a certain “David Tan”
who was designated as point man
when rice-smuggling transactions
were centralized two years ago.
“David Tan operates behind
various brokerage firms. If you want to
bring in rice without paying the right
taxes, you have to go through him
because the BOC officials deal only
with him. The BOC officials do not
entertain any other rice smuggler
except Tan,” said the source, who
described the rice smuggler as “young
and with deep connections in rice
exporting countries in Asia, especially
“T h ey c a lle d t h e s e s p e c i a l
operations or palusot because the rice
shipments had no documents or
import permit. After David Tan
informs his connections where his
shipments are arriving, the smuggling
network goes into motion, from those
who sign the papers to those who open
the exit gates in the ports,” the former
official said.
It was not clear whether “David
Tan” was the same as “Mr. T” who,
according to a new BOC official who
talked to the Inquirer last week, was
one of three big traders whose underthe-table deals with corrupt
examiners, appraisers and other
frontline personnel at the bureau were
the cause of the agency's failure to
meet its revenue collection goals.
The new bureau official referred to
the other two big traders as “Big
Mama” and “Ma'am T.”
Old-timers in the BOC told the
Inquirer on Monday that there was no
reason to go after “Big Mama,” “Ma'am
T” and “Mr. T” because the papers of
the three traders “appeared to be in
The case is presumably the same
with “David Tan.”
The former BOC official said the
scheme involved at least two top
bureau officials (who get P10,000 to
P20,000 each per container), at least
one major port official (P5,000 to
P10,000 per container) and more than
a dozen desk employees whose
signatures (P1,000 per container)
were needed in the release papers of
the smuggled rice.
He estimated that Tan brought in
an average of 1,000 TEU or 6-meter
equivalent unit containers a week (a
container can load 510 cavans of rice)
or a weekly take of P37 million to P62
In the last two years since Tan
monopolized rice smuggling in the
country, the former official said
Page 7
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 7
Customs chief talks about 'demons, learning’
P6-B payoff ...
From page 6
By Jerry E. Esplanada
kickbacks had reached between P3.85 billion
and P6.45 billion.
The former official said roughly one-third
of the kickbacks went to just one official who
was believed to be representing an “influential”
“Tan would pay low taxes by claiming that
the TEUs contained goods of lesser value than
rice. Often, his group declares the rice
shipments as various construction materials
that are also heavy but carry lower duties,” the
former official said.
Smuggled rice is usually brought in through
the two ports in Manila and the ports in Cebu,
Cagayan de Oro and Davao, the former official
He said rice and oil were the two most
smuggled goods in the country because of the
huge profits involved in bringing these
commodities in on the sly.
Who is Tan?
In October, Samahang Industriya ng
Agrikultura (Sinag) president and former
Abono Rep. Rosendo So urged the government
to look into reports that a certain “David Tan”
was the head of the country's biggest rice
smuggling syndicate and called on BOC officials
to identify him so he could be arrested.
“We want to know who is David Tan and
why the authorities have allowed him to
allegedly manipulate rice imports for his own
and his group's profit,” So said.
Nothing happened, as in President
Aquino's trying to shame BOC officials and
employees into leaving by singling the bureau
out for corruption in his State of the Nation
Address in July.
Former Rep. Ruffy Biazon whom the
President had appointed to head the bureau,
reorganized the agency to put an end to
corruption there, but those who were shuffled
challenged their reassignment in the Court of
Appeals, frustrating reforms and keeping their
lucrative posts.
Biazon beat them in leaving the bureau by
quitting in early December after being
implicated in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
Mexican drug cartel ...
From page 1
Special Operations Task Force chief,
referring to the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The PNP made the disclosure after
roughly 84 kilos of suspected shabu
worth P420 million, and several
weapons were seized during a raid at the
LPL Ranch in Barangay (village)
Inosluban in Lipa City, Batangas on
Christmas Day.
Three suspected drug traffickers
identified as Gary Tan, Aragay Argenos
and Rochelle Argenos were arrested
during the operation.
Quoting reports, Tobias said Tan was
leading a big-time drug syndicate in
Metro Manila and nearby regions. The
report also said Tan was working with a
certain Jorge Torres, a FilipinoAmerican.
“We are 7,000 islands [in the
Philippines]. If you go down south you
can freely go to Sabah. There are times
when you don't need to go through
Like his boss in Malacañang, newly
appointed Customs Commissioner John
Phillip Sevilla seems convinced the Bureau of
Customs (BOC) is one of the most corrupt
government agencies.
“If I were to believe all the text messages
that I get, everybody here has four horns and
two tails (apat na sungay at dalawang
buntot),” Sevilla said in Filipino in an
exclusive interview with the Inquirer on
The former finance undersecretary said
he had “never been in a place where there's so
much bad-mouthing.”
Sevilla said he had received many reports
about irregularities supposedly involving
BOC personnel.
“This early, the files are [over a foot] thick.
I get more reports each day,” he said.
Sevilla stressed it was “important I
should not get emotional about this,”
although he said “human instinct dictates I
should get angry.”
“What am I going to do, fire everybody?”
he said. “I know I can't resort to that even if I
have the power, which I don't. You can't just
stop BOC operations for one week then look
for their replacements.”
Performance is key
Sevilla said it should be made clear to all
BOC personnel that “from now on, here's
your accountability … The basis of your
future in the bureau is going to be how you
The BOC was among the agencies
criticized by President Benigno Aquino III in
his address before Congress last July.
“Where do these people get the gall?” the
President asked then, referring to BOC
officials and employees involved in
smuggling goods, drugs and arms.
Surveys have also ranked the BOC as
among the most corrupt government offices.
No complete picture yet
Interviewed on his 12th day in office,
Sevilla admitted that he still had “a lot to
learn” in his job.
Immigration anymore . . . you just need to
ride a boat . . .,” PNP chief, Director
General Alan Purisima said, adding that
there were also reports that containers
entering the country were not being
opened for checking.
Furthermore, Purisima also said this
Mexican group was suspected to be
working with Chinese drug syndicates
until such time that they could operate
“We can see they are just starting . . .
we need to immediately act on this to
stop them,” he said.
He also said the police would consult
its lawyers as to the possible liabilities of
the owner of the ranch, saying that the
group only leased the property.
Appropriate charges have been filed
against the arrested suspects, while
additional cases of possession of
dangerous drugs will be filed against
Torres, a certain alias Jaime and alias
Joey, both Mexicans and alleged
members of the Sinaloa drug cartel.
15 ships washed ashore ...
From page 5
owner of the two tugboats and a barge on the shore of Tacloban as Vicente Lao
Construction, which is based in Davao City.
The cargo ships are MV Star Hilongos, owned by Roble Shipping Lines Inc. based in
Cebu City; MV Jaguar and MV Tomi Elegance, owned by Tacloban Oil Mills in Tolosa,
Leyte; MV Eva Jocelyn of Eva Shipping Lines in Mandaue City; MV Gayle of Unilink
Shipping Lines in Mandaue City; MV David of Candano Shipping Lines in Tabaco City,
Albay; MV Rosman, owned by Richmond Ng of Quezon City; MV Ligaya-V of Avega
Brothers Integrated Shipping Corp., and the MV Eastern Star of Lilygene Shipping
Lines Inc. Still stuck in Guiuan are MV RKK Uno, MV Lancer and MV Lady of Fatima.
against them and file a case against them.
Does that solve the problem?”
Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla
“It's no secret that I knew nothing about
the BOC before coming in, so there's a lot to
learn … This is Day 12, so I can't claim to have
the complete picture,” he said.
Sevilla said that, for instance, he was “not
yet familiar with the accountability of
individual appraisers.”
“I think we need to establish what their
functions are. Then, what are you
accountable for? What is my objective basis?
What is your supervisor's objective basis to
say whether you're performing or not?”
Future rather than past
Asked about irregularities involving
some BOC officials and employees that had
been reported by the Inquirer, Sevilla said he
was “much more interested in the future than
in the past.”
“I have no time to investigate every single
accusation against every single person here
… I want to be very clear about that,” he
Referring to this paper's Dec. 26 report
on P6 billion in customs revenue lost owing
to rice smuggling, Sevilla said, “Did anybody
in the country get surprised about the news
report that there are some powerful people
who are conniving with BOC insiders in rice
“That did not surprise anybody,” he said.
Sevilla went on: “Let's say tomorrow
we'd be able to identify the erring BOC
employees and we'll have the best evidence
Problem in the system
Some unnamed BOC personnel allegedly
in cahoots with a certain “David Tan,” one of
the big-time bureau players, were said to be
behind the rice smuggling case.
“How is it these things happen? … I still
don't understand,” Sevilla said.
“Obviously, there's a problem in the
system,” he pointed out. “Assuming you've
arrested somebody but your system stays the
same, next week there'll be another one.”
That is why, he said, “there's a need to talk
about the flaws in the processes of the
bureau, which allow these things to happen
and on a large scale and … for such a long
time, whether it's rice or any other product.
They have the same modus operandi.”
Internal reform
Sevilla said he had “been hearing about
[BOC irregularities] for years.”
“I didn't know anything about [the BOC].
So what really happened that they could go
on and on? How do we stop that?”
He said that what needed to be done now
was “an internal process reform.”
Last week, the Inquirer reported that
under-the-table deals supposedly among
examiners, appraisers and other frontline
BOC personnel and big-time traders were the
causes of the bureau's failure to meet its
revenue collection goals.
A newly appointed BOC official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity, told this
paper that among the traders (or their fronts)
were three people whom insiders call “Big
Mama,” “Ma'am T” and “Mr. T.”
Citing alleged pork barrel scam operator
Janet Lim-Napoles as comparison, the official
said that, “like Napoles, these players make a
lot of people at the Bureau of Customs happy
with regular payoffs in exchange for the
undervaluation of their imported goods.”
The source assailed a fellow official who,
he claimed, interceded on behalf of one
trader in an operation that resulted in
millions of pesos in revenue losses to the
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 8
Fil Am driver returns
$300K left in his taxi
Special to Fil Am Extra Exchange
( -- A
Filipino American taxi driver
found a paper bag full of money -$300,000 (P12.6-M) cash
Monday (Dec. 23) in Las Vegas,
Nevada but promptly turned it in
to his employer Yellow Checker
Star cab company to prove that
“Las Vegas may be a Sin City but is
actually an Angel City.”
Gerardo “Gerry” Gamboa, 54,
a native of San Francisco,
Mabalacat, Pampanga in the
Philippines and a current
resident of Las Vegas, was given a
$5 tip by his passenger he picked
up from Cosmopolitan Hotel in
Las Vegas but unknowingly left
behind in his taxi a stash of paper
bag full of money. He dropped his
passenger off at Palm Place hotel
after a five-minute drive (two
miles distance).
When he went to another taxi
stand at Bellagio Hotel, its
doorman, who hailed
Gamboa's taxi told Gamboa,
“There is a bag in (your taxi) full
of chocolate.”
When the bag was opened, it
turned out to contain bundles of
$300,000 in $100 bills. An
apologetic Gamboa swore to the
new passenger, “You are my
witness. I did not touch anything
When Gamboa informed his
employer of the find, he was told
to immediately return to the
headquarters by On-Duty
Supervisor, Terry Mast of Y.C.S.
Yellow, Checker and Star Taxi
Group of Companies.
The bundles of money were
counted and audited in front of
taxi company officials and were
locked in its Lost-and-Found
safety vault.
Hours later, the owner of the
cash bundles arrived to claim the
money and profusely thanked
The owner of the money
turned out to be a worldrenowned professional poker
player, who had a “big night”
before he hailed Gamboa's taxi.
The poker player did not want to
be identified.
At first, CBS TV station KLAS
in Las Vegas said the poker
player was not able to collect his
money pending verification of
his identity “because he had no
ID.” But when the Las Vegas
police confirmed the claimant's
identity, the taxi company gave
the money to the poker player.
Checker Group of Companies
CEO Bill Shrinko said he was not
surprised at the incident at all.
He said the company had dealt
with far bigger amounts left
behind in the taxi.
Mr. Shrinko added that all
drivers of their taxis undergo an
“almost-weekly seminar or
continuing education about
honesty as professional taxi
drivers, emphasizing honesty to
all tourists from all over the world
visiting the entertainment capital
of the world Las Vegas, Nevada.”
Gamboa, for his act of honesty,
expressed his desire to prove to
the world that Filipinos are
hardworking, industrious and
100% honest no matter where
they are in the world.
For his honesty, Gamboa was
adjudged “Driver of the Year” by
the company. He was also given a
$1,000 reward money and a
dinner for two in a high-end Las
Vegas hotel.
Gamboa is the son of the late
Manuel Gamboa from Silay City
and Leonila Dizon Gamboa, from
S a n Fra n c i s c o , M a b a l a c a t ,
CBS TV KLAS said the owner
of the bundles of money is going
to give Gamboa a “substantial
Gamboa, a 13-year taxi driver
veteran, told another reporter, “I
just want to do the right thing.”
([email protected]/usne
Inquirer file photo
Filipino caregivers in SF
recover unpaid wages
SAN FRANCISCO -- Workers from
three San Francisco care homes
celebrated their recent settlement
agreements on Dec.18, International
Migrants Day, after winning their
months-long claims against their
employers, totaling more than
$800,000 in unpaid wages.
Filipino caregivers from Sunset
Gardens, Nacario's Home of San
Francisco and Veal's Residential Care
Homes joined other workers and
their supporters to raise awareness
about wage theft in the industry and
the rights of all workers regardless of
their immigration status.
“Over the last few years, the
Filipino Community Center has
proudly supported Filipino
caregivers and also hotel and
restaurant workers in reclaiming
over $1 million in unpaid wages,”
stated Mario de Mira, FCC's workers
rights program coordinator.
“We congratulate these Filipino
caregivers in particular for their
victory in asserting their rights in an
industry that takes advantage of
workers, especially immigrant
Filing their claims with the Office
of Labor Standards Enforcement
(OLSE), the workers faced conditions
similar to many other residential
care home workers. Caring for the
elderly and disabled, caregivers
sometimes work nearly 24-hours per
day, but they are rarely paid the
legally mandated minimum wage,
overtime, or double time for these
extended work schedules.
“The Sunset Gardens employees
worked extremely long hours
cooking, cleaning and caring for the
residents,” added Donna Levitt,
manager of the City's Office of Labor
Standards Enforcement. “They must
be paid no less than minimum wage
and overtime for their work.”
Together with City Attorney
Dennis Herrera, OLSE has now
reached settlements and verbal
agreements with seven residential
care facilities over the last two years,
recovering a total of over $1.5 million
in wages.
“This case and six others
involving residential senior care
facilities should send a strong
message to would-be wage cheats
that there is no profit in breaking the
law,” Herrera said.
“I'm very grateful to our partners
on this case and others, including the
Office of Labor Standards
Enforcement, the Wage Justice
Center, the Employment Law Center,
the Workplace Justice Initiative, the
California Department of Industrial
Relations Bureau of Field
Enforcement and the Filipino
Page 9
Egyptian driver gets
3-month jail term for
molesting Pinay in UAE
MANILA -- A United Arab
Emirates court has sentenced an
Egyptian driver to three months in
jail after finding him guilty of
molesting and verbally abusing a
Filipina last September.
The Dubai Court of First
Instance also ordered the driver,
36, deported after he serves his
sentence, according to a report on
Gulf News.
Presiding judge Urfan Omar
found the Egyptian guilty of the
offense despite the driver's
insistence he was innocent. His
ruling is subject to appeal for 15
The investigation showed the
Egyptian driver posed as a
maintenance worker to gain access
into the flat of the Filipino
saleswoman, 21.
During the incident at the
Dubai Investment Park last
September 2, the driver
supposedly claimed he had been
assigned to carry out an inspection.
According to the Filipina, the
driver walked into her flat and
switched off the lights, then asked
to have sex with her as he claimed
he liked her figure.
Prosecutors added the driver
Page 9
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 9
Jersey City Urges Department
of Homeland Security to Grant
TPS to Philippines
Fr. Julian S. Jagudilla OFM, Director of Migrant Center, St. Francis of Assisi Church,
receiving a copy of the ‘Christmas Issue’ of The Filipino Express from Grace G. Baldesseri.
Photo by Enrico David
Migrant Center
director ...
From page 1
Center, he offers the facility at St.
Francis of Assisi for lawyers to
convene anytime they need to meet
up and talk about the TPS. He also
expressed that the Center will open
its doors for mass registration of
TPS applicants no matter what
religion they are - Catholics,
Christians, Muslims or nonbelievers.
The Migrant Center at the
Church of St. Francis of Assisi was
founded on October 12, 1999 by Fr.
Brian J. Jordan, O.F.M. as a resource
and referral center for newly
arrived immigrants, migrants and
refugees. Its goal is to reach out to
the poor, the immigrant and the
The Center offers free and
confidential legal services such as:
assistance in understanding and
accuracy in filling up USCIS forms;
advise in all types of immigration
cases; educational workshops
about current immigration law and
policy, referral to attorneys and
Egyptian driver
gets ...
From page 8
even kissed the Filipina's arm
and touched her shoulder.
"I got angry and asked him to
leave. He didn't leave although I
warned him that my brother was
and translators whenever
necessary; advocacy for better
services by government and private
sector on local and state levels.
Fr. Jagudilla hopes that the
lawyers who will be assisting TPS
applicants will not be charging too
much but will have the heart to
charge a reasonable fee so that
many eligible candidates will be
able to avail of the TPS program.
The coming year is challenging
for the Migrant Center as it
welcomes the hundreds of
thousands of Filipinos of various
background regardless of political
or religious affiliation to register
and apply for the temporary
protected status.
The Filipino Express was
impressed by the mission of The
Migrant Center of St. Francis of
Assisi and its services to all
regardless of nationality.
For those who want to visit the
Center, this is located at 135 W 35th
Street, New York, NY. The
hardworking and dedicated Fr.
Julian S. Jagudilla will be there to
welcome you at The Migrant Center.
coming and that I would call the
police,” the Filipina recalled.
She added she ran out to the
balcony and told the driver she
would shout for help. This
prompted him to leave.
The Filipina then said she
told her mother and brother
what happened, and her mother
had security arrest the Egyptian
when he returned the next day.
JERSEY CITY, NJ -- The Jersey
City Municipal Council
unanimously passed resolution
Res. 13.868 at its December 18th
council meeting, urging the U.S.
Department of Homeland
Security to designate
Temporary Protective Status
(TPS) to the Philippines, in the
wake of the devastation and
aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
Council President Rolando
Lavarro introduced the
resolution, in consultation with
the Philippine Consulate and
various immigration advocates.
The resolution was sent to
Acting Secretary Rand Beers of
the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, as well as
New Jersey's Senate and
Congressional representatives.
A grant of TPS would allow
Philippine nationals, currently
residing in the United States, to
continue residing in the country
with temporary legal status,
providing Filipinos protection
f ro m d e p o r t a t i o n , t rave l
authorization, and the ability to
work legally while in the U.S.
Under the provision 244(b) of
the Immigration and
Nationality Act, the Secretary of
the United States Department of
Homeland Security can
designate, for a prescribed time
period, a foreign state for
special protection if a natural
disaster prevents the state from
being able to adequately handle
the return of its nationals. TPS
was granted by the U.S. to Haiti
nationals back in 2010 when a
catastrophic earthquake hit the
country, killing over 100,000
“This is the time to do the
right thing and help those who
have lost so much,” said Lavarro.
“This is not the time to send
people back, to compound the
challenges of a devastated
Jersey City is home to over
17,000 Filipinos, and typhoon
relief efforts continue to take
place in the community. Various
fundraising events - cocktails,
concerts, haircuts, basketball
league, zumbathon etc. and
relief goods collection
immediately took place in
Jersey City within a week or so
of the landfall of the typhoon,
and have continued to this day.
“Jersey City stands with the
Filipino American community
and the Philippines' long road to
rebuilding,” said Lavarro. “I'm
proud and humbled at how
Jersey City, home to so many
Filipinos, has responded to the
humanitarian crisis.”
Councilman Lavarro can be
reached at [email protected], or
on Facebook (Rolando Lavarro
Jr.), and Twitter (@rlavarro).
Filipino caregivers
in SF ...
their rights, and, by doing so,
showed what can be done when
government and the
community come together in
the fight for wage justice, “ said
Jay Shin, an attorney with The
Wage Justice Center.
The State of California's
Division of Labor Standards
Enforcement (DLSE)/Bureau of
Field Enforcement (BOFE) also
got involved and visited the care
home. With all of this attention,
the Tanatos and their relatives
who owned the Nacario's Home
of San Francisco negotiated to
settle the cases against them
and finally pay their workers.
“We are honored to have
been able to stand alongside
these brave workers who stood
up for their most basic right: to
be paid for their work,” said
Carole Vigne, the Legal Aid
S o c i e t y - E m p l oy m e n t L aw
Center's attorney for the
plaintiffs. “We hope this
settlement will also serve as an
example to other workers
whose rights have been violated
so that they too can find justice.”
Added Charlotte Noss of
Workplace Justice Initiative,
“The home care industry is rife
with this kind of abuse and
exploitation, especially of lowwage and immigrant workers. It
should be clear to all employers
that there will be consequences
if employees are not paid what
they are owed under the law. ”
This community and citysupported worker struggle
occurred while the city's Wage
T h e f t Ta s k F o r c e w a s
developing and implementing
some of its recommendations to
strengthen the city's
enforcement of SF Labor Laws.
The caregivers' victory also
comes at a time when the city is
considering a potential increase
of the SF minimum wage to
$15/hour, and as advocates vow
to work on needed
improvements to workplace
conditions and patient care in
the expanding care home
From page 8
Community Center, which has
done a phenomenal job of
organizing care workers and
helping bring cases to OLSE's
During the labor dispute,
the Sunset Gardens' owners, the
Tanato family, initiated the sale
of their personal and business
properties and told others that
they would be leaving the
country. OLSE and the City
Attorney co-counseled with the
Wage Justice Center, the
Employment Law Center, and
the Workplace Justice Initiative
to pursue the workers' claims
and ensure that the Tanatos did
not escape justice.
“So often, low-income,
immigrant workers fail to see
the wages to which they are
entitled. For them, the law is
nothing but words on paper. But
these workers fought to realize
[email protected]
Editorial & opinion
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 10
A sense of joy
In November, when the Vatican released “Evangelii Gaudium”
(The Joy of the Gospel), the first official “apostolic exhortation” by
Pope Francis, the document immediately caused a sensation. In it,
the Argentine Pontiff who had immediately won the hearts of
people everywhere with his simple ways and caring words
confirmed in writing that the change in tone and temperament he
was bringing to the Catholic Church was not for show. He meant
business, and he had very specific ideas about the changes he
wanted to see in the Church.
They weren't doctrinal changes, to be sure. Francis conceded
not an inch of the Church's positions on abortion or the ban on
women priests. He didn't lift the moral injunction against birth
control, or rescind the Church's fierce opposition to same-sex
marriage. He pontificated on none of those things. Instead, he said
that obsessing over such doctrinal fine print, to the exclusion of
everything else such as the Church's paramount mission to provide
succor to the poor and the dispossessed, was a misguided way of
serving the Gospel of Christ.
“I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and
then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and
procedures,” he said. “In her ongoing discernment, the Church can
also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the
heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are
no longer properly understood and appreciated.”
In less than a year, the first Pontiff to come from the so-called
Third World has demonstrated that he walks the talk when it comes
to remaking the Church into a more welcoming, compassionate
institution. Unlike his two more doctrinaire predecessors, who
maintained that the Church should be a rampart of immovable
belief against the evils of secularism and changing social mores,
Francis has made being Catholic feel less like being perpetually
under siege, and more like being open to the world.
“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it
has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy
from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” he said.
And out on the streets he literally is. Among his first acts as Pope
was to visit a youth prison during Holy Week, there to wash and kiss
the feet of 12 young prisoners in imitation of what Christ did to His
apostles. He has refused the trappings of his high office, preferring
to live in spartan quarters and drive around in a beat-up car. He
reportedly auctioned off his motorcycle and donated the money to a
soup kitchen in Rome. Recently, it has been suggested that he has
been going out of the Vatican at night, dressed as an ordinary priest
and in the company of another churchman, to mingle with and feed
the poor and homeless of the city.
His statements in interviews also underline the new thinking
that now emanates from the chair of Peter. To a question about gay
people, who have had to live with the Vatican's description of them
as somehow suffering from an “objective disorder,” Francis had a
startlingly different response: “If someone is gay and he searches for
the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” It was such a radical
change in tone from the judgmental pronouncements of earlier
papacies that The Advocate, a well-known gay rights magazine,
lauded Francis as “the single most influential person of 2013 on the
lives of LGBT people.”
In short, wrote the Rev. Thomas Rosica on CNN: “Everything the
Pope is doing now is not just an imitation of his patron saint who
loved the poor, embraced lepers, charmed sultans, made peace and
protected nature. It's a reflection of the child of Bethlehem who
would grow up to become the man of the cross in Jerusalem, the
Risen One that no tomb could contain, the man we Christians call
Supreme Court to Rule on CSPA
Priority Date Retention
The U.S. Supreme Court heard
oral arguments in the case of
Mayorkas v. De Osorio last
December 10. The Court's decision
is expected by June 2014 and will
have far-reaching implications to
derivative beneficiaries of familybased preference petitions.
U n d e r i m m i g ra t i o n l a w,
parents who are the principal
beneficiaries of a family based
preference petition can include
their unmarried children under 21
as derivative beneficiaries. Family
based preference petitions fall
under four categories, namely, F1
(unmarried sons and daughters of
U.S. citizens), F2A (spouses and
minor children of lawful
permanent residents (LPRs), F2B
(unmarried sons and daughters of
LPRs), F3 (married sons and
daughters of U.S. citizens) and F4
(brothers and sisters of U.S.
There is a waiting period for a
visa to become available because of
the problem on visa backlog. The
waiting period differs depending
on the category and the country of
chargeability; it can be decades for
some countries such as Mexico and
the Philippines. For example, the
F4 category for the Philippines has
a current priority date of July 1,
1990. Once a visa becomes
available, the child who turns 21
years old “age-out” and can no
l o n g e r j o i n t h e p a re n t s a s
derivative beneficiaries. The Child
Status Protection Act (CSPA) was
enacted in 2002 to address this
Under the CSPA, when a visa
number becomes available, the
amount of time the petition was
pending before the USCIS is
deducted from the child's actual
age. If the adjusted age of the child
is under 21, the child may join the
parents as derivative beneficiary. If
not, the petition shall
“automatically be converted to the
appropriate category and the alien
shall retain the original priority
date issued upon receipt of the
original petition.”
This way the aged-out children
won't have to go to the back of the
line for a new family-based
preference category. They will be
credited for the lengthy period they
already waited with their parents.
The case of Mayorkas v. De
Osorio involves Cuellar de Osorio
who was the primary beneficiary of
an F3 petition of her U.S. citizen
mother. Her son was thirteen years
old when the petition was filed in
May 1998. When a visa became
available in November 2005, her
son aged out and became ineligible
for an immigrant visa. She filed for
an F2B petition for her son in 2006
Page 12
Page 12
Christmas faces
Founded in 1986
Publisher/Editor-in-Chief: Lito A. Gajilan, Jr.
Columnists: Reuben S. Seguritan, Esq.,
Juan L. Mercado, Jonathan Suarez, Joel Baclit
Correspondent: Contessa Bourbon
The opinions expressed by columnists are their
own and do not reflect the opinion of the paper
nor that of the publisher
Contact us:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 201-434-1114 Fax 201-434-0880
“Raul” tops our Christmas Eve
checklist. He's a 55-year-old who
collects empty bottles and scrap for
a living. He looks 80 from having
had one “altanghap” too many.
That's jargon for almusal
(breakfast), tanghalian (lunch) and
hapunan(dinner) crammed into
one meal.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake
of Oct. 15 proved the deadliest in 23
years. It shattered, among other
places, the Cebu Capitol post office
building such that Raul could no
longer use its front steps for
“sleeping quarters.” Evenings, he
would shuffle from one building to
another, seeking patchy shelter.
U n t i l N o v. 8 . T h a t d a y,
Supertyphoon “Yolanda” rampaged
through the Visayas. It slashed
Raul's already limited options.
“There was no room in the inn” on
the first Christmas Eve, too.
Penury ratchets up the pain.
The poverty rate here brackets us
with Haiti. We lag behind China,
Thailand and Indonesia in tamping
down indigence. More than a
quarter of Filipinos hobble below
the poverty line, despite claims by
Senators Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce
Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada that
their pork slabs went to the poor.
More Filipino women die in
childbirth today than in the early
1990s. And more infants are
orphaned today than in 2006. Most
of those deaths were preventable.
Malaysia slashed maternal death
rates to 31 and China to 38. “Sri
Lanka and Honduras led the way in
slashing maternal mortality,” the
New York Times reports.
It is harsh to say that we've
turned a deaf ear to the death rattle
in the throats of thousands of young
mothers and infants. But it is true.
“ N o b e g g a r s h e re , L o l a”
(grandma), our grandchildren
Kristin, 9, and Katarina, 7, skyped
from Sweden. They're in a rural
town for a year to pick up their
mother's language. A couple of
Christmas Eves, back in Cebu, they
gave food packs to beggars. “The
lola sat down and ate the rice and
sardines we gave,” they said. “Then,
she cried.”
That was Kindergarten 101 on
hunger. Later, they'll learn that
about 6 percent of 12.6 million kids
Page 12
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 11
Opinion Everyone Hates U.S. Bases in Asia - Until
Disaster Strikes
By Dan Lamothe
It was 1991 when a closely
divided Philippine government
ordered U.S. forces to leave the
naval base in Subic Bay, a sprawling
facility that had been used by
Americans for decades. The
Philippines and the U.S. militaries
have interacted since, but only
recently began discussing the
possibility of again basing U.S.
forces in the southeastern Asia
nation. Even that hit a reported
snag, however, over how the
Philippine military would be
allowed to use U.S. facilities built
It is against this backdrop that
the U.S. military scrambled to assist
the Philippines after much of it was
leveled by Super Typhoon Haiyan,
By Fr. Shay Cullen
The pictures of the hungry
children holding up placards with
the single word “Food” and another
that cried out “Help”, these among
many others were heartwrenching cries of hundreds of
thousands of poor people whose
lives, homes, and families were
wrecked by the devastating, all
p o we r f u l s t o r m t o h i t t h e
Philippines last 7 November. The
memories will never go away and
they bring home to us with sharp
reminder, that the food and clean
water are the most basic human
needs of all. In fact, this is such a
powerful need that when it is
unsatisfied, there is severe
malnutrition, hunger, famine,
starvation, and that in turn causes
the monstrous storm that roared
over the island nation Friday.
Officials have said it may have
killed more than 10,000 people, as
a wall of water and winds in excess
of 200 miles per hour devastated
the country.
U.S. Marines were among the
first to respond, sending about 90
personnel and two KC-130J planes
from Futenma, Japan on Sunday to
assess the damage. On Monday, the
military announced additional
support, including the deployment
of more Marine Corps aircraft to
perform search and rescue
missions and deliver supplies and
food to stranded civilians. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel also
ordered the aircraft carrier George
Washington and other U.S. ships to
the Philippines, including the
cruisers Antietam and Cowpens,
the destroyers Mustin and Lassen,
and the supply ship Charles Drew.
“As needed, these ships and
aircraft will be able to provide
humanitarian assistance, supplies
and medical care in support of the
o n g o i n g e f fo r t s l e d by t h e
government and military of the
Republic of the Philippines,” said
Pentagon press secretary George
Little on Monday night. “The ships
should be on station with 48-72
hours. The Defense Department is
continuing to work closely with the
Philippine government to
determine what, if any, additional
assets may be required.”
The response could become the
latest example of the U.S. winning
both goodwill and political points
with an eastern Asian country
while responding to natural
disaster. In each case, the U.S.
military's positioning of forces in
the region allowed it to provide
robust assistance more quickly and
effectively than any other nation.
That underscored America's ability
to respond to crisis when other
countries especially China, a
growing power were unwilling or
unable to do so. That, despite
opposition at worst and mixed
feelings at best in some of those
nations to the U.S. moving to
increase the amount of forces it
circulates through the Pacific.
“The United States, for all of our
problems, still has a lot of good
working relationships and good
will in that area of the world,” said
Michael Auslin, an expert on Asian
politics and security issues at the
American Enterprise Institute, a
conservative Washington think
t a n k . “ T h e t ra g e dy h e re i s
unfortunately an opportunity for
us to show what we can do.”
Auslin cited the 2004 Indian
Ocean tsunami as a more drastic
example of how providing
humanitarian assistance improved
U.S. relations in Asia. In that case,
t h e wo r s t h i t c o u n t r y wa s
Indonesia, which had maintained a
frosty relationship with the U.S.
since it imposed sanctions on the
Indonesian government in 1991
following an incident in which
Indonesian soldiers opened fire on
a demonstration in East Timor,
killing more than 270 people. After
more than 130,000 Indonesians
were killed by the tsunami,
however, the U.S. dispatched the
aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln
and other ships to the region,
providing helicopters and other
Page 12
The danger of GMO Foods
mass migration, civil unrest,
demonstrations, revolutions,
looting, robberies, wars,
m a s s a c re s , a n d t h e fa l l o f
It is when food is plentiful and
evenly distributed, there is greater
peace in a country and the nation
can be stable and prosper. When
there is justice and respect for
human rights, then it is civilized
and developed. Whoever can
supply and control a plentiful
supply of food for all will grow rich
and powerful and rule forever. That
seems to be the sinister plan of
those who hunger and thirst for
political power. Decades ago, the
powerful nations dominated the
weaker by luring or coercing
poorer nations in their debt traps.
Governments incurred huge debts
which the people had to pay
through oppressive taxes and
They were then forced to
comply with the demands of
greater nations to sign unequal
contracts to favour the oil, mineral,
pharmaceutical multinationals,
and the military industrial
complex. Military bases
proliferated. One more richer and
powerful nation could ride
roughshod over the sovereignty of
small nations especially in Africa
and South America and parts of
Asia and control and extract their
natural resources with the
connivance of the corrupted
governments. When some
patriotic, uncorrupted rulers
refused, they were replaced
through coups, regime change or
Page 13
No compassion
How sweet it is, the old, ironic
Spanish proverb tells us, to do
nothing and then to rest
afterwards. And it is truly ironic
that the President whose biggest
supposed failing is a very visible
lack of a work ethic is taking a
holiday break from work.
President Noynoy Aquino has,
after all, been accused of many
things. But “workaholism” is never
going to be one of them.
And Aquino goes into his
holiday recess, which he will
spend doing God knows what,
after leaving us with a gem of a
quote, to the effect that he
welcomes all the problems that
have been besetting the nation
because life would be “boring”
without them. With a President
like this, you can't blame people
for praying that Aquino takes a
permanent vacation.
Why can't we have a President
who isn't bored because he's
always working? What an
excellent Christmas gift that would
One thing's for sure: Aquino is
never, ever going to work at
showing compassion for his
predecessor by, say, doing what
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada did
when the latter visited Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo in her hospital
detention cell. Aquino is simply
not as compassionate as Estrada
or as willing to forgive.
Aquino's mouthpieces tried
very hard to spin Estrada's visit to
Arroyo, saying that they do not
have any information if Aquino is
going to pay her a similar call. But a
small recent incident is all the
proof anyone needs if proof is still
requiredthat any display of
compassion or even humanity
from Aquino towards Arroyo is not
going to happen.
Last week, for just one night,
t h e A r m e d Fo rc e s o f t h e
Philippines held a wake for
recently deceased AFP Chief of
Staff General Delfin Bangit at the
military's headquarters at Camp
Aguinaldo in Quezon City. But the
real story was that the abbreviated
Aguinaldo wake for Bangitwho, as
a former head of the military,
should be given the courtesy
according to military
traditionalmost didn't happen.
When the relatives of Bangit,
including his elder brother
Reynaldo, also a retired general,
first asked the AFP hierarchy to
host the wake, they were told that
it couldn't be done. Subordinates
of current AFP chief Lt. Gen.
Emmanuel Bautista told the
Bangits that the area where such
ceremonies were usually held was
being used for an ongoing exhibit.
But according to sources in
Aguinaldo, Bautista was under
orders not to hold a wake or any
military ceremony for Bangit, who
had an abbreviated stint as AFP
chief because he was forced to
retire by Aquino in 2010. Bangit
was closely identified with
Arroyowho appointed him to the
top military post right before her
term ended that year.
It was only after Bautista was
informed that a group of retired
high-level military officers was
grumbling about the apparent
vindictiveness that the Aquino
administration wanted so hard to
show with regard to Bangit even
after his death that the wake was
allowed. But for one night only.
Of course, had Bautista and his
boss in Malacanang not realized
that they could literally be playing
with fire if they let politics trump
military tradition, they would not
have allowed the wake at all. Such
is the 24/7 partisanship of this
administration that it will even
seek to deprive the military of its
non-political tradition of honoring
dead former chiefs of staff, just to
show that a dead top soldier was a
political enemy.
So Edwin Lacierda and Sonny
Coloma can just stop trying to
deceive the people that Aquino
may try to show that he can forgive
Arroyo. No one, at this late date
Page 13
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 12
Everyone hates ...
From page 11
The U.S. relationship with
Indonesia began to normalize
afterward, most notably with the
U.S. lifting an arms embargo in
2006. By last year, Indonesia's
ministers had grown enough trust
in the U.S. that they said they
approved of the U.S. Marines
expanding operations in nearby
Australia, and wanted to conduct
more disaster relief training with
the American forces.
In another example, U.S. forces
responded to a brutal earthquake
in northeastern Japan in 2011 that
killed more than 15,000 people and
caused three nuclear reactors at a
nuclear power plant to melt down.
Christmas faces
From page 10
drop out from primary school. Then,
they may see that the kids they gave
food to had little chances for full
human lives. “I don't like
marshmallows,” Kathie gripes. “Don't
say that,” Kristin snaps. “Many
children have nothing to eat.”
On Christmas Day, churches will
be crammed. But Raul and the lola
who wept are the faces of those who
probably won't shuffle in. We're
locked into a society where the
lifestyles of the few rich exclude
others, Pope Francis said. “Almost
without being aware of it… we end up
incapable of feeling compassion (for
the poor) and the need to help them,
as though all this were someone else's
responsibility, not our own.”
Christmas “is either the tale of a
prophet, a political agitator or the
Messiah,” columnist Anna Quindlen
wrote in “Frankincense in Aisle Five”:
“His name was Jesus…. Horrific
wrongdoing by the people who
embraced the story has not been able
to kill it: the Inquisition, the
Holocaust. The many schisms among
its followers have not destroyed it:
Luther's manifesto, Henry VIII's
“Through plague and war, famine
and invasion, the tale was told and the
lesson learned, of love for neighbors,
of charity toward the poor. Carols
An estimated 24,000 U.S. service
members took part in the relief
effort, Operation Tomodachi. The
Pentagon later acknowledged that
some of them may have been
exposed to radiation in the process,
boosting their chances of
developing cancer and other
diseases. Japan's top officials later
eased their rhetoric over the U.S.'s
plans to shift forces around on its
Japanese bases, thanking them for
their help after the disaster.
In the case of the Philippines,
the U.S. has a far better relationship
than it did with Indonesia in 2004,
said Murray Hiebert, an expert on
southeastern Asia issues at the
bipartisan Center for Strategic and
International Studies in
Washington. In particular, the
Philippine military has worked
were sung in foxholes and prisons… O
ye of little faith, who believe that
somehow the birth of Christ is
dependent upon acknowledgement
in a circular from OfficeMax!
“The Messiah was sent to save us
from our sins, but clearly not our
silliness…. the cycle… has once again
wound around to the anniversary of
the Nativity…. It is surprising to
discover that some believe the
enduring power of the story of the
Child born in Bethlehem to be so
shaky that it must be shored up by
plastic creches…”
Jesus threw the money-changers
out of the temple, saying that they had
made His father's house into a den of
thieves. Quindlen asks: “Does that
sound like someone who would
hanker to be formally recognized at
(department stores) as though his
legacy depended upon being given
pride of place among teddy bears in
Santa hats?
“…the star of Bethlehem was
nothing like a blue-light special…. For
those things, see Matthew, Mark, Luke
and John, the greatest story never
sold. It's an insult to the power and
the glory of faith to seek it in fried
foods, statuary or perfunctory
greetings of overworked store clerks.”
Or ask Makati Mayor Jejomar
Erwin Binay Jr.? He denied that he and
bodyguards, with pistols cocked,
threatened Dasmariñas Village
guards who insisted on enforcing the
rule: No exits permitted after 10 p.m.
with U.S. special operators in small
numbers for years to fight the
nation's insurgent groups, which
include the Abu Sayyaf Group and
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Still, America's involvement in
the typhoon relief effort will
service as a reminder to Philippine
officials that there are benefits in
striking a deal to allow the U.S. to
base Marines and sailors there on a
rotational basis. “Neither side is
talking all that much” about it now,
Hiebert said, but will likely circle
back to it in coming weeks.
“The Philippines wants this
very badly,” he said. “They want us
as a hedge against a growing China.
I can't imagine they are going to
spurn this opportunity.”
from the Banyan gate. They were
directed to another exit a minute
away. They insisted, resulting in an
hour-and-half standoff and fake
arrests of the guards.
Binay insists he did not say, “Do
you know who I am?” Years back, a
Cebuano congressman slapped a
traffic aide saying: “Don't you know
who I am?” Contrast that with John's
account of Christmas Day. “He came
unto is own, and His own received
him not.”
Thieves are lionized here, not
ostracized. Cash ushers them to first
places at tables. Those in a position to
adopt reforms are the very persons
who scavenge without letup.
Raul and the lola who wept never
read the 92-word greeting that Nobel
Laureate (1928) Sigrid Undset sent.
But they embody its message:
“And when we give each other
Christmas gifts in His name, let us
remember that He has given us the
sun and the moon and the stars, and
the earth with its forests and
mountains and oceansand all that
lives and move upon them.
“He has given us all green things
and everything that blossoms and
bears fruit and all that we quarrel
about and all that we have misused.
And to save us from our foolishness,
from all our sins, He came down to
earth and gave us Himself.”
E-mail: [email protected]
The danger ...
From page 11
But some of the agents who
were the field officers,
implementing this global
strategy of the great powers had
qualms of conscience and soon it
was leaked to the media and a
worldwide outcry against it led to
t h e “ Fre e d o m f ro m D e b t ”
campaign and the Jubilee
campaign. Bono, the Irish leader
of the Christian Rock & Roll group
U2 was a major inspiration and
leader of this movement.
The great political powers
looked for another mechanism to
control the smaller nations, the
poorest and most vulnerable.
Foreign aid was not enough and
competing powers could offer
more than the other. Through
b u s i n e s s m o n o p o l y, e l i t e
fractions that greatly influence
Court to ...
From page 10
and requested that her son's
1998 priority be retained. The
USCIS denied her request.
She appealed to the Ninth
District Court which decided the
case in her favor. The court ruled
that the CSPA provides for the
automatic conversion of the
petition and priority date
retention of all derivative
beneficiaries of family based
preference petitions. The
Government appealed the
decision to the U.S. Supreme
The Government contends
that the language of the CSPA law
is ambiguous and the decision of
the Board of Immigration
Appeals (BIA) in Matter of Wang
2009 should be given deference
by the court. In that case, the BIA
r u l e d t h a t t h e a u to m a t i c
conversion of the petition to F2B
and the retention of the priority
date only applies to F2A
democratic elections found
another powerful mechanism to
exert influence that is the
greatest need of all FOOD. They
saw their opportunity in the
scientific development that
changed the genetic make-up of
the humble tomato.
It all started in 1994. The
tomato had a very short shelf life;
it ripened very quickly and had a
shelf life of only a few days. The
big plantations could not deliver
in time to dominate the markets
so the food science laboratories
experimented to find ways to
extend the ripening time. By
taking the gene of another
organism that did not ripen so
quickly, they inserted it into the
tomato and bingo, after much
trials and errors, it worked. The
new tomato had a very long shelf
life, the big food growers
swamped the market with low
Page 14
A bipartisan coalition of
current and former U.S. Senators
filed a legal brief with the
Supreme Court last November 4
and explained that the language
of the CSPA is clear; it benefits all
derivative beneficiaries of family
based preference petitions. It
further stated that “Only
through the broad coverage of all
derivative beneficiaries could
the CSPA effectively protect
family unity and award credit for
the years that families had
waited.” It went on to conclude
that “Congress has enacted a law
that is clear on its face; the
agency must act to faithfully
carry it out.”
Once the Supreme Court
resolves this case, it will finally
put an end to the long-standing
legal saga involving the CSPA
provision allowing age-out
children to retain their original
priority dates.
(Editor's Note: REUBEN S.
SEGURITAN has been practicing
law for over 30 years. For more
information, you may log on to his
website at or
call (212) 695-5281.)
A sense of joy
From page 10
Savior and Lord. The one whose birth we
celebrate on December 25.”
That date is today. And as we mark the birth
of the Savior who preached a new faith based on
love and compassion above all, let us say a silent
prayer for the humble, smiling man in the
Vatican who, by going back to Christ's example,
has in the last nine months restored a great deal
of warmth and benevolencea sense of joyto the
Church. Or as he put it: “An evangelizer must
never look like someone who has just come back
from a funeral!”
In “The Joy of the Gospel” he also wrote that
“The Son of God, by becoming flesh, summoned
us to the revolution of tenderness.” Under Jorge
Mario Bergoglio, that revolution has begun, and
what a change it has been for a world in dire
need of such tenderness.
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 13
No compassion
From page 11
and after all the demonizing of Arroyo by
Aquino, believes that will ever happen.
Oh, and by the way, I really feel sorry
for those people still under the spell of
Aquino's vindictive, take-no-prisoners
brand of politics who see an EstradaArroyo conspiracy a-borning with the
meeting of the two ex-Presidents. It's
scary when some people become as
paranoid as their idol, to the point where
they see visions of great political forces
being ranged against the incumbent,
when Erap just made a compassionate
gesture by visiting his former political
Aquino went ahead with his plan to
inaugurate (for the second time) the
Gerona-to-Paniqui portion of the TarlacPangasinan-La Union Expressway
(TPLEx) yesterday. Mercifully, he did not
claim that the ongoing 88.85-kilometer
The danger ...
From page 12
cost tomatoes, the small farmers went
out of business and then with the
competition eliminated, the plantation
corporations increased the price of their
tomatoes and made a fortune. They still
The food science industry boomed
and every possible modification to the
food we eat has been made. The “not so
humble” tomato was to again lead the
way. Cold snaps in Florida decimated the
tomato crop, the laboratories went to
work. This time, as the story goes, they
found an organism, (an arctic fish some
say) that had a gene that enabled them to
survive minus 30 degrees. With this gene
spliced into the DNA and genetic make-up
of the tomato, the tomatoes had stronger
resistance to cold and the plantation
owners became even richer. But that is
the general idea behind genetically
modified plants that make up our food.
The scientific research laboratories
toll road project was a part of his
centerpiece Public Private Partnership
program, as earlier planned.
B u t Aq u i n o c o u l d n o t re s i s t
describing the toll road as an early
Christmas gift to the people (“maagang
aguinaldo sa taong-bayan”) even if his
administration had absolutely nothing to
do with TPLEx, apart from the ministerial
and regulatory functions that any
government is committed to do for such
privately-funded schemes. And even if
that woman in charge of the PPP Center
was in attendance (a hint that some
credit-grabbing was being planned),
Aquino did not acknowledge her
Next time, Aquino and his minions
should make sure that they will claim
credit only for stuff they really did do.
That way, they won't have to inaugurate
projects that have already been
inaugurated - and the President won't get
too exhausted from working.
of the multinational food corporations
la unched frenzied resea rch a nd
development programmes to find ways to
genetically modify every possible plant
that could be used in food and they own
the patent for that food .So tomatoes and
corn and many more crops that now
dominate the food chain is owned and
controlled by these corporations. The
seeds that produced them are terminal.
That is they can't be planted to grow more
crops. The farmer has to buy the seed
every year from the corporation that
holds the patent.
They own and supply the specific
fertilizer that makes the seed grow and
upon which it is dependent. In this way,
the corporations control the food supply
t h ro u gh t h e i r G M O [ G e n e t i c a l ly
Modified] seed and food products. They
will own us too one day and nations will
become dependent and subservient to
them. If they don't supply the seed people
will starve, riot and topple government.
That is greater power than that which
grows from the barrel of a gun.
Christmas on the eve of the Philippine Revolution
By Ambeth R. Ocampo
Christmas gifts have been
opened, the sweets digested and the
cholesterol delights of noche buena
are clogging our arteries -- yet many
Filipinos are already looking forward
to the next feast, media noche, to bid
goodbye to the old year and greet the
new one with hope. The holidays from
Christmas to New Year's remind us of
that wonderful Spanish proverb:
“How beautiful it is to do nothing, and
to rest afterwards.” [¡Qué bueno es no
hacer nada y luego descansar!].
What was Christmas like on the
eve of the Philippine Revolution? One
primary source would be James Earle
S t e v e n s ' “ Ye s t e r d a y s i n t h e
Philippines” (New York, 1898) that
provided interested American
readers with a lively description of the
overseas colony that they won after
the Spanish-American War. Stevens
arrived in Manila in time for the 1893
Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Employed by Peabody and Co., a firm
that traded in Philippine hemp that
then supplied an international
demand for cordage, he stayed two
years during which time he traveled a
lot outside Manila before the situation
got complicated in 1896. In his
introduction, he declared that the
United States did not need an
overseas colony because it was better
off looking after its own territory than
taking up the administration of an
archipelago half the world away.
Unfortunately for us, his was a voice in
the wilderness, and the Philippines
after 400 years in the convent as the
cliché goes spent the next 50 years in
Stevens didn't expect much for
the Christmas Eve table in Manila and
was surprised to find out that in terms
of gastronomic goodies the so-called
Pearl of the Orient or Venice of the
East was very cosmopolitan. Aside
from the US food he was used to, the
Philippines offered a mix of East and
West: Filipino, Chinese, Spanish and
even French food could be had in
Manila if you knew where to go.
Escolta, the main shopping street, had
shops just like he knew from
Washington or Broadway. A keen
observer, Stevens left nothing out in
his book down to the “unsavoury
odors of people who like garlic and
don't take baths.” He first stayed at the
Hotel de Oriente to sleep but went out
to eat and there found a club down the
road where he spent Christmas Eve
described as follows:
“Our Christmas dinner at the club
has just ended and from the bill of fare
one would never suspect he was not at
the Waldorf or Parker House. Long
punkahs swung to and fro over the big
tables, small serving boys in bare feet
rushed hither and thither with meat
and drink, corks popped, the smart
breeze blew jokes about, and
everyone unbent.
“Soups, fish, joints, entrees… hors
d'oeuvres, mince pies, plum puddings,
and all the delicacies to be found in
cooler climes had their turn, as did a
variety of liquid courses. Singing,
speeches, and music followed the
more material things, and everyone
was requested to take some part in the
performance. By the time the show
was over the piano was dead-beat and
everybody hoarse from singing by the
wrong method.”
They did not have any shopping
malls then but there were many shops
in Escolta and Rosario streets outside
Intramuros. Stevens went out to buy
photographic supplies and was
directed to the “Botica Inglesa” which
turned out to be more than a
pharmacy because Stevens wrote:
“Here it is possible to buy anything
from a glass of soda to a full-fledged
lawn-mower, including all the
intermediates that reach from toothbrushes to photographic cameras.”
Then he described the “chit” system
where one bought on credit. Then as
now, in neighborhood sari-sari stores
where people know each other, it is
possible to bring home food or
condiments by adding items to a list“ilista mo na muna”for payment later.
When Stevens went shopping in
Manila he realized that the currency in
use were Mexican silver dollars that
were too heavy to carry about in huge
quantities in a shirt pocket. So Stevens
could go to any store and sign an “I. O.
U.” that was then consolidated and a
collector came to call at the end of the
month. Today we have credit cards
that have sunk many people in debt
because they do not feel like they have
spent anything. If you use cash,
spending stops when the wallet is
empty, but with plastic you can spend
a lot and get hit when your monthly
bill comes round.
In Stevens' day they paid their
credit notes in cash, in heavy Mexican
dollar coins. Collectors went round
accompanied by cargadores with
wheelbarrows. This made me wonder
when we started to use armed
security and armored cars. Collectors
counted the money first then they bit
on the coins or dropped these on the
floor to listen for the sound of lead or
silver that distinguished the genuine
from the fake coins. Today we pay in
cash at a Bayad Center or bank; we can
also pay online where no physical
money is exchanged. Once the
Philippines used money that was
worth its weight in physical gold,
silver or copper coins, then we
switched to paper money which
makes me wonder: When does a piece
of paper become money or why do we
value a near worthless piece of paper
as money? To complicate matters, we
can pay with credit cards, ATM cards
or even on the Internet where no
physical money changes hands.
“Yesterdays in the Philippines” is an
apt title for Stevens' book because
reading it is like going to a foreign
country; they did things differently
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 14
Donations from US Northeast for relief and
rehabilitation of 'Yolanda' victims keep coming
The Philippine Consulate General in New
York has reported that more and more
organizations, groups and individuals within
the US Northeast are giving donations for the
typhoon-devastated areas in the Philippines.
The Philippine-American Association of
Connecticut started a fundraising drive on 16
November and has so far raised $28,000.
Some funds had already been distributed to
Operation Blessings Foundation Philippines
and Benedictine Sisters in Tacloban.
The Filipino Executive Council of Greater
Philadelphia's fund drive has so far reached
$23,000 benefitting the Catholic Relief
The Filipino Community Development
Center in Toms River, New Jersey, on the other
hand, has collected $35,000 for the benefit of
ABS-CBN Foundation, Catholic Relief
Services and Habitat for Humanity.
The Massachusetts-based PhilippineA m e r i c a n M a i n s t re a m Advo c a c y o f
Nonpartisan Associations, Inc. and the
Pilipino-American Association of New
England, Inc. (PAMAS) (PAMANA) also
donated $2,200 and $2,500, respectively, for
the Build-a-Shelter Project of the Philippine
Jesuit Foundation (PJF) and the Friends of
A group called of Friends of the Philippine
Mission to the United Nations gathered
together to stage a benefit concert at the
Philippine Center on 19 November that
raised $10,000 and was given to the Handang
Tumulong Foundation.
On 23 November, the Philippine
American Friendship Committee held a
fundraiser at the New Jersey City University
that generated $6,800 donations for the ABSCBN Foundation.
The original cast of the acclaimed musical
Here Lies Love performed a one-time-only
special benefit concert on 25 November at
Terminal 5 that raised about $100,000 for
Doctors Without Borders' relief efforts in the
On 29 November, the "Fair Lawn Filipino
Relief Friday" was held at Fair Lawn, New
Jersey, spearheaded by Fair Lawn Mayor John
Cosgrove and the Filipino American
Association of Fair Lawn, Inc. The event
raised about $18,000 in cash donations
which were given to various non-government
organizations in the Philippines.
The Philadelphia Police Asian American
Advisory Committee (PPAAAC) held a
typhoon relief fundraiser on 12 December
that generated $1,660 for the Build-a-Shelter
On 17 December, Jersey City Mayor
Steven Fulop and FilipinoAmerican Council
President Rolando Lavarro turned over to Mr.
Mathieu Nelessen, Regional Chief Executive
Officer of the American Red Cross (ARC), a
check amounting to $25,000 for the ARC's
Haiyan Relief Fund. Mayor Fulop and Council
President Lavarro initiated fundraising
activities beginning 14 November. Consul
General Mario De Leon, Jr. and DCG Zaldy
Patron witnessed the ceremony at the City
Hall of Jersey City, New Jersey.
The two counties of Long Island, New
York Suffolk County and Nassau County held
separate press conferences on their
respective donations for the Philippines.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone
held a press conference on 18 December,
announcing the shipment of 10 pallets of
meals ready to eat (MREs) and 10 pallets of
bottled water for ABS-CBN Foundation. The
AFYA Foundation of Yonker, New York paid
for the shipment of the supplies.
The next day, Nassau County Executive Ed
Mangano had his own press conference for
Two separate press conferences held in Suffolk County (left photo) and Nassau County (right photo) on their
respective donations for the typhoon victims in the Philippines. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano led the events attended by Consul General De Leon, officials of the two
counties and representatives of the Asian American Advisory Boards of Suffolk County and Nassau County.
The county's donation of 528 cases of
MREs, which were shipped through RDR
Cargo Express and consigned to ABS-CBN
In a forum hosted by the United Nations
International School (UNIS) in New York on
19 December, student groups announced that
they had raised more than $20,000 in
donations, part of it will be given to UNICEF.
On the same day, students of Yuichi
Shikanai Japanese School in New Jersey gave
cash donation of $511 to the PJF through
Consul General De Leon.
Consul General De Leon thanked all the
donors for their generosity. “I am
overwhelmed by the continued support we
are getting from the community groups,
private companies, faith-based groups,
schools and individuals within the US
Northeast for the typhoon victims in the
Philippines. So far, we have already
monitored donations worth at least $8.5
million coming from our region. I hope that
they will continue to assist the typhoondevastated areas through projects that will
help in the reconstruction and rehabilitation
of their communities.”
Consul General De Leon also welcomed
the recent launching of the Philippine
Government's Reconstruction Assistance on
Yolanda (RAY), a strategic plan to guide the
recovery and reconstruction of the economy,
lives, and livelihoods of people and
communities in the areas affected by
Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). The plan, which
was presented on 18 December in Manila to
various donors and partners, aims to restore
the economic and social conditions of the said
areas at the very least to their pre-typhoon
levels and to a higher level of disaster
According to RAY, the Philippines will
need a total of $8.17 billion for the
reconstruction and rehabilitation of the
devastated areas. About $0.78 billion will be
spent for critical immediate actions, $2.05
billion for short-term interventions
throughout 2014, and the rest, about $5.34
billion, for medium-term needs from 2015 to
“I encourage our community to re-focus
their future socio-economic and charitable
projects and even their medical missions to
the typhoon-devastated places to support the
Government's reconstruction plan. It will
also be good if they can support projects that
will have more concrete and lasting impact,
such as the “Build-A-Shelter Project” of the
Friends of FilCom and the Philippine Jesuit
Foundation,” Consul General De Leon added.
(L-R) DCG Zaldy Patron, Consul General Mario De Leon,
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Council President
Rolando Lavarro and Mathieu Nelessen of the American
Red Cross (ARC) during the symbolic hand-over of check
donation of $25,000 from the people of Jersey City to the
Organizers of Friends of the Philippine Mission Benefit
Concert (from right) Annie Parado-Berillo, Gina Martinez,
Teresita Nivero, Maritess Lilien hand the check over to
Consul General De Leon, Jr., Nelsie Parado of Handang
Tumulong Foundation and Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz.
Consul General De Leon together with the students and
officials of Yuichi Shikanai Japanese School in New Jersey
who gave cash donations for the typhoon victims.
DCG Patron (4th from left) and the officials and
representative of UN International School during a
briefing held on 19 December.
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 15
Philippine Arts Festival 2014 to focus on arts for healing
By Brylle Tabora
The 2014 Philippine Arts Festival
(PAF) will have as theme “Art on the
Edge.” It will be held during the
National Arts Month (NAM) in
Focus of PAF will be art for healing
activities, as a result of natural
calamities that have hit the regions in
the past months.
Last week, in fact, the national
Commission on Culture and the Arts
(NCCA) conducted art therapy
workshops for several communities
severely affected by Supertyphoon
The sessions were conducted in
lieu of Dayaw, the festival of
indigenous communities, which was
supposed to open in Tacloban City last
month. The festival was cancelled as a
result of the disaster.
The NCCA's Subcommission on
Cultural Communities and
Traditional Arts (SCCTA), headed by
Joycie Dorado-Alegre, herself a
resident of Tacloban, led the Dayaw
Art Therapy Workshops.
The power of art to heal has been
well established, especially in dealing
with trauma and other psychological
distresses, said the NCCA. With the
help of art, the NCCA hopes to bring
comfort and to help survivors cope
with loss and stress.
The Dayaw workshops were
conducted in Dumarao, Tapaz and
Roxas City in Capiz; Calinog in Iloilo,
Antique, Aklan, Samar, Leyte. More
communities will be identified later
Flagship projects
NCCA chair Felipe de Leon, Jr. will
lead the celebration.
Organized by SCCTA, PAF consists
of the flagship projects of the seven
national committees of the
subcommission - on architecture,
cinema, dance, literature, music,
theater and the visual arts.
PAF activities will be held all over
the country to show that Philippine
culture is truly national in scope.
The National Committee on
Architecture and Allied Arts will hold
several exhibitions, conferences,
lectures and competitions on
Philippine architecture and allied
arts, under its flagship project,
Archi[types/texts]. The National
Committee on Cinema will hold
Cinema Rehiyon 6 in Cagayan de Oro
NCCA National Committee on Architecture will hold Archi[types/texts], a series of
exhibits and forums.
SAYAW Pinoy will be on its 11th year.
TANGHAL 2014 will feature community and campus theater groups.
CINEMAREHIYON, a showcase of regional cinema, will be held in Cagayan de Oro
City on Feb. 19-22, 2014,with
screenings and forums that focus on
the film productions in the regions.
Independent filmmakers from
Baguio, Pampanga, Calabarzon, Naga,
Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, General Santos
and Zamboanga will screen their
latest films. Film curators, festival
programmers and film enthusiasts
will be in attendance.
The National Committee on
Dance will present Sayaw Pinoy, now
on its 11th year as the longestrunning NAM project. It will tour
dance concerts showcasing the
different dance forms (folk, ballet,
hip-hop, and contemporary) by
various dance companies.
Awards ceremony
The National Committee on
Literary Arts will mount Taboan: The
Philippine Literary Arts Festival, at
the Subic Freeport Zone on Feb. 2426, 2014.
Taboan will gather writers,
teachers and students for forums,
lectures, a book fair, literary readings,
performances, arts-and-crafts
exhibits, cultural tours, satellite
projects, and an awards ceremony
recognizing outstanding writers
from the regions.
The National Committee on
Music will stage Taal-Tunugan,
wherein a new musical ensemble will
be trained and then toured. Members
will use musical instruments they
made themselves from metal scraps
and recycled materials.
The National Committee on
Dramatic Arts will hold Tanghal, a
theater festival underscoring the
works and achievements of
community and university-based
theater groups.
The National Committee on
Visual Arts will hold the Philippine
Visual Arts Festival in Tacloban on
Feb. 20-24, 2014.
The opening ceremonies of the
PAF-NAM will be held in Roxas City,
Capiz, on Jan. 31, 2014.
Also of importance is the second
Likha Asya festival and conference on
c o m m u n i t y t h e a t e r, c r e a t i v e
industries and community-based
tourism. Foreign delegates will grace
the conference.
To be held during PAF-NAM is the
Ani ng Dangal awarding ceremony
which will honor Filipino artists who
have won international recognition.
It will be held Feb. 2, 2014, at the
Samsung Hall of SM Aura Premier.
Call Rene Sanchez Napeñas of
NCCA at 5272192, 0928-5081057; email [email protected]; visit
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 16
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 17
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 18
Cast members of the Final Night of Panunuluyan sa Konsulado 2013 from the Philippine Consulate General, Philippine Center Management Board, Phil Jaycees-New York, Catholic
Fellowship of Young Professionals and PAGASA. (Photo by Jake Tolentino)
Year 2 of Panunuluyan sa Konsulado in New York:
Nine Days of Prayer, Music
and Community Fellowship
18 December 2013, New York -Filipino Christmas in New York officially
started with the celebration of
Panunuluyan sa Konsulado, the Filipino
Christmas tradition where members of
the community re-enact the story of
Joseph and Mary's journey from
Nazareth to Bethlehem, and culminates
with the birth of our Lord in a humble
manger. This is the second year the
Filipino community in the US Northeast
is celebrating Panunuluyan, Tagalog for
“to seek for lodging”, after Simbang Gabi
sa Konsulado has been discontinued
after 26 years due to orders from the
Archdiocese of New York.
The Philippine Consulate General
hosted the final night of the nine-day
celebrations at the Kalayaan Hall of the
Philippine Center, with more than 30
Filipino community organizations
taking part in co-sponsoring for
performances, gifts and simple feast
every night from 4 to 12 December
It may be recalled that during the
opening night, Consul General Mario De
Leon likened the hardships of Mary and
Joseph in seeking shelter in Bethlehem
to the experiences of the Philippines
during the past year. He cited the
territorial disputes faced by the country,
as well as the natural calamities that left
many of his kababayans homeless,
especially after the super typhoon
Father Patrick Longalong, parochial
vicar at Our Lady of the Snows Parish
Church in Floral Park, New York
encouraged the community to offer this
year's celebration of the Panunuluyan
for the comfort and healing of their
devastated brothers and sisters in the
All the nine days featured a different
interpretation of the organizers'
performance of the Panunuluyan. San
Lorenzo Ruiz and Himig at Alay Choir
turned the Nativity play into a musical
show with their beautiful melodies set
with the dialogues. The regional
community groups Ay Borongan,
Bicolandia Associaltion, Ilocano
Association, and La Communidad de
Zamboanga rendered the play in their
native dialects.
The final night, sponsored by the
Philippine Consulate General with the
Philippine Center Management Board,
Philippine Jaycees New York, PAGASA
and Catholic Fellowship of Young
Professionals used star power as Consul
General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. and Consul
Bong Carino portrayed the roles of King
Balthazar and King Gaspar respectively.
The community was united in prayer
and reflection during the nine days, as
they prayed the rosary, listened to the
Gospel and a spiritual recollection by the
solemnizing priest and said the “Prayer
for the Light of the World” as one.
A simple feast of Filipino food capped
each night, with pansit as a staple
offering, along with lumpia, dinuguan,
arroz caldo, bibingka and puto
bumbong, while carolers entertained
the guests.
Clockwise from top left: PIDCI Board members lead the candle procession to mark the start of the
play on Day 8; Father Patrick Longalong solemnize the turnover of the Infant Jesus; Consul
General Mario L. De Leon, Jr and Consul Bong Carino guest star as two of the Three Wise Men;
Mary and Joseph are turned away by lodging owners in one scene during the Panunuluyan
(Photos by Vivian Talambiras-Cruz and Khrys Corpuz)
The Filipino community joined in prayer, music, and fellowship during Panunuluyan sa
Konsulado 2013 at the Philippine Center. (Photos by Vivian Talambiras-Cruz, Jake Tolentino
and Khrys Corpuz)
The herein article submitted by Khrystina P. Corpuz, Vice Consul, Philippine Consulate General - New York
Telephone: (212) 764-1330 u
Fax No.: (212) 764-6010
Duty Officer-Mobile Phone: (917) 294-0196 - For Emergencies only
e-Mail: [email protected]
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 19
“Build-A-Shelter” project of US
Northeast gains more donors
Three groups recently donated to the
“Build-a-Shelter” Project of the Friends
of FilCom and the Philippine Jesuit
Foundation (PJF). The project, launched
on 26 November and is supported by the
Philippine Consulate General, aims to
build permanent shelters for the
survivors of typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). It
will be piloted in the town of Hernani,
Eastern Samar where the typhoon
completely destroyed 1,655 houses and
partially damaged 337 more. The project
will be implemented with Philippinebased partners which are into shelter
and community building. The Friends of
FilCom is currently negotiating a
memorandum of agreement (MOA) with
one prospective partner, whose name
will be announced as soon as the MOA is
Two Korean American groups - The
Korea Daily (JoongAng IlBo) and Korean
Ra d i o B ro a d c a s t i n g ( K R B ) N e w
York/Korea Disaster Fund - are the latest
donors to the “Build-a-Shelter” Project.
On 20 December, Mr. Taejung Kwon,
President and CEO of The Korea Daily,
turned over a check amounting to
$24,431 to Fr. Vic Salanga and Executive
Director Fern Robles of PJF. Mr. Jong Byun
and Mr. Gihyun Pae, Chairman and
Executive Director, respectively, of the
1004 Fund Committee of The Korea
Daily, accompanied Mr. Kwon.
Consul General Mario De Leon,
Deputy Consul General Zaldy Patron,
Jersey City Council President Rolando
Lavarro and Councilman Michael Yun,
and Friends of FilCom's Ms. Vivian Cruz
and Atty. Dean Suba were among the
witness to the handing over of check.
The second group, KRB NY, made a
donation of $100,900 to PJF on 23
Mr. Kwon Young-Dae and Ms. Mi-Sun
Chang, President and Executive Director
of KRB, respectively, gave the check to
PJF's Fr. Salanga. Messrs. Kenneth Yu,
Sung Min and Lee Jong-Won, the
presidents of the three chapters of The
Korean American Associations in
Greater New Jersey, Greater New York
and Greater Connecticut, represented
the group of donors to the fund.
Councilmen Lavarro and Yun of
Jersey City, and Ms. Cruz of the Friends of
FilCom were again present at the event,
together with Consul General De Leon,
DCG Patron and Vice Consul Khrys
Councilman Lavarro and KoreanAmerican Councilman Yun played an
important role in encouraging the two
Korean American groups to donate to the
typhoon victims.
Mr. Young-Dae mentioned that his
group did the fundraising to show
solidarity for the Yolanda victims and to
return a favour to the Philippines for
helping the Korean people during the
Korean War in the early 1950s.
The last group to donate was the
Voorhees Cultural Diversity Foundation
of Vorhees, New Jersey. Represented by
Stella Sytnik (President) Dean Mazurek
(Treasurer) and Stephanie Fisher (Board
Trustee), the group gave $3,000 to the
“Build-a-Shelter” Project on 23
December. Consul General De Leon
received the check on behalf of the PJF.
Joining the Foundation officers when
they visited the Philippine Consulate
General were Filipino community
leaders Ms. Gwen De Vera and veteran
Jimmy Peralta who handed over separate
check donations for the Philippine Red
“I am very thankful for The Korea
Daily, Korean Radio Broadcasting NY and
Voorhees Cultural Diversity Foundation
for making significant donations to the
Build-A-Shelter Project of the Friends of
FilCom and the Philippine Jesuit
Foundation. Their donations will already
enable us to build a village of houses in
Hernani, Eastern Samar. The Friends of
Filcom, however, is continuing its fund
drive to be able to build more houses in
other towns affected by Yolanda and help
more survivors in rebuilding their lives
and communities,” Consul General De
Leon remarked.
2711 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07306
email: [email protected]
Holding the symbolic check for the donation of $100,900 for the Build-a-Shelter Project are
(left to right) Mr. Kwon Young-Dae, President of Korea Radio Broadcasting (KRB) NY, Fr. Vic
Salanga of the Philippine Jesuit Foundation (PJF), and Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr.
Mr. Taejung Kwon (6th from left), President and CEO of The Korea Daily, gives a symbolic check
of $24,431 to PJF's Fr. Salanga (5th from left). Witnesses include Consul General De Leon,
Council President Rolando Lavarro (4th from right), Councilman Michael Yun (3rd from right),
and other representatives of the Consulate General, The Korea Daily, PJF and Friends of FilCom.
Consul General De Leon accepts, on behalf of the PJF, the symbolic check of $3,000 from the
officers of the Voorhees Cultural Diversity Foundation.
Year 2014 'critical'
for PHL, PCCI says
By Amy R. Remo
The Philippine Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (PCCI),
the country's largest business
organization, has urged the
government to take “decisive”
actions in 2014 to ensure that the
country will benefit from the
coming economic integration of
the 10 member-states of the
Association of Southeast Asian
Such actions should be geared
toward building the competitive
advantages of local businesses and
addressing growth constraints,
said PCCI president Miguel B.
“Next year is a critical year to
take decisive action if companies
are to satisfy a market of strong
consumers with products and
services. We could lose out to our
competitors if we delay in
removing the constraints that have
been making us just play catch up.
Expanded trade has also an impact
on the job-creating capacity of
theeconomy,” Varela said Friday
Gov't action needed to
ensure benefits from
ASEAN integration
Va r e l a a d d e d t h a t t h e
government could clear the list of
constraints and enable the private
sector to maximize the competitive
advantages by ensuring the
adequacy and costcompetitiveness of fuel and
electricity to power the growth of
industries; and rehabilitating,
expanding and modernizing
airports and seaports to
accommodate the growing
number of tourists and rising
volumes of traded goods
domestically and internationally.
The government also has to
construct roads, rails and bridges
with priority given to linking
airports and seaports to cities and
key destinations and farm-tomarket roads; streamline business
permits and licenses to facilitate
the entry of investments as well as
encouraging micro and small
industries to be registered into the
mainstream economy; and
improve customs administration
and procedures to facilitate trade
while improving border controls.
PCCI also stressed the need to
strengthen the country's capacity
to participate in regional trading
activities; improve education
standards and enhance the
curriculum based on market
analysis and emerging trends; and
promote competition to seize the
benefits of liberalizing trade and
investment environment.
“Certainly, the rosy picture
painted by our economic managers
could result in the transformation
of the Philippine economy into a
powerhouse economy if the
government, with the support and
partnership of the private sector, is
able to address the constraints to
growth,” Varela added.
Free trade under the Asean
Economic Community will allow
foreign firms located within Asean
to sell at zero or at most 5 percent
PHL eyes top 3rd in global
competitiveness ranking
By Amy R. Remo
MANILA -- The Philippines is
expected to significantly surpass its
target of moving up to the top third
of global competitiveness ranking
surveys by the end of the Aquino
administration, on the back of the
critical reforms implemented to
improve infrastructure and ease of
doing business in the country.
“We continue to work on our
c o m p e t i t ive n e s s a s w e a r e
implementing a lot of projects,” said
Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo,
noting its target of being at the “top
third quartile” among countries
assessed on the competitive
The last presentation by the
National Competitiveness Council
showed, however, that the country
might even exceed that, Domingo
“The top third target is not a
stretched target anymore. This
target has become quite achievable,
and we may even surpass this target
significantly,” he said.
“We're now in a position to take
off because of our infrastructure,
procedures and legal system. We're
still behind developed countries but
we're significantly ahead of many of
our peers. And the financial
capabilities of our local companies
are also growing like Del Monte
Philippines and Petron [which have
managed to acquire companies
abroad]. These are signs of
industrialization,” he said.
I n S e p t e m b e r t h i s ye a r,
Domingo said the Philippines is
expected to rank anywhere from
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 20
PHL bourse named
best stock exchange
in South East Asia
By Doris C. Dumlao
The Philippine Stock Exchange
is the “Best Stock Exchange in
Southeast Asia,” according to
institutional investment magazine
Alpha Southeast Asia, which
recently conferred the “Marquee
Award” to the local bourse.
Awarding ceremonies are
scheduled during the 7th Annual
Alpha Southeast Asia Best Solution
and Deal Awards on Jan. 23 at the
Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel.
The award cited the recordbreaking year of the Philippine
stock market despite the volatility
of equities markets worldwide.
Among the achievements
mentioned were the PSEi's breach
of the 7,000 mark, the remarkable
growth of trading activity, and the
significant capital raising activity
d u r i n g t h e y e a r. L i k e w i s e
recognized were the various
corporate governance initiatives
spearheaded by the exchange.
Previous winners of the “Best
Stock Exchange in Southeast Asia”
category were the Stock Exchange
of Thailand (2012) and the
Indonesia Stock Exchange (2009 to
“This is a very good way to cap
the year, which has shaped up to be
one of the best years of the
exchange from a new product
offering standpoint. This will
inspire us to push for more
products and services that will
attract more investors to take part
in our growth story. We would like
to thank the organizers for this
award,” PSE president Hans Sicat
said in a statement.
“This award is a testament to
the hard work that our board and
our team have done to bring the
exchange to new heights,” Sicat
“One of the many reasons why
foreign investors have remained
comfortable investing in the
Philippines is due to its prodisclosure stance from the ground
up,” the awarding panel said. “At the
core of the PSE's investment revival
is its corporate governance
i n i t i a t ive s d r ive n f ro m t h e
exchange's Corporate Governance
Office. The PSE implemented an
enterprise risk management
system, adopting a best practice
approach to risk management,
common among leading exchanges
around the world.”
In 2013, the PSEi recorded its
highest level in May 2013, when the
stock index touched 7,400 points.
Alpha Southeast Asia, an
institutional investment magazine,
has been paying tribute to the
people and institutions behind the
best and most innovative corporate
investments deals and banking
solutions in the region for seven
Country needs to
boost SME financing
for ASEAN 2015
By Bernie Magkilat
60th to 62nd place by 2016, out of
185 countries covered by the Ease
of Doing Business report by the
World Bank-International Finance
For this year, the Philippines
posted a 30-spot jump in its ranking
in the World Bank's “Ease of Doing
Business” reportreportedly the
highest any country covered by the
multilateral lender could go.
The Philippines ranked 108th
in the world in terms of the ease of
doing business, up from 138th last
year. This jump was said to be the
biggest improvement for any
country in the world this year, and
was also the biggest improvement
for the Philippines since the survey
started 11 years ago.
In September, the Philippines
also leaped 10 notches to the 65th
spot out of 144 countries, under the
2012-2013 Global Competitiveness
Report of the World Economic
Forum. The leap was attributed to
the Philippine government's
significant improvements on
governance, innovation and drive
against corruption, as well as the
country's favorable economic
For its part, the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI) continues
to put in place critical measures
including those that can further
streamline the permitting
processes for local businesses. One
example is the DTI's planned
launching by next year of the “next
generation” Philippine Business
Registry (PBR), which will allow for
electronic payments.
Launched in January 2012, the
PBR mechanism was envisioned to
strengthen the government's effort
of providing quality service to the
people as it would be able to
streamline the business
registration system.
M o r e i m p o r t a n t l y, t h i s
mechanism was geared towards
helping the government to more
effectively curb corruption and
reduce red tape in the bureaucracy developments that are seen to boost
the country's attractiveness to
investors and global
competitiveness rankings.
The Philippines needs to
strengthen access to financing to
enable small enterprises to be part
of the supply chain and make them
compete once the region becomes a
fully integrated economic
community in 2015.
Trade and Industry
Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal
Jr. stressed the need for access to
financing for SMEs even as he noted
that the country has competitive
edge in automotive parts,
electronics, services, electrical
equipment and shipbuilding.
But Cristobal admitted that
there is a need to strengthen access
to financing by small enterprises for
them to be part of the supply chain
of these sectors.
For instance, the Philippines is
strong in electronics but there is
also a strong need to develop
domestic suppliers and become part
of the supply chain. Most of the
inputs in electronics assembly being
done in the country are also
“The Philippines is strong in
electronics, but it still has a lot of
room for improvement by moving
up the value chain,” he said.
Likewise, the automotive parts
sector has also the potential to grow
For small enterprises to become
part of the ASEAN supply chain,
there is a need to look into the
financing system to make onboard
Cristobal has explained that as
part of the Asean economic
community, the intention is for the
Philippines like all other countries
in the region, is to contribute to the
single market rather than compete.
Indeed, ASEAN countries have
been producing similar products.
This situation, however, while has
some advantages also creates
imbalances in trade.
In the case of the Philippines,
one of the original 7 ASEAN
members, it has been on the losing
end consistently incurring huge
trade deficits with the region as
more ASEAN countries export
theirproducts here duty-free as
against fewer Philippine exports.
Page 21
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 21
Forex reserves seen hitting as much as $87B
GIR to reach record
high in 2014
By Paolo G. Montecillo
New Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla and former Customs
Commissioner Ruffy Biazon. Inquirer photos
'Culture of corruption
continues at Customs’
By Jerry E. Esplanada
“Commissioners come and go,
but the (culture of corruption) in
the Bureau of Customs (BOC)
That's a quote from former
Customs Commissioner Ruffy
Biazon and it is the common
answer of old-timers in the bureau
to questions from the Inquirer
about the identities of the traders
known among insiders in the
agency as “Big Mama,” “Ma'am T”
and “Mr. T.”
Under-the-table deals among
the three traders and corrupt
examiners, appraisers and other
frontline personnel at the BOC are
the cause of the bureau's failure to
meet its revenue collection goals, a
Country needs ...
From page 20
A presentation by Cristobal
himself showed the Philippines
incurring huge trade deficits with
ASEAN for the past five years.
The highest trade deficit was
incurred in 2008 with $7.543 billion
followed by $5.601 billion in 2011
and $5,124 billion in 2009. Lower
trade deficits were incurred in 2012
with $4.307 billion and in 2010 with
$3.947 billion.
It can be gleaned from the data
that the oil imports account for the
bulk of the Philippines imports from
her fellow ASEAN countries. Other
huge imports from ASEAN include
rice, petrochemicals, and
With the Philippines nearly
becoming self-sufficient in rice
production, the country is expected
to incur lower volume of rice
imports from Thailand and Vietnam.
The country's top ten imports
from ASEAN include electrical,
electronic equipment with 20
percent share of total followed by
mineral fuels, oils and distillation
product group to account for 14.8
Importation of machinery,
nuclear reactors, boilers accouant
for 11.4 percent while motor
vehicles account for 8.9 percent of
total imports from ASEAN. Other
imports include plastics and articles
thereof; miscellaneous edible
preparations; animal, vegetable fats
and oils, cleavage products; cereals;
essential oils, perfumes, cosmetics,
newly appointed official of the
agency told the Inquirer over the
The official did not name the
three traders whose undervalued
or misdeclared imports cost the
government millions if not billions
of pesos in lost revenue.
The official, however, said the
three traders were mentioned in
the study titled “Anatomy of
Corruption” that he was doing as
part of a reform program for the
“It's a work in progress,” he
said. “I've been working on it for
quite some time.”
“The traders referred to in the
study have been engaged in the
import business for decades. Thus,
The country's dollar reserves
are expected to hit a fresh record
high next year despite the
expectation of the flight of foreign
capital from emerging markets
like the Philippines, the Bangko
Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said.
BSP Governor Amando M.
Tetangco Jr. said the continued
buildup of the country's gross
international reserves (GIR),
which serve as the economy's last
line of defense from external
shocks, would be driven by robust
foreign exchange income from
various sources.
The BSP expects its foreign
exchange reserves to reach $85
billion by the end of 2013the
highest yearend total in the
country's history. This would be
more than the $83.3 billion at the
end of 2012, but just equal the
$85.27 billion that was reached in
January of this year.
Tetangco noted that the
country's reserves could also be
hit by changes in the value of gold
and the US dollar relative to other
“But because of revaluation
effects that aren't captured in the
balance of payments (BOP), my
own expectation for GIR is that it
will fall to between $83 billion and
84 billion,” Tetangco said.
He added that the expected
level of reserves by the end of the
year would still be enough to
cover about a year's worth of the
country's needed imports of
goods and servicessignificantly
higher than international
By next year, Tetangco said the
country's reserves should reach a
record high of $88 billion, before
revaluation changes.
Once the changes in the value
of certain assets in the GIR are
taken into account, Tetangco said
the country's reserves might
settle between $86 billion and $87
billionboth still record highs.
An ample level of reserves
serves as buffer to protect the
economy from external shocks
that can lead to a shortage of
foreign exchange that the country
needs. Should the country
undergo a so-called balance of
payments (BOP) crisis, as it did
During the 1997 Asian
financial crisis, the BSP can
choose to release dollars through
the country's local banks.
These dollars can pay for
imported goods and services as
well as repay foreign obligations.
The Philippines is expected to
post a BOP surplus of $5.4 billion
this year, the equivalent of about
1.9 percent of gross domestic
product. The BOP is the summary
of the amount of foreign exchange
that enters the country, less the
foreign exchange that goes out.
Sources of foreign exchange
include trade with other
countries, remittances from
migrant workers and revenue
from various industries like
business process outsourcing and
Page 22
toiletries; and optical, photo,
technical, medical.
E l e c t r i c a l a n d e l e c t ro n i c
equipment is the single largest
export product of the Philippines to
Asean with a whopping 59.5 percent
of its total exports to the region.
Other exports are machinery,
nuclear reactors, boilers for 8.4
percent while motor vehicles
contributed 5.1 percent.
Other exports include mineral
fuels, oils and distillation products;
optical, photo, technical, medical
apparatus; copper and articles
thereof; tobacco and manufactured
tobacco cereal, flour, starch, milk
preparations and products and
Based on the statistics, Cristobal
noted that the country's trade with
ASEAN is largely intra-industry in
nature meaning the Philippines
trade in products belonging to the
same industries.
“ We ex p o r t i n te r m e d i a te
electronic components but we also
import finished products. We sell
Thailand motor vehicle parts, they
sell us motor vehicles,” he said.
This makes the country's trade
relations with ASEAN largely
c o m p l e m e n t a r y ra t h e r t h a n
competitive in nature.
Indeed, ASEAN countries trade
less among each other than the
world. This is evident in the overall
ASEAN region's trade figures. Total
intra-ASEAN trade is placed at $33
billion, but the entire 10 ASEAN
member countries' imports from
the world amounted to $1.243
trillion and exports to the world of
$1.265 billion. Manila Bulletin
P1.3-B NAIA 1 rehabilitation
awarded to D.M. Consunji
By Kris Bayos
The Department of
Transportation and
Communications (DoTC) Bids
and Awards Committee yesterday
awarded the P1.3-billion civil
works contract for the NAIA 1
rehabilitation project to D.M.
Consunji, Inc.
Transportation Secretary
Jospeph Emilio Abaya announced
yesterday the contract covers the
structural and architectural
construction works of the NAIA 1
rehabilitation project as well as
the mechanical, electrical,
plumbing and fire components.
To recall, the administration
earlier approved a P1.1-billion
allotment for the structural and
aesthetically improvements on
NAIA Terminal 1, which was
adjudged as the world's worst
airport by international travelers
for two years now. The NAIA 1
rehabilitation is also being
pushed for the expected surge of
visitors and tourists because of
Manila's hosting of the Asia
Pacific Economic Cooperation
(APEC) forum in 2015.
“The APEC organizing
committee gave us until Dec 1,
2014 to complete the
rehabilitation. We are really
behind the schedule but we will
try our best to comply,” he added.
From the P1.1-billion
allotment, P500 million is
provisionally set aside for
aesthetics and interior design of
the airport facility, P300 million
will be spent for the construction
of rapid exit taxiway (RET) to
relieve runway congestion and
minimize delays of incoming or
outgoing flights, and P340 million
will be used to improve the
structural integrity of the airport
terminal building.
Another P20 million will be
used for the repair and
rehabilitation of all the 72 toilet
facilities in the terminal, which
includes fixing the lavatories,
Page 22
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 22
The year that was
By Randell Tiongson
MANILA, Dec. 24 -- It's
Christmas and in just a week, we can
officially say goodbye to 2013. It is
thus an opportune time to do a
recap of the year that was, and may I
say that this year has been a truly
eventful one, to say the least.
2013 put the Philippines on the
global scene and the country
became the darling of international
media. It seemed that everything
was finally going well for the nation.
2013 was also the year the
Philippines got the much coveted
“investment grade” status from
international raters, with Fitch the
first to upgrade us, followed by
Standard & Poor's and after a long
wait, Moody's.
The upgrades from the three
major agencies solidified our newfound status. Although the
upgrades just confirmed what the
market already knew, these were
still a welcome development.
The Philippine economy also
had a banner year in 2013,
exc e e d i n g a l l fo re c a s t s a n d
surprising the world with the
c o n s i s te n t g ro w t h i n G ro s s
Domestic Product that even rose
beyond 7 percent in a quarter.
The once laggard Philippine
economy was clearly one of the best
performing economies of 2013, not
only in Asia but also in the world.
This is an astounding development
because many of the major
e c o n o m i e s we re re g i s te r i n g
minimal growth and some were
even in recession. It seemed that the
institutional reforms of the Aquino
administration had given the
country a much needed shot in the
The reforms to eradicate graft
and corruption had led to renewed
business confidence.
The local stock market also saw
a wild surge in the first few months
of the year.
2012 saw substantial growth in
the PSEi but the first months of
2013 saw the index climbing rapidly
and peaking at about 7400, a record
high. Profit reports, investment
upgrades and a very robust
economy fueled the insatiable
demand for local stocks and the
prices kept on going up to the point
of being illogical and highly
Alas, as Efren Cruz once said, the
stock market cannot defy gravity
forever. By mid-year, the index went
down as fast as it went up.
Investors in the stock market
are flawed in a sense that they can
either be too optimistic or severely
pessimistic something we saw this
We will probably end the year at
a little above 6000, thus erasing the
substantial gains in the first
months. But I still see this as a good
thing because the current index is
more consistent with our GDP
growth. While I expect the market to
still go up, I doubt that it will go up
as fast as it did in the first months of
2013unless we have not learned our
The business environment has
been encouraging, to say the least.
Profit margins are getting wider
and many companies are benefiting
from increased consumption
spending of the Pinoys as
remittances from Overseas Filipino
Wokers and revenues from the
business process outsourcing
sector continue to pour in despite
the odds.
Unfortunately, businesses have
been very slow in easing the
u n e m p l oy m e n t n u m b e r s , a s
increased business activity has not
resulted in more employment.
Economic growth will only
matter when it translates to more
and better jobs.
As the Philippine economy
behaved like a raging bull, nature
decided to intervene to temper the
Two catastrophic natural
calamities, the earthquake in Bohol
and supertyphoon Yolanda, led to a
massive loss of life and livelihood in
the Visayas.
Billions were lost and it will take
time for full restoration, but the
rehabilitation of the region will be a
good source of economic
development in the next two years.
The billions that will be used for the
redevelopment of affected areas
will have a positive effect on the
economic numbers in 2014 and
While the whole world was
paying attention to the devastation
caused by “Yolanda,” another
disruption appeared. This time it
was a man-made one in the form of a
post in Forbes saying that the
economic miracle of the Philippines
is nothing but a bubble waiting to
The writer, Jesse Colombo,
instantly became an infamous
celebrity in the Philippines and the
post elicited much reaction,
counter-reaction and flak. I posted
my counter in this column weeks
ago. The post, while erratic and not
really factual, made more Pinoys
think about where we are and what
we are doingthat is actually a good
On a personal note, 2013 was
also a very eventful year for me. I
gave over 200 talks on finance
matters; spoke to OFWs in seven
countries outside the Philippines;
started a radio show; published a
book (now best-selling); organized
an investment conference that drew
more than 1000 folks; rode the
plane about 75 times and wrote
quite a few columns for this paper
that garnered so much attention,
much to my surprise.
So many more events happened
in the nation and I only stated a few
that are financially related. Despite
the calamities and Jesse Colombo, I
guess it's safe to declare that 2013
was a banner year for the nation and
for me as well.
Let us continue to work and
pray together for this nation.
A Merry Christmas to all of you!
Jesus was born to save all of us.
For to us a child is born, to us a
son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will
be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6, NIV
(Randell Tiongson is a
columnist, author, radio show host
and speaker on personal finance. To
read more about him, visit his site at To learn
about financial planning, attend
FREE personal finance talk on Jan. 9,
7 p.m. PSE Ortigas. To reserve, email
[email protected] or text
<name><email><RFPinfo> at
P1.3-B NAIA 1 ...
From page 21
water closets, urinals and
“This rehabilitation is longoverdue after we've been highly
criticized. With the group of
internationally acclaimed designer
Kenneth Cobonpue, architect Royal
Pineda, and designer Budji Layug
on board, we could really make
NAIA nicer looking,” Abaya added.
As per government records, the
obsolete NAIA Terminal 1, which
serves international flights except
those served by the Philippine
Airlines, had its major makeover
back in 1996. The NAIA Terminal 1
was put into service in 1981, with
original design capacity of 4.5
million passengers per year. Thirty
years later, it surpassed its design
capacity for handling 7.3 million
passengers 2011.
Meanwhile, NAIA Terminal 3 is
currently 52 percent operational,
with the rest left unused because of
the lacking systems that Takenaka
has agreed to supply under a $45
million deal with the Philippine
Once completed, the 182,500
square meter terminal would have
the capacity to service up to 33,000
passengers daily at peak or 6,000
passengers per hour. It also has 34
air bridges and 20 contact gates,
allowing it to service 28 planes
‘Culture of
corruption’ ...
From page 21
it is no surprise that they have
established contacts at the BOC,” the
official said.
The old-timers said some
traders had been “ruling” the BOC
for decades.
They, however, could not say
who among the traders were “Big
Mama,” “Ma'am T” and “Mr. T.”
But they insisted that “not all
customs officials and employees are
corrupt and in cahoots with these
The old-timers are among the
bureau personnel who resent
President Benigno Aquino III's view
of BOC officials and employees as
In his State of the Nation
Address in July, the President
mentioned the bureau and spoke as
if all of its personnel were corrupt,
and warned them to shape up or
ship out.
Customs employees protested
t h e i r b e i n g s i n gl e d o u t fo r
corruption, but the government
ignored their protestations and
went ahead with a reorganization
that saw personnel being
transferred to the bureau's mother
organization, the Department of
Finance, where they had no
influence and could do no damage to
the government.
But those employees have
challenged their reassignment in
the Court of Appeals, halting their
transfer and delaying reforms in the
Whether they are among those
with dealings with “Big Mama,”
“Ma'am T” and “Mr. T” is unclear, but
the Inquirer's source indicated that
reforms introduced by Biazon had
failed to unseat all corrupt officials
in the bureau.
One official, the source said,
interceded on behalf of one of the
Once it is fully operational,
N A I A Te r m i n a l 3 w i l l
accommodate certain flights and
passenger traffic of NAIA Terminal
1, which is also undergoing
retrofitting and facelift for being
tagged as the world's worst
The government will request
the Japanese supplier of the
deficient systems in the Ninoy
Aquino International Airport
Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) to expedite
the installation of closed circuit
television (CCTV) systems in the
Abaya said government would
ask Takenaka Corp. to prioritize
the installation of CCTV systems in
NAIA 3 to improve the security and
surveillance systems in the
“We would ask them if the
CCTV component of the contract
can be installed immediately,”
Abaya told reporters at the
sidelines of the inauguration of the
new stations of the Philippine
National Railways (PNR)
Abaya said Takenaka is
expected to complete the supply,
installation and commissioning of
the 23 deficient systems in NAIA 3
by July 2014. Aside from the CCTV,
the lacking systems including
baggage handling, flight
information display, fire alarm,
local area network, and passenger
loading bridge. Manila Bulletin
traders, resulting in millions of
pesos in revenue losses for the
“Instead of paying P200,000plus per container for their
imported plastic manufacturing
materials, the trader paid only a
little over P130,000 per container,
or customs revenue losses of about
P70,000 per container,” the source
The source, who is the same
newly appointed official at the
bureau, identified the official but
asked this reporter not to disclose
the name.
“Big Mama,” “Ma'am T” and “Mr.
T” cannot be arrested and sued
because their papers appear to be in
order, the source said.
Reform program
New Customs Commissioner
John Phillip Sevilla, a former finance
undersecretary, has yet to comment
on the new official's disclosure.
Earlier, Sevilla vowed to enforce
the finance department's reform
program at the BOC.
The Inquirer source said some
traders had been benefiting from
undervaluation and misdeclaration
of their imports, but not a single
case had been filed against them.
“Why, because their import
papers appeared to be in order.
Thanks to some corrupt customs
personnel who are in cahoots with
them, letting them undervalue their
imported goods so they can pay
lower duties and taxes,” the official
But according to a district
collector transferred to the newly
created Customs Policy Research
Office at the finance department,
some of those traders are in the
customs bureau's “order of battle,”
meaning they are being watched
and their contacts in the bureau
being traced.
The bureau's intelligence
division, which drew up the order of
battle during Biazon's term, has not
disclosed the watch list, which
reportedly include the names of
By Marjorie S. Duran
Local film supporters flocked the streets to have a glimpse of their favorite
celebrities during the Parade of Stars for the annual Metro Manila Film
Festival (MMFF) on Dec. 22.
The floats for the festival's eight entries, each designed to depict a
particular movie's theme, passed through the One Esplanade area at the Mall
of Asia going to Roxas Boulevard. Their final stop was at the Quirino
Grandstand. Manila Bulletin
Source: All photos by Ali Vicoy
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 23
Parade of Stars
draws huge crowd
The cast of '10,000 Hours' led by Robin Padilla (center)
'Boy Golden: Shoot To Kill' float
'Kimmy Dora, Ang Kyemeng Prequel' float
'My Little Bossings' float
Cast of 'San Pedro Calungsod: Ang Batang Martir' Rocco Nacino (center)
Cast members of 'Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay’
'Kaleidoscope World's' jeepney-inspired float
'Girl, Boy, Bakla, Tomoy' lead star Vice Ganda (left) with Ejay Falcon
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 24
Stand and deliver:
Big winners in 2013
By Marjorie S. Duran
In show business, buzz is fleeting if not backed by merit. This year, some of those that stood out in the
Philippine entertainment scene are:
A scene from 'Transit’
Aldrich Lloyd Talonding during a
guesting on 'Ellen DeGeneres Show’
This film is about Filipino migrant
workers in Israel. It got the lion's share of
trophies at Cinemalaya 2013 with 10
awards including Best Director (for Hannah
Espia), Best Actress (Irma Adlawan), Best
Supporting Actress (Jasmine Curtis-Smith),
Audience Choice Award, Best Picture and
NETPAC Award for Asian Cinema, among
“Transit” also earned a Special Mention
when it competed with 12 Asian films under
the New Currents section at the 18th Busan
International Film Festival in South Korea.
Hollywood critic Richard Kuipers
praised it for being “gracefully directed,
inventively edited look at the plight of
Filipino immigrant workers in Israel.”
B'laan Duo
YouTube can turn ordinary people into instant celebrities,
as proven by the B'laan cousins Aldrich Lloyd Talonding and
James Bucong. The video of their rendition of “Dance With My
Father” got more than 3,000,000 views and 50,000 likes on
YouTube, paving the way for them to be invited as guests on
the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” on which they got a standing
ovation for their rendition of the Luther Vandross song.
During the interview with the famed American host,
Talonding revealed how the video changed their lives.
“People started recognizing us along the streets or in the
malls - they even recognize us in the restrooms.”
Metro Manila Film Festival
a respite from tragedy
By Allan Policarpio
MANILA -- Some of the floats
seemed smaller, the designs a tad less
striking than usual. But the crowd
was as loud and star-struck as ever as
their favorite celebrities rode past
them during Sunday's “Parade of the
Stars,” which opened the annual
Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
Eight movies competing on the
39th staging of the event will be
shown in theaters from Dec. 25 to Jan.
8“Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng
Prequel,” “My Little Bossings,” “Girl,
Boy, Bakla, Tomboy,” “Boy Golden:
Shoot-to-Kill,” “10,000 Hours,”
“ P a g p a g : S i y a m n a B u h a y,”
“Kaleidoscope World” and “Pedro
Calungsod: Batang Martir.”
For the fans, the festival wasn't so
much about the floats as seeing the
stars atop them.
Three hours before the parade's
scheduled start at 2 p.m., People
mostly giddy teenage girls had
already crowded around the eight
floats parked on Bayshore Avenue in
Pasay City, hoping that their idols
would grant them photo-ops, or at
least smile at them.
And so, despite the fickle
afternoon weather that swung from
swelteringly hot to ominously cloudy,
the stars promised to make the event
worth the fans' wait.
Natural disasters
According to MMFF executive
secretary Alu Dorotan, about 800
MMDA personnel were deployed to
ensure order during the parade.
Earning a record-breaking P767.8
million in the box office, the 2012
festival was the most successful in
the history of the MMFF.
Toni looks back on
2013; gears up for
another fruitful year
By Marjorie S. Duran
The challenges that the country
faced this 2013 - from the earthquake
Page 25
in Bohol and super-typhoon
“Yolanda” in Leyte - have taught Toni
Gonzaga lessons that would serve her
well for years to come.
She noted in an interview that she
learned “to be more selfless, be more
compassionate, be more aware of
what's going on and to reach out (to
other people).
“Tigilan muna 'yung pagiging
makasarili (at) isipin ‘yung kapwa
natin at makatulong,” she reiterated.
Thankful for a showbiz career in
full swing, the multimedia star
nevertheless noted, “It's so hard
sometimes to celebrate the personal
Toni Gonzaga (Photo by Marj Duran)
su c c esses or a c hievem en t n a
nakukuha mo because of what's going
On-screen chemistry
on around you.”
In January 2014, Toni will
If there's one thing she realized
headline their first-ever sitcom
this year, it's “God is good. If you really
together on ABS-CBN titled “Home
focus your personal life and self with
Sweetie Home” with former onscreen
God, everything will fall into place.”
partner John Lloyd Cruz. They will
play a married couple.
New Year's resolution
This is actually the first time the
Apparently, Toni is not one who
actress-host accepted a wife role.
makes a list of her New Year's
“This project came in the right
Resolution or a list of changes she
age. Pwede na talaga akong gumanap
wants to make. Instead, she writes
na may asawa,” said the actress who is
down the things she wishes to
turning 30 on Jan. 20.
accomplish for the year a tradition
Mother roles, however, can wait.
she practices with her sister, Alex
“Saka na, kapag mother na ako,” she
said, laughing.
Her goals vary from material,
For Toni, one of the most
personal, family and work, for
challenging parts of doing the series
instance: “Business na gusto ko
was the intimate scene with Lloydie,
makuha” or “a new chapter in my
with whom she last shared the screen
career na gusto kong marating.”
in 2010's “My Amnesia Girl.”
As to her preference to make goals
“Iba 'yung level ng comfortability
rather than promises, she said,
namin sa isat-isa kasi hindi naman
“Walang nasusunod sa plano ko eh.”
kami everyday nagkakasama sa work.
In 2014, “I will just go with
(Ngayong) nagkasama kami ulit,
whatever He's going to give me and
nakaka-ilang ulit (kasi) gumagawa
bless me. Kung anong mga
kami ng mga eksena na sweet pero
proyektong ibigay, gagawin ko nalang
eventually nawala na ang ilang,” said
ang best ko, so when the next
opportunities come I will have a
She only has good words for
feeling na I earned it at deserve ko
Lloydie, desc rib in g him a s a
siya,” she shared.
gentleman at “napaka-bait na tao,”
She admitted, however, that
adding that the actor brings out the
“Mahirap kasi ngayon mag-personal
best in her during tapings. Manila
wish sa pinagdaanan ng bansa natin.”
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 25
President Benigno S. Aquino III with her sister Kris and sons Bimby and Josh
celebrate the Christmas Day, Decemeber 25, 2013 by the watching "My
Little Bossings" where his nephew James "Bimby" Yap Jr. and sister Kris
Aquino are lead stars in the said movie. According to MMDA report, "My
Little Bossings" leads the box office race in terms of ticket sales for the
opening day. (MNS photo)
Carmina Villaroel
BB Gandanghari
Carmina, BB face-to-face soon?
By Marjorie S. Duran
President Benigno S. Aquino III prepares for a photo opportunity with child
star Ryzza Mae Dizon, nephew Joshua Aquino and James "Bimby" Yap Jr.
and sister Kris after watching the "My Little Bossings" where his nephew
Bimby and sister Kris Aquino are lead stars in the said movie. According to
MMDA report, "My Little Bossings" leads the box office race in terms of
ticket sales for the opening day. (MNS photo)
More than a decade after
their annulment , Carmina
Villaroel deems herself ready to
interview her former husband,
Rustom Padilla, who is now
known as BB Gandanghari.
Speaking on “Buzz ng Bayan,”
however, she said she's setting a
condition: “Gusto ko sana
magkita kami na wala munang
camera. Gusto ko muna makita,
gusto ko talaga siya pagmasdan.”
Carmina spoke about BB
after the show aired an interview
with the latter's actor brother
Robin Padilla. Clearly, she's now
letting bygones be bygones
following their failed marriage
and BB coming out of the closet
years ago.
“Okay naman na. Kung ano
'yung nangyari, tapos na iyon.
Hindi ko lang alam if kaya ko na
bang harapin.
“Parang after a while, wala
na tapos na. Ang tagal tagal na.
Madami pang importanteng
bagay na dapat pagtuunan ng
pansin,” said she.
The two were married in
1994 but called it quits in 1996.
Their marriage was annulled in
While initially Carmina
seemed to feel some
awkwardness towards her ex
(“Before, sinasagot ko oo,” she
admitted to her co-hosts Boy
Abunda and Janice de Belen),
things finally feel different for
“Ngayon, nung napapanood
ko… Hindi na. Nung pinapanood
ko, parang wala lang,” she said.
The actress-host said that,
“Feeling ko okay kaming dalawa,
jive kami. Mahirap kasi
magsalita. So kapag nangyari na
lang, 'yun na.”
In an interview with Bulletin
Entertainment in July, Carmina
had seemingly already given an
interview with BB some
t h o u gh t . S h e s a i d , “ Ku n g
dumating, kung may offer,
tingnan natin. Kung hindi naman
ako masyadong busy, why not?”
Before closing the segment
on “Buzz,” Sunday, Carmina who
is now Mrs. Zoren Legaspi
noted, “Ang dating sa akin, iba
talaga siyang tao na. Parang wala
na 'yung Rustom. Different
Stand ...
From page 24
Nora Aunor
Gloc-9 is still on top of his game. At the
recent Awit Awards, the rapper clinched
major trophies for his album “Mga
Kuwento Ng Makata” featuring the hit
“Sirena” featuring Ebe Dencel. Some of
these awards were Album of the Year,
Song of the Year and Music Video of the
Year. More in Gloc-9's bag: trophies from
the PMPC Awards for Music (Album of the
Year, Music Video of the Year); and MYX
Music Awards (Favorite Collaboration,
Favorite Song, Favorite MYX Live
performance). The talk-a-mile-perminute artist also interpreted the entry
“Papel” along with Joey Ayala at the 2013
Philippine Popular Music Festival.
Nora Aunor
She is still the superstar, says the new
additions to her trophy shelf. This year,
Nora scored two international awards for
her role as a Badjao midwife in Brillante
Mendoza's “Thy Womb” Best Actress at
the 3rd Sakhalin International Film
Festival and at the Asian Film Festival
Awards in Hong Kong. Locally, she
brought home trophies for the same role
including the Presidential Award for
Cinematic Arts Excellence at the FAMAS;
Best Actress at the Luna Awards, Gawad
Urian, Gawad Tangi for Films and Star
Awards for Movies; Best Performance by
an Actress in a Lead Role-Drama at the
Golden Screen Awards, among others.
Manila Bulletin
Ryzza Mae Dizon
Ryzza needs to slow down
By Andy Bais
Lita Delfin, housewife:
“Ryzza Mae Dizon looks like she
needs to slow down. She's no
longer the bubbly, little darling
when she began hosting her
eponymous TV show. Her voice
has become hoarse, and she
constantly gasps for breath
after moving around a lot.
Seriously, Aling Maliit need not
work so hard. After all, she's still
a child!”
Other notes:
Denise Magno, televiewer:
“Seeing Charice dressing up as a
lady as she sang and danced in a
production number on TV
recently was a refreshing sight.
If she plays her cards right shying away from negative
publicity, like her failed suicide
attempt (which wasn't true,
after all), and staying focused on
her singing career - she can still
bounce back.”
Leo Ilagan, student: “If
Justin Bieber can spread cheer
to the survivors of 'Yolanda'devastated Tacloban, why don’t
we see more local stars doing
the same? The Canadian
heartthrob didn't just go there he sang for them and played
basketball with the kids! What
he did was an inspiring act of
kindness, especially because
Christmas is just around the
Te s s D o c e - H a l i l i ,
enthusiast: “I'm not an avid fan
of beauty pageants but, of all the
Pinoy winners of international
tilts this year, I like Miss
International Bea Rose
Santiago's answer in the Q&A
the mostit was spoken from the
heart. She either has a good
h e a d o n t h o s e exq u i s i t e
shoulders, or a brilliant coach!”
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 26
Richard Yap defends
self against critics
MANILA -- Actor Richard Yap
said he is not affected by criticisms
about his acting prowess and
happy that the industry
appreciates his contribution
through the latest award given by
Philippine Movie Press Club
Last November 24, Richard
and Coco Martin both bagged the
Best Actor trophy in the 27th
PMPC Star Awards for Television
for "Be Careful with My Heart" and
"Juan dela Cruz," respectively.
Richard said that it was an
honor to share the trophy with
Coco, who has done numerous
projects both on television and
movies and is acclaimed by many
for his acting skills.
But the happy news for the
Cebu native was spoiled by some
who commented that Richard
doesn't deserve the award.
When asked for his two cents
worth on the issue, he replied: "I
wasn't the one who asked for it. I
wasn't even (t)here because I
didn't expect to win. That's their
opinion. I didn't ask for it, the
judges gave it to me."
He continued: "They had
reason to do that. If our teleserye is
the number one daytime teleserye,
then that just goes to prove
Richard Yap
something. I don't have to tell or
justify that award."
Richard also commented on
some people criticizing his brand
of acting. He said that his skills
were honed by director Laurice
Guillen, who taught him that
underacting is better than over
"That's what I try to practice.
Hindi ako nagooveract sa mga
scenes, I try to act as natural as
possible. I think it works well for
me," he said.
"People keep telling me to keep
doing what I'm doing. Lots of
veteran actors are also saying that
I'm doing the right thing. So, I take
it from them, I take that positively. I
don't let this thing (award)
pressure me. As much as possible,"
he added.He added that
underacting performances is still
appreciated by Pinoy viewers as
Korean programs typically follow
the same formula in their drama
series. Richard said some may not
like it, but others are happy with
his performance.
"Some people may not
understand that because they're
used to the over-acting style.
People think that you always have
to cry to be a best actor. But it's how
you affect the audience. I think it's
a learning experience and I always
have to get better," he said.
For someone who started late
in the entertainment business but
still get to experience wellreceived shows, Richard said he's
an evolving artist and there's still a
lot to learn from the industry and
his colleagues.
"I try to improve myself all the
time. Everything that you learn
today, you put it to use tomorrow
until you get better," he ended.
Robin Padilla
Robin fine-tuned in
his MMFF entry
By Dolly Anne Carvajal
MANILA -- Robin Padilla is at his
finest in the Metro Manila Film
Festival (MMFF) entry, “10,000
Hours.” We gave the film an A rating
at the Cinema Evaluation Board.
Kudos to director Joyce Bernal for
being able to effectively squeeze the
best out of Binoe without going over
the top. The distinctive Binoe swag
is still there but it has been finetuned.
Here's the man of the 10,000
Hours, este, of the hour.
What made you decide to accept
the offer to star in “10,000 Hours”?
How can I turn down a story
inspired by the life of Sen. Panfilo
In what ways was it inspired by
the life of Lacson?
Only the names were changed
but the story is true.
Would you say that your move is
a subtle “PR” for Lacson?
It could be used as a
What was your most
memorable experience in
The whole working-withpermit experience.
What did “10,000 Hours” teach
you about life and love?
We should live with love.
Why should the public watch
“10,000 Hours”?
It will inspire them to stand up
and fight for something they believe
Among all the other MMFF
entries, which movie would you
watch first?
Do you have plans of giving
politics another try?
Nope. Politics is for my brother,
What advice did you give Daniel
Padilla about girls?
Just to enjoy but not forget love
and respect.
How do you manage to age
I just try to enjoy my life with
love and respect even when at times
that it seems impossible.
How has Mariel “tamed” you?
She is complete. He makes me
her king.
How's your relationship with
BB (Gandanghari)?
Aunt BB and I will collaborate
and do a movie.
What's on your bucket list?
I want to go to an Islamic history
school. I want to visit the American
Museum of Natural History in New
What's your guilty pleasure?
Going abroad. I feel blessed yet
guilty when I'm abroad.
What's your advice to aspiring
action stars?
Train harder, dudes.
How would you like to be
I want to be remembered as a
Metro Manila
Film ...
From page 24
But with the country still
recovering from natural disasters and preparing for an impending
power rate hike - show-biz insiders
wondered whether fans would hold
back on leisure activities.
While uncertain of how people
would spend their money this
month, Bela said she believed
Filipinos “deserve to be happy this
“After all the calamities, I think
watching movies is a good diversion.
Aside from having a good time,
viewers will leave the theaters
feeling inspired,” she said.
Very saddening
Her action star-uncle, Robin,
pointed out that going to the
cinemas remained one of the
cheapest forms of entertainment.
“What happened to the country
is very saddening and we
sympathize with the victims. But
still, watching Filipino movies has
become a Christmas tradition of
sorts,” the actor said.
Concepcion said the annual fest
was part of the Filipino culture and
shouldn't be negatively affected by
the recent tragedies.
“We should also focus on what
we have now and what we do well not just the calamities. There should
be a balance,” Concepcion said.
“ B e s i d e s , t h e e n te r t a i n m e n t
industry continues to extend a
helping hand.”
Good movie lineup
Despite everything that had
happened in the country, Tolentino
believed ticket sales would “move
well,” as they had in the previous
And while seven cinemas in
typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City are
not operating, Tolentino said he was
confident the turnout wouldn't be
affected much.
“We have a good lineup of
movies,” he said. “When you look at
the malls, they're all still teeming
with people.
Concepcion said, “Tuloy pa rin
ang Pasko (There's no stopping
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 27
April Boy Regino
retires from showbiz
due to cancer
MANILA – A tearful April Boy
Regino has announced that he will
soon be retiring from show
business as he continues his battle
with prostate cancer.
Regino has decided to bow out
from the music industry because
he is no longer fit to hold shows or
The singer behind such hits as
“Di Ko Kayang Tanggapin” publicly
admitted that he was diagnosed
with cancer two years ago.
“Tigil na po 'ko habang buhay.
Ang isang tao dapat tanggapin niya
na kahit gustong-gusto niya pa
'yung ginagawa niya, kailangan na
din niyang tuldukan,” he said.
As much as he wants to
continue his career, the 44-yearold singer said he is left with no
other choice as his condition has
made him weaker.
“Kapag naririnig ko [ang mga
tao], 'Idol, 'wag ka titigil, wala na
kaming inspirasyon.' Sasabihin ko,
'Pasensya na kayo. Mahal ko rin
kayo. Pero 'di ko alam kung bakit
gusto ko nang tumigil.' Siguro sa
pagod ko na rin po. Lahat po ng tao
dumarating 'yung pagkapagod.
Parang pagod na pagod na ko,” he
said. Regino promised to continue
April Boy Regino
his fight with cancer for his loved
ones and his supporters.
“Masayang-masaya po ako
dahil sa tulong ng Panginoon
nagkaroon na naman ako ng
panibagong lakas pero
nagpapagaling pa po ako,” he said.
“Nung sinabi po ng asawa ko
na, 'Bumangon ka. Magpalakas ka.
Tu t u l u n g a n t ayo n g D iyo s .
Magdasal lagi tayo na pagalingin
ka.' Wala pong imposible sa Kanya.
Naku, napakabait po ng Diyos sa
'kin,” he added.
Marian goes all-out
for Kapuso AdoptA-Bangka campaign
By Shirley Pizarro
Marian Rivera is all about her
advocacy this Christmas. The GMA
Primetime Queen tells her friends
from the press that her heart truly
goes out to the survivors of the supertyphoon “Yolanda” in the Visayas that
she had no second thoughts about
joining hands with GMA-7 in their
advocacy to provide livelihood for
these people.
Marian said, “Marami na rin
naman kasing donations na
ibinibigay sa kanila na pagkain,
damit, etc. Naisip lang namin na mas
maganda kung 'yung puwede nilang
gamiting panghanapbuhay ang
gamitin para makabangon talaga sila.
Marami kasi sa kanila, fishermen at
ang bangka nila ang talagang
ikinabubuhay nila. Since nasira ang
mga kagamitan nila, bahay, kailangan
nila ulit bumangon. Dito po namin
naisip ang 'Kapuso Adopt-A-Bangka'
Marian said that the GMA
Regional, in partnership with the
Bantayan Island Association of
Hotels, Resorts, Bars, and
Restaurants, Inc., will help rebuild
and rehabilitate bancas, a major tool
of livelihood for local fisher folk and
they will start with the Island of
Bantayan in Northern Cebu.
Marian said rebuilding a typical
bangka will cost between P30,000 to
P35,000 and can last for 15-20 years.
“Marami po silang nangangailangan
kaya po I am personally inviting
donors to join us in this cause. Talaga
Patti Austin to hold benefit concerts
for supertyphoon 'Yolanda' survivors
By Pocholo Concepcion
Jazz singer-songwriter Patti
Austin, who last performed in
Manila only last September, is
coming backthis time in two
benefit shows for “Yolanda”
survivors: Dec. 29 at the ballroom
of Solaire Resort and Casino; and
Dec. 31 at the ballroom of Fairmont
In this e-mail interview, Austin
recalls her personal experience
with tragedy; she also bares plans
on how she intends to help the
storm survivors, apart from the
money that would be raised in the
How did Typhoon Yolanda affect
It affected me deeply because I
have many Filipino friends,
including those who live in America
and who have families in the
Philippines. These are people
whom I care so much about,
because they have also been such
loyal fans.
I had just been back to the
Philippines for a concert last
September after 10 years. It
rekindled my relationship with the
country and I could not wait to
return. I am so sad that I am
returning under such a cloud of
But my goal is to bring some
peace and joy through music and,
more importantly, to offer hope for
a brighter future. It's very
important to maintain hope in
these times.
How did the benefit show that
you are spearheading come about?
I was invited by Roni Merk to
help put up a fundraiser for Habitat
for Humanity. I was honored by the
invitation, and felt anxious to do
something positive for the storm
survivors. Of course, to be given the
opportunity to do this in Manila
makes it even sweeter. It also gives
me the chance to work with some of
my favorite Filipino artists, Lea
Salonga and Martin Nievera. We
have shared the stage over the
years in the Philippines and in the
United States, and I'm glad we're
doing it now for a great cause.
Hopefully this benefit show will
raise substantial money.
Is it true that you are bringing a
house design for the storm
The house design is provided
by Habitat for Humanity. What I am
bringing in are furnishings for the
house interiors. My dear friend
Marguerite Lhuillier, who creates
beautiful furniture at her factory in
Cebu, has consented to work with
me along with a marvelous
designer, Butch Carungay; we will
PATTI Austin: “My goal is to bring peace, joy and hope for a better future.”
come up with a simple,
comfortable, modular form of
furniture that is cost-efficient. I
hope that Habitat will like the idea.
Eve n t u a l ly w e' d l i ke t o
manufacture this modular
furniture for the public, with a
percentage of sales to go to Habitat
for the rehabilitation of the Visayas.
We plan to donate the first
prototype of this furniture for the
interior of the first home from our
fundraising efforts. I have been
involved in interior design for quite
some time now; I realize the
importance of creating soothing
environments, especially for
p e o p l e w h o h ave s u r v ive d
traumatic situations.
Can you recall an episode in
your own life in which you
experienced tragedy and loss? How
did you cope?
We had a house in Garrison, a
town in New York, that burned
down. My parents escaped just as
the entire roof was caving in. I did
not shed a tear because all I lost
were things. I must admit I used to
be materialistic, but after the fire I
realized how unimportant
everything was to me. The only
things I felt really bad about losing
were photos and some private
This point actually leads me to
something in connection with the
storm survivors. I know that many
people lost loved ones and photos
of their loved ones. It is very sad
when you've lost someone and
there's no image to remind you of
them. Since my parents died,
sometimes I actually cannot
conjure their image because I have
no more photos of them. So, I am
trying to come up with a way that
the storm survivors can have
images of their loved ones created
by artists who usually work for
police departments.
This can be done either
through mechanical assembly, or
computer-generated composites. If
anyone reading this has an idea on
how to do it, we would love to work
with you. We are looking for a
network of police artists who
would donate their time to fulfill
this mission.
Another tragedy for me is the
loss of my parents over a five-year
period. I adored both of them. They
were married for 50 years and they
were a great example of how to live,
love, laugh and be happy. Death is a
tricky tragedy to deal with, because
if you have a belief system in a
higher power and a higher place
that one goes to after dying, there is
no reason to fear it. Also, if you
believe that you will reunite with
that person, you will have a
different mind-set about losing
them. Still, it is difficult because you
will miss that person very much
while you're still alive.
How many times have you
performed in the Philippines and
what made each show special?
Since the 1980s I've performed
in the Philippines too many times
to remember at this point. As for
what made them special, I would
have to say that it's always about
the audience. The Filipino audience
seems to know every song I've ever
recorded; they will sing those
songs with you, exactly like you
sang them on the record, and they
will let you know if you stray from
what they love.
Better still, once the Filipino
audience loves you, you are forever
loved - it doesn't get any better than
that. I cannot wait to get to Manila
to feel some of that love again, and
give a whole bunch of it back. I want
to tell them, if you say you love me, I
love you more. Now let's support
the storm survivors with some real
good love from the Philippines. See
you all very soon!
The Yolanda benefit show,
“Brand New Day,” features Patti
Austin with Lea Salonga, Martin
Nievera and Richard Merk on Dec.
29 at the grand ballroom of Solaire
Resort and Casino, Aseana Ave.,
Parañaque City; to be followed by
“One Heart, One Voice,” also
starring Austin with guests Richard
Merk, Emcy Corteza, and the Sticky
Marian Rivera
pong tumatawag ako sa lahat ng mga
kakilala nating may kakayahang
tumulong. Malaking bagay po ito pag
naisakatuparan natin,” she said.
Bantayan Back-to-Sea Project
accepts cash donation through
Fairbank Account Number: 00102532-1, Account Name: Bantayan
Island Association of Hotels, Resorts,
Bars and Restaurants, Inc. and
Fairbank Account through PNB,
Account Number: 1431-00721-9,
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For your inquiries, you may reach
them through: GMA TV Central and
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Services Division: 0915-4416692.
Manila Bulletin
Rocco feels so blessed
Rocco Nacino
GMA Artist Center (GMAAC) talent Rocco
Nacino feels so blessed this 2013 and for good
reasons, most of all for his various TV
programs and movies, making him one
of the busiest actors today. Rocco is, of
course, currently portraying the role
of Jerry on “Akin Pa Rin Ang Bukas”
which topbills Lovi Poe.
Aside from the primetime series,
Rocco ventures into hosting as he
joins GMA News reporter and anchor
Mariz Umali on “Out Of Control,” which
started airing last Nov. 23. The show
tackles binge eating and social phobia,
And airs every Saturday afternoon. The
Kapuso heartthrob will also be visible on the
silver screen as he stars in the 2013 Metro
Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry “Pedro
C a l u n g s o d : B a t a n g M a r t i r.” “ K a h i t
nakakapagod at nakaka-drain, I feel
motivated. I'm excited and blessed to have
several projects. I get good and significant
roles so hindi ko dapat pabayaan ang mga
opportunities na ito. Kaya I'm thankful
ngayong 2013 for all the blessings that I've
been receiving,” Rocco shares. Recently,
Rocco's groundbreaking program “Bayan Ko”
was awarded at the Philippine Quill Awards
for Excellence and 2013 Catholic Mass Media
Awards (CMMA).
3 bravehearts
fought through
By Cedelf P. Tupas
NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar -Adversity brought out the best in
Karate-do fighter Ramon
Antonio Franco and trackster
Julius Nierras came to the 27th
Southeast Asian Games reeling
from the devastation wrought by
Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on their
respective hometowns.
Using the tragedy as
motivation, they left this sleepy
Burmese capital with gold medals
on their necks.
Tacloban-born Franco ruled
the -55 kg kumite last week for
karatedo's only gold medals, while
Nierras, who hails from Biliran,
Leyte, was part of the 4x400m
squad that blitzed past the field at
Wunna Theikdi Stadium.
“I guess somebody up there is
watching over me,” said Franco,
who was training in Iran when
Yolanda struck on Nov. 8.
“A l l t h o s e d i f f i c u l t i e s I
experienced in training and being
away from the family while the
storm hit Tacloban made me a
stronger person.”
The 32-year-old Nierras,
whose aunt was among those
missing because of the
supertyphoon, was already eyeing
retirement from the national team
after the SEA Games.
Those plans are on hold as he
hopes to help rebuild his family's
home in the province.
“The race is important to me,”
he said. “I need to show them that I
can still run. I need to renew my
There were other sob stories in
Team Philippines in the Games.
Iris Rañola, the double-gold
billiards winner in Palembang,
Indonesia, two years ago, woke up
to the news that her father had
passed away in Zamboanga City, a
couple of days before she was to
c o m p e t e
i n
t h e
9-ball event along with Rubilen
Billiards officials had given her
the choice to return home and
grieve with her family, but she
stayed on, opting to represent the
country. She eventually won the
women's 10-ball bronze.
“She (Rañola) didn't have to
stay, she didn't have to prove
herself,” said Amit, who won the
10-ball gold to go with her silver in
9-ball. “Just to be here and compete
for the country is worth more than
winning a gold.”
Fifa record 127th
spot for Azkals
By Cedelf P. Tupas
Reaping the rewards of playing
more matches the past two years,
the Philippines sustained its rise in
the FIFA rankings, finishing the
year on a record high of No. 127.
The Azkals also remained as
the top-ranked team in Southeast
Asia and climbed to 17th in Asia
after vaulting six notches up in the
rankings released recently.
Although they didn't play any
match this month, the Azkals still
compiled 218 points on the
strength of victories in the AFC
Challenge Cup Qualifiers, the
Philippine Peace Cup and the
friendly match against Hong Kong
last June.
“This is definitely a great way
to end the year,” said Azkals
manager Dan Palami, who is also
the national teams' committee
chair of the Philippine Football
Azkals manager Dan Palami
“We're hoping to sustain the
momentum next year as we
participate in two important
tournamentsthe Challenge Cup
finals and the AFF Suzuki Cup.”
The Azkals are seeking to
qualify to the continent's
showpiece event, the AFC Asian
Cup, for the first time when they
see action in the Challenge Cup in
May in the Maldives.
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 28
TMZ scores TKO of Pacquiao
By Percy D. Della
SACRAMENTO, California -Disdained for celebrity
journalism and gingerly credited
for being on the ball, TMZ scored
another scoop recently, this time
about the reported tax troubles
of world-renowned Filipino
boxer Manny Pacquiao.
While the major news
outlets felt uneasy to act, TMZa
website that hovers between
gossip and newsdug up
something on the Filipino
fighter, coming up with an
official notice from the Internal
Revenue Service known as Form
668Y, a Notice of Federal Tax
Prepared and signed a
month ago on Nov. 22 at the IRS
office in Glendale, a suburb of
Los Angeles, the document was
filed at the Los Angeles County
Recorder's office in Norwalk,
another satellite city of LA.
The form shows that
Pacquiao failed to pay taxes
totaling $18.3 million (about
P792 million) in the United
States from 2006 to 2010. The
fighter denies he owes Uncle
Sam taxes. His promoter, Bob
Arum, says the money were
withheld from Pacquiao's
earnings. Obviously, there is a
disconnect somewhere.
In any case, the IRS said “it is
giving notice that taxes
(including interest and
penalties) have been assessed
against” Emmanuel D. Pacquiao.
“We have made a demand for
payment of this liability but it
remains unpaid,” said the IRS.
“Therefore, there is a lien in favor
of the United States on all
property and rights to property
belonging to this taxpayer for the
amount of these taxes, and
additional penalties, interest
and cost that may accrue.”
With the document obtained
by the TMZ becoming viral
online, Pacquiao's corner
continues to negotiate with
Philippine tax authorities who
maintain he owes taxes for the
years he reportedly did not pay
in the US.
A treaty between the US and
PH prevents double taxation; but
for not showing proof he has
paid US taxes, Pacquiao's bank
assets were frozen by the chief
PH tax sheriff while the boxer
settles his tax obligations.
As a celebrity who resides in
LA while he fights in America,
Pacquiao is fair game for TMZ, so
named after the “Thirty Mile
Zone,” an area with a 50kilometer radius covering
Hollywood and environs. The
zone was part of an old studio
bylaw that dictated salary rates
for union workers in the movie
A celebrity news and
Hollywood rumor website with a
companion television series,
TMZ was started in 2005 by two
divisions of Warner Brothers. It
is one of the most heavily visited
websites on the planet.
It was created and is still
managed by lawyer-turnedtelevision reporter Harvey
Levin. While I was a state
information officer in LA in the
1980s, Harvey was a reporter for
KNXT, the local CBS television
Described by an online news
magazine as a “logical next step
over a line that was crossed by
paparazzi a long time ago,” TMZ
allegedly pays for story sources
and videos on a daily basis,
supplied by big paparazzi
agencies like X17 and Splash.
But despite the derision from
the mainstream media, TMZ has
broken its share of stories.
It was first to report about
Michael Jackson's death in 2009;
the first to file a story about the
45-day jail sentence of hotel heir
and part-time actress Paris
Hilton in 2007.
In 2006, TMZ broke the news
about actor Mel Gibson's arrest
for drunk driving and his alleged
anti-Semitic rant that ignited a
prolonged controversy later.
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 29
Now rich & famous,
Manny Pacquiao
recalls hard times
Mayweather: Pacquiao and
I are not on the same level
By Celest R. Flores
MANILA -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. claimed
that Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao
is just not on the same level as he is, which
could be another indication of how far apart
the negotiations are for the megafight.
The American boxer said in a video
interview with on Thursday,
Dec. 19 that as much as they are being
mentioned in the same breath in the boxing
world, he doesn't see Pacquiao as an equal.
“You know, a lot of times, it's hard to
make fights…when you got a guy that when
they keep trying to say, this guy Pacquiao is
on the same level as Floyd Mayweather, I say,
well, me, honestly, in my eyes, that's not
true,” he said.
Talks about a Mayweather-Pacquiao
fight, which has been shelved a couple of
times in the past five years as talks always
fell through, resounded anew after Pacquiao
got back on the winning track last November
against Brandon Rios.
Shortly after that comeback win,
Pacquiao, who celebrated his 35th birthday
last December 17, said that he is willing to
fight anybody. “My job is to fight and I will
fight anybody who will fight me. I am willing
to fight Floyd so it's up to him,” Pacquiao said
in an interview.
But with Pacquiao's clash against Rios in
China only generating 450,000 pay-perviews buys, paling in comparison to his
defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in 2012
which hit 1.15 million, it would be harder to
negotiate for an even purse.
Manny Pacquiao
By Nick Giongco
Floyd Mayweather Jr. AP FILE PHOTO
And Mayweather is well aware of his
edge in PPV numbers, drawing as much as
2.2 million buys against Saul Canelo last
“My pay-per-view number still is the
best of any fighter in the history of the sport,”
Mayweather said in the same interview
posted on YouTube.
While he knows Pacquiao is more
commercially successful, with
endorsements left and right, here and in the
United States, Mayweather also said that it
wasn't the gauge of greatness.
“I didn't need a Nike check on my back, I
didn't need a Nike Commercial. I didn't need
a Hennessy commercial,” said the
undefeated 36-year-old boxer.
“But still, once we did our homework, we
look at the numbers, Floyd didn't need Nike.
I never needed Nike or Hennesy, to run me a
hundred thousand commercials, 'cause that
still don't define greatness.”
HOW TO PLAY: Place a number from 1 to 9 in each empty cell so that each
row, each column and each 3x3 block contains all the numbers from 1 to 9
Solution to Issue 50 Sudoku
Solution to Issue 50 Crossword
The atmosphere Friday, Dec. 20 in his
Forbes Park mansion was subdued as a small
number of visitors listened intently to every
word that came out of his mouth. The soft light
had something to do with the ambience as
Manny Pacquiao reminisced about the days
when he had to walk almost bare-feet for
several miles under the blazing afternoon sun
selling either ice cream or doughnuts to
guarantee that there'd be food on the table.
A few days before Christmas, Pacquiao
could not help but look back to the time when
the mere mention of food made him drool in
excitement. Now, with exotic and expensive
food laid out on the long table, Pacquiao no
longer goes the extra mile in making sure
there'd be something to chew on. Whatever he
fancies or craves for end up being served on
his plate pronto just like the lobster and other
seafood specialties that he just had.
“Life was hard back when I was growing
up in General Santos,” said Pacquiao, who
even moonlighted as a distributor of garlic
and pepper in the local market while mother
Dionisia earned a few pesos repacking fish
crackers in plastic sachets.
The small crowd was made up of
Sarangani governor Steve Solon, aide Joe
Ramos and wife Joan and a handful more
onlookers and as the dinner ended, just about
everyone was moved by Pacquiao's sob story.
“I never thought that I would be
somebody,” said Pacquiao, who was lured into
boxing by an uncle who had a stack of
videotapes starring Mike Tyson, George
Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard.
Pacquiao said he got P100 during his first
amateur fight and about P1,000 when he was
still a four-rounder in the mid-1990s.
Those days are now long gone and
Pacquiao has millions in dollars in the bank
and countless properties even though he is
currently trying to fight off the taxman here
and abroad. Pacquiao doesn't seem to mind
that he is facing the toughest fight of his
storied career as he looks forward to his fight
in April or May 2014 against a foe yet to be
Floyd Mayweather remains in his mind
although he might end up facing Juan Manuel
Marquez or Tim Bradley. But five weeks
removed from his last fight, Pacquiao isn't
thinking much about boxing.
“I just fought so let us all have a break and
enjoy the holidays,” said Pacquiao, who beat
Brandon Rios in Macau. There was still a
sizable portion of lobster left untouched as
well as a plateful of vegetables, beef stew and
squid and crabs that had turned cold as
Pacquiao stood from his chair.
The scene was a far cry from the time
when Pacquiao and his siblings and parents
had dined on watery rice porridge. Manila
Help Wanted
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 30
Personal u
fabrication workers,
polishing, installations.
Insurance, good pay.
FULL TIME only. Work
Permit a must.
Call 201-527-6199 Rich
Estd. Garment
Import Company in
Mid town
Manhattan seeks
female assistant
with excellent
computer and
skills and able to
do multi task. Must
be organized.
CNC operators for busy
stone fabricator.
Experience helpful but
we'll train right person
with some CAD skills.
Work Permit a must.
Call 201-527-6199 Rich
Helpers and Foreman.
Experience helpful.
Good pay, FULL TIME.
Work Permit a must.
Ridgefield Park, NJ
Call 201-527-6199 Rich
Email resume,
Attn. President:
[email protected]om
Two Bedrooms
All inclusive
Please do not
send photos.
555 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
Contact person: Joy
Phone: 201-234-7152
Email: [email protected]
Good Salary
Fax resume:
Fully furnished salon and spa
located in busy section of
Jersey City
Line Cook
Email resumes:
[email protected]
West Side Avenue
Jersey City
One Bedroom
Apartment with
3 bedrooms, 2
baths and parking
Gani Morales
The Filipino Express is only
$40 a year for 52 issues
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 31
As the
new year renews
all the happiness and
good tidings, hope the
joyful spirit keeps
glowing in your heart
Dec. 27, 2013 - Jan. 2, 2014 Page 32