Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Will the world end before Christmas?

The Mayans say that the world will end on the 21st of December this year. There have been a number of failed predictions about the end of the world though which makes the Mayan doomsday schedule just one of those things that some people like to talk about. 

Montanus, who claimed he is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit said that the end of times were near. The word “near” is relative of course.

Before year 1000, many went out of their way to go to Jerusalem hoping to be saved because a rumormonger –a good one at that- said the world will end in the year 1000. The world didn’t end in 1000 of course –we are still here.

Charles Wesley of the Methodist Church

Methodist church founder Charles Wesley believed that the world was to end in 1794 while his brother claimed that the Great Beast would arrive in 1836 and that this event will cause the world to end. The brothers Wesley were wrong.

Jehovah’s Witness and The End of Days

Jehovah’s Witness –a religion, is probably the biggest fan of the end of the world because they predicted that the world will come to an end in 1914 and when it didn’t they said it would be in 1915. They released the same prediction three years later then the same prediction for 1920, and yet another in 1925. They also predicted that the world will end in 1941 –it did not of course but the group did not stop –they said the world will end in 1975 and when that didn’t happen, they waited for almost two decades to release the same prediction. Old habits never die it seems.

Joanna Southcott, Servant Woman’s Box

Joanna Southcott, a self-proclaimed mystic believed that she will give birth to the Messiah and when she does, the world will end. Southcott said at the time of her prediction that she’s due on October 19, 1814 –she was 64. While this would have been a milestone in medical history in terms of pregnancies in old women, historians believe that Joanna was never pregnant.  

So the day came and went and the world did not end. Two months later however, it did end –for Joanna at least. When she died two months after October of 1814, Joanna’s followers said that the mystic left a sealed box that should only be opened when 24 Anglican Bishops gather together to open it.

William Miller and the Great Disappointment

William Miller founded the Millerite movement which later on became known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church. According to Miller, Jesus Christ was scheduled to come to earth between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. The schedule was not followed by Jesus Christ though and Miller died waiting.

What do the Seventh-day Adventist Church say about this? They say that Miller’s prediction was correct but the event did not happen on earth but in heaven.

Haley’s Comet, Planetary Conjunction, The Jupiter Effect, Hale-Bopp, and Y2K

Science made a grave mistake in 1910 when they thought that Haley’s comet will come with a poisonous gas that year. Nine years later, a respected meteorologist named Albert Porta said that the conjunction of six planets will puncture the sun which would then lead to a series of explosions. When Porta released this information to the public, mob violence followed while some committed suicide. Porta lost his job. Thankfully he got another job later on. Porta became a weather columnist.

The Jupiter Effect was a theory written by two astrophysicists –Stephen Plagemann and John Gribben. They said that the aligning of the planets in our solar system will cause major natural disasters. No major catastrophe happened but the tide was 0.04 mm higher than normal. The tide was high but we held on

Hale-Bopp, a comet, dreamt of being the “star” when it appeared visible to the naked eye for 18 months. An amateur astronomer stole the show though and said that he saw another object following the comet. 

Chuck Shramek, the astronomer, promptly called a radio show to release his “findings”. 

Although Shramek’s intention was not to cause any type of commotion, the Heaven’s Gate cult believed that the object following the comet was the spaceship that would pick them up from earth so that they could go back to their original home. The cult committed mass suicide in early 1997. No one knows where their supposed home is since mankind has been looking for an alien race for decades. A Facebook post has confirmed though that aliens do exist [see below].

By the year 1999, many feared that Nostradamus’ end of days prediction would happen. Many read into Nostradamus’ words and assumed that the King of Terror will descend on the earth killing everything and everyone in it –the King of Terror being the Cassini probe as interpreted by Nostradamus fans.

Nostradamus, a pharmacist, probably inhaled a few things to see the future. Nostradamus’ drug use aside, many say that some of his predictions were quite accurate but the one in 1999 was definitely just something he dreamt up. The year came and went and the probe did not descend.

Doomsayers never tire of this end of the world issue though and just a year later, some people were scrambling to prepare for Y2K.

The whole hoopla about the Mayan prediction was incensed when documentaries about it were shown on television and many a gurus from the world over started writing guidelines on how to perform an out-of-body experience to remove oneself from all the destruction that will happen to the whole of the earth when D-Day comes.

A few years back, stories about the Planet Nibiru came about even if the story of Nibiru is more like another installation of the movie Alien Vs. Predator. But because this is such an interesting subject I started digging –not literally of course because a lot of resources are needed in such an activity. I chanced upon a book called Hercolubus/Nibiru written by Zecharia Sitchin. Sitchin,  who passed away in 2010, said in many of his works that human origins involved ancient astronauts –specifically ancient astronauts from the Anunnaki alien race. The Anunnaki come from the planet Nibiru – a planet which Sitchin believes is a part of our solar system but traverses elliptically –the very reason why we’ve never seen it. 

He associates what happened to Noah, his ark, and the pairs of animals that surprisingly entered the ark without hesitation to a close encounter of the planet Nibiru. Sitchin said that Nibiru will come near Earth again.

I got to have a copy of the book in 2009, a year before Sitchin’s death and I remember reading a note by Sitchin himself that the book will be sent to anywhere in the world –to anyone who wants to learn more about Nibiru for free because his wish is for all of us to survive the destruction that Nibiru will cause. 

Curious, I gave his office my home address and a week later, I got mail straight from Spain. The  book is interesting but as one would expect, the ideas of the Azerbaijani-born author were rejected by the academe; describing his work as a mishmash of pseudoscience and pseudohistory.

Just the other day, some people on the social networking site Facebook started posting about the end of the world. No one really knows when the world will end though but if scientists are right this time, there might be major changes –so major these changes can include obliterating you or me or the person you do not like or the person you really like from the face of the earth.
Whichever the case, you can choose your plan of action –prepare your bucket list and do all that before the 21st of December or prepare a doomsday survival kit or just go on with your life.

One last note though, the Mayans predicted the end of the world but never saw the Spanish coming.

Article written by: Sigrid Salucop

Friday, November 30, 2012

Philippines won't stamp Chinese passports

Sino-Filipino territorial dispute ensues as China puts a new map of the country that includes islands that are part of the Philippines as well as other places being claimed by India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam.

The Department of Foreign Affairs told the media that personnel from the Bureau of Immigration will only stamp a visa application form from Chinese nationals and not their passports.

This is a form of protest from the Republic of the Philippines because stamping the new Chinese passport might be misconstrued as the country’s agreement to the Chinese claim over parts of the South China Sea.

A formal protest letter was already sent by Albert del Rosario, the Philippines’ Foreign Secretary to address the issue. 

Photo via Associated Press

Monday, November 26, 2012

UP welcomes the AGT

Philippine Railways confirmed on Sunday that the first Filipino-built Automated Guideway Transit or AGT has already arrived in the University of the Philippines’ main campus.

Bearing the logo of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and UP’s seal, the blue and white train will be used for the test runs on an elevated track as high as 500 meters, according to reports.

The AGT prototype will be tested on a curved and circular track inside the university. A previous test was done on a straight track but the train used for the test is an earlier version of the AGT. 

While many are excited that the monorail system project is on its final test stages, many members of the UP community are now wondering what will happen to the iconic Ikot.(Photo via UP.ed.ph)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

14 PNP personnel dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed to the media recently that it has stood pat on its decision on dismissing 14 PNP officials and personnel for their involvement in the PNP helicopters procurement case. The Ombudsman added that six others were also suspended for six months because of this. 

The Order was signed on November 19, 2012 even if Motions for Reconsideration were filed. These motions were denied, according to the Office of the Ombudsman, due to the failure of presenting new evidence that will materialy affect the decision. 

The case arose from the Philippine National Police's helicopter purchase amounting to P104, 985, 000 in the years 2009 and 2010 from MAPTRA - a company that did not possess the financial and technical eligibility required by Philippine law. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

7 Interesting Facts About Philippine History and Historical Figures

There are a number of things about Philippine history that we have either forgotten about or do not know of. These are a few of those things: 

1. Malvar the Orange Farmer 

Miguel Malvar, the last Philippine general to surrender to the American troops, was an orange farmer before he took up arms against colonizers. 

2. Goyo was a playboy. 

Gregorio del Pilar fondly called Goyo by his peers was a good looking lad and he made sure his good looks was put to good use. Historians have confirmed that Goyo was a playboy and had girlfriends in every town he went to. Could it be that the term manggogoyo in the vernacular came from the general’s nickname Goyo? 

3. Rizal's mom was sent to jail. 

 Doña Teodora, Rizal’s mother did some jail time when she was accused by a relative that Teodora tried to poison her. 

She was only released when the Governor-General fell in love with Rizal’s sister Soledad. According to accounts, when the Governor-General asked the young woman what he could give to her as a gift, Soledad immediately said,”Mi madre”

4. The Code of Kalantiaw is a forgery. 

The Code of Kalantiaw although considered as a disputed document by Teodoro Agoncillo is a forgery. The forger? Jose E. Marco. Marco, who considered himself a historian, forged a  number of documents including the Code of Kalantiaw. 

Today, there are still many who believe that the code actually existed. Marco continued to forge documents until the year of his death. 


Sulat sa Tanso by Hector Santos 

Kalantiaw The Hoax

5. Yes, they dated albeit briefly.

Before she married strongman Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda briefly dated Ninoy Aquino. (Source: The Imelda Marcos Story –As Told by David Byrne )

6. Rizal was a Nazi - a grammar Nazi.

Rizal was a grammar Nazi but in a nice way. In his letter to his nephew Alfredo, he wrote, “Your letter pleased me very much… I congratulate you on your excellent grade. I believe it is my duty to call your attention to a little mistake you have committed in your letter, a mistake that many commit in society. One does not say ‘I and my brothers greet you’ but ‘My brothers and I greet you.’ You must always put yourself in the last place; you should say, ‘Emilio and I; You and I; My friend and I’ etc.”

Source: Jose Rizal’s 150th Year: To Outlive One’s Name by Denise Roco

7. Bruce Willis looks like Douglas McArthur

Yes, he returned. Again. 

No citation needed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ombudsman wins case against former Unisan Mayor Alpay

The Sandiganbayan convicted former Unisan, Quezon Province mayor Cesar Alpay for graft charges arising fro the unlawful diversion of the Php 1 million Social Fund of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from its intended use as cash loans to farmers in 2003.

In the 75-page November 7, 2012 decision penned by Associate Justice Gregory Ong and concurred in by Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Maria Cristina Cornejo, the anti-graft court’s Fourth Division found Alpay guilty of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and sentenced him to: (a) suffer an indeterminate penalty of imprisonment from 6 years and 1 month, as minimum, to 10 years, as maximum; (b) suffer all the appropriate accessory penalties consequent thereto, including perpetual disqualification from public office; and (c) pay the costs.

 Alpay was indicted with graft for causing undue injury to the government for using the P1-million peso social fund under the "Isang Bayan, Isang Produkto, Isang Milyong Pisong Programa ni Pangulong GMA" to buy hand tractors amounting to P459,110, and motor engines for bancas amounting to P418,200 for a total of P877,310, without the benefit of public bidding and without the required supporting documents.

The fund was intended as cash loans to deserving Micro and Medium Scale Enterprises or entrepreneurs or farmers.

 In its ruling, the Sandiganbayan stated that the evidence is clear that the amounts given to the farmers/ fishermen-beneficiaries were not paid. Instead, they were outrightly given cash, but were not required to repay the amounts separately given to them.

This is contrary to the clear directive of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 176, which requires loans to be paid within 5 years for long-term loans and within one year for short-term loans.
 “We find as sufficient the prosecution evidence to support a conclusion that there was evident bad faith,” the ruling said.

 According to the court, the eventual release and distribution of the amounts took place on June 30, 2003, “the last day of the term of office of accused Mayor Alpay who was, obviously, aware that another duly-elected mayor will be taking over the helm of his office on the day following.”

“Accused Mayor Alpay simply cannot feign ignorance of the requirements under Executive Order No. 176, particularly on the need for the amounts released to the farmers/ fishermen-beneficiaries to be repaid by them,” the decision stated.

Media Affairs Bureau (MAB)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Of Godfathers and Family Affairs

A wedding photo of Ninoy Aquino and 
Cory Aquino. Cory is deemed as a 
democracy icon. She rose to power 
after her husband's 
assassination; serving as President of the 
Philippines from 1986 to 1992. Her son
Noynoy is the incumbent President.

by Sigrid Salucop

“It’s not what you know but who you know,” a department head in one of Metro Manila’s city governments said when a friend asked him why a qualified applicant didn’t get the job. The padrino[i] system, a long-surviving “tradition” in Philippine society is just one of the many problems the Southeast Asian nation has.

With politicians now filing their candidacy for next year’s election, a Political Science graduate from the University of the Philippines in Diliman said sarcastically that the senatorial hopefuls are like the cast of Jersey Shore referring to a reality TV series that hit the airwaves in 2009 and much like Jersey Shore, the list of senatoriables included quite a few candidates that have a history of foolhardiness.  

This kind of lineup of senatorial hopefuls is so common in the Philippine setting that it has already become natural and expected. What really counts above anything else in this country is name recall. Of course a bit of personal wealth stashed for the campaign period helps too.

Imelda Marcos and Joseph Estrada are classic examples –not that they can be classified as inane because they  have done quite a bit for the Filipino people- possibly even more than what their critics have contributed. There are however other similarities according to Kate McGeown of the BBC.

Actor-turned-politician Joseph Estrada served as Mayor in 
the city of San Juan for 17 years.
The two have been driven away from the presidential palace -Mrs. Marcos being the wife of deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos and Estrada during his term as president. The two faced very lengthy trials as well yet they have made quite a comeback in Philippine politics. (McGeown, 2012)

The predominantly Christian nation has citizens who are very forgiving and these citizens tend to forget scandalous national issues (Philippine Star, 2009) but blaming this on our culture will not solve anything. However, there is still a need to address these problems and if one cannot solve them, it is better to talk about them and get these problems out in the open so that others could think of ways to somehow be rid of them.

A Family Affair

Now 75-years-old, the former actor and infamous playboy Joseph Estrada wants to be the mayor of the Philippine capital but this isn’t the end of the story or the beginning however one would prefer it because there are two Estradas running for office. A son of the former president is hoping to join his half brother in the senate.

A family photo of the Marcoses taken in the 1960s.

Marcos on the other hand has a son in the senate and a daughter who is a governor. It’s not just the Estradas or the Marcoses that made politics a family affair though –a number of other political families before them as well as their contemporaries are doing the same and have been doing so for decades making Philippine politics some sort of family business.

The young Gloria Macapagal with father Diosdado
Macapagal who served as Philippine President from
1961 to 1965. His daughter Gloria rose to power when
 Joseph Estrada was forced out of the Palace in 1998.
 She served as President of the Philippines from 1998
to 2010. Gloria also has a son serving in congress.
Political dynasties are quite apparent in the Philippine setting but this pseudo tradition is not confined in the tropical islands. India has its Gandhis for example while the United States has the Bushes and the Kennedys.

A cousin of President Benigno Aquino Bam Aquino who recently filed for his candidacy in the senate said in an interview that his family ties are a great help. One would argue that there are also a few good men who belong to political dynasties and these men should definitely not stay in the sidelines because who else will get the dirty job done? Another major concern is determining what kind of damage political dynasties have inflicted on the Philippines if such a practice inflict any damage at all. (McGeown, 2012)

The injury that this kind of system does to the country is already quite apparent but what is worrisome is the long term damage of not letting non-elite Filipinos to grow and develop leadership skills. Filipino political analyst Marites Vitug said in an interview that this system, “..stifles politics.”

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) does not have the power to stop anyone from running for office and this includes members of political families. Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brilliantes said they are just leaving it to the voters to put an end to political dysnasties. (Jaymalin, 2012)

Private Citizen Files A Petition Against Political Dynasties 

A private citizen by the name of Louis Biraogo filed a petition for the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections to outlaw the bids for office of individuals who are members of political dynasties. The 26-page petition cites Section 26, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. (Jaymalin, 2012)

Louis Biraogo a resident of Biñan, Laguna also filed a petition versus the Philippine Truth Commission through the Supreme Court in 2010 and even went against the Supreme Court a year before regarding a case against Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong. (Cruz, 2009)

Vice President Jejomar Binay's son is the 
Mayor of Makati -the country's financial
capital while his eldest daughter is 
running for a senate seat.

Doing The Shuffle

While there is a term limit to hold public office in accordance to the fundamental laws of the land, what political families in the Philippines do is a reshuffling of family members i.e. former-senator-father runs for congress replacing his son, the son on the other hand runs for mayor while his sister bids for a senate seat –making a mockery of the constitution.

In an opinion piece written for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Prof. Solita Monsod said that one idea to get rid of these dynasties is for Filipinos to not vote for candidates whose last name is the same as or is related to a public official. Monsod also added that there should be no exceptions.

In the last paragraph of her piece, the professor wrote, “There may be collateral damage, but the benefits to the country far outweigh the costs. And the message will be unmistakable.” (Monsod, 2012)

Competence And Its Invisible Transfer

Despite the insistence of Filipinos that the Philippines is a vibrant democracy, the political dynasties are a good example that the country is still feudal at its core.

There are a few exceptions of course and one of them is the late Interior Secretary Jess Robredo. Robredo, who died in a plane crash, rose up the ranks because he was hardworking and competent. Public mourning for Robredo was widespread which then led some of his supporters to urge Robredo’s widow to run for office. While his widow's bid for a seat in the Lower House is something that many Robredo fans are quite happy about, one can see how inconsistent Filipinos are with their stand on political dynasties.

German political analyst Hans Zeiler who has seen the campaign frenzy in the country too many times said during his interview with the Diliman Diary, “The widespread ignorance of the Filipino majority is one of the many predicaments the Philippines has. When a Philippine associate translated the comments of voters to me while watching a parade of politicians waving to their supporters, I realized that appearance and name recall, in many instances, take in votes more than capability or knowledge and this I have seen and confirmed later on in my years this country.”

Senate Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano
and his sister, Sen. Pia Cayetano.
“It is very sad,” Zeiler said. “The Philippines has so much potential but you cannot blame those who no longer believe things will ever change because only the powerful and the rich have the capability to run for higher office and they do this with much bravado and utter shamelessness. Being the son or daughter of an incumbent public official by no means transfers the legacy of a good leader. It does not give you the right to run for office because your father before you did a good job while serving in the senate or congress or whatever public office. This does not mean that you should be entitled to the same thing. A person’s mental capacity is not the same as one’s father or mother, you can either be better or a cheap imitation of your parents,” he added.

When asked about his opinion on popularity being one of the major reasons candidates are elected to public office, the 54-year-old Zeiler said, “You may have name recall and the means to fund a campaign but most of these candidates do not have the capability to hold public office. They seem to do this for prestige, power, and influence and once elected, the people get nothing in return but the people say, maybe, hopefully, there will be public service. A modern, educated, and stable country like Germany would never let itself come to such a low point and make a disgrace out of the country. It halts political forwardness.”


References/Works Cited

Asako, Y., Iida, T., Matsubayashi, T., & Ueda, M. (2012). Dynastic politicians: Theory and evidence from Japan. Waseda University Organization for Japan-US Studies Working Paper No. 201201. 

Coronel, S. (2007). The seven Ms of dynasty building. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Web site. 

Cruz, N. (2009, January 14). Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved October 24, 2012, from Inquirer: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090114-183180/The-strange-story-of-Louis-Biraogo

Dal Bo, E., Dal Bo, P. & Snyder, J. (2009). Political dynasties. Review of Economic Studies 76(1):115-142. Retrieved from Review of Economic Studies Web site.

GMA News Online. (2007, June 29). 75% sa bagong Kongreso mula sa political dynasty

Hutchcroft, P., & Rocamora, J. (2003). Strong demands and weak institutions: The origins and evolution of democratic deficit in the Philippines. Journal of East Asian Studies 3.

Jaymalin, M. (2012, October 22). Comelec: Only voters can stop political dynasties . Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines.

McCoy, A. (1994). An anarchy of families: State and family in the Philippines. (Ed.). Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. 

McGeown, K. (2012, October 23). BBC News. Retrieved October 23, 2012, from BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19994432

Monsod, S. (2012, October 5). Voters must stop the political dynasties. Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines.

Philippine Star. (2009). Do you agree that Filipinos have short memories?

Teehankee, J. (2007). And the clans play on. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved from Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism Web site.

Photo Credits

The Presidential Museum and Library

More Information

[i] Godfather

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

U.P. Press Book Sale: November 5 to December 14, 2012

Don't forget to mark your calendars for the book sale. Keep on sharing the news! Thanks everyone!

For more information call: Team UP Press Marketing Division. +6329266642

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sting cancels with Mall of Asia

Every Breath You Take - The Police

Former frontman of New Wave band The Police Sting forced his organizers to move his December 9 concert in the country to the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City instead of holding it at the Arena.

 “It’s something that we did not expect,” says the Arena’s General Manager Arnel Gonzales.

The uprooting of pine trees in the SM Baguio property caused quite a stir among environmentalists earlier this year leading to a boycott of the mall chain. 

Sting announced in his website www.sting.com that he moved the concert to another venue because of this issue.

The British singer is an activist who works closely with Amnesty International.  

More Information

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If Shoes Could Cry

A BBC report said that Imelda Marcos’ famed shoes –at least the ones that she left when she and her dictator husband hurriedly left the Philippines- are now ruined. Now a congresswoman, the former Philippine First Lady whose ostentatious extravagance resulted to the coinage of the word Imeldific, was not available to comment on the matter.

Termites, a series of typhoons, neglect and possibly hatred for the Marcoses resulted to damaged shoes, bags, and apparel. The late dictator’s formal native wear were also seen covered in mold for being stored in the Philippine capital’s National Museum without protection.
The former First Lady and her husband left staggering amounts of personal belongings says the BBC report and this includes a total of 1, 220 pairs of shoes.

It is interesting to note that Imelda Marcos donated a pair of shoes in a New York auction before and it fetched $10, 000 –something that Philippine officials should have kept in mind when they took Imelda’s shoes for “safekeeping”.

Over a hundred cartons of clothes, shoes, and accessories were transferred to the museum when they started showing signs of damage while in Malacañang during democracy icon Cory Aquino’s administration. They deteriorated further after being kept in an abandoned hall of the museum.

Photos via bild.de

Monday, September 24, 2012

History of the Philippine Islands in Inforaphics

Photo Credits:

rey imperial


Timeline: Philippine History

The Cultural Influences of India, China, Arabia, and Japan

Philippine History (Halili, 2004)

Philippines - The Malolos Constitution and the Treaty of Paris

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Twitter Life of Hashtag UAAP75

UP Pep Squad shaves to symbolize freedom

The UP Pep Squad were sporting shaved heads in yesterday's Cheerdance Competition wowing the crowd yet again for being different. Although their routine wasn't flawless thanks to that last second fall, the UP Pep Squad still outperformed its rivals. 

The performance (and their shaved heads) dedicated to the university is the squad's way of showing other universities that UP is fearless. 

UP students and alumni on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter kept posting "Freedom" on their status boxes during the UP Pep Squad's performance. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

SALN Rules Changed -Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman announced to the media this morning that SALN rules have changed. The shift from “Everything is secret unless allowed” to “Everything is open unless restricted” means that the SALNs of public officials will now be treated as public documents.

The issue of the SALN only came about during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona and has been a household term ever since.

Corona was impeached by the lower house on December 12, 2011 and found guilty by the Senate on May 29th the next year. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pacquiao v. Marquez on December 8

Philippine boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao's coach confirmed on Friday that Pacman will fight Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez in December. 

The two will embark on a media tour in three cities before the fight itself. The fight scheduled for December is the fourth fight between Marquez and Pacquiao and it will take place at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.

Miguel Cotto was supposed to have another match with Pacquiao this year but the Puerto Rican announced that he will fight Austin Trout on December 1st.

Sources say that Pacquiao's party is also negotiating a rematch against Tim Bradley. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

List of Complaints Against China: A Backgrounder

The territorial disputes in Asia has been getting a lot of media attention this year but a few years back, such disagreements over these small pieces of land were never broadcasted by international media outlets. 

With Washington sending Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to talk to Asian nations involved in the territorial brawl, Beijing made it clear that its government is not happy with the US’s move.

In recent years, China’s rise as an economic power not only in the region but in the world has made its neighbors more concerned about the disputes than before. This “nervousness” is not unfounded however considering that the list of complaints against China is a bit lengthy.

In the year 1974, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drove Vietnam from Paracel Islands. In the year 1988, the same group took Johnson South Reef from the Vietnamese. By the 1990s, China took Mischief Reef from the Philippines without a fight. Over a decade later, the USNS Impeccable sitting in its exclusive economic zone was confronted by a Chinese fleet. In 2010, Japan reported that the Chinese limited rare earth metal exports to the former. A year later, the Vietnamese government reported that Chinese paramilitary vessels purposely severed survey cables behind its exploration vessels. This year, the Philippines said the Chinese used coercive economic diplomacy in the heat of the Scarborough Shoal mêlée.

While this list is a bit daunting and can scare regular folk, none of the claimants of these little pieces of land are considering a conflict-based approach. 

Photo: Reuters


Philippine growth rate ranks No.4 right behind China

A few days ago, the Philippines announced its gross domestic product (GDP) growth during the second quarter to be at 5.9 percent. The BBC covered this piece of news and so did the Financial Times, CNBC, and The Wall Street Journal.

How important is this piece of information that international news agencies are writing about it? The fact that the GDP growth of the country is right behind China’s 7.6 percent makes it newsworthy but before we all start celebrating, one must note that the country’s economy is ranked at no. 32 out of 35 based on its size.

In 2011, the Philippine economy’s size was equivalent to USD 225 billion but if one compares it to its neighbors Thailand and Indonesia with USD 345 billion and USD 846 billion respectively, there is a need for the Philippines to reach a growth rate of 6 percent and maintain that growth rate for it to improve its ranking in terms of economy size. 

Photo: Better Philippines

Mysterious insect discovered in the Philippines

A mysterious wingless insect has been discovered  in the Philippines recently. The spectacularly colored insect is said to live on the ground and vents a foul smell to drive away predators according to the scientists who found the insect.

Marco Gottardo, a PhD student in the University of Siena said that his colleague Oskar Conle, an entomologist showed him museum specimens of a mysterious-looking stick insect. The specimen is said to have been found on Mindoro’s Mount Halcon several years back. 

The stick insect has been given its own genus.  Gottardo said, little is known whether the insect is related to other stick and leaf insects. 

Photo: Oskar Conle

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Beijing increases territorial tensions

Hillary Clinton’s visit to the Chinese capital spiked tensions over territorial disputes between the Asian power and the countries around its coastline including Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines.

Last Monday while the US Secretary of State was in Indonesia, she reiterated that the purpose of her visit is for the region to resolve disagreements in a peaceful manner.

Beijing however reacted angrily to US involvement accusing Clinton’s office of “unfounded accusations”. 

The Fight For Birth Control

Manila, Philippines – Although the Philippines is a relatively modern nation in terms of its views, the country in the past few weeks has been experiencing a long-drawn debate on a controversial issue that is the Reproductive Health Bill.

In the midst of the monsoon that lasted almost two weeks last August,  Filipinos against the passing of the bill started posting on social networking site Facebook that “God’s wrath has befallen the country” even if the monsoon did not affect other parts of the Philippines.

Father Melvin Castro, the Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said, “Preventing fertilization is not a surgical but a chemical or medical abortion.” Castro also said that the government is dipping its toes in a territory beyond its authority and that it is “legislating an immoral law”.

Cecilia Lopez, a 52-year-old mother of 12 and a regular church-goer said in an interview with CNN that she does not agree with Castro. “When you use them, it’s not like you’ve sided with evil,” she added.

Philippine politics has suffered for decades because of the moral influence of the Catholic Church both on politicians and voters.

Solita Monsod stated, “Legislators are called on regularly by bishops, one by one, and some priests visit legislators in their districts, to convince them to drop support or strengthen their opposition to the bill.”

Photo: Women On The Road

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Philippine police arrests extremist for kidnapping

Alleged member of the extremist group Abu Sayyaf Abdul Jandul was arrested by Philippine authorities in Basilan Island yesterday.

Jandul who teaches Arabic in an Islamic school in the area had a bounty of Php 350, 000 on his head for his role in the abduction of 29 people including Claretian priest Rhoel Gallardo in March of 2000.

The police report states that most of the teachers and students that Jandul and his group captured were freed except for three teachers and Gallardo. The three allegedly died in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf.

The group created in the 90s has been blamed for many of the terror attacks in the country including mass kidnapping of locals and foreigners as well as bombings in the capital Manila. (Photo: VKB) 

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