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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pinoy software developer bags top spot in New York apps contest

Filipino Joel Natividad and Indian Sami Baig, creators of a software application called "NYCFacets," recently won the top spot in "NYC BigApps 3.0," an annual contest to create mobile and web apps using official New York City data.

A report of the news site New York Daily News in April said Natividad and Baig's application simplified the accessing of data on the city's NYC Open Data portal.

The two software developers will share the grand prize money of $10,000.

Brendon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost, a local tech startup which powered the competition, said the win gave Natividad and Baig the impetus to leave their former employers and launch their own NYC tech startup, Ontodia.

Out of 96 entries, 11 apps won prizes. The creators of the programs will share $50,000 in winnings. The apps they developed can be found at

Now on  on its third year, the contest is sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

According to New York Daily News, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said : "New York City is home to the smartest, most creative people, the most talented engineers and a budding technology community." 

The official website of the New York City Economic Development Corporation said the winners of the "NYC BigApps 3.0" are:

Best Overall Application

Grand Prize: NYCFacets - seeks to streamline and simplify the process for accessing, understanding, and utilizing the tremendous amount of data available in City’s NYC Open Data site. (Joel Natividad and Sami Baig)

Second Prize: Work+ - helps New Yorkers who traditionally work from home find nearby locations to work in their communities. (Steven Baughman, Xichuan Wang, Kota Kobayashi, Paul Bland, and Robbie Williams)

Popular Choice Award

Grand Prize: New York Trip Builder - a travel site that helps users personalize a trip in just a few quick steps. (Muku Pal, Shefali Sarangal, Charu Malhotra, and Vivek Puri)
Second Prize: Scene Near Me - provides alerts when users are near legendary New York City movie scenes. (Avinash Dabir, Luis Miranda, Dan Blumberg, and Dave Isenberg)
Investor’s Choice Award

The Funday Genie - an application designed to help users plan a free day in New York City. (Joe Foxton, Eran Lobl, Yonit Kariri, and Shirley Cohen-Mintz)
Best Mobility App

Embark NYC - an application designed to make taking the subway simple. (David Hodge, Taylor Malloy, and Ian Leighton)
Best Green App

596 Acres - a public education project aimed at making communities in Brooklyn aware of the land resources around them. (Eric Brelsford and Paula Segal)
Best Education App

Sage: Pre-K and Elementary Schools Search - a mobile application that enables parents to search by location for nearby NYC public Pre-K and elementary schools. (Edward Yau)
Best Health & Safety App Personal Safety App (Lite) for NYC - a personal emergency web mobile application which helps alert the nearest Police Precinct, provides a custom emergency phone number by SMS or provides a pre-scripted voice message or a custom email by simply pressing one Emergency Button. (John Yung)

Best NYC Mashup

Best Student Award

ParkAlly - an application which simplifies the search for available parking spots and eliminates the inconveniences associated with parking in heavily populated areas. (Zacharaiah Reitano and Mason Silber)
City Talent Award

Uhpartments - provides building maintenance reports for those users seeking apartments. (Sam Bauch)
- with Andrei Medina, VVP, GMA News

Filipino Catholic church in NYC to honor donors

MANILA, Philippines – The Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first and only Filipino Catholic Church in the United States, will pay tribute to its original donors whose names are newly inscribed on the foundation pillars in the church’s main lobby, and will be unveiled on Sunday, May 27, during the Holy Mass at 2:15 p.m..
This will be followed by the church’s annual Flores de Mayo festival, and a “living rosary” prayer service.
The Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz (formerly Holy Crucifix Church) was originally founded for the Italian Catholic community. However, in June 2005, under the auspices of Cardinal Edward Egan, former archbishop of New York, the church was dedicated to the Filipino community, and renamed Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, after the first Filipino Catholic martyr and saint.
Masses are held twice a week, in Filipino, Spanish, Italian, and English, usually by the church’s moderator, Father Joseph Marabe.
Although the masses are multilingual, the masses have a distinctly Filipino orientation. For example, some prayers and songs are said or sung in Tagalog, the national language of the Filipino people. Translations, in English, of the prayers and songs, are visible from a large overhead projector.
Two statues of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, brought directly from the Philippines, adorn the chapel, one at the entrance and one by the altar. Numerous representations of various saints and an icon of the Virgin Mother of Perpetual Help are also on display for veneration.
To welcome visitors, Filipino food is usually served, during hospitality hour, following the afternoon masses. During this time, there is fellowship and friendship shared among all the visitors, foreigners and Filipinos alike.
Lately, the chapel has been the site of prayerful events to bolster the faith of its surrounding communities, and of its Filipino parishioners, such as its emphasis on healing masses and devotions to the infant Jesus and Mary.
A few visitors, and the church’s current lay caretaker, have testified about healings, which took place after having prayed at the little chapel, and after having participated in the masses said for the sick.
For instance, on January 1, 2012, one Filipino woman, Elvy S. Rodil, testified that she was miraculously cured from a painful disorder of the central nervous system, fibromyalgia.
Apart from the support coming from the Archdiocese of New York, numerous private donors and devotees to Saint Lorenzo Ruiz raised seed money prior to the church’s renaming.
“These early donors have been one of the church’s 'pillars' through their financial support; the addition of their names, engraved on golden plates and attached to the body of the two symbolic pillars located at chapel’s entrance, expresses our heartfelt gratitude as a community,” Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD, Filipino Apostolate director and the chapel’s moderator, said in a statement.
All original benefactors are invited to attend the public unveiling of the chapel’s foundation pillars at the end of the month.

The Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz is located at 378 Broome Street (between Mulberry and Mott Streets) in Downtown Manhattan (You may take the No. 6 train to Spring Street). For inquiries, call 212-925-2428 or email
The face of the Chapel of San Lorenzy Ruiz in New York City. Photo by Oliver Oliveros

Palace makes last appeal to support Jessica

MANILA, Philippines – MalacaƱang has made its last appeal to Filipinos in the United States to give their full support to Filipino-Mexican-American singer Jessica Sanchez.
Sanchez will face off with Georgia native Phillip Phillips in the finale of hit American talent show “American Idol” on Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Manila).
In an interview with radio dzRB on Sunday, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Sanchez’s undeniable talent is more than enough for people to vote for the 16-year-old singer.
“We are asking our Filipino-Americans to vote and support Jessica. Kitang-kita naman ang kanyang galing at napakagandang boses,” he said.
Lacierda said it is overwhelming to know that Sanchez has an amazing and powerful voice at such a young age.
“Nakamamangha na 16 years old pa lang siya pero ang boses niya napakagaling. Iboto po natin siya,” he said.
Aside from voting, Lacierda said Filipinos should also pray for Sanchez to win the whole competition.
Early this week, President Aquino himself said he hopes Sanchez will win in the competition
Vice President Jejomar Binay also congratulated Sanchez and thanked Filipinos who voted for her, saying the support they gave is proof of the bayanihan spirit.
Sanchez is the first contestant of Asian and Latino descent to make it to the finale of “Idol.”
She is the first female to benefit from the “judges’ save” since the twist was first introduced in Season 8, and the first contestant saved by the judges to enter the finals.
If Sanchez wins, she will be the youngest winner of the show ever and will be the first female “Idol” since Jordin Sparks beat Blake Lewis in Season 6.

Somerhalder: 'I'm very happy to be in the Philippines'

MANILA, Philippines – American actor Ian Somerhalder, known for his role as Damon Salvatore in the hit series "The Vampire Diaries," arrived in Manila on Saturday to endorse Filipino clothing brand Penshoppe.
He will be joining Penshoppe's "All Stars" campaign along with Hollywood actors Zac Efron and Ed Westwick and Thai superstar Mario Maurer.
Somerhalder will stay in the Philippines for a week and he told ABS-CBN News how excited he is just by being in the country.
“It feels wonderful. This is a wonderful welcome. I love you guys! I’ve never been here so I’m excited to be here. The fans sound amazing already,” he said.
Somerhalder also said he would love to see the country's tourist destinations.
“Yeah, absolutely. Everybody has been wonderful. I want to go somewhere beautiful and hang out for a few days. I am [going to see tourist spots] because technically I’m a tourist,” he said.
According to rumors, Somerhalder will be flying to Palawan for a photoshoot.
In addition to this, Somerhalder said he would also love to try Filipino food.
“I’m excited [to try Filipino food] but I don’t know yet. I don’t have any reference points,” he said.
After his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last night, Somerhalder said he is “very happy to be in the Philippines!”
Somerhalder said he was overwhelmed by the warm welcome the Filipinos gave him at the airport.
“Hello Manila! Wow, what a greeting at airport -- THAT was a 1st I feel like 1 of the Beatles - Thank you for a warm welcome. You're bad for my ego!” he tweeted. - with reports from Gretchen Fullido, ABS-CBN News

How OFWs can avoid the money trap

This is the second of a two-part feature by Pru Life UK on the challenges overseas Filipino workers face when it comes to saving, and tips on how they can become more prudent with their finances.  

Part 1: Why OFWs have a hard time saving
MANILA, Philippines - It's not how much you earn, but how much you save. Pru Life UK Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Belle Tiongco recognizes the difficulties of saving.
"Saving is difficult for everyone except for those who are very disciplined.  There are people who have big incomes/salaries, and yet do not have substantial savings. It's not the size of the earnings, I think it's the extent of discipline that one has that determines his capacity to save," Tiongco said.
There is no universal mathematical formula to determine how much you can save, says Tiongco but there is an adage that OFWs can always rely on: needs vs. wants.
"For everything that costs money, you ask yourself: is this a need, or is it a want?  Needs have to be funded - food, clothing, and shelter, tuition, home rent, etc.  But vacations abroad, the upgrade on the iPhone, the new model of the laptop, the new camera, etc. - these are wants," she said.
"Everyone can study their cash flows and see where they can make changes so that they can ‘set aside’ something for savings."
Financial antidotes
So given the main reasons why OFWs have a hard time saving, what must they do in order to not fall in the money trap?
Control expenses back at home
Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio de Rosas said family members of the OFW have a major role to play. “Family members must itemize expenses before the remits.  Just sending them an allowance will rarely work unless your spouse who is left at home has proven to have managed household expenses well.”
He stressed: “tell your family to delay gratification and just because you are abroad, it does not mean they can now afford things they want but which they don't need.”
Control expenses abroad
OFWs should spend way below their means while away from their families. This may be hard, but it has to be done.
De Rosas explained: “You are abroad for a short time to save. Most OFWs dream to build a home for their families and quite a few would purchase businesses but less would think of delaying gratification for both the OFW abroad and their family at home to prioritize savings.”
Government intervention
Manpower agencies should shoulder the placement fees of the workers they will be sending abroad. “The government should pass a law prohibiting OFW employees from paying placement fees. They are shelling out precious money for something they shouldn’t be paying for in the first place,” he said.
"Financial education should also be stepped up before OFWs are deployed which would teach them how to allocate their financial resources to savings and expenses while working abroad.  Basic financial products of financial institutions which would help them achieve their financial goals should also be introduced to them.”
Be conservative financially
At the end of the day, both Pru Life UK officials agree that being prudent in their financial decisions is what will spell the difference for the OFWs.
It is hard to live abroad, away from the people that you sacrifice and work for and it is also up to the OFW to make sure that all their hardships will be worth it.
“Save first before spending.  In the long run, your stint abroad might not have been worth it if you end up with nothing, or even worse, debt in the end," Tiongco said.
Tiongco also gives the OFW a perspective to which to look at their current financial standing. “I don't believe there is a 'time limit' or a prescribed number of years for OFWs to work abroad.  There are so many opportunities, so many types of work, so many dreams to fulfill, that it's difficult to say when one's ‘tour of duty’ is over.”
"But one thing I would prescribe is that if you're an OFW, you ask yourself whether your family is more secure today, than they were in the past.  If you can answer this confidently, and positively, then the sacrifice will all be worth it."
Pru Life UK is a subsidiary of Prudential plc, a United Kingdom-registered company. Pru Life UK and Prudential plc are not affiliated with Prudential Financial, Inc. (a US-registered company), Philippine Prudential Life Insurance Company, Prudentialife Plans, Inc. or Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. (all Philippine-registered companies). Pru Life UK is a life insurance company and is not engaged in the business of selling pre-need plans.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jessica Sanchez makes history as first Asian-American Idol in Top 2

Even though she has not yet won the "American Idol" title, Filipino-Mexican-American contender Jessica Sanchez has already made history -- she is now the first Asian-American to reach the "American Idol" finale.

Sanchez, 16, will go up against Phillip Phillips, 21, of Leesburg, Georgia, in the finale on May 23 (May 24 a.m. in Manila).

If Sanchez wins, she will be the fifth female to win the title. The previous female winners are:

  • Kelly Clarkson (Season One);
  • Fantasia Barrino (Season Three);
  • Carrie Underwood (Season Four), and
  • Jordin Sparks (Season Six).

Sanchez will also be the youngest American Idol winner because Sparks (Season Six) and Scotty McCreery (Season Ten) both won the competition at age 17.

Apart from this, Sanchez will be the first "Idol" to come from California.

Sanchez will also be the first saved contestant to win the title. She received the lowest number of votes after her performance on April 12 but "American Idol" judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler, and Randy Jackson chose to use their one and only "save" of the season to keep Sanchez from being eliminated from the contest.

If Phillip Phillips wins...

On the other hand, if Phillips will win the competition, he will be the seventh male contestant to win the title.

It will be fifth consecutive year that a male has won the competition since 2008. The past male winners include:

  • Ruben Studdard (Season Two);
  • Taylor Hicks (Season Five);
  • David Cook (Season Seven);
  • Kris Allen (Season Eight),
  • Lee DeWyze (Season Nine), and
  • Scotty McCreery (Season Ten).

Phillips will also be the second youngest male "Idol" if he wins. The record for being the youngest male "American Idol" winner so far belongs to McCreery.

If he wins, Phillips will be the first winner from Georgia.

Past American Idol winners

The show's official website lists the ages and hometowns of the past winners:

Season 1
Kelly Clarkson
Age when she won: 20
Hometown: Burleson, TX

Season 2
Ruben Studdard
Age when he won: 25
Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Season 3
Fantasia Barrino
Age when she won: 19
Hometown High Point, NC

Season 4
Carrie Underwood
Age when she won: 21
Hometown: Checotah, OK

Season 5
Taylor Hicks
Age when he won: 29
Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Season 6
Jordin Sparks
Age when she won: 17
Hometown: Glendale, AZ

Season 7
David Cook
Age when he won: 25
Hometown: Blue Springs, MO

Season 8
Kris Allen
Age when he won: 23
Hometown: Conway, AR

Season 9
Lee DeWyze
Age when he won: 24
Hometown: Mount Prospect, IL

Season 10
Scotty McCreery
Age when he won: 17
Hometown: Garner, NC

- VVP, GMA News

Why OFWs have a hard time saving

This is the first of a two-part feature by Pru Life UK on the challenges overseas Filipino workers face when it comes to saving, and tips on how they can become more prudent with their finances. 
MANILA, Philippines - The overseas Filipinos worker (OFW) has long been heralded as the country’s new breed of heroes, and with good reason to do so. It takes strength, determination and a drive to have a better life for your families in order to survive working long hours in a foreign land – away from your family, friends and basically everything that you work for.
OFWs have also been cited as being major contributors to the Philippine economy for 2012. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), remittances from OFWs will grow further this year, and the government does not expect a drop in the demand for workers abroad real soon. For 2011, the Philippines was the fourth-largest remittance receiving country, with only India, China and Mexico topping the country in that category.
But on a more personal level, what should be ensured is that the sacrifices of these OFWs do not go to waste? Ideally, these overseas workers are working in order to give their families better lives – that implies having enough money to send their children to school, pay for their household expenses back at home while also having enough in their pockets to sustain their daily living in the foreign land they are in.
In the end, OFWs should have enough savings to invest and start a new life with when they go home. 
"OFWs leave the country for the promise of financial stability in the short and long term.  The financial goal should be that: stability for the future," said Pru Life UK Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Belle Tiongco.
"Stability is possible if you have enough funds for both aspirations (education, your own house or business) and unknowns (illnesses, accidents and other catastrophic events)."
The challenge of saving
The Philippines is not a savings-oriented country, according to Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio de Rosas, and this financial behavior is something that most OFWs will have to combat. 
"Our country's savings rate is one of the lowest in Asian region, and this is mostly due to a lack of financial literacy," he said. 
There are three main reasons why OFWs have a hard time saving:
A big number of the OFWs are already in debt even before they leave the country. Most manpower agencies would require the OFW to  pay for their placement fees which will usually take them about two years to settle.  
Since they live away from their families, OFWs tend to compensate for lost time by buying things for their family they don’t really need. De Rosas said: "since the breadwinner is not at home to manage the expenses, their families tend to just spend the allowance being given to them on a monthly basis without proper budgeting."
Cost of living abroad
What the OFW needs on a daily basis in the country where he or she is domiciled may cost more. This could also be a big hindrance to what they can save if they are not careful.
Pru Life UK is a subsidiary of Prudential plc, a United Kingdom-registered company. Pru Life UK and Prudential plc are not affiliated with Prudential Financial, Inc. (a US-registered company), Philippine Prudential Life Insurance Company, Prudentialife Plans, Inc. or Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. (all Philippine-registered companies). Pru Life UK is a life insurance company and is not engaged in the business of selling pre-need plans. 

Did Steven Tyler put Jessica Sanchez through the final?

MANILA, Philippines – Did Aerosmith front man Steve Tyler put Filipino-Mexican-American singer Jessica Sanchez to the finals of American Idol? 
Tyler, one of the 3 judges of the hit talent show, predicted that Sanchez would be the last person standing after hearing her subdued but stunning version of Mariah Carey's "My All.”
"When you sing, you make people hang on your every note," Tyler said.
He added: “I hope you get used to encores. And on another crazy note, I think you'll be the last person standing there." 
Tyler was also the only judge to give a standing ovation for Jessica for singing Tyler’s song “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.”
"You just took a great song and made it greater!” Tyler said.
Idol judge Jennifer Lopez said it was a big deal that Tyler liked Sanchez's rendition. She said the Aerosmith front man usually dislikes covers of his own songs.
Lopez also lauded what Sanchez did with the song’s last note. "That note at the end sent everyone to the heavens,” she said.
Fellow judge Randy Jackson applauded Sanchez for deciding to take tough hills to climb. “Dude, you delivered,” he said.
Sanchez has consistently received praise from the Idol judges. Last week, she received a standing ovation from the judges for her performance of the Broadway hit song “And I am Telling You.” 
Lopez earlier said she would like to see a Jessica Sanchez-Joshua Ledet final. 
However, her prediction did not come true as Ledet was eliminated from the competition. Sanchez is now part of Idol’s Final 2, opposite crooner Phillip Phillips.
She will be the first contestant of Filipino descent to make it to the finale of the popular reality television singing competition.

Plans to strike Iran "ready," says U.S. Israel envoy

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. plans for a possible military strike onIran are ready and the option is "fully available", the U.S. ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers which suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear arms.
Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.
"It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force," Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel's Army Radio on Thursday.
"But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available - not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready," said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.
The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been using sanctions and negotiations to try to persuade Iran to curb its uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for reactors, medical isotopes, and, at higher levels of purification, fissile material for warheads.
New talks opened in Istanbul last month and resume on May 23 in Baghdad.
Israel, which is widely assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, feels threatened by the prospect of its arch-foe Iran going nuclear and has hinted it could launch preemptive war.
But many analysts believe the United States alone has the military clout to do lasting damage to Iran's nuclear program.
In January, Shapiro told an Israeli newspaper the United States was "guaranteeing that the military option is ready and available to the president at the moment he decides to use it".
U.S. lawmakers are considering additional legislation that would increase pressure on Iran, with further measures to punish foreign companies for dealing with Iran in any capacity.
(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Andrew Roche)

First Pinoy in NHL-Canada visits PNoy

Filipino-Canadian hockey player Josh Nicholls pays a courtesy call on President Aquino.

MANILA, Philippines - Filipino-Canadian hockey player Josh Nicholls paid a courtesy call on President Aquino on Thursday.
Nicholls, a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, gave the President an autographed hockey stick and taught him how to hold it.
It had a Philippine flag sticker on it and a line that says: “To my President P-Noy.”
Nicholls is the first Filipino to have played in the National Hockey League in Canada

Fil-Am to receive Monarch Leadership Award in US

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino-American woman is one of the recipients of the 2012 Monarch Leadership Awards by the Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition (PAAWBAC) in San Francisco.
Leah Laxamana, member of the Filipino Women's Network which fosters stronger ties with the Filipino-American community, will receive the award at a ceremony at the Intercontinental San Francisco Hotel on June 3.
The PAAWBAC's theme for the awards is "The Young and the Rising", honoring the new generation of emerging Asian Pacific Islander women leaders who are making significant contributions to the community.
"Ms. Laxamana serves as an inspiration to our kababayans to achieve greater heights. She has brought pride to our community and I hope that through her, many of our youths will follow their passions and actively contribute to the development of our communities, both here in the US and in the Philippines," said Philippine Consul General to San Francisco Marciano A. Paynor, Jr., in a statement.
Laxamana also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras from 2006 to 2008 where she actively promoted women's rights and gender equity.
The PAAWBAC was founded in 1980 by women representing Chinese, Chomorro, Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Samoan, Tongan, Vietnamese and other Asian-Pacific communities.

Jessica still on cloud nine after making it to finale

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez said she is on cloud nine after learning on Thursday (Friday in Manila) that she garnered enough votes to get to the finale of “American Idol.”
Sanchez is set to face Georgia’s Phillip Phillips after Louisiana’s Joshua Ledet got the boot during elimination night.
In the “American Idol” statement published in the website, Sanchez said she never thought of being in the talent show's Top 2.
“Being in the position I’m in now is more than I could have ever asked for,” she said.
“I’ve been looking forward to auditioning for ‘American Idol’ ever since the first season. And now, the first season that I’m eligible, I’ve made it to the Top 2. It’s crazy what you can do when you put your mind and heart to it! I don’t know what could be better than this,” she added.
On Twitter, Sanchez thanked her supporters, particularly those who voted for her.
“You guys…I have never in my life thought I'd be in this position…Thank you so much!” she said.
Pacquiao to watch finale
Meanwhile, eight-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao said he will be at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles next week to cheer for Sanchez.
“Yes, next week pupunta ako, manonood ako. I believe, I pray for her, siya ang mananalo,” Pacquiao told ABS-CBN News.
The last performance show of the 11th season of “American Idol” will take place on Tuesday (Wednesday morning in Manila).
The final results show, which will feature Rihanna and season 10 winner Scotty McCrerry, will be held the following day. – With a report from Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jessica wears Oliver Tolentino gown on 'Idol'

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-Mexican-American singer Jessica Sanchez wore an Oliver Tolentino creation for one of the rounds of the “American Idol” performance night on Wednesday (Thursday morning in Manila).
In an interview with “Mornings@ANC,” ABS-CBN North America correspondent Yong Chavez said Sanchez wore Tolentino’s creation when she sang the Mariah Carey hit “My All.”
“Actually, when I tweeted that she was wearing a beautiful purple gown, I didn’t know yet that it was Oliver Tolentino who designed it," Chavez said. “I asked her mom who made the gown because it was really fantastic. Then I got a call from Oliver himself and he confirmed to me that he made it.”
Tolentino is a Hollywood-based Filipino designer who has dressed celebrities such as Jenna Ushkowitz, one of the cast members of “Glee” and, most recently, actress Anna Paquin.
Last year, his creations were worn by the contestants of hit fashion reality show “America’s Next Top Model.”
Sore throat
Sanchez came into tonight’s “Idol” show nursing a sore throat, which she admitted on Twitter the day before.
And in the Carey song, it was obvious that Sanchez did not seem to be her usual self.
“It was obvious that she was still enduring something. But she was still praised by the judges,” said Chavez, who watched the rehearsals of the “Idol” Top 3 before the show.
Sanchez, however, still got rave reviews from the judges for her three performances.
The 16-year-old San Diego native even got a standing ovation from judge Steven Tyler for her subdued performance of Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing."
Aside from “My All” and "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing," Sanchez also sang “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5.

Jessica Sanchez not feeling well but still draws praises from fans

Hours before performance night on "American Idol," Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez said on Twitter: "Drinking tea. Throat isn't feeling at its best."

Still on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila), Sanchez's fans posting messages on the official website of the show were full of praises after she performed "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith.

"American Idol" judge Steven Tyler is one of the members of the American rock band Aerosmith.

Some of the messages posted on the show's website said:

I think I'll be happy with the American Idol winner. I don't mind any of the contestants. Although, I am hoping Jessica wins. #teamjay
How stunning is @JSanchezAI11?! #idol
Jessica chose 'I Don't Want To Miss a Thing' for her song! Let us know what you thought #idol fans!
Got sucked into the American Idol machine. I gotta be honest, America had made great choices for the top 3. All of then are fantastic!
So obvious that JLo wants Jessica to win! She loved her low key performance. #lovephiliipphillips #idol
About to watch #Idol on the recordings, GO JESSICA!!!
Great job by Jessica Sanchez singing Aerosmith! Ever notice nobody ever sings a J Lo song? Hmmm... #Idol

Top Three
Aside from Sanchez, 16, the two other remaining contestants in the show are:
  • Joshua Ledet, 19, Westlake, Louisiana, and
  • Phillip Phillips, 21, Leesburg, Georgia.

So far, two Filipino-Americans have made it to the Top Three of the show -- Sanchez and Jasmine Trias who ranked third in "American Idol’"s third season. 

Before Sanchez, Thia Megia finished in the Top 11 of last year's competition.
Before Megia came Ramiele Malubay who placed 9th in the seventh season- VVP, GMA News

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pinay teacher in US named aerospace teacher of the year

A Filipina teacher  in Texas in the United States —  Shella Condino — was recently named as  the country's Aerospace teacher of the year.
According to a report of CBS News, Condino has been residing in Presidio located in the middle of the Texas desert near the border of Mexico.

Presidio is the 3rd poorest town in the state of Texas with an average household income of $18,000. 
In one of her speeches, she said Presidio is a rural border town with a population about 4,000, with only one grocery store, one American fast food, and with the highest heat index in the state.
“There is literally nothing in Presidio... and nothing to do at all,” Condino said.
Apparently, not until she came. The Texas dessert seems to have just found an oasis with Condino sharing her skills.
For Condino, reaching for the stars is not an impossible dream.
In Presidio, she started a rocketry club five years ago where she taught rocket science to various students usually from the seventh to 10th grade amidst the language barrier and the nature of the field itself.
"I wanted to teach the kids: You want something so bad, you put your heart into it," she said in the report.
She is a motivating force, the report said. Her students would wake up before sunrise to learn rocket launch.
With this attitude, she was awarded the Aerospace teacher of the year which was by no means a surprise to her students who were first-hand witnesses to her passion for teaching.
"She'll teach you things and you'll learn it like this," said seventh-grader Hector Montemayor, "as long as you pay attention, of course."
"In rocketry, you don't have instructions on how to build it," said tenth-grader Marla Baltazar. "And that's how life is. It doesn't come with instructions, you have to make it on your own."
Conido’s students are set to compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge against the best schools in the country, the CBS report added.
The challenge for this year is to achieve a height of 800 feet – or as close as possible – with your rocket containing two raw eggs that should be preserved and returned back to Earth in between 43 to 47 seconds.
They achieved this in a test run which is well within the time limit, just 44 seconds.
Proving her “exceptional ability”
However, Condino’s path to success wasn’t always a walk in the park. She also experienced a lot of hardships especially on her temporary working visa.
According to the report, for her to become a permanent resident, she needed to prove to American immigration officials that she is a person of "exceptional ability."
In an interview with CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman, Condino said that the American immigration officials are asking for more documents and more support.
“I really do not know what else they would want from me," she said.
To which Hartman replied, “You're the best aerospace teacher in America, what more could they want?”
An award-winning teacher
In 1993, Condino got her bachelors degree in Physics from the Philippine Normal University in Manila. She teaches subjects such Physics, Advanced Placement Physics B, Chemistry, and Scientific Research and Design subjects at the Presidio High School in Texas, according to her profile in Scott Crossfield Foundation
Before teaching rocketry in Presidio, she taught at Eastwood Middle School in El Paso, Texas.
She also took part in some notable astronomy development programs and also won some awards:
Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas – Texas Space Grant Consortium Astronomy Workshop (2005)
Mt. Kitt Peak Observatory in Tucson, Arizona - Grant recipient of the Teacher Leader on Research Based Science Educator (TLRBSE) of the National Optical and Astronomical Observatory (2005)
San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California - SETI Institute Astrobiology Summer Science Experience for Teachers (2007) US Rocket and Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama – The Educator Space Camp where she received ‘The Right Stuff’ medal by former astronaut Robert Hoot Gibson (2010)
A. Scott Crossfield Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year Award (2011)
“Well, God really works in wonders. He will provide you with the right people to meet and work with,” Condino said in her acceptance speech.
Condino is the oldest of eight children from parents who both retired as elementary school principals. - with Andrei Medina, Jon Lindley Agustin, VVP, GMA News