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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fil-Am band makes it to "America’s Got Talent"


ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - A local Filipino-American all-girl band made it through another popular TV talent competition and will be competing before a nationwide audience in the wake of compatriot Jessica Sanchez historic run on “American Idol”.
"Ivy Rose" made it past the 1st round of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” after winning the nod of judges Sharon Osbourne, Howie Mendel and Howard Stern. The girls are now moving on to Las Vegas where they will compete for the $1 million cash prize and the chance to headline a show in any of Las Vegas’ renowned casino stages.
"Ivy Rose" band members whoop it up after making it through the "America's Got Talent" eliminations
Ivy Rose has been a familiar fixture in Filipino and Asian American events in the Metro DC region. The band is composed of sisters Isabelle, Sarah and Kristine de Leon, and vocalist Martina San Diego (aside from their love of music, they are bound by another strand of trivia – their mothers hail from Cebu).
“The girls are playing better than ever and with much more energy,” Ivy Rose manager Tito de Leon told ABS-CBN News. He also happens to be the father of Isabelle, Sarah and Kristine.
Ivy Rose is basically a family affair. The band was born over 3 years ago in the basement of the De Leon home in Maryland. Tito is an engineer by training but now works almost full-time with the band (his wife Lynn is the group’s marketing agent). You will usually see him setting up and testing equipment just before the girls go up on stage.
“It's just been a lot of work lately for them and for me, and making sure things are on the right track,” Tito averred.
Vocalist Marti (who also plays rhythm guitar) is a high school senior and consistent honor student; she has been performing in front of audiences since she was 5.
Drummer Isabelle is going on her senior year at the University of Maryland where she is pursuing an odd combination of Pre-Medicine and Jazz Drums Performance, and has been consistently in Dean’s List. She was one of the featured performers last April at the Smithsonian National American History Museum celebrating women in jazz. She also received the Stanley Kay scholarship to join the New York Summer Festival for Jazz last year.
Lead guitarist Sarah is an incoming freshman at the University of Maryland where she wants to pursue a double major in electrical engineering and what else, jazz guitar (she graduated cum laude from high school). She has been playing the guitar since she was 7.
Bass guitarist Kristine is a senior at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC where she a pursuing a major in architecture; she is also one of the leaders of CUA’s Filipino organization (she is actually the designated historian of the group).
De Leon noted the recent surge of Filipino talent on top American TV competitions, including Roshon Fegan (his mother is Filipino) who finished 6th in ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”.
“I think Filipinos are just simply talented and just need a bit of nurturing – and more importantly, exposure,” he said.

UP string ensemble performs in Paris


MANILA, Philippines - UP ARCO, the University of the Philippines’ string ensemble performed before a packed crowd at the Salon des Délégués, UNESCO Miollis in Paris last May 24.
This was the first time that the Philippine Permanent Delegation to UNESCO presented Philippine chamber music through UP ARCO.
UP ARCO's repertoire included major string orchestra works of Corelli, Bach, and Elgar, as well as works of Filipino masters such as Angela Pena, Antonino Buenaventura and Francisco Buencamino.
The string ensemble is composed of 27 students, who are all majors of the Strings and Chamber Music Department of the UP College of Music. UP ARCO is under the baton of Prof. Edna Marcil Martinez.
Professor Ruben Defeo, executive director of UP's Office of Initiatives for Culture and the Arts, headed the delegation to Paris.
UP ARCO was also invited  to perform at the 24th Festival International de Musique Universitaire held in Belfort, France from May 26 to 28. They were the first Filipino group to be invited to the event.

Celtics beat Heat to pull to 2-1 in East finals


Source: nba.com


BOSTON (AP) Doc Rivers knew there was little to say to Rajon Rondo after the Celtics point guard scored a career-best 44 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

After Boston lost that one, Rivers couldn't resist offering one piece of advice: It starts with Kevin Garnett.
"Throw it up in the air, Kevin will go get it," the Celtics coach said he told Rondo. "The only thing we told him offensively was we had to get Kevin involved. Other than that, just go play."
Garnett did get involved, scoring 24 points - many of his baskets off lobs into the paint - and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead Boston to a 101-91 win over the Heat on Friday night that cut Miami's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Paul Pierce added 23 points and Rondo followed his Game 2 performance with 21 points and 10 assists to help the Celtics avoid falling into a 3-0 hole after dropping the first two games in Miami.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Boston.
"They defended their home court," Rondo said. "In a couple of days, we'll do the same."
LeBron James scored 34 points, but the NBA MVP and the rest of the Heat went cold during a 7-minute stretch at the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, when Boston went on a 15-0 run to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead.
The Celtics extended it to 24 early in the fourth quarter before Miami cut it to 95-87 with help from three 3-pointers by Mike Miller. But James had a turnover and missed a 3-point attempt in the last 2 minutes to squelch the Heat's hope of a comeback.
"You're trying to fight back the whole time," said James, who scored 16 points in the first quarter but just four with one rebound and one assist in the fourth. "We made a run, but it was too much."
Miami still trailed by eight points with the ball when Dwyane Wade missed and Ray Allen grabbed the rebound, sending Rondo on a fast break that made it a 99-89 with 1:39 to play. James threw the ball away underneath, then missed a 3-point attempt the next time down - one of only four shots he took in the fourth quarter.
Pierce found Garnett for a long jumper at the other end, and the teams began emptying their benches.
Coming off his 44-point effort in Game 2, in which he played every second of regulation and overtime, Rondo was 9 for 16 from the field and grabbed six rebounds. Rivers said there was little he wanted his point guard to change.
"I'm like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter: you stay away from that joker," Rivers said. "The guy scored 44 points, what can I possibly tell him?"
Mostly: Get the ball to Garnett.
With Garnett posting up underneath the rim, Boston outscored Miami 58-46 on points in the paint.
"He (Rivers) kept preaching to just throw it up to him," Rondo said. "They went small, and no one can jump as high as Kevin. He stood up to the rim, and he went up and got most of them."
Marquis Daniels led Boston's reserves with nine points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Wade scored 18 points and Mario Chalmers had 14 points and six assists for Miami. Shane Battier was scoreless, missing all six shots, and Ronny Turiaf had three points while tangling with Garnett under the basket for much of the game.
The Celtics center, appearing rejuvenated during these playoffs at the age of 36, got called for another technical foul for a violent elbow but otherwise seemed to be enjoying himself. While waiting to inbound the ball in the second quarter, he high-fived a young child sitting courtside in a No. 5 Celtics jersey.
At the other end, after behind slammed hard to the court by Udonis Haslem, Garnett gingerly rolled over onto his stomach before extending his arms to ease himself off the court. Down and up he went, pushing off the floor on his knuckles eight times for some postseason pushups.
"I'm getting crap about my form, but I want people to know it's because it was on my knuckles," Garnett said. "That's old school. My uncle taught me to do pushups on my knuckles. That's some Army-Navy stuff."
Wade was 9 for 20 from the field and did not shoot a free throw in the game. James, who shot 24 free throws in Game 2, making 18, was 1 for 5 from the line.
James hit seven of his first nine shots, before making one of the next six. That helped Boston score the last eight points of the first quarter and the first seven of the second to turn a six-point deficit into a nine-point lead. Much of it came with Keyon Dooling and Daniels on the court for Boston.
Notes: During the first timeout, the Celtics acknowledged Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan, who is retiring this summer. GM Danny Ainge was one of the first to stand and applaud. ... K.C. Jones, who was celebrating his 80th birthday, and fellow Celtic great John Havlicek were in the crowd. ... Miami was 10 for 20 from the free throw line.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Manila motorbike chase in 'Bourne Legacy' trailer




MANILA, Philippines - A new trailer of the "Bourne Legacy" movie is out, with scenes shot in the Philippines shown on the teaser clip.
The trailer shows a nerve-gripping motorbike chase scene shot in a busy Manila road, complete with crashing jeepneys and taxis.
The American action spy film also shows the main star, Jeremy Renner, in hand-to-hand combat with Filipino police and security guards.
The film was shot in Metro Manila from January to February 2012, with its final part allegedly shot in Palawan.
It will make its US premiere on August 3, and will be released worldwide later.

Heat overcome Rondo, top Boston 115-111 in Game 2


MIAMI (AP) Rajon Rondo posted a stat line never before seen in NBA playoff history. He was on the court for every second of a game that finished more than three hours after it started. He scored more points in a single overtime than anyone this season.


His night was called incredible, amazing and unbelievable - and that was by the Miami Heat.
And when it was over, Rondo could only express disappointment that the Boston Celtics needed more.
LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 23 points in overtime and the Heat took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-111 win over the Celtics on Wednesday night, overcoming what will surely go down as the best game of Rondo's career to move within six wins of an NBA title.
"We lost," Rondo said, shrugging off talk of the historical ramifications of his night. "Simple as that."
Rondo's final numbers: 44 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds. He scored all 12 of Boston's overtime points, giving the Celtics the lead three times, only to have the Heat answer each of those. And when he finally missed in the extra session - on a play where Rondo said he got struck in the face by Wade - then and only then could Miami put Boston away.
Game 3 is Friday night in Boston, where the Celtics will try to make this a series. No Celtics team has successfully rallied from an 0-2 hole since 1969.
"He really played his heart out and carried the load for us offensively," Celtics forward Paul Pierce said. "He shot the ball, did everything possible you could ask for in him. You just hate to see an effort like that really go to waste."
Mario Chalmers scored 22 points for Miami, which got 13 points, 11 rebounds and three assists off the bench from Udonis Haslem. The entire Celtics bench combined for seven points, five rebounds and one assist.
Miami trailed by 15 points in the first half, making this the largest deficit the Heat have overcome to win a playoff game in their history. Miami had rallied from 14 points down to win twice before in the postseason, one of those being the game that clinched the 2006 NBA title.
"There just can't be any other way with this team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And it has to be the hard way."
The Heat won on a night where so many things - Rondo's effort included - suggested that they were in going to be in trouble.
There was the big early deficit, a 7-for-20 shooting effort from the floor by James, Wade going scoreless until the final seconds of the first half, 16 missed free throws and two missed chances to win - both shots by James - at the end of regulation.
And if all that wasn't enough, Boston's Big Four were Big again. Pierce scored 21 points before fouling out. Kevin Garnett scored 18 points and added eight rebounds. Ray Allen, ailing right ankle and all, went through two gameday shooting workouts to try to snap out of a slump and apparently did, finishing with 13 points, the last three of those coming on a 3-pointer that tied the game at 99-all with 34.3 seconds left in regulation.
Miami managed to survive it all. Haslem's dunk with 1:28 left in overtime to put Miami on top for good, Wade had a three-point play with 59.7 seconds left, and the Heat won their sixth straight East finals game going back to last season.
"One of the best games I've played in, win or lose," Heat forward Shane Battier said. "It's easier said when you win - but it's unbelievable."
Miami was down by as many as 11 in the third quarter, before a pair of 3-pointers by James started a comeback. Wade made consecutive jumpers midway through the third to shake off a slow start to his night, and the 2006 NBA finals MVP set up Haslem for a three-point play that gave Miami its first lead since the opening minutes, 73-71.
As Haslem's shot dropped, Wade spun at midcourt and punched the air. More highlights followed.
Miami's lead reached seven points in the third after James blocked Pierce's shot near the rim, sending the ball high into the air and starting a sequence that was capped by a three-point play from Wade, pushing the margin to 78-71. It capped a 12-0 run for the Heat, who took an 81-75 lead into the fourth.
James stole the ball from Rondo early in the fourth, drove down the court and got wrapped up by Mickael Pietrus, who was assessed a clear-path foul, meaning Miami got two free throws and the ball. James missed both foul shots, Mike Miller missed a 3-pointer later in the possession, and the lead stayed at 85-81.
Barely a minute later, it was gone. Pietrus hit a 3-pointer, Rondo followed with a steal and layup and Boston led 86-85. The margin was out to five with 3:50 left after a jumper by Pierce, and the Celtics looked to be in control.
"We never felt like we were out of it," Wade said.
They were right. A 9-0 run gave Miami the lead back, before Allen's 3 tied the game. James missed a layup with 21 seconds left, but got his own rebound and extended the possession. He tried a jumper with 2 seconds left to win it, the shot missed, and the teams went to overtime, where the reigning MVP missed two more free throws to start the extra period.
"LeBron James took 24 free throws tonight," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "And our team took 29."
Miami finished 31 of 47 from the line, Boston was 26 of 29. The Celtics were called for 33 personal fouls, Miami 18.
Rondo nearly rendered all those talking points moot. He was 4 for 5 from the floor in overtime, but with Pierce having fouled out and Garnett and Allen having combined to play over 80 minutes at that point, it seemed like Rondo was going 1-on-5.
He almost pulled it off.
"Rondo was absolutely amazing," James said. "The performance he put on tonight will go down in the record books."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Macquarie unit, others to invest in $600-M PHL infra fund


A unit of Australia's Macquarie Group will invest in a Philippine infrastructure fund that may hold around $600 million, and two more institutional investors are expected to follow, Manila's biggest state pension fund said on Monday.
 
Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) intends to pay $50 million into the previously-announced fund, called the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure, which is due for launch in July, said Robert Vergara, president of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
 
MIRA was also appointed manager of the fund after a nine-month selection process, Vergara said.
 
GSIS, which will be the lead investor in the fund, said in February it would put in $300 million for financing public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives in transport, energy, power, water, environment and communications.
 
"We are looking at power, roads, potentially water, and few social infrastructure like school buildings," Vergara said.
 
The balance of the fund will be taken up by other foreign institutional investors, which Vergara did not name, adding the full amount may rise to $600-$625 million.
 
"A 25 billion pesos ($575 million) fund is at stake here, the biggest fund set aside for infrastructure in the country," President Benigno Aquino said in a speech at the state pension fund's anniversary.
 
"Apart from the service that this will deliver, this will spur further growth of the economy and will create more jobs," he said.
 
Manila is aiming to roll out at least eight PPP projects this year worth around P130 billion, including new airports, an expressway, and a water supply project.
 
The PPP program is the centerpiece of the government's plan to improve its decrepit infrastructure, promote growth, and attract more investment.
 
The Philippines is targeting growth of 5-6 percent this year after a 3.7 percent expansion last year, according to the government.
 
"We are pleased to partner with GSIS... particularly at a time of strong economic growth in the country," Frank Kwok, senior managing director of MIRA, was quoted as saying in a statement released by GSIS.  —Reuters

PHL economy grows 6.4% in first quarter of 2012


(Updated 11:57 a.m.) Driven by exports and service sector expansion, the country's economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter "well above the market's consensus forecast of 4.8 percent," economic officials said Thursday.
 
Acting National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio Balisacan said the economy grew faster than the ASEAN average of 3.7 percent and faster than Indonesia's 6.3 percent.
 
"Growth in the first quarter translated to an increase in employment of 1.101 million," Balisacan noted.
 
"Employment generation was more pronounced in services, followed by industry," he added.
 
The NEDA chief said the "fighting target is still 7 to 8 percent" and he does not see the need to revise the target even with the higher-than-expected first quarter growth.
For his part, National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) secretary general Romulo Virola said the services sector had its 12th straight quarter of growth — "accelerating to 2.6 percent from 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011."
 
This growth was higher than the 2.5 percent of the agriculture sector and the 2.2 percent of the industry sector.
 
Balisacan noted that services contributed "more than half of total domestic output."
 
Virola backed this up by saying that the 6.4 percent gross domestic product growth services contributed 4.7 while industry chipped in 1.6 and agriculture put in 0.1.
 
Balisacan said merchandise export growth of 7.1% reflected the improving global economy. — RSJ, GMA News

PNoy lauds seafarers for contribution to economy


MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino acknowledged the contribution of Filipino seafarers to the economy.
In a speech during the commencement exercises of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in San Narciso, Zambales, President Aquino said seafarers remitted $4.34 billion or 21.58% of the $20.12 billion worth of remittances from overseas Filipino workers last year.
The President vowed to look after the welfare of seafarers especially against piracy. He ordered the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to ensure their safety.
"Inatasan po natin silang siguruhin ang kaligtasan at proteksyon ng ating seafarers—ang pakikipag-ugnayan para sa pagpapalaya at pagbawi sa kanila, at ang pangangalaga sa kanila pong mga pamilya," he said.
Seamen should also undergo security training, he said.
"Maigting pong ipinapatupad ng DOLE-POEA ang Memorandum Circular No. 2 Series of 2010. Tinitiyak nitong dumadaan sa malawakang pagsasanay ang ating mga marino. Paghahanda ito sa pagharap sa anumang masasamang elemento na maaaring sumalubong sa kanilang paglalayag."
The President, along with Transportation and Communication Secretary Mar Roxas, handed out the diplomas to this year's graduates of the state-run academy.
Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan conferred the degrees.
Midshipman Lt. Commander Michael Barrera is this year's valedictorian.
PMMA President Commodore Richard Ritual took pride in academy's average passing rate of 90% which is way higher than the 39% national average.
He said PMMA graduates enjoy a 100 percent employment rate after graduation.

400 Pinoys in Doha fear losing jobs


MANILA, Philippines - Some 400 Filipinos working at the Villagio Mall in Doha, Qatar, that was gutted by fire on Monday, stand losing their jobs as the mall has been closed.
The Monday fire killed 19 people, including three Filipinos.
On Tuesday the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed and identified the three Filipinos killed in the blaze. Two other Filipinos have been reported hurt and are now being treated in a hospital in Doha.
The DFA said the three fatalities were undocumented workers who went to Qatar on tourist visas.
Migrante-Middle East Regional Coordinator John Leonard Monterona said 60 percent of the estimated 400 Filipinos working at the Villagio Mall are women performing sales-related jobs. Some of the males are store merchandisers.
“We were able to talk to a number of Filipinos working at the Villagio Mall who expressed fears of their losing jobs as the said mall has been closed,” Monterona added.
Bobby, not his real name, who works as store merchandiser, aired his worries of the effect of the fire such as eventually losing his job.
“We don’t know yet what will happen. We would be lucky if we will be transferred to another store,” Bobby said.
Monterona urged the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Doha to look into the problem and extend assistance to those who were displaced by the fire.
He also called on the Aquino administration through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to immediately provide assistance to the families of the Filipinos killed in the fire.
“Burial assistance and other financial assistance must be given to the families.Those who will be displaced from their job must be assisted,” Monterona added.
Meanwhile, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay announced that three Filipinos have been spared the death penalty in Sabah after receiving pardon from the Malaysian government.
The Philippine Embassy in Malaysia identified the three as Basir Omar, Jaliman Salleh and Aldipal Hadani.
In his talk with Malaysian Foreign Minister Dato Sri Anifah Aman on Tuesday, Binay, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, thanked the Malaysian government for granting the pardons.
“We sincerely appreciate the grant of pardon and see it as further validation of the strong ties between the Philippines and Malaysia,” Binay said.
In January Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya called on Sabah Gov. Tun Datuk Seri Panglima, Pardons Board chairman, and requested for his intervention to commute the death sentences imposed on six Filipinos, including the three.
The Pardons Board handed down on May 22 a decision commuting the death sentence of Omar to 13 years and seven months. The new sentence will commence its counting from the date of pardon.
Meanwhile, the death sentences for Salleh and Hadani were reduced to 15 years imprisonment in a decision rendered on May 14 in Kota Kinabalu.
The two were arrested on July 8, 2008, in Kota Kinabalu when police found 867.1 grams of cannabis in their bags, and were sentenced to death by the Sabah High Court on June 25, 2010.
Binay cautioned Filipinos in Malaysia not to be lured by criminal syndicates into becoming drug mules or to engage in the illegal drug trade. (With B. Fernandez)

7 things women do that drive men mad


Annoying female habit 1: Making an anniversary out of everything

What is it with women turning the nice little things in life into a grand gift-exchanging, champagne-popping ceremony? We return home from a normal day at work to be met with a candle-lit dinner and an expensive looking gift but, quite frankly, it makes our heart stop. Have you done something wrong? Is it your birthday? My birthday? Oh silly me, it’s the anniversary of the first time we looked at each other. Please refrain from doing this, ladies. We have a hard enough time getting event dates right without being shouted at for not buying the dog a card to celebrate the anniversary of his first vaccination.

Annoying female habit 2: Piling the bed with cushions

One would be mistaken for thinking that a bed is for sleeping in. We go to get our head down for the night, only to find the bed piled sky-high with strategically placed cushions that leave no room for us. What’s more, only a couple of these cushions actually have a purpose. We don’t need the tiny heart-shaped one or the big fluffy one that makes us sneeze – just a normal pillow to rest our head on will suffice. We don’t adorn the bed with DIY tools and model cars, so please tame your OCD (Obsessive Cushion Disorder) and stop making an elaborate display out of our bed so we can get down to the important stuff.
couple on bed of cushions having pillow fightcouple on bed of cushions having pillow fight

Annoying female habit 3: Asking us what we’re thinking

It’s a classic example of how women like to test us, and possibly trick us into making the cardinal sin of admitting that we weren’t thinking about her at that particular moment. One minute we’re enjoying a cuddle, the next they’re hurling that question at us when we’re least expecting it. They say it so fast that we don’t have chance to make up a false reply or even to think straight, which leads us to stutter and then be accused of thinking of our ex. Asking what we’re thinking is basically a nice way of saying ‘you aren’t allowed to have private thoughts, unless they’re about me’.

Annoying female habit 4: Saying ‘I’m fine’, when you’re not happy

So she stood in front of the television while the football was on, we got a bit iffy and snapped, and now all sorts of issues have been bought up. Then she says it – that passive-aggressive statement that marks the start of the dreaded silent treatment: “I’m fine”. Erm, are you really fine because you’ve just screamed at us until you’ve gone red in the face, and now you’re laying face down on the bed crying. If you’re unhappy just outline the problem and then we can sort it out and carry on as normal. Or – even better – don’t outline the problem and let us watch the football in peace.

Annoying female habit 5:  Using sex as a weapon

One of the most annoying things that a woman can do is deny her man of sexual privileges. Some women seem to take great pleasure in using our weakness to their own advantage through the classic ‘if you don’t do this, we’re not having sex’ scenario. If you’re going to stop us from doing one thing, please don’t let it be sex. We don’t stop you from eating and drinking, so please don’t mess with our basic human needs either.

Annoying female habit 6: Being over-emotional

You cry at funerals, you cry at weddings, you cry at happy films, you cry at sad films. This makes us feel awkward because we just don’t know what to say or do when you’re sat sobbing all over our freshly ironed shirt. Where do all these tears come from? We think women should just have an annual crying day where they get together and cry for twenty four hours, before coming home and being normal for the other 364 days of the year. It would solve a lot of our problems.

Annoying female habit 7: Incessant talking

We’ve heard that women are estimated to say around 20, 000 words a day – which is an awful lot compared to the paltry 7, 000 estimated for men – so we understand that she needs to get her daily nattering fix, but why is it always at the most inappropriate times? She was quiet all the way through the family dinner when we needed her to break the awkward silence, but as soon as we start getting to the competitive part of a multi-player game with our friends, she just won’t shut up about how cute the neighbour’s cat looks when it sits next to the rose bush. To make it even more annoying, the actual part of the story she was getting at whilst rambling on about the neighbour’s cat, was that the cat’s owner now works at the grocery store down the road. Ladies, if you’re going to talk, pick the right moment and please, just get to the point.

BBC's 'Travel with Lonely Planet' lists the top Philippine beaches


School begins in a few days, but there's still time to get a tan. With over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is the perfect place for fans of the sun and sand. 
 
Deciding where to go can be difficult, but the options are narrowed down in a list of the best beaches of the Philippines posted by BBC on May 28. 
 
A “Travel with Lonely Planet” feature lists Cebu, Southern Negros, El Nido, Boracay and Pagudpud as the country's top beach destinations.
 
The list begins with the accessible Cebu island, which has many high-end, family-oriented resorts, and is not far from Malapascua island.
 
For those who want to sample several world-class beaches, Dumaguete is the ideal destination, with the nearby Tambobo Bay, Siquijor Island, and Apo Island.
 
Boracay is described as the "crown jewel of Philippine beaches." 
 
"Boracay's five kilometer signature White Beach has been dropping jaws for decades," the guide said.
 
Described as a laidback town in north Palawan, El Nido is a good place for tired city dwellers to get away from it all, while Pagudpud is recommended for adventure-seekers.
 
El Nido's majestic limestone cliffs. Photo by Manix Abrera
 
The list is based on Lonely Planet's May 16 article, which includes top surf spot Siargao. 
 
"With such a wealth of coastal pleasures on offer, it can be tricky to pick your spot," writes Lonely Planet author Greg Bloom.
 
Baler, Anda, Coron and Camiguin are also mentioned in the guide.
 
"Or just check out a map of the country, point to an island, and go. You'll inevitably find a lonely stretch of sand that few tourists have trod on before—your own private patch of paradise," writes Bloom. –Carmela G. Lapeña/KG, GMA News

PHL envoy to Vatican receives papal award


Philippine ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Tuason received an award from the Vatican for her role in boosting ties between the Philippines and the Holy See.
Tuason was awarded the Order of Pius IX, Class of Dame last May 23, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a news release on Tuesday.
"(Pope Benedict XVI gave the award to Tuason for her) significant contributions in the advancement of bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Philippines," said Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the Holy Chief of Protocol.
The Order of Pius IX, also known as the Pian Order, is a Papal order of knighthood founded on June 17, 1847 by Pope Pius IX.
The living recipients of the higher ranks of the Order of Pius IX include:
  • Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic
  • King Juan Carlos I of Spain
  • Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.
Although the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood of the Holy See were originally founded and available for giving honors to gentlemen only, the Holy See Secretariat of State in November 1993 issued instructions that the Pontifical Orders of Pius IX, Saint Gregory the Great, and of Pope Saint Sylvester were also open for awarding to women.

Presentation of award
Those who presented the award to Tuason were Nwachukwu and Msgr. Guillermo Javier Karcher, First Class Attaché of the Secretariat of State.
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, signed the award.
Accompanying Tuason at the awarding ceremonies held at the Vatican Apostolic Palace were Deputy Chief of Mission and Consul General Danilo Ibayan, Executive Assistant and Confidential Secretary to the Ambassador Josephine Bantug, and Father Jess Dajac, Filipino Roman Catholic priest of the Congregazione Clericale Missionariedella Fede. - VVP, GMA News

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not enough skilled workers, engineers in US, other large economies

The United States and other large economies cannot find enough skilled workers, engineers and other in-demand employees, according to an annual study on talent shortages.
 
The study, by staffing services giant ManpowerGroup, found 34 percent of employers around the world report trouble filling jobs because of a lack of available talent. The percentage is unchanged from 2011 but up from the prior three years.
 
However, most of the employers -- 56 percent -- say unfilled jobs are likely to have little or on no impact on customers and investors. That is up from 36 percent who said so a year ago.
 
Talent shortages persist despite high unemployment in many economies, especially among young people. Employers are more comfortable conducting business in an environment of talent shortages and remain reluctant to add workers while memories of recession are fresh, according to Manpower.
 
"Leaving positions unfilled may be a short-term fix, but it's a short-sighted and unsustainable approach to addressing talent shortages," Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres said.
 
The top reasons for not filling jobs include a lack of available applicants; too few hard skills, such as speaking a foreign language among those who do apply; and a lack of experience. Smaller numbers of employers complained about deficiencies in applicants' soft skills, such as showing too little enthusiasm.
 
Manpower polled 40,000 employers in 41 countries and territories.
 
Help wanted in Tokyo
 
Skilled trade workers have topped the most in-demand list in four of the past five years. Educational systems around the world are emphasizing four-year university educations, while allowing vocational and technical programs to decline.
 
As fewer young people pursue technical educations and more older skilled workers retire, such shortages are likely to persist, the study predicts.
 
Other in-demand jobs in 2012 are sales representatives, technicians, drivers, laborers and information technology staff. Accounting and finance workers, chefs and managers round out the top 10.
 
Employers in Japan were the most likely to say they are having trouble finding staff, followed by those in Brazil, Bulgaria, Australia and the United States, where 49 percent report difficulty, down from 52 percent last year.
 
While technical and business-oriented job categories top most countries' lists, employers in the United States, Singapore and India, among others, say they cannot find enough teachers. Nurses are also in demand.
 
Several European countries, including Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, ranked at the bottom of the list, with fewer than one in 10 employers struggling to find the right workers.
 
Manpower also asked about responses to the talent shortage. The most frequent responses were employers offering more training to current staff, or broadening their search outside their local regions. Others put people into positions for which they are not fully qualified, hoping they'll learn on the job.
 
Higher pay, at least for now, is not a common response to the talent shortage. Only 8 percent of global employers are boosting starting salaries, and only 7 percent are offering better benefits or signing bonuses. - Reuters

Pinay filmmaker Lea Dizon set to produce her first film in Hollywood


Just two months after finishing her masteral degree at the University of South California (USC) in the United States last year, independent Filipina filmmaker Lea Dizon received an offer to produce her first feature film in Hollywood.

Dizon, 32, a graduate of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, took up a masteral course on film and television production at the USC.

Dizon told GMA News Online that two USC alumni — Matthew Breault and Alex George Pickering of the Fifth Floor Balcony Pictures — broached to her the idea of producing a science fiction film.
“I met both of them while taking my Masters at USC. We were all in the same class. I have worked with Matt before and I think he is a talented director. When he pitched me the idea which he co-wrote with Alex, I thought it was fantastic,” she said.
 
“It was just a no-brainer to decide to work with two of the most talented and most hardworking people in my class,” she added.
The movie “Impulse Control,”  to be filmed in late 2012, is set in a world where a new disease greatly reduces the ability of humans to control their anger, a report of the Asian Journal said. 
 
The movie will revolve around the life of a family who made their home a fortress as they try to survive the onslaught of people from the “outside world” who are affected by the strange disease. The family is torn-apart as members start getting infected by the disease.
The team expects the movie to be ready by December 2013.
 
“We are certainly planning to get it distributed everywhere. Of course the Philippines is on top of my list!” Dizon said.
 
“I thought it was a great idea! If you accidentally give someone the stink eye, you might just get killed. Isn’t that just so interesting?” she asked.
 
She said her favorite character in “Impulse Control” is Rain, the wife of one of the main protagonists and one of the millions who were afflicted by the disease.
 
“As a woman I relate to her. She is the type of character who has to balance vulnerability while still having to be strong in pulling everyone together,” Dizon explained.
 
“We always have to know when to be strong and when to reign it in and let go and have others be strong for us--that in itself is a strength,” she added.

Life after "Impulse"
 
Dizon said, after “Impulse Control,” her “goal is to always have projects that are in the works."
 
“Ideally at any given time, I'd have one that's finishing , one that's in production, and one that is being developed, and so that is what I'm trying to constantly do,” she said.
 
Dizon was originally from Angeles City and after graduating from UP Diliman, went on to work in the Philippines for a couple of years.

She then decided to chase her dream of working in Hollywood and moved to Los Angeles.
 
“I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to tell stories that have the potential to reach as many people in the world as possible,” she says.
 
She found living in the US challenging and missed some things in the Philippines.
 
”Mabilis ang buhay sa Amerika. Walang time for drama, you just have to keep going and moving forward kundi maiiwan ka sa biyahe,” Dizon said.
 
”I miss the food and my family of course, and to be honest I miss having someone taking care of the house for me. Here, life gets so hectic that most of the time there's hardly time to see people,” she added.
 
She is thankful for her family and friends who have believed and supported all her projects all these years and would like to invite everyone to watch “Impulse Control”.
 
“To everyone reading this, please support our film! We definitely need more Filipino representation in the international scene. Let's do this. All together we can make this happen! To infinity and beyond!!!” - VVP, GMA News

Samsung Galaxy S3 gets head start on rival iPhone


SEOUL/LONDON (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics launched its top-of-the-range Galaxy S3 smartphone in Europe on Tuesday, aiming to outsell the previous model that helped the South Korean company topple Apple as the world's largest smartphone maker.
The Galaxy S3, which tracks the user's eye movements to keep the screen from dimming or turning off while in use, hits stores in 28 European and Middle East countries, including Germany and Britain, as Samsung aims to widen the gap with Apple months ahead of its rival's new iPhone, expected in the third quarter.
In the kind of anticipation that has become the norm for Apple gadget releases, about 50 customers queued outside the BASE mobile phone shop in Berlin on Monday night eager to be the first to lay their hands on the S3.
The smartphone, running on Google's Android operating system, boasts a 4.8-inch screen, one of the largest on smartphones ever, and much bigger than the 3.5-inch display on the iPhone 4S.
Top global carriers - from Britain's Vodafone to Singapore's SingTel - have started to aggressively promote the S3, fuelling speculation the smartphone could top its predecessor, the GalaxyS2's 20 million sales worldwide.
"In the two years that we've been offering pre-orders, it's the most pre-ordered Android device we've had in our line-up," said a spokesman for Vodafone UK, declining to disclose exact numbers. "It's on track to meet, if not exceed, the level of pre-orders we expected by the time it actually launches."
Samsung itself has said it expects the new flagship model to outsell its predecessor.
Samsung introduced its first Galaxy in 2010, three years after the iPhone's debut, to counter Apple's roaring success in smartphones at a time when the demise of bigger rivals Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion had started.
Samsung sold 44.5 million smartphones in January-March - equal to nearly 21,000 every hour - giving it 30.6 percent market share. Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones, taking 24.1 percent market share.
"The Galaxy S3 is a real challenger to the upcoming iPhone," said Francisco Jeronimo, an IDC analyst based in London. "This is likely be one of the most sold smartphones this year, though the real test will come when the next iPhone is launched."
The race for global smartphone supremacy comes as Apple has accused Samsung of copying some of its products. The South Korean company counter-claims that Apple has infringed its patents. Both have denied the allegations, and a long-running court saga continues.
Apple plans to use a larger screen on the next iPhone, according to people familiar with the situation. The current iPhone 4S model was introduced last October.
Samsung launched its own music service on the Galaxy S3, putting itself head-to-head with Apple. It has previously rebranded existing music and video services.
"Samsung is not known for our content services; we make good hardware products but we haven't done much in the content space but that's changing," T.J. Kang, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics' Media Solution Center, said.
"We are doing it to create a better experience for our users. There are things we could do better if we have complete control over all of the service."
MORE ROUNDED
In a departure from its predecessor, whose look and feel became the main subject of the legal dispute with Apple, the latest Galaxy has a more rounded outline. It also has voice recognition, dubbed S Voice, which will inevitably be compared with Apple's Siri, and image recognition software that can tag and share photographs.
Prices vary depending on the contract. A model with 16 gigabytes of memory costs up to 189 pounds ($300) under a 12-month contract with Vodafone. A similar package for the iPhone 4s costs 159 pounds, but comes with a more expensive monthly data plan.
Samsung said it will release the S3 via 296 carriers in 145 countries by July.
Profit from Samsung's mobile division nearly tripled in January-March to $3.6 billion, accounting for 73 percent of operating profit.
Samsung - whose shares have gained 82 percent since late-August, beating Apple's 58 percent rise - is now banking on an aggressive marketing campaign ahead of the summer London Olympics to further drive sales. It has said its mobile market share in China doubled after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"The S3 is supported by an unprecedented promotional campaign," said Geoff Blaber, an analyst at CCS Insight in London. "Samsung's timing with the Galaxy S3 is perfect."
($1 = 0.6396 British pounds)
($1 = 1185.3500 Korean won)