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Saturday, June 23, 2012

OFW guide: Get into the 'zone' where you do your best work

BOSTON - There are certain times and certain days when you do your best work, and a few ways to help get to that place of maximum performance, says Harvard Business Review.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org. Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"Everyone aspires to get into 'the zone,' or the mental state where you do your best work. Next time you're trying to achieve peak performance, remember these three things:

1. There is no zone for new activities. When you start a new task, you're not going to find flow. Getting in the zone requires activating the subconscious part of the brain, which is simply inaccessible when you are trying something for the first time.

2. You need the right environment. Figure out the settings that facilitate your flow - be it a crowded coffee shop or a quiet library - and work in them whenever possible.

3. Emotions are key. Being in the zone requires finding the feelings that allow your subconscious to take over. Music can help activate these emotions. Find songs, albums, or artists that put you in the right mood and block out distractions." - Reuters

This management tip was adapted from "How to Get into Your Zone" by James Allworth.

Investing 101 for OFWs


This is a feature by Pru Life UK on how overseas Filipino workers can invest their hard-earned money.
MANILA, Philippines - Figuring out a savings plan is already quite a challenge for the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who prioritizes sending money for household needs, children’s education expenses and debt payments.
However, investing money is a foreign concept in itself for Filipinos who grew up practicing only an "earn-spend" culture in their money cycle.
Many Filipinos work in a different country in the hope of earning bigger gains, but a smarter move is to make your earnings work for you by investing. Managing your money wisely may get you to celebrate your permanent homecoming sooner.
Investing earnings may not be a priority for OFWs for now, as the 2012 Q1 Consumer Expectations Survey (CES) conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reflects that only 8.5% of OFW households allocate money for investment.
Things are looking up however as the study likewise signals an increasing awareness among OFWs on the need to save and invest, as the number of investing OFW households has increased from 6.4% in the previous quarter, and those that allocate money for savings register 42.7% in the first quarter of the year.
The lack of financial know-how for OFWs and Filipinos in general inhibits utilizing resources more effectively and recognizing options and opportunities money-wise, and investing is an area that should be studied and explored for hard workers abroad.
Pru Life UK Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Belle Tiongco said investing is simply making your money work for you.
"It's putting your money in an instrument or investment vehicle that will allow it to grow. It's important to invest because money left unattended will not grow, and the steward is tempted to spend, spend, spend," she said.
Tiongco further explained how investing money allows effective stewardship of resources. "Money is not like a plant or seed that you throw on the side of the road and by some miracle sprouts. Money needs to be managed for it to keep growing," she said.
Horror stories and misinformation
The biggest hindrance for OFWs to invest are the many horror stories that run the circuit – pyramid scams, people making wrong choices and losing everything they have worked for.
"It is understandable that OFWs want assurance that their money will grow," Tiongco said. "They’ve made a lot of sacrifices for the money that they have; even individuals who made the wrong choices before them probably had the same concerns."
Basic investing guidelines
There is no one simple way to invest, but Tiongco said there are guidelines OFWs can follow to make their money work for them.
1. There is no "one size fits all" investment option that is applicable to everyone. We have different financial needs, requirements and behaviors, and there is no generic investment option that will work for everyone.
2. It all depends on your level of "risk tolerance." One of the biggest problems when investing is that OFWs tend to ask if growth is a "sure thing."
Tiongco said: "If I were an OFW, and already a full nester, I'd probably be more conservative with my funds, so I'll put them in investment instruments that are on the low risk side."
"On the other hand, if I were just starting out, and I'm single and more adventurous with my funds, I can choose to invest in equities and see my investments gain value in the long term."
3. Identify your goals and timeframe. Your financial needs and goals should also be identified according to where it falls in your investment timeframe. Short-term investments mature quickly and are usually ideal for those who recognize and understand trends in the investment market. It is also for those who will need to get back their money in the next six months to one year.
Long-term investments are ideal for those who wish to set aside and grow their money for their retirement, or for their young children’s college education. These have a relatively lower risk, but seeing the yield of your investment takes time. So be patient, and remember your goals.
4. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. If you do a quick web search of all the horror stories that plague those who want to invest, one common denominator is that most of these people who lost their savings in investments were offered big returns in a short time.
According to Tiongco, this is the most important rule to follow when you are starting out to invest. "For investments to grow, it takes time. A lot of time. So if the promises seem too great, it most probably is."
5. Seek counsel. The best thing that OFWs can do is to seek help from stable and trusted financial institutions on getting started in investing.
"Look for good advise, which you can get from certified financial planners and also from certain bank personnel and investment or wealth advisers," Tiongco said.
She noted that there is a way for OFWs to start investing even while still stationed outside the country, because there are Philippine banks that offer investment instruments in their locations.
Getting enough information
It all still boils down to financial literacy, which Tiongco hopes that the government will address real soon.
"We really have a serious lack of financial education here in the Philippines. The fact that we are not a savings-focused nation is already a problem, what more not having enough knowledge to go about investing," she said.
The government can do much in the area of education, teaching OFWs about their duties, options and opportunities when it comes to money or funds, and in providing free financial advice to those working abroad.
And if there is one vital piece of information Tiongco wants to share with OFWs investing-wise, it is this: "Be patient and careful. Pay your taxes and be compliant. When investing and making your money work for you, these are the biggest contributing factors. Do not shortcut. It will all be worth it in the end."


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.
Pru Life UK is a member of the Philippine Life Insurance Association.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Philippines is a strong global performer, ranks high on Green Index


The Philippines is now categorized as a global “strong performer” after gaining a higher mark in environmental performance, besting Australia, the United States, Singapore and Bulgaria.
In the biennial Environmental Performance Index (EPI) prepared by the Yale and Columbia universities, the Philippines ranked 42nd among 132 countries under the “strong performer” category.
Australia was ranked 48th and the US landed on the 49th spot while Singapore ranked 52nd and Bulgaria, 53rd, under the “modest performer” category.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said a higher rank indicates that a country or region is closer to achieving its established goals in environmental policy.
The EPI, prepared in collaboration with the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland and the Joint Research Center of the European Commission in Italy, studies data to analyze how the global community is doing on particular policy issues against environmental pressures. It is also used to steer individual countries toward environmental sustainability.
“We are pleased that the international community has recognized our efforts on environmental protection and management,” Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said.
“We would like to share this achievement with all the sectors and stakeholders, including other agencies of the government, who have collaborated with us in our programs, particularly in cleaning the air and water, forest protection, national greening program, biodiversity conservation, and other environmental protection initiatives,” he added.
The Philippines jumped eight places from its 50th rank in 2010. The country retained its ranking of eighth in the Asia-Pacific region, higher than South Korea, Australia and Singapore which ranked ninth, 10th, and 11th, respectively.
For 2012, the EPI ranked 132 countries on 22 performance indicators across 10 policy categories under two policy objectives: Environmental Health and Ecosystem Vitality.
The Philippines gained perfect scores in the indicators for outdoor air pollution, change in forest cover, and growing stocks in forests.
Paje cited strong regulatory efforts of the government to obtain cleaner air as evidenced by the 30 percent drop in the amount of total suspended particulates (TSPs) from 166 µg/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter) in June 2010, to 116 µg/Ncm toward the end of last year.
The normal standard set for TSP by the World Health Organization is 90 µg/Ncm. Particulate matter or dust contributes to respiratory infections and other diseases.
Paje also credited the perfect scores in the forestry sector to the issuance by the Aquino administration of Executive Orders 23 and 26.
EO 23 imposes moratorium in the cutting of trees in natural and residual forests. It also mandated the creation of an anti-illegal logging task force with the DENR secretary as head, and the chiefs of the departments of the Interior and Local Government, and National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines as members.
Last year, the task force confiscated more than 10 million board feet of undocumented logs and lumber and filed 452 cases against forestry law violators.
EO 26 established the National Greening Program to reduce poverty, provide food security and mitigate climate change by planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares over a period of six years.
For 2011, the DENR, together with other government agencies, local government units, the private sector, civil society and other partners, was able to plant 69 million seedlings in more than 118,000 hectares nationwide.
(Story courtesy of Micheal Punongbayan of the Philippines Star)

PHL immigration bureau allows visa-free stay for Indian intl travelers

Indian nationals who are regular international travelers may now enter the Philippines and stay visa-free for 14 days, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said.

But the BI said this privilege applies only to Indian travelers who are holders of a valid visa from the European Union (EU) or any of six other countries.

A BI news release said Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. issued a memorandum circular to the effect covering Indians who hold the EU’s Schengen visa, or a visa from the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and United Kingdom.

“Indian nationals who avail of this scheme will be granted an initial stay of 14 days, which may be extended for an additional seven days,” David said.

Previously, Indian tourists must apply for an entry visa with a Philippine consulate in their port of origin before entering the country.

But David stressed the Indians cannot stay beyond 21 days, the maximum allowable period of stay in the country.

He added the new policy is based on a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) circular issued last February which aims to draw more foreign tourists to the country.

The rules provide that aside from having any of the seven mentioned visas, an Indian traveler’s passport must be valid for at least six months.

He or she must have a return ticket or an onward ticket to the next country of destination.

Also, the Indian must have no derogatory record with the BI, National Intelligence and Coordinating Agency and the International Police (Interpol).

BI spokesperson Atty. Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson said Indian tourists availing of the scheme may enter the country only via the three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

“Indian nationals admitted into the Philippines via this scheme cannot apply for conversion of their status to other visa categories,” Mangrobang said. — LBG, GMA News

Fil-Am coach Erik Spoelstra steers Heat to historic NBA win


After a heartbreaking loss from last year’s finals series to the Dallas Mavericks, Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra has finally silenced all his skeptics since becoming the head coach of the Miami Heat in 2008.

Spoelstra has now made National Basketball Association (NBA) history twice — by becoming the first Asian-American to be a head coach of the NBA and by winning a championship.
According to a report of Reuters on Friday, the Miami Heat demolished the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 on Thursday to win the NBA championship 4-1, sweeping the last four games of the series.
 
LeBron James led an outstanding team effort with a brilliant all-around game, grabbing a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and a game-high 13 assists.
 
It was Miami's second NBA title following a 2006 triumph and the first for three-times league Most Valuable Player James, who finally realized his dream of winning a championship ring in his third trip to an NBA Finals.
 
Three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant led the young Thunder team with 32 points with Russell Westbrook and James Harden adding 19 points for the losers. 

'Heart of the Heat'
 
Spoelstra, said to be the "Heart of the Heat,"  was born and raised in the US.

He is the son of Elisa Celino, a Filipina from San Pablo, Laguna and Jon Spoelstra, a Dutch-Irish-American who worked as an NBA executive for different teams.
According to a recent report of CBS Miami, Spoelstra is proud of his Filipino heritage.
 
Spoelstra said he wants the world to know that Filipinos "are rabid basketball fanatics, and it’s been that way for a while.”
 
He also mentioned how his family flew over from the Philippines last weekend to watch the NBA Finals.
 
According to his profile on the official NBA website, he graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in communications in 1992 where he was the starting point guard for four years.
 
During his stay in the university, he was also named West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year in 1989.
 
He then became a player-coach for Tus Herten, a professional sports team in Germany for two years.
 
In 1995, he joined the Miami Heat as a video coordinator and climbed the ranks for 13 years working as an advance scout, director of scouting and assistant coach until he was appointed as head coach in 2008.
 
Giving back to the community
 
Off the court, Spoelstra never forgets to give back to the community by joining grassroot programs such as the NBA Cares foundation.
 
For the past three years he has returned to his native Philippines during the NBA off-season to promote health and education through hosting basketball clinics for thousands of Filipino youth according to his profile.
 
On his website, Spoelstra shared how he felt during his trips to the Philippines.
 
"Both trips were transformational — truly life changing. I was born and raised in the US, and even though I visited the Philippines when I was a kid, I’ve always wanted a stronger connection with the culture and my family living there,” he said.
 
“The trips have given me an opportunity to combine the three great passions of my life, which are family, basketball, and heritage,” he added.
 
Spoelstra also recalled his trip to San Pablo, his mother’s hometown.
 
“In San Pablo, we hosted a big basketball clinic, and I received special plaques from the City Council and San Pablo Colleges — all of that was a really emotional experience for me. Later that day, I visited with family and they tried to teach all of us tinikling, the traditional dance of the Philippines,” he said.
 
He also met Filipino boxing star and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao in a visit in 2008.
 
“He was super cool — he even apologized for wearing a green shirt, which he of course didn’t have to. He said he’s always been a Celtics’ fan but now he’ll switch to rooting for the HEAT. Then he asked me why Floyd Mayweather, Jr. won’t fight him,” he said.
 
Winning a championship
 
It wasn’t just Miami Heat finals MVP Lebron James who was desperate for a championship, according to a report of the Bleacher Report.
 
For James, he would just sulk in a corner for a few months but his career would continue and still have a long way to go even if they lost the series to Oklahoma.
 
For Spoelstra however, it would mean game over and he would need to look for another job.
 
Now that the Heat won, James has a ring and Spoelstra skeptics are silenced, his credibility as a head coach is now secured. - with a report from Reuters, VVP, GMA News

Court allows 2 Pinoys' bid for HK residency


HONG KONG – Two Filipino domestic workers were allowed yesterday by the city’s highest court to pursue their bid for permanent residency rights in the former British colony.
Chief Judge Andrew Cheung, sitting with Judges Robert Tang and Frank Stock, allowed the appeals in the landmark case of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).
Evangeline Vallejos, who came to Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper in 1986, was the first to challenge the exclusion of FDHs to apply for right of abode. She won her case at the Court of First Instance in September last year.
Daniel Domingo also won his petition for residency right at the Court of First Instance last November.
The court earlier heard that Domingo was able to rent his own place; was absent in Hong Kong for only seven days during his 16 years of employment; and is raising three children in the former British colony. Two of his three Hong Kong-born children have already been granted right of abode.
However, their victories were reversed by the Court of Appeal last March.
Solicitor Peter Barnes welcomed yesterday’s court decision, saying they would continue to fight for the cases of Vallejos and Domingo in a bid to end the discrimination against FDHs.
“The court considers it obviously to be a matter of great importance and of course it is. We have to prepare and fight hard, and hope for the best,” Barnes told reporters outside the court.
“We obviously feel that the Court of Appeal got it wrong. But there shouldn’t really be discrimination or distinction between one large segment of the community and the rest of the community,” he added.
While no date has been set for the hearing at the Court of Final Appeal, Barnes said the case would be heard by four local judges and one judge from overseas.
Dolores Balladares, chair of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, also welcomed the court decision.
“This will bring back hope for Evangeline and Daniel to fight for their case to the Court of Final Appeal. We hope that when the cases reach the Court of Final Appeal, the decision will favor Evangeline and Daniel, which will let them live here in Hong Kong permanently,” Balladares said.
Pending the finality of the court ruling on the helpers’ bid for right of abode, the government continues to withhold the processing of right of residency applications from FDHs.
Balladares said the government’s strong opposition to FDHs’ bid for permanent residency rights showed that they are being excluded from society.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DFA to bare new rules on travel agency accreditation


MANILA, Philippines – New guidelines on travel agency accreditation will be released next week as the Department of Foreign Affairs seeks to improve the delivery of passport and other consular services to the public.
“We in the Department of Foreign Affairs have been working hard to fulfill our commitment to deliver fast and efficient services to as many of our people as possible,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said.
Seguis said the new guidelines will complement the steps that have been undertaken by the DFA to improve its services such as the transfer of its consular offices to shopping malls in Metro Manila and in other parts of the country.
 
“Our people can look forward to better services once we transfer our consular offices to their new locations inside shopping malls in the next several months,” Seguis said.
According to Seguis, the new guidelines are the result of a review of the directive on the accreditation of travel agencies in the regions that the DFA issued on May 2.
He said the guidelines also took into account the appeals for reconsideration of the directive made by the Philippine Travel Agency Association, the Philippine IATA Agents Travel Association, the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies and other stakeholders.
 
The DFA, in its May 2 directive, instructed its consular offices nationwide to no longer accredit travel agencies offering passport services effective June 30, 2012 and to remove the special privileges enjoyed by accredited agencies such as guaranteed slots and express processing for their clients.
 
“The directive was issued simply to ensure that all passport applicants, regardless of their social status, get to experience the same privileges but at no additional cost to them,” said Seguis.

He added that the DFA has no plans of increasing passport processing fees which remain at P950 for regular processing and P1,200 for expedited processing.

More OFW families saving more, investing less


MANILA, Philippines - More beneficiaries of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are turning to savings but are investing less, a survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.
BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the second quarter 2012 Consumer Expectations Survey (CES) showed an increase in the percentage of households with family members abroad that allocated portions of their remittances to savings to 38.7 percent in the second quarter from 33.7 percent in the first quarter.
Guinigundo explained that the percentage of households receiving remittances from their loved ones abroad in the second quarter was way higher than the 10.7 percent recorded in the first quarter of 2007 when the CES was launched.
Aside from savings, the survey showed that the percentage of OFW households using remittances for education climbed to 67.2 percent in the second quarter from 64 percent in the first quarter in time for the opening of the new school year.
On the other hand, the percentage of OFW households allotting remittances for investments declined to 5.5 percent in the second quarter from 6.1 percent in the first quarter.
The BSP survey further showed that OFW households using remittances to buy motor vehicles declined to 3.8 percent from 6.1 percent, to acquire houses to 8.4 percent from 9.1 percent, and to buy appliances to 17.6 percent from 20.5 percent.
OFW households continue to utilize their remittances primarily for food, education, medical expenses, and debt payments in the fourth quarter of the year.
This year, the BSP sees the growth of OFW remittances slowing down to five percent after growing by 7.2 percent to a record $20.1 billion last year.
Latest data from the central bank showed that the amount of money sent home by OFWs went up by 5.4 percent to $6.543 billion in the first four months of the year from $6.21 billion in the same period last year on the back of steady demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad and expanded access to services offered by banks and financial institutions.
Higher remittances result to stronger external payments position boosting the country’s buffer fund to fend off the impact of global shocks.
Robust OFW remittances also boost private consumption resulting to stronger gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Private consumption accounts for about 70 percent of the country’s domestic output that is expected to expand between five percent and six percent this year.

Jessica Sanchez in talks to join 'Glee'



MANILA, Philippines - After her American Idol journey, Filipino-Mexican American Jessica Sanchez may soon be joining the US hit musical show "Glee."
According to TV Linewebsite, Sanchez is near a deal to join 4th season of the show but there's no definite details yet on what role she will portray.
It said that Sanchez will finish her "Idol" tour first before joining the cast of "Glee."
In 2010, Pinay singer Charice wowed the US audience as she played the character of Sunshine Corazon.
Currently, Charice is judging ABS-CBN's "The X Factor Philippines" while Sanchez is busy with "Idol" tour.
Sanchez is also set to visit Philippines this September with "Idol" finalists. She will be performing at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on September 21 for the 2012 edition of the "American Idol LIVE! Tour."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Works of 12 Pinoy photographers featured in four Tokyo galleries


The works of 12 Filipino photographers were featured in four galleries in Tokyo, Japan from May 23 to June 14, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
 
A DFA news release on Wednesday said "The Hope and The Dream in Filipino" exhibit featured the following photographers:
  • Veejay Villafranca
  • Jake Versoza
  • Bahag
  • Isa Lorenzo
  • Eric De Leon Zamuco
  • Poklong Anading
  • Wawi Navarroza
  • Frank Callaghan
  • Geloy Maligaya Concepcion
  • Neil Oshima
  • Vincent Rufo, and
  • Cherly Baldicantos.
 
"The Photographic Society of Japan mounts such annual exhibitions to facilitate cultural exchanges with Japan and other countries, including the Philippines through the medium of photography," the DFA said.
 
At a reception honoring the Filipino photographers by the exhibition organizers last May 30, Philipine Embassy Chargé d' Affaires Gina Jamoralin said, "I also hope that our participation will enrich the culture of photography and deepen understanding and facilitate more cultural exchanges between our two countries." - VVP, GMA News

Migrants denounce plan to raise contributions to OWWA to $50/OFW

Migrant groups have criticized the proposed legislation to raise to $50 per person the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (Fourth District, Manila), author of House Bill (H.B.) 6195, said by raising the OFWs' contribution from $25 to $50 per person "will help to sustain an Emergency Repatriation Fund (ERF) for distressed OFWs."

In a news release last week, Bonoan-David said H.B. 6195 seeks "to amend Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995."

R.A. 8042 already created an ERF under the administration of OWWA with an initial funding of P1 million.

However, in a news release, the migrant workers' group Migrante International said it strongly opposes Bonoan-David's proposed bill as OWWA Resolution No. 038 in 2003 already obligated OFWs to pay $25 per contract for the ERF.
 
“We will be more than willing to sit down with her and explain to her our basis for strong opposition to the bill,” Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said.
 
He urged the lawmaker to "re-think the bill after conducting consultations with OFWs and other stakeholders."
 
“We do not know who Rep. Bonoan-David has been consulting but while her intentions may be noble, the bill is definitely unwelcome to OFWs,” Martinez said.

Meanwhile, some people voiced their opposition to the bill through Twitter.
 
Dyosa Prij: “NO TO HOUSE BILL 6195, increasing OFW fee of $50 for the OWWA ERF authored by Manila Dist. Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David! Spread the word!
 
Noem Lardizabal-Dado: “No to $50 INCREASE payments from OFWs! No to passage of House Bill (HB) No. 6195 that requires ADDITIONAL $50 OWWA fees.

Help for distressed OFWs

Bonoan-David, however, explained that "there are millions of OFWs all over the world which the Philippine government is mandated to protect and safeguard under RA 8042 but it seems incapable to efficiently help distressed OFWs due to financial constraints." 

Under H.B. 6195, distressed OFWs can be repatriated during wars, epidemics, disasters or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events.

The bill also proposes a database and locator system of OFWs for their repatriation, if the need arises.
 
"There are millions of OFWs all over the world which the Philippine government is mandated to protect and safeguard under RA 8042 but it seems incapable to efficiently help distressed OFWs due to financial constraints," Bonoan-David pointed out.

Mandatory repatriation
 
The Philippine government undertakes mandatory repatriation in strife-torn countries. 
Some 28 Filipinos, including a 12-year-old boy, were expected to arrive from Syria on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
 
In a news release on Tuesday, the DFA said the boy was born in Syria. His parents are both OFWs.
 
As of June 18, the DFA said 1,643 Filipinos have been repatriated since Crisis Alert Level 4 was raised over Syria last December.
 
A Reuters report on Wednesday said time is running out for United Nations-backed peace efforts in Syria as the escalation of violence in the country's 15-month conflict drives the death toll higher and sparks more human rights abuses.
 
Syrian security forces pounded opposition areas across the country on Monday, activists said, adding that at least 23 people had been killed in clashes they say have become worse since U.N. observers suspended their activities over the weekend.
 
"The Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon) remains gravely concerned about the intensification of violence and rising death toll, as well as continued human rights abuses and unmet humanitarian needs," said Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for political affairs.
 
Ban said last month that at least 10,000 people have been killed in the Syria conflict, but U.N. diplomats say the actual number is likely much higher.
 
The DFA also reiterated its request to the families of OFWs in Syria to provide its Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs (OUMWA) with up-to-date information regarding their next-of-kin's whereabouts and their contact details in Syria by calling (02) 834-3245 or (02) 834-3240. - with a report from Reuters, VVP, GMA News

The 40 richest people in the Philippines


MANILA, Philippines -- SM tycoon Henry Sy tops this year's Forbes list of 40 richest people in the Philippines, which includes the head honchos of some of the largest companies in the country.
With an impressive net worth of $9.1 billion, Lucio Tan is at a rather far second with a net worth of $4.5 billion.
Notables include port entrepreneur Enrique Razon Jr., Senator Manuel Villar, and others.
The top 40 richest in the Philippines are:
1) Henry Sy - $9.1 billion (SM Prime)
2) Lucio Tan - $4.5 billion (Phillip Morris Fortune Tobacco)
3) Enrique Razon Jr. - $3.6 billion (International Container Terminal Services)
4) John Gokongwei Jr. - $3.2 billion (JG Summit)
5) David Consunji - $2.7 billion (DMCI)
6) Andrew Tan - $2.3 billion (Alliance Global)
7) Jaime Zobel de Ayala - $2.2 billion (Ayala Corp.)
8) George Ty - $1.7 billion (Metropolitan Bank)
9) Roberto Ongpin - $1.5 billion (Atok-Big Wedge)
10) Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. - $1.4 billion (San Miguel)
11) Roberto Coyiuto Jr. - $1.3 billion (National Grid)
12) Tony Tan Caktiong - $1.25 billion (Jollibee Foods)
13) Lucio and Susan Co - $1.2 billion (Puregold Price Club)
14) Iñigo and Mercedes Zobel - $1.15 billion (Ayala Corp.)
15) Emilio Yap - $1.1 billion (Philtrust Bank)
16) Jon Ramon Aboitiz - $955 million (Aboitiz Equity Ventures)
17) Andrew Gotianun - $825 million (Filinvest Development)
18) Manuel Villar - $720 million (Vista Land and Lifescapes)
19) Beatrice Campos - $700 million (Unilab)
20) Vivian Que Azcona - $690 million (Mercury Drug)
21) Alfonso Yuchengco - $570 million (Rizal Commercial Bank)
22) Mariano Tan Jr. - $420 million (Unilab)
23) Enrique Aboitiz - $400 million (Aboitiz & Co.)
24) Eric Recto - $365 million (Alphaland)
25) Jose Antonio - $300 million (Century Properties Group)
26) Gilberto Duavit - $270 million (GMA Network)
27) Menardo Jimenez - $265 million (GMA Network)
28) Frederick Dy - $260 million (Security Bank)
29) Manuel Zamora Jr. - $255 million (Nickel Asia)
30) Alfredo Ramos - $$250 million (Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development)
31) Oscar Lopez - $245 million (ABS-CBN)
32) Felipe Gozon - $240 million (GMA Network)
33) Betty Ang - $235 million (Monde Nissin)
34) Wilfred Uytengsu Jr. - $230 million (Alaska Milk)
35) Juliette Romualdez - $200 million (Banco de Oro)
36) Bienvenido Tantoco Sr. - $195 million (Rustan Commercial)
37) Jacinto Ng Sr. - $190 million (Rebisco)
38) Tomas Alcantara - $160 million (Alsons Consolidated Resources)
39) Michael Cosiquien - $150 million (Megawide Construction)
40) Edgar Sia II - $140 million (Mang Inasal)

WBO panel says Pacquiao won by unanimous decision


MANILA, Philippines – (1st UPDATE) Five judges convened by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) unanimously scored in favor of Filipino ring icon Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao after reviewing his controversial split decision loss to American Timothy Bradley, which took place in Las Vegas June 9.
RingTV reported that the five judges, commissioned by WBO President Francisco "Paco" Valcarcel, unanimously scored the bout in Pacquiao’s favor, 117-111, 117-111, 118-110, 116-112 and 115-113.
In what was one of the most shocking decisions in boxing this year, Bradley was named the victor in their WBO welterweight clash last June 9, with judges Duane Ford and CJ Ross scoring the bout 115-113 in his favor. Only Jerry Roth scored the bout for Pacquiao, 115-113.
The result was derided by boxing media – most of whom saw Pacquiao winning by a wide margin – and fight fans, who suspected that there was a conspiracy which led to Bradley's victory.
Because of the controversial result, the WBO decided to take action, with Valcarcel saying that they will "take measures in accordance with the rules of procedure."
Despite the panel’s review, the WBO cannot reverse the decision of the judges on fight night.
"The only thing that we can do is authorize a rematch," Valcarcel told RingTV.
Pacquiao and Bradley’s fight contract contains a rematch clause, scheduled for November 10, but Top Rank officials – including chief executive Bob Arum and president Todd DuBoef – have said that they will most likely not push through with it.
Instead, Pacquiao may fight Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez for a fourth time this November.
Arum lauded the WBO's findings as a "Solomon-like conclusion."
"Paco is a good man, he really is. I have great respect for him and what he says. It's appropriate for him to make that final conclusion," the promoter told RingTV.
Arum said he will have to talk to Pacquiao about what he wants to do for his next bout.
"My first stop on any quest to determine what to do next is that I have to talk to the guy who is the money generator, and that's Manny Pacquiao," he said. "And I have to determine after discussions with him what he wants to do next, and we'll go from there."
Pacquiao is currently in the Philippines, where he is attending to his constituents in Sarangani after the province experienced severe floodings due to Typhoon "Butchoy."
Bradley is confident that he defeated Pacquiao, telling his supporters in Palm Springs, California that he won the fight eight rounds to four.
Pacquiao, for his part, has repeatedly asked his fans to accept his loss, as well as to not blame Bradley for the judges' decision.
The bout is also under investigation by the Attorney General of Nevada after a request filed by Arum. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, led by director Keith Kizer, will also review the video along with the three judges.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Jose Rizal a revered hero abroad, not just PHL


Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal is a revered hero not only in the country but in other parts of the world.

On his 151st birth anniversary on Tuesday, Filipinos gathered at the Luneta Park in Manila where a monument stands in his honor.

Exactly 151 people -- both cops and civilians -- also biked from the Luneta Park to Calamba, Laguna, his birthplace.

Although Rizal is not the “official national hero" of the Philippines, he is still the country's most popular hero and most accepted figure for the role.
The Philippines actually does not have any official national hero. 
 
National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Heraldry Section Chief Teodoro Atienza said no law has been passed to recognize a national hero in the country.

Rizal was born to a rich family in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861. He was the seventh child in the family which had 11 children.

Rizal was a Filipino polymath and patriot who advocated for reforms during the Spanish colonial era.

He attended various schools: 
  • Ateneo Municipal de Manila (earning a Bachelor of Arts);
  • University of Santo Tomas (medicine);
  • Universidad Central de Madrid in Madrid, Spain (Licentiate in Medicine);
  • University of Paris, and
  • University of Heidelberg.
Rizal was a polyglot who was conversant in 22 languages.

A poet and novelist, his two most famous works were the "Noli me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo."

On December 30, 1896, Rizal was executed by the Spanish in Bagumbayan.

The date of his death is remembered every year as "Rizal Day."

Tributes to Rizal around the world

BELGIUM
Estimated number of Filipinos: 6,585*

In Belgium on June 16, three days before Rizal's birth anniversary, the Rizal Traveling Museum was opened at the Philippine Embassy in Brussels.

According to a report of the Filipino community news site Munting Nayon News Magazine, the opening of the museum was followed by a guided tour and a gala dinner.

Ambassador Victoria Bataclan led the ribbon-cutting ceremony during the opening of the museum.

UNITED STATES
Estimated number of Filipinos: 3,166,529*

In the United States, a Rizal statue in Carson City, California is set to become the ninth statue of the Philippine hero in the US.
 
The bronze statue was sculpted by Filipino artist Toym de Leon Imao, a report of the news site Asian Journal said.
 
The seven-foot bronze figure mounted on a six-foot granite pedestal was a gift of the Philippine government to Carson City, the report said.

"Monuments of Rizal stand in eight US cities including Juneau, Alaska; Kauai and Lihue in Hawaii; Chicago, Illinois, Orlando, Florida; Cherry Hill in New Jersey, New York City and Seattle, Washington," the Asian Journal said.

"Rizal monuments also stand in other parts of the world, including Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland, among others," it added.

Meanwhile, Irving Park Road, a street in Chicago in the US, was renamed "Dr. Jose Rizal Avenue" as part of the celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of the Philippine national hero.
 
According to a report of the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, Consul General Leo Herrera-Lim led on September 10 last year the rededication rites for Dr. Jose Rizal Avenue which stretches from Block 1300W to Block 1400W.
 

ANDORRA
Estimated number of Filipinos: 1,075*
 
Last year, in celebration of Rizal's 150th birth anniversary, a bronze bust of him was unveiled at the Parc Central in Andorra, a small landlocked country in southwestern Europe.
 
Philippine Ambassador to Spain and Andorra Carlos Salinas and Andorra la Vella Mayor Maria Rosa Ferrer Obiols led the unveiling of the bronze bust on March 15.
 
"The bronze bust, donated by Philippine Honorary Consul General to Andorra Hans Peter Holbach, was made by the Andorran sculptor Angel Calvente and measures 50 x 30 x 216 centimeters," the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a news release.
 
SWITZERLAND
Estimated number of Filipinos: 19,529*
 
In Switzerland, a marker for Rizal was unveiled on December 14 last year to mark Rizal's 150th birth anniversary.
 
Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja led the unveiling of the Rizal marker at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern.
 
"The plaque was put at the entrance of the hotel where Dr. Jose Rizal stayed in Berne from 4 to 5 June 1887.  It was provided by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines led by its Chair, Ma. Serena Diokno," a DFA news release said.
 
"While in Switzerland, the Philippine national hero visited Schaffhausen, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Geneva.  Markers have been installed previously in Schaffhausen and Geneva," the DFA said.
 
AUSTRALIA
Estimated number of Filipinos: 345,592*
 
The DFA said a statue of Rizal will be installed in Canberra, Australia this year.

In a news release, the DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, the Consulate and the Rizal Park Movement were working with the Campbelltown City Council in installing Rizal's statue.

The DFA said the statue, donated by renowned Filipino sculptor Eduardo Castrillo, will be erected before the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal ends on June 19 this year.

SPAIN 
Estimated number of Filipinos: 52,611*
 
room in a military fortress in Spain where Philippine national hero José Rizal was once imprisoned by Spanish authorities is now a place which honors his name and memory – the “Sala José Rizal" room at the Montjuic Castle in Barcelona, Spain.

On October 6, 1896, Dr. Rizal was imprisoned at the Montjuic Castle—“Castell de Montjuïc" in the local Catalan language—by Spanish authorities after his arrest as he was making his way to Cuba on a volunteer medical mission.
 
 ITALY
Estimated number of Filipinos: 123,379*
 

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal last year, Philippine diplomats in Rome announced plans for a new monument for him.
 
Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican Mercedes Tuason announced the plan following acommemorative program to mark Rizal Day at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.
 
Philippine Ambassador to Italy Romeo Manalo, embassy staff and members of the Tuason and Fores clans from Manila also attended the ceremonies.
 
The program concluded with the reading of Jose Rizal’s last poem “Mi Ultimo Adios" by the participants. - VVP, GMA News
 
 
* Based on the 2010 Stock Estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas

Knights of Rizal honors youngest member in London


LONDON – The Order of the Knights of Rizal honored their youngest member, a leadership and management student, with knighthood in an investiture ceremony that coincided with the 151st birthday of Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
Elija Paul Villanueva, a disc jockey, is also a photography enthusiast who looks up to Rizal as his inspiration and model.
The national hero’s contribution to the society was the driving force that made Villanueva joined the Order of the Knights of Rizal.
“I joined the Knights of Rizal because I believe in his works and teachings. I was also inspired by him,” he said.
Villanueva encouraged Filipinos to emulate and spread the teachings and legacy of Rizal.
“We need to propagate Rizal’s teachings and legacies. He contributed a lot to our society and also to other countries,” he said.
“We will learn so many lessons from his teachings. What he wrote in the past are still applicable to what’s happening in the present,” he added.
Advocating the teachings of Jose Rizal was also the vision asserted by Lady Aurea Taguiang, the President of the Ladies of Rizal here in the UK.
“We, the Order of Knights of Rizal and the Ladies of Rizal, are promulgating the ideals of Rizal and his teachings,” she said.
“That is why it is so important to celebrate the birthday of Rizal to commemorate all his teachings and ideals,” she added.
The Order of the Knights of Rizal has 25 members in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1990 here in London.
London is very significant in the life and works of Rizal. He came to London in 1888 and did some research work at British museum. It was also here in this city that he accomplished one of his known works, the annotation of Morga’s book, ‘Sucesos de Las Isla Filipinas’.
Until today the house in 37 Chalcott Crescent, Primrose Hill, Camden where Rizal once stayed still exists with a commemorative mark to remember his life in London.