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Friday, September 28, 2012

Gospel of Jesus' wife fragment is a fake, Vatican says


VATICAN CITY - An ancient papyrus fragment which a Harvard scholar says contains the first recorded mention that Jesus may have had a wife is a fake, the Vatican said on Friday.
 
"Substantial reasons would lead one to conclude that the papyrus is indeed a clumsy forgery," the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, said in an editorial by its editor, Gian Maria Vian. "In any case, it's a fake."
 
Joining a highly charged academic debate over the authenticity of the text, written in ancient Egyptian Coptic, the newspaper published a lengthy analysis by expert Alberto Camplani of Rome's La Sapienza university, outlining doubts about the manuscript and urging extreme caution.
 
The fragment, which reads "Jesus said to them, my wife" was unveiled by Harvard Professor Karen King as a text from the 4th century at a congress of Coptic Studies in Rome last week.
 
Her study divided the academic community, with some hailing it as a landmark discovery while others rapidly expressed their doubts.
 
"It's really pretty unlikely that it's authentic," University of Durham Professor Francis Watson told Reuters after he published a paper arguing the words on the fragment were a rearrangement of phrases from a well known Coptic text.
 
Watson, who has previously worked on identifying forged gospels, said it was likely to be an ancient blank fragment that was written over in the 20th or 21st century by a forger seeking to make money.
 
Watson argues the words on the fragment do not fit grammatically into a larger text.
 
"It's possible to get hold of an old bit of un-written on papyrus and write some new stuff on it," Watson said. "There is a market for fake antiquities throughout the Middle East ... I would guess that in this case the motivation might have been a financial one."
 
ACADEMIC DEBATE
 
Manuscript experts who heard King's presentation quickly took to their blogs to express doubts, noting that the letters were clumsy, perhaps the script of someone unused to writing Coptic.
 
Writing from the conference, early Christian scholar Christian Askeland said specialists there were divided between two-thirds who were extremely skeptical, and one-third convinced the fragment was false.
 
"I have not met anyone who supports its authenticity," Askeland wrote from a session of the Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies, where King gave her paper.
 
In an email to Reuters after the conference ended and before the Vatican editorial, King said: "Whether, in the end, the fragment will be shown to be authentic is still to be finally determined, but the serious conversation among scholars has begun."
 
During the conference King stressed that the fragment did not give "any evidence that Jesus was married, or not married" but that early Christians were talking about the possibility.
 
AnneMarie Luijendijk, associate professor of religion at Princeton University, said she concluded that the fragment was indeed an authentic, ancient text, written by a scribe in antiquity.
 
"We can see that by the way the ink is preserved on the papyrus and also the way the papyrus has faded and also the way the papyrus has become very fragmentary, which is actually in line with a lot of other papyri we have also from the New Testament," Luijendijk told Reuters during the conference.
 
The idea that Jesus was married resurfaces regularly in popular culture, notably with the 2003 publication of Dan Brown's best-seller "The Da Vinci Code," which angered the Vatican because, among other things, it was based on the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and had children.
 
Christian tradition has long held that Jesus was not married and the Catholic Church, by far the largest in Christendom, says women cannot become priests because Christ chose only men as his apostles. — Reuters

Pinoy NASA scientist launches book on his journey to finding God


Jojo Sayson, a Filipino National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) research scientist launched in Makati City in the Philippines an autobiography that describes his journey to finding God after going through depression.

Sayson, also a physical therapist and doctor of manual therapy, launched his book "Springboard to Heaven" at Powerbooks in Greenbelt, Makati City.

The book talks about how he once attempted to commit suicide but eventually overcame his depression and found peace with God.
 
In an interview with GMA News Online, Sayson said he aims "to ignite people so that they can be like angels and that they can be like the light in the world.” 
 
“The whole world is changing and God is being lost,” he said.
 
“A lot of people call themselves Christians but they commit all kinds of improper acts that are contrary to their beliefs,” he explained. “I want people to walk the talk, give meaning to their lives,” he added.
 
“Things happen for a reason”
 
Sayson said his book was meant for everyone.
 
He said he didn’t plan on writing the book and that it was “one of those things where you surrender yourself to the greater being which is God.”
 
“You find out that things happen for a reason,” he said.

He said sometimes, people will find that they just have to go with the flow.

He likened this to his own experience. 
 
“Like the author coming to my life saying that he wants to write a book about myself,” he said.

Letting go
 
Sayson said people should “be willing to sacrifice and let go of the things that you’re comfortable with because we always want to live within our comfort zones.”
 
“Good income, good health, good schedules, everything has to be comfortable, you need to step out of it,” he said.
 
“That’s the only way that you can go. You have to stretch yourself actively, otherwise when bad things happen you’re [going to be] destroyed,” he continued.
 
He said if one is "too comfortable" with his life, something may be wrong and he may need to undergo a certain amount of stress to get to the next level.
 
“When I say stress, challenge yourself spiritually, morally, financially, physically, anything, [just] challenge yourself.
 
Infinity and disproving God
 
Sayson said even as a child, he felt that he had a mission.
 
“I always thought about what we call infinity, I did not have the words for it but I felt a calling even as a child that I must have a mission,” he said.
 
“I realize my mission and I now see the invisible, somehow and I tell people that ‘you can see the invisible as well only if you open your mind and heart.’” he added.
 
Sayson strongly believes that there is a greater being out there after he has “opened up.”
 
“I tried to disprove God but I could not win,” he said, adding, “I could not have any stronger reason why there is no God, there is a God.”
 
Filipino roots
 
Born in the Philippines on June 19, 1963, Sayson became aware of the hardships of earning a living.
 
“I couldn't live off with the money that I was earning,” he admitted.
 
He left the Philippines on January 25, 1986 to seek greener pastures.
 
“I left for financial reasons. Because for what I have achieved in college as a physical therapist, during those days it was not enough to sustain living fairly comfortably and supporting your family,” he said.
 
“Because if I am to help my family and to pursue the dreams that I want, I need to have an infrastructure,” he added.
 
Sayson said he misses the Filipino people “that’s why I keep on coming back."
 
“I go by Jose Rizal’s quote 'Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ‘di makakararating sa paroroonan,'” he added.
 
He also said the past keeps people's feet on the ground.
 
“Every time I’m eating good food in a nice restaurant, I would look out the window and I would see myself outside,” he said.
 
“Because at one point in my life, I was that other person looking into the nice place and telling myself “Wow it must taste good there it must feel nice to be in there. One day I’ll be there, I believe and it shall,”” he added. 
 
Controlling one's passions
 
Sayson’s favorite Filipino foods are “Rellenong bangus, kikiam and halo-halo.”
 
 However, he maintains a strict diet and regulates his food intake.
 
“Filipinos live to eat, I eat to live,” he said, adding, “It’s a matter of controlling your passions.”
 
Sayson also talked about controlling one's passions.
 
“If you have passions you could control, [such as] love, anger and hormonal passion then you are a well-controlled human being,” he said.
 
“If you can’t control it, madali ka magalit, then animal ka,” he added.
 
He said a person can only experience living life if he learns to control his passions.
 
“If you control your passion then you are the captain of your soul and you can go places because you are in command,” he said.
 
“We have to focus on the bigger and brighter things rather than the negative things. It’s all about focusing,” he continued.
 
To his fellow Filipinos, Sayson gave this advice: "Believe that you could be whoever you want to be. Believe that your life will change on how you want it by acknowledging that there is a creator, there is a God and that you are a co-creator with God,” he said. - VVP, GMA News

S&P upgrades Phl growth, downgrades some Asian economies


International credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) upgraded its economic growth forecast for the Philippines to 4.9 percent from the original 4.3 percent.
According to S&P,economic expansion could hit 4.9 percent this year, faster than the previous target of 4.3 percent, “reflecting the ongoing strength of the domestic economy,” Among Asia-Pacific countries, only the Philippines’ outlook was upgraded by the credit rater.
Still, the revised forecast fell below the government’s five to six-percent target for the year. The economy grew by 6.1 percent in the first semester.
S&P, in a report titled “Asia-Pacific Feels Pressure of Ongoing Global Economic Uncertainty” released yesterday, further projected that growth could slightly pick up to five percent next year before slowing to 4.8 percent in 2014.
“Although Asia Pacific has recorded strong GDP (gross domestic product) growth relative to other global economies, Standard & Poor’s has observed a continued change in the region’s economic barometer,” it said.
“The global economy is still travelling a volatile road. Continued pressures in the European Economic and Monetary Union (euro zone) and the US are being felt across the world, including (the) Asia-Pacific (region),” it added.
Fears of a China’s hard landing were also taken into account, S&P said, while the possibility of “any oil price shock” though “currently remote” is not being ruled out.
The Philippines is seen to be in a better position to weather any worsening of the euro zone debt crisis, with trade to the region just accounting to 54.2 percent of GDP compared with those of export-led Singapore and Hong Kong—more than 300 percent– which are most vulnerable.
Bank deleveraging is also not likely to have an impact, S&P said, as claims of euro zone banks to the country only totaled to 8.1 percent of GDP as against Hong Kong’s 156.5 percent.
GDP is the sum of all products and services created in a country. A lesser proportion of trade and bank claims to Philippine GDP mean the economy could still perform well should the debt crisis worsen.
On the other hand, Philippines is seen “most exposed” to oil price shocks—such as higher oil prices in the world market and supply constraints– due to the country’s dependence on imported petroleum products.
(Story courtesy of Prinz P. Magtulis of the Philippine Star)

Filipino teams in semifinals of Google Apps Developer Challenge



The Philippines has achieved international recognition once again, this time at the Google Apps Developer Challenge 2012 — a global coding competition for Google Apps and Google Drive, where four Filipino teams, including a team of Smart developers, have reached the semifinals.
Smart, through its developer community, Smart Developer Network (Smart DevNet), provided sponsorship and assistance to the Philippine legs of the international competition organized by local Google Developer Groups (GDG).
The country’s short-listed entries were: CollabSpot Notetaker, which allows collaborative creation of tasks and document links via Google+ Hangouts sessions; tsksticker, which enables the creation of art, comic strips and animation using drag and drop sticker options; CleverNote, which is a unique way of taking notes in Google Drive; and Events KIT, the Google app coded by Smart developers, which helps manage events, meetings or usual meet-ups in a more organized manner.
“Being one of the finalists is already a major achievement for our company and for the country,” said Mitch Padua, Smart department head for Internet product management.
“This significant achievement underscores our commitment to the development of groundbreaking products, services, and programs that will help our subscribers and our people to live more and achieve their full potential,” he added.
“This milestone shows that the developer community in the Philippines is dynamic, advanced, and world-class,” said Jim Ayson, Smart senior manager for Smart DevNet.
“We renew our commitment to support programs and activities that will help move the Philippine apps developer ecosystem forward,” he added.
The four Filipino teams were part of the seven short-listed entries from Southeast Asia. They will compete with developers from five other regions, namely India, Latin America, Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, for prizes that include Chromebooks and up to $20,000 in cash.
Launched in June this year, the Google Apps Developer Challenge 2012 is a global competition for developers across the globe which requires participants to build and submit applications for any of the three categories — Enterprise or Small Business Solutions; Social/Personal Productivity/Games/Fun; and Education/Water/Food and Hunger/Health.
A total of 18 winning apps will be chosen at the end of the competition. Winners will be announced on Nov. 12.

Pinoy Fashion Designers Conquer Emmys Red Carpet


The creations of Filipino designers Monique Lhuillier and Oliver Tolentino continue to dazzle many people including Hollywood personalities. The two US-based designers were recently tapped by the stars to create their stunning outfits for the recently concluded 64th Primetime Emmy Awards night held at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles on Sept. 23 (US Time).
The Cebu-born couturier Lhuillier created a vibrant yellow tube-top ball dress for Emmy’s Best Supporting Actress Julie Bowen of the comedy series “Modern Family” while Lhuillier made a flattering orange strapless gown for “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi who was also present at the award’s night.
For “Once Upon A Time” actress Ginnifer Goodwin, Lhuillier made a lace orange number that matched her fair skin. Tolentino, on the other hand, dressed up “Big Bang Theory” star Melissa Rauch with an emerald green couture Venus cut chiffon gown. For Hollywood TV show “Extra’s” host Maria Menounos, Tolentino added an exceptional Pinoy touch by designing an eco-blue gown made of Piña fiber.
“It’s very nice and it’s very organic,’” Tolentino quoted Menounos as saying in a “Balitanghali” report aired on Tuesday. He added that the American TV host was very pleased that “Isang fitting lang talaga eh nakuha ko na yung sukat niya.”
The piña gowns available in his Los Angeles shop were all made in the Philippines.
“Hindi lang naman exposure para sa akin. Ang hinahabol ko talaga dito is I want the whole world to know that us Filipinos can create beautiful clothes using our local fabric, which is the piña,” Tolentino said in a previous “Umagang Kay Ganda” report.
Hollywood stylists have been visiting his shop in Los Angeles to check his designs with “The Voice” coach Cee Lo green as one of his regular customers.
(Story courtesy of Maureen Marie Belmonte of the Manila Bulletin)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Best Traits of Filipinos, that we should be proud of


By Hannah Joy Gregorio and Khristopher Vincent Defensor
Filipinos are known for being hospitable, but it’s not only the positive trait that Filipinos possess. Having been colonized by various countries, the Philippine culture, in effect, is mixed with Asian and Western influences. Thus, the Philippine culture is diverse and can be reflected in the our traits.
Hard-working
Filipinos over the years have proven time and time again that they are a people with an industrious attitude. Sadly, this is seen by others as Filipinos being only useful as domestic helpers, working abroad to help their families in the country. This is also present in the country’s workforce particularly the farmers. Even with little support, technological weaknesses and the country’s seasonal typhoons, the Filipino farmer still strives to earn their daily meal.
Even though the government provides small support to the country’s workers, many people choose to engage in micro businesses—the so-called sari-sari stores and tiangge, the Filipino version of local markets and ukay-ukay, or second-hand stores.
Some would also pursue engaging in transportation with jeepneys, tricycles and such to offer low-cost transportation to the ever mobile masses.
Though these are some examples on how Filipinos get by with everyday living, these work opportunities offer only minimum pay but Filipinos still pursue them in hopes of giving their children a decent life and proper education so they could elevate themselves to a higher standard of living.
Strong family ties
In the country the people put family ties and relations as one of their top priorities. Filipinos would do all they could to provide and sustain their respective families. This is present in Filipino festivals where they invite the whole family and in Sundays where they would make time to use it to spend the whole day for their families.
You will find that it is common in the country to include the extended members not just the normal nuclear family. It is not unusual that in a single household it would reach up to ten members of a family living under the same roof. They value each other’s company, and everyone strives to provide for the whole and not just for them.
Even grandparents still have an active role in the family. It is now the norm in the society that both parents are out working, leaving the care of their children to the lolos and lolas, especially if the family cannot afford to hire a nanny. Grandparents therefore become responsible for instilling into their grandchildren the values and morals they taught to their own children, further increasing the importance of the elderly in our society.
Honesty
Being a hard-working people, the Filipinos are also honest. In general, they would prefer to work hard for an honest day’s pay than to find an easier way like stealing or cheating.
As in the case of overseas Filipino workers or OFWs, they are mostly domestic helpers and though given a job which requires a lot of trust from the employer as they are left alone with their belongings or children, it is rare that Filipinos would do anything to betray or lose the trust that is given to them. We see so many Filipinos working in the homes of other families precisely because they can be trusted.
But even in our own country, Filipinos have displayed honesty in various forms, may it be from a taxi driver returning a dropped phone or wallet. Filipinos would choose to do the right thing, though sometimes this is not necessarily true.
Religious
The Philippines is one the most religious countries in world, particularly in Catholicism and Islam. Families would encourage and strengthen the values of their children and would at least have one day a week for worship and at the same time strengthening family ties.
Religion is the foundation of most of the country’s morals and values and sometimes, the church greatly affects the minds and opinions of the general populace, affecting its decisions. Sadly, this also applies to the government as they are troubled by whatever the Church’s stand is in every matter, as people see their opinion to be the “right” one. Thus, many of our politicians go with whatever the Church says, fearing that they would lose vote if they go against it.
Resiliency
The Philippines is a hotspot for disasters, natural and otherwise. Couple that with poverty, and one would think that Filipinos have the most reason for being a depressed people. However, we have demonstrated time and again that Filipinos can bounce back from a tragedy, emerging stronger and better than before. In the middle of a disaster, Filipinos can still manage to smile and be hopeful that the next morning brings new hope.
We have shown the world that by working together as a nation, we have what it takes to recover from a bad situation. This is something that all of us should be proud of, no matter where in the world we are.
With all of these good traits (and more!), one would really be proud to say, “I am a Filipino.”
Filipinos have shown the world that by working together, we have what it takes to recover from a bad situation—and this is a trait that we should all be proud of.
(Story courtesy of Manila Times)

Global fund says Philippines new darling of global investors


The Philippines is one of the current “darlings” of global investors seeking better returns in emerging market economies and offers even bigger potential returns in the future, according to a ranking official of foreign investment firm Religare Capital Markets Ltd.
The company, which specializes in equities investments in India and the Asean region, has decided to set up operations in the country within the year to better take advantage of the nascent Philippine economic boom.
“The Philippines is a market where people want to put money into,” Religare’s global head of equity capital markets John Sturmey said in an interview with the Inquirer. “The story here is certainly better than how it was a few years ago. Everyone is saying good things about the Philippines.”
Religare, which has the bulk of its operations in India, Singapore and Hong Kong, is hoping to tap into the growing demand from the local corporate market for investment banking and equity deals.
The appetite of local corporations for more capital on both the equity and debt sides jibes with the massive amount of liquidity found offshore as central banks in the United States and Europe try to revive their economies with cheap funds, leaving investors awash with cash and few options for better returns in their home markets.
“Investors are looking for places where they can make money,” Sturmey said, pointing out that Philippine companies used to have initial public offerings worth only $60 million. “Now we see $300-400 million deals,” he said.
Religare’s equities head also said that ongoing challenges being faced by China and Hong Kong—the twin darlings of foreign investors over the past decade—also bode well for alternative investment sites like the Philippines.
“Hong Kong and China are offering less opportunities,” he said. “They’re ‘over-banked’ since there are a lot more financial institutions chasing after fewer and fewer deals.” This has made it less attractive for firms like Religare, which would have to contend with thinning profit margins.
At the same time, the China and Hong Kong markets have ongoing difficulties with corporate governance issues, which are encouraging investors to look to other emerging market nations.
Previous to its announcement that it would set up shop locally, Religare has already participated in the initial public offering of Puregold Price Club Inc. late last year as a junior partner of lead underwriter UBS (most of Religare’s senior officials are former UBS bankers). More recently, Religare also initiated research coverage on local IT gaming firm Philweb Corp.
Sturmey said that Religare was particularly interested in the spate of “re-IPOs” being undertaken by local corporations as part of the Philippine Stock Exchange’s thrust to increase the free float of listed companies.
“These re-IPOs present good opportunities to people like ourselves,” he said. “The Philippines has great companies here but they’re trading $10,000 a day [in total value turnover].”
The Religare official expressed confidence in the local market, saying the country was “in the best place it’s been for decades, with a very strong macroeconomy and a solid political situation.”
“It’s always been overlooked for many years, even by the big banks,” Sturmey said. “The bigger question is, whether it’s sustainable.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fil-Am Nonprofit Advocate awardee proud to be Pinoy

For businesswoman Gloria C. Rull, being part Filipino, part American is something to be proud of and should be a source of inspiration to others.

“I take pride in being Filipino-American,” said Rull, an Orange County-based entrepreneur, in her speech after receiving the Nonprofit Advocate of the Year award, which was one of the two awards she received on Sept. 14.

“I know that the reason that I’m being awarded is because in my heart, I really want to help the Asian community make themselves better,” she added.

Aside from this, Rull also received the 2012 Outstanding Filipino Americans in the US Award. “I’m very honored for being awarded for the second time again,” she said.

Rull received the awards during the 19th National Asian Entrepreneur of the Year Awards presented by the Asian Entrepreneur Magazine at Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. She was recognized for being the:
  • Community Leader for Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County,
  • President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County in 2009, and
  • Current President for the Asian Business Association Orange County

Rull has been holding top executive positions for the past 20 years, according to a report on the Asian Journal.

The Nonprofit Advocate of the Year award is given to individuals who have contributed greatly in pursuing ways to help the community less the profit.
 
More for the community
 
Rull, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the Small Business Financial Development of Orange County, said she enjoys mentoring people. She said she has a knack on teaching Asian American entrepreneurs and hoped that the award would be an inspiration for her to do more for the community.
 
Vice Consul Mary Joy Ramirez of the Philippine Consulate General in LA attended the banquet and congratulated Rull and the other awardees.
 
“We congratulate Ms. Rull for winning an award tonight, we are very proud of all our awardees,” Ramirez said. “We also congratulate them for their contribution to the community here in California.”

Other awardees

Aside from Rull, some of the other awardees were Senator Ted W. Lieu and Representative Judy Chu, who both received the Public Servant Advocates of the Year Award.

“It’s great to be honored by the Asian Entrepreneur Magazine especially since I’m on the House Small Business Committee, and a ranking chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Contracting,” Chu said.

She also said small businesses will play a big role in the future of US immigrants.

 “We need to have more access to capital and more access to programs that are offered by the small business administration,” Chu said.

“Small business has always been the key to the American Dream for immigrants,” she added.
Other awardees present at the banquet were Khanie and Tom Nguyen from WinCorp Solutions for the High Technology category, Dr. Marissa Pei for the Less Than 50 Employees category, to name a few. — Drei Medina/KBK, GMA News

Saudi lifts ban vs. hiring of Filipino maids


MANILA, Philippines - The Saudi Arabian government is lifting a ban on the hiring of Filipino domestic helpers effective October 1st.
The Saudi Arabian embassy in Manila said its government has finally agreed to granting the Philippines' demand for a minimum monthly wage of US$400 and more protection for Filipino maids.
The ban has been in place since July last year as Saudi Arabia refused to grant those concessions.
“There is no problem concerning the resumption of opening of the working visa,” said Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the Philippines, Abdullah al Hassan, with the help of an interpreter.ANC News Now

Monday, September 24, 2012

Derrick Rose becomes emotional during a promotional event for his new Adidas shoe


Derrick Rose is never one to show much emotion on the court. But the Bulls guard was overcome with emotion off the court on Thursday during a promotional event for his new Adidas shoe.
Moments after a video played showing him tear his ACL during last season’s playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose sat with his head in his hands and cried. When asked a question, Rose continued to sob before taking almost a minute to compose himself.
“It’s truly a blessing, man,” said Rose, still fighting back tears. “With all this stuff that’s going on in this city. A kid from Englewood has something positive going on. That makes me feel so good. The shoe is great. All this is great. I can’t explain this. I can’t.
“I went through so much. To have, like, true fans, that means a lot to me. And I know it means a lot to my family. Because we aren’t suppose to be here at all. But God made the way. This is truly unreal. I’m just happy to have true fans out there.”
It’s not the first time Rose has broken down off the court. Upon receiving his 2011 MVP award, he cried when speaking about his mother.
Rose said the rehab from the ACL surgery on his left knee is going good and that he started jumping a “couple days ago.”
“Everybody says All-Star break [to return], but we don’t tell him that,” older brother Reggie Rose said. “It’s really just his mental psyche. That’s the major thing we have to work on and his [confidence] playing with the injury, just knowing it was an injury and it’s not still an injury.”
Rose talked about some of the Bulls’ offseason moves and the hopes for next season.
“That’s my only goal is to win a championship,” Rose said. “Hopefully, it’s soon. I’m going to put my heart into it, whatever I do on and off the court. With the team that we have now, we have a good chance. We have a good shot with the players that we have coming in. With the players that we lost, I’m definitely going to miss them.”
Rose, who is about to have a child with his girlfriend, also touched on the teachers strike in Chicago.
“It hurts you,” he said. “I’m going to have a kid, so this is one of the reasons why I’m thinking about it. I hope they change it soon. I’m praying for them.”
Contributing: AP

Phl jumps 16 places in global economic freedom rankings


The Philippines leapfrogged to 61st place from 77th in the annual rankings on economic freedom around the world.
The country’s score also jumped to 7.12 from 6.84, said the Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 annual report.
Out of 144 countries and territories surveyed for the report released by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think tank, Hong Kong topped the field with a score of 8.9 out of 10.
Economic freedom is measured in five different areas: size of government (big government reduces the space for free exchange), legal system and security of property rights, access to sound money, freedom to trade internationally, and regulation of credit, labor, and business.
Fred McMahon, vice-president international research of the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, said the Philippines’ big improvement came in sound money, particularly allowing people to own foreign currency bank accounts.
There were also relatively small improvements in two other variables in this area: money growth and inflation variability.
“The Philippines also saw an increased score in size of government, in other words, government got slightly less intrusive in the economy,” he said.
“Overall, these factors led to an increase in the Philippines’ score from 6.84 to 7.12 out of 10. Because nations are tightly packed around these scores, this led to a move up in the ranks from 77 to 61,” he added.
The rankings in this year’s report are based on 2010 data, the most recent year for which comprehensive figures are available.
The other top 10 nations listed in descending order after Hong Kong with their scores in brackets were: Singapore (8.69), New Zealand (8.36), Switzerland (8.24), Australia (7.97), Canada (7.97), Bahrain (7.94), Mauritius (7.90), Finland (7.88) and Chile (7.84).
Rankings (and scores) of other large economies in this year’s index included: United Kingdom, 12th (7.75); United States, 18th (7.69); Japan, 20th (7.64); Germany, 31st (7.52); Russia, 95th (6.56); China, 107th (6.35); and India, 111th (6.26).
Venezuela was in last place with a score of 4.07 among the countries surveyed.
Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Republic of the Congo and Angola rounded out the bottom five nations.
Singapore was the best performer among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries in the world rankings in 2nd place, followed by the Philippines (61st), Malaysia (71st), Indonesia (76th), Thailand (87th) and Vietnam (96th).
Following were the economic freedom scores and world rankings in brackets for the Philippines: Size of government 8.31 (9), Legal system and property rights 4.37 (110), Sound money 9.29 (39), Freedom to trade internationally 6.69 (97), and Regulation 6.92 (74).
(Story courtesy of Jose Katigbak STAR Washington Bureau)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SWS: 800,000 fewer Pinoy families who consider themselves 'poor'

800,000 fewer Filipino families consider themselves "poor," according to the latest survey of pollster Social Weather Stations (SWS).  It's a significant drop (or about 8 percent) from an estimated 10.3 million families who considered "poor" in a SWS survey just three months before.

The latest survey, conducted from August 24 to 27, found that 47% of 1,200 respondents nationwide (equivalent to around 9.5 million families) considered themselves "poor." The difference between 10.3 million and 9.5 million is approximately 800,000 families. 

Malacañang said the improvements in poverty ratings were a sign that the Aquino government’s efforts "to achieve inclusive growth were being felt." The SWS, on the other hand, attributed the gains to "further belt-tightening" by Filipinos.

The results of SWS' third-quarter poll were first published in BusinessWorld.

The latest figure is four percentage points down from 51% (an estimated 10.3 million families) based on the results of an SWS survey in May this year.


BusinessWorld said the last time that self-rated poverty fell below 50% was in December 2011 when the poverty rating was at 45%.

The lowest recorded self-poverty rating stands at 43% -- March 1987 and March 2010.

Food poor
 
Meanwhile, the SWS' latest survey found that fewer families claimed to be "food-poor."

The SWS said only 35% of the respondents (around 7.2 million families) counted themselves as food poor.

This figure is four points lower than the August rating of 39 percent (around 7.9 million families).
 
March 2010 saw a record low food poverty rating of 31%. 

Signs of improvement
 
Meanwhile, according to BusinessWorld, Malacañang said the improvements in poverty ratings were a sign that the Aquino government’s efforts "to achieve inclusive growth were being felt."

The SWS, on the other hand, attributed the gains to "further belt-tightening" by Filipino families.
The SWS said "poor families have been lowering their living standards, i.e., belt-tightening." 

Poverty scores

SWS said poverty scores generally improved, except in the Visayas:
  • Mindanao (57% from 65%),
  • Metro Manila (35% from 41%),
  • Balance Luzon (38% from 43%), and 
  • Visayas (63% from 57%).
 
Poverty scores fell in both rural and urban areas:
  • by five points in urban areas to 37%, and
  • by three points to 58% in rural areas.
 
Self-rated food poverty, from three months earlier, improved throughout the country except the Visayas: 
  • Mindanao (45% from 53%),
  • Balance Luzon (29% from 32%),
  • Metro Manila (24% from 25%),
  • Visayas (47% from 46%)
 
Median poverty threshold
 
Meanwhile, the median poverty threshold remained steady only in Metro Manila and the Visayas:
  • P15,000 in Metro Manila, and  
  • P10,000 in the Visayas.

On the other hand, median povery threshold fell in Balance Luzon and Mindanao:
  • P8,000 in Balance Luzon, and
  • P7,000 in Mindanao.
- VVP/KG/HS, GMA News

How to achieve your goals and live a life you love



Whether you’ve always dreamed of running a marathon, long to start your own business or aspire to see your name in lights, we all have ambitions and goals in life. However, often we don’t feel good enough, lucky enough or talented enough to get what we want, so too often our dreams go unrealized. To make sure your aspirations don’t remain a distant dream, check out these 10 steps for achieving your goals.
1. Prioritize
Most of us have hundreds of things on our wishlist of things we want to do, from losing our muffin top to buying our dream home. However, if you want to effectively tackle an important goal, it is important not to overload yourself and to go after one ambition at a time, starting with the goal most important to your overall happiness. Also, while it is good to aim high, it is also important to choose a goal that is attainable and which fits with your talents, lifestyle and who you are as a person – don’t go after a goal just because it is something you feel you should do.
2. Get specific
We often make broad declarations about what we want out of life, such as “I wish I was fitter”, “I’d love to have more money” or “I want to make a difference to the world”. However, these vague, intangible goals are hardly ever accomplished as, in order to achieve your goals, you need to be specific about what exactly it is you want; how do you want to make more money? What could you do to make a difference? Set specific and measurable goals such as “I want to start exercising three times a week” or “I want to become the manager of my company” so that you have something to aim for and can measure your progress.
3. Research your goal
In order to get where you want in life, you need to understand exactly how you can get there, and the best way to do this is to ask those who know. Whatever your ambition, there is bound to be someone out there who has already achieved it, and their advice and experience could prove invaluable. Browse the Internet, take a course, read books on the subject and get in contact with people who have achieved your goal. By getting a clear of understanding of how others have achieved the same ambition, you will be well equipped to follow in their footsteps.
4. Break it down
When you first look at your goal it may seem slightly overwhelming. How on earth are you ever going to score your dream job/run a marathon/write that novel? However, by breaking your overall ambition down into “mini goals” (such as completing a 5K race or writing 200 words a day) you will not only make your goal seem more achievable but you will give yourself specific things to aim for along the way. Write down your plan of action – what you want to achieve and how you can get there, step by step. Then tick off each “mini goal” as you achieve it to give yourself a visual representation of your progress.
5. Take action
Often the reason we don’t achieve our goals is because we keep putting them off until a “better time” in the future. However, this better time may never come, and in actual fact the best time to start chasing your dreams is right now. Ask yourself what you can do this week to make your dream happen. What can you do right now? Also, evaluate what it is that is stopping you from going after your goal (such as lack of time or financial restraints) and see how you can work around these things. Don’t leave your goal as a distant dream; take action and start pursuing it right now.
6. Believe in yourself
It may sound cheesy, but to achieve your goals in life you have to get in the right frame of mind, and that means believing you can do it. Confidence in yourself and your abilities can get your far, and setting out with a positive mind set is important. However, while many of us start out brimming with confidence, setbacks and perceived failures can soon diminish this, so it is important to take measures to stay motivated. Reward yourself and take pride in every little achievement, and remember that everyone who has achieved anything difficult has had little setbacks from time to time, so don’t let this take away from your successes.
7. Share your dream
To help boost your motivation and stay on track towards your goal, it can help to share your ambitions and tell people about your goal. The more people you tell the more committed to the goal you will be, and the more people you will have to help you. Not only can friends and family offer you support when you need it, but they may be able to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities and people who can help you to achieve your goal. Also, if you know someone else who is striving for the same goal, sharing your experiences and offering each other support is an even better way to boost your motivation.
8. Clear your schedule
It can be easy to get so caught up in day-to-day life that there’s no time to strive for anything out of the ordinary. However, if you want something enough, it is important to make time for it. We often spend far too much time on things that aren’t that important to us or that don’t really need doing, but by cutting back on these times you will give yourself more time to go after your goal. Write down all the things currently clogging up your schedule and then identify those things you can cut back on. You can also maximize your time by getting up earlier or using your lunch hours more effectively.
9. Be flexible
Sometimes, no matter how much background research you do, how many hours you put in and how meticulously you plot your route to success, things just don’t quite go to plan. However, the key to achieving your goals is to be flexible and ready to come up with a plan B (or C or D) when this happens. Rather than focusing fixatedly on minor setbacks in your plan, try to formulate several backup plans to help you bounce back from any setback and stay on track towards your ultimate goal.
10. Remind yourself why you want it
While rewarding your progress and striving towards mini goals is a great way to stay motivated towards your overall dream, if you still find yourself feeling disillusioned from time to time it is important to remind yourself why you want to achieve this goal. Picture yourself having achieved this goal already and consider what it means to you. What will you gain from achieving this goal? How will it make you feel? If you do find along the way that you have forgotten why you want your goal at all, then perhaps this is a good time to reassess your goals and strive for a new ambition. Read more at www.realbuzz.com.