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Friday, October 19, 2012

UNESCO confers Vigan World Heritage Management Award

Vigan has been conferred the UNESCO World Heritage Best Practice and Conservation Management award, beating 28 entries from 23 countries in the world.
“We were lucky to be chosen for this so huge an award. When the UN asked for the requirements, and told us that it is nominating Vigan for this award, we did not announce this nomination,” City Mayor Eva Marie S Medina said yesterday. “Vigan is such a small city compared to large world heritage cities all over the world. We were not sure to win this.”
She said Vigan was chosen for three reasons: its good management practice with relatively limited resources, local community participation that is integrated in the various system of heritage conservation and management of our city, and the multifaceted approach for the protection of the heritage site.
“The judges did not only focus on conservation of the city but also the total development of the city which envelops tourism, water, environment protection and other aspects,” Medina said.
Vigan was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on December 2, 1999. And on September 8, 2002 it celebrated its first World Solidarity Day as a world heritage site.
Vigan was chosen as a world heritage site, according to the World Heritage Centre, because the city represents a unique fusion of Asian building design and construction with European colonial architecture and planning. The city is an exceptionally intact and well preserved example of a European trading town in East and East Asia.
(Story courtesy of Imelda C. Rivero – Philippine Information Agency)

1,800 tourists on Royal Caribbean cruise ship to visit Boracay

The world-renowned Boracay Island will be visited by around 1,800 foreign tourists aboard the Royal Caribbean Legend of the Seas Cruise ship on October 27.
This is the first time that Region 6 will be visited by the Royal Caribbean cruise ship and, “There are only two ports of calls in the Philippines, the Port of Manila and Boracay in Aklan province,” Director Helen J. Catalbas of the Department of Tourism (DOT-6) said.
“Boracay is getting to be popular to the cruising community that is why it already has bookings until 2014 for cruise ships’ visit,” Catalbas said during the press conference with the Iloilo media.
The Royal Carribean cruise ship will drop anchor in an area near Boracay Island and its passengers will be transported through pontoon.
“Pontoon is some kind of a floating device or bridge where the tourists will pass through to the wharf,” said Catalbas as she pointed out that from that point tourists will be ushered to their respective interests of activities in Boracay, such as boating, surfing, visiting local restaurants, shopping and many others.
The tourists will only have three hours to enjoy the fun and beauty of the region’s paradise island and then they will be off for other Asian countries.
Building a pontoon is “quite an expensive investment on the part of the provincial government, but since Boracay is included in the ports of call for the foreign cruise ships therefore it is worth an investment,” the DOT-6 director said.
Boracay’s visitor arrivals from January to September 2012 were recorded at 999,985, Catalbas said as she expressed the people of Aklan’s excitement in relation to the arrival of the Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
(Story courtesy of Vicente W. Villavert – Philippine Information Agency)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Filipino films receive 3 Asia-Pac Screen Awards nominations

A first for Filipino films from Asia’s top award-giving film body, as the Philippines received three nominations in this year’s Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA).
Brillante Mendoza was nominated for best director for his Venice entry “Thy Womb,” whose lead star Nora Aunor is in the running for best actress. Scriptwriter Chris Martinez, meanwhile, is vying for best screenplay for “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.”
Mendoza said the nominations “signify that the country remains a strong contender in the international scene. This clearly proves that the country will continue to have a strong presence in world cinema. I’m proud and happy to be the first Filipino director to be recognized by the APSA in that category.”
The APSA, which was founded in 2007, seeks to “recognize and promote cinematic excellence and cultural diversity (in) the vast Asia-Pacific region … and is considered as the region’s highest accolade in film.”
This year’s APSA awards ceremony will be held in Brisbane, Australia, on November 23.
In 2008, Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala,” which starred Aunor, won the CNN APSA Viewers’ Choice award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time.
“These nominations are a source of pride for our country and countrymen,” Aunor said in Filipino. “All these recognitions of the work and art of Filipinos are important. My nomination comes four years after ‘Himala’ won and it inspires me to work even harder. It warms my heart, especially since the honor comes from our fellow Asians.”
“I feel more than validated,” said screenwriter Martinez, who was earlier nominated for the same script at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong. “These nominations prove that our films and artists are among the best in the region.”
Martinez hopes the citation will highlight the contributions of writers in local cinema. “Every great movie starts with great writing. It’s my wish that the industry would give more importance to the written word. It’s time screenwriters stop being invisible.”
Martinez said that the entire “Septic” team-including actress Eugene Domingo and director Marlon Rivera-are “praying hard that we win.”
(Story courtesy of Bayani San Diego Jr. of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nestle to invest another P5 billion in the Philippines next year

Nestle, the Swiss food giant said it’s spending another P5-billion to expand Philippine operations next year.
“There will be a second and maybe a third phase. The nature of that expansion will depend very much on how market develops,” said John Miller, chief executive officer of Nestle Philippines.
“The way consumer taste develops will determine what we need in terms of manufacturing facilities. What we’re continuously doing is investing in our existing plants. A lot of it is expanding capacity,” he added.
Nestle spent P5 billion for its fifth and newest plant in Tanauan, Batangas.
The factory will make coffee creamer Coffeemate, which Nestle previously imported from Malaysia, Thailand, and Mexico.
It also takes some production load off its Cagayan de Oro plant, which makes Bear Brand and other nestle milk brands.
The Tanauan plant has a capacity of 60,000 metric tons or 2 million sachets of Coffeemate per hour.
Miller estimates a Filipino drinks about 150 cups of coffee a year, which is 3 times lower than the average 450 cups consumed by a Londoner.
Nestle believes locally produced Coffeemate will encourage more Filipinos to drink coffee.
“Having Coffeemate produced locally would allow us to make sure that the coffee creaming is to the local taste palate. So we launched new flavors like creamy caramel for people who want caramelly taste when they cream it,” said Nestle executive vice-president Nandu Nandkishore.
But caramel-tasting creamer is not even as sweet as the new jobs — direct and indirect — that the new plant will generate at a time when the global slowdown and the high cost of doing business in the Philippines are forcing shutdowns and downsizing here and abroad.
(Story courtesy of Lois Calderon of ANC)

Cuisia lauds GE's 'smart grids' investment in PH

WASHINGTON D.C. - American multinational General Electric will build "smart grids" in the Philippines that could lower power costs and make the country more attractive to foreign investors, Philippine Ambassador Jose. L. Cuisia Jr. said.
The country’s top envoy lauded GE’s plan to introduce smart grid technology together with Meralco. Top power sector executives are visiting Atlanta, Ga., Oklahoma, Florida and Washington DC for a tour organized by GE.
“With smart grid technology in place, the competitiveness of the Philippines as an investment-site-of-choice will be further enhanced,” Cuisia, a former Central Bank chief and business executive, pointed out.
A “smart grid” uses information and communications technology to more quickly see and act on the behavior of suppliers and consumers. They’re supposed to produce efficiency in production and distribution of electricity that could lead to savings that can be passed on to power users in the form of lower rates.
Cuisia welcomed the tie-up between GE-Philippines and Meralco, the country’s largest distributor of electric power, of a smart grid consulting engagement agreement to help Meralco “develop long-term Smart Grid plans, strategies, and roadmaps and enable the company to continue delivering higher quality services, more efficient energy and overall increased benefits to customers.”
He noted that Meralco has already introduced prepaid electricity in some parts of the country and is investing in enterprise computing and smart grids to enhance automation and intelligence at critical points within the Meralco network.
Smart grids are touted to be the future of energy distribution and now used in countries like the US, China, Japan, France and Spain.
The country’s top trading partners like Japan has been encouraging the Philippines to embrace smart grid technology as a way of improving services, reducing outages and ensuring the reliability of the country’s power sector.
Cuisia met with GE Philippines CEO Emmanuel de Dios, Meralco Sr. Vice Pres. Alfred Panlilio, Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jose Reyes and other government and private sector executives who joined the US visit.
“This tour will help us understand the impact of the technology on each state’s energy efficiency programs,” De Dios told Ambassador Cuisia.
Panlilio, for his part, emphasized that it provided “deeper insight into actual customer experiences.”
The study tour was part of GE’s efforts to further expand its presence in the Philippines where it first made its presence in 1890 when its predecessor, Thomas-Houston Electric Company, installed the first electric streetlights along Real Street in Manila.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Report: Jessica Sanchez to join 'Glee'

MANILA, Philippines – “American Idol” runner up Jessica Sanchez is set to join the hit American musical series “Glee,” according to a U.S. website.
"American Idol" runner up Jessica Sanchez
This was confirmed by TVLine in an exclusive article pulished in its website on Monday evening in the U.S. (Tuesday morning in Manila).
TVLine, however, said that there are no details yet as to what will be the role of the Filipino-Mexican-American singer in the show.
Back in July, Sanchez told ABS-CBN News in an interview that she has not yet auditioned for “Glee” but “there are definitely things happening on the side for me.”
Abuzz fans
Meanwhile, the words “Jessica Sanchez on Glee” made it to the local trending topics on Twitter around noon on Tuesday.
A lot of Sanchez’s fans were abuzz that the 17-year-old singer will be joining the hit show.
According to Twitter user @yourHighnessJLo, he now has “a reason to watch the current season of Glee. Jessica Sanchez on Glee.”
Twitter user ‏@IN2jeff also said he will watching the show again now that Sanchez will be there.
Twitter user ‏@marzie18, meantime, said she will begin to watch the show since she now has a “valid reason” to catch it.
This was echoed by Twitter user ‏@abcde_EFF. He said: “Jessica Sanchez on Glee, well more reasons to watch Glee.”
Twitter user ‏@ClaudeDee also noted that Sanchez will be the first “American Idol” alumnus to appear on “Glee.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Top 5 most addictive foods

While we all know about the dangers of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, did you know that you could become addicted to your favorite food? From withdrawal symptoms to changes in brain chemistry, our snacks have surprising ways of keeping us wanting more. Here is our guide to five of the world’s most addictive foods.

1. Chocolate
Many people claim to be chocoholics, but can you really be addicted to chocolate? The answer is... perhaps. One reason many people feel "addicted" to chocolate is that the food's chemical compounds (including theobromine, phenyethylamine, anandamide and tryptophan) actually have pleasure-inducing effects that can mimic the effects of drugs on the brain. Chocolate also contains alkaloids (tetrahydro-beta-carbolines) which are present in alcohol and have been linked to alcoholism.
However, before you go booking yourself into Chocoholics Anonymous, it is important to note that many researchers have pointed out that the chemicals in chocolate also exist in other foods which most of us do not crave. It has also been suggested that the chemicals in chocolate are not in high enough doses to lead to addiction. Regardless, it is impossible to deny that chocolate is one of the world's most-craved foods -- whether this is due to psychological reasons or a physical addiction.
2. Cheese
From pizzas to cheeseburgers, cheese is a staple of many widely craved junk foods, but there could be more to our cravings than we think. Various studies have discovered the presence of opiates -- including the highly addictive morphine -- in the popular dairy product cheese.
While the amounts of morphine in cheese are very small and probably not enough to cause addiction, some researchers have expressed concern about its levels of casein (the main protein in cheese) which produces morphine-like opiate compounds called casomorphins during digestion. On top of this, cheese also contains phenylethylamine, a substance with stimulant effects which is thought to give consumers a natural "high," and which is reputed to have addictive qualities.
3. Sugar
We all know that sugar is bad for our health, but according to numerous studies it can also be addictive. Studies have suggested that when we eat sugar, chemicals called opioids are released by the brain, which leads to an intense feeling of pleasure. It is this feeling that people may crave in the absence of sugar.
A study by psychologists at Princeton University investigated sugar addiction by studying its effect on rats. They discovered that after rats were fed a diet high in sugar, they experienced symptoms similar to those produced by drug withdrawal when the sugar was withdrawn, including shaking and changes in brain chemistry. The study therefore concluded what other researchers have also suggested; that it is possible to become severely dependent on sugar.
4. Burgers and other processed meat
Numerous researchers and studies have suggested that fatty, processed junk food such as burgers may actually be addictive. According to Professor David Kessler, an ex-commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration and author of "The End of Overeating," the combination of fat, salt and sugar in junk food triggers our "bliss point" and leaves us wanting more.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida backed up this theory with a study which found that the addictive responses in the brains of rats when fed junk food including fatty meats were the same as in those that consume cocaine or heroin. On top of this, meat -- like chocolate, cheese and sugar -- releases opiate-like substances during digestion which some studies have suggested can leave us craving more.
5. Coffee
Many feel that they can't start the day without a cup of coffee and people often joke about having a caffeine "addiction," however this may not be far from the truth. Although there has been much debate over the years about whether or not caffeine is genuinely addictive, it is difficult to deny that many of us crave it to the point where we feel we can't function without it.
One reason that people may crave caffeine so much is due to the fairly severe symptoms of caffeine withdrawal that people often face, ranging from fatigue and headaches to irritability and depression. However, it may be that, rather than being physically dependent on caffeine, you are actually addicted to the belief that you can't function without your morning cup of coffee. Whatever the reason, caffeine remains the world's most popular drug and a staple of many daily routines. Read more at