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Friday, March 8, 2013

Meet the highest ranking Fil-Am clergyman in US

ANAHEIM, Calif.–When he speaks, the congregation listens. His positive energy is mixed with a sense of humor, and some showbiz-worthy charisma.
Fifty-nine year-old Oscar Solis has been doing it for almost 50 years as a man of faith.
For the past nine years, he’s done it the highest ranking Filipino Catholic clergyman in the U-S.
Originally from Nueva Ecija, Solis entered the seminary at age 11. By 1979 at 25 years old, he was ordained a priest in the Philippines.
He says there’s only one explanation for him being committed to the priesthood from a young age.
“It’s God’s mystery, it’s God’s grace, everything, I attribute everything to God’s grace,” Solis said. “We responded, and God works in everything we do as long as we open our hearts to his working, anything that is possible becomes possible with God.”
After serving in Cabanatuan, Solis spent four years at Saint Rocco Church in Union City, New Jersey and another six years as rector of St Joseph Co-Cathedral in Thibodaux, Louisiana.
In December of 2003, while in Louisiana, Solis got a call that made FIlipino-American history. He became the first Filipino bishop ordained in the U.S.
Despite the high title and high hopes of Filipinos, the man of the cloak remains humble and focused.
“It’s not much difference, I’m just doing what a regular bishop would do, so we don’t care about the honor or title, it’s the responsibility that has been entrusted in our care that is most essential and most important,” he said.
From tiny Jersey suburbs to a fisherman’s town in the Bayou, Solis has had no problems adjusting to his high-profile post in one of the most high-profile cities in the world.
As Los Angeles Auxiliary bishop, he’s also Vicar for Ethnic Ministry and is very involved with the Filipino Ministry.
"I’m still a FIlipino at heart and I love to see that the Pastoral needs of FIlipinos are taken care of so that they continue to grow and make an impact in the life of our local church in the United States,” said Solis, who remains the only Filipino-American bishop.
The bishop has had a long track record of success and reaching out to his parishioners from helping the poor to creating a pregnancy center in Louisiana. One of his ongoing projects; continuing to build the future of the church.
“The youth is a very important part in the life of the church these days, they show, they manifest the vitality that is stated in our church so I’m so excited when I see young people in our church getting involved in the life of the church and hopefully they will continue to do so,” Solis said.


For the many NBA players and coaches who have participated in the league’s outreach programs through the years, there’s a familiar feel to many of their global stops. The players are recognizable to the locals, exotic in some ways, but mostly they’re simply famous. There’s little to distinguish the oohs and aahs aKevin Durant might hear from those triggered by a Kardashian.
Except, it seems, in the Philippines.
“When we bring players or legends or coaches over to the Philippines, we often prep them that they’re not going to get ‘What did you eat for breakfast?’ questions,” said Scott Levy, senior vice president and marketing director of NBA Asia. “They’re going to get ‘Why did you take out LeBron James in the third quarter with an eight-point lead when momentum was shifting against your team?’ It’s incredibly detailed, incredibly knowledgeable, and people there follow the entire league.”
The rabid interest in basketball and the NBA in particular spilled over earlier this week with the news that the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers will play a preseason game Oct. 10 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Manila. Announced by commissioner David Stern on the arena’s Jumbotron, the event will be one of eight October games staged in six different countries, none with a more intense NBA following than this nation of 92 million in the western Pacific Ocean.
The Rockets-Pacers visit will be the first sanctioned NBA game in the Philippines since 1979, when the Washington Bullets traveled there to face a team of national All-Stars. But the Philippines Basketball Association predated that event by several years and the sport, Levy said, has roots there dating to the late 19th Century.
The NBA’s popularity rivals that of native boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. More Facebook “likes “and Twitter “follows” of the league and its participants come from the Philippines than from any other nation outside the U.S. Thirty games are available on free and cable TV each week there, with League Pass and an Web site specific to that country both available. Billboards and buses tout the game.
“You really get a feel for it when you go into the country,” said Levy, who has worked with the NBA’s international division since 1996 and been based in Hong Kong since 2009. “I mean, there’s a basketball hoop in every corner,  everywhere throughout the country. And often those hoops are made of plywood and wire rims.
“There are some great photos of kids playing during the floods and they’re waist-deep in water. They’re playing in flip-flops, they’re playing on dirt courts. There’s no community that I’ve seen — and I’ve traveled extensively around the country — that doesn’t have a court. And I’ve never seen a court unused.”
Through its Basketball Without Borders program and other outreach efforts, the NBA is familiar with the sort of poverty and deprivation that make attendance at one of its games — including the upcoming one — strictly a dream for many Filipinos. The league hadn’t returned to stage a game in 34 years because, until the MOA Arena opened in May, the facilities were inadequate.
But Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who is half-Filipino (his mother is frpom San Pablo, Laguna), has traveled to his homeland in each of the past four offseasons. Last summer, he brough the Larry O’Brien trophy with him, celebrating Miami’s championship with the fans, many of whom now are fans of the Heat.
“It staggers our players how popular the NBA is here, 10,000 miles away,” Spoelstra said during his 2012 visit.
And last week, of the October exhibition, the Heat coach said: “It’s awesome. The country will probably celebrate every single month until that game. The two teams that will be going there I think will have a great experience because the fans are incredible.”
Numerous NBA players past and present have visited the country and, Levy said, been stunned by the reception. Among them: Brook Lopez, Gary Payton, Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond, Robert Horry, Glen Rice, Dominique Wilkins and Luc Longley. “They all have the same reaction,” Levy said. “They never understood the awareness. They come over and expect they’ll be known, but they never anticipated how well they’d be known, how they’d be recognized on the street, how long the lines would be to get an autograph or take a photo.”
The best-known NBA export to play in the PBA probably was Billy Ray Bates, a 6-foot-4 guard best remembered for his three seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers in the early 1980s. “He’s an incredible hero there,” Levy said. “There are guys like Donnell Harvey, guys who had a cup of coffee in the NBA and are there now. They [allow] imports in the PBA, so there are guys who played in the D League.”
As far as players there coming to play in the NBA? No one yet. But Japeth Aguilar, a 6-foot-9 forward, attracted the attention of some NBA scouts and got a training camp invite for the Santa Cruz Warriors. And even without getting into the basketball analytics of Filipino basketball, Levy said the math looks favorable.
“With the number of people who play the game in the country,” he said, “in a country of nearly 100 million people, you would think there would be some talent coming out of there that would be NBA-ready.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

PHL animation industry draws billions, generates 8,000 jobs

The Philippine animation industry has been a lucrative business over the past few years.
Michael Kho Lim, executive director of the Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (Acpi), said that, in 2011 alone, the Philippine animation industry drew in a total revenue of $128 million (roughly P5.3 billion).
He added: “That was generated by around 8,000 animation professionals, not just animators.”
Lim explained that the bulk of the revenue came from animation studios and production agencies producing outsourced material for clients in the United States, Japan and Canada. These foreign clients, in turn, used the material for their own feature films (live and animated) and advertisements.
The 2012 figures have yet to be consolidated, according to Lim. However, he is optimistic that the 2011 numbers could be matched.
But Acpi has set loftier goals. Lim stressed that the local movie industry and the local viewing public need to step up their support for local animators and animated films.
He noted: “When ‘Dayo’ and ‘RPG: Metanoia’ participated in the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival, it didn’t perform so well at the box office. But when Walt Disney and Pixar come out with animated features, pinapanood agad (people rush to see them).”
The Philippines’ first all-digital full-length animated film “Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia” was shown in the 2008 MMFF. During its run, it earned just over P5.6 million versus the production cost of P58 million. “RPG: Metanoia,” the country’s first full-length 3D animation film, grossed only P15.8 million, against its estimated production cost of P100 million.
Lim noted that making full-length animated features is expensive. “That’s why we need to make it known here and abroad that our artists are at par with Hollywood’s in making animated feature films.”
Expanding the work of local animators to an international market would then pave the way for significantly higher revenues, he stressed.
Acpi is composed of 50 member organizations, animation studios and schools. The council is recognized by the Philippine government, and is currently in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry, Board of Investments, the Bureau of Export and Trade Promotions, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) in developing and promoting local animation to foreign markets.
Lim revealed that Acpi and the concerned government agencies are making plans for the prestigious Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France, set from June 10 to 15. Lim described the festival as the “mother of all animation festivals.”
He explained: “On the local front, we hope that the coming Animahenasyon will convince Filipinos that we can match what Hollywood comes up with, as far as quality animated films go.”
The 7th annual Animahenasyon animation festival and competition will be held from Nov. 19 to 22 this year in Iloilo City.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pinoy makeup artist works for rich and famous in Hollywood

Arnel Bailon works in an industry where beauty is a must. He is one of the most celebrated Pinoy makeup artists in Hollywood, working for the likes of Paris Hilton and her family.
He was born in Bicol and migrated to the US at age 17 in 1983.
"I’m from provinces, where majority of people who want to go to college want to be a doctor, nurse or lawyer. When someone told me to go to beauty college, I feel like I can do better but I didn’t realize that going to beauty college and also getting a license and being in the beauty industry — can give so much," he said.
Arnel was trained by celebrity stylist Jose Eber. Now with over 20 years of experience, he has traveled the world, doing make up for awards and fashion shows. He is also a leader in his field s past president of the California Cosmetology Association and an active member of the National Cosmetology Association.
"I’m always looking for something that will get the beauty industry better because they’re always looking at us like hired help. It’s a very low industry, I want to change that so we’ve been trying to change it and say to the public that we’re professionals," he said.
When Arnel is not beautifying the rich and famous, he finds true beauty in helping the community. He volunteers his time and effort doing makeup for charities and church productions.
He also founded an organization that helps the less fortunate in the Philippines called the Mon A Lisa Foundation.
He said, “I collect all the stuff here and money so we can provide uniforms, school supplies and shoes to kids in elementary schools. I want to do more.”
If you know a kababayan like Arnel Bailon who inspires you and makes you proud, you may nominate him/her by sending an email to or calling (650) 508-6137.

11 Pinoys in Forbes 2013 billionaires' list

(Updated 1:24 p.m.) Eleven Filipinos were named to the Forbes Magazine 2013 global billionaires' list, up from the six last year as the country's economy and stock market outperformed others.

Richest Filipinos “saw their fortunes rise even faster,” said Forbes.

“Despite European woes, the Philippines’ remittance-driven economy outperformed most of its neighbors... The stock market index gained 17 percent in the past year,” it  added.

Shopping mall tycoon Henry Sy and his family remain the country's richest, according to Forbes' list released Monday night.

Sy and his family ranked 68th on the list with a net worth of $13.2 billion as of March 2013.

"The Philippines' richest man Henry Sy saw his fortune swell by more than $5 billion as shares of his holding firm SM Investments, the country's most valuable company, surged by over 50 percent, fueled by reports that it may merge its property units," Forbes said.

Business magnate Lucio Tan—who owns alcohol, tobacco, airline and real estate firms—and his family came in at number 248 with a net worth of $5 billion, making him the second richest Filipino.

Tan, Forbes noted, “got his start as a chemical engineer and mopped floors to pay for school.”

Other Filipino billionaires who made the Forbes list are:
No. 258 Enrique Razon Jr. ($4.9 billion)
No. 345 Andrew Tan ($3.95 billion)
No. 503 David Consunji and family ($2.8 billion)
No. 554 George Ty and family ($2.6 billion)
No. 736 Lucio and Susan Co ($2 billion)
No. 931 Robert Coyiuto, Jr. ($1.6 billion)
No. 1031 Tony Tan Caktiong and family ($1.4 billion)
No. 1175 Andrew Gotianun and family ($1.2 billion)
No. 1175 Roberto Ongpin ($1.2 billion)
The new members of the billionaires' list are this year are Consunji and family, Ty and family, the Co couple, Coyiuto, Tan Caktiong and family, and Gotianun and family.

Forbes noted port operator Razon as the country's top gainer. “While Henry Sy retained his spot as the country’s richest person..., the country’s biggest gainer was Enrique Razon Jr., who became a billionaire just last year,” the publication noted.

Razon, who owns International Container Terminal Services, saw his wealth climb by over $3 billion after his hotel and casino venture, Bloomberry Resorts, debuted on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu, Mexico's telecommunications magnate, remained the wealthiest man on the planet with a net worth of $73 billion. He is followed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates ($67 billion) and Amancio Ortega of Spanish retailer Zara ($57 billion).

This year, Forbes listed 1,426 billionaires across the globe with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion, up from $4.6 trillion in 2012.

“Resurgent asset prices are the driving force behind the rising wealth of the super-rich around the globe,” said Forbes. — Sieg Alegado/VS/BM, GMA News

PHL inflation hits 3.4% in Feb., a five-mo. high

Consumer prices accelerated the fastest in five months last February, fueled by higher costs of food and beverage , the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported Tuesday. 
Headline inflation quickened to 3.4 percent from 3 percent in January. The figure is the highest since prices quickened by 3.6 percent in September, but remains well-within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projection of 2.8 percent to 3.7 percent for February. 
Month-on-month core inflation—without the volatile food and energy prices—hit 3.8 percent from 3.6 percent, the NSO noted. 
The February figure pushed the year-to-date headline inflation to 3.2 percent, still at the lower-end of Bangko Sentral's 3 to 5 percent range projection for 2013 but slightly above its 3 percent forecast for the year. 
“This reflects that inflation remains manageable,” Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a text message to reporters on Tuesday. 
Monetary authorities are watchful of any upside risk to inflation, “any petitions for utility rates and wages on the domestic front, as well as any shifts in global economic growth dynamics that could impact international commodity prices,” Tetangco said.
The Bangko Sentral chief, likewise,  said monetary authorities will tweak policy settings “as appropriate.”
In January, monetary authorities rationalized rates of the Bangko Sentral Special Deposit Accounts(SDA)—previously priced at a premium to policy rates—to 3 percent. 
They kept policy rates on hold at record lows of 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing and 5.5 percent for overnight lending. Tetangco has not ruled out further cuts in SDA rates. 
But British banking giant Barclays does not see a need to tweak policy anytime soon. 
“We believe the impact of a further SDA rate cut on speculative flows would be relatively limited,” the bank said in an e-mailed report, noting that the Bangko Sentral prohibited non-residents in investing in SDAs. 
Citing robust growth expectations luring in capital inflows and stoking inflation, Barclays said, “We continue to expect headline inflation to average 4.1 percent in 2013.”
Thus, Barclays sees monetary authorities hiking policy rates by 25 basis points in the fourth quarter  to cushion inflationary pressures. — VS, GMA News

Pinoy Choir in Dubai wins first UAE Choral Competition

The Filipino-led Dubai Vocal Ensemble (DVE) was proclaimed the winner of the recently concluded 1st Annual Choir of the Year competition in February hosted by UAE’s The Score.
The DVE beat 7 other choirs from the whole of UAE which includes Blue Fever from Abu Dhabi, Nassim Al Saba Choir of the American University of Sharjah and other various choral groups from the country.
The competition was judged by the Grammy Award Winning a cappella group The Swingle Singers at the Dubai College.
The different groups performed a variety of songs from Arabic to Jazz. DVE performed Ralph Manuel’s Alleluia, the Visayan folk song Rosas Pandan and the ethnic song Kruhay.
A member of the winning 22-member Dubai Vocal Ensemble said: “For us, it was not about the prize. In fact, we didn’t expect to win as the other choirs were so good. We were the last to go on stage, but what an enjoyable evening it was. What more could we have asked with the Grammy-winning Swingle Singers sharing their valuable tips with us.”
Mohammad N. Murad, a Palestinian member of the Nassim Al Saba choir of the American University Sharjah, said his choir was happy to have got the second place because the standard of singing in the contest was high.
The choirs were rated for their technical ability, covering tuning, diction, balance, ensemble, dynamics and overall sound. Musical expression, including communication, phrasing, passion, energy, commitment and overall delivery was also considered.
The judges were overwhelmed by the performance of the Dubai Vocal Ensemble and described it electrifying and emotional. Here’s the winning performance of the Filipino group.

Guinness World Records honors Nepomuceno for 3rd time

The Guinness World Records has updated Filipino sports legend Paeng Nepomuceno’s third record, boosting his career titles to 124 from the previously published 118.
Among the titles that were added to Nepomucenio’s achievements are the 2008 South Pacific Classic in Melbourne, the 2010 Bowling World Cup National Finals and the 2011 Philippine International Open.
Nepomuceno, who beat current world champion two-handed bowler Jason Belmonte in the South Pacific Classic finals, is the only foreign athlete to win the prestigious event twice.Paeng also holds a unique record of being the youngest Philippine International Masters champion at 17 in 1974 and at 54 in 2011. He has been consistently winning titles since 1972. Paeng’s three Guinness World Records are also all unbroken.
“It’s truly a big honor for me and the country to be listed for the third time in the Guinness World Records,” said Nepomuceno.
His other two World Guinness Records are for being the youngest world bowling champion at 19 when he won the Bowling World Cup in Teheran, Iran in 1976 and the second for bagging the world titles in three different decades.
Paeng won the BWC in 1976, 1980 (in Indonesia) and 1992 (Le Mans, France) and a fourth BWC crown in 1996 in Northern Ireland. Todate, he has six world titles.
Nepomuceno was also named Bowling Athlete of the Millennium by FIQ, the world governing body, in 1999. He is the first male bowling athlete to be enshrined in the World Bowling Hall of Fame, with his life-sized image displayed at the entrance of the Hall of Fame and Museum in Arlington, Texas.
When not competing, Nepomuceno travels around the world as an international bowling ambassador. He holds a coaching course certification for the United States Bowling Congress.
The Guinness World Records has updated Filipino sports legend Paeng Nepomuceno’s third record, boosting his career titles to 124 from the previously published 118.
Among the titles that were added to Nepomucenio’s achievements are the 2008 South Pacific Classic in Melbourne, the 2010 Bowling World Cup National Finals and the 2011 Philippine International Open.
Nepomuceno, who beat current world champion two-handed bowler Jason Belmonte in the South Pacific Classic finals, is the only foreign athlete to win the prestigious eventtwice.Paeng also holds a unique record of being the youngest Philippine International Masters champion at 17 in 1974 and at 54 in 2011. He has been consistently winning titles since 1972. Paeng’s three Guinness World Records are also all unbroken.
“It’s truly a big honor for me and the country to be listed for the third time in the Guinness World Records,” said Nepomuceno.
His other two World Guinness Records are for being the youngest world bowling champion at 19 when he won the Bowling World Cup in Teheran, Iran in 1976 and the second for bagging the world titles in three different decades.
Paeng won the BWC in 1976, 1980 (in Indonesia) and 1992 (Le Mans, France) and a fourth BWC crown in 1996 in Northern Ireland. Todate, he has six world titles.

Brit-Fil band chosen to sing World Youth Day 2013 Anthem

British Filipino pop band Ooberfuse have been chosen to sing and record in English the official youth anthem of World Youth Day 2013. Over 3 million people are expected at the largest gathering of youth from around world in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, later this year.
Hope of the Dawn was launched today at the World Youth Day’s official website:
Hope of the Dawn is the official English version of the World Youth Day anthem for 2013, Esperanca do Amanhecer. The organisers of World Youth Day asked Ooberfuse to translate the song from Portuguese to English and also give their own interpretation of the anthem.
British Filipina Cherrie, front-woman of the band says : “It’s a great privilege to sing the official World Youth Day English anthem. Translating the song from Portuguese to English was a daunting task as we are not fluent in Portuguese. In the first verse, the imagery of Christ, arms outstretched, embracing the world and filling it with his love from the hill-top of Rio’s high-point Corcovado, is breathtaking. Living in London where most people are reticent to loudly proclaim their Christian faith and landmarks testify to worldly achievements it is reassuring to know that in other countries like Brazil they are not shy to express their Christian convictions. I can’t wait to stand in the shadow cast by the enormous figure of Christ on the top of Corcovado!”
Hal, the band’s keyboardist, says : “we have been reflecting on Matthew 28 since the Holy Father announced at the close of the Madrid World Youth Day in 2011 that the theme of RioWYD13 would be ‘Go make disciples of all nations.’ According to Matthew these are the very last words that Jesus spoke to his followers and disciples. Their utterance is prefigured by cosmic events : following his crucifixion the earth quaked as Jesus, in his post-resurrection glorified body, reappears to announce his commission…we must awaken from our slumbers to go out into the world to bring good news to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, to set captives free, to give sight to the blind. In short to realise the anthropological dream implanted in the hearts of all of us so that, through our combined efforts, we become who we were created to be. It is one thing to allow our faith to infiltrate our songs; it is altogether a different proposition to take Jesus’ final words and to reflect in musical melody the weightiness of their meaning.”
Nico, guitarist for the band adds : “It’s as much a tribute to a trans-Atlantic spirit of collaboration as it is to the power of the internet and modern media : after multiple Twitter and e-mail messages recommending improvements and refinements, and numerous large music-data file downloads and uploads in Rio and London, Hope of the Dawn eventually was born. We hope that listeners will like it, especially all the English speaking pilgrims!”
Phil Ross, the London-based national coordinator for the UK World Youth Day pilgrims, say: “Ooberfuse worked closely with the World Youth Day organisers to produce the English anthem – whilst it remains loyal to the Portuguese original it still reflects the style and ambience of the Group.”
Father Leandro Lenin, Executive Director of World Youth Day Rio 2013, and International Relations Officer Thiago Lopes say ‘Congratulations on the great job… We think it’s awesome.
You’re really praising the Lord with your voices and efforts!’ You can watch the video here: