Wake Up, Philippines!

Rallyists warned: Beware of swine flu

Posted in Charter Change, house of representatives, News Feature by Erineus on June 11, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Short of telling Charter change (Cha-cha) critics not to attend today’s rally in Makati, Speaker Prospero Nograles yesterday warned protesters of the rising cases of Influenza A(H1N1) in the country.

“I hope that the organizers of this anti-Cha-cha rally will forewarn protesters against hugging and making close bodily contact at this Wednesday’s demonstration because of the clear and present threat of the A(H1N1) virus,” he said, jokingly.

The House leader said rallyists run the risk of contracting the flu virus.

Nograles said he is wondering “what the fuss is about on our House Bill 1109 when in fact, it was clearly printed that we are against any form of term extension, including that of President Arroyo.”

“Does it mean they’re protesting the resolution that doesn’t want to extend the President’s term? Do protesters want term extension? Because resolution is clear that we are against extension of terms. They should support our resolution instead of going against it,” he said.

Even the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) advised yesterday those joining protest rallies in Makati today to bring umbrellas as rains are likely to prevail over Metro Manila this afternoon.

Pagasa senior weather forecaster Robert Sawi said Metro Manila would experience mostly cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers, mostly in the afternoon or evening.

Western Luzon would have cloudy skies with scattered rainshowers and thunderstorms.

The rest of the country, on the other hand, would be partly cloudy with isolated rainshowers and thunderstorms.

“Good weather would prevail over Metro Manila aside from brief rainshowers especially in the afternoon or evening,” Sawi said.

Sawi said they were monitoring two low-pressure areas outside the Philippine area of responsibility yesterday afternoon.

However, he said the slight weather disturbances were still too far to directly affect the country.

Thousands of anti-Charter change protesters are expected to gather in Makati City today to denounce the passage of House Bill 1109 which will convene Congress into a constituent assembly to propose changes in the Constitution.

Critics of the government claim that the passing of the bill is part of a ploy to stop the forthcoming 2010 presidential elections, thereby extending the term of President Arroyo.

Malacañang officials have, however, repeatedly denied such plan. – With Helen Flores


Lechon: Asia’s best pig ever

Posted in Food/Drinks, News Feature by Erineus on April 28, 2009

Updated April 29, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – Despite the bad reputation pigs are getting these days due to the swine flu virus, a pig in the Philippines has made it to Time magazine’s Best of Asia list as “Best Pig.”

Time magazine, in its recent issue, hailed the Filipinos’ favorite roasted suckling pig or lechon as the “Best Pig” in Asia.

In an article written by Lara Day entitled “Pork Art,” she said it was the review of TV chef Anthony Bourdain, “whose love of all things porcine is famous,” of the lechon that helped it gain international limelight.

Bourdain, with his show No Reservations, visited Cebu and declared that he had found the “best pig ever.”

In his blog, Bourdain said that of all the pigs he tasted all over the world, “the slow roasted lechon he had on Cebu was the best.”

In the article, Time wrote on how the lechon is prepared and how it has become the country’s most beloved dish and a source of fanatical adulation.

Though varieties differ regionally – stuffing can include any combination of lemongrass, tamarind, star anise, garlic, green onions and chili leaves, while condiments range from a light vinegary dipping sauce to a thick liver-based gravy – the basic concept remains the same. A pig is roasted for hours over a fire of open coals, slowly rotated on a bamboo spit, lovingly basted and meticulously supervised until its flesh is so tender, moist and succulent that it can be sliced with the edge of a plate, and its skin so crisp it can be punctured with the tap of a finger,” Time said.

Even Time couldn’t help but gush on the lechon.

“It was just a matter of time before the world found out. You could call it the Platonic idea of a pig, but it’s doubtful if Plato, or even an entire faculty of philosophers, could have imagined anything so exquisite,” Time wrote in its glowing review.


In math, RP girls outshine boys

Posted in Education, News Feature, Schools, Students, Women by Erineus on March 21, 2009

By Helen Flores Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – An international study has revealed that Filipino women are better in math than their male counterparts.

The Science Education Institute (SEI) said two studies of the Trends in International Science and Mathematics Study (TIMSS) consistently showed that Filipina students do better in math than their male classmates.

The 2003 TIMSS Philippine Report for Grade 8 Mathematics showed that Filipino female students were “significantly better” than boys, overall and in the items of Number, Algebra, and Data.

The study also showed that in terms of average percent correct score by cognitive domain, Filipina students bested males in items involving “Knowing Facts and Procedures” and “Reasoning” by a difference of four percent and two percent, respectively.

Boys and girls performed equally on items involving “Using Concepts and Solving Routine Problems,” it said.

Male students were better by a difference of one percent in Geometry, are equal in Measurement, but the girls performed better than the boys in Number, Algebra, and Data by a difference of three, four, and two percent, respectively, the study said.

SEI, education-arm of the Department of Science and Technology, said an earlier study by TIMSS showed the same outcome in relation to performance by girls and boys.

In TIMSS-Repeat, which was done in 1999, Filipina students “performed relatively better” than the boys in all areas of mathematics.

“In three content areas and overall performance, Filipino girls did better than Filipino boys,” the TIMSS-Repeat study said.

Filipino girls performed well in Fractions and Number Sense; Data Representation, Analysis and Representation; and Algebra. In Measurement and Geometry, Filipino girls did as well as Filipino boys, the study said.

“This is in contrast to other international studies which show that male students are better in mathematics than females, except in algebra,” the study said.

SEI said last year, 118 science and technology oriented schools from the 16 regions in the Philippines took part in the TIMSS-Advanced which was aimed at gauging the performance of students in the country in relation to advanced science and mathematics.

TIMSS 2003, third in a series of studies, offers a state-of-the-art assessment of student achievement in science and mathematics at the fourth and eighth grade levels.

SEI said data provided by TIMSS are useful for participating countries to reassess their programs in mathematics and science, and to examine and revise existing practices in curricular provision, textbook design, teacher preparation, school organization, and instructional practice.

The TIMSS is an international assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth- and eighth-grade students around the world.
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51,000 cops have no guns

Posted in News Feature, PNP by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Cecille Suerte Felipe Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – Almost half of police officers nationwide have no hand guns.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has not yet provided hand guns to 51,242 out of the 125,000 police officers nationwide.

The PNP also admitted that some of the 1,741 police station buildings nationwide are in a state of disrepair.

PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa said these are among the challenges being addressed by the PNP through the Integrated Transformation Program (ITP).

The concerns on firearms, police station buildings and mobility assets were discussed during the PNP-hosted multi-sectoral forum on police transformation held at the PNP Multi-Purpose Hall in Camp Crame, Quezon City yesterday attended by leaders and representatives from the religious, business, academe, non-governmental organizations, mass media and government sectors.

Verzosa said the forum aims to enlist the participation of the different sectors of society to come up with better solutions to issues and concerns on peace and order and internal security.

Chief Superintendent Lani-O Nerez, Deputy Director for Logistics, said that PNP has 51,757 units of 9mm pistols, 11,891 units of .38 revolvers and 10,110 pieces of .45 pistols, or a total of 73,758 short firearms.

On long firearms, Nerez said that the PNP has at present 4,213 units of 12-gauge shotguns, 48,456 M16 rifles, and 5,445 M-14 rifles or a total of 58,114 long firearms.

“Due to inadequate funds to procure firearms, the PNP prioritized issuance of firearms to PNP units and personnel in high risk areas,” Nerez said.

President Arroyo tapped the PNP in 2006 to adopt Internal Security Operations (ISO) in areas where the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not present. PNP units involved in ISO need long firearms and the PNP has only procured a total of 3,964 units in the past six years.

“The yearly procurement of short firearms of 5,000 units per year is not enough to fill up the shortage,” Nerez reported. “The annual recruitment of an average of 3,000 police personnel needs the corresponding number of short firearms.”

“Only 691 or 40 percent of the 1,741 police station buildings are owned by the PNP, while 1,050 or 60 percent buildings are located on the property of local government units,” said Nerez,adding that “some of the existing PNP-owned police station buildings are deteriorating and in disrepair.”

Nerez pointed out that in some cases the budget for construction or repair of police station buildings come from local government officials, the general appropriations act (GAA) or private organizations.

The PNP also has a shortage of 12,714 vehicles out of the 22,303 units required.

Verzosa said the involvement of the community is a key factor in implementing the 10-year ITP sought by the PNP to make the police organization more capable, effective and credible.

“We are trying to address the dysfunctions in existing systems, procedures and programs, and by promoting within the PNP a culture of excellence, moral values and spirituality among all personnel,” said Verzosa.

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‘Kulkats’ can now join Army

Posted in Military, News Feature, Phillipine Army/PA by Erineus on February 24, 2009

By James Mananghaya Updated February 14, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – Make way for the army of “kulkats” (kulang sa sukat) as the minimum height for recruits is now five feet for both males and females.

Previously men must stand 5’4” and women 5’2” before they can join the Army.

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, Army spokesman, said skilled and talented applicants have been rejected because they failed to meet the height requirement.

“We realized that not all Filipinos are blessed with height, but are nonetheless blessed with talent, and of course they want to serve their country,” he said.

Brawner said the AFP deputy chief for personnel has approved the new height requirement for Army recruits.

In the past, the Army lowered the height requirement to recruit Cordillerans into the Mountain Battalion that saw action in Mindanao during the campaign against the Moro National Liberation Front, he added.

Members of the Mountain Battalion proved that short people could be soldiers, he said.

Brawner said the Army is set to recruit some 3,000 men for an additional six new battalions for internal security duties.

The funds for the recruitment of new soldiers have already been approved and would come from the AFP budget for 2009, he added.

Army applicants should be natural-born Filipino citizens; at least high school graduates with technical or special skills needed in the AFP; at least 18 years old on the actual start of training and must not reach 23 years old by April 1; unmarried and childless, must be of good moral character and garnered a score of 80 in the AFP Aptitude Test, he added.

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Car plates spell jackpot for bettor

Posted in News Feature, PCSO by Erineus on February 24, 2009

By Perseus Echeminada Updated February 24, 2009 12:00 AM

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MANILA, Philippines – A 50-year-old woman who chose the plate number of a passing car near a lotto outlet to complete her ticket claimed her prize of P173 million at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) at noon yesterday.

The woman is one of only two winners of the Super Lotto 6/49 game with the combination (in any order) 6-34-33-20-26-12, which carried a pot of P347,836,903.20, the biggest PCSO jackpot to date.

Don de Leon, chief of staff of the PCSO chairman’s office, said the woman from Caloocan, an employee in a private company, was accompanied by her husband and 25-year-old son when she claimed the prize yesterday.

He said she had bet on six sets of combination numbers that amounted to P120. She got the numbers from the birthday of a family member, her wedding anniversary, home address and the plate number of a passing car near a lotto outlet in Malibay, Pasay City.

The winner intends to buy a house and lot, share her winnings with the poor and deposit the remaining amount in the bank.

The other winner from Pasig has yet to claim his or her prize.

“The much anticipated 6/49 jackpot was finally taken Sunday night, the biggest PCSO purse to date,” De Leon said.

The lucky tickets were sold by outlets operated by Jocelyn Federico of Guillermo Avenue, Buting, Pasig city and Alicia Ildefonso of Jose Street, Malibay, Pasay city.

The PCSO thanked the thousands of players who supported the game, saying it generated millions of pesos for the agency’s charity fund.

“Although not everybody is fortunate enough to win, they should know that their patronage has contributed to the significant increase in the charity fund, allowing our office to serve more people in need of our medical and health related programs,” De Leon said.

The two winners are the 156th and 157th members of the Super Lotto millionaires club who have won jackpot prizes ranging from P8 million to P347 million.

For the security of winners, the PCSO will keep their identities a secret.

The biggest lotto jackpot of the PCSO online game has rekindled the dreams of thousands of Filipinos who tried their luck last Sunday night.

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New rat species found

Posted in Conservation, DENR, Discovery, Environment, Faura/Fauna, News Feature by Erineus on February 19, 2009
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MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Lito Atienza yesterday called for greater biodiversity conservation in the wake of the discovery of a new species of small rodent found only on Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and the Chicago-based Field Museum of Natural History.

Mt. Hamiguitan is home to a forest of pygmy trees.

The Hamiguitan batomys or Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat is a yellow-brown animal with a long furry tail and a weight of 175 grams, discovers said. It is related to several other species known in Central Mindanao, Dinagat Island and Luzon, and lives only from an elevation of 950 meters up to the peak, in dwarf mossy forests of areas less than 10 square kilometers.

“We have long taken great pride in our wealth of flora and fauna and this new discovery reinforces our efforts to make the protection of these unique and endemic species found in the country our top priority,” Atienza said.

He said there is a very high chance of more discoveries of new species in the country, but some of these might already be threatened before they are even discovered. He urged everyone to do their share in protecting the country’s forests, home to the wildlife.

Atienza said the Philippines has been declared by global scientists as one of only a few mega diverse countries in the world.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the new species was found in May 2006 during an expedition that sought to learn more about the region, which is also home to the globally endangered Philippine Eagle, the country’s national bird.

Quoting expedition team leader and lead author Danilo Balete, the DENR said that the “Hamiguitan batomys is the first mammal to be described from Eastern Mindanao, and is the first mammal that is thought to live only in that area. Most mammals unique to Mindanao were described from Mt. Apo or Mt. Kitanglad. This points to eastern Mindanao, especially Mt. Hamiguitan, as a biologically unique part of the Philippines.”

PEF executive director Dennis Salvador said Mt. Hamiguitan and the rest of Eastern Mindanao are poorly known biologically but the mountain is known as a mining and logging hot spot.

The DENR said that at Mt. Hamiguitan, six mining agreements cover more than 17,000 hectares of forest, more than half of the mountain’s forest cover.

Meanwhile, DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Dr. Mundita Lim said Mt. Hamiguitan “fully deserves” to be among the global heritage sites and endorsed its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum, and a co-author of the batomys description, believed that additional species currently unknown to anyone except local residents are likely to live in eastern Mindanao due to its “unusual geological history.”

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