Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Message to Gordon College Batch 2006

To Batch 2006, Welcome to the real world!

The knowledge, skills, and values you have developed during your years at Gordon College are among the tools you will use to survive and succeed in the larger world you now must face. While I have little doubt of your ability to succeed, I wish to offer one last piece of advice…happiness is not found in material success.

True happiness, is achieved only from your belief in yourself as a good person. You must always conduct yourself with integrity, and demonstrate your care for others by participating in work for the common good. In your family, you must put the needs of your family above those of yourself. In your place of work, you must never succeed at the expense of others; rather, always work so that the most may benefit. And in your community, you must actively participate in working to solve the many problems that face any society struggling to be more civil.

I wish for you not only success, but happiness. Gordon College is a better place because you were there.

We are proud to have you represent Gordon College in the communities you now join, and we are confident that your presence can make these communities strive for excellence.

Finally, be with us in our dreams of making a better society, for our children and the future generations. Let us rise to the challenge of making these dreams come true and join our hands to build a Bagumbayan.

Go with our love, our admiration, and our support.

Councilor Edwin J. Piano
Member, Board of Trustees

Sex industry throbs with tourism boom

By Roderick T. dela Cruz - Sun Star

With the recent resurgence of Philippine tourism, Claris, 19, has been getting big tips. Working as a sex worker in a poor country, which is trying to rediscover tourism as a growth driver of the economy, Claris uses her pretty face and winsome charms to entertain foreign tourists searching for a wonderful experience in the island paradise. She works in a place where sex is priced at P2,500 an hour.

Claris’ excuse for choosing such a job, which sounds more plausible than those of the others, is that at 16, she got pregnant and had no schooling to back her other desired occupations. Claris says her colleagues introduce themselves as students to appear more attractive, if not vulnerable, to their customers. But this is not to say that there are not students among sex workers.

When a friend invited Claris to work at a KTV three years ago, she conceded and eventually learned the tricks of the trades. She also learned about multi-tasking, that is, being a guest relations officer (GRO) and a sex worker at the same time. In most KTVs in the country, the difference between the two is barely noticeable.

The Davao-based KTV where Claris works attracts Caucasians and Asians. Twice, Claris got marriage proposals from her Japanese customers. Twice, she refused them, afraid that she would be separated from her family that she financially supports. Although aghast at her occupation at first, Claris’ parents eventually learned to accept it. Earning as much as P2,500 in a single sex encounter with a customer, Claris is her family’s breadwinner in a city where the daily minimum wage is below P300.

Most likely, Claris is not even this girl’s real name. Most sex workers in the country use aliases to protect their real identities so that they can live normal lives as mothers, wives, sisters and girls-next-door during the day. They change names as often as they switch from one customer to another. Common aliases include Nicole, Apple, Anne, Mariz, Aubrey, Cindy, Maricar, Sabrina and Janice, to name a few.

All of these girls claim to be 18 years or older. Those who look younger won’t admit their real age, as if being older gives them the license to engage in prostitution. An employee of a Quezon City-based bar, however, admits that some of the girls in their establishment are 17 years old and younger.

“Between us boys, of course they are young because customers prefer them to be young. But we do not disclose their real age for reasons you already know,” the employee says.

Customers, he adds, prefer women who are 19 years old or younger. “Up to 21 years, they may still get some customers. But when they reach 22, I do not know.”

At an intersection along Quezon Avenue, Apple, a petite girl who cannot get employment at any of the nearby bars because of her tender age is often seen waving at cars. Although she looks younger than 16, the fair-skinned Apple claims to be 19 and asks for a service fee of P1,000 for a one-hour interaction. There are hundreds like her along Quezon Avenue.

Although illegal in the Philippines, prostitution thrives. It is being boosted by dollars brought in by foreign tourists, who are most likely to be male, aged 38 years or older and in the country for pleasure. The government actually has enough laws against prostitution.

Among these is Republic Act 9208, otherwise known as the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, which seeks to save women and children from falling into prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude or debt bondage. Unfortunately, the law does not save them from poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities, which force thousands of women to prostitution. The fact that some Filipinos are very rich and others are very poor breeds the exploitation and abuse of poor women.

In 2005, some 2.6 million foreign tourists infused about $2.4 billion into the country, the highest in history. This year, the Department of Tourism (DoT) expects between $2.8 and $2.9 billion from the influx of about three million visitors. Another 3.4 million visitors are expected in 2007, 3.88 million by 2008, 4.42 million by 2009 and five million by 2010.

Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, who is actively promoting the Philippines in Korea, China and Japan, denies any link between tourism and prostitution. “Prostitution is a social problem, not just a tourism problem,” he says.

While the DoT claims that it tries to woo family vacationers, their own data suggests otherwise. Based on the 2004 profile of foreign visitors, 62.4 percent or more than three out of five tourists were male. About 79 percent of tourists from Japan, in particular, were male.

Claris admits that Japanese tourists are the biggest spenders. “Unlike Koreans,” she says without elaborating. Claris works in one of the most expensive KTVs in Davao City, which has recently hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tourism Forum. Davao, one of the anchor tourism destinations in the Philippines, is famous for its nightlife. A foreign operator of a prostitution Web site says that “Davao has them (prostitutes). It wouldn’t be the Philippines if they didn’t.”

Tourist districts in the Philippines are not tourist districts without a scintillating nightlife. Malate, Roxas Boulevard, Makati Avenue, Baguio, Angeles, Olongapo, Cebu, Sabang Beach in Puerto Galera, Boracay, Cagayan de Oro and Davao— areas that are near tourist spots—are just among the tourist districts that glow in the dark.

Sometimes, the nightlife becomes the main attraction itself. Such is the case along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City, where Japanese, Koreans, Americans and Europeans have found their way to pleasure despite the location’s great distance from any major tourist spot.

In Davao City, restaurants, cafés, watering holes, bars, KTVs and prostitution joints such as clubs, massage parlors and casas (brothels) have sprouted along Cabaguio Avenue, Quirino Avenue, Recto Avenue, Bonifacio Street and San Pedro Street. Although entertainment complexes such as the Venue, Matina Town Square, Victoria Plaza and Rizal Promenade have been originally designed for yuppies and teenagers, they have also become the favorite hangouts of tourists in search of call girls, many of who are alleged college students, although such claims cannot be easily proven.

On Jan. 14 to 21, more than 3,000 foreign participants went to Davao for the ATF Forum, the largest tourism event in the region that has tackled different issues related to tourism including sex tourism. So successful was the event that the city had to turn away more than 100 Korean participants who could not be accommodated in the city’s fully occupied hotels, one Mindanao-based economist says. During the forum, participants committed to address the problem of sex tourism and child exploitation in Asia.

One driver, however, claims that some male foreign participants in the forum went out at night and found their way to the city’s nightspots. Bar girls confirm this. Many ATF participants were treated to a night of fun at one KTV, one source says. Almost all nightspots, particularly those near hotels such as Marco Polo and Apo View, had foreign guests. Even pick up girls and call girls had foreign customers in January, a friend of these girls claims.

Tour operators also confirm this, although they say this was not a part of the participants’ official itinerary. “We do not encourage tourists to go to these spots, although we have no choice but to bring them to the legitimate bars, when they ask for it,” a tour operator says.

Another tour guide says that instead of picking up girls in the streets, who are protected and pimped by some erring policemen, he would rather advise the foreign guests to visit the legitimate KTVs and bars. Inside KTVs and bars, however, it’s not only singing and dancing, but sex as well. For a fee of P1,500 to P2,000, customers can stay at so-called VIP rooms or cubicles where they can have sex with a GRO or a bar girl for additional P2,000 to P2,500. This is true in major cities such as Quezon City, Manila, Makati, Pasay, Baguio, Cebu and Davao.

In Davao City, call girls could hardly gain entrance to hotels because of strict rules imposed by hotel management. Special visits to guest rooms, however, are arranged through room boys or bellboys who have contact with these girls, who wait for calls outside at a nearby alley. The number of call girls and pickup girls increases every time the city hosts festivals or large events, which means that girls from other cities go there to meet tourists, according to one tour operator.

Janice, a GRO, attests to this, saying she herself is moving from one city to another. She has moved from Cagayan de Oro City, to Cebu City and then to Davao City. She also plans to go to Guam. The same is true in Quezon City, where girls transfer from one bar to another to get the attention of customers. Regular customers always want somebody new, especially virgins, one club employee says.

In Metro Manila, groups of fine-looking girls gain entry to hotels by wearing classy outfits. They usually stroll near the lobby or elevator area of deluxe hotels. Special signals serve as interaction between the girls and potential customers, particularly at hotels with casinos. The DoT and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) recently joined hands in promoting casino tourism in the country.

Pagcor chairman Ephraim Genuino says that the planned $4-billion casino and entertainment complex in Manila and Clark will employ 200,000 Filipinos. Obviously, Genuino is only trying to get Congress to extend Pagcor’s charter, which will expire in 2008, by another 25 years.

The owner of a travel agency concedes that the sex industry is beyond the control of the Department of Tourism (DoT). He also admits that when tourists are looking for sex, travel agencies have no choice but to tell them where it can be found. And it can be found in many places.

Along Quezon Ave., it can be found fastest at massage parlors, where customers choose who to have sex with from a roomful of girls. All this in the guise of getting a massage for P1,500 to P2,000.

One of the oldest massage parlors in the area had to bring down its charges and offer promo rates to lure back customers who have found a wider selection of girls from the salon. One that has been getting a lot of attention lately is an exclusive massage parlor where politicians, businessmen, actors, foreigners and moneyed individuals have been sighted.

Casas (brothels), which are not considered legitimate establishments, offer sex services at more affordable rates. Then, there are also clubs, bars and KTVs where customers and GROs or bar girls can spend an hour or more at the VIP room with their customers for P1,500 to P2,000 and have sex for another P2,000 to P2,500. Outside the VIP room, a lady’s drink would cost the customer P500 to P600 every 30 minutes. One of these clubs in Quezon City is getting a lot of Japanese and Korean customers, because it is known for employing really young girls.

Another form of prostitution is the so-called escort service, where the call girl accompanies the tourist to the places he wants to visit, including the hotel room where he stays. This has also evolved into a sex tour. In Makati City, some expatriates recruit girls to join them in a party where sex is open to everyone who is present. The escort service trade is highly popular in Puerto Galera, Palawan and Boracay.

But the most notorious of them all is child prostitution, which involves either Internet pornography or actual sex. A DoT employee admits that child exploitation persists in Angeles City, Puerto Galera and Pagsanjan, Laguna. According to the End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), children have been targets of prey not only by pedophiles but also by those who are afraid of contracting HIV/AIDS from older women and therefore prefer children as sex partners.

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 sex workers in the Philippines, including thousands of young children prostituted by syndicates. According to the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Southeast Asia is one of the world’s top destinations for people seeking sex with children. The Philippines, in particular, was criticized for its weak enforcement against child pornography.

A search for the word Filipina or Filipino woman at global search engine would most likely result in links to pornography sites. One site promotes mail order brides; another, video clips of sex for a fee and another, sex tours in the Philippines. “Meet some sweet Filipina girls from small Philippine towns,” one Web site says in its header.

Amid the spread of prostitution in the Philippines, women’s group Gabriela blames the tourism program of the government as a contributory factor to the growing problem of prostitution.

“The tourism program of the government which aims to project the Philippines as a major tourist destination has increased the number of prostituted women. As more and more areas of the country are targeted for tourism, more and more women are driven to prostitution in desperation to ensure their family’s survival,” Gabriela says.

The Philippines used to send many entertainers to Japan, but with the stricter immigration and working policies in the world’s second largest economy and the growth in international tourism in the Philippines, many girls actually decided to work in local bars and KTVs while waiting for their working visas.

As expected, the DoT is quick to deny any link between prostitution and tourism. But not all officials are singing the same tune. One DoT official, who has been stripped of his previous functions, has criticized the present focus on Korea, Japan and China without sustaining the promotion efforts in the more sophisticated markets of Germany and the United Kingdom. Senator Richard Gordon, a former tourism secretary, admits that quality tourists still come from Western and Northern Europe.

While arrivals from China have been growing at double-digit rates over the past few months, critics say this has worsened the problem of illegal immigration of Chinese traders into the country where they are accused of smuggling cheap goods to the detriment of local industries. Local travel operators, on the other hand, accuse Korean businessmen of usurping their businesses, particularly in the area of tour operation. Worse, they say Korean businessmen have bought a number of bars, KTVs and motels in different parts of the country, by using Filipino dummies.

Eduardo Jarque Jr., assistant secretary for tourism planning and promotion at DoT, says prostitution is not exclusive to the Philippines. “Other countries have the same problem. We just can’t control it,” he says pragmatically.

He admits that foreigners are attracted to the caring attitude of the Filipinos. “Foreigners find us friendly,” he says. “With such a short time of stay in the country, foreigners’ quality of enjoyment here is very high.”

For his part, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano insists that nobody is selling the country as a sex tourism destination. “We welcome everyone as long as they are legitimate tourists, but we do not condone prostitution,” he says. Prostitution, according to him, is not just a tourism issue, but a social issue that needs to be addressed by everyone, not only by the DoT. “We even discourage it. Families are the type of tourists we are bringing into the country,” he says.

Durano even argues that the increase in tourist arrivals has been helping mitigate the problem of prostitution. “I bet you that with the increase in tourist arrivals, there are now less prostitutes,” he says.

The tourism chief notes that the increase in foreign tourists who spend an average of $90 a day in the country has helped employ a lot of Filipinos in the services sector. Data showed that employment in hotels and restaurants alone grew by 50,000 to 866,000 in January 2006 from only 836,000 a year ago. At the same time, Durano says “KTV” per se is not bad. “It is a place where tourists can unwind,” he says.

Gordon believes that tourism should be the no. 1 industry in the Philippines. Gordon, who filed Senate Bill 2138 or the Tourism Bill that seeks to attract 10 million foreign visitors in the country annually, easily gets emotional when prostitution is discussed vis-á-vis tourism.

“Imagine what 10 million foreign tourists could do to the Philippine economy, when the average international tourist spends $878 during his stay here in the Philippines. That would be almost $9 billion injected into the arm of the economy, or almost P500 billion, practically half the national budget,” Gordon says.

Any fear that tourism will worsen prostitution in the country should not prevent the government from achieving its goal, he says. “Why are we so afraid?” Gordon asks. “We are not going to make any decision based on fear.”

Gordon says the Philippines should take risks, if it really intends to catch up with its neighbors like Thailand and Malaysia, which attract more than 10 million visitors each year. Data from the World Tourism Organization shows that in 2004, Malaysia had 15.703 million tourist arrivals; Thailand, 11.651 million and Indonesia, 5.321 million.

Prostitution is part and parcel of life, Gordon says. It needs to be planned and regulated, but it should not hinder the growth of tourism, he adds. “Prostitution can be found anywhere in the world, not only in the Philippines,” Gordon says. “When I was mayor of Olongapo, we opposed prostitution, but those were real people with jobs.”

Gordon says nothing should stop the Philippines from luring at least 10 million foreign visitors annually. He says the country needs to compete with the likes of Thailand by increasing its budget for tourism and dangling incentives to investors in tourism infrastructures, hotels and resorts.

Two economists from the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), however, caution the DoT against following the Thailand model. Prof. Winston Padojinog and Prof. Maria Cherry Lyn Rodolfo say the country should move away from sex tourism and toward quality tourism in order to get quality tourists.

Instead of attracting male-dominated tourist groups, the two economists say the country will do better by drawing in family vacationers to the country’s tourist destinations, which are really among the best in the world. Data shows that the average age of foreign tourists in the Philippines was 38 as of 2004, which means it is not getting a lot of its desired tourists - families on vacation.

This is despite the fact that the Philippines has enough attractions other than its women. Among the 10 Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines actually has the most number of world heritage sites.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization has declared the Baroque churches of the Philippines and the historic town of Vigan as world cultural heritage sites and the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park, the Rice Terraces of the Cordilleras and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park as world natural heritage sites.

Industry players cite the need for the government to sell these tourist spots and the entire archipelago as a wholesome family destination, where foreign tourists can enjoy the best of nature with their families. They say this can truly offer a wonderful travel experience, and not just satisfy a few carnal desires.

Monday, March 20, 2006

EDITORIAL – Remember poll automation?

The Philippine Star

Amid the continuing political tumult, some quarters at least still remember that the country has barely a year to prepare for the next elections. The Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws wants poll automation to be tested in two cities and two provinces during the mid-term elections in 2007.

Poll automation, which was supposed to be implemented during the May 2004 general elections, was aborted after the Supreme Court scrapped a P1.2-billion contract between the Commission on Elections and the Mega Pacific consortium. The SC decision also recommended the filing of graft charges against Comelec officials and Mega Pacific executives involved in the deal.

Months later, a group led by former Senate president Jovito Salonga filed graft charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against several Comelec officials led by Chairman Benjamin Abalos as well as executives of the consortium. The case remains unresolved. Like the case, poll automation remains in limbo, and nearly 200 computers with special software are unused and deteriorating.

Despite the vote-rigging scandal that continues to bedevil the Arroyo administration, lawmakers have shown little interest in impeaching Comelec officials.

With no one lifting a finger to clean up the Comelec or revive the poll modernization program, the nation is stuck with the same antiquated system of holding elections, and the same officials who will tally the votes.

The presidential vote-rigging scandal involving former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano should have given urgency to electoral reforms. Nearly a year after the scandal erupted, however, no effort has been made to overhaul the Comelec and implement measures that will discourage vote rigging. In Congress, long pending bills on campaign finance reforms continue to gather dust.

With barely a year left before the next campaign period, the best that Filipinos can hope for is partial poll automation in a handful of pilot areas. Even this plan, however, faces rough sailing. Everyone knows that the Comelec has no credibility and the electoral system needs a sweeping overhaul. Beyond whining about it, however, there is little movement toward electoral reforms.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ambassador Kenney assumes Manila post

The first female US ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Anne Kenney arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late Friday night and immediately said that her first order of business would be a meeting with President Arroyo in Malacañan.

On her arrival at the NAIA, Kenney held a very brief impromptu news conference where she said she was looking forward to presenting her credentials to Mrs. Arroyo next week.

Kenney also expressed elation upon seeing media people who greeted her at the airport along with US Embassy officials.

"I’m absolutely thrilled to be here. This is one of the most special countries for the United States. We have such a long relationship and we feel very close as people," Kenney said.

She said that she could not wait to see the country and to meet Filipinos from all walks of life.

"Of course my first conversations will be official ones when I present my credentials to the President and her government. But after that, I look forward to hearing from all of you early and often. So, I hope you’ll be kind and generous and tell me everything I need to know," Kenney told her welcoming party.

She parted by saying, "Salamat po!" to the delight of newsmen and US Embassy officials.

Kenney was formally sworn in by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on March 6.

She was a senior member of the US Foreign Service, and served as the US ambassador to the Republic of Ecuador from September 2002 to July 2005.

As US ambassador to Ecuador, she supervised nearly 500 US government employees and managed an assistance budget of more than $70 million.

Before that, she spent nine months as senior adviser to the Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. She also held other important positions at the US State Department.

Jonathan Vicente

IT course turns women into computer pros

By Tina G. Santos - Inquirer

FROM computer-illiterate to computer-savvy.

Many housewives in Sta. Mesa, Manila, still remember the time when they did not even know how to insert a diskette into the computer.

But after completing a computer literacy course, they now wear confident smiles as they sit in front of a computer, punching keys and executing commands like pros.

The women were among the beneficiaries of a program initiated by Councilor Dennis Lacuna of the city’s sixth district.

Recognizing the importance of computer skills to gain employment, Lacuna put up a computer center in Bacood, Sta. Mesa, to teach residents about information technology systems.

“The project is especially significant in this information-driven age where technological know-how is almost always not just a preference, but a requirement,” the councilor said.

He added that since offering the program early this month, the center has been deluged by students.

The councilor said he was surprised to find out that many of those who had registered, aside from teenagers and out-of-school youth, were adults, mostly working parents between 30 and 40 years old.

“These are people who did not have any computer classes when they were still in school,” he said.

The computer center has 14 brand-new computers and uses the syllabus of the Informatics computer school. The center offers basic and advanced computer courses, including training in applications such as word processor Microsoft Word; virtual drawing tool Paint; the spreadsheet calculation program Excel; and office presentation maker, PowerPoint.

Students are also taught how to use the Internet.

The computer course takes 45 days, with students attending one-hour classes from Monday to Friday. Six classes are held daily. There are currently 70 students enrolled.

Lacuna said they intend to add more classes to accommodate more residents.

He is also considering giving free computer lessons to barangay officials in the area as well as members of the Manila Police District, specifically those assigned at the Sta. Mesa police station.

Lacuna, who believes that computer literacy gives one an option and an edge, said that the newly-acquired skills would hopefully help improve the lives of his constituents.

Internet mas patok kaysa sex


OTTAWA --- Mas maraming Canadian ang mas nanaisin na manood na lamang ng television o mag-surf sa internet kaysa sa makipag-sex sa kanilang partner sa gabi.

Natuklasan sa isinagawang Ipsos-Reid survey na inilathala nitong Huwebes, na ang mga Canadians na nasa edad 40 at 64 ay naglalaan lamang ng average na 15 minutes bawat araw para sa sex at romansa.
Ayon sa kanila, masyado na silang stress o pagod o kaya'y wala silang sapat na oras para sa romansa sa higaan.

Subalit, sinabi naman ng mga protagonists ng 1960s sexual revolution na gumugugol sila ng apat hanggang limang oras bawat araw sa panonood ng telebisyon o surfing sa Internet, mahigit sa 30 oras bawat isang linggo.

Ang survey sa may 2,498 Canadian noong late November ay kinomisyon ng Pfizer, ang manufacturer ng Viagra, na may 2% margin error.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Her Royal Highness The Princess of Hanover to Receive UNICEF's 2006 Children's Champion Award in Boston

- Honor recognizes Her dedication and commitment to helping the world's children -

NEW YORK, Her Royal Highness The Princess of Hanover will be honored with the Children's Champion Award by the New England Chapter of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF ( in recognition of Her longstanding dedication to helping the world's children, in particular in Her capacity as President of AMADE Mondiale (World Association of Children's Friends).

AMADE, an acronym for the French, Association Mondiale des Amis de l'Enfance (, was established in 1963 by H.S.H. Princess Grace of Monaco as a non-profit child-advocacy NGO to promote and protect the rights of the children of the world through humanitarian aid programs and now boasts 23 branches across the globe. The Princess of Hanover was named President in 1993 and Her brother, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, serves as Honorary President and is an active fundraiser and supporter.

Headquartered in Monaco, AMADE has become an internationally recognized nongovernmental organization granted consultative status with UNICEF, UNESCO and the United Nations Economic Social Council and participative status with the Council of Europe. The organization develops humanitarian aid programs through a network of local organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. In developing countries, aid programs are established to fight poverty and malnutrition and strive to provide children with healthcare and opportunities for basic education.

"AMADE remains strongly committed to promoting the inalienable rights of the child as we believe there can be no other path to building a harmonious and prosperous society," said the Princess of Hanover.

Working tirelessly to meet new challenges presented by war, violence, drugs and crime, the Princess plays an active role in the organization's global initiatives to protect and promote the rights of children. In 2004, on the 5th anniversary of AMADE Philippines, She traveled there to observe first hand, the challenges and conditions faced by that country's youngest citizens. AMADE has supported the aid program for the children of Subic Bay and Clark Field in the Philippines and joined forces with Alliance Bases Clean Up (ABC) for the young victims of toxic waste contamination. AMADE provided financial support for urgent medical treatment for these children as well as for health and rehabilitation programs in these two areas.

"My hope is that tomorrow's children, whether in wealthy nations or not, will no longer be deprived of the fundamental rights to which every child is entitled," said AMADE Secretary-General Francis Kasasa. "AMADE not only hopes to improve the lives of children who are struggling today, but is also eager to offer their children a better world and better lives for tomorrow."

The 2006 Children's Champion Award is to be presented to H.R.H. The Princess of Hanover at a black-tie benefit dinner at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, where She will be accompanied by Secretary-General Kasasa. Previous recipients of the Award include Nelson Mandela, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte and H.M. Queen Noor of Jordan.

For more information, please contact the Consulate General of Monaco, 565 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017, Tel: 212-286 0500 or via e-mail at: Our website is:

Note to Editors: The fourth annual Monaco Takes New York kicks off with the participation in The Forbes Galleries' Treasures of the Titans exhibit (March 24-July 22) featuring personal items from Prince Rainier and Princess Grace; Monegasque Culinary Week (April 24-28) at some of NYC's top restaurants; the continuation of Making Music in Monaco on 96.3-FM WQXR through May 13 and much more (

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Clark readies airport for new radar system

By Rendy Isip - Manila Standard

CLARK FIELD, Pampanga—Civil works for a new $9-million radar system that is to be installed at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) are underway and the new system is expected to be fully operational before the end of this year.

Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) corporate planning manager Darwin Cunanan told Standard Today that civil works for the setting up of the radar system will take at least 18 months.

Cunanan said that all of the equipment for the radar system that was acquired in Italy have been transported to the airport and it is now being prepared for installation.

“The project is currently ongoing, we’re confident the new radar system will be set up before the end of 2006,” Cunanan said, adding that the system will be installed by the Italian firm Selex, formerly known as Alenia Marconi.

Cunanan said that the radar is capable of reaching at least 60 nautical miles and will free DMIA from its dependence on the radar system of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) in Manila.

DMIA general manager Beinvenido Manga also said that CIAC and Clark Development Corp. (CDC) are studying the funding of the extention of the passenger terminal which is not enough to accommodate passengers.

Manga, however, said that he could not give estimates of how much the extension would cost and the CIAC and CDC are still studying the project under the master development plan for DMIA.

CIAC president Danilo Augusto Francia had earlier said that CIAC, CDC and the Department of Transportation and Commu-nications, National Economic and Development Authority have been tasked to study the expansion so that the DMIA could be converted into an international gateway by 2015.

Unemployment up as industry jobs shrink

A shrinking industrial sector pushed up the Philippines’ unemployment rate in January from a year ago, National Statistics Office data showed Wednesday.

About 8.1 percent of the country’s labor force found no jobs, according to the latest Labor Force Survey.

The jobless rate stood at 7.4 percent last October, and at 7.3 percent in January last year.

The latest jobless rate puts the number of unemployed Filipinos at 2.8 million.

Agricultural employment rose by 475,000 jobs, or 4.2 percent, from a year earlier to 11.8 million.

But the increase in the number of jobs created by the agriculture sector was owing to the "increase in unpaid family workers," the NSO said.

Services jobs also increased 2.4 percent to 15.67 million.

A total of 95,000 jobs, however, were lost in the industrial sector—including 73,000 in construction—reducing employment there to 4.88 million.

The ratio of people who worked for less than 40 hours a week, officially defined as the underemployed segment, rose to 21.3 percent compared to a year earlier.

Across regions, Cagayan Valley recorded the highest employment rate at 96.8 percent while the National Capital Region was the laggard, with the jobless rate at 85 percent.

The NSO also reported that among the jobless Filipinos, about 48.4 percent were aged 15 to 24, with the rest aged 25 years and above.

Among those looking for more hours of work, the bulk formed part of the farm-sector work force, followed by those in the services sector.

The total labor force in January was estimated at 35.2 million, for a labor force participation rate of 63.8 percent.

In a telephone interview, Dennis Arroyo, director for national planning and policy of the National Economic and Development Authority, said the increase in the number of farm-sector jobs could be attributed to the expected improvement in the weather system of the country, noting that agricultural lands were hit by a prolonged dry spell last year.

But Arroyo admitted that the government should be more alarmed with the sharp increase in the underemployment rate.

To address the country’s unemployment and underemployment woes, the government should deliver on its promise to spend on infrastructure and support the development of the agriculture sector, he said.

"I hope Congress will immediately enact the 2006 budget because the delay in its passage is causing infrastructure projects to be postponed," he said, adding that infrastructure projects are labor-intensive.

He also cited the "clustering" program promoted by the Department of Agriculture that seeks to diversify agricultural output and encourage farmers to plant other crops besides palay.

Benjamin Diokno, a former budget secretary and an economist at the University of the Philippines, said the government "has nothing to be happy about" despite a decrease in the number of jobless Filipinos.

He said his way of looking at the LFS was to add the percentage of the unemployed and the underemployed and under this system, the percentage of unsatisfied Filipinos in their employment situation would be bigger at 29.4 percent this year compared to last year’s 27.4 percent.

"What was clear was that there was a deterioration in the unemployment situation in the country," he said, adding the government should look for ways to attract more investments in the country.

Another economist, Emilio Antonio of the University of Asia and the Pacific, said the survey results were "consistent" with the general trend of a slight improvement in the performance of the economy.

AFP and Cheryl M. Arcibal

Monday, March 13, 2006

Industriya ng Telemarketing

Ang Pilipino STAR Ngayon

SA panahon ngayon, nauso ang pagbebenta o pag-aalok ng produkto o serbisyo sa pamamagitan lamang ng telepono.

Ito yung tinatawag nating telemarketing o sa lengguwahe ng call center ay mas kilala bilang outbound account.

Pagtawag sa mga bahay at tanggapan ng mga prospect clients ang estilo ng telemarketing kung saan sa telepono lamang ay nagkakaroon sila ng transaksiyon, benta o sales.

Subalit sa hindi inaasahang pagkakataon, nagdudulot ang ganitong negosasyon ng pagkalito sa pagitan ng nag-aalok at inaalok.

Katulad ng problemang inilapit sa BITAG ni Rowena Tan tungkol sa telemarketer ng Citylimits.

Ayon kay Rowena, inaakala niyang ang inaalok ng telemarketer ng citylimits ay credit card kaya napapayag siya nitong kumuha ng nasabing produkto.

Laking gulat na lamang daw niya ng i-deliver ito sa kan-yang bahay dahil discount card pala ang nasabing produkto.

Dito inilapit daw niya ang kaso sa mismong manager ng kumpanya at nangako naman ang mga ito ng refund o cancellation of transaction.

Lumagpas na ang taning na dapat sana’y sosolusyunan na ng kumpanya kung kaya’t sa BITAG na siya sunod na lumapit.

Sa aming imbestigasyon, dala marahil ng kanyang excitement na makakuha ng bagong produkto, hindi na nito nakuha pang magtanong ng ibang katanungan patungkol sa produkto.

Pumasok din sa aming isipan na dahil sa sobrang abala ng telemarketer sa kanyang spiels sa pagpapakilala sa produkto’y hindi na nito naliwanagang mabuti si Rowena.

Malinaw, MISKOMUNIKASYON ang naging ugat ng problema sa pagitan ni Rowena at ng Citylimits.

Babala ng Bahala si Tulfo at BITAG, sa patuloy na pag-angat ng industriyang telemarketing, hindi malayong kasangkapanin ito ng mga sindikato upang makapmbiktima.

Ugaliing maging palatanong sa mga bagay na inaalok sa’tin. Gayundin ang maging paladuda sa mga taong miminsan lang natin nakatransaksiyon.

Mag-ingat ng hindi mahulog sa BITAG ng mga kawatan at manloloko!

Making cities competitive

By Jigger S. Latoza, Inquirer

LAST FEB. 13, THE AIM (ASIAN INSTITUTE OF Management) Policy Center-with the support of the United States Agency for International Development, The Asia Foundation and the GTZ-presented to the public the findings of the 2005 Philippine Cities Competitiveness Ranking Project (PCCRP). Declared as the country's most competitive cities were: metro cities-Davao, Las Pi¤as, Makati, Marikina and Muntinlupa; mid-sized cities-Bacolod, Batangas, Iligan, Iloilo and San Fernando (Pampanga); small cities-Dagupan, Koronadal, Legazpi, Naga, Olongapo, San Fernando (La Union), Sta. Rosa, Surigao, Tagbilaran and Tagum.

For a backgrounder: The PCCRP assesses the capacity of cities to provide an environment that nurtures the dynamism of local enterprises and industries, the general ability of cities to attract investments, entrepreneurs and residents, and to uplift the living standards of their inhabitants. To measure competitiveness, the project looks into the indicators of "competitiveness drivers": cost of doing business, dynamism of local economy, linkages and accessibility, human resources and training, infrastructure, responsiveness of local government to business needs, and quality of life. The PCCRP also provides a benchmarking process that will aid individual cities in measuring competitiveness.

As head of the University of San Agustin (Iloilo) Research Center, which has been the PCCRP research partner in Western Visayas since 2001, I am glad to echo here the best practices of the 20 (out of the 65 surveyed) cities declared as most competitive. These were first articulated by Dr. Federico Macaranas, executive director of the AIM Policy Center.

Foremost, according to Macaranas, is the appreciation of the fact that the "Basics Form the Bedrock" of competitiveness. The provision of adequate infrastructure-roads and bridges, power, water, telecommunications, among others, is a requisite of competitiveness. While there is certainly nothing wrong with dreaming big for one's city, neglect of these basics can effectively block a city's drive to realize its development vision.

Next are the "One Stroke, One Shop" best practices. These, Macaranas says, complement infrastructure in bringing down the cost of business through quick and simplified responses from government. Falling under this cluster of best practices are strategies for investment promotion and the operation of business one-stop-shop centers. Also cited are cities that have gone the extra mile in facilitating things for investors/businesspersons by going electronic in transactions-downloadable forms and documents (including bids), on-line availability of procedures, point persons and contact information and on-line processing.

Macaranas refers to the next set of best practices as following the "Law of Numbers." He stresses the value of accurate and timely collection of statistics-to competitiveness; and more importantly, the imperative for statistical information for policymaking and executive decision-making. He also notes the critical need of many cities to build up capacity in systematically collecting, monitoring and interpreting data. I think this is where collaboration on knowledge management between cities and universities/research institutions assumes great importance.

Competitive cities also have what Macaranas terms the "Stickiness Factor." These are cities where ideas animate people toward action, cities where the local leadership engages the constituency by organizing forums and meetings, and optimizing the mass media and other means of communication for participatory governance. These are cities where the average citizen knows by heart the city's vision statement and development objectives.

Finally, Macaranas says, competitive cities use the "Power of Context." These are cities where leaders agree with Gladwell that "the key to getting people to change their behavior sometimes lies with the smallest details of their immediate situation." In other words, while the city leadership motivates the people to think big, it does not overlook seemingly micro matters, such as garbage collection, traffic management, health and emergency response services, transparency and performance standards.

Basics form the bedrock. One stroke, one shop. The law of numbers. The stickiness factor. The power of context.

The best practices of competitive cities just cited may well be considered not only by other cities but also by provinces and municipalities, particularly capital towns. After all, becoming competitive is not the ultimate end; rather, it is only a means toward a higher goal-that is, attaining prosperity through better public service. This, no doubt, is an aspiration shared by all local government units, regardless of size.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Alleged smuggling activities in Subic port probed

THE REPORTED recent smuggling activities perpetrated in the Subic Bay Freeport is the subject of an ongoing inquiry by the Committee on Good Government under Representative Arthur Defensor (3rd District, Iloilo).

Prompted by the filing of House Resolution 537 primarily by Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. (1st District, Surigao del Sur), the inquiry specifically looks into the alleged smuggling of branded canned meatloaf and electronic equipment worth P2 million out of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). The smuggling activities were purportedly committed by the men of retired Lt. Gen. Jose Calimlim, the chief of the Anti-Smuggling Task Force (ASTF) an a senior official of the SBMA.

It also seeks to inquire into the constitutionality of Executive Order 384, which empowers a senior official of the SBMA to combat violations of Customs laws at the SBMA area. Under this EO, Calimlim was designated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the SBMA Director for Anti-Smuggling.

During the hearing, Rep. Pichay stated that the inquiry should be able to determine whether or not there is truth to the news report made by Jeff Tumbado, a reporter of Filipino Ngayon, on the alleged smuggling activities and to give Calimlim a chance to air his side.

He pointed out that the news report made a serious allegation when it stated that Calimlim whisked out canned goods from the Subic Bay Freeport and loaded them into a van marked ?Calimlim Farm Co.? If the allegations were true, the act of Calimlim would be tantamount to smuggling, he averred.

?The fact that the general is the head of the ASTF and a senior official and director of the SBMA is very alarming,? he stressed.

Rep. Pichay emphasized that the reported rampant smuggling in the Subic Bay Freeport is an embarrassment to the government and to prospective investors and locators in the area.

The law allows the duty-free importation of goods and equipment in the country?s freeport zones provided they are consumed or used within the zones, the imported goods will be subject to taxes and duties if these are brought out of the freeport zones, except those allowed by law such as the benefits granted to tourists and balikbayans.

Calimlim, a retired military official who was in service for 38 years, clarified at the outset that his return to the government service was prompted only by the invitation of President Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to Calimlim, the powers granted to him under EO 384 as the SMBA director for anti-smuggling were only meant to assist him in curbing smuggling activities in the freeport.

He asserted that he performs his mandate in coordination with the Bureau of Customs (BOC), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Philippine Coast Guard, among others, he said.

Calimlim denied involvement

Calimlim denied any involvement in the smuggling of meat loaf (maling) and electronic equipment as reported.

He explained that the closed van referred to in the news report was used by his men to transport furniture and some personal effects from Pangasinan to his temporary house in Subic. ?If the van was closed, how come the reporter knew that there were canned goods and electronic equipment worth P2 million inside the van?? he asked.

The anti-smuggling czar also pointed out that he has not confiscated any meatloaf or electronic equipment as alleged in the news report. This he told the Committee, as he assured the lawmakers that he is dutifully performing his mandate.

He also expressed willingness to relinquish his post if the accusation hurled against him in the news report were found to be true.

The body decided to invite reporter Jeff Tumbado of Filipino Ngayon in the next meeting so that he can prove his allegations.

Cargo screening

On the query of Rep. Catalino Figueroa (2nd District, Western Samar), Calimlim explained that previously, there were three color-coded lanes used in screening cargoes landing in SBMA. These lanes are color-coded as follows: green for items requiring no inspection; yellow for those subjected to random inspection; and red for those required to undergo full inspection.

However, Calimlim clarified that access to the green lane was abused, which led the SBMA to redesign the screening process.

He informed the body that the current screening process allowed them to apprehend several undeclared cargoes.

He mentioned that some of these were declared as secondhand appliances but were in fact luxury vans, while some were declared as computer parts, but turned out to be P25-million worth of jewelry.

Cases filed

Replying to the question of Rep. Federico Sandoval II (Malabon-Navotas), Calimlim said that business entities responsible for these undeclared shipments have been suspended and cases against them have already been filed. To date, he added, 11 locators have been suspended.

To shed more light on the alleged smuggling activities in Subic Bay Freeport, the Committee decided to invite the following officials to its next meeting: former SBMA chair Felicito Payumo; incumbent SBMA chair Francisco Licuanan III; SBMA Administrator Alfredo Antonio; former Customs Commissioner George Jereos; incumbent Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina; owners of the suspended business establishments in the freeport; and other former and incumbent SBMA officials and customs collectors.

Likewise, the body requested Calimlim to submit the list of shipments that were allowed to be brought outside the Subic Bay freeport and those that were confined in the area for the use of the locators.

The body also requested District Collector Marietta Zamoranos to submit all documents pertinent to the entry of seven containers of maling, which according to her, were released by the BOC for donation to the typhoon victims in the provinces of Quezon and Aurora last year.l

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

TagBoard 7 March 2006

Busty Bulldog: In Ref: "Don't judge me too harshly," what a load of crap. This girl was out "Drinking Hard Liquor" late at night with men she did not even know. In my book that is a prostitute.
Gret: Sa rape issue laging girl ang inaatake ng publiko, e. Lalo na mga older generation. Sasabihin, the girl asked for it. Nakakaasar.
Gret: Agreeng-agree talaga ako sa yo, Dr. Pagaduan-Lopez. May pagka-chauvinist din kasi society natin, e.
Edward: Ang cute naman ng mga bata sa picture sana ganyan na din anak ko, bale ngayung pasukan, pasuk ko na siya sa Nursery :P
malou quiambao: GOOD WORK GUYS!!! DAPAT TALAGANG MASUGPO ANG MGA DRUG PUSHERS NA YAN! DAHIL SA DRUGS KAYA NASIRA ANG FAMILY KO! Sorry to hear that vie, sana soon maging stable na, don't give your hopes up
vie: thats why till now wala pa silang nagagawang project. baka pagkatapos ng term nila wala paring mayor sa min.
lory: its ok, well paano yan
vie: ako, pasensya na hwg ko nalang sabihin nakakahiya naman. If you dont mind.
lory: talaga, taga saan ka ba vie.
vie: sinabi mo pa, sa amin nga till now di namin alam who is our mayor. 3 of them nagsasabi na sila ang mayor. how much more sa taas, marami silang pera na magpanalo sa kanila
lory: pati nga sa mga province e mostly nagdadayaan din mula counsilor hanggang mayor.
lory: hay naku vie, sakit na natin yan hindi mo na maiba. since then naman e ganyan na ang election puro dayaan.
vie: siguro mas maganda p na palitan lahat mula sa ibaba para fresh lahat pero paano?
vie: paano naman kase na makahanap ng trabaho mas prioritize nila ung mga kung sino ang nagpasok sa kanila may back up ba think positive dapat, kung walang trabaho meron pa ring ibang way, wag lang mawawalan ng pag asa , wala naman na tayong magagawa e ganyan na e
Larry: They have a website. Greenview/Magdalena Homes. If your interested.
Larry: Marty. I purchased a lot in Baretto at Greeview Magdalena Homes. They have House/lot packages. under $50,000.
lory: hi gigs musta ka na dyan
vie: top 20 pala
vie: hay naku, paano kase na magkaroon ng trabaho sa tin e Philippines is still amomg the top 10 most corrupted in the country.
les: oo nga e konti lang ang trabaho dyan at tsaka kahit tapos ka sa college wala paring nangyayari lalo na pag wala kang back up.
subiccentral: jing are you kidding? 50k in USD is like 2.5 Million in Pesos
jing: also, your $100K should be able to cover some furniture Hi Marty hmmm not bad for the price, just check in a hotel when you arrive then maybe you ask hotel clerk or you can just look for a house for sale around barretto just roam arround
jing: By the way, you are very much welcome here and feel free to ask if there are other things wecan help you with
Lory: hi room
les: everyday nasa news lagi.popular
les: di ba nakakahiya yung mga nangyayari satin. Worldwide news.
les: marami kasing mga leftist sa tin.
les: Mga tamad kase ang mga pinoy sa tin mga Juan Tamad. Naghihintay lang ng maibigay.kagaya ng nagrarally syempre may ibinibigay yan para magrally sila
vie: Wala na atang nasusunod satin, puro na lang rally. Mga kababayan sa tin MAGTRABAHO N LANG KAYO may improvement pa sa economy yan.
les: correct ka dyn vie, magulo na nga ang pilipinas lalo pang pinapagulo. Nkakahiya naman tayo. Nakikita sa buong mundo. Popular
vie: ilang days na ba sila nagrarally? e kung magtrabaho nlang sana sila e di may makain pa sila.
Aiza: Hay, naku Gret. Depressing nga talaga. Nagwo-worry nga din ako for my families there, e.

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P1,000 allowance for govt workers out next week

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. assured Tuesday state workers will receive their additional P1,000 monthly allowance not later than March 15.

Andaya Jr. said the increase, made through presidential action, is retroactive to January 1.

"Ibibigay po namin sa kada departamento not later than March 15. Iyung inisyal na matatanggap po nila na first three months nga po (We will release the funds per department not later than March 15. The initial amount that they will get is for three months)," Andaya told DZMM.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) earlier announced it has released some P3.4 billion for the allowance of civil servants.

It has reportedly started issuing special allotment release orders (SAROs) and the corresponding "notices of cash allocations" to national government agencies so that they can grant the equivalent of three months in additional pay to their employees.

The additional allowance for state workers was made possible by Administrative Order No. 144 signed by President Arroyo last month, authorizing the grant of the P1,000 additional compensation to national government employees.

Expected to benefit from AO 144 are more than 1.5 million state workers, including policemen, soldiers, firemen and other uniformed personnel.

Andaya said the President issued AO 144 due to the delay in the passage at the Senate by a supplementary budget for P13.1 billion, the cost of the pay increase.

He said this is not the first time allowances were increased through presidential action. He cited AO 53 issued by President Fidel Ramos on May 17, 1993 which gave an additional P500 allowance for state workers, and Executive Orders 18, 108 and 116 signed in 1998 and 1999 signed by President Joseph Estrada, which increased the allowance of uniformed personnel.

Ban on use of styro containers sought

BAGUIO CITY -- Councilors Galo Weygan and Pinky Rondez are seeking a stop to the use of polystyrene foam (PSF) or styrofoam food and drink containers in restaurants, fast-food outlets, groceries, supermarkets, stores, and other establishments in Baguio City.

In a proposed ordinance, Weygan and Rondez said styrofoam is made up of petroleum, a substance that is "non-sustainable," "heavily polluting", disappearing, and dangerous to human's health.

"According to reliable and available scientific studies, PSF contains a contaminant chemical called styrene -- the single molecule form of polystyrene that usually migrates into and beverages from polystyrene food containers. Studies also suggest that styrene mimics estrogen in the body and can therefore disrupt normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to thyroid problem, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related problems as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer," the duo said.

Apart from being a health-risk, PSF is also a non-biodegradable material and "takes up too much space in landfills or waste disposal sites and is therefore environmentally unfriendly as it is costly in environmental management."

To date, the two councilors said there is no available recycling program for this type of waste in the city. They said even McDonalds and Jollibee food firms, which used to be highly dependent on PSF, have recognized its health and environmental perils and had stopped from using the material.

They said the long-term use and constant exposure to small amounts of foreign substances found in styrofoam containers will endanger the health of the public. This should be averted, especially since the cost of maintaining health and good environment is high, they said.

According to them, a ban on the use and sale of the material could be the most effective way of preventing health and environment hazards caused by PSF.

As proposed, the prohibition will be made effective on Jan. 1, 2008 to cover retail food vendors, fast-food outlets, restaurants, groceries, supermarkets, stores, and other food service establishments. (AR of Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)

Solon refiles Angeles lone district bill

By Dante M. Fabian, Sun Star

* Approval of bill a means to spur development of city
* Election of district's 1st rep to coincide with national polls in 2007

ANGELES CITY -- Representative Francis "Blueboy" Nepomuceno has revived a move to constitute this city as a lone congressional district under House Bill (HB) 5317, even as he seeks for its immediate passage.

Local groups hoped to see the implementation of the lone district bill before the synchronized elections in 2004 after it was approved in the House of Representatives a few years ago.

But due to the opposition of only one senator, the measure, despite having been approved for First and Second Reading in the Philippine Senate, was junked.

"But due to political and personal reasons of the city mayor of Angeles City (Carmelo Tarzan Lazatin, the lone oppositor) and unjustifiable motion to reconsider its approval by a single member of the Upper House, the Bill was rejected," Nepomuceno disclosed in the explanatory note of HB 5317.

Nepomuceno re-filed the lone district bill titled "An Act Constituting Angeles City In the Province Of Pampanga Into A Lone Congressional District And For Other Purposes" in Congress last February 28.

Upon its passage by Congress and Senate, Nepomuceno's bill would constitute the city into a lone congressional district separate and distinct from the First District of Pampanga.

Under Nepomuceno's bill, it will separate the city as a lone district consisting of all barangays within its political jurisdiction, from Mabalacat and Magalang which shall remain to constitute the First District.

HB 5317 provides that the election of the first representative for the Lone District of Angeles City shall coincide with the national elections to be held in 2007.

"The recent conversion of Clark Field into the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) and its declaration as an international port of entry completed the transformation of Angeles City into a highly urbanized center of population not only in the province of Pampanga but also in Central Luzon," Nepomuceno explained.

"This bill seeks to give due recognition to this development by constituting Angeles City into a lone congressional district, separate and distinct from the First District of Pampanga, which presently includes the municipalities of Mabalacat and Magalang," he said.

He added that separating Angeles, as a chartered city, from the two municipalities would only be proper since under Section 12, Article 10 of the Constitution, cities that are recognized by law as highly urbanized are to be considered independent of the province where they are located.

As reported in the Census of Population for the year 2000 alone, the First District of Pampanga comprised of Angeles City, Mabalacat and Magalang had a combined population of 512,546 distributed as follows: Angeles City, 263,971; Mabalacat, 171,045; Magalang, 77,530.

"Allowing for an increase in the population of three percent per annum (which is actually less than the national average of 3.2 percent), the district would have a projected population of almost 750,000 this year. Hence, by the time this Bill takes effect as a law the First District of Pampanga would have a sizeable constituency far in excess of the population standard for a single congressional district," Nepomuceno said.

According to Nepomuceno, approval of this Bill is prayed as a means of spurring the development of Angeles City as host of the largest special economic zone in the country and as a catalyst in the overall development and growth of Central Luzon.

He added that the measure is not only advantageous for Angeles City but also to the remaining municipalities as well.

Nepomuceno also stressed that congressional-allocated projects can be implemented exclusively for the benefit and welfare of the constituents of the Lone District of Angeles City while the projects for the First District of Pampanga can only be divided for the people of Mabalacat and Magalang.

Henry Sy hinamon ng mga kongresista na ibasura ang kontraktuwalisasyon

HINAMON kahapon ng mga militanteng kongresista si taipan at mall mogul Henry Sy ng Shoe Mart (SM) mall na ibalik ang pabor sa mga Pilipinong tumatangkilik ng negosyo nito sa porma ng pagpapakita ng tunay na puso at seryosong pagtingin sa kalagayan ng mga manggagawa sa pa-mamagitan ng pagbasura sa contractualization policy.

Matapos ang tinaguriang ''great raid'' ng SM mall sa iba't ibang panig ng bansa, naniniwala si Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador na napapanahon na para maging simbolo si Sy ng isang negosyante na nagsu-sulong ng kapakanan at kagalingan ng mga manggagawa na libre umano sa pag-kaganid sa pagkamal ng tubo.

Mula sa tinatawag na pagigiging contractualization king sa bansa, umaasa si Virador na magiging ''regularization king'' si Sy sa pamamagitan ng pagkakaloob sa karamihan ng mga kawani nito ng regular na trabaho.

''There is a great reason for him (Sy) to cease from exploiting the Herrera Law which legalizes contractualization after his success and continued expansion of business in the country. This is the ripe time for him to return the favor to Filipino people. From a contractualization king, he can redeem himself as the regularization king,'' ani Virador.

Kasama ni Virador sina Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo at Teodoro ''Teddy'' Casino, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza at Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano na sumasailalim sa protective custody ng Kamara de Representantes matapos maharap sa kasong rebelyon.

Iginiit rin ni Akbayan Rep. Loretta Rosales ang kahalagahan na bigyan ni Sy ng pagkakataon ang mayorya ng mga manggagawa nito na magtrabaho ng regular matapos pumasa sa lima hanggang anim na buwang performance test.

Naniniwala si Rosales na hindi dapat ang pagkamal ng kita ang karakter na dapat ipakita ng isang negosyante lalong-lalo na kung naghihirap nang husto ang kanilang manggagawa.

''He can't succeed alone, he better send back the blessings of his business by regularizing his workers. It is not always money, please show compassion to workers'' plight,'' ani Rosales.

Ginawa ng mga kongresista ang reaksiyon sa pagbubukas ng SM Investments Corp.'s kamakailan sa ika-23rd SM Mart Primes's supermall sa Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Matatagpuaan ang bagong SM mall sa 170,740 metro-kuwadradong lupain sa Bario Tagapo kung saan mayroon itong dalawang palapag at umaabot ang floor area sa 88,000 square meters.

Naunang iginiit nina Virador, House senior deputy minority leader at Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano at Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante na ibasura ang Herrera Law na nagbigay-daan sa legalisasyon ng ''kontraktuwalisasyon'' sa bansa dahil na rin sa talamak at patuloy na pagtataguyod ng SM mall at mga katulad na establisimyento ng polisiyang nagpalaki umano sa produksiyon at pagkamal ng kita ng mga kapitalistang katulad ni Sy habang naaabuso ang karapatan ng mga pobreng manggagawa.

Binanatan ni Virador ang SM mall ni Sy at ibang mogul magnates dahil sa pagsasamantala umano sa tinaguriang Herrera Law o batas na ini-akda ni dating Sen. Ernesto Herrera na siyang naging Labor Code ng bansa.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Purchase rain gauges, sirens, high-risk CL areas told

By Ding Cervantes The Philippine Star

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has urged officials of areas prone to landslides and flash floods in Central Luzon to equip themselves this early with at least two disaster-warning devices amid threats of a wet La Niña phenomenon.

"We have formally told mayors of endangered towns to immediately purchase rain gauges and perhaps, sirens or other effective devices to communicate with their constituents (should a possible natural calamity occur)," MGB geologist Orlando Pineda told The STAR.

Pineda said such devices are vital particularly in the high-risk towns of San Jose in Tarlac; Dingalan, Baler and San Luis, all in Aurora; and Gabaldon and Bongabon, both in Nueva Ecija.

He also urged local officials to construct more toilets and water pumps in public schools normally used as evacuation sites.

"These additional toilets and water sources should be padlocked and used only when the evacuees come so we can avoid unsanitary conditions that could endanger the health of evacuees," he said.

Pineda, however, said his office is only 20-percent complete in its geo-hazard map of Central Luzon.

The geo-hazard map will identify and classify areas in the region facing threats during natural calamities.

Lack of funds has stalled the mapping project. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), however, released recently some P500,000 to Pineda’s office following the killer landslide that buried Barangay Guinsaugon in Saint Bernard, Southern Leyte.

Pineda said a rain gauge would enable residents of a high-risk area to determine if the volume of rainfall has reached 100 millimeters, which is a cause for worry since landslides and flash floods could occur.

A rainfall gauge costs as much as P15,000 although they could be improvised, he said, adding that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration can help local officials and train gauge readers.

Pineda said high-risk areas should have effective communication devices to warn residents.

"The devices must relay sound that cannot be mistaken for something else," he said, adding that the ringing of bells in chapels or churches might be inadequate since bell sounds are normally used to relay other messages.

With fresh funds now available, the regional MGB office is now studying the dangers faced by residents of the low-lying Pampanga towns of Minalin, Apalit, Sto. Tomas, Masantol and Macabebe.

Pineda said an MGB team is set to inspect the Arnedo dike, whose vital portions have reportedly eroded.

"The collapse of sections of the dike will cause tremendous flooding in many towns in Pampanga," he said.

Earlier, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Central Luzon cited studies showing that 322,144 families in 1,277 barangays across the region face threats of landslides or floods.

Grace Zablan, planning chief of the regional DSWD office based here, said the biggest number of threatened families is in Pampanga, where 99,322 families live in 283 flood-prone barangays in 20 out of 21 towns, excluding Angeles City.

In Angeles City, 1,376 families living along riverbanks in nine barangays also face danger.

"With estimates of 322,144 families in danger from calamities this rainy season in Central Luzon, the DSWD is prepared to come in and help about 30 percent of them or about 96,643 families," Zablan said.

She said the regional DSWD office has allocated some P57 million for the needs of this 30 percent of the total endangered population in the region.

The Box That Changed Asia and the World

Marc Levinson,

Malcom McLean’s efforts during the Vietnam War led to the container revolution.

Fifty years ago, an American trucking firm owner, Malcom McLean, set off a revolution in international trade with the inauguration of his Sea-Land Service. On Apr. 26, 1956, his converted tanker ship, the Ideal-X, set sail from Newark, New Jersey for Houston, Texas, carrying 58 aluminum truck bodies in frames installed atop its deck. McLean’s vision: create a way in which cargo could be shifted seamlessly from trucks to ships to trains, without loss or delay.

Sea-Land itself foundered after a later sale to the diversifying R.J. Reynolds Co. and would ultimately be swallowed up by the Maersk shipping empire. (McLean himself died in relative obscurity in 2001.) But the revolution known as containerization would sweep the world. It made shipping cheap, and changed societies in the process. Manufacturers and consumers half a world away would be drawn together. The armies of ill-paid, ill-treated workers who once made their living loading and unloading ships by muscle and pulley in every port would be no more, their tight-knit waterfront communities now just memories.

Containerization would have enormous consequences for Asia’s economies. But it first made its mark on Asia through war. In early 1965, the U.S. government began a rapid buildup of military forces in Vietnam. In the process, it created what may have been the greatest logistical mess in the history of the U.S. armed forces. Few places on earth were less suited to supporting a modern military force than South Vietnam, which had primitive roads, a single rail line that was largely inoperative, and only one deep- water port.

Malcom McLean’s persistence in pushing containerization was vital to the U.S. war effort in Vietnam. The U.S. military had never used container shipping, and many officers wanted no part of it. Against much resistance, McLean won contracts to build a containerport at Cam Ranh Bay and to run containerships filled with military goods from California to Vietnam. His ships delivered 1,200 containers a month to Vietnam. Containerization enabled the U.S. to sustain a well-fed and well-equipped force through years of combat in places that otherwise would have been beyond the reach of U.S. military might. Without it, the U.S. military would have experienced extreme difficulty feeding, housing and supplying the 540,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and air force personnel who were in Vietnam by the start of 1969.

Containerization was vital as well to the growth of Sea-Land Service. Defense Department contracts had long been life or death matters for U.S.-flag ship lines with international routes. Until 1966 and 1967, when military transportation agencies first put their shipping needs up for competitive bidding, the military’s freight on a given route had been divided up among all the U.S.-flag lines serving that route, guaranteeing every carrier a piece of the pie. The Defense Department’s involvement with container shipping had been minimal, and it had never tendered freight to Sea-Land, even on its domestic routes to Puerto Rico and Alaska, because the military was not equipped to use its 35-foot containers. Vietnam broke the barrier. From almost nothing in 1965, Sea-Land’s Defense Department revenues rose to a total of $450 million between 1967 and 1973. In the peak year, fiscal 1971, $102 million of Vietnam-related contracts accounted for 30% of the company’s sales.

Like everything else McLean did, venturing into Vietnam entailed considerable risk in hopes of large reward. The cost and risk of reinforcing the pier at Cam Ranh Bay, assembling the cranes, floating equipment and vehicles across from the Philippines, and building the truck terminals were entirely Sea-Land’s. The U.S. government was liable only for damage to Sea-Land’s trucks and equipment caused by enemy fire. It did not furnish men or material to help Sea-Land get its operations up and running. In a place where replacement parts could not simply be ordered from a nearby distributor, the chance that something would go wrong, blowing budgets and cost calculations, was very high. McLean was running a commercial operation in a war zone, and betting that he could control costs well enough to make a profit from his fixed-price bid.

The gamble paid off hugely. In return for his willingness to bear risks on the cost side, McLean negotiated contracts that assured Sea-Land’s revenue. The U.S. Navy guaranteed a minimum number of containers on each trip from the U.S. West Coast to Okinawa and the Philippines. To Vietnam, the rate per container was fixed, but Sea-Land’s contract required the government to offer it “all of its containerizable cargo” outbound from Seattle and Oakland, leading to extremely high utilization: in 1968, the ships were filled to 99% of capacity.

No figures are available, but high capacity utilization must have translated into robust profitability. Each round trip from the U.S. West Coast to Cam Ranh Bay brought Sea-Land more than $20,000 per day, and each smaller vessel sailing to Danang took in about $8,000 a day, at a time when the Navy was paying $5,000 a day to lease large breakbulk ships. Sea-Land also was protected against the risk that its containers would vanish into the jungles of Vietnam. A central control office kept track of each container, and containers had to be emptied and returned within specified time limits or the unit holding them had to pay extra charges. The contracts also permitted Sea-Land to make some extra profit. The Philippines service was supposed to call at both Manila and Subic Bay, but after Sea-Land threatened to charge $500 an hour for port delays in Manila, the Air Force decided it could pick up its spare parts just as easily at Subic Bay; the contract remained unaltered, and Sea-Land was able to save $6,800 per trip by skipping the stop in Manila.

Sea-Land collected additional revenue anytime an Army unit in the field restuffed a container with material to be “retrograded” to the U.S., because its Navy contracts were westbound only. These payments for eastbound freight were pure profit, and were high enough that in March 1968 the U.S. command revoked permission to retrograde freight via container because, it was explained delicately, Sea-Land’s charges were “not rate- favorable.”

Malcom McLean was not one to pass up an opportunity for profit. Now, an obvious one awaited. He had six ships, three large and three small, sailing between the U.S. West Coast and Vietnam. Westbound, they were loaded nearly full with military freight. Eastbound, they carried little but empty containers. The rates paid by the U.S. government for the westbound haul covered all costs for the entire voyage. If Sea-Land could find freight to carry from the Pacific back to the U.S., the revenue would be almost entirely profit. Thinking the situation through, McLean had another of his brainstorms: why not stop in Japan?

Japan was the world’s fastest-growing economy during the 1960s: between 1960 and 1973 Japanese industrial output quadrupled. Already the second-largest source of U.S. imports, by the late 1960s Japan was quickly moving up the ladder from apparel and transistor radios to stereo systems, cars and industrial equipment. It took little imagination to envision the potential for container shipping. The Japanese government had used a typical industrial policy exercise to endorse containerization in 1966, when the Shipping and Shipbuilding Rationalization Council urged the Ministry of Transport to eliminate confusion and excessive competition in order to derive maximum national benefit from the new technology.

The council called for container service between Japan and the U.S. West Coast to begin in 1968, with services to the U.S. East Coast, Europe, and Australia to begin by 1970. It asked the government to build container terminals initially in the Tokyo/Yokohama and Osaka/Kobe areas. The government, the council said, should require Japanese and foreign shipping lines to form consortia to operate the containerships and terminals, but should structure that cooperation to avoid undermining the position of Japanese ship lines. If all went as planned, the council said, half of Japan’s exports would be containerized by 1971, traveling on 12 huge ships carrying 1,000 containers each.

The government acted with unusual speed. Delegations visited Oakland and other U.S. ports to learn how a containerport should be run. New port legislation was approved in August 1967 and Japan’s first two container cranes began operation in Tokyo and Kobe by the end of the year. Matters on the land side were not quite so easy. Standard trucks in Japan hauled loads smaller than 11 tons, and in any case highway regulations barred full-sized containers, except on a handful of new toll roads. The Japanese National Railway was not equipped to carry containers longer than 20 feet. The type of intermodal transportation being practiced in North America and since 1966 in Europe, with containers transferred almost seamlessly from a ship to a truck or rail cars to the recipient’s loading dock, would not be simple to replicate in Japan.

The first to try was Matson Navigation. In February 1966 Matson won U.S. government approval to operate an unsubsidized container service between the West Coast, Hawaii and the Far East. The company’s management had visions of fast ships racing across the Pacific with television sets and wristwatches, discharging cargo at Oakland directly to special trains that would carry it east. On the return trip, there might be military cargo for the U.S. bases in Japan and South Korea. The key assumption was that Matson would have two or three years to capture the business of Japan’s leading exporters before other ship lines entered the market. Matson used a Japanese shipyard to convert two of its C-3 breakbulk ships into self-unloading ships able to carry 464 containers and, in recognition of Japan’s rapidly growing auto exports, 49 cars. It ordered two high-speed containerships in Germany to use in Japan service from 1969. To encourage Japanese customers, it entered a joint venture with a Japanese ship line, Nippon Yusen Kaisha (N.Y.K. Line). In September 1967, before a single container crane was operating in the country, Matson began service to Japan.

Competitors were not far behind. In January 1968, four Japanese ship lines signed leases for container berths in Oakland. In March 1968, the same month that Army officers in Vietnam were ordered not to ship cargo back to the States via Sea-Land, Sea-Land announced that it would provide weekly sailings from Japan.

Like almost everything else connected with Malcom McLean, Sea-Land’s entry into Japan stemmed more from instinct than analysis. “We’ve got these empty ships coming back from Vietnam,” former Sea-Land executive Scott Morrison recalled. “So we have a meeting, and Malcom says, ‘Anybody know anybody at Mitsui?’” McLean handed around the Japanese trading company’s annual report, and announced that he wanted to fly to Tokyo to meet its president. Two weeks later, a huge delegation from Mitsui was touring Sea-Land’s docks at Elizabeth New Jersey. McLean wanted nothing to do with joint ventures, but he hired Mitsui group company to build Sea-Land a terminal in Japan. Another Mitsui company agreed to be Sea-Land’s agent, and a third agreed to handle domestic trucking within Japan. With its ship operating costs fully covered by its military contracts for Vietnam, Sea-Land could enter the Japan trade with little business and still make money.

The first Japanese containership, owned by Matson partner N.Y.K. Line, completed its maiden voyage to America in September 1968. Six weeks later, Sea-Land began six sailings a month from Yokohama to the West Coast, its ships laden with televisions and stereos produced by Japanese factories. Other Japanese carriers entered as well. The Japan-West Coast route, which had no commercial container service at all before September 1967, was suddenly crowded with ships needing to be filled. Seven different companies were competing for less than 7,000 tons of eastbound freight each month by the end of 1968, and more were about to join. The lack of business proved to be only temporary. The cargo would soon come, in a flood.

The huge increase in long-distance trade that came in the container’s wake was foreseen by no one. When he studied the role of freight in the New York region in the late 1950s, Harvard economist Benjamin Chinitz predicted that containerization would favor metropolitan New York’s industrial base by letting the region’s factories ship to the South more cheaply than plants in New England or the Midwest. Apparel, the region’s biggest manufacturing sector, would not be affected by changes in transport costs, because it was not “transport-sensitive.”

The possibility that falling transport costs could decimate much of the U.S. manufacturing base by making it practical to ship almost everything long distances simply did not occur to Chinitz. He was hardly alone in failing to recognize the extent to which lower shipping costs would stimulate trade. Through the 1960s, study after study projected the growth of containerization by assuming that existing import and export trends would continue, with the cargo gradually being shifted into containers. The possibility that the container would permit a worldwide economic restructuring that would vastly increase the flow of trade was not taken seriously.

“The market” got many things wrong when it came to the container, and so did “the state.” Both private-sector and public-sector misjudgments slowed the growth of containerization and delayed the economic benefits it would bring. Yet in the end, the logic of shipping freight in containers was so compelling, the cost savings so enormous, that the container took the world by storm. Half a century after McLean’s Ideal-X, the equivalent of 300 million 20-foot containers were making their way across the world’s oceans each year, with 26% of them originating in China alone. Countless more were being shipped cross-border by truck or train.

Containers had become ubiquitous--and in addition to cheap goods, they were bringing a new set of social problems. Stacks of abandoned containers, too beaten up to use, too expensive to repair, or simply un-needed, littered landscapes around the world. The exhaust of containerships and the trucks and trains serving them had become a massive environmental problem, and the endless growth of traffic in and out of expanding ports was subjecting nearby communities to congestion, noise, and high rates of cancer attributed to diesel emissions; the price tag for a clean-up in Los Angeles-Long Beach alone was estimated to be $11 billion.

The flood of containers had become a major headache for security officials concerned that a single box, loaded with a radioactive “dirty” bomb timed to explode upon arrival in a major port, could contaminate an entire city and throw international commerce into chaos; radiation detectors went up at the gates to many terminals in an effort to keep terrorist containers from being loaded aboard ships. The use of containers outfitted with mattresses and toilets to smuggle immigrants had become routine, with immigration inspectors unable to detect but a tiny share of containers with human cargo among the hundreds of thousands of boxes filled with legitimate goods.

These problems notwithstanding, container shipping continues to expand. Containers themselves kept getting larger, with standard 40-foot boxes yielding to 48-foot and even 53-foot boxes that allow trucks to haul more freight on each trip. The world’s fleet is expanding steadily, with the capacity of pure containerships rising 10% per year from 2001 through 2005. And ships themselves have reached incredible size. Dozens of vessels able to carry 4,000 40-foot containers had joined the world’s fleet by 2006, and even larger ones were on order.

Where vessel size had once been limited by the locks in the Panama Canal, containerships had grown so large that 21st-century naval architects were constrained by the Straits of Malacca, the busy shipping lane between Malaysia and Indonesia. If a containership ever reaches Malacca-Max, the maximum size for a vessel able to pass through the straits, it will be a quarter-mile long and 190 feet wide, with its bottom some 65 feet below the waterline. If it should sink, it will take nearly $1 billion of cargo with it. Its capacity will be 9,000 standard 40-foot containers, enough to fill a 68-mile line of trucks each time it arrives in port. Where it will call is a serious question, because few ports anywhere are deep enough to accommodate it.

The answer may well be brand new ports built in deep water offshore, with Malacca-Max ships linking offshore platforms and smaller vessels shuttling containers to land. If they ever come about, these enormously costly ships and ports will create yet more economies of scale, making it still cheaper and easier to move goods around the globe.

Excerpted with permission from The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, by Marc Levinson (Princeton University Press, 2006)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

National Manpower Summit at the historic landmark Manila Hotel

TO enable the stakeholders in the labor force and the economy to further examine and draw up concrete plans to secure that the labor force develop the competencies required in the new global economy, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) convenes today the National Manpower Summit at the historic landmark Manila Hotel.

The National Manpower Summit will focus its attention on industries or sectors that are considered key employment generators. These sectors are eservices, mining, health services, agribusiness, hotel and restaurant, medical tourism, aviation, creative industries, and overseas employment. For these sectors, the Summit intends to produce an Action Plan to identify the in-demand jobs and provide for active linkages among schools, training institutions, and industries in generating the human resources needed by emerging industries in the country and the rest of the world. This objective is in line with the MediumTerm Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) for 2005 to 2010, which cited the need to enhance our key employment generators and reduce the structural unemployment or jobs and skills mismatch.

Prior to the Summit, the DoLE had conducted presummit and consultation harmonization workshops. The DoLE’s various agencies – the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS), the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES), the Bureau of Rural Workers (BRW), the Bureau of Women and Young Workers (BWYW), the Planning Service (PS), Financial and Management Service (FMS), the Administrative Services (AS), and the Information and Publication Service (IPS) – have all been actively involved in preparations for the Summit to ensure its success.

We congratulate the Department of Labor and Employment headed by Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas, its Officers and Personnel, and wish them success in their National Manpower Summit.

Baguio dads ban use of styrofoam

By Harley F. Palangchao
Manila Times Northern Luzon Bureau

BAGUIO CITY: Two officials here filed a proposed ordinance seeking to ban starting 2008 the use of polystyrene foam, commonly known as styrofoam, in all business establishments in the city.

Councilors Galo Weygan and Perlita Chan-Rondez observed that many establishments use styrofoam for food packaging despite reports that it contains toxic chemicals.

“Polystyrene, which is commonly used by food catering establishments, was discovered to be made from petroleum, a non­sustainable and heavy polluting commodity,” the officials said.

They added that scientific studies have revealed that polystyrene also contains a contaminant chemical called styrene, a single-molecule form of polystyrene that usually migrates into food and beverages. Styrene could disrupt normal hormonal functions contributing to thyroid problems, breast and prostate cancers and other ailments.

Besides the health hazard, Weygan and Rondez said banning the use of polystyrene effective January 1, 2008, would be the most effective way of reducing nonbiodegradable waste in Baguio