PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEKEND

A BACOLOD MUSEUM GOES CHRISTMAS  

DEC 21 --- As a bright star — more like a guiding light and a formidable force — led some shepherds from nearby fields and three Magi from faraway lands to a Babe in a manger some 2,000 years ago in a sleepy town in Bethlehem — a huge, colorful parol with rotating blinking lights on a façade of a neo-classical house, caught the attention of my travel buddies, my sister Honey Jarque-Loop and Freddie Alquiros while on a recent trip to the city of Bacolod. Though we just had happily survived a comprehensive, yet exhausting tour of some awesome ancestral homes in the cities of Silay and Talisay graciously hosted by lawyer Helen Catalbas of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Western Visayas Region, we, together with our tour escort DOT’s Ray Tabafunda, quickly alighted from the van to satisfy our curiosity. How little did we know then, that we were soon to discover a pocket museum, which at this particular time of the year, had completely transformed itself to everything that is Christmas with success. READ FULL STORY...

ALSO: Vatican shines with Christmas symbols of lights, hope, love

VATICAN CITY—The Christmas lights came on at the Vatican on Friday, sending out what Pope Francis described as a message of “light, hope and love” at the end of an extraordinary year for the Catholic Church. As the fairy lights sparkled into life on the 25-meter fir tree on St. Peter’s Square, there was also an early unveiling of a giant nativity scene inspired by an Italian opera. The nativity scene underlined another change of approach to one more aspect of Church life under a Pope known for putting much importance on the symbolism of the season. “The crib and the tree touch the heart of everyone, including those who do not believe, because they speak of brotherhood, intimacy and friendship,” he said at an audience earlier in the day. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO IN CEBU: SM lights tree and unveils Christmas village

Christmas season is in the air. Join SM City Cebu as it unveils the giant Christmas Tree and the Christmas Village of Hope at the Northwing Atrium, 5:30pm on November 7. The giant Christmas Tree showcases a dazzling display of sparkling Christmas lights and colorful Christmas balls. Highlighting the Christmas launch in SM City Cebu is the unveiling of the Christmas Village of Hope. The Christmas Village of Hope aims to raise funds for the indigent children with cancer under the care of Kythe Foundation Inc. The funds are for the laboratory, chemotherapy and medicine needs of the children, and the Kythe-sponsored celebrate life parties and events. read full report by cebu daily...

(ALSO) YEARENDER Learning from Yolanda: Typhoon response better 

The Philippines was not spared from powerful typhoons this year. But the government, particularly the state weather bureau, was able to respond better with improved communication and equipment. Eighteen tropical cyclones, three of which were powerful typhoons, have entered the country this year, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). When many thought the year would end without another Yolanda-like disaster, Super Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) struck the country early this month, leaving at least 11 people dead and almost P2 billion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture. “Days before Ruby, which we forecast as another super typhoon, entered the country, we have warned the people (of its possible impact),” PAGASA deputy administrator for operations and services Landrico Dalida Jr. said. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO Tonight, Dec 22: Longest night of the year

DEC 22 ---Countries in the northern hemisphere as well as the Philippines will experience the longest night of the year tonight when the winter solstice occurs, the state weather agency said yesterday. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the winter solstice marks the time when the sun lies at its farthest point south of the equator. The winter solstice signals the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere as the sun is slightly directed towards the southern hemisphere. The sun will reach the winter solstice at 7:03 a.m. today, PAGASA said. “Philippine nights will be longer than daytime. Earth has now completed another annual circuit around the sun,” PAGASA said in its monthly astronomical diary. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO At Rizal Park: Candles lit for Pakistan massacre victims 

PHOTO: Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat joins his young compatriots in a candlelight vigil in Rizal Park last night for victims of the massacre in Peshawar. MANILA, Philippines - At least 100 Pakistanis, including children aged three to five, gathered in Manila’s Rizal Park last night to condemn the massacre of 141 people, mostly students at an Army-run school in Peshawar last week. They urged Pakistanis worldwide to unite against terrorism. Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat said the candlelight vigil was an expression of their resolve to fight all kinds of terrorism. At least six Taliban militants scaled the walls of the school last Dec. 16 and shot everyone in sight, including 132 children of Pakistani Army personnel. Pakistani authorities said security forces killed all the attackers. READ FULL STORY...

VATICAN: French cardinal to take over should Pope die or resign

PHOTO OF French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announcing Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, has been elected by the conclave at the Vatican on March 13, 2013.

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran the new camerlengo, or chamberlain, charged with temporarily taking over the pontiff’s duties if he resigns or dies. It was 71-year-old Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, who in March 2013 told the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica that a new pope had been elected, pronouncing the famous words “Habemus Papam.” Tauran will replace the pope’s number two, Tarcisio Bertone, an Italian cardinal who after turning 80 this month has retired and will take up residence in one of the Vatican’s luxury apartments. Bach-loving Tauran, from Bordeaux, previously served as head of the Vatican’s diplomatic service and traveled the world for then-Pope John Paul II. As the Vatican’s top official for inter-religious dialogue, he has regularly condemned Islamist extremism, but has also said ignorance was often at the heart of the anti-Islam sentiment in the West. AFP THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

A Bacolod museum goes Christmas


The author and the Christmas Village

MANILA, DECEMBER 22, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Edu Jarque - As a bright star — more like a guiding light and a formidable force — led some shepherds from nearby fields and three Magi from faraway lands to a Babe in a manger some 2,000 years ago in a sleepy town in Bethlehem — a huge, colorful parol with rotating blinking lights on a façade of a neo-classical house, caught the attention of my travel buddies, my sister Honey Jarque-Loop and Freddie Alquiros while on a recent trip to the city of Bacolod.

Though we just had happily survived a comprehensive, yet exhausting tour of some awesome ancestral homes in the cities of Silay and Talisay graciously hosted by lawyer Helen Catalbas of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Western Visayas Region, we, together with our tour escort DOT’s Ray Tabafunda, quickly alighted from the van to satisfy our curiosity. How little did we know then, that we were soon to discover a pocket museum, which at this particular time of the year, had completely transformed itself to everything that is Christmas with success.

Usually on most days, the several decades-old home of the close-knit family of Raymundo Dizon and his wife, the former Hermelinda Ramos, endearingly showcases glimpses of the area’s upper-middle class lifestyle of the ’50s with their only-worthy-to-preserve antiques, classical memorabilia and flashback artifacts to include old collections of paintings and portraits, furniture and fixture, silver and china vajillas y bandejados and even porcelain angels and dolls.

In other parts of the two-storey stand-alone house are an educational diorama of Bacolod of yore, an eye-catching selection of award-winning masks from past Masskara festivals, heartwarming gallery on the Holy Land, a notable number of crystal and glass from all over the world, a serious collection from a horse enthusiast and other whimsical paraphernalia such as hundreds of key chains.

But that’s not all.


VIEW ALL PHOTOS HERE: BACOLOD MUSEUM CHRISTMAS

It likewise serves as a popular venue for arts and cultural exhibits featuring the obra maestras of the city’s old masters who continue to inspire with their works the promising apprentices to find their places in the sun.

“However, come every July, the entire place undergoes a much-awaited makeover,” declared Raymond Alunan, the knowledgeable and amiable curator, as he welcomed us to the Dizon-Ramos Museum.

“Most of our displays and exhibits are carefully stored away. And then several boxes — always seem like mountains of boxes — arrive on schedule from storage,” he continued.

“The seemingly insurmountable work begins immediately. Every night from 7 to 11 p.m. — at times, way past midnight — we meticulously open each pack. Mind you, we do this in the evenings when the museum is closed, in order not to bother our daily visitors. Before the ‘ber’ months come to a full swing, Christmas is everywhere, in every single corner of this museum,” he said, smiling with pride.

The Bacolod-born and bred Alunan, a hotel and restaurant graduate from La Consolacion College and who has served for the past three years as the provincial tourism information officer of Negros Occidental, confided that all this was possible due to the vast and precious collections of Bella Rivas Galang — a true lover of the holiday season, who is an ardent Francophile and a devoted professor of Music and French, her other passions in life.

As a cherished Christmas carol that was a hit once-upon-a-time filled the air, we expected to be introduced, though admittedly in numbers, to the usual white bearded and mustached Santa Claus in a made-to-order-just-for-him red suit and red elf hat complete with a red sack full of gifts on a sleigh pulled by reindeers led by red-nosed Rudolf. But no! We were pleasantly greeted by a company of some 304 variants of the jolly old man from the North Pole. Santa came from different races and colors, in variable sizes and shapes, distinct attire of several national costumes.

Looking around, we easily spotted Santas at work, Santas at play, Santas as performing artists as he sang, made music with several music instruments and even a drummer boy. How could we have missed a chef Santa with a frying pan as he was pointed out, since we were distracted by flying Santas on parachutes and wind chimes, more Santas by the sun and over the moon and the stars, as he kept a watchful eye on children eagerly awaiting for their gifts.

It was a sheer case of Santas here, there and everywhere. It seemed like he’s a been-there-done-that personality. “God bless his soul,” we chorused in unison.

Our next stop was the very heart of the museum. Right at the center of it all as it always brings together the true meaning of Christmas — the oh-so-familiar Nativity scene of Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, found in ornate cathedrals and appreciated chapels, in private mansions and humble nipa huts plus or minus the shepherds and the Three Kings and the token sheep, a cow or two and perhaps a horse or even a donkey.

We restfully laid our eyes to all kinds of crèches — Belens to you and me — made from beautiful capiz shells and imported porcelain, clay-based terracotta and vulnerable ceramics, hand-blown glass, hand-made crochet and paper mache, and even clusters of plasters of Paris in various configurations and unique poses from admirable antique to highly-stylized, classic Victorian, from an interesting, yet intriguing retablo to one confined in a close-open box, from American Indians to role-playing little angels.

Having just whispered all but a brief prayer, we continued to explore the diverse pieces in silence, when Alunan proudly pointed out a Filipiniana Belen.

“It is my sentimental favorite, for it is the only set wherein the Sagrada Familia wear barong tagalogs and baro’t saya,” he claimed.

“Each of the tres reyes is dressed respectively in a G-string representing Luzon, a camisa chino from the islands of Visayas, and a Muslim attire of a Datu from Mindanao,” he continued. To complete the rustic picture, there were local domesticated animals around the stable, namely a carabao and a pig, a dog and a rooster. All we could do by then was say, “Amen.”

At the end of the hall, we came upon a well-laid-out Christmas dinner table made of Narra from the early ’50s. We figured it could easily sit a dozen members of the family with their friends.

On sight were chinaware artistically crafted by guildsmen from Canonsburg of Pennsylvania in America and the silver cutlery from Rogers, known the world-over. The much-loved items were wedding gifts to the Dizons in 1937 and today remain part of the family heirloom.

The pièce de résistance of the entire museum at this time of the year, which fully occupies most of the entire ground floor with some 250 square meters in total area, is the most impressive, nothing-like-it Christmas Village we’ve ever seen. We must admit we simply gasped loudly like surprised children. We were utterly amazed and totally bewildered as we slowly recovered from absolute disbelief. To further heighten our seemingly we-can’t-take-it-anymore state, curator Alunan gamely revealed the litany of the inventory.

“Are you ready for this?” he warned us.

“Well, for starters we have 102 residences, 22 churches, 81 shops, seven public office buildings, 57 vehicles, carriages and sledges, 346 Christmas trees and five sets of forests distributed throughout the poblacion,” he said.

“Inhabited by over 400 men, women and children all bundled up in winter clothes pursuing a variety of activities within government centers and commercial establishments, residential areas and packets of leisure, the entire township includes a number of amusement parks with movable rides such as eight trains, five ferris wheels, five carousels, two merry-go-rounds, a couple on a boat ride and seven pairs on several skating rinks,“ he concluded.

Before we could react, he added as he pointed to a mini-Balay ni Tana Dicang, one of our favorite ancestral homes in the country. “It was made right here in Negros Occidental and it remains to be the only Filipiniana home in the Christmas Village, which incidentally is lighted by 412 electrical bulbs,” he said.

When we hesitantly asked why he painstakingly, yet religiously assembled the whole display almost single-handedly year after year, a broad wide smile instantly crossed curator Alunan’s face. “I enjoy immensely setting it all up and I certainly do it out of love for our museum for after all, isn’t Christmas about love?” he beamed.

We wholeheartedly agreed. We bade him farewell, firmly shook his hand and sincerely thanked him for an excellent job.

Merry Christmas!

(The Dizon-Ramos Museum Christmas Exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Feb. 10, 2015. Entrance fees are: P40 for adults and P20 for children. For details, visit the museum’s Facebook account: dizonramosmuseum@yahoo.com or call (34) 434-8512.)


FROM THE INQUIRER

Vatican shines with Christmas symbols of lights, hope, love Agence France-Presse 4:24 AM | Sunday, December 21st, 2014

VATICAN CITY—The Christmas lights came on at the Vatican on Friday, sending out what Pope Francis described as a message of “light, hope and love” at the end of an extraordinary year for the Catholic Church.

As the fairy lights sparkled into life on the 25-meter fir tree on St. Peter’s Square, there was also an early unveiling of a giant nativity scene inspired by an Italian opera.

The nativity scene underlined another change of approach to one more aspect of Church life under a Pope known for putting much importance on the symbolism of the season.

“The crib and the tree touch the heart of everyone, including those who do not believe, because they speak of brotherhood, intimacy and friendship,” he said at an audience earlier in the day.

This was seen as a reference to the trend in many countries to get rid of Christmas cribs and nativity scenes in public schools and buildings in the name of secular multiculturalism.

Invitation to unite

“These symbols are an invitation to unite, to come together in peace, an invitation to make space in our personal and social lives for God, who does not come with arrogance to impose his power but instead offers his all powerful love through the fragile face of a child,” Pope Francis added.

“The crib and the tree therefore carry a message of light, hope and love. They are the dear and evocative symbols of Christmas for our Christian family,” he added.

Another welcome change this year is the use for the first time of a new LED system in lighting up the famous façade and dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“It is much more beautiful this year,” gushed Francesco Pietrangelo, who had brought his granddaughter to the square to see the nativity. “It is much more elegant, before it was a bit rustic.” The nativity is usually not unveiled until Christmas Eve.

Pope Francis spoke as he greeted delegations from Verona, where the nativity scene was made, and Catanzaro in the southern region of Calabria, which provided the tree.


The Christmas tree and Nativity scene outside St Peter's Basilica; Nativity scene and Christmas tree invite us to make room for God, says Pope (AP)

The nativity scene was designed by artist Alfredo Troisi. Inspired by the comic opera, “The Elixir of Love” by Gaetano Donizetti, it features 20 adult-sized terracotta figures.

The new lighting system at St Peter’s involves the use of 315 LED lights designed to save money and reduce energy consumption.

The switch follows a similar move in October to introduce LED lighting in the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s famous ceiling frescoes and the place where cardinals have elected new popes since the 15th century.

In line with tradition, the Pope will visit the nativity scene on Dec. 31 following a service to give thanks for the year past.

For Pope Francis, it has been an extraordinary 12 months, with his global popularity helping to bring hundreds of thousands of believers back to the church and his reforms renovating an institution battered in recent years by clerical sex abuse and financial scandals.

His influence on the global stage was spectacularly illustrated this week when he was hailed as having played a key role in facilitating a historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba after a Cold War that lasted some 50 years.

Despite his superstar status, the Pope appears convinced that, at the age of 78, he is living on borrowed time.

On Friday, he again reiterated that he does not expect to be around for much longer, telling Italian Olympic officials he did not expect to be around for the 2024 Games.

On his way back from South Korea in August, the Pope lightheartedly remarked to reporters that he may live for only “two or three (more) years, and then I’ll be off to the house of the Father.”


FROM THE INQUIRER

SM lights tree and unveils Christmas village PR @cebudailynews 12:00 AM | Friday, November 7th, 2014

Christmas season is in the air. Join SM City Cebu as it unveils the giant Christmas Tree and the Christmas Village of Hope at the Northwing Atrium, 5:30pm on November 7.

The giant Christmas Tree showcases a dazzling display of sparkling Christmas lights and colorful Christmas balls.

Highlighting the Christmas launch in SM City Cebu is the unveiling of the Christmas Village of Hope. The Christmas Village of Hope aims to raise funds for the indigent children with cancer under the care of Kythe Foundation Inc.

The funds are for the laboratory, chemotherapy and medicine needs of the children, and the Kythe-sponsored celebrate life parties and events.

Couple Clayton & Joji Tugonon only started this project as a Christmas display in their own home. Year after year, Joji adds miniature houses to her collection.

The Tugonon couple’s first meeting with the pediatric cancer patients from Cebu Cancer Institute, Kythe partner hospital in the Visayas, opened up something in their hearts and spurred change for future beneficiaries of a major fundraising project. Clayton and Joji proceeded to share their collection for the benefit of the child-patients’ medical needs.

Donors may visit the Northwing Atrium for their donations and pledges, check the Facebook account bearing the name “Christmas Hope” to choose the “Christmas Houses” they wish to adopt or sponsor for P5000. Name of the donor will be displayed in the house.

Capitol distributes Christmas bonuses to employees Peter L. Romanillos @cebudailynews 12:00 AM | Friday, December 19th, 2014

THE yuletide season will be merry for over a thousand employees of the Cebu provincial government after the treasurer’s office released their year-end bonus yesterday after the Capitol’s Christmas party.

But some employees lament the withholding tax deduction that took a big chunk from their take-home pay.

Employees received a bonus of P22,000 or the equivalent of one month pay, depending on their salary.

Employees who earned less than than P22,000 a month received the fixed amount.

This year’s incentive is higher than last year’s across-the-board incentive of P20,000.

“We did our best to give this early so that the employees can buy necessities and gifts for Christmas and New Year,” said Provincial Budget Officer Danilo Rodas.

“This is also what the governor wanted, to release this early.”

The bonus was taken from the P38.5 million supplemental budget passed by the Provincial Board.

A total of 1,547 regular, co-terminus and casual employees qualified for the incentive. Job order and outsourced personnel are not covered.

Aside from their bonus, employuees who won in the raffle brought home rice, ham and canned goods.

In his speech at a short program at the Capitol social hall, Gov. Hilario Davide III urged employees to spend time with their families since the holiday is a good opportunity for bonding.

“Let us give more, love more, be patient and and understanding with one another,” he said.

DEDUCTION

Some employees complained about the tax deducted from the bonus.

An employee who spoke on condition that he not be named said he only received P15,000 after P7,000 was deducted from his incentive. Another employee said his bonus was halved because of the tax.

“We thought makuhaan lang ug P2,000 or less. We did not expect it would be this big,” said the employee.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in June issued a memorandum imposing new taxes on government employees’ financial benefits and allowances.

Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) 23-2014 imposed a 30 to 32 percent on these allowances and other benefits, which include honoraria, food subsidy, hospitalization and medical benefits, clothing, cost-of-living and transportation allowances, and monetized value of leave credits which were never taxed before.

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. led government employees in filing a petition before the Supreme Court assailing the BIR’s new memorandum. They said the circular was unconstitutional as it usurps the power and authority of the legislature.

Pimentel further argued that the BIR also violated Section 2 of the National Internal Revenue Code when it implemented the RMO without the necessary approval of the secretary of finance.

Labor leader and former senator Ernesto Herrera, in his column in the Manila Times, criticized the BIR for issuing the memorandum, saying the BIR’s oppressive deductions on their benefits in the absence of salary increase tempts government employees to commit graft and corruption just to make ends meet.

“Most government workers’ salaries are eaten up by their household bills, their pay hardly enough to cover the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, oil, gasoline, electricity and water bills.

Government workers really need these fringe benefits to survive. Why charge them such a substantial amount in taxes?” he said.

“By imposing additional burdens on the already overburdened state workers you are taking away their incentive to deliver efficient service to the general public. How can you work properly or focus your attention on the needs of the citizen in front of you if you are worried about where to get your child’s tuition or how to pay your overdue electricity bill?” higher ceiling

The Senate late last month approved Senate Bill 2437 on third and final reading a bill hiking the tax exemption ceiling of private and public employees’ bonuses from P30,000 to P82,000.

Sen. Juan Angara said employees receiving 13th-month pay, Christmas bonuses and other benefits not exceeding P82,000 will be exempted from tax. The House of Representatives passed its own version of the bill in September. He noted that the proposed P75,000 tax exemption ceiling was raised to P82,000 upon Sen. Ralph Recto’s suggestion during plenary deliberations.

Angara said Recto’s amendment was accepted because his proposed tax exemption ceiling was the same figure given by Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares during one of the hearings on the measure.

“She (Henares) said that P30,000 in 1994 would be worth around P82,000 today,” said Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

Senate President Franklin Drilon concurred with the adjustment of the tax exemption ceiling, saying that the bill’s passage is necessary “to provide relief to state and private workers whose purchasing power has been shrinking for years due to inflation, but still have had to deal with the consequences of an outdated law.”

Angara explained that the P30,000 tax ceiling had not been adjusted in 20 years. Recto, meanwhile, said the peso had lost two-thirds of its value over the same period.

Angara had included a provision that will require the tax ceiling to be adjusted every three years to coincide with major surveys conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority such as the Family and Income Expenditure Survey.

Drilon said the measure may not be implemented this year due to time constraints.

The bill is expected to benefit about half a million employees.

- See more at: http://cebudailynews.inquirer.net/48616/capitol-distributes-christmas-bonuses-to-employees#sthash.ti0EUglV.dpuf


FROM PHILSTAR

YEARENDER Learning from Yolanda: Typhoon response better By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2014 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines was not spared from powerful typhoons this year. But the government, particularly the state weather bureau, was able to respond better with improved communication and equipment.

Eighteen tropical cyclones, three of which were powerful typhoons, have entered the country this year, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

When many thought the year would end without another Yolanda-like disaster, Super Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) struck the country early this month, leaving at least 11 people dead and almost P2 billion worth of damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

“Days before Ruby, which we forecast as another super typhoon, entered the country, we have warned the people (of its possible impact),” PAGASA deputy administrator for operations and services Landrico Dalida Jr. said.

“Our forecast for Ruby was spot on,” Dalida said. “Our reference is Super Typhoon Yolanda. We have several improvements in the agency, specifically in communication.”

Dalida said even before Ruby lashed the country, they had informed disaster managers of the possible devastation to be brought by the weather disturbance.

 In August, Typhoon Glenda – the first typhoon to make landfall in the Philippines this year – showed how the state-of-the-art equipment and proper communication in the agency helped reduce casualties and damage to property.

“The Doppler radars really helped us a lot. We have accurately predicted the movement and location of Glenda. We even indicated the municipality where the eye is located,” PAGASA senior weather forecaster Rene Paciente said.

Glenda hit Albay and other parts of Southern Luzon, including Metro Manila, toppling trees as well as power and communication lines.

In September, Typhoon Luis pummeled Northern Luzon, causing widespread rains that boosted the southwest monsoon or habagat.

There were no casualties reported from Luis, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). But it left damage to agriculture and infrastructure, particularly in Isabela and Cagayan.

In the same month, Tropical Storm Mario damaged roads estimated at P100 million in Central Luzon, Cordillera Administrative Region and Ilocos region.

Yolanda experience

Dalida said aside from investing more on sophisticated weather forecasting facilities, the agency focused on the area of communications.

While the weather bureau was able to warn the public of Yolanda, several days before it hit Eastern Samar on Nov. 8, 2013, Dalida admitted the local government units and the public generally were not able to grasp the meaning of storm surges that killed more than 6,000 people.

“I can say that we have a better relationship with other agencies and the media. This helped us to relay our warnings to the public clearly and timely,” he said.

Dalida said the weather bureau aims to install more Doppler radars in the country to be able to monitor cyclones forming outside the Philippine area of responsibility.


FROM PHILSTAR

Longest night of the year By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2014 - 12:00am 0 8 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - Countries in the northern hemisphere as well as the Philippines will experience the longest night of the year tonight when the winter solstice occurs, the state weather agency said yesterday.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the winter solstice marks the time when the sun lies at its farthest point south of the equator.

The winter solstice signals the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere as the sun is slightly directed towards the southern hemisphere.

The sun will reach the winter solstice at 7:03 a.m. today, PAGASA said.

“Philippine nights will be longer than daytime. Earth has now completed another annual circuit around the sun,” PAGASA said in its monthly astronomical diary.

The website EarthSky.org said the December solstice marks the longest night in the northern hemisphere and the longest day in the southern hemisphere.

According to timeanddate.com, people in countries like Scandinavia, Rome and Poland hold festivals to celebrate the winter solstice.

Scandinavians celebrate the Feast of Juul at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun.

In Ancient Rome, people celebrate the Saturnalia with a feast starting from Dec. 17 and lasting for seven days. It is held to honor Saturn, the father of the gods, and is characterized by the suspension of discipline and reversal of the usual order.

In Poland, the December solstice observance prior to Christianity involved people showing forgiveness and sharing food.


FROM PHILSTAR

Candles lit for Pakistan massacre victims By Rey Galupo (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2014 - 1:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat joins his young compatriots in a candlelight vigil in Rizal Park last night for victims of the massacre in Peshawar.

MANILA, Philippines - At least 100 Pakistanis, including children aged three to five, gathered in Manila’s Rizal Park last night to condemn the massacre of 141 people, mostly students at an Army-run school in Peshawar last week.

They urged Pakistanis worldwide to unite against terrorism.

Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat said the candlelight vigil was an expression of their resolve to fight all kinds of terrorism.

At least six Taliban militants scaled the walls of the school last Dec. 16 and shot everyone in sight, including 132 children of Pakistani Army personnel.

Pakistani authorities said security forces killed all the attackers.

“We are not here to mourn their martyrdom because this is what the terrorists want,” he said. “We are here to tell the terrorists that we will not be cowed down by their barbarity. Their barbarity has in fact strengthened our resolve to fight this scourge.”

Hayat said people representing different religions and nationalities gathered in other countries to convey a strong message that the world is united against terrorism.

“If all countries are against it, terror groups will not survive,” he said. “Terrorism is an international phenomenon. It knows no religion, no race and no geography. The attack is indiscriminate, including children and elderly, the civilians.”

The Pakistanis lit candles, released more than a hundred white balloons, and observed two minutes of silence, before calling on all the countries and world leaders to fight terrorism.

Hayat condemned the people “who are hiding under the cloak of Islam but are actually godless killers.”

“Islam is a religion of peace,” he said.

“There is not a single word in the Koran that allows you to kill innocent people.”

Hayat said the attack on the school and the killing of innocent children was carefully planned “because they wanted to hurt the Army.”


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

VATICAN: French cardinal to take over should Pope die or resign December 21, 2014 10:20 pm


PHOTO OF French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announcing Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, has been elected by the conclave at the Vatican on March 13, 2013.

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) appointed Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran the new camerlengo, or chamberlain, charged with temporarily taking over the pontiff’s duties if he resigns or dies.

It was 71-year-old Tauran, head of the Vatican’s Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, who in March 2013 told the world from the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica that a new pope had been elected, pronouncing the famous words “Habemus Papam.”

Tauran will replace the pope’s number two, Tarcisio Bertone, an Italian cardinal who after turning 80 this month has retired and will take up residence in one of the Vatican’s luxury apartments.

Bach-loving Tauran, from Bordeaux, previously served as head of the Vatican’s diplomatic service and traveled the world for then-Pope John Paul II.

As the Vatican’s top official for inter-religious dialogue, he has regularly condemned Islamist extremism, but has also said ignorance was often at the heart of the anti-Islam sentiment in the West.
AFP


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