PHNO WORLD HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEKEND

'SENIANG' STARTS TO HIT SURIGAO TODAY 

Residents of the Visayas and Mindanao should brace for possible flashfloods and landslides as Tropical Depression Seniang dumps heavy rains over these areas in the next three days, the state weather bureau said yesterday. Jun Galang, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said moderate to heavy rains are expected in areas within the cyclone’s 150-kilometer radius. “More intense rains are expected in areas near the center of Seniang,” Galang said. Seniang, the 19th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, slightly gained strength yesterday as it continued to move closer to northeastern Mindanao. The cyclone is forecast to make landfall over Tandag, Surigao del Sur this morning. The regions of Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Central Visayas and the provinces of Negros Occidental, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte will initially experience rains with gusty winds. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Thousands flee as floods from Seniang hit southern PHL 

Seniang causes landslide in Agusan Seniang causes landslide in Agusan. Heavy rainfall and strong winds brought by Tropical Storm Seniang causes a landslide along the Bayugan-Butuan highway in Agusan del Norte on Monday, December 29. The landslide blocked motorists traversing the road, causing heavy traffic in the area. Art Cerio via YouScoop Art Cerio via YouScoop BUTUAN - Floods forced thousands of people to be evacuated in the southern Philippines on Monday as a tropical storm battered the region with strong winds and heavy rains, officials said. In Surigao del Sur province where the storm—known locally as Seniang—first hit land before dawn, 4,000 were moved to temporary shelters, Governor Johnny Pimentel told AFP. "The rains are very strong and there has been no let-up in the last three days," Pimentel said, adding there were no immediate reports of casualties but that as many as 6,000 more people may have to be evacuated during the day. Flood waters as deep as five feet (1.5 meters) were reported in some areas as rescuers in rubber boats rushed to aid residents trapped in their homes, he said. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) NATIONAL INTEL: No threats to Pope Francis

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Authorities have not monitored any security threat to Pope Francis when he visits the Philippines next month, an official said yesterday. National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Assistant Regional Director 8 Eustacio Bacabac reported the assessment during a conference of government security sectors on the Papal Visit 2015. Bacabac said NICA believes the New People’s Army (NPA), one of the domestic threats, would not make any move against the Pope. “(The insurgents), however, had been monitored lobbying to include some of their supporters in the roster of typhoon victims joining the breakfast with the Pope,” he said. He said that the insurgents “are focused mainly on (agitating) people to go against the Aquino administration.”  He spoke during the three-day Advocacy and Consultative Forum and Target Hardening seminar at Eastern Visayas police regional office in Camp Campetic, Palo, Leyte last Dec. 26 to 28. The government said the NPA wants to get sympathy from Francis, the world’s most influential personality, through its activists and left-leaning militant groups. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: For motorists, Pope bobbleheads

PHOTO: CALMING EFFECT Sculptor Peter Pinder produces bobblehead images of Pope Francis, which he says have a calming effect on motorists. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO  --TUBA, Benguet—How would you like the company of Pope Francis as you drive, that is, his bobblehead image nodding at you from the dashboard? The idea of the Pope providing a calming effect on the road came to sculptor Peter Pinder as he carved an image of Francis in 2013, before the Pope announced his visit to the Philippines in January. Pinder’s final products feature the familiar image of Francis waving to the crowd set in cold bronze, in fiber glass and in plastic—all covered by copyright he acquired in October. The image has movable parts, its right hand waving and its head bobbing up and down. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Romualdezes only in welcoming party

Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez Photo from www.congress.gov.ph TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—The Romualdezes do not have any plan to gate-crash the lunch of Pope Francis with the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) and the earthquake in Bohol province during his visit to Palo town, Leyte province, next month. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez gave the assurance through his legal staff member, lawyer Lea Fuentes-Apdo. “Congressman Romualdez will not join the lunch but he will be among the five officials who will welcome the Pope,” Apdo said in a phone interview on Sunday. Aside from the lawmaker, his cousin Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and his mother Mayor Remedios Petilla of Palo, and Palo Archbishop John Du will welcome the Pope upon his arrival at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City on Jan. 17. The Romualdezes and the Petillas are political rivals and considered the most powerful families in Leyte. Among welcomers “The congressman and the mayor (Alfred Romualdez) will definitely not use their influence just to join the lunch,” Apdo said. “They will strictly stick to what they will do during the visit of the Pope.”  READ FU;L REPORT...

ALSO: Stars grace Ala Eh! Festival 

Batangas Governor Vilma Santos (Photo from Wow Batangas)The annual Ala Eh! Festival, considered the mother of all festivals in Batangas, was once again a huge success. Batangas Governor Vilma Santos (Photo from Wow Batangas) Batangas Governor Vilma Santos (Photo from Wow Batangas) Among highlights of the event was the singing competition “Voices, Songs & Rhythms: Timpalak Awitan sa Kapitolyo,” with the finals held at the Taal Park on Dec. 18. Members of the panel of judges include showbiz luminaries like Ogie Diaz, Jovit Baldivino, Jamie Rivera, Bea Binene, Angel Locsin, Rachel Alejandro, Vehnee Saturno, Ejay Falcon, Rey Valera, Mother Lily Monteverde and Tirso Cruz III. Hailed winners in the Junior Division were Keon Patrick Carlos Driz of Batangas City (grand champion), Lucas Nico Garcia of Lipa City (1st runner-up) and Maria Christina Dolor of San Juan (2nd runner-up). Winners of the Main (Adult) Division were Joel Alcaraz of Talisay (grand champion), Moon-A-Mel Dogtong of San Luis (1st runner-up) and Milky Sheena Villaester of Nasugbu (2nd runner-up). READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: The Sunday Times Magazine’s best and worst of 2014

PHOTO: Marian-and-Dingdong ---As the final days of 2014 come upon us, so has the time to look back on the year that was. To rejoice in its triumphs, marvel at its discoveries, and most importantly, learn from its lessons. Even in the realms of lifestyle and entertainment. As Filipinos continually develop a more discerning taste in lifestyle—be it the arts, travel, food, or beauty and fashion—the Philippines opened up all the more to new possibilities, opportunities and experiences in 2014, which ultimately made it a year of full of awe, adventure, luscious flavors and great style.In the ever controversial world of show business, issue after issue did not fail entertain, titillate and amuse, thankfully—whether people admit it or not—have made the difficulties of 2014 more bearable.Here then is special Sunday Times Magazine retrospective to 2014—a good one overall in terms of news this side of the paper. Manila’s global chows READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: New Year exodus peaks at QC bus terminals

 
People who missed their chance to go home to the province for the Christmas break flock to the Araneta Center Bus Terminal in Quezon City on Sunday, December 28, to wait for their rides to the provinces for the New Year break. GMA News


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Seniang to hit Surigao Sur today

MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Helen Flores  - Residents of the Visayas and Mindanao should brace for possible flashfloods and landslides as Tropical Depression Seniang dumps heavy rains over these areas in the next three days, the state weather bureau said yesterday.

Jun Galang, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said moderate to heavy rains are expected in areas within the cyclone’s 150-kilometer radius.

“More intense rains are expected in areas near the center of Seniang,” Galang said.

Seniang, the 19th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year, slightly gained strength yesterday as it continued to move closer to northeastern Mindanao.

The cyclone is forecast to make landfall over Tandag, Surigao del Sur this morning.

The regions of Caraga, Northern Mindanao, Central Visayas and the provinces of Negros Occidental, Leyte, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte and Zamboanga del Norte will initially experience rains with gusty winds.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, signal no. 1 was hoisted over Leyte, Southern Leyte, Camotes Island, Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Siquijor.

Also placed under signal No. 1 were Dinagat province, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Siargao Island, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, northern part of Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, and Camiguin.

After hitting Tandag, Seniang is expected to cross Agusan del Norte, Siquijor, Camiguin, southern Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Zamboanga City, Galang said.

As of 4 p.m., the center of Seniang was located at 150 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, packing winds of 55 km per hour near the center. It was forecast to move west-northwest at 13 kph.

Seniang is projected to be at 110 km north-northeast of Lumbia, Zamboanga del Sur this afternoon; at 100 km west of Dipolog City tomorrow afternoon; and 190 km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan by Wednesday afternoon.

Seniang is predicted to exit the Philippine area of responsibility on Jan. 2.

“Fisherfolk and those with small seacraft are advised not to venture out over the northern and eastern seaboards of Luzon and the eastern seaboard of the Visayas and over the northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao,” PAGASA said.

Meanwhile, the Bicol region and the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms.

The northeast monsoon will also cause cloudy skies with light rains over Cagayan Valley, Cordillera, Ilocos region and Central Luzon.

Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon will be partly cloudy to at times cloudy with isolated light rains.

The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

The weather bureau also warned the public against rough to very rough seas in the eastern seaboard of Luzon and of the Visayas due to the surge of the northeast monsoon and Seniang.


FROM GMA NEWS

Thousands flee as floods from Seniang hit southern PHL December 29, 2014 11:38am 14 6 0 23

Seniang causes landslide in Agusan Seniang causes landslide in Agusan. Heavy rainfall and strong winds brought by Tropical Storm Seniang causes a landslide along the Bayugan-Butuan highway in Agusan del Norte on Monday, December 29. The landslide blocked motorists traversing the road, causing heavy traffic in the area. Art Cerio via YouScoop Art Cerio via YouScoop BUTUAN - Floods forced thousands of people to be evacuated in the southern Philippines on Monday as a tropical storm battered the region with strong winds and heavy rains, officials said.

In Surigao del Sur province where the storm—known locally as Seniang—first hit land before dawn, 4,000 were moved to temporary shelters, Governor Johnny Pimentel told AFP.

"The rains are very strong and there has been no let-up in the last three days," Pimentel said, adding there were no immediate reports of casualties but that as many as 6,000 more people may have to be evacuated during the day.

Flood waters as deep as five feet (1.5 meters) were reported in some areas as rescuers in rubber boats rushed to aid residents trapped in their homes, he said.

The storm's winds had felled trees and blown roofs off shanties, he added.

Seniang was forecast to bring "heavy to intense" rains within its 300-kilometer (186-mile) diameter, as it packed wind gusts of 80 kilometers (50-mile) per hour.

The storm, moving west at 11 kilometers (seven miles) per hour, is expected to cross the central Philippines in the next two days.

Some flights from the capital to the region were canceled on Monday, the Manila airport authority said in a statement.

Surigao del Sur, in the poor farming region of Caraga, is one of the Philippines' most flood-prone provinces.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 storms every year, many of them deadly.

Earlier this month, Super Typhoon Hagupit left 18 people dead after it lashed central provinces with 210-kilometer (130-mile) per hour winds.

A year earlier, Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever to hit land, left 7,350 people dead or missing in the same region as it stirred tsunami-like waves, wiping out entire towns. —Agence France-Presse


FROM PHILSTAR

NATIONAL INTEL: No threats to Pope Francis By Ricky Bautista (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 29, 2014 - 12:00am 3 10 googleplus0 0

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines – Authorities have not monitored any security threat to Pope Francis when he visits the Philippines next month, an official said yesterday.

National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Assistant Regional Director 8 Eustacio Bacabac reported the assessment during a conference of government security sectors on the Papal Visit 2015.

Bacabac said NICA believes the New People’s Army (NPA), one of the domestic threats, would not make any move against the Pope.

“(The insurgents), however, had been monitored lobbying to include some of their supporters in the roster of typhoon victims joining the breakfast with the Pope,” he said.

He said that the insurgents “are focused mainly on (agitating) people to go against the Aquino administration.”

He spoke during the three-day Advocacy and Consultative Forum and Target Hardening seminar at Eastern Visayas police regional office in Camp Campetic, Palo, Leyte last Dec. 26 to 28.

The government said the NPA wants to get sympathy from Francis, the world’s most influential personality, through its activists and left-leaning militant groups.

Based on NICA’s latest evaluation of regional threats, NPA Eastern Visayas Regional Party Committee had slightly decreased membership from 636 in 2013 to 499 in 2014.

The number of NPA-influenced barangays has also decreased from 76 in 2013 to 34 in 2014, NICA’s agents have reported.

Bacabac attributed this development to the efforts of the Army and local governments to declare several provinces in Eastern Visayas as Manageable Conflict-Affected and Development-Ready Areas.

Undersecretary Felizardo Serapio Jr. of the Office of the Executive Secretary - Law Enforcement and Security and Integration Office said government authorities should not take these as reasons to relax.

“We have to join hands in all our efforts of monitoring and securing the Pope,” he said.

Quoting an old adage, Serapio, also Philippine Center on Transnational Crime (PCTC) executive director, said: “A terrorist needs to be lucky once, we have to be lucky every time.”

He was in town yesterday to discuss the most recent trends of terrorism to the local secretariat, government security sectors, various volunteer groups and multipliers.

New Eastern Visayas police director Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina said the government will use its full resources in securing Francis, including other VIPs arriving in Leyte.

“I appeal to everyone to do everything for the Pope’s security,” he said.

Police are holding seminars, orientations, security planning and site inspections in close coordination with the Vatican Secretariat and government agencies like the Presidential Security Group, Armed Forces, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), and Civil Security Police Office (CSPO), he added.

Dolina said the Eastern Visayas Explosives and Ordnance Disposal has been conducting “bomb awareness” seminars for policemen, volunteer groups and village officials in Leyte, for them to easily identify possible bomb threats in the field and in crowds.

At least four experienced police sub-commanders have been assigned to supervise the Pope’s engagements in Leyte, he added.

Dolina said troops have been deployed in DZR Airport, en route, Bishop’s Palace and Palo Cathedral.

Army Scout Rangers are securing mountains and hills in adjacent towns such as Carigara, Abuyog, Burauen, Palompon and Ormoc, he added.

Dolina said clients in hotels and lodging houses are being screened and vehicles entering their premises carefully checked. Hotel staff and security guards are also being briefed on the modus of terrorists, whether groups or individuals, he added.

The regional police estimated that around 50,000 men in uniform and 25,000 volunteers and emergency responders are ready for deployment in various locations.

Non-uniformed intelligence officers will blend into the crowd expected to be in the millions.

Police and the military will also put on standby an undetermined number of sea patrol fast boats, helicopters, tanks, Navy vessels, and rubber boats to surround the airport facing the Pacific Ocean.

Bomb experts and police with bomb-sniffing dogs will also be deployed in checkpoints, as well as water stations, medical teams and radio communicators. Government snipers will be deployed in high-rise buildings.

Next week, more security forces from neighboring regions, along with their respective resources, are expected to arrive in Tacloban City to reinforce the local security groups, police said.

As early as Jan. 15, or two days before the papal visit in Leyte, police will regulate the movement of vehicles going in and out of Tacloban City and Palo town.

Only vehicles of the security convoy of the Pope and selected dignitaries will be allowed to move en route to its destinations – from the airport to Palo town.

No public and private vehicles will be allowed to roam around unless they have a valid car pass. Motorists from Luzon to Mindanao and vice versa are advised to use the Samar – Diit – Sta. Fe – Alang-alang – Carigara routes and Samar – Babatngon – Sta. Fe road and vice versa to avoid heavy traffic.

Two days after his arrival in the Philippines on Jan. 15, Francis will fly to Tacloban City and Palo town in Leyte, according to the Vatican secretariat.

Tacloban City and Palo were the most devastated areas when Typhoon Yolanda ravaged the Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013.

In Leyte, Francis will celebrate Mass, host a luncheon and comfort typhoon survivors.


FROM THE INQUIRER

For motorists, Pope bobbleheads Desiree Caluza @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Northern Luzon 12:19 AM | Monday, December 29th, 2014


PHOTO: CALMING EFFECT Sculptor Peter Pinder produces bobblehead images of Pope Francis, which he says have a calming effect on motorists. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

TUBA, Benguet—How would you like the company of Pope Francis as you drive, that is, his bobblehead image nodding at you from the dashboard?

The idea of the Pope providing a calming effect on the road came to sculptor Peter Pinder as he carved an image of Francis in 2013, before the Pope announced his visit to the Philippines in January.

Pinder’s final products feature the familiar image of Francis waving to the crowd set in cold bronze, in fiber glass and in plastic—all covered by copyright he acquired in October.

The image has movable parts, its right hand waving and its head bobbing up and down.

Touched by the humility and sincerity of the Pope, Pinder said he intended to express those qualities of Francis in his sculptures.

Admirer of Francis

He said he was not religious but he admired the Pope.

“I really like the fellow, his face, his smile. He looks like your grandfather who is down-to-earth,” Pinder said.

“He connects with people. [Francis] really makes sense. He and the Dalai Lama, they say wise things. Francis could bring peace to the world. He has no problem going to Turkey to talk with Islamic leaders,” he said.

Pinder described Francis as an “emotional Pope.” He said he did research for information about Francis to be able to capture the Pontiff’s movements, gestures and expressions.

The resulting 17.8-centimeter sculpture and mold is a detailed image of Francis from head to waist.

Pinder spent hours replicating the angle of the Pope’s waving hand, his glistening eyes, his chin, aquiline nose and the spots on the left side of his face.

“When the image nods, its head nods to the [right side]. He is an emotional Pope, so I would like to relate that emotion to the movement,” Pinder said.

Pinder is producing a limited edition of the cold bronze version of Francis’ image and 50 of the fiber glass version.

Wanted: Manufacturers

The artist said he was looking for manufacturers to mass produce the plastic version.

“The plastic image can be affordable to any jeepney or taxi driver. I hope to see drivers along Roxas Boulevard or Baguio with the image of Pope nodding at them,” Pinder said.

Inspired by the bobblehead cat that decorates many public utility vehicles, Pinder thought to himself, “What if I make [Francis] do that? Stick [his image in front of the car] and he blesses your trip.”

Pinder said he would have wanted to make a sculpture of the Pope that he would have titled, “Pope Francis in Motion with Emotion.”

He said a friend recently visited the Vatican and met the Pope. “I didn’t believe him at first but when I saw his picture shaking hands with the Pope and laughing with him, I thought I was just one person away from him. I could have given him one of my sculptures. My friend gave him a shawl from Baguio,” Pinder said.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Romualdezes only in welcoming party Joey A. Gabieta @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 1:17 AM | Monday, December 29th, 2014


Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez Photo from www.congress.gov.ph

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines—The Romualdezes do not have any plan to gate-crash the lunch of Pope Francis with the survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) and the earthquake in Bohol province during his visit to Palo town, Leyte province, next month.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez gave the assurance through his legal staff member, lawyer Lea Fuentes-Apdo.

“Congressman Romualdez will not join the lunch but he will be among the five officials who will welcome the Pope,” Apdo said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Aside from the lawmaker, his cousin Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla and his mother Mayor Remedios Petilla of Palo, and Palo Archbishop John Du will welcome the Pope upon his arrival at Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City on Jan. 17.

The Romualdezes and the Petillas are political rivals and considered the most powerful families in Leyte.

Among welcomers

“The congressman and the mayor (Alfred Romualdez) will definitely not use their influence just to join the lunch,” Apdo said. “They will strictly stick to what they will do during the visit of the Pope.”

She said Representative Romualdez had received a formal invitation from the Archdiocese of Palo, through Rev. Fr. Rex Ramirez, which indicated that the lawmaker would be a member of the welcoming party during Francis’ arrival.

Ramirez is the chair of the local executive committee on the papal visit.

Another member of Representative Romualdez’s staff said it was unfair to say that the congressman—a nephew of former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos—would “put pressure” on the archdiocese just to join the lunch with the Pope.

No politicians

“He is very conscious of [his limited role] during the visit of the Pope,” said the staff member, who declined to be identified by name for lack of authority to speak to the media. “Based on the invitation, he will just be among those who will welcome the Pope at the airport and he will also attend the Mass.”

“Of course, this (his role) could change if no less than the Pope would say so,” he said. “Otherwise, the Romualdezes will not put pressure or elbow their way just to get in [and join the lunch].”

Fr. Amadeo Alvero, communications director of the archdiocese, told the Inquirer that no politicians would be dining with the Pontiff during his Tacloban visit.

Who are the 30?

Alvero said Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and Archbishop Du would be the only Church officials who would dine with the Pope, together with the 30 survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake.

The Palo archdiocese has not identified the calamity survivors who will dine with the Pope.

In interviews with the Inquirer, orphans who lost their families in Yolanda’s wake welcomed the thought of dining with the Pope but expressed concern that politicians would use their clout to attend the lunch.

One of them, John Paul Madrigal, 13, who was named after the late Pope St. John Paul II, said that if given a chance to talk to Francis, he would tell the Pontiff how he lost his parents and two brothers when Yolanda struck.

Another survivor, Michael Andre Sison, 17, said meeting Francis would be like meeting Jesus Christ Himself.


FROM THE MANILA DAILY BULLETIN

Stars grace Ala Eh! Festival by Mikee Delizo December 29, 2014 Share this:


Batangas Governor Vilma Santos (Photo from Wow Batangas)

The annual Ala Eh! Festival, considered the mother of all festivals in Batangas, was once again a huge success.

Among highlights of the event was the singing competition “Voices, Songs & Rhythms: Timpalak Awitan sa Kapitolyo,” with the finals held at the Taal Park on Dec. 18.

Members of the panel of judges include showbiz luminaries like Ogie Diaz, Jovit Baldivino, Jamie Rivera, Bea Binene, Angel Locsin, Rachel Alejandro, Vehnee Saturno, Ejay Falcon, Rey Valera, Mother Lily Monteverde and Tirso Cruz III.

Hailed winners in the Junior Division were Keon Patrick Carlos Driz of Batangas City (grand champion), Lucas Nico Garcia of Lipa City (1st runner-up) and Maria Christina Dolor of San Juan (2nd runner-up).

Winners of the Main (Adult) Division were Joel Alcaraz of Talisay (grand champion), Moon-A-Mel Dogtong of San Luis (1st runner-up) and Milky Sheena Villaester of Nasugbu (2nd runner-up).

The grand champions in both divisions took home P100, 000 cash, while the 1st runners-up got P75, 000 and the 2nd runners-up received P50, 000.

The remaining eight finalists were awarded P10, 000 each.

The contest was hosted by Luis Manzano, who was joined onstage by Cesar Montano, Maxene Magalona, Arnell Ignacio and Ai Ai delas Alas.

In her speech, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos expressed gratitude to the big stars who graced the event.

“Ito hong mga ito (artista) ay hindi nagpabayad. Itong mga ito ay nandidito upang makiisa sa atin at upang ipakita po na sila ay nakikiisa sa selebrasyon natin ng Ala Eh! Festival,” she said.

The actress-politician was thankful that the recent super-typhoon “Ruby” didn’t delay activities.

“God is so good! Natakot po ang bagyong si ‘Ruby’ sa dasal nating lahat. Kaya muli, sa ating Panginoon, sa ating poong Mahal na Birhen, maraming-maraming salamat po,” she said.

Meanwhile, Santos’ husband, Senator Ralph Recto, praised the Batangueños’ attitude crediting it for making the province one of the more progressive of its ilk in the Philippines.

“Ang Batangueño, kakaiba sa lahat ng Pilipino. Lalo’t higit ang pamilyang Batangueño, masisipag tayo kaya mas maunlad tayo sa maraming lalawigan sa buong Pilipinas. Mapagmahal tayo sa pamilya lalo na sa ating asawa. Madasalin tayo sa ating Panginoon, at lagi tayong binibigyan ng biyaya,” he maintained.

The senator added that the celebration of Batangas’ 433 years of township is a symbol of the unity of its people.

Also present at the event, which also featured a dance parade, a beauty pageant, a costume and float competition, and fireworks display, were Taal, Batangas Mayor Michael D. Montenegro, Vice Mayor Fulgencio Mercado and Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

The Sunday Times Magazine’s best and worst of 2014 December 27, 2014 9:44 pm
by SHEILA MAÑALAC  STAFF WRITER


Marian-and-Dingdong

As the final days of 2014 come upon us, so has the time to look back on the year that was. To rejoice in its triumphs, marvel at its discoveries, and most importantly, learn from its lessons. Even in the realms of lifestyle and entertainment.

As Filipinos continually develop a more discerning taste in lifestyle—be it the arts, travel, food, or beauty and fashion—the Philippines opened up all the more to new possibilities, opportunities and experiences in 2014, which ultimately made it a year of full of awe, adventure, luscious flavors and great style.

In the ever controversial world of show business, issue after issue did not fail entertain, titillate and amuse, thankfully—whether people admit it or not—have made the difficulties of 2014 more bearable.
Here then is special Sunday Times Magazine retrospective to 2014—a good one overall in terms of news this side of the paper.

Manila’s global chows

FOR years, there has been an influx of international restaurant brands in the country—Metro Manila especially—and 2014 was no exception.

Globally celebrated restaurant franchises have flocked to the city all year round with spots in prime locations, turning more and more Filipinos into veritable foodies.

The first international celebrity chef that introduced the “food hall” concept in Manila was Todd English, bringing with him from New York City such excitement over the summer.

The arrival of Todd English Food Hall at the SM Aura was made possible with the chef’s collaboration with restaurateur Rikki Dee and his group—a coup since the branch is the first franchise outside the original in New York.

The Todd English Food Hall is a European-inspired specialty food hall that offers nine diverse culinary stations to satisfy the most discerning palettes. Offering the finest food with freshest ingredients matched with impeccable service, this food space definitely gives a delectable dining experience set in a stylish and convenient atmosphere.

Following the opening of a new wing in the massive SM Megamall, dubbed Mega Fashion Hall, the introduction of regional restaurant brands such as Tim Ho Wan, Ippudo Ramen, Osaka Ohsho and St. Marc Café to the Philippine market came to be.

“Blacks” and “Pigs” have also become popular in the Manila dining scene with establishments like Black Olive, Black Sheep, Blackbird, Tipsy Pig, and Black Pig rising all around the metro.

Moreover, specialty stores such as Magnum Manila—which serves custom-made Magnum ice-cream bar—also opened during the sizzling summer month. Teddy’s Bigger Burgers meanwhile started serving gourmet, charbroiled burgers in the third quarter of the year.

“With gourmet burger restaurants on the rise and foodies clamoring for burgers that are beyond fast food [quality], we’re looking forward to giving Filipinos a taste of Teddy’s and what makes it cut above the rest,” Teddy’s co-founder Ted Tsakiris told The Sunday Times Magazine during its opening in Makati City on August 20.

Indeed, Filipinos love food and came to love it all the more in 2014.

Juicy bits

What good is it to live life without a little gossip? Whether they admit it or not, Filipinos like to indulge in this “pastime,” which certainly gives color to the monotony of the daily grind.

At the top of this year’s entertainment news of course is the controversial Vhong Navarro-Denice Cornejo-Cedric Lee love triangle that turned into an all-out public squabble between the two camps.

The infamous Cornejo dialogue “Tara sa condo… dala ka foods” was turned into a staple joke among Filipinos, after weeks of following the story, which broke out as early as January.

With two opposing stories from both sides, and with the case still in court, the real truth about the incident may be difficult to come to. But what cannot be denied is that Navarro was indeed assaulted by Cedric Lee and his friends inside Cornejo’s condominium unit in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.

In an interview with Boy Abunda in The Buzz, Navarro said he was set up, beaten, and extorted P2 million.

Amusingly, Cornejo’s camp filed an attempted rape case against Navarro, which was dismissed in court.

Besides Vhong’s sudden misfortune leading him back to unwarranted fame, media personality Paolo Bediones also took some slack as coffee shop talk and nights out were filled with conversations about him in July, when a two-part video of the host and a starlet went viral as soon as it was uploaded on the Internet.

Eat Bulaga’s Wally Bayola also received his fair share of sex video controversy, while the split-up of longtime showbiz couple Billy Crawford and Nikki Gil hit the tabloids, with Coleen Garcia as the bad girl.
But the entertainment scene was not only plagued with negativity.

In more positive news, endless foreign celebrities and singers also came to perform in sold out shows in the country, proof that the Philippines is now considered a premier Asian market in the region. The likes of Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruno Mars, Celine Dion, John Legend, and Jason Mraz to name a few.

And of course, the year 2014 will definitely be remembered as a year of showbiz weddings, starting with TV personalities Iya Villania and Drew Arellano in February, and immediately followed TV host and singer Karylle Tatlonghari and Spongecola vocalist Yael Yuzon in March. Bianca Gonzales also tied the knot with basketball star JC Intal on December 10, followed by Neri Naic and Chito Miranda’s second wedding ceremony on December 13, and yet to happen on Tuesday is the much awaited grand wedding of the so-called “royal couple” Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera.

Biggest fashion craze

With a crowd of over 3,000 lining up for the opening of the first H&M in the Philippines, there is no doubt that Filipinos are fashion crazy, especially for quality-for-cost brands such as the Swedish label. October 17 will be remembered for two things: horrendous traffic along Edsa, and the culprit, the opening of H&M at the Mega Fashion Hall on October 17.

Although fashion does not always make headlines especially in local news, the opening of its three-storey flagship store left everyone talking about it weeks after its opening. With the announcement that
 “the first 200 customers in line will receive gift cards valued as high as P6,000 each, and items at 50 percent off,” there was indeed much to rave about.

“We have been waiting for the best opportunity to be in the Philippines and now the wait is finally over,” shared Magnus Olsson, H&M brand manager for the Philippines, China and Southeast Asia.

In a statement released a week before the opening, Olsson also said, “The Philippines is indeed ready for the next level of fashion and we are so proud to debut our amazing flagship store at SM Megamall. It is such an exciting moment for us to bring fashionable and sustainable design, with good quality at the best price to fashion-conscious Filipinos. At H&M we always have something for everyone, and we can’t wait to welcome all shoppers in Manila to this fantastic store.”

Other international brands that opened in Manila over the year include Old Navy, Pull & Bear, lifestyle brands Pottery Barn, as well as Crate & Barrel, Spanish brands Uno de 50 and Sfera.
As for globally renowned designers, Tokidoki’s Simon Legno and Kenneth Cole watch designer David Smordoni also flew into Manila to personally launch their brand’s new collections.
For the love of arts and culture

Last but certainly not least, the Philippines thrived in the local arts and culture scene in 2014. To begin with, President Benigno Aquino 3rd named six new National Artists, specifically Alice Reyes for Dance; Francisco Coching for Visual Arts; Cirilo Bautista for Literature; Francisco Feliciano and Ramon Santos for Music; and Jose Maria Zaragoza for Architecture. Not without its share of controversy, Malacañang purposely left out Superstar Nora Aunor for Film, which caused a bit of a stir for a few weeks.

Expectedly, Malacañang defended their position to exclude the 61-year-old actress in the latest list of National Artists, insisting that the President had the freedom to choose which personalities to give the recognition.

“As far as we are concerned, we went through the process. We exercised the prerogatives as laid down by the process. We certainly understand the views of the Noranians and also the artistic community. Certainly, the work of Ms. Nora Aunor is recognized here and abroad,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a news briefing following the announcement of the new list in June.

“The President has the prerogative to approve all or none, without needing to explain,” he defended. Following the 2009 controversy involving Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s thoughtless disregard for the recommendations of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines thus virtually making up her own list of awardees, the named artists are equally thankful that they have finally received the recognition they deserved after the Supreme Court decided the 2009 conferment of National Artists invalid.

The stage also made headlines when international musical productions of Wicked came to town, as well as Stomp’s return, and Chicago’s run in the newly opened The Theater at Solaire this month made theater aficionados of Filipinos. Topnotch reviews were also achieved by local productions including Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert, Grease, and the Filipinized Rak of Aegis.

Literary personalities such as Mitch Albom also came to the Philippines on February, as well as Amy Tan, Leang Laev and Chang-Rae Lee who visited the country as part of National Book Store’s first ever Philippine Literary Festival.


 FROM GMA NEWS NETWORK

New Year exodus peaks at QC bus terminals

People who missed their chance to go home to the province for the Christmas break flock to the Araneta Center Bus Terminal in Quezon City on Sunday, December 28, to wait for their rides to the provinces for the New Year break. GMA News


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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