PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

RAGS2RICHES PINAY MAKES FORBES ENTREPRENEUR LIST

Fernandez-Ruiz ---A 29-year-old Filipina who literally turned rags into riches has been featured in Forbes magazine’s list of 30 social entrepreneurs below 30 years old. Therese “Reese” Fernandez-Ruiz opened opportunities for women residing in the Payatas dump in Quezon City through a business venture-cum-livelihood project she co-founded in 2007 called Rags2Riches. The women from the dump, home to about 12,000 families, used to earn a living by turning scrap fabric materials (retaso) into doormats and rugs. Picking up from where they had started, Ruiz taught them how to craft scrap fabric into marketable items such as fashion handbags, eyeglass cases and wine bottles to augment their income. READ FULL REPORT..

ALSO: A TWIST TO THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGS 
By ETHEL RAMOS (photo) ---Christmas trees and decorations have already been dismantled and put back in boxes for storage to be put out again come November after All Saints Day. January 6 is Three Kings Day, when the Christian world pays tribute to the wisdom and good heart of the three Magis – Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar – who defied the powers that be and traveled long to see the newly born King, Jesus. This was recounted by the disciple, Matthew. I got an amusing text of a Filipino version of the Three Kings (which the Magis – wise men who indulge in astrology are invariably called) account. Here’s the text:” Do you know that that originally there were six kings who saw the signs in the stars about the birth of Jesus? But only three reached Bethlehem. What happened to the other three?  CONTINUE READING THE STORY....

ALSO at Pope's Luneta multi-lingual mass: 1,000 choir members to sing in the mass, concelebrated by 2,500 priests and attended by 200 bishops 

Among the lucky people who have been chosen to sit near the altar are some 500 persons with disabilities, 500 urban poor, 500 members of religious groups, 500 lay leaders, 500 young people and government dignitaries. The 1,000 singers who come from different parishes nationwide will hold a general rehearsal on January 10 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City. On January 17, the huge choir will have its final rehearsal at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.Fr. Alex Bautista, an architect and chairman of the Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church in the Diocese of Tarlac, designed the simple altar to be used for the Mass. The altar features anahaw leaves, doves and some materials collected from Romblon, Tarlac and other provinces of the Philippines.READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO AT THE MALL OF ASIA: The wedding of the year was a design success; How the cavernous MOA Arena was turned into an intimate, dramatic space 


ILLUMINATED representations of the bahay-na-bato hang from the rafters and light up the main dining area. THE COCKTAIL area was decorated with blown-up photos of the couple. Underneath the cocktail tables were tightly bound bunches of roses. The SM Mall of Asia Arena, venue of the December 30 wedding reception of actors Dingdong Dantes and Marian (Rivera) Gracia, can accommodate as many as 16,000 for basketball matches and concerts. The challenge for the wedding production team led by creative director Noel Manapat and production designer Gino Gonzales was to make this cavernous location look intimate and elegant—and dramatic. It is a testament to the team’s design and styling prowess that the wedding reception was classy and yet young and fashionable especially when the bands and singers began their performances. READ ENTIRE REPORT...

ALSO MANILA TIMES COMMENTARY: ‘There is despair, Mr. President, in the places you don’t visit’
By Marlen Ronquillo ------In the 1984 Democratic National Convention, Cuomo delivered the speech of his life, a stinging, scathing rebuke of Ronald Reagan’s “ shining city on a hill” and “morning in America.” I will quote the most memorable sentence of that speech.
“ There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces you don’t see, in the places you don’t visit.” Read the sentence again and try to see if it applies in our own context of uneven development, Mr. Aquino’s own “ shining city on a hill” of credit upgrades and sustained GDP growth. Mr. Aquino’s creation of a paradise for the Top 1 percent. We can only wish that somebody of prominence in our politics would stand up and echo the words of Mario Cuomo and tell Mr. Aquino this: There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces you don’t see, in the places you don’t visit.”READ FULL COMMENTARY...

ALSO MANILA STANDARD EDITORIAL: Aquino’s great train robbery
 

METRO Manila trains began charging fares that were 50 percent to 86 percent higher starting Sunday, in what one administration critic described as “The Great Train Robbery.” 
Given the circumstances surrounding the fare hike, we can hardly fault the characterization. The increase in fares effectively robs commuters and puts their money into the pockets of private concessionaires who have done nothing to improve rail services in the city. One of the three rail lines, in fact, has become a safety hazard after one of its trains skidded off the tracks onto a busy thoroughfare in August last year, injuring more than 30 people. None of the estimated 1.3 million commuters who take the train daily—mostly working-class folk--had a say about how much fares should go up, of if they should go up at all, because the Department of Transportation and Communication approved the increase without the benefit of public hearings. Nor will the commuters, who suffer long queues and jam-packed trains daily and regular service disruptions gain any relief as a result of the higher fares as the government claims. READ FULL EDITORIAL...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Rags2Riches Pinay makes Forbes entrepreneur list


Fernandez-Ruiz

MANILA, JANUARY 7, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Cherry Salazar- A 29-year-old Filipina who literally turned rags into riches has been featured in Forbes magazine’s list of 30 social entrepreneurs below 30 years old.

Therese “Reese” Fernandez-Ruiz opened opportunities for women residing in the Payatas dump in Quezon City through a business venture-cum-livelihood project she co-founded in 2007 called Rags2Riches.

The women from the dump, home to about 12,000 families, used to earn a living by turning scrap fabric materials (retaso) into doormats and rugs.

Picking up from where they had started, Ruiz taught them how to craft scrap fabric into marketable items such as fashion handbags, eyeglass cases and wine bottles to augment their income.

Known designers – Amina Aranaz-Aluna, Rajo Laurel and Olivia d’Aboville – have collaborated with Rags2Riches while TV hosts Bianca Gonzales and Kim Jones, celebrity stylist Liz Uy and ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Drilon have endorsed their products.

Forbes said Rags2Riches showed “a consistent 100 percent annual growth rate” for its first five years from 2007 to 2012.

More than a hundred people were nominated, and the competition, currently on its third year, was “steep,” said Forbes staff Erin Carlyle on its website.

Forbes described Rags2Riches as the “first fashion and design house empowering community artisans in the Philippines.”

Since its launch, Rags2Riches has trained over 900 Filipino community-based artisans, whose products are being distributed in retail outlets here and abroad.

Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs compiles a list of an “elite group of people who are directing their talent and conviction to better the world,” said Carlyle.

Among those featured in the list are Kiah Williams, 28, who established a non-profit organization that has distributed $3 million worth of medicine to some 20,000 patients in the United States, and Minhaj Chowdhury, 25, who helped filter water contaminated by arsenic and fluoride for some 200 million people in Bangladesh and India.

Ruiz had also been recognized among 40 Under 40 Leaders in International Development by Devex in 2013, as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012 and as Entrepreneur of the Year by the World Entrepreneurship Forum in 2011.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

A TWIST TO THE STORY OF THE THREE KINGS By ETHEL RAMOS | January 07, 2015 YESTERDAY marked the end of a long Christmas celebration in the Philippines.


 By ETHEL RAMOS

Christmas trees and decorations have already been dismantled and put back in boxes for storage to be put out again come November after All Saints Day.

January 6 is Three Kings Day, when the Christian world pays tribute to the wisdom and good heart of the three Magis – Melchor, Gaspar and Balthazar – who defied the powers that be and traveled long to see the newly born King, Jesus. This was recounted by the disciple, Matthew.

I got an amusing text of a Filipino version of the Three Kings (which the Magis – wise men who indulge in astrology are invariably called) account.

Here’s the text:” Do you know that that originally there were six kings who saw the signs in the stars about the birth of Jesus? But only three reached Bethlehem.

What happened to the other three?

The fourth one followed the bright star and ended up in the United States. Not finding the Baby Jesus, he founded Burger King.

The fifth one also followed the guiding star and ended up on an endless wall which turned out to be the Great Wall of China. There was no Baby Jesus. Famished, he concocted something and shared with it with the community. That was the beginning of Chowking.

The star that the sixth Magi followed led him to the Philippines. He also didn’t find a Baby Jesus. But he went into cattle raising and later on put up an eatery: Tapa King.

That’s Filipino creativity for you.

The legend about more than three kings who journeyed to pay homage to the new-born King of Kings has been taken up by other writers. The one by the famous novelist, Dick van Dyke initially published in 1895, captures the essence of being a Christian.

Titled the “The Other Wise Man,” the story is about a priest or Magi named Artaban from Persia.

Like Gaspar, Melchor, and Balthazar, Artaban saw signs in the heavens that The King had been born. In one way or another he was able to communicate with the three and they agreed to meet at a certain place so they could travel in a caravan through the desert.

He gathered his treasures to offer to the new born King - a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl of great price. Not far from where he started, he saw a dying man and he had to stop and help him.

When Artaban arrived at their meeting place, the three Magis had already left. Since he missed the caravan, and he can’t cross the desert with only a horse, he was forced to sell one of his treasures in order to buy the camels and supplies necessary for the trip.

He arrived in Bethlehem too late to see the child Jesus because Mary and Joseph with the baby had to flee Bethlehem to escape the evil plan of the paranoid King Herod. They went to Egypt.

Artaban traveled to Egypt and along the way, he encountered people who needed help. As always he stopped, using money from the sale of some of the treasures he brought, and helped them. His search for Jesus took him 30 years but he never saw him.

Artaban arrived in Jerusalem and went to the temple. There he learned that Jesus is being crucified in Calvary and he decided to go there. On his way out of the temple, he saw a woman being sold for slavery. He brought out his last treasure, a pearl, to ransom the young woman.

Then the earth shook. That was the hour of Jesus’ crucifixion. Some part of the temple’s roof fell on Artaban. As he was breathing his last, he heard a voice, “Verily I say unto thee, Inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me.”

The Magi Artaban finally met the Lord, Jesus.


FROM THE MANILA TIMES

1,000 choir members to sing in Luneta Mass January 6, 2015 11:08 pm by ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ REPORTER

The Mass to be held by Pope Francis at Rizal Park (Luneta in Manila) on January 18 will be one of a kind and a record of sorts.

It will be concelebrated by 2,500 priests and attended by 200 bishops.

A choir composed of 1,000 members will sing original liturgical songs for the multi-ligual Mass.
The Sunday Mass is expected to attract anywhere between four million and six million people.

Among the lucky people who have been chosen to sit near the altar are some 500 persons with disabilities, 500 urban poor, 500 members of religious groups, 500 lay leaders, 500 young people and government dignitaries.

The 1,000 singers who come from different parishes nationwide will hold a general rehearsal on January 10 at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City. On January 17, the huge choir will have its final rehearsal at Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.

Fr. Alex Bautista, an architect and chairman of the Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church in the Diocese of Tarlac, designed the simple altar to be used for the Mass.

The altar features anahaw leaves, doves and some materials collected from Romblon, Tarlac and other provinces of the Philippines.

The priest said since the Pope cannot go around the Philippines, the Church made sure that the Philippines will be brought closer to the Holy Father.

“The concept [of the Mass at the Luneta] is to serve the liturgical and reflect the simplicity of vicar of Christ . . . if you cannot bring Pope [Francis] around the Philippines, we would bring [symbolic] elements to the Pope,” Bautista added.

During his four-day visit, Pope Francis will be wearing Filipino-designed vestments.

In an interview, Rev. Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr. said the Vatican has approved that the chasuble and the mitre of the Pope will be manufactured in the Philippines.

He added that the chasuble will have sampaguita flowers, anahaw leaves and the image of Santo Niño (Child Jesus).

All of the Pope’s vestments will be in white and some “shades of green” because of the color of the sampaguita and anahaw.

The chasuble is a sleeveless outer vestment worn by the officiating priest at a Mass, while the mitre is a liturgical headdress worn by bishops and abbots.

Arada said some poor communities in Bulacan helped make the vestments of the Pope.

“Regular sila gumagawa ng vestments. Yung mga isusuot ng mga pari mga nanay naman ang gumawa Talleres de Nazareth. Tapos yung sa Pope Desenyo Sagrado ang gumawa [Those communities make the vestments. Those to be worn by the priests are made by mothers belonging to Talleres de Nazareth. Those for Pope Francis are made by members of Desenyo Sagrado],” he added.

The priest said Francis usually brings his own vestments.

But since “the liturgy team of the Holy Father” has allowed the use of vestments made in the Philippines, the Pope will be wearing different vestments at the Luneta, Tacloban City and in Manila Cathedral.

In Tacloban City, Leyte, Francis will meet with survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.


FROM THE INQUIRER

The wedding of the year was a design success Raoul J. Chee Kee @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:59 AM | Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

How the cavernous MOA Arena was turned into an intimate, dramatic space


ILLUMINATED representations of the bahay-na-bato hang from the rafters and light up the main dining area. THE COCKTAIL area was decorated with blown-up photos of the couple. Underneath the cocktail tables were tightly bound bunches of roses.


THE COCKTAIL area was decorated with blown-up photos of the couple. Underneath the cocktail tables were tightly bound bunches of roses.

The SM Mall of Asia Arena, venue of the December 30 wedding reception of actors Dingdong Dantes and Marian (Rivera) Gracia, can accommodate as many as 16,000 for basketball matches and concerts.

The challenge for the wedding production team led by creative director Noel Manapat and production designer Gino Gonzales was to make this cavernous location look intimate and elegant—and dramatic.

It is a testament to the team’s design and styling prowess that the wedding reception was classy and yet young and fashionable especially when the bands and singers began their performances.

Preparing for the wedding

Preparations began months before, with the celebrity couple signing off on almost all aspects of the event. Everything, from the hedges at the entrance that served as backdrop and provided some privacy for the guests to the wall of images of their favorite things, special dates and places, had to be approved by the couple.

The theme—a blend of Filipino and Spanish touches—was apparent throughout the venue. From the ceiling hung illuminated representations of the bahay-na-bato. The entourage was dressed in fiery red evening wear.

“I liked the brilliant union of Spain and the Philippines at the reception. It was visually stunning and at the same time told the story of the couple,” said businessman Ben Chan who attended the event. Both Dantes and Rivera are endorsers of Bench.

Floral welcome

Guests, all 1,200 of them, were dropped off at the lobby where they were greeted by an arch of fresh red roses. On either side of the red carpet leading to the entrance were low hedges lined with photographers that clicked away as each guest walked in. The scenario reminded some of the annual Met Gala in New York.

OTHER tables were decorated with low floral centerpieces so guests could see and talk to those seated across the table. The production team stuck to a motif of red and black accented by clear glass and crystalline chairs. The theme was maintained inside, where a green hedge was festooned with red roses and pictures of the couple’s favorite things and significant dates. Topiaries of red roses in the receiving area added drama.

To create the garden, truckloads of roses and other flowers had to be ordered and secured before the actual date. Red and black butterflies could be found “resting” on petals, as if ready to take flight.

Towering confection

The towering multi-tiered cake provided by Goldilocks was originally supposed to taper off to a point, but design heads prevailed and the top two or three tiers were removed.

At the party, images of the couple were projected on the cake’s white and wide surface.

Gigi Uson, a close friend of the couple and one of Rivera’s bridesmaids, said she “saw the couple in every detail. Marian loves flowers and Dong’s taste is very fine and sophisticated—from the clothes, decor, cars to even how he envisioned his wedding.”

Uson added that butterflies are significant to the couple because “he first proposed to Marian in 2012 in a butterfly sanctuary in Macau.”

The plated dinner prepared by the team of restaurateur and chef Margarita Fores was served after a program that might have run a bit too long. By the time the roasted calf was served, a significant number of guests had already left. The younger guests were the ones who ended up singing along to and enjoying the bands that performed well into the night.

VIEW ENTIRE EXTRAVAGANZA HERE: http://lifestyle.inquirer.net/181601/the-wedding-of-the-year-was-a-design-success


MANILA TIMES COMMENTARY

‘There is despair, Mr. President, in the places you don’t visit’
January 6, 2015 7:28 pm by MARLEN V. RONQUILLO


Marlen V. Ronquillo

From a used-book store, I recently got three books on as many prominent figures with varying backgrounds and orientations: Keith Richard, Leon Trotsky and Mario Cuomo.

The first is an aging rock star who wrote his wonderful bio titled “Life”. The second was a revolutionary and a Jew who gained a prominent role in Bolshevik Russia. The third was a Democratic politician known for his unapologetic defense of liberalism.

So sorry the books have remained in their cheap plastic wrap, unopened, unread. Mario Cuomo, the former three-term governor of New York and the father of the incumbent governor, died last week with my intent to learn more about liberal politics and about politicians who stood for the more vulnerable in society unfulfilled.

Mario Cuomo was all of that. Some say that his introspection and humanity scuttled his presidential dreams. Failing to read his book, I was forced to turn to the obits, the recollections of his life in politics and the memories of his unabashed liberalism.

You know what. In the 1984 Democratic National Convention, Cuomo delivered the speech of his life, a stinging, scathing rebuke of Ronald Reagan’s “ shining city on a hill” and “morning in America.” I will quote the most memorable sentence of that speech.

“ There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces you don’t see, in the places you don’t visit.” Read the sentence again and try to see if it applies in our own context of uneven development, Mr. Aquino’s own “ shining city on a hill” of credit upgrades and sustained GDP growth. Mr. Aquino’s creation of a paradise for the Top 1 percent.

We can only wish that somebody of prominence in our politics would stand up and echo the words of Mario Cuomo and tell Mr. Aquino this: There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces you don’t see, in the places you don’t visit.”

How true and how relevant to our own specific political-economic context was that Cuomo line about the two cities. We won’t debate about the sustained GDP growth and the credit upgrades. And we won’t even refute the puff pieces written by parachuting foreign journalists on the reformist agenda of Mr. Aquino. We can even say that we don’t even question the personal integrity of Mr. Aquino.

But what Mr. Cuomo said in 1984 about the America of Mr. Reagan, that it was a “ tale of two cities “and not a shining city on a hill” is exactly the unalloyed condition of Philippine society today. In the places that Mr. Aquino doesn’t ever visit, in the faces that he does not see or want to see, what is in there is despair and hopelessness.

And over the past four years, Mr. Aquino has never cared about these hamlets of hopelessness and poverty, our own sloughs of despond. He has not lost a single night of sleep thinking over the two cities, one of gleaming skyscrapers and the other – just a few kilometers away – slum areas of brutal poverty.

There is more despair in the rural areas where most live on subsistence farming.

Mr. Aquino has a governing philosophy that is not too far removed from Reagan and his “shining city on a hill.”

The key strategy is to favor the key economic players, the “job creators” and to erect an entire infrastructure that is favorable to business. Markets and capital are the king. Once you unleash the power of capital, there will be growth and this will spread prosperity all around. Gains from the top will trickle-down, even with the least push from government as that is the natural order of things.

On the growth side, the key strategy has worked well over the past four years. Growth is being posted year-on-year. Credit upgrades have come with the realization of monetary and fiscal benchmarks. Foreign journalists have not run out of puff pieces to write about the Philippines and its sustained growth. Pegged, of course, on Mr. Aquino’s so-called reformist agenda.

The singular misfortune of Mr. Aquino is all of these positives have been posted in the time the phrase “99 percent” was made an important part of the global economic lexicon. And that 99 percent of income gains in the US from 2009 to 2012 had been sucked up by the Top One percent.

Thomas Piketty wrote a masterpiece on global inequality called Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which consciously drew from an earlier masterpiece by Karl Marx. And Pope Francis declared “ tickle-down” as pure bunk.

Piketty warned that only bold political approaches can reverse the slide to patrimonial capitalism and the inexorable march to a truly unjust and unequal world.

Mr. Aquino has neither the boldness nor the will to depart from his “growth-at-all-cost” governing philosophy. He is truly Reagan on that score, blinded by the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats.

The multitudes who are poor and despairing are invisible to his government. While Mr. Aquino loves inaugurating office towers and manufacturing and assembly sites and would not miss the chance to cut the ribbons on newly-built roads and bridges and ports, he has a loathing for going into areas of despair and poverty.

Look at his photo-ops. It is exclusively with things associated with dynamism and progress. Or, photo-ops with captains of business or young overachievers. The people mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount are not the people of Mr. Aquino.

Mr. Aquino has yet to realize the hard truth that we are not a “shining city on a hill” but truly a “tale of two cities.”


EDITORIAL FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Aquino’s great train robbery By Manila Standard Today | Jan. 07, 2015 at 12:01am

METRO Manila trains began charging fares that were 50 percent to 86 percent higher starting Sunday, in what one administration critic described as “The Great Train Robbery.”

Given the circumstances surrounding the fare hike, we can hardly fault the characterization.

The increase in fares effectively robs commuters and puts their money into the pockets of private concessionaires who have done nothing to improve rail services in the city. One of the three rail lines, in fact, has become a safety hazard after one of its trains skidded off the tracks onto a busy thoroughfare in August last year, injuring more than 30 people.

None of the estimated 1.3 million commuters who take the train daily—mostly working-class folk--had a say about how much fares should go up, of if they should go up at all, because the Department of Transportation and Communication approved the increase without the benefit of public hearings.

Nor will the commuters, who suffer long queues and jam-packed trains daily and regular service disruptions gain any relief as a result of the higher fares as the government claims.

In fact, the Ibon Foundation observes that the DOTC itself has admitted that funds raised from the higher fares would go to paying the government’s financial obligations to the private consortium operating the Metro Rail Transit system.

Still, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya continues to defend the decision to raise fares, peddling the notion that this would decrease the government’s subsidy for train riders in Metro Manila and enable the administration to spend that money instead on programs that would benefit more people, particularly those in the provinces who may never ride a train in the nation’s capital.

Under the “user pays” principle, he argued, taxpayers who do not benefit from a resource should not have to shoulder its cost.

But the argument, which the Transport secretary pursues so earnestly, is flawed as Metro Manila taxpayers also shoulder the costs of infrastructure and other projects in the provinces from which they receive no direct benefits.

In his rush to reduce train subsidies, Secretary Abaya forgets that providing the public with safe and affordable public transportation is an obligation of the state—and one that it cannot pass on to other parties.

True to form, Abaya and other administration officials also point the finger at the previous government for signing an onerous contract with the private consortium operating the MRT. They also assure the riding public that services will eventually improve; they simply must be patient.

These promises are hardly reassuring, however. After all, this administration has already had four years to junk the contract with the private consortium running the trains, yet it did nothing. It also had four years to improve services, yet allowed the system to deteriorate to such an extent that the lives of commuters were put at risk. After four years of inaction, it is too late for the Aquino administration to point fingers—and too late as well to make promises that it clearly cannot keep.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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