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NOY, BINAY, ERAP LEAD FLAG-RAISING RITES FRO RIZAL DAY


DECEMBER 31 -President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada pull the rope as the Philippine flag is hoisted during the commemoration of the 119th death anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Rizal Park yesterday. KRIZJOHN ROSALES/EDD GUMBAN President Aquino led the 119th anniversary of the martyrdom of the country’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Manila’s Rizal Park yesterday.
Aquino attended the event with Vice President Jejomar Binay, who stood beside him months after resigning from the Cabinet. Aquino’s sixth and last attendance at the Rizal Day rites as president was highlighted by the fly-by of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ air assets, which the military said should ignite a sense of pride among Filipinos. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada arrived in Rizal Park first, followed by Binay and then the President. The three officials raised the flag at 8 a.m. simultaneous with other flag-raising ceremonies nationwide. At the last note of the national anthem, two FA-50 jet fighters flew overhead while two military helicopters rained confetti on the crowd. Aquino then led the wreath-laying ceremony and watched the fly-by of 10 Cessna Trainer T41, 15 Stelio Frati (SF) 260FH, three combat utility helicopters and five Augusta Westland (AW) 109 helicopters of the Philippine Air Force; and three AW 109 helicopters of the Philippine Navy. In his message, Aquino said the national hero served as a catalyst for change and independence and his works remain relevant to this day. “May we all be inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s courage and intelligence; his sense of duty; hunger for knowledge; passion for reform; and undying love of country,” the President said. Aquino and Binay, a presidential candidate from the opposition, were civil to each other and shook hands before the flag-raising ceremony but they did not talk. The administration’s standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II also came but kept a low profile by staying in one corner of the park. READ MORE...

ALSO: ‘New Year’s Day air pollution not as bad as past years’


JANUARY 3 -10,000 BALLOON WISHES: Partygoers at Eastwood City in Quezon City release 10,000 balloon wishes into the night sky to welcome 2016 during the Eastwood-Quezon City New Year Countdown. Leading the New Year toast are event host Andrei Felix, X-Factor Australia winner Marlisa Punzalan, Megaworld senior AVP and head for marketing and business development Tefel Pesigan Valentino, Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, American R&B artist Dawin and event host and DJ Joyce Pring. The countdown also featured the Dazzling Star Drop, Eastwood City’s version of the world-famous Ball Drop in New York City’s Times Square.
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday said the air pollution level following the New Year Eve’s celebrations was not as bad as previous years. The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the rains contributed to reducing particulate matters (PM) in the air which is made worse by firecrackers and fireworks during the New Year’s Eve revelry. Teresita Peralta of the EMB said the presence of particulate matter 10 (PM-10) in Marikina City’s air was only 872 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) from midnight of Dec. 31, 2015 up to 1 a.m. of Jan. 1, 2016. It was at 1,988 µg/m³ last year. In Las Piñas City, the PM-10 level was monitored at 540 µg/m³ while a year ago it went up to 2,000 µg/m³. “Those that are used to lighting up huge firecrackers could have been discouraged because of the rains,” Peralta said. She said cities in Metro Manila, such as Pasay and Malabon are among those that registered a relatively high PM level since many vehicles pass through these areas and the population is dense. Particulate matter, also known as particle pollution, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals and soil or dust particles. THE FULL REPORT;
RELATED, Aquino leads his last Rizal Day rites as PAF jets roar above...

ALSO: Cities across PHL welcome the New Year


DECEMBER 31 -A grand fireworks display illuminates the skies above the Rizal Monument at Rizal Park in Manila on January 1, 2016. Danny Pata At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2015, the tradition of saying goodbye to the previous year with an explosion of colors and greeting the new year with a bang continued as cities across the Philippines lit up the sky with fireworks, save for a few which chose to create a new tradition. Davao City celebrated its 15th year without firecrackers, fireworks, and other pyrotechnics, choosing instead to blow horns in the Torotot Festival. The city reported zero casualties as citizens partied at San Pedro Town Square in a "smoke-free" environment. Davao officials said the ban not only saves lives and limbs, the festival also does away with the garbage left by firecrackers on the street. Their manner of making noise also does not involve releasing harmful chemicals in the air. The local government of Pasig shares Davao City's style as they celebrated the Pakalog Festival, where dance and lechon are the center of attention. In Dapitan City, residents welcomed the New Year at the Gloria de Dapitan Fantasy Land. The holiday magic could still be felt through the animated Christmas trees, while a show featuring local bands entertained visitors before the fireworks were lit. Street parties marked the last day of the year in Cebu City, followed by a Midnight Mass led by Archbishop Jose Palma. Meanwhile, thousands of families spent the last night of the year at Rizal Park, where the city government organized a concert for a cause and the traditional dancing fountain for park goers. They were also treated to a 20-minute grand fireworks display as 2016 arrived. Nearby in Tondo, a costume party was held on the streets with Eat Bulaga's Kalyeserye serving as inspiration for a couple of participants. READ MORE, WATCH ALL VIDEOS...

ALSO: Colombians burn Pia effigy


JANUARY 3 -Pia Wurtzbach and Steve Harvey effigies brought to the street prior to being burned. (Photo courtesy of Noider Almanza Barraza via Facebook) VIDEO AVAILABLE ON YOUI TUBE.  Supporters of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach are in an uproar after a video of her effigy being burned in Colombia went viral on the Internet yesterday. Facebook user Noider Almanza Barraza – who hails from Barranquilla, Colombia – uploaded the minute-long video (http://on.fb.me/1O0TijP) showing the burning of the effigy, which supposedly happened during the New Year’s Eve celebrations. It has over 1,400 shares as of yesterday afternoon, and has been featured in a number of popular blogs in the Philippines. The effigy was wearing a blue gown similar to the one worn by Wurtzbach during the finals of the Miss Universe contest last month. It also had what appeared to be a photo of Wurtzbach wearing the Miss Universe crown and a sash with Philippines written on it.The video had a caption written in Spanish and loosely translated as “Burning Ms. Philippines and Ms. Universe presenter last year 2015.” It was unclear if an effigy of Miss Universe host Steve Harvey was also burned. During the announcement of the winners at the pageant held in Las Vegas in Dec. 20, Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner of the competition. He later went up the stage and apologized for the wrong announcement before naming Wurtzbach as the new Miss Universe. Colombians did not take the mistake lightly, with Gutierrez saying she was humiliated. Filipino netizens, meanwhile, expressed outrage over the burning of the effigy and urged Colombians to move on from the incident. Others, however, pointed out that the act may have had a different meaning from the burning of effigies in the Philippines, which usually signifies protest. A netizen said it could be part of a tradition where people try to forget and move forward from unfortunate incidents in the past year by burning memories, such as texts written on paper or, in this case, a doll patterned after Wurtzbach. THE FULL REPORT; RELATED, 2015: Year of the change up...

ALSO: Campers retake Kalayaan Island


JANUARY 1 -‘This is ours.’ This photo taken on Dec. 26 shows young Filipinos posing on Pag-asa island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea to announce that the Philippines owns the island. AFP 
ALMOST 50 young Filipinos are camping on a remote Philippine-held island in the South China Sea in a symbolic stand against China’s claim to most of the waterway, officials said Sunday. Organizers of the group, calling itself Kalayaan Atin Ito (Kalayaan This Is Ours), said 47 of them arrived Saturday on the island of Pag-asa, also known as Thitu, in the Spratlys chain. “Kalayaan,” the Filipino word for freedom, is also the name of the township established by the Philippines in the Spratlys to assert its claim to part of the island chain. The government had opposed the landing, initiated by a former Navy officer, Nick Faeldon. But President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said Sunday it understood the group’s intentions. “We recognize the patriotism of these youths that made them venture out,” he told reporters. But he also reiterated that they should seek “alternative ways” to show their support, expressing concern for their safety in traveling the 500 kilometers from Palawan to the tiny island of Pag-asa. Photographs and messages from the group posted on their website showed them posing on a beach. A message on a Facebook page also urged Aquino to “inform the people correctly without sugar coating the truth about Chinese invasion of our Exclusive Economic Zone.” Members of the group had previously accused the government of not doing enough to stand up to China. A coordinator of the group, Joy Ban-eg, said the 47 men and women had arrived on Saturday on a chartered launch and would depart on Monday. She said China had not attempted to block them from reaching the island, adding that they would consult the local residents and the military detachment. But she said their voyage itself was an act of defiance against China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea despite conflicting claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. READ MORE...RELATED,
China angered by young campers on disputed isle...

ALSO:
Combat 'torrent' of misery in world, pope says in New Year message


JANUARY 1 -VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis, in his first message of the new year, on Friday urged people to combat the "torrent" of misery, injustice and violence in the world by overcoming all indifference to the many who are suffering.Security was tight. Police checked the bags of people blocks away from St. Peter's Square and about 10,000 people went through additional, airport-style screening to get into St. Peter's Basilica and hear Francis celebrate Mass. "We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims ... we are  witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights," the pope said. In his homily he urged people to overcome what he called "a torrent of misery" by "building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God's original creation". The 79-year-old looked and sounded well despite having made many public appearances over the Christmas and New Year season. He called on everyone, on the day the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church marks its annual World Day of Peace, to "let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing." —Reuters THE FULL REPORT.


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Noy, Binay, Erap lead flag-raising rites for Rizal Day


President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada pull the rope as the Philippine flag is hoisted during the commemoration of the 119th death anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Rizal Park yesterday. KRIZJOHN ROSALES/EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, JANUARY 4, 2016 (MANILA BULLETIN) President Aquino led the 119th anniversary of the martyrdom of the country’s national hero Dr. Jose Rizal in Manila’s Rizal Park yesterday.

Aquino attended the event with Vice President Jejomar Binay, who stood beside him months after resigning from the Cabinet.

Aquino’s sixth and last attendance at the Rizal Day rites as president was highlighted by the fly-by of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ air assets, which the military said should ignite a sense of pride among Filipinos.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada arrived in Rizal Park first, followed by Binay and then the President. The three officials raised the flag at 8 a.m. simultaneous with other flag-raising ceremonies nationwide. At the last note of the national anthem, two FA-50 jet fighters flew overhead while two military helicopters rained confetti on the crowd.

Aquino then led the wreath-laying ceremony and watched the fly-by of 10 Cessna Trainer T41, 15 Stelio Frati (SF) 260FH, three combat utility helicopters and five Augusta Westland (AW) 109 helicopters of the Philippine Air Force; and three AW 109 helicopters of the Philippine Navy.

In his message, Aquino said the national hero served as a catalyst for change and independence and his works remain relevant to this day.

“May we all be inspired by Dr. Jose Rizal’s courage and intelligence; his sense of duty; hunger for knowledge; passion for reform; and undying love of country,” the President said.

Aquino and Binay, a presidential candidate from the opposition, were civil to each other and shook hands before the flag-raising ceremony but they did not talk.

The administration’s standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II also came but kept a low profile by staying in one corner of the park.

READ MORE...

Administration vice presidential candidate and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, for her part, issued a statement calling on Filipinos to continue Rizal’s fight against corruption and oppression.

Robredo said she joins the country in commemorating the heroism and sacrifice of Rizal.

“As present heroes, we can continue the fight started by Dr. Rizal, not against foreign invaders, but against poverty, corruption and injustice,” Robredo said.

“We must show courage to eradicate our society of these oppressive acts,” she added.

The President also met some of Rizal’s descendants present during the event. Rebecca Reyes-Virata, a great grand niece of Rizal, thanked Aquino and the rest of the nation for honoring their “Lolo Pepe,” a moniker for the hero.

Rizal was shot at Bagumbayan (now Luneta or Rizal Park) in Manila by a firing squad after being accused of political conspiracy, sedition and rebellion against the Spanish government in the Philippines.

Virata said they are still touched by the ways Rizal was remembered for his martyrdom, which she described as “painful” for their family.

“He promised his parents that he would take care of them and before he died… he apologized to them… ‘I will not be able to fulfill my promise to take care of you. But we have given to the nation’,” Virata said.

“We hope the country will really rise up, especially as we choose our new leader. Let us pray that we will be able to choose someone who is true and can propel us to the top,” she added.

With the coming elections, Virata said the voters must choose someone with integrity, goodness of heart and fear of God. “Character is very important, the country is put first above all else,” she said.

Virata also encouraged Filipinos, especially the young people, to read the works of Rizal and follow his example. She said this would give them hope and teach them leadership.

For the women, she recommended Rizal’s “Sa Mga Kababaihan ng Malolos” for inspiration.

For his part, a great-grandnephew of Rizal, Isaac Reyes, said he was frustrated by the Torre de Manila, a condominium project of the DMCI Project Developers Inc. constructed behind the monument of the national hero.

“It’s a national disgrace that the building… is obstructing the view of our national hero,” he said.

Reyes said he would raise awareness against the construction of the condominium building.

A petition has been filed against DMCI-PDI for “photo bombing” the Rizal Monument before the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the case. The developer insists they did not violate any laws in constructing the building that turned out to be right behind the monument of the national hero. – With Paolo Romero


PHILSTAR

‘New Year’s Day air pollution not as bad as past years’ By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 3, 2016 - 12:00am 0 8 googleplus0 0


10,000 BALLOON WISHES: Partygoers at Eastwood City in Quezon City release 10,000 balloon wishes into the night sky to welcome 2016 during the Eastwood-Quezon City New Year Countdown. Leading the New Year toast are event host Andrei Felix, X-Factor Australia winner Marlisa Punzalan, Megaworld senior AVP and head for marketing and business development Tefel Pesigan Valentino, Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, American R&B artist Dawin and event host and DJ Joyce Pring. The countdown also featured the Dazzling Star Drop, Eastwood City’s version of the world-famous Ball Drop in New York City’s Times Square.

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday said the air pollution level following the New Year Eve’s celebrations was not as bad as previous years.

The DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the rains contributed to reducing particulate matters (PM) in the air which is made worse by firecrackers and fireworks during the New Year’s Eve revelry.

Teresita Peralta of the EMB said the presence of particulate matter 10 (PM-10) in Marikina City’s air was only 872 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) from midnight of Dec. 31, 2015 up to 1 a.m. of Jan. 1, 2016. It was at 1,988 µg/m³ last year.

In Las Piñas City, the PM-10 level was monitored at 540 µg/m³ while a year ago it went up to 2,000 µg/m³.

“Those that are used to lighting up huge firecrackers could have been discouraged because of the rains,” Peralta said.

She said cities in Metro Manila, such as Pasay and Malabon are among those that registered a relatively high PM level since many vehicles pass through these areas and the population is dense.

Particulate matter, also known as particle pollution, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals and soil or dust particles.

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

Aquino leads his last Rizal Day rites as PAF jets roar above By: Jerry E. Esplanada
@inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:14 AM December 31st, 2015


FLAG RAISING ON RIZAL DAY To commemorate the 119th anniversary of the martyrdom of the hero Dr. Jose Rizal, President Aquino led the flag-raising ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila for the last time in his six-year term. In the background is the 42-story Torre de Manila condominium building that the Knights of Rizal wants dismantled for marring the vista of the Rizal Monument. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

For the last time during his term and with virtually the entire Philippine Air Force roaring overhead, President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday led the annual flag-raising and wreath-laying rites to mark Jose Rizal’s death anniversary.

In a message, Mr. Aquino paid tribute to the national hero for working hard to pursue the country’s independence, “serving as a catalyst for change.”

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

‘Let us be heroes in our own way,’ Aquino urges by Madel Sabater - Namit December 31, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email1 Share7


RIZAL DAY FESTIVITIES – President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada are all eyes on the Philippine flag during the traditional flag-raising and wreath-laying at the Rizal Monument in Manila yesterday to mark the 119th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Also in photo (from left) are Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Dr. Maria Serena Diokno during the commemoration dubbed ‘Rizal 2015: Dangal ng Pilipino, Gabay sa Pagbabago’ which also had these Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopters hovering above the Rizal Park to release confetti to the crowd. (John Jerome Ganzon)

President Aquino yesterday led the flag-raising ceremony in commemoration of the 119th death anniversary of national hero Jose P. Rizal, urging Filipinos to “all be heroes in our own way.

Aquino arrived at 8 a.m. at the Rizal Park in Manila and led the flag-raising ceremony with Vice President Jejomar Binay, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. Also in the ceremony were were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Maria Serena Diokno; Jeremias C. Singson, Supreme Commander, Order of the Knights of Rizal; NHCP executive director Ludovico Badoy, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Hernando Iriberri, and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ricardo Marquez.

Following that, the President then laid a wreath on the National Heroes’ monument, where he was joined by Diokno and Gen. Iriberri.

The fly-by of the Armed Forces’ air assets provided color in the ceremonies. The air assets were composed of 10 Cessna Trainer T41, 15 Stelio Frati (SF) 260FH, three Combat Utility Helicopters, five Augusta Westland (AW) 109 Helicopters of the Philippine Air Force and three AW 109 Helicopters of the Philippine Navy.

The annual commemoration of Rizal Day gives Filipinos the time to “reflect on the sacrifice of Dr. Jose Rizal to free our country from the shackles of abuse and inequality,” Aquino said.

READ MORE...

“Through his writings and deeds, our forefathers became a braver, more united citizenry — one both capable and determined to win the liberties we now enjoy,” Aquino said.

“Dr. Jose Rizal worked hard to pursue our independence, serving as a catalyst for change; his works remain relevant to this day, a reminder of a past when freedom seemed beyond our reach. Let us remember him on this occasion, along with other heroes who shared their strength and vision to make the Philippines the nation it is today,” he added.

Aquino expressed optimism that Rizal will inspire more Filipinos of his “courage and intelligence; his sense of duty; hunger for knowledge; passion for reform; and undying love of country.”

“Let us all be heroes in our own way, and reaffirm our commitment to the Daang Matuwid. Only by traversing this road towards fairness and progress can we translate our dreams into tangible realities for our people,” Aquino said.

Dec. 30, Rizal Day, is a regular holiday in the country.


GMA NEWS NETWORK

Cities across PHL welcome the New Year Published January 1, 2016 11:58am


A grand fireworks display illuminates the skies above the Rizal Monument at Rizal Park in Manila on January 1, 2016. Danny Pata

At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, 2015, the tradition of saying goodbye to the previous year with an explosion of colors and greeting the new year with a bang continued as cities across the Philippines lit up the sky with fireworks, save for a few which chose to create a new tradition.

Davao City celebrated its 15th year without firecrackers, fireworks, and other pyrotechnics, choosing instead to blow horns in the Torotot Festival.

The city reported zero casualties as citizens partied at San Pedro Town Square in a "smoke-free" environment.

Davao officials said the ban not only saves lives and limbs, the festival also does away with the garbage left by firecrackers on the street. Their manner of making noise also does not involve releasing harmful chemicals in the air.

The local government of Pasig shares Davao City's style as they celebrated the Pakalog Festival, where dance and lechon are the center of attention.

 
https://youtu.be/H7vQ3Hssx6c

In Dapitan City, residents welcomed the New Year at the Gloria de Dapitan Fantasy Land. The holiday magic could still be felt through the animated Christmas trees, while a show featuring local bands entertained visitors before the fireworks were lit.

Street parties marked the last day of the year in Cebu City, followed by a Midnight Mass led by Archbishop Jose Palma.

 

Meanwhile, thousands of families spent the last night of the year at Rizal Park, where the city government organized a concert for a cause and the traditional dancing fountain for park goers. They were also treated to a 20-minute grand fireworks display as 2016 arrived.

IN CEBU
 

Nearby in Tondo, a costume party was held on the streets with Eat Bulaga's Kalyeserye serving as inspiration for a couple of participants.

READ MORE...

KALYESERYA IN TONDO
 

A similar event was held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle, but instead of dancing fountains, the thousands of people who flocked to the park where treated to a laser light show. Fireworks were also the highlight of the event.

But if the fireworks in Rizal Park and Quezon City Memorial Circle were grand, then another superlative is necessary to describe the festivities in Bulacan.

IN BULACAN
 

The event organized by the Iglesia ni Cristo in Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue broke not one, but three Guinness World Records.

The members of the religious group gathered as 700,000 fireworks exploded in the sky for a show that lasted for at least an hour.

They also earned the record for the longest line of sparklers lit in relay and the most sparklers lit simultaneously. —Aya Tantiangco/KG, GMA News


PHILSTAR

Colombians burn Pia effigy By Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 3, 2016 - 12:00am 27 889 googleplus0 1


Pia Wurtzbach and Steve Harvey effigies brought to the street prior to being burned. (Photo courtesy of Noider Almanza Barraza via Facebook)

MANILA, Philippines – Supporters of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach are in an uproar after a video of her effigy being burned in Colombia went viral on the Internet yesterday.

Facebook user Noider Almanza Barraza – who hails from Barranquilla, Colombia – uploaded the minute-long video (http://on.fb.me/1O0TijP) showing the burning of the effigy, which supposedly happened during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

It has over 1,400 shares as of yesterday afternoon, and has been featured in a number of popular blogs in the Philippines.

The effigy was wearing a blue gown similar to the one worn by Wurtzbach during the finals of the Miss Universe contest last month. It also had what appeared to be a photo of Wurtzbach wearing the Miss Universe crown and a sash with Philippines written on it.

The video had a caption written in Spanish and loosely translated as “Burning Ms. Philippines and Ms. Universe presenter last year 2015.”

It was unclear if an effigy of Miss Universe host Steve Harvey was also burned.

During the announcement of the winners at the pageant held in Las Vegas in Dec. 20, Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez as the winner of the competition.

He later went up the stage and apologized for the wrong announcement before naming Wurtzbach as the new Miss Universe.

Colombians did not take the mistake lightly, with Gutierrez saying she was humiliated.


SCREENGRAB FROM ETHEL BOOBA’S TWITTER ACCOUNT After a video of a Colombian burning an effigy of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach went viral, comedienne Ethel Gabison, more known as Ethel Booba, also “torched” an effigy of her own. In her Twitter account, Gabison vowed to avenge Filipino netizens who took offense at the video posted by Colombian Noider Almanza Barraza. The comedienne can be seen with a torch on her hand with an effigy, with Wurtzbach’s body but with Barraza’s face, already burning.

Filipino netizens, meanwhile, expressed outrage over the burning of the effigy and urged Colombians to move on from the incident.

Others, however, pointed out that the act may have had a different meaning from the burning of effigies in the Philippines, which usually signifies protest.

A netizen said it could be part of a tradition where people try to forget and move forward from unfortunate incidents in the past year by burning memories, such as texts written on paper or, in this case, a doll patterned after Wurtzbach.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

2015: Year of the change up By Juaniyo Arcellana (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 31, 2015 - 12:00am 1 27 googleplus0 0


THE YEAR THAT WAS: Events that shaped 2015 included (clockwise, from top left) Manila’s hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Pope Francis’ visit, the death of 44 Special Action Force commandos in Mamasapano, and the crowning of Pia Wurtzbach as Miss Universe 2015.

MANILA, Philippines - In baseball, hardly the Filipino’s favorite sport, a change up is a deliberately slow pitch meant to throw off the batter’s timing.

The sequence of events in 2015 and banner stories, those that literally hugged the headlines, can attest to the wild mood swings and unpredictable developments, be they in the realm of politics, sports or beauty pageants.

If there was mercy and compassion, there was also manhid and palpak. A review of the news that most preoccupied the readers, what you might perhaps call top stories, as they lined up at the MRT or got stranded somewhere, would reveal serial change-ups ranging from cussing popes to botched counterterror operations, the ongoing cariño brutal with China and how it is to be confidently beautiful.

The papal visit in January was one for the books, and expectedly left Catholic Philippines in rapture. Pope Francis has certainly been one of the more likeable, affable popes within living memory, brimming with theological wisdom and everyman humility, and his visit to storm tossed Tacloban amid a sea of yellow raincoats to commiserate with the Yolanda victims was epic in scope and character, though one volunteer died after being hit by a collapsing sound system scaffolding.

On the Sunday he said mass at Rizal Park, there was a wall of faithful numbering a record 6 million that prevented commuters from going to the other side of town. Mercy and compassion filled the hordes as the pope boarded his plane carrying a simple brief case after condoling with the families of the dead.

Barely had the country recovered from extreme religiosity when the Mamasapano tragedy occurred in a corn field of Maguindanao, 44 Special Action Force men killed in an encounter with Muslim rebels and paramilitary elements following an operation that neutralized the terrorist Marwan, and also left dead 18 rebels and five civilians. Oplan Exodus appeared to be a tipping point for the current administration, made even more reprehensible because the national police OIC and the interior secretary were left out of the loop, and the Chief Executive wasn’t around when the flag- draped coffins arrived in Manila.

After proceedings of a special board of inquiry, the President had to let go of his old friend the suspended police chief for command irresponsibility, even as the SAF director who led his men to slaughter for a terrorist’s finger filed late in the year his certificate of candidacy for senator.

Late in April OFW Mary Jane Veloso was saved from Indonesian gallows at the 11th hour, beneficiary of a reprieve from President Joko Widodo after Malacañang burned the lines in a frantic bid to stave off death, as other traffickers were sent off one by one.

New developments in the case of the convicted drug mule earned her a stay of execution, as her recruiter surrendered or was caught by operatives in the home country, leading to a shadow of doubt that there was malicious intent in her carrying the heroin into Indonesia, thus making her a possible victim of circumstance and poverty. Veloso still languishes in jail in the country hit for its insistence on capital punishment, though executions have been reportedly put on hold as Joko fixes the economy.

In May what was billed as the fight of the century turned out to be a megadud of glorified sparring, the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout that USA Today described as “a waste of time and money.” The fight was long overdue with the boxers well past their primes, but sadly could not measure up to the hype.

READ MORE...

In Vegas the bookies never run out of tricks, though Pacman himself has seen fit to coach a professional basketball team and play some minutes too in the PBA. His opponent for a projected last fight still hangs, even as he has cast a moist bruised eye at the Senate.

There was trouble in the Iglesia ni Cristo in July, as executive minister Eduardo Manalo expelled his mother and at least two siblings from the church for conduct allegedly detrimental to the religious group. There were accusations and counter accusations of abduction, forced detention and blog exposés that put the INC in the crosshairs of public opinion and into coffee shop fodder.


UPDATE PHOTO FROM INQUIRER: Iglesia defies court order, keeps building fences inside compound. THE Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) continues to build high fences inside the disputed compound in Tandang Sora, Quezon City in a show of defiance to the court order stopping all constructions there. Photos sent to INQUIRER.net showed the ongoing fencing inside the compound, which is visible along Tandang Sora Avenue near the INC headquarters in Quezon City. READ: Remove fences, QC court tells INC The camp of expelled minister Angel Manalo said the INC “completely ignored the Court Order.”  By: Nestor Corrales @NCorralesINQ INQUIRER.net 02:46 PM December 23rd, 2015 7 CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

The controversy in the more than hundred-year-old sect stirred up the old issue of separation of church and state, as trapos curried favor with the group whose demonstrations of indignation stalled traffic from Faura to Shaw.

Maneuverings and realpolitik rhetoric between Manila and Beijing wound up in the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague, which assumed jurisdiction over the Philippines’ protest over China’s 9-dash line claiming most of the South China Sea that encroached on exclusive economic zones of other sovereign states. Though the Philippines may have won the initial rounds in the UN court, China was a no-show at the hearings and continued to build and fortify its structures in reclaimed reefs.

What was to be the legacy of the outgoing administration, the Bangsamoro Basic Law faced rough sailing in Congress in the aftermath of Mamasapano, as lawmakers questioned the constitutionality of some 20 provisions and if consultations really were inclusive. With the amendments and rewrite after having gone through Senate wringer, the proposed law was said to be hardly recognizable from the one crafted by the government and Moro negotiating panels. Time is running out on the BBL in the present Congress.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Manila last November involved traffic rerouting and lockdowns, no-fly zones in airports forcing more than a thousand canceled flights and brisk exercise for commuters who had to walk kilometers under sun and rain due to security protocol and military-style hamletting, all for the sake of million-dollar investment pledges and the chance for the country to shine on the world stage, if the press releases are to be believed.

2016 being a presidential election year, the filing of certificates of candidacy in October was attended by the usual pomp and pageantry at Commission on Elections offices, from the legitimate contenders to the downright weird. Sen. Grace Poe faced a slew of disqualification cases with a Supreme Court ruling due in January; Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte fondly swore at the pope for causing traffic and promised weekly public executions if he wins; Vice President Jejomar Binay continued to lurk dangerously near the leaderboard of surveys despite marathon corruption allegations as Liberal Party bet Mar Roxas steadily played catch up, while Sen. Miriam Santiago consistently topped campus mock polls.

There were fewer than average storms in 2015, but the strongest was Lando (Koppu) that made landfall in Casiguran, Quezon in mid-October, with winds of 185 kilometers per hour, and after wreaking havoc the death toll reached dozens and damage placed at billions of pesos, with a state of calamity declared in Aurora, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan and Quirino, stoking the nightmare that was Yolanda two years ago.

Filipina-German Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach was declared Miss Universe in a roundabout way in Vegas after a gaffe by the emcee almost overshadowed the winner’s story herself, the country’s third after Gloria Diaz and Margie Moran, a fitting Christmas gift for Filipinos after another rollercoaster year.


MANILA STANDARD

Campers retake Kalayaan Island posted December 28, 2015 at 12:01 am by AFP and Sandy Araneta


‘This is ours.’ This photo taken on Dec. 26 shows young Filipinos posing on Pag-asa island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea to announce that the Philippines owns the island. AFP

ALMOST 50 young Filipinos are camping on a remote Philippine-held island in the South China Sea in a symbolic stand against China’s claim to most of the waterway, officials said Sunday.

Organizers of the group, calling itself Kalayaan Atin Ito (Kalayaan This Is Ours), said 47 of them arrived Saturday on the island of Pag-asa, also known as Thitu, in the Spratlys chain.

“Kalayaan,” the Filipino word for freedom, is also the name of the township established by the Philippines in the Spratlys to assert its claim to part of the island chain.

The government had opposed the landing, initiated by a former Navy officer, Nick Faeldon. But President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said Sunday it understood the group’s intentions.

“We recognize the patriotism of these youths that made them venture out,” he told reporters.

But he also reiterated that they should seek “alternative ways” to show their support, expressing concern for their safety in traveling the 500 kilometers from Palawan to the tiny island of Pag-asa.

Photographs and messages from the group posted on their website showed them posing on a beach.

A message on a Facebook page also urged Aquino to “inform the people correctly without sugar coating the truth about Chinese invasion of our Exclusive Economic Zone.”

Members of the group had previously accused the government of not doing enough to stand up to China.

A coordinator of the group, Joy Ban-eg, said the 47 men and women had arrived on Saturday on a chartered launch and would depart on Monday.

She said China had not attempted to block them from reaching the island, adding that they would consult the local residents and the military detachment.


The young activists have erected tents on the island. China and Taiwan are expressing their displeasure with a ragtag band of Filipino activists who have waded into a regional dispute over territory in the South China Sea. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the Chinese government is "strongly dissatisfied" with protestors from the Philippines, who landed Saturday on a small island that is a source of tension between the two neighbors. "We once again urge the Philippine side to withdraw all its personnel and facilities from the Chinese islands and reefs it is illegally occupying," Lu said. Some 47 young activists from the group Kalayaan Atin Ito landed on the island to protest China's aggressive actions in the South China Sea, according to Joy Ban-eg, a spokesperson for the group. "China has no right to order us or direct us to stay away from our own territory," Ban-eg said. Taiwan is also voicing its disapproval of the group's actions. A statement from the Taiwanese government says it "adamantly opposes, and strongly protests" what it called the group's "illegal activities." CNN PHILIPPINES FILE

But she said their voyage itself was an act of defiance against China, which claims almost all of the South China Sea despite conflicting claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

READ MORE...

She cited the international arbitration case now pending in The Hague where the Philippines is challenging China’s territorial claims.

China has refused to recognize the proceedings.

Despite having one of the weakest militaries in the region, the Philippines has been the most vocal in challenging China’s claims to the South China Sea.

Over state-run radio dzRB, Coloma said the military had appealed to the group several times to cancel their trip due to the dangers.

“We continue to hope and pray that their trip would be safe. We will continue to monitor their trip and will also help them if the need arises,” Coloma said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command said the group was intercepted by the Navy on their way to Pag-Asa Island but Faeldon and his group grew aggressive, forcing authorities to allow them to pass rather than have a skirmish break out at sea.

The AFP said penalties await the owner of the vessel, which took on the group.

A recent survey commissioned by The Standard showed that a majority of Filipinos want a peaceful settlement of the ongoing maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea. But most respondents in the survey by resident pollster Junie Laylo also said it was important to foster “strategic partnerships” with Japan and Vietnam and even approved of joint military exercises with the Japanese.

China’s intrusions in the West Philippine Sea, or South China Sea, remained the Filipinos’ top foreign policy concern, the same survey showed.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

China angered by young campers on disputed isle posted December 29, 2015 at 12:01 am by Francisco Tuyay



BEIJING expressed anger Monday after a group of young Filipinos camped out on Pagasa, an island in the South China Sea that both China and the Philippines claim as their own.

The voyage of the group, which calls itself “Kalayaan Atin Ito,” was aimed at protesting China’s intrusion in territories that are within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, said China was “strongly dissatisfied” by what the Filipinos have done, reiterating that China has indisputable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands.

‘This is ours.’ This photo taken on Dec. 26 shows young Filipinos posing on Pag-asa island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea to announce that the Philippines owns the island. AFP
“We once again urge the Philippines to withdraw all its personnel and facilities from the islands that it is illegally occupying, refrain from actions that are detrimental to regional peace and stability and not conducive to Sino-Philippines relations,” Lu said.

But a spokesman for the Armed Forces dismissed the Chinese reaction.

“They are dreaming. The island is ours,” said Col. Restituto Padilla.

Padilla added that the islands that China had occupied fall within the Philippines’ territorial jurisdiction.

The protesters, composed of 47 young men and women, led by ex-marine captain Nick Faeldon, held bonfire and other activities on Pagasa Island in a symbolic defiance of China’s expansionism in the South China Sea, including its construction of seven artificial islands in the disputed waters.

The group is expected to sail back to Puerto Princesa, Palawan for their departure to Manila on Dec. 30.

Padilla said personnel from the Western Command visited the youth, giving them provisions.

“We salute them and hailed what they have manifested as regard the concern over our territory in the West Philippine Sea,” Padilla said, referring to areas of the South China Sea that the Philippines claims.

“We also praised them for being nationalistic and patriotic and for forming a group to be able to sail to Pagasa Island.”

Earlier, the military had opposed the Kalayaan Atin Ito mission, saying it could complicate security concerns in the area.

On their journey back to Manila, Padilla said the Western Command would provide escort personnel to the youth group and their movement would also be monitored to ensure their safety.

The coordinator of the group, Joy Ban-eg, said the journey to Pagasa Island would not be the last but the first in a series of similar voyages that would be launched “in the near future.”


Combat 'torrent' of misery in world, pope says in New Year message Published January 1, 2016 7:01pm By PHILIP PULLELLA, Reuters


VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis, in his first message of the new year, on Friday urged people to combat the "torrent" of misery, injustice and violence in the world by overcoming all indifference to the many who are suffering.

Security was tight. Police checked the bags of people blocks away from St. Peter's Square and about 10,000 people went through additional, airport-style screening to get into St. Peter's Basilica and hear Francis celebrate Mass.

"We ask how long human evil will continue to sow violence and hatred in our world, reaping innocent victims ... we are witnessing hordes of men, women and children fleeing war, hunger and persecution, ready to risk their lives simply to encounter respect for their fundamental rights," the pope said.

In his homily he urged people to overcome what he called "a torrent of misery" by "building an ever more just and fraternal world, a world in which every person and every creature can dwell in peace, in the harmony of God's original creation".

The 79-year-old looked and sounded well despite having made many public appearances over the Christmas and New Year season.

He called on everyone, on the day the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church marks its annual World Day of Peace, to "let ourselves be reborn, to overcome the indifference which blocks solidarity, and to leave behind the false neutrality which prevents sharing." —Reuters


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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