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Friday, May 31, 2013

Gunman attacks radio station in Dipolog City

DIPOLOG CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – An unidentified gunman strafed early on Friday a radio station in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte province in southern Philippines, police said.

Police said the attack, which occured at around 2.30 a.m. Friday, damaged the announcer’s booth of dxFL. 

The owner of the radio station, Franklin Lim, told police that he heard a burst of gunfire, but thought they were from firecrackers.

He said the radio technician reported to work at 6 a.m. and discovered the announcer’s glass booth shattered and bullet holes peppered the door.

Police said it recovered at least 8 deformed slug and four casings of bullets fired from a .45-caliber pistol.

The motive of the attack is still unknown and police would not say if the shootings had anything to do with the operation of the radio station or its announcers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Blast in posh residential building kills 2 in Philippines

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – Two delivery men were killed when a huge chunk of concrete wall fell on their van following a powerful explosion late Friday in a posh residential building in Taguig City in the Philippines, reports said.

It said the duo was pinned inside the delivery van. The blast was reported from inside the Two Serendra condominium building at the Bonifacio Global City.

Television news photos and videos shared by citizens showed chunks of concrete and debris scattered on the street below the building.

One witness, who was a building occupant, said he heard the powerful explosion and smelled an obnoxious smoke. He said security guards also told building occupants, particularly in Tower B, to vacate the area as police investigate the blast.

The explosion was so powerful that it shattered the glass façade of a grocery across the residential building. (Mindanao Examiner)

213 OFWs repatriated from Syria

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) - The Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates facilitated the repatriation of Filipino nationals from Syria via Dubai for the third time in May.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Consul General Frank Cimafranca and Assistance-to-Nationals Officer Mohammad Javier Pukunum assisted a total of 213 Filipino workers evacuated from the strife-torn Syria on May 8, 17, and 24.

It said the group of Cimafranca will continue to assist in the repatriation of Filipinos still in Syria. The agency did not give additional details about the repatriation program nor how the Filipinos are coping with the violence in Syria.

Ex-marine officer killed in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – A former marine colonel was killed inside his rest house in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said Friday.

Police said Fernando Camohoy, 59, was hacked in the head and shoulders and that his body was discovered by his son Freniel in the house in Lamisahan village.

The victim’s motorcycle and his gun were both missing and believed taken by the family’s 23-year old helper who was only identified as Dodong, the prime suspect to the brutal murder.

The suspect is a native of Kabasalan town in Zamboanga Sibugay province. Police said robbery was likely motive for the killing. (Mindanao Examiner)

2 men shot in separate incidents in Zamboanga Sibugay

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – Two persons were shot and wounded in separate incidents in Zamboanga Sibugay province in western Mindanao, police said Friday.

Police said a lone gunman shot Roberto Doble, 34, in an attack in the town of Diplahan in Zamboanga Sibugay. Doble was heading home when the attacker, hiding in the bushes, shot him.

The motive of the attack is still unknown, but police said the victim was rushed to hospital.

Police said another shooting incident was also reported in Buug town that wounded Edilberto Rosales, 47.

It said Rosales, a farmer, was shot several times by his drinking buddy, Ruben Baranda, in the village of Labrador following an argument. Baranda fled after the shooting.

Rosales was brought to hospital in Pagadian City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine Army kills NPA rebel, captures wounded child soldier in clash

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – Philippine troops killed a communist rebel and captured a wounded child soldier in fierce clashes Friday in the southern province of Compostela Valley, security officials told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said troops attacked members of the New People’s Army manning a roadblock in the village of Lunganapan in Laak town.

Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, a spokesman for the 10th Infantry Division, said
government soldiers killed one rebel in a 20-minute running gun battle and recovered an M60 machine gun, a back pack and electric wires that officials said is being used by rebels as detonating cord for improvised explosives.

He said the fighting stopped after the rebels fled, but pursuing troops caught up with them hours later in the village of San Antonio, sparking another clash.

Paniza said the child soldier was wounded in the head after he threw himself down a rugged terrain while trying to flee from the soldiers. The minor was eventually captured and soldiers seized from him an Ak-47 assault rifle.

”The minor was given first aid and then brought to hospital. There were no military casualties,” he said.

The NPA is fighting for a separate state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Troops, rebels clash in Zambo Sur town

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – Government troops clashed with communist rebels in the town of Bayog in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur, police said Friday.

It said the fighting erupted in the village called Dagum, but there were no reports of casualties from both sides.

Police said the Thursday clash involved a platoon of soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Battalion and about 20 New People’s Army rebels.

The fighting lasted at least 10 minutes.

Just this month, dozens of NPA rebels disguised as government troops also raided the Camp Blessing in Bayog and carted weapons issued by the military to local militias.

The rebels, numbering about 40, also seized communication equipment from village chieftain Reynaldo Villaver. They stayed for about 45 minutes in the village before fleeing to the hills.

The rebels have been fighting for decades now in an effort to overthrow the democratic government and install a separate state in the country. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mindanao Examiner editors at work

Mindanao Examiner's hard-working video and graphics editors Bobby Ahmad and Joanna Wee working on separate corporate projects at the Production Department in Mindanao Examiner main office in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. The Mindanao Examiner is engaged in newspaper and film production. (Photo by Dennis Balatbat)

Mga poste ng kuryente sa Zambo namimiligrong bumagsak

Ilan lamang ito sa mga poste ng kuryente na ngayon ay namimiligrong bumagsaka sa Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 31, 2013) – Mistulang “Leaning Tower of Pisa” ang apat na mga poste ng kuryente sa Zamboanga City sa Mindanao dahil tila mga kable na lamang ng telepono ang humahawak sa mga ito upang hindi tuluyang bumagsak.

Malaki ang panganib ng mga posteng ito sa kahabaan ng Don Alfaro Street sa Barangay Tetuan na pagaari ng Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative kung tuluyang bumigay dahil sa matinding pressure at epekto ng gravity sa naturang kahoy.

Dedma lamang ang nasabing Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative sa nasabing peligro dahil wala naman umaasikaso sa mga ito. Malaking perwisyo sa mga motorist at sa mga electric consumers kung sakaling bumagsak ang mga ito.

Hindi naman agad mabatid kung bakit hindi inaasikaso ng Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative ang pagaayos ng mga poste gayun halos araw-araw naman itong nadadaanan ng kanilang mga line men.

Problema rin sa Zamboanga ang sala-salabat na mga kawad ng kuryente, telepono at cable television na mistulang mga sapot na nagkabuhol-buhol. (Mindanao Examiner)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Soldiers injured in Bukidnon road accident

ILIGAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – At least 9 soldiers were injured after their truck crashed early Thursday on a concrete wall in the southern Philippine province of Bukidnon, officials said.

Officials said the truck driver avoided a collision with a motorcycle in the town of Maramag and lost control of the wheel.

The soldiers are all members of the army’s 4th Infantry Division sent to fight communist rebels in the province.

The military did not release the names of the injured, but officials said they were rushed to hospital in the province. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippine environmental groups criticize mining firm

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) - An alliance of environmental groups called Alyansa Tigil Mina has criticized Philex Mining Corporation for allegedly refusing to pay up to P6 billion in compensation and penalties for damages caused by an accidental discharge of some 13 million cubic meters of mine waste from its Padcal mine in the town of Itogon in Benguet province last year.

The group said the mine waste caused damages to the San Roque Watershed Reservation of the state-owned National Power Corporation.

“It is very unfortunate and outright irresponsible for Philex to snub the Napocor which is only one of the sectors that the mine tailings spill in August damaged. How about the other affected communities then? It is undeniable that the incident has not only affected areas covered by their mining tenement but also areas downstream, affecting fishing and farming communities,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

He said the National Power Corporation has written to the company to pay P6 billion in compensation and penalties for damages caused to the watershed’s reservoir.

But in a letter to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Philex said the claims of the National Power Corporation were immaterial.

Garganera said the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, as the government body responsible to evaluate, monitor and investigate mining-related incidences, should respond to this and clarify concerns on payment of damages caused by the mines.

The MGB said that Philex has paid its fine of P1.034 billion and was allowed to resume operations in March. However, the agency is yet to disclose to the public how the rehabilitation and damages were dealt with.

ATM earlier demanded that the environmental compliance certificate for the tailings ponds of the Padcal mines be made available to all stakeholders.

Garganera said MGB must facilitate negotiations and dialogues between the National Power Corporation and Philex, as well as other stakeholders affected by the mine spill.

“We expect the MGB and Philex to be fully transparent, specifically on reporting to the public how the impacts of the mine tailings is being addressed. They should stop misleading the public about their rehabilitation work and include containing mine wastes in the San Roque reservoir,”  Garganera said.

Teenager killed trying to flee from robbers in Zamboanga


ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – A teenager, who was allegedly buying illegal drugs, was killed by a group of men who tried him and his companion in a village in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said on Thursday.

Police said the victim was shot in the head as he and his friend tried to flee from the gang in the village of Santa Catalina.

One gang member opened fire on the duo and hit the teenager in the head and was killed instantly. His companion managed to escape and is being sought by the police to shed light on the attack.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the killing. Illegal drug trade is rampant in Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

Gunman shoots OFW vacationing in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – An unidentified gunman shot Thursday a Filipino overseas worker who was only vacationing in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said.

The victim, Abibakrin Budin, was in a motorcycle taxi with his nephew when the gunman shot him several times in the body with a pistol near the Zamboanga International Airport.

The attacker escaped after the shooting which occurred despite the presence of policemen and soldiers at the vicinity.

Budin was rushed to hospital. His family said Budin was on his way to the airport and would fly to Manila on his way to the Middle East where he works.

The motive of the attack is still unknown. Gun attacks in Zamboanga City are not uncommon and dozens had been shot and killed since early this year by suspected hired killers. (Mindanao Examiner)

Dubai court acquits OFW accused of molesting 3 children

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Mat 30, 2013) - A court in the United Arab Emirates has acquitted a Filipina household worker accused of molesting three children under her ward in Dubai, the Philippine Consulate General said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippines welcomed the judgment handed down by the Dubai First Instance Court declaring Mariam Kusain Abdullah innocent of the child molestation charges filed against her last year.

The court cited insufficiency of evidence as the reason for the acquittal.

The woman was accused by her employers of molesting their children ages one, six, and seven, who were all under her care. Her case was the subject of numerous news reports both in the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates and caused a stir when it was reported that capital punishment was being sought.

The Consulate General’s Assistance to Nationals Section, which constantly monitored the case since its filing, engaged the services of Dar Al Bayan Advocates and Legal Consultants to represent the woman, who was also supported by her recruitment agency, Forsan Gulf Labor Supply.

The Consulate General and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Dubai said it will extend all appropriate assistance to the woman until her repatriation.

Mindanao mining activities generate economic activity, foster peace and progress in the region

 Photo 1 - On April 8, 2012, F/B Ruaida, the fishing boat of the Sta. Maria Fisherfolks Association, in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, embarked on its maiden expedition. The boat is an endowment of TVI Resource Development Philippines Incorporated to the fishermen, comprising mostly of former soldiers of the Moro National Liberation Front, as a way of helping them improve their lives through sustainable livelihood. 

 Photo 2 - Tan Cailo, captain of F/B Ruaida and the leader of the fisherfolk of Santa Maria. 

 Photo 3 - The first fishing expedition. The fisherfolk are all Tausugs, a Muslim tribe considered as brave warriors and seafaring people. 

Photo 4 - The Santa Maria Fishing Village in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – Filipino fisherfolk in the village of Santa Maria in the town of Siocon in the southern Zamboanga del Norte province have improved their living standards through the acquisition of a Kubkoban fishing vessel, which comes as an endowment from TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.

In a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner, TVIRD said the fisher group generated a gross income of P1.6 million in its first year of operations as reported by association president Tan Cailo at the recently-concluded Philippine Mining Forum. 

Cailo, who himself is a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front and leader of a group of 76 reformed combatants under the association, spoke at the maiden forum organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. 

He was joined by co-presenters Atty. Jesus Dureza, former Press Secretary, and Bai Dalena Samling, female chief of the B’laan tribe in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

“Since our first expedition, the Kubkoban already earned a gross income of P1,661,900 while every crew member averages P3,000 (income) per expedition,” according to Cailo. “Now we have P148,000 (savings) in the bank which we can use to purchase a transport vehicle,” he added.

The Santa Maria Fisherfolk Association, Inc. collectively owns the Kubkoban - a large fishing vessel financed by TVIRD and built by association members themselves for almost a year.

The project comes as part of the company’s sustainable development program in communities where it operates. It also comes as an active response to the need to foster peace and progress in the town of Siocon where TVIRD operates its copper and zinc mine, and Santa Maria wharf where its port is located.

Changing course

Cailo shared with media attendees that he was once a combatant belonging to the potent Muslim secessionist group.  Later on, he and many others returned to a peaceful life as fishermen in Santa Maria.

He became an elected councilman in his village inhabited mostly by Muslim Tausugs. He knew, like most of his constituents, that poverty and abuse were the reasons why he joined the MNLF.

“Without your own big fishing boat, you only get fish just enough to feed your family for a day,” he said. 

Cailo admitted that he and his men have long dreamed of having a Kubkoban. It was the only answer to relieving his constituents from hardship, he said.

”With this type of a fishing boat, you can go as far as the Sulu Sea and get a big catch. It may be costly to build but you will surely get a return on your investment,” he said, adding the Kubkoban cost P2.8 million.

“I can’t thank the company enough for giving us this boat. We have dreamed of this and now it’s already here. I meant it when I told them that this will greatly help my people,” Cailo said. 

He also shared that they are planning to buy a large truck to transport and deliver their fish to nearby towns.

Mindanao: Braving new waters

The country’s foremost mining chamber pushes the Mindanao Mining Agenda forward, pursuant to responsible mineral development in the Mindanao region. 

Together with participating member companies including TVIRD, SMI and Philex, the Chamber also aims to promote dialogue in mining communities in order to propel economic activity that will bring lasting peace and progress.

“You can sign all the peace agreements you want. But without economic activity and livelihood, poverty will trigger uprising and insurgency,” Dureza, who was the presidential adviser on the peace process during the Ramos administration, said during the forum.

“I visited Siocon and have personally seen how TVI’s presence and economic activity elevated the town from a class 3 municipality to first class status.” Dureza said.

Koreans top tourist counts in Philippines

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – The Philippines remains a favorite destination for Korean holidaymakers, topping the number of tourists in the country, the Department of Tourism said on Thursday.

It said for the first four months of the year, Korea contributed the largest arrivals with 406,595 visitors, keeping its undisputed pole position with the biggest market share.

And the United States was the second biggest source market with 246,011 visitors while Japan is third with 148,950 tourist arrivals.
China also ranked fourth as the biggest market with 132,307 visitors and Australia is fifth with 72,015 arrivals.

Arrival of Taiwanese tourists has declined this year, but still 68,654 visitors were recorded by the Department of Tourism and putting it on the 6th spot.

It said that for the first four months represent 30% of the target arrivals for 2013, with the month of January yielding the largest volume with 436,079 visitors and February generating the highest growth of 15.52%. 

Philippine tourism sustains its robust performance as foreign visitor arrivals for the first four months reached 1,649,458 million or a 10.12% increase from the same period in 2012.

Other tourist arrivals were Singapore with 55,096; Canada with 50,352; Hong Kong with 45,734; United Kingdom with 43,055; Malaysia with 35,069; and Germany with 28,799.

“This growth is an affirmation of our various marketing and destination development activities, strengthened by partnerships with the various stakeholders. While the upsurge may primarily be attributed to the summer season, it is also a clear indication that the nation has galvanized its reputation as an attractive destination,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He added: “We have been seeing a sustainable increase in arrivals since last year. This building enthusiasm for the Philippines, aided by our government’s good governance agenda, gives us the confidence to achieve our target of 10 million tourist arrivals by 2016. Central to this, we are reaching out to industry, government, and civil society to continue investing in sustainable projects and partnerships to secure our continued growth.”

Philippines trumpets economy report, but poverty remains a big problem

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – Manila on Thursday trumpeted the country’s 7.8% growth in Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter of this year.

In a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner, Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte, cited reports by the National Statistical Coordination Board, said that based on initial readings, the Philippine economy outperformed that of all Asian economies in terms of first quarter growth, including China, which grew by 7.7%, Indonesia, which grew by 6% percent, and Malaysia, which grew 4.1%.

“The growth in GDP is the highest quarterly growth rate posted under the Aquino administration; and the highest in a non-presidential election year since 1988,” she said, adding these results surpassed almost all market expectations.

Valte said the growth in the economy was felt in almost all sectors, most notably in local manufacturing, which grew by 9.7%. The continuation of government public expenditures was also a key to the GDP growth, increasing by 13.2%.

She said this was helped by the growth in the government’s spending in public construction, which expanded by 45.6%. By expenditure, capital formation likewise grew by 47.7%.

“Without doubt, the confidence of both investors and consumers remains strong, as economic activity accelerates even in an uncertain global economic climate,” Valte said.

She said more than economic growth, the Aquino administration is focused on fostering inclusive growth. “Since our administration took office, we have worked to drastically expand social safety nets to help the most vulnerable in our country,” she said.

Valte said most noteworthy of this growth is the four-fold increase in the budget of the anti-poverty Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which to date has helped more than 3.9 million Filipino households. 

She also said the recent local and national election results showed that the public has confidence in the President, and agrees with the direction the country is going. “Therefore, our administration will continue to promote and expand policies that lead to a Philippines where no one is left behind,” Valte said.

Poverty still unchanged

But despite the GDP growth report, the National Statistical Coordination Board said the state of poverty in the country remains unchanged. GDP is one the primary indicators used to gauge the health of a country's economy. It represents the total value of all goods and services produced over a specific time period.

Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert in his April report said poverty incidence among population was estimated at 27.9% during the first semester of 2012 and comparing this with the 2006 and 2009 first semester figures estimated at 28.8% and 28.6%, respectively, poverty remained unchanged as the computed differences are not statistically significant.

The report, using data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, conducted by the National Statistics Office in July 2012, measured poverty incidence or the proportion of people below the poverty line to the total population.

The report pointed out that during the first semester of 2012, a Filipino family of five needed P5,458 to meet basic food needs every month and P7,821 to stay above the poverty threshold every month.

He said these respective amounts represent the food and poverty thresholds, which increased by 11.1% from the first semester of 2009 to the first half of 2012, compared to the 26% increase between the 1st semesters of 2006 and 2009.

Create jobs

This was also echoed by former Cagayan Congressman Jack Enrile who recently said that despite the constant reports regarding the country's economic growth, this achievement has not translated into the creation of employment opportunities, particularly those that provide decent wages for majority of our work force.

“At least 2.76 million Filipinos are unemployed. And many of those who are employed have salaries that are way below the estimated family living wage of P1, 022 a month. What is ironic is that we have vast resources where enough jobs and livelihood can be generated,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner

Zamboanga police say suspected drugs recovered near body of murdered Atilano scion

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 30, 2013) – Police in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines said it recovered suspected illegal drugs near where a scion of a wealthy family was killed.

It said the large plastic sachet believed to contain methamphetamine hydrochloride or locally known as shabu was found Wednesday in the same area where the body of Justine Atilano, 31, had been recovered.

Atilano, whose real name was Jose Agustin Atilano, was shot dead early Wednesday in the coastal village of Rio Hondo, notorious for its criminal undergrounds.

Atilano, also a disc jockey, was said to be the owner of a restaurant in Pasonanca village, whose family runs a budget hotel.

Police said Atilano was on a motorcycle when he was shot and killed. His body was recovered near two parked jeeps near the Al-Makdum Islamic School in the village.

His motorcycle was also found in the area, according to the police. It said forensic investigators also found at least 13 bullet casing fired from a 9mm pistol, but it was unknown whether only one gunman or more was involved in the attack.

Police said Atilano was shot repeatedly. A photo of his body was also posted in Facebook and is now viral.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder and police said it mounted an investigation into the latest killing. It was not immediately known whether the murder was connected to illegal drugs.

Killings are rampant in Zamboanga where guns for hire actively operate, but police usually blame personal grudge and family feud in the spate of attacks in the city. (Mindanao Examiner)

Boracay as world’s best? ‘Hardly,’ says LA Times travel editor

CALIFORNIA – More fun in the Philippines? Maybe. Or to borrow the word of a Los Angeles (LA) Times Travel Editor, “hardly.”  The reason? Boracay, the Philippines’ hyped-up tourist destination that generated a big “thumbs-down” from a renowned Travel Writer.

Located in Western Visayas Region, Boracay fell short – very short – of the expectations of Catherine Hamm who incidentally has since counted and considered the Philippines as among her 34 places called “home.”

A principal figure in LA Times Travel Section since 1999, Hamm became the paper’s Travel Editor in 2003.  Interviews granted by Hamm revealed fond stories of her Manila stay during her childhood following her father’s employ with the US Federal Government.

Hamm in Sunday’s LA Times edition wrote a lengthy piece of last year’s Boracay visit entitled “The best island in the world? Hardly.”  It was to be one of the day’s main stories that had Boracay summed up by Hamm as the island that “doesn’t live up to the high expectations.”

“Can a million and a half people be wrong?...Can Travel & Leisure be wrong?....Can Trip Advisor be wrong?,” Hamm’s article began as she explained that the said figure was the expected visitors of Boracay this year and “Travel & Leisure” being the magazine that dubbed Boracay as “best island in the world.”  Trip Advisor on the other hand is the popular website cum traveler’s best guide online that considered Boracay as a “Travelers’ Choice 2013 Winner.”

For Hamm, all three “could be wrong.  Or misguided” followed by “Or I could be.”

And with writing style distinct to Hamm, her article continued stating that Boracay lovers may not be beach experts.

“Maybe they don’t suffer guilt about the poverty or the damage to the environment,” she quipped with her dislike for Boracay compared to Manila’s heat and humidity.  The latter even emerged as the better option for Hamm though with her piece concluding that she was better off with Manila’s smog, traffic and heat.

Such as she expressed her disappointment of not finding “the hoped-for-piece of paradise…..”

“If Boracay had been a first date, there wouldn’t have been a second.  We just weren’t right for each other.  I should have known that from the minute I arrived at the hotel,” she wrote.

Hamm stayed at the plush Boracay Regency where she took particular note of hotel policy cum warning that charges will be made should the linens be stained.  The stains being that of Henna Tatto, coconut oil or hair dye.

For Hamm, the hotel policy was a little too much saying she did not understand why she would be charged in the first place saying “What would I be doing that would cause me to damage the sheets like this?”

Hamm also chided Boracay’s road network from the main port calling it “pot-holed obstacle courses” and the stream of Boracay vendors and human traffic as “a bit overwhelming.”

Hamm in the same article also made mention of a news story that wrote of damage to the island’s corals.  Said recollection had her quit her “little relaxation” at a snorkel stop.

“…I remembered that the coral that I could now see clearly has been so badly damaged that the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported last year that less than a tenth of it remains in its original state.  Coral is critical for marine life.  I wasn’t helping.  I got out of the water,” she said.

Yet it was to be sight of children begging and mothers with children in tow likewise asking for money that turned off Hamm.

“We didn’t need a henna tattoo or a coconut oil massage and we didn’t want the guilt,” she said while stressing that what she actually came for was the promise of yet another hotel, Discovery Shores, “the hotel that had started me on this Boracay fever dream.”

Voted by Travel & Leisure as the Fourth Best Hotel in the world, Discovery Shores likewise was a disappointment for Hamm and chided for the failed promise of “barefoot elegance.”

“It was a bit of a hike to our room at Moorish-looking Discovery Shores, but things were looking up.  Our accommodations included a living room, a bedroom and a small kitchen,” she wrote.  “Our bellman explained the large bowl on the floor in which yellow flowers floated on water.  Someone would be by soon to give us a welcome foot massage.”  Sadly, the masseuse never came or in Hamm’s words was “MIA” or was Missing In Action.

Yet  massages or not, Hamm had her enough impressions of Boracay.

“No number of spa treatments was going to change my impression of Boracay, a place for partyers or rich people, of which I am neither,” she concluded.  “This wasn’t a love match – not for me.  Maybe 30 years ago when Boracay and I were less overdeveloped.” (Florence F. Hibionada / PNS)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't bring stun guns in Hong Kong, Pinoy travelers warned

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) - The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong warned Filipino travelers transiting or entering the territory against bringing restricted items, particularly stun guns or similar devices, either hand-carried or checked-in luggage.

It said 57 airline passengers were arrested last year by Hong Kong Police for illegal possession of stun devices. During the first three months if this year, Hong Kong authorities arrested 14 mostly Filipino seamen for possessing such devices.

The Consulate reminded travelers of the ban and other similar devices at Hong Kong ports. It said offenders may face a penalty of up to HK$100,000 or about US$13,333, and a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Japanese firm donates rescue boats to Dipolog City

IPOLOG CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) - A construction company from Kitakyushu City in Japan has donated 18 rescue boats and two garbage trucks to Dipolog City in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte, state media said on Friday.

It said the donations by the Kitakyushu Goodwill Mission were received by the Dipolog City Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Funamoto Yasuyuki, President of Funamoto Construction Inc. and head of the Kitayoshu Goodwill Mission, said they donated the boats and trucks after learning from the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement — International through Hiroshi Ikeda about the need of the city for additional rescue equipment.

The Sangguniang Panlungsod of Dipolog through Council man Cyril James Ruiz sought the assistance of Ikeda for donors of disaster and rescue equipment.

Yasusuki is optimistic the donations would enhance the city's rescue and disaster capability to effectively respond to the people’s needs during emergencies. (With a report from Alfonso T. Ruda)

Scion of prominent clan killed in Zamboanga City


ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) – A disc jockey, who belonged to a wealthy family, was shot dead early Wednesday in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, police said.

It said the victim, Justin Atilano, was killed while visiting the coastal village of Rio Hondo. Atilano is said to be the owner of a restaurant in Pasonanca village, who family runs a budget hotel.

Atilano was on a motorcycle when he was shot and killed. His body was recovered near two parked jeeps in the village, notorious for its criminal undergrounds.

A photo of his body was also posted in Facebook and is now viral.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the murder and police said it mounted an investigation into the latest killing that coincided with the arrival of U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas in Zamboanga.

Killings are rampant in Zamboanga where guns for hire actively operate, but police usually blame personal grudge and family feud in the spate of attacks in the city. (Mindanao Examiner)

U.S. Travel Warning remains enforce on Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) – A United States travel warning on the Philippines remains enforce, four months after the Department of State banned its citizens from travelling to the southeast Asian country, particularly on Mindanao Island and Sulu Archipelago.

The travel warning, issued on January 30 replaced its June 14, 2012 warning and said it reflects the continuing threats on U.S. citizens due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

“U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travellers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there,” the warning said.

It said U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if travelling to Mindanao, saying throughout the region, criminal groups have clashed sporadically with the military, particularly in rural areas, and terrorist groups have kidnapped international travellers and carried out bombings that have resulted in injuries and deaths.

The U.S. warning also said that the Philippine government maintains a state of emergency and greater police presence in Cotabato City, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat provinces in Mindanao due to the current situation there.

But said security and safety conditions in the urban centers of Davao City, General Santos City, and Cagayan de Oro City also in Mindanao are generally more controlled.

“Nevertheless, U.S. Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including these urban centers,” the travel warning said, adding the Department of State remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against American citizens and interests throughout the world. 

The U.S. Embassy also alerted American citizens that a credible threat of a terrorist kidnapping- for-ransom plot against foreigners has been identified in the Zamboanga area.

It advised all American citizens residing in or planning to travel to the Zamboanga to re-evaluate their personal safety situation and consider postponing travel at this time.

"Any U.S. government personnel already in Zamboanga have been directed to relocate to a secure area. U.S. government employees planning to travel to Zamboanga have been directed to defer their travel at this time," the Embassy said.

Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable lead the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country.

U.S. citizens had been previously kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels in the Philippines and American soldiers training Filipino troops were killed in rebel attacks in Zamboanga City and Sulu province. (Mindanao Examiner)

Strict anti-smoking law passed in Philippine city

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) – Davao City in southern Philippines have passed a strict ordinance against smoking in public places and the law now prohibits even the use of so-called electronic cigarettes.

The new law, which takes effect Friday, will also have a hefty fine of up to P5,000 and jail term for violators of the “New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City.”

While the ordinance is popular among non-smokers and health advocates, cigarette vendors and the tobacco industry would be affected by the law, aside from loss government revenues.

But the ordinance is aimed at making Davao a smoke-free city.

Among those also banned under the ordinance is the use of shisha or hookah o waterpipe that are traditional in many Persian or Arab restaurants. Smoking is also banned in outdoor concerts, rallies and parades and public gatherings, and so in public buildings and offices, cemeteries, market places and bus and jeep depots.

But smokers may still enjoy their addiction to cigarettes in the comfort of their homes and private vehicles.

It was not immediately known if the ordinance would apply to foreign dignitaries or even President Benigno Aquino, who is a known smoker, if they visit Davao City.

In Zamboanga City, Council member Myra Abubakar has proposed a similar law, but many of her colleagues and even Mayor Celso Lobregat are known smokers themselves.

The proposal is popular among the locals and the ordinance is likely to get the support of the new mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar, who is a known health advocate.

Health officials said smoking is the leading cause of cancers and deaths not only in the Philippines but around the world. Second-hand smoke is more dangerous to human health. (Mindanao Examiner)

Elections photos sa Lanao Sur lumutang

 Ilan lamang ang mga ito sa larawan na lumutang sa Facebook group na Media Resources Center na umano'y kuha ng mga concerned citizens sa mga presinto sa Lanao del Sur province.

MARAWI CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) – Lumutang sa Facebook ang mga larawan na kuha sa ibat-ibang presinto sa kasagsagan ng halalan sa Lanao del Sur province at dito ay kapuna-puna ang mga diumano’y paglabag sa Omnibus Election Code.

Nagmistulang palengke ang ilang presinto dahil sa hinihinalang bilihan ng mga boto ng mga tagasunod ng kanya-kanyang kandidato doon. Nagkalat rin ang mga kodigo ng pangalan ng mga tumakbo sa halalan.

Kaliwa’t-kanan rin ang akusasyon ng mga umano’y pre-shaded ballots sa lalawigan at ayon sa Facebook group na Media Resources Center at ARMM Watch ay talamak ang naging dayaan sa halalan at hindi lamang sa Lanao, kundi maging sa Maguindanao.

Umani rin ng sari-saring batikos ang mga naturang larawan na kuha umano ng mga concerned citizens. Meron pang larawan ng isang Precinct Count Optical Scan machine na tinangay umano ng isang parak at dalawang sundalo sa bayan ng Pagayawan at ibinalik bago matapos ang halalan.

Maging si governor-elect Mujiv Hataman ng Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, at ang kanyang vice governor-elect na si Al Rasheed Lucman ay hindi rin pinatawad sa mga akusasyon ng anomalya.

Matindi rin ang mga binibitawang komento ng ilang mga kritiko ni Hataman sa kanya.

Mariing pinasinungalingan naman ni Hataman ang lahat ng bintang sa kanila at sinabi na ang kanyang pagkapanalo sa halalan ay sa kagustuhan na rin ng mga bumuto sa kanya. “Mga talunan lang yan,” ani Hataman at hindi na umano nito pinapansin ang mga alegasyon at sa halip ay inaatupag na lamang ang kanyang trabaho. (Mindanao Examiner)

Yosi bawal na sa Davao City!

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 29, 2013) – Lalo pang pinatibay ng Davao City ang ordinansa nito sa pagbabawal sa paninigarilyo upang masiguro ang kalusugan ng publiko laban sa mga sakit na nakukuha mula sa nakakalasong usok na dala nito.

Sa pinalawig na ordinansa ay ipinagbabawal na rin ang paninigarilyo sa lahat ng pampublikong lugar. Layunin ng bagong ordinansa na gawin “smoke-free” ang Davao City na pinapaboran naman ng publiko.

Nagsimula ang bagong batas nitong Mayo 31 lamang sa ilalim ng City Ordinance 0367-12 o ang “New Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance of Davao City.”

Kabilang sa ordinansa ay ang pagbabawal rin sa e-cigarettes, shisha o hookah na  kalimitang ginagamit sa mga tradisyonal na restaurant ng mga Arabo at iba pa.

Maging ang paninigarilyo sa mga outdoor concerts, rallies at parade o kaya ay mga public gathering ay bawal na rin, gayun rin sa mga gusaling pampubliko bukod pa sa mga sementeryo, palengke, bus at jeep terminals.

Pinayuhan rin ng pamahalaang lokal ang mga addict sa sigarilyo na sa loob na lamang ng kanilang bahay o sasakyan at designated outdoor smoking areas manigarilyo.

May multa rin na hanggang P5,000 ang mahuhuling lumabag sa ordinansa at maaari pang mabilanggo ng hanggang apat na buwan.

Hindi naman agad mabatid kung maging si Pangulong Benigno Aquino na kilalang chain smoker ay darakpin kung sakaling bumisita ito at manigarilyo sa Davao City.

Inalmahan naman ng mga cigarette vendors ang nasabing ordinansa, ngunit hindi pa mabatid kung kukuwestyunin ito sa korte ng mga dambuhalang manufacturers dahil malaking kalugian ito sa kanila. Malaking buwis rin ang mawawala sa pamahalaan dahil sa epekto nito sa bentahan ng sigarilyo.

Sa Zamboanga City ay isinusulong rin ni Konsehal Myra Abubakar ang kaparehong ordinansa, ngunit hindi pa sigurado kung maipapasa ito dahil ilan sa mga kasamahan nito at maging ang alkalde ng Zamboanga ay naninigarilyo rin.

Ngunit pabor naman ang publiko sa panukala ni Abubakar.

Sari-saring sakit ang makukuha sa paninigarilyo, lalo na ang “second-hand” smoke na nalalanghap ng mga tao. Nagdudulot ito ng cancer at sa istatistika ng pamahalaang ay marami na ang nasawi dahil sa paninigarilyo. (Mindanao Examiner)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Police files charges vs. Zamboanga teacher for assault

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – A drunken government teacher is facing charges after he assaulted a police officer who booked him in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.

Marlon Marquez, who teaches at the Limpapa National High School, suddenly grabbed police investigator Roberto Millan II by his collar and slammed his face against the iron bars of his detention cell.

Millan was investigating the Marquez when he assaulted the officer. Police said there were complaints against Marquez for violating the law on Anti-Violence against Women and their Children.

Millan has filed charges in court against the teacher, who eventually posted bail for his temporary liberty.

There was no immediate statement from the Department of Education about Marquez. (Mindanao Examiner)

Basilan man killed in front of teenage girlfriend

BASILAN (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – A 20-year old man was shot and killed in an attack by a lone gunman in Isabela City in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, police said Tuesday.

Police said Musa Anding was buying at a store together with his 13-year old girlfriend when killed. The teenager was unhurt from the shooting.

The assailant escaped after the attack and police investigators recovered a bullet casing of an M14 rifle in the area.

Police is investigating the motive of the killing or whether it was connected to his affair with the girl. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mother dies from injuries escaping rebel bombing in Southern Philippines

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – The Philippine Army said a young mother who was injured after falling in a cliff while escaping a rebel bombing near their house in Compostela Valley province had died from internal injuries.

It said Ellen Sucnaan, 20, who just gave birth two months ago, succumbed to her injuries in the hospital.

The army said Sucnaan and her baby were vacationing in her mother’s house in the village of Tuboran in Mawab town when communist rebels detonated a landmine.

Panicked and fearing an attack by New People’s Army, Sucnaan took her baby and escaped behind the house, but they fell in the cliff. Both mother and child were injured, but the woman eventually died, according the 10th Infantry Division's Civil Military Operation.  (Mindanao Examiner)

Wife castrates philandering husband in Philippines

PAGADIAN CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – Police is searching for a woman who went into hiding after castrating her philandering husband in Misamis Oriental province near Cagayan de Oro City in southern Philippines, reports said.

It said the man woke up in their bedroom all bloodied and was shocked to see that a portion of his penis had been cut off by his wife.

Police did not say whether the missing part of the penis had been recovered or not, but the man was rushed to hospital.

He told police that they even had sex the previous night and could not believed his wife castrated him while he was asleep.

The man said his wife may have been hurt when he told her that she has a girlfriend.

It was not immediately known whether the couple has any child, but police said the man is likely to file charges against his wife, who went missing after slicing off his husband’s precious organ.

It was unknown whether the man would still be able to perform sex after the surgery. (Mindanao Examiner)

Philippines, Brazil ink air services accord

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) - The Philippines and Brazil negotiated and initialed an air services agreement which would pave the way for their respective carriers to mount daily flights to and from each other’s territory, according to a statement sent by foreign affairs officials to the Mindanao Examiner.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis headed the delegation with the Philippine Embassy officials in Brasilia and successfully negotiated the country’s first air services agreement in South America.

The accord will also open new destinations for Philippine carriers  and promote tourism.

Bruno Silva Dalcolmo, Superintendent of International Relations of Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil and head of the Brazilian delegation, said the Philippines is a "perfect gateway to Asia."

Seguis expressed optimism that the ASA will result to further increases in tourism figures and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

He said Brazilian comprise the largest tourist arrival in the Philippines from South America and are considered among the biggest tourism spenders accounting for US$22 billion spent internationally in 2012.

On the other hand, the Philippines could serve as another gateway to the ASEAN market of at least 600 million people.

Pending ratification of the ASA,  the aeronautical authorities of both countries signed a memorandum of understanding granting traffic rights and setting out other operational details for their  designated carriers.

The ASA is the 11th bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Brazil and a milestone in the two countries' 53 years of formal diplomatic relations.

Maria Socorro Gonzaga, Philippine Airlines’ Vice President for External Affairs, said they may fly to Brazil three times a week and up to seven flights a week.

Sulu Mayor: No more probe into deaths of marines in Sulu, wipe out Sayyaf

 A library photo shows troops load the body of a slain soldier in a helicopter in southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – Philippine military officials have defended themselves from criticisms in sending young soldiers to a dangerous test mission to rescue the wife of a marine sergeant kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels in Sulu province.

The test mission resulted in the killings of 7 marines in an Abu Sayyaf ambush in Patikul town last week. Security officials said the soldiers were sent to rescue Casilda Marcos as part of their test mission.

Marcos, who works as a medical technologist at the provincial hospital, was seized May 18 while on her way to work in Jolo town with her daughter who managed to escape from the kidnappers.

The military has ordered an investigation into the deaths of the soldiers - 2nd Lieutenant Alfredo Lorin VI, Private First Class Jay Alasian, Private First Class Jayson Durante, Private First Class Andres Bogwana, Private First Class Rene Gare, Private First Class Roxan Pizarro, and Private First Class Dominador Sabejon, Jr. - to determine if there were lapses in the operation that also left many marines wounded.

Finish off the Abus

But for Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin, the military investigation into the possible lapses in security operation is not necessary and security officials should instead focus on running after the Abu Sayyaf.

“It is unfair to investigate whether there were lapses or none, the brave soldiers who died in the battle had sacrificed their lives for the interest of the many, and the best thing now to do is for the military to launch an all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf,” Amin told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

He said even citizens, who are fed up with the atrocities of the Abu Sayyaf, have joined the hunt for the Abu Sayyaf. “I am supporting our police and military in putting a stop to Abu Sayyaf atrocities. I have put up rewards for the capture of Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Jolo,” he said.

President Benigno Aquino also paid his tribute to the slain soldiers and spoke to their grieving families, assuring them that the government will run after the Abu Sayyaf responsible for the killings.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the military is making certain that full benefits are received by those entitled, including pensions, college scholarships, and cash assistance from military financial institutions.
She said Aquino also released P250,000 for each to the bereaved families, and P50,000 each to the wounded. The fund came from the Presidential Social Fund.
“The Aquino administration joins the country in mourning the passing of the seven men who gave their lives to build a safer and more peaceful Philippines.”
“As we mourn, we vow to pursue justice on all fronts, as this is integral to achieving our ultimate goal of winning the peace. The challenge of building a Philippines that is truly prosperous and secure remains, and we will do everything in our power to meet it, recognizing that it is the greatest tribute we can offer to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” she said.


The military rescue operation was allegedly launched even without the knowledge of the municipal crisis management committee which is handling the kidnapping case. It was unknown whether the municipal or the provincial police had been informed of the operation.

Abu Sayyaf rebels have previously bombed the capital town of Jolo and kidnapped dozens of wealthy Muslims and murdered Christians in the province over the years.

The Abu Sayyaf is a small, but the notorious rebel group whose original members were mostly fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front which signed a peace accord with Manila in September 1996.

The group is now joined by Indonesian and Malaysian members of the Jemaah Islamiya which has been blamed for the spate of terror attacks in their own countries and the Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

One of most wanted criminal, 2 others arrested in Zamboanga mall

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2013) – Security forces arrested 3 people, including one of southern Philippines’ most wanted criminals, army officials said Tuesday.

Officials said police and military agents pounced on Muktar Ahmin and two other companions Nader Alan and Nadjal Esmola, who are all facing kidnapping charges.

The army did not give details of the arrest, but the trio was nabbed in Mindpro Mall in downtown Zamboanga.

It was unknown whether Ahmin’s group was planning to kidnap individuals or if the trio was carrying any weapons with them.

Officials have not provided additional information about three suspects or whether they are affiliated with any rebel group operating in Zamboanga peninsula. (Mindanao Examiner)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Illegal logs seized in Mati City

Illegal logs seized by soldiers and forest rangers in Mati City. 

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 27, 2013) – Forest rangers backed by government troops recovered about two dozen illegally cut logs in a joint operation Monday in Mati in the southern Philippine province of Davao Oriental, army officials said.

Officials said the logs were seized in the village of Tagbinonga where illegal tree cutters abandoned them.

The operation was carried out by members of the 701st Infantry Brigade, 104th Division Reconnaissance Company and personnel from City Environment and Natural Resources Office in Mati headed by Matranillo Wines.

“As part of our mandate in protection and preservation of the environment, the military will continue to support the government units and agencies for the same cause, along with other people’s organization. This is an interagency activity that portrays the spirit of Bayanihan,” Col. Paterno Morales, the deputy brigade commander, said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Philippines wins 'New Frontiers Award' for typhoon rebuilding efforts

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 27, 2013) - The Philippines has been awarded the "New Frontiers Award 2013" at this year’s Arabian Travel Market,  the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism exhibition, Filipino tourism officials said Monday.

Officials said the New Frontiers Award became the main feature of the ATM and is given to destinations that have surmounted great adversity to rebound its tourism industries.

The award also gives tribute to the resilience of local communities to rebuild their lives, as well as bring attention to the crisis management and risk reduction practices of local authorities.  It is the only citation extended during the event.

The Philippines was shortlisted, together with New York State (Hurricane Sandy) and Pakistan (2012 floods), among an original list of 10 nominees for outstanding contribution to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity.

“The Philippines, its government and its people, has shown remarkable fortitude and a stoic determination to get both communities and the local economy back on track following the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Bopha late last year, and their resilience in the face of such a monumental crisis is commendable,” Mark Walsh said in a statement sent by the Department of Tourism to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Tourism Assistant Secretary Benito Bengzon, Jr., who led the Philippine delegation to ATM, received the award from Walsh, the Portfolio Director of Reed Travel Exhibitions.

The crystal trophy came along with free exhibition space at the ATM worth $10,000. The delegation was composed of 14 organizations representing nine tour operators, four hotel and resort companies, and one airline company.

The award, Bengzon said, is in recognition of the continuing efforts to rebuild infrastructure and the tourism economy after Typhoon Pablo (international code name Bopha) wrought havoc in the Philippines in December last year. 

The catastrophe is deemed the world’s deadliest, leaving millions of people homeless and infrastructure and agricultural farms vastly damaged.

“The Philippine government, under the administration of President Aquino and the Department of Tourism have worked hand-in-hand to establish tourism as a major generator of income for the people and the country. At times of adversity, such as this, the determined spirit of our countrymen, supported by assistance from the international community, shines through and, it is this same spirit that is driving our tourism industry forward,” Bengzon said.

The first quarter arrivals from the Middle East region recorded a 22.1% gain over the same period last year. “We intend to attract more of the high-spending market from this region. Service providers are optimistic of the continued uptrend and are investing to take advantage of this windfall. Cebu Pacific has launched its first long-haul flight to Dubai to commence in October.  Other airlines are to announce their services within the year,” he said.

Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr. said the award highlights the sheer resilience of the Filipino people and the resolve of all stakeholders to fast track recovery. 

“We also are very thankful to the many countries and international agencies with their generosity to help in our rebuilding efforts. Our record-breaking performance and new highs of the industry clearly indicate that our partnerships are bearing fruit.  Despite these crises, we remain undaunted and focused in showing our visitors that we are worth visiting,” Jimenez said in the same statement.

“Indeed, what makes the Philippines more fun is its people. The Bayanihan spirit, amplified during crisis, is a unique social phenomenon that will forever drive the Filipinos to remain steadfast and dependent on each other for strength, through good times and bad. That in the midst of great challenges, we still manage to put on a happy face,” he added.

PFF Suzuki Cup heating up as teams enter semis

DUMAGUETE CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 27, 2013) - The competition hits fever-pitch as the Philippine Football Federation Suzuki U23 National Cup finished the last day of the qualifiers for the semi-final rounds at the Perdices Coliseum  here.

Following the intensely contested qualifying round, the four teams that are in the running for the semis are as follows: Davao FA, Iloilo FA, Negros Occidental FA, and North Cotabato FA.

These 4 teams will duke it out on Tuesday, which will determine the top two contenders for the championship match on May 30.

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Suzuki U23 National Cup has played host to the burgeoning talents of Filipino footballers since its establishment in 2011.

Suzuki Philippines has partnered with the Philippine Football Federation to discover and nurture local football talents, as well as give local  football fans an event to cheer for their  home teams.

Suzuki Philippines remains committed to the development of Filipino football talents. Alongside the PFF Suzuki U23 National Cup are various sports programs and football clinics. (K. Austria)