Filipinos step up drive to save Zapanta from death row

MANILA – Filipinos have stepped up the drive to save their compatriot from death row while the government sought an extension as the November 3 deadline to save his life passed.

Joselito Zapanta, an OFW who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, needs to raise by today SAR4 million in blood money  to the family of his Sudanese landlord, who he killed in a rental dispute in 2009.

Foreign department spokesman Raul Hernandez said on ABS-CBN television: “We are continuing our representations with the Saudi government to help us in extending the deadline for the payment of blood money to the family of the victim of Mr Zapanta.”

Filipino migrant rights leader John Leonard Monterona has said that his group Migrante has sent an appeal to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to intervene on behalf of Zapanta. The king in the past had intervened to save Filipino worker Rogelio Dondon Lanuza from death row due to humanitarian reasons.

Although the amount raised by Zapanta’s family still wasn’t enough,  Philippine officials and other Filipinos haven’t given up yet, and are still hoping for a miracle.

Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay, Philippine Vice-President and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), earlier said: “Umasa pa rin tayo sa himala. Baka mabigyan pa tayo ng extension at baka ibaba pa ang halaga”.

Binay said that he is hopeful that the amount would be reduced, or an extension will be given from November 3 deadline to settle the blood money. Saudi government has extended the deadline twice.

Love affair between Freddie Aguilar and 16-yr old girlfriend criticized

DUBAI – The news revolving  the controversial  love affair between singer Freddie Aguilar  and his 16-year old girlfriend may have simmered down but Filipinos sharing varying views on the  issue of May-December affair remain – at least on cyberspace.

From mundane or casual to extraordinary or superfluous, Filipinos have something to  say about the 44-year age gap that comes between the lovers:

“Age doesnt matter, yes, but maturity does matter. If you define the age of maturity, not even close to 18. This starts after teenage years. She is still on a stage where hormones are manipulating her decisions. Very amazed at how her parents allowed her to have a “12 day vacation” with the old man,” wrote Danielle Que on the comments page in online magazine Rappler.

“It seems to me that this borders on pedophilia. But then again, who am I to impose my moral values to others?,” wrote CP Cookon  the same web page.

“Who are complaining on Freddie’s love affair with a 16-year old girl? Not the girl herself. Not her parents. Not Freddie’s relatives, his children, especially. Freddie and GF are friends, close friends as in best friends, GF or BF. The laws in our land are oftentimes irrational and impractical, made up of, for and by the people who are insecure, irresponsible and using double-standards in dealing with issues. Here is a man who is not married at this time and has fallen in love with a girl who happens to reciprocate his feelings…. In paper and in our law, the girl is still a minor. But, admit it or not, there are thousands in our country and around the world who get married even at a younger age. As long as they respect each other and love each other, I think society should respect their rights to love and to choose their partners,” wrote Gintong Lahi.

Popular blogger Professional Heckler quipped, “Folk singer Freddie Aguilar, 60 has a 16-year-old girlfriend. Age gap: 44 years Take that Hugh Hefner!”  He was referring to the famous Playboy founder  known for marrying much younger women.

Severe floods trigger declaration of ‘state of calamity’ in South Cotabato

MANILA – The Tantangan town in South Cotabato is under a state of calamity Wednesday due to severe flooding and landslides that have so far affected 600 families.

Tantangan Mayor Benjamin Figueroa said the municipal council issued the declaration of state of calamity to facilitate the release of needed funds to address the impact of the calamity. So far, eight of the town’s 13 barangays have been affected.

The flooding on its third day had destroyed around P28.3 million worth of agricultural crops.

The mayor said the flood destroyed a total of 394 hectares of rice farmlands in six barangays.

Mayor Figueroa said, “Most of these crops are in the seeding and vegetative stages but there are some that are almost ready for harvest.”

The mayor said a number of houses and infrastructure facilities also sustained some damages as a result of the floods but their assessment is still ongoing.

The calamity has affected a total of 600 families or about 2,500 individuals.

This figure however does not include the 145 families from Barangay New Iloilo who were evacuated to the municipal gymnasium due to the severe floods.

The evacuation was undertaken after waist-deep floodwaters submerged the area as a result of hours of heavy rains on Tuesday night.

On Monday, five villages in the area were also initially hit by severe floods and landslides due hours of almost nonstop rains that started on Sunday night.

A portion of the national highway in Barangay San Felipe was submerged in knee-deep floodwaters on Monday morning, slowing down the movement of local residents to the polling precincts in Monday’s barangay elections.

Philippines to experience cooler days due to Amihan

MANILA – The Provinces of Ilocos, Cordillera and Cagayan Valley will experience more shivering days as the northeast monsoon or “Hanging Amihan” continued to affect Northern Luzon.

The temperature in  other  areas also started to drop due to Amihan. In Baguio, a temperature of 14 degrees Celsius was recorded on Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

In Metro Manila,  the lowest temperature was recorded at 23.5 degrees Celsius at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Filipino designer, musician, dancer to be honored at NY

US-based fashion designer Monique Lhuillier, Filipino-African soul musician Joe Bataan, and Pinay beauty queen-model and Rockette Christine Sienicki are among those to be honored during the third annual Outstanding Filipino Americans in New York (TOFA-NY) Awards.

The TOFA-NY is an annual search for role models in the region. The awards program coincides with the celebration of Filipino American History Month in October.

Lhuillier and Bataan will be conferred the Heritage Award as with the Foundation for Filipino Artists, and the pro bono lawyers group Filipino American Legal and Education Defense Fund.

The Heritage Award is given to individuals and organizations who are seen as fine examples of consistent community engagement through their talent, skills, and professional abilities.

Sienicki is to be honored under the entertainment category.

Notably, Menchu De Luna Sanchez, the nurse who helped save some 20 babies during Hurricane Sandy, is also to be feted under the Health Care category.

Philippines to chair $100 billion UN green climate fund

DUBAI- The Philippines has been elected to co-chair the $100 billion UN Green Climate Fund that is envisioned to help developing countries adapt to the impact of climate change.

Albay Governor Joey Salceda was elected  as co-chair of the Board of the Green Climate Fund during their meeting in Paris in early October.

“Governor Salceda’s  election is a strong expression of confidence in the Philippines and further raises the country’s profile in the international community,” said a statement issued by the Philippine government.

Germany is the other  co-chairman of the Fund, which was established by the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2011.

The two countries will act as co-chairman for a term of one year,  overseeing  the operation of the Fund, which is targeted to start operation in 2014. Based on pledges, the Fund would reach $100 billion by 2020.

Climate change, which involves changes in weather patterns and rise in sea level,  is a major issue that concerns all nations because of its huge impact on every aspect of human life and economy. Threats from climate change range from killer tornadoes and  massive storms to uncontrolled wildfires to droughts and floods that undermine food security.

Particularly benefiting from the fund are developing countries including Small Developing Island States, Africa and least developed countries, and highly vulnerable communities in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.

2,000 policemen deployed in ARMM for barangay polls

MANILA – Around 2,000 policemen will be deployed in several highly-contested places in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for Monday’s Barangay Election.

Atty. Rey Sumalipao, Comelec director for ARMM, said that aside from security and other safety concerns, the policemen will also be trained as part of the Special Board of Election Tellers (SBET) that will handle and facilitate the voting procedure and counting on the election day itself.

Sumalipao explained that several teachers declined to serve as BETs in the region due to several threats in their safety. Also, some of their close and distant relatives were vying for  a slot in their respective barangays.

“Many of them fear for their safety while others don’t want to be part of the process since some or most of their relatives were candidates too”, Sumalipao said.

He clarified that the Comelec en banc will still vote whether to allow the law enforcers to act as election tellers.

The Comelec  ARMM is monitoring 300 barangays in the region placed under the classification “Areas of Immediate Concern” in which, 180 were located in the Province of Lanao del Sur.

Pinoy brandy Emperador buys more vineyards in Spain

MANILA – Filipino brandy “Emperador” has once again upgraded its offshore production capability with the acquisition of more land for vineyard in Madrid, Spain.

The firm, owned by business tycoon Andrew Tan,  plans to break into new markets like Vietnam by next year.

The Emperador group purchased 409 hectares of land in Madrid. The acquisition was made through Grupo Emperador Spain S.A., the Spanish subsidiary of offshore unit Emperador International Ltd., Emperador Inc.  said in a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

“We are building more vineyards in order to support our brandy production in Spain,” said Jorge Domecq Bohórquez, managing director of Emperador International.

Bohórquez said the group was “very satisfied” with the PH market’s reception of Emperador Deluxe Spanish Edition, an Emperador product that is produced and bottled in Spain.

“Sales of this product have exceeded our expectations since we launched it in the Philippines a few months ago. We expect to more than double our sales volume for Emperador Deluxe next year,” he said.

“We are currently preparing to launch Emperador Deluxe to the Vietnam market next year,” he added.

Emperador, whose shares have sizzled in the local stock market in the last few weeks, gained another 4.29 percent to close at P12.16 per share on October 24. It has a market capitalization of Php 174.9 billion.

The liquor unit of Tan-led Alliance Global Group Inc. took the crucial step towards overseas expansion with the acquisition of Bodega San Bruno S.A., a brandy company based in Jerez, Spain.

The said deal included the acquisition of the San Bruno trademark, which has been registered since 1942. It also includes vineyards in Jerez, the brandy-producing region of Spain, as well as a sizable inventory of high-quality and well-matured brandy, now being stored and aged in sherry casks in the bodegas, or wineries, in Jerez.

Sinampalukang Manok

For the International Filipino, the easiest way to get transported to back to the motherland without having to shred the bank account is by cooking food that evokes feelings of comfort, harkens back to simpler, more joyous times in the province, or sometimes, just a simple Adobo that makes you want to shun proper utensils and eat with your hands, with one foot hiked up to the chair.

In his blog entry, Arvin shares one of his favorite child hood dishes, a sour chicken soup recipe that is “a truly personal one which I hope does my Tagalog relatives proud. It is simple, with bold flavors perfect for a cold night and a hot plate of rice”.


1 whole chicken cut into small pieces
A large piece of ginger peeled and cut into large strips
Three chopped cloves of garlic
Dark fish sauce
A cup’s worth of young tamarind leaves
Unripe tamarind or tamarind paste
Chicken broth
Siling haba/pansigang (Philippine long green chili)


Clean and remove young tamarind leaves from the stalk, set aside. Heat oil in a pan and saute ginger and garlic for two minutes. Add chicken and sear for about five minutes on high heat. Add fish sauce and chili, lower heat to medium and cover. Cook until chicken is done. The perfect state of the chicken when this dish is served is tender, as in you-can-see-the-main-leg bone tender. Add chicken broth or water, bring to a boil. Now, this next step and be omitted if you have enough young tamarind leaves, if you don’t then add unripe tamarind. Cook until tamarind is soft. Take out tamarinds and put into a small bowl with some of the soup. Mash until you coax all the thick paste from the fruit, add more soup and sieve back into the pot. You can skip this process with tamarind paste or the champion, Knorr Sinigang Mix. Add a small dash of sugar and adjust seasoning with fish sauce if needed. Turn off heat, add tamarind leaves and stir.

Blogger: Arvin William Dauz

Magnitude 5.1 earthquake rocks Sarangani

MANILA – More than a week after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake devastated the Central Visayas Region, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake this time rocked Davao del Sur early Wednesday morning, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Based on the Phivolcs assessment, the epicenter of the earthquake was located about 50-kilometers southeast of Sarangani Province at around 4:53 a.m.

Based on the agency’s assessment, the quake was tectonic in origin. It struck at a depth of 15 kilometers.

Phivolcs said aftershocks are expected to continue.

Meanwhile, a 4.9-magnitude aftershock hit Tagbilaran City, Bohol at around 2:42 a.m. of Wednesday The epicenter of the quake was located 56 kilometers northeast of Tagbilaran City.

Intensity 4 was felt in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

The quake, which was an aftershock of the magnitude 7.2 quake in the province last October 15, struck at a depth of 10 kilometers and was tectonic in origin.