14th ASEAN Summit disrupted by Thai rioters

April 11, 2009

The ASEAN meeting was postponed indefinitely when anti-government rioters stormed the convention of leaders slated on April 11-12, 2009 in a resort town of Pattaya, Thailand. About a 1,000 noisy protesters broke the security cordon of the participants from 10 ASEAN member nations and those of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. They were there to discuss the economy, trade, and regional security.

Philippine Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo who remained calm, left via a private plane from the top of Royal Cliff Hotel. Other leaders where brought to the safety of the U-Tapao military airfield near Pattaya where planes for the foreign leaders were waiting.

The embarrassed fragile government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Pattaya, a place 50 kilometers from the Thai capital city of Bangkok. Red-shirted angry Thai rioters banging tables and overturning chairs, barged the convention complex calling for the resignation of Abhisit. (Photo Credit: AdaptorPlug) =0=

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Holy Week Recollection

April 11, 2009

Easter Light
by The Rev. Dr. Paul S. Nancarrow

Out of the darkness, light shines.

Out of the chaos waste and void,
when storm raged over the yet uncreated earth,
and the darkness lay on the face of the deep—
God acted,
and the light of creation burst forth,
and the world began to be.

Out of the dark night at the shores of the Red Sea,
as the children of Israel fled from the armies of Pharaoh,
as they saw the joy of their liberation from bondage and slavery
turn into terror at the approaching revenge of a bitter tyrant,
as they cried out to Moses to save them from the enemy—
God acted,
and the light kindled into a pillar of fire
which stood before the Israelites to protect them,
and a strong east wind blew back the waters of the sea,
so that God’s people could cross on dry land,
and there they were saved.

Out of the dark of the garden tomb,
the new tomb were no one had yet been laid,
where Joseph of Arimathea
and Nicodemus the Pharisee
had put Jesus’ body
when Pilate gave them permission to have it taken down from the cross,

Out of the darkness sealed in stone and heavy with the nothingness of death—
God acted,
and light flared forth in an unimaginable glory,
and the tomb was empty,
empty,
the graveclothes folded where the body had been laid
and was laid no longer;
the stone rolled back and open to the gentle dawn air,
letting in the first light of the sunrise
of the day when the whole Creation
was made new.

Out of the dark of a shadowed church,
where the faithful are gathered to remember God’s mighty acts,
where the long fast of Lent is coming to its end,
where the story of God’s love is being rehearsed
and remembered
and reconnected to people’s lives
in their here
and in their now—
God acts,
and a new fire is kindled,
and the Paschal Candle is lighted,
and the people chant
“The Light of Christ! Thanks be to God!”
and Easter has begun.

Out of the darkness of sin and grief,

out of the shadows of pain
and suffering
and ill will
that so often shroud our human lives—
God acts,
and the light of Christ comes to us,
blazing forth in new glory
that is redemption
and re-creation
and resurrection
and eternal life.
This is Easter,
this our Feast of Feasts.

Out of the darkness, light shines.

(Photo Credit: Dr. Ashra Fekry)

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Bizarre Holy Week Tradition: Crucifixion in Pampan

April 8, 2009

About 2,000 years have passed since the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and crucifixion is still being practiced in Pampanga. Supervised by the government, the villages of San Pedro Cutud, Sta. Lucia, and San Juan observe the Lenten tradition with ceremonial flagellations and the nailing of the cross watched by crowds of curious spectators. The reenactment of Jesus’ suffering is preceded by a “pabasa” and way of the cross recalling the Christ’s passion.

The practice of crucifixion might have originated in 1962 when Artemio Anoza, a faith-healer who agreed to be nailed on the cross. From then on, a growing crowd of penitents, about 500-600 “repentant” human beings parade the street, whipping themselves in atonement for their sins.

As a culmination of a Calvary-like imitation of Jesus, the people get to see about 10 to 15 people undergo nailing in Cutud. In addition Sta Lucia, and San Juan have 9 and 5 people respectively are put on the stake to be crucified. More than 70,000 to 80,000 spectators troop to these rituals.

“A man who paints houses and makes streamers for a living, Enaje will be nailed to the cross for the 23rd year. He took to the cross as a thanksgiving after he survived a fall from a three-story building in 1986.”—-Inquirer (04/07/09, Oreias, T)

Village leaders say the crucifixions are acts of repentance and expressions of thanks. For a special favor penitents fulfull their promises of being nailed on the tree on their own volition. Contrary to the allegations of others, people say the flagellants (Mandarame) don’t get crucified for a fee.

The crucifixion isn’t part of the Catholic religious observance that dates back in pagan times. The primitive practice is discouraged by the modern Catholic Church. Yet in Pampanga, it has been a compelling tradition.

A macabre source of tourist curiosity, this bloody observance of Jesus Christ’s death has drawn criticisms from various segments of society. The public complains this Lenten observance is primitively gruesome. Diluting the significance of the Holy Week, the crucifixion has lost it’s solemnity with the crowds. It has become commercialized.

To keep peace and order, about 200 police officers will be deployed on Good Friday. Local government officials regard the crucifixion as a tourist attraction from which part its income comes from. (Photo Credits: Caroline Butler; LA Times/ Mark Boster; Michel Detay x 2; Caroline Butler) =0=

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Helicopter crash site yielded 7 charred bodies

April 8, 2009

The charred remains of the helicopter which was reported missing yesterday, April 7, 2009 was finally located on the slopes of Mount Pulag in Tinoc, Ifugao Province in Luzon. At press time, 7 burned bodies have been found on the crash site. Their identities have yet to be released.

Reported riding the ill-fated aircraft were Brig Gen. Carlos Clet, presidential military aide; Pres. undersecretary Marilou Frostrom, Jose Capadocia Jr. of the Office of the Press Secretary, assistant director Perlita Bandayanon of the PMS’ office of regional concerns, pilot Maj. Rolando Sacatani, co-pilot Capt. Alvin Alegata, Petty Officer 1 Demy Reyno, and Air Force crewman Staff Sgt. Romeo Gem Perez. This leaves one person still missing.

The helicopter left Loakan Airport in Baguio City at about 4:15 p.m. on Tiesday to arrive the same day in Ifugao. They were part of the presidential team which prepares for Gloria M. Arroyo’s inspection of the P224 million road project in Banaue Province.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but Capadocia, one of the passengers sent a text message of zero visibility before the chopper went down (Photo credit: http://www.pcij.org)=0=

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More grim news in Italy’s earthquake

April 8, 2009

The rising death toll in the recent earthquake which hit central Italy had gone up to 272 people dead along with 15,000 injured victims. About 100 were listed to be in serious condition. Pope Benedict XVI expressed his intention to visit the affected villages and towns to be with the earthquake victims.

Many buildings which include historic ancient edifices, numbering to about 10-15,000, either crumbled or suffered severe damage all across 26 settlements surrounding the city of L Aquila. Amidst sporadic after-shocks, 28,000 people lined the streets to seek food and shelter.

In a report by the National Institute of Geophysicis and Vulcanology prior to the earthquake, many buildings in Italy’s vulnerable zones are in danger of suffering damages when seismic activity strikes. Experts say only 14% of these buildings meet the standards to counter the effect of a significant tremor.(Photo Credits: Garofalo, Alessandro/ Reuters; Perrozi, Sandro/ AP) =0=

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Kinunot—Bicol’s shark food & the way to environmental conservation

April 8, 2009

Bicolanos have a delicious way of cooking sharks.—fresh slices of the shark’s meat boiled with thick coconut milk, vinegar, chilies, and corns of black pepper. With a dash of salt, the native dish kinunot is accented with green pepper leaves or malunggay (Moringa.) They give the tropical cuisine its tasty flavor and smooth aroma when eaten with hot rice.

That’s what the fishermen of Donsol, Sorsogon did to a wayward rare megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) caught recently in the coast of Burias Island, a wildlife haven of whale sharks (Butanding,) dolphins. and giant manta rays. The sea hunters were out to fish for the usual bounty of the sea, but what they got last March 30, 2009 was an astounding surprise.

According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF,) the huge shark was the only one so far found in Sorsogon-Masbate, a fascinating area located in southern tip of Luzon in the Philippines. Measuring 4 meters long and weighing about 500-kg, the impressive fish with blue-gray exterior could be the 41st of its kind reported in the world.

“The first specimen was caught off Oahu, Hawaii in 1976. So different was it from all other sharks that it necessitated the creation of an entirely new family and genus – prompting the scientific community to hail it as the 20th century’s most significant marine find – rivaling the rediscovery of the coelacanth in 1938,” —WWF. Philstar (04/07/09 Andraneda, K)

Evidently, many people of Bicol didn’t know the significance of their unexpected catch which unfortunately ended up in the cooking pan. Kinunot is tasty and very nutritious. Other than being food in the dinner table, conservationists however were quick to educate the townspeople of megamouth shark’s bigger importance.

The WWF are working with Sorsogon and Masbate to protect the habitat of the endangered sharks and other precious treasures of the sea. At the same time the evnironmental group helps in developing eco-tourism which which is friendly to the animals and brings livelihood to the residents of the area.(Photo Credit: WWF/ Philstar) =0=

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Fighting corruption with "Moral Force Movement"

April 8, 2009

Chief Justice Reynato Puno of the Supreme Court finds the Holy Week celebration an apt occasion to remind Filipinos to fight corruption. In spite of the Philippines being the only Christian country in Asia, he tells the country’s moral degeneration that has made it a pariah among its neighbors.

“Corruption in the country has been deforming all its institutions, undermining our stability and security and preventing our socio-economic development. We can arrest this social decadence through a moral force.” —-Reynato Puno. Philstar (04/07/09, Punay, E.)

Last year’s Global Corruption Report revealed that RP’s corruption index hase fallen into the 141st spot tying with Cameroon, Iran, and Yemen, among 180 countries. This is a 10 point drop from the country’s rating of the previous year. The worsening corruption index had been attributed to major corruption cases that the government had been unable to solve.

Recently, World Bank (WB) exposed collusion in the giving of road project contracts in the Philippines which brings shame to government officials running the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH.) Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of Pres. Gloria Arroyo is implicated in the scandal, but little effort is made to fully investigate his case.

Puno envisions the moral movement to be politically neutral. A moral force is being harnessed by tapping leaders for the “Moral Force Movement”—-from business, church, youth, and the media to combat the debilitating effects of dishonesty in government. Similar to the goals of “Kaya Natin Movement,” the moral force’s current focus is to help attain an honest presidential election in 2010.

Religious organizations like the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Philippine Bible Society and the Ecumenical Bishops Forum are supportive of the initiative that is long-overdue. (Photo Credit: by Zero_Q)=0=

“Moral Force” Movement Core Group

Reynato Puno, Chief Justice, Supreme Court
Marixi R. Prieto, Chair, PDI; trustee Metrobank & Gerry Roxas Foundation
Henrietta de Villa, Chair, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting
Mgsr. Gerardo Santos, Pres. Catholic Educational Asso. of the Philippines
Dr. Emerito Nakpil, (Ret.) Bishop of United Mathodist Church
Brig. Gen. Jaime Echeverria, (Ret.,) Asso. of Generals and Flag Officers
Dr. Milwida Guevara, Dir. of the Synergeia Foundatin
Atty. Andres Juan Bautista, Dean, FEU Institute of Law
Noorain Sabdulla, TOYM Awardee and Muslim Representative

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Actress Farrah Fawcett hospitalized for cancer

April 7, 2009

Three years after her cancer became quiescent after treatment, Farrah Fawcett, the celebrity well-known for being one among the “Charles Angels,” is back in the hospital to address medical concerns related to her illness. The 62-year old TV star who sought experimental treatment for anal cancer in Germany is in a Los Angeles Hospital recuperating.

Having had a remission in 2007 after being managed with chemotherapy and radiation at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Farrah is said to be suffering from liver metastasis.

The popular actress who has a documentary “A Wing and a Prayer,” being readied for showing , is supported by her ex-partner Ryan O’ Neal, her father, and friends Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith of the “Charles Angels” fame. (Photo Credit: http://images.search.yahoo.com.images/)

Anal Carcinoma

Anal cancers are epithelial tumors, mostly differentiated squamous cell carcinomas which account for about 2 percent of gastrointestinal cancers reported yearly in the United States. An estimated 5,000 new cases are diagnosed in 2008 according to the American Cancer Society.

Most cases are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, the common etiologic agent of the common wart. Aside from HPV, risk factors that may predispose to anal carcinoma include multiple partners, immunosuppression, smoking, and chronic lesions in the anal canal.

Depending on the histology and stage of the disease, the cancer is treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery, or in combination. About 10% of those treated develop metastasis, the spread of the tumor to distant organs which brings a bad prognosis. =0=

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Obama fried chicken for lunch

April 6, 2009

Although his approval rating isn’t as high as when he assumed the presidency, the first Afro-American US president is still very popular. Barack Obama mania still rages as one can see in a fried chicken store in New York City.

According to New York Daily News, at least two fried chicken joints have baptized themselves as Obama Fried Chicken. They are probably just riding on the popularity of the president and many are buying.

Obama’s remarkable following is part of what writer political commentator Bernard Goldman described as “a slobbering love affair” of the media that has seeped into the psyche of the ordinary American citizen. The ripple effect of this adulation will reverberate internationally and it will take some time before is stops to a halt. (Photo Credit: Rob Bennett, NY Times/Redux, New York Daily News) =0=

Italy’s rising quake death toll

April 6, 2009


Ninety-two (92) people were reportedly killed in an earthquake which struck central Italy on April 6, 2007 injuring scores of people and leaving about 50,000 homeless. The tremblor which registered 6.3 in magnitude heavily destroyed the city of L’Aquila prompting Prime Minister Berlusconi to declare a state of emergency.

“Some surrounding villages, where a greater proportion of homes were older, are feared to have fared even worse. People in Tempera, a few kilometres east of L’Aquila, told the Guardian that virtually every house in the historic village centre had been flattened, with many people feared dead.”—-Guardian.co.uk (04/06/09, Hooper, J; Walker P)

Rising death toll has been reported in L’Aquila which is in a state of chaos. Dozens of buildings, a big proportion are old, have collapsed as rescue workers race with time to save survivors trapped in the rubble.

Makeshift shelters, mobile hospitals, and tents are being dispatched in the region to help in the worst calamity in the area since 2002. Humanitarian help and offer for assistance poured in from neighboring countries. (Photo Credit: Seele) =0=

UPDATE: Later counts of those who perished and suffered injuries placed the dead to about 150. The injured numbered 1,500 and is increasing. Many people who lost their homes had to stay out in the open for fear of another tremblor.
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