Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Arum tries last pitch to Pacquiao

Boxing promoter Bob Arum said Monday he would announce Manny Pacquiao's next fight Tuesday - be it against Floyd Mayweather Jr. or someone else.

But Arum said Tuesday from Mexico he was going to have one last conversation with Pacquiao late Tuesday night to see if Pacquiao, who is in the Philippines, would agree to the latest pitch by Team Mayweather regarding the drug-testing that has threatened to kill this fight tentatively scheduled for March 13 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Team Mayweather wants both fighters to undergo Olympic-style drug-testing, which would be anywhere from 8 to 12 urine tests and 3 to 5 blood tests taken at random, meaning blood could be drawn the day before the fight.

Pacquiao has balked, saying, among other things that having blood drawn so close to a fight might weaken him.

"Binkow is going to talk to Todd with their proposal, we're going to give it to Manny and he is going to make his choice," Arum said via telephone from Cabo San Lucas.

Bruce Binkow is an executive with Golden Boy Promotions, which is representing Mayweather. Todd duBoef is president of Arum's Top Rank Inc. Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, confirmed Binkow and duBoef were talking Tuesday in an effort to reach an accord.

"Bruce Binkow and Todd are having what I think are constructive conversations," Schaefer said. "Let's see where it goes."

Neither Arum nor Schaefer on Tuesday discussed what they believe a suitable compromise would be for a final blood test on the fighters.

Schaefer on Monday said Mayweather still wanted only a two-day cutoff before the fight, but he indicated there might be some flexibility.

Some of Monday's discussion centered on Pacquiao being depicted on HBO's 24/7 series having blood drawn during a pre-fight examination ahead of his May 2 fight with Ricky Hatton.

Golden Boy issued a statement saying that test was taken approximately 14 days before that fight. Pacquiao's team has said it does not want any blood drawn inside of 30 days prior to fighting Mayweather.

Arum on Tuesday said he did some research.

"That blood test was taken on April 8, 24 days before the fight," Arum said.

Floyd Mayweather Sr. has gone on the record saying he believes Pacquiao is highly successful because he has been taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao on Tuesday lashed out at Golden Boy in a statement. Even though Top Rank is Pacquiao's chief promoter, Golden Boy has a financial interest in Pacquiao.

Pacquiao is peeved that Golden Boy doesn't appear to be supporting him; instead, it is helping Mayweather. Not only has Floyd Sr. made accusations about Pacquiao, Floyd Jr. said during a radio interview in October the Philippines produces the best performance-enhancing drugs.

"... It's a pity that Oscar `Golden Boy' De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions should have been supporting me, too, because his company has a promotional stake in my career," Pacquiao said.

"They all say they got my back, but yes, they stab me, too, when I turn my back."

Schaefer responded by saying nobody from Golden Boy has accused Pacquiao of taking steroids, and that Golden Boy is simply representing Mayweather in these negotiations. He said he finds it "amazing" that all of this is being taken so personal.

"It's just that Mayweather," Schaefer said, "wants Olympic-style testing."

Manny Pacquiao testing update

By Nick Giongco

A urine sample of Manny Pacquiao is on its way to Manila, World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) accredited doctor Alex Pineda told Fightnews and Manila Bulletin on Wednesday afternoon. Pineda, who also works for the Philippine Olympic Committee, personally witnessed the initial phase of testing at Pacquiao’s residence in General Santos City. Pineda arrived in General Santos City at around lunchtime, headed to Pacquiao’s palatial home where he got the sample, then was driven back to the airport so he could catch the plane bound for Manila.

The samples (a total of 100 ml)–labeled “A” and “B”–will be sent to Thailand, Malaysia or China because “we don’t have a Wada-accredited testing in the country,” said Pineda.

Results of the tests will be sent to his office or to the desk of Games and Amusements Board chairman Eric Buhain, who had requested Pineda to go to General Santos City.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), had ordered that tests be done on Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in an effort to save their proposed super bout set March 13, 2010, from being shelved owing to a disagreement with drug testing procedures.

Pacquiao said he has been insulted by Mayweather’s demand that he undergo Olympic-style testing for banned substances.

Floyd camp rejects Arum final offer

MANILA, Philippines - Hopes of salvaging the megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are slim after American promoter Bob Arum’s”final counter offer” was quickly turned down by Mayweather’s chief adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, and negotiator, Richard Schaefer.

Arum, main man of Top Rank, had given the Mayweather camp until Monday (today in Manila) to decide on his final proposal that both parties let the Nevada State Athletic Commission to make the final decision on the blood tests issue.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Arum suggested that both sides explain to the NSAC why their “preferred (blood) testing system” should be used or followed, and let the Nevada body make the final decision.

Mayweather wanted an Olympic-style blood testing to be supervised by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Under the set-up, both fighters should agree to as many as five blood and 12 urine tests - randomly.

Freddie Roach said it’s so random that that USADA can knock on your doors in the middle of the night to get blood or urine samples, in the weeks, days or just hours before the fight, and shortly afterwards.

Pacquiao’s camp said there’s no need for such, and has agreed to three blood tests (one on the first week of January, then 30 days before the match and another after the match, but was again unacceptable to Mayweather.

Arum made the offer of letting the NSAC to decide. And if the Mayweathers disagree, the Top Rank president said he could seal a Pacquiao fight with Paulie Malignaggi on March 13 “within an hour.”

Arum may find himself making the phone call when he wakes up Monday morning while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico after Ellerbe and Schaefer literally thumbed down the final counter offer from Top Rank.

“Random is random. We are all intelligent people and we know what random testing is. That is what we want and it has not changed,” said Ellerbe.

“It does not make sense for this to become a commission matter. This is a contractual matter. The commission did not decide the weights or the purse split or how the foreign television rights would be sold.

“If this is Bob’s final ultimatum, then that’s what it is. That is his decision if he wants to take that position. I very much hope this fight can be made, but the reason it is at a standstill is because of the way they have handled things,” Schaefer said.

Pacquiao is vacationing with his family in Gen. Santos City and his adviser, Mike Koncz, said the 31-year-old superstar doesn’t want to make any further comment on the matter.

The other day, Schaefer said Mayweather can do away with the USADA, and it’s just a matter of both camps agreeing on the dates of the blood tests just to make sure that they’re still effective.

But that was the other day.

“We are prepared to have this handled in a way that is not us deciding or them deciding,” said Arum. “The commission meets on Jan. 19. Mayweather’s people can say why they believe additional testing above what we agreed to as necessary and we can give our viewpoint.

“Let the commission decide. If they come away and decide Manny needs to be blood tested every single [expletive] day, then we will go with that. This is the way to go to give this thing legitimacy. I hope they [Team Mayweather] see reason.” - By Abac Cordero (Philstar News Service,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miss USA rocked by sexy new scandal

A Miss USA contestant has been stripped of her title after racy photos of were made public.

A Miss USA contestant has been stripped of her title after racy photos of her were made public.

Some of the images of Katie Rees were posted on Wednesday evening, sparking headlines all over North America and prompting pagent officials to investigate.
Late Thursday, Rees was dethroned. “Katie Rees has been relieved of her duties as Miss Nevada USA 2007,” said Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, which owns the Miss USA pageant, according to the Associated Press.

First runner-up Helen Salas will assume the title and compete at the 2007 Miss USA pageant on March 23 in Los Angeles.

The shocking photos came hot on the fashionable heels of a scandal that rocked reigning Miss USA Tara Conner. The pics show Rees exposing her breasts, passionately kissing other young women, and simulating oral sex with females and a male.

Click here to see some of the photos. Discretion is advised.

"The pictures were disgusting," Miss USA co-owner Donald Trump told Larry King on CNN Thursday night. "These pictures were pretty far out there and that is not representative of Miss USA. We had no choice but to terminate her."

Rees insists the raunchy behaviour in the photos was "an isolated incident."

In a statement, she said: "While I take full responsibility for the photographs, I want everyone to know the truth. This was by no means representative of who I was, who I am, or who I will become. I have no intentions to disgrace the state of Nevada, the Miss Universe Organization, or Mr. Donald Trump."

Rees believes it was unfair of pageant officials to strip her of her crown.

"I am very embarrassed by the situation. Regardless, such a brief and distant lapse in judgment does not warrant my loss of the title I worked so hard to achieve," she said in her statement.

Rees, 22, was crowned Miss Nevada in Las Vegas in October and was due to represent the state in the Miss USA pageant next spring.

Earlier this month, she was the guest of honour at a Special Olympics bowling tournament and last month attended an event for underprivileged children. But Rees showed off a much wilder side in the pictures, taken during a party in Tampa, Florida when she was 19.

Last Tuesday, Trump announced that hard-partying Miss USA Tara Conner – accused of underage drinking, drug use and promiscuous behaviour – was going to enter rehab but will keep her title.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Manila's elite on spending spree despite economic crisis

MANILA - While everyone else was cutting expenses and beefing up savings amid the economic downturn, affluent consumers in Manila were on a spending binge, according to a survey by global market intelligence company Synovate.

Synovate's 2009 PAX Survey revealed that Manila's elite continued to purchase luxury goods—from designer clothes to laptops and financial products—in the second quarter of the year.

Among Asia-Pacific markets, Manila also saw the highest jump in the percentage of affluent consumers preferring to buy well known brands (from 39.6% last year to 48.4% this year).

Synovate PAX is the region’s most comprehensive study of elite adults, tracking media and digital consumption, prosperity, and influence across 11 markets: Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia.

Now on its 13th year, the survey polled 1,670 affluent residents in Manila between the third quarter of 2008 and second quarter of 2009.

It found that ownership of laptop among the elite rose 7.8% in the second quarter over the year ago while purchase of MP4 players and digital cameras grew 8% and 8.7%, respectively.

Smartphones have also been on the rise. About 15.6% of elite consumers in Manila have hybrid moble phones in their pockets compared to only 7.5% last year. Findings also showed that 69.1% own a mobile phone with Internet access and camera functions, which is 37.1% more than the general population.

Similarly, more affluent consumers in the Philippine capital have been purchasing private cars (62.1% of elite consumers versus 12% of population) and properties (from 51.5% of elite consumers to 58.2%).

The Synovate survey further revealed that 75% of these consumers have invested in one or more financial products this year compared to 68.5% last year, while almost a quarter or 23.9% of them have gone on one or more leisure trips in the past 12 months against only 2% of the general population.

Over the coming months, Synovate said spending levels of the Filipino elite are likely to continue to grow.

"We are seeing that affluent consumers in Manila do not want to give up the finer things in life," said Carole Ann Sarthou, managing director of Synovate in the Philippines.

Sarthou said that among markets, Manila's elite expressed the highest increase in intention to purchase all things luxurious such as designer clothes and leather goods (from 6.2% last year to 8.7% this year), quality accessories and footwear (from 5.1% to 7.1%), jewelry (from 6.5% to 10.5%), and luxury watches (from 7.1% to 8.6%).

Transport group to ask for P0.50 fare hike

MANILA, Philippines – Transport group Pasang Masda will ask for a P0.50 provisional fare increase if the price of diesel goes up to P35 per liter, an official said today (Nov. 18).

Pasang Masda national coordinator Rogel Fernandez said they are now monitoring fuel prices since the government has lifted the Executive Order 839, which pegged prices of basic commodities in calamity-hit areas.

"We will ask that the P0.50 provisional fare hike be given if diesel price goes up P35 per liter," Fernandez said.

Oil companies have imposed a hike on their petroleum products, with diesel retailing at an average of P30 after the Palace lifted EO 839. Prior the lifting of the order, diesel was sold at P28 per liter.

Pasang Masda also filed a P0.50 provisional fare hike before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board February last year. - By Dennis Carcamo (Philstar News Service,

Pacquiao batters Cotto for TKO win

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao staked his claim atop boxing’s mythical throne as the pound-for-pound best, using his lightning hand speed to beat and batter Miguel Cotto into submission Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao knocked Cotto down once in the third round and again in the fourth, pummeled him repeatedly and easily lifted the World Boxing Organization welterweight belt from the Puerto Rican with a 12th-round stoppage. The time was 55 seconds into the final round, as referee Kenny Bayless leaped between the fighters to save Cotto a more savage beating and ignominious end.

Cotto came out strong and landed some hard punches, but Cotto couldn’t deal with the speed. Pacquiao was landing three shots for every two Cotto did early. After the knockdown in the fourth, Cotto’s offense was nonexistent as he spent most of the last two thirds of the fight fending off Pacquiao’s onslaught.

Cotto landed in single digits in power shots in every round from the fifth forward.

Pacquiao nearly had the stoppage after the 11th when Cotto trainer Joe Santiago walked onto the ring apron and waved his hand at Bayless.

It appeared he was going to stop the fight, but then Bayless and ringside physician James Game spoke and allowed it to continue. It was only extending the misery as Pacquiao poured it on in the 12th.

When the fight ended, the crowd began to chant, “We want Floyd!” It was a reference to Floyd Mayweather Jr., the other man with a claim to the top of the boxing pound-for-pound list.

Pacquiao, who has won championship belts in five divisions and beat the linear champion in two others, can no longer be knocked as a small man who was beating washed up fighters.

In Cotto, he took on an elite and powerful welterweight whose only loss came under suspicious circumstances to Antonio Margarito last year. There is suspicion that Margarito’s gloves were loaded for that fight, though it has never been proven.

But Pacquiao proved he was able to not only take a welterweight punch, but rock him repeatedly. It was a magnificent performance and will create public demand for a fight with Mayweather.

“I want to see him fight Mayweather,” Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said.

Santiago said Pacquiao hit harder and was stronger than expected. Cotto injured his left shoulder in the eighth.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Miracle Aussie baby beats rare condition in world first

MELBOURNE (AFP) - – A "miracle" Australian baby has become the first person cured of a rare and deadly brain-melting condition after doctors gambled on an experimental drug tested only on mice, they said on Thursday.

The child, known only as "Baby Z", was facing a painful death of seizures and brain damage from molybdenum cofactor deficiency, a genetic defect which causes a build-up of toxic sulphite and usually kills in months.

But she made an amazing recovery just three days after first being given the untested treatment which was flown in from Germany and rushed through the courts.

"We are looking at her now and she is just an absolute miracle -- she has defied everybody," her mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told reporters.

Baby Z started having seizures within 60 hours of her birth in May 2008, prompting her family to appeal to biochemist Rob Gianello to help beat the previously incurable condition which affects just one in a million Australians.

"There was courage and there was death -- we opted for courage," the mother said. "If she wasn't treated she would die a very painful death."

Baby Z's doctor Alex Veldman said Gianello discovered an experimental drug which had been successfully used on mice by Germany's Gunther Schwarz, but had never been tested on humans.

As Schwarz couriered his entire stock of the compound from Cologne to Melbourne, doctors were in a race against time to get ethics approval from the hospital and a court order clearing its use, with Baby Z worsening by the hour.

"The team ... managed to get this therapy from bench to bedside in about two weeks, a process which normally takes several years," Veldman said.

Within hours of receiving her first dose of the drug, cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate (cPMP), Baby Z's sulphite levels plunged by more than two-thirds and were at normal levels within about three days.

Veldman said Baby Z's alertness improved and her twitching slowed rapidly, with her seizures dropping by 90 percent in three weeks.

"The response was just amazing," he told AFP.

"We can treat this in humans for the first time in (the history of) mankind. It has the potential to save lives all around the world."

Baby Z's development has been slowed by the brain damage she suffered before the treatment, and Veldman said she would need a cPMP injection every day for the rest of her life.

But her mother said the baby, now 18 months old, had started speaking and was physically active.

"Every day just gets better and better. We look at her every day and just think, 'Wow'," she said. "(The procedure) was a tiny bit of hope but, when you have nothing, that is a lot of hope."

Veldman said a second child, "Baby P", had since started cPMP treatment in Germany and was "improving rapidly".

The cases were now being analysed ahead of a planned international human trial of the medication at Melbourne's Monash Medical Centre, he said.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is Online Dating?

Online Dating in Three Easy Pieces

Online dating can be a little scary at first. You are jumping onto a website and sharing yourself with thousands and sometimes millions of other people. You are putting yourself out there with the risk of rejection in hopes of finding anything from a date to a spouse. It can be a lot of pressure to put yourself under.

That’s why you need to break online dating down to it’s three basic parts: The profile, the photo, and your strategy. Most people fail because they don’t take the little bit of extra effort that they need to make sure they have these three things. If you have a great strategy, but your profile or photos are not so good, you are probably just wasting your time because you are not going to make a good first impression. But, even if you have a great profile and photo, but have no real strategy, it’s kind of like having bullets without a gun. Throwing bullets will only get you so far. Here are some simple tips to help you out in all three areas:

The Profile:

Focus on the positives!
Always try to talk about the things you want in the person you are looking for. Don’t focus on the things that you don’t want, talking about them just makes it sound like you have more baggage than any normal person is going to want to deal with.

The Photo:

Keep the focus on you!
A lot of people like to put photos that show them with friends or at fancy functions like weddings. Don’t do it! You want to be the only person in your photo. If you have friends or family in the photo with you, you run the risk of people spending their time trying to figure out if they are just a friend or your ex. Even worse, they might be more attracted to your friend than they are to you. Instead, keep the focus on you and let visual props like a pet or a setting the shows off some of your character. That way people can see you in a setting that makes you look your best.

The Strategy:

Make the first move!

Don’t wait for Mr. or Ms. Right to find you. Only you really know what you want anyways, so get out there and start looking for it. Take advantage of the search options on your for your dating site so you can eliminate a lot of the people you aren’t interested in. When you find someone you like, SEND THEM AN EMAIL! Do not wink at them. Winking is for wusses!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rain or shine PBB House opens its doors Sunday night

Typhoon Ondoy delayed constructions of the Pinoy Big Brother house and almost stalled the pictorial of the new housemates. As of press time, the damages, if any, wrought by the new super typhoon Pepeng, has not yet been determined. But rain or shine, the PBB house will open its doors on Sunday night to welcome its 12 new housemates as "Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up" begins airing on ABS-CBN.

"Hopefully, the PBB house won't get flooded by any forthcoming typhoon. But during typhoon Ondoy it didn't because it was located on a higher level than those areas around it that got flooded. We only had leaking roofs which we fixed already. I could say that the housemates would be safe just in case another strong typhoon hits Metro Manila. I think the PBB house is one of the safest place to be during natural and unnatural calamities," explained director Laurenti Dyogi who is also the Business Unit Head of the Pinoy Big Brother franchise.

"Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up" is the third serving of the popular reality-TV show "Pinoy Big Brother." And according to Lauren, it is to date, the most exciting compared to the past two regular editions.

"This is the longest, most tedious 'PBB' audition we ever had. We also had the most number of people who auditioned. We had more than 50,000 including the last two auditions we recently had in Japan and San Francisco," he said.

From 50,000, they had to trim the number down to 500, then 100 and their shortlist reached around 50 PBB housemate hopefuls until the final 12 who would be entering the PBB house on Sunday night. But that's just the first batch. For those who have followed PBB, it can be anticipated that more housemates would soon follow. And the new PBB tag-line "Double Up" is an obvious hint that this would be twice the fun (two houses too?), and twice the gimmickry and excitement!

"There's a lot of interesting characters among the housemates. Their ages range from 20 to 33 and they're a mix of single people, married people, single parent, a mother, a father, a conservative person and more. Actually when we presented this to management, they were very happy and excited as well," Lauren added.

The concept of "Double Up" too wasn't hard to be approved by Endemol, the owner of the Big Brother franchise, according to Lauren.

"As long as it's new they will like it. They trust us because we've done a lot of PBB editions and we've been doing it for years also. They liked the idea so we got approved," he said.

The prizes remain the same - a house and lot which can be converted into cash, P1 million, and a franchise of a water distilling business. There will still be "Pinoy Big Brother Uber" and "PBB Games Update" aside from the regular nightly airing of "PBB." Adding support to the show are weekly highlights inside the PBB house on "PBB Weekend Primetime" airing on Studio 23 every Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. starting on Oct. 10 and raw footages from the PBB house on "Pinoy Big Brother Streaming" at 1 p.m. starting on Oct. 12.

There's also a website PBB fanatics can visit,

"Pinoy Big Brother: Double Up" will still be hosted by Mariel Rodriguez, Bianca Gonzales and Toni Gonzaga.

"What makes the regular edition of PBB more exciting is because the housemates here are more dynamic because they are ordinary people. And this new batch of housemates really went to a grueling process before being accepted. So definitely this will be an exciting PBB edition to watch," Lauren exclaimed.

* * *
'Spoiled Brat, the Movie' now on its second week

Now on its second week is "Yaya & Angelina: The Spoiled Brat Movie," and it's still drawing in the crowds in movie houses, despite the chaos and havoc brought about by Typhoon Ondoy. For this, the stars of the movie, Michael V. and Ogie Alcasid, wish to express their gratitude to friends and fans and the movie press for the support that they're giving their movie.

Michael and Ogie, and the other members of the cast of the movie, and the producers of course (GMA Films and APT Entertainment) were so happy to know not one of them was adversely affected by the typhoon.

To give back, Michael V., Ogie and Regine, did their share of charity work by donating to the relief funds and soliciting help from their sponsors. Regine herself did the grocery shopping (that's why she was absent from "SOP" last Sunday and even while she was suffering from migraine) and later brought the goodies for distribution to typhoon victims in Old Balara, QC, according to Ogie.

To be able to help more the victims, Ogie is now organizing a big concert at the Araneta Coliseum. "We intend to hold it on Nov. 14, and right now I'm trying to enlist the participation of our performers and actors and actresses from both ABS-CBN and GMA-7," Ogie told entertainment writers during a recent thanksgiving presscon held at Gerry's Grill.

Entitled "Kaya Natin Ito!" the concert will be directed by Rowell Santiago. Ogie said he hopes to get the support and commitment of OPM artists for this fundraising show. The proceeds will be donated to the Philippine National Red Cross for the benefit of the typhoon victims.

"Sana makakuha rin kami ng maraming sponsors. Araneta Coliseum is helping us, by the way," Ogie concluded.

* * *
Reunion of Sampaguita stars

It was another reunion of Sampaguita stars when Liberty Ilagan (now Mrs. Carlos Lardizabal) celebrated her natal day recently. The dinner party was held at the residence of Asia's Queen of Song Pilita Corrales in New Manila, Quezon City.

Liberty's family (except her lawyer husband who couldn't attend because he was sick) was present to help her celebrate her special day. Her two daughters Happy and Soeng (she was with husband) were there, and so were Liberty's cousins and other relatives. Liberty's sister Vicky I. Rousotte who is based abroad was there, and so was another sister, Maria Fe I. Gibbs, mother of singer-actor Janno Gibbs. Of course, Fe's husband Ronaldo Valdez was also present.

Liberty's colleagues and friends from showbiz came to wish her well, among them Marichu Maceda, Pempe Rodrigo (the ever efficient Girl Friday of the Balik Samahan group who tirelessly inform everyone of any event concerning them), Amalia Fuentes, Susan Roces, Delia Razon, Gloria Sevilla, Caridad Sanchez, Boots Anson-Roa, Imelda Ilanan, Marissa Delgado, Daria Ramirez, Elizabeth Ramsey, Amparo Lucas, Encarnita Abieera, Minda Morena, Boy Roxas, Lollie Mara, Anna Ledesma, Annabelle Santiago, Letty Hahns, Tess Nicolas, Linda Tan, Doris Lopez, Julie Ang, Precy Garcia, Malou Zamora, Vicky Anson-White, Vicky Gaspar, Merlin Ikida, Menchu Bantos, Nancy Coo, Elizabeth Poe, Pepito Rodriguez, Ramil Rodriguez, Charlie Davao, Lito Legaspi, and many more.

Other friends and Balik Samahan members like Barbara Perez, Robert Arevalo, Liza Lorena, Perla Bautista, and Zara Calvin couldn't come because of prior engagements. Photog Virgie Balatico who is a friend of most of the veteran stars was there to do the shoots. She was impressed by the friendship forged by these stars which has remained steadfast through the years. "Ibang-iba talaga ang samahan at pagkakaibigan ng mga artista noon," Virgie said. "Hindi nagbago ang kanilang kabaitan, tapat silang magmahal sa mga kaibigan. Hanggang ngayon magkakaibigan pa rin sila."

Though belatedly, we wish Libay happy birthday and many more birthdays to come!

* * *
Tidbits: Happy b-day greetings on Oct. 4 go to former Sen. Francisco "Kit" Tatad, "Master Showman" German "Kuya Germs" Moreno, Pagsanjan Mayor E.R. Ejercito, Matet de Leon, Pet Aquitania, Bon Arambulo, Philip S. Tan, Joseph L. Benitez, Editha Lim Manansala, Librada Gutierrez of DSWD, Atty. Jose D. Monasterial Jr., Mrs. Lani Pelayo, Sabria Chantal M. Prado, Winnie Javillo of West Covina, CA, Malou Pamaran Zamora, and MB's Angela L. Morales.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Samba! Rio wins right to host the 2016 Olympics

COPENHAGEN – Like sweet, sultry samba music, Rio hit all the right notes. Chicago had Barack Obama. Tokyo had $4 billion in the bank. Madrid had powerful friends. But none of that mattered. Rio de Janeiro had the enchanting story — of about 400 million sports-mad people on a giant untapped and vibrant continent yearning, hoping, that the Olympics finally might come to them. And the International Olympic Committee was hooked.

Olympians, we'll see you on Copacabana beach in 2016. Let Carnival begin.

On a chilly Danish evening of high drama, the IOC on Friday sent the games of the 31st Olympiad to Brazil's bustling, fun-loving but crime-ridden city of beaches and mountains, romance and slums.

The IOC closed its eyes to the risks — the huge projected costs of the Rio Games, the concerns about how athletes will get around and where people will sleep — to focus on the reward of lighting the Olympic cauldron in one of the last corners of the globe yet to be bathed by its light.

"It is Brazil's time," said the country's charismatic president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Chicago was knocked out in the first round — in one of the most shocking defeats ever handed down by the committee of former Olympians, sports administrators, royals and other VIPs.

While blues legend Buddy Guy twanged "Sweet Home Chicago" in a promotional video the city played to the IOC, bad blood between the committee and its U.S. branch — they've had flare-ups over revenue sharing and lucrative broadcasting rights — proved to be a note of discord. IOC members said the slap to Chicago was more directed at the U.S. Olympic Committee than to the Windy City itself.

The win was decisive: Rio beat Madrid by 66 votes to 32.

Chicago got just 18 votes in the first round, with Tokyo squeezing into the second round with 22. Madrid was leading after the first round with 28 votes, while Rio had 26.

In the second round, Tokyo was eliminated with just 20 votes. Madrid got 29, qualifying it for the final round face-off with Rio, which by then already had a strong lead with 46 votes.

The indignity suffered by Chicago — long considered a front-runner — was such that some IOC members squirmed. Obama flew overnight from Washington to sell his adoptive hometown and its plans for Olympic competition on Lake Michigan's windy shores to the IOC. First lady Michelle Obama, with talk show host Oprah Winfrey and sports stars in tow, jetted in first and spent two days buttering up IOC members, an essential part of the secretive and unpredictable selection process.

IOC members seemed wowed, posing for photos with her and taking souvenir shots of the president with their cell phones. But, in the vote, Chicago was shunned.

Obama called Silva to congratulate him, but the nature of the loss still rang as a stinging anti-American rebuke. Close to half of the IOC's 106 members are Europeans.

"To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving," senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper said.

French IOC member Guy Drut said "an excess of security" for the Obamas unsettled some of his colleagues. He complained that he'd been barred from crossing the lobby of his hotel for security reasons, and he grumbled that "nothing has been done" to resolve the financial disputes between the IOC and the USOC.

Of Obama's performance, Drut said: "He didn't do too much. Michelle Obama was exceptional."

"This morning the city was closed because of Barack Obama," he added.

In Chicago, there was bewildered silence when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced: "The city of Chicago, having obtained the least number of votes, will not participate in the next round."

On Rio's Copacabana beach, where nearly 50,000 people roared when the winning city was announced, the party headed into the night.

Rio spoke to IOC members' consciences: the city argued that it was simply unfair that South America has never hosted the games, while Europe, Asia and North America have done so repeatedly.

"It is a time to address this imbalance," Silva told the IOC before it delivered its verdict. "It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country."

Madrid's surprising success in reaching the final round came after former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made a morbid appeal for the Spanish capital, reminding IOC members as he asked for their vote that, at age 89, "I am very near the end of my time."

Samaranch ran the IOC for 21 years before Rogge took over in 2001.

Beating three rich, more developed nations that had all previously held the games represented a giant, morale-boosting coup for Brazil. The emerging nation is bounding up the ranks of the world's biggest economies but still has millions of people living in poverty.

Like a football team before a big final, Rio's bid leaders and Silva held hands in silent prayer before walking out to deliver a flawless and impassioned presentation. A bid official said Silva's last words of encouragement were "let's stay calm, and stick with our plan."

Brazil's central bank governor reeled off impressive statistics about an economy predicted to be the world's fifth-largest by 2016. The state governor pledged that taxes would not be raised for the games and played down safety concerns. Computer-generated bird's-eye images of how venues will spread across the city, with sailing in the shadow of Sugar Loaf mountain and volleyball on Copacabana, provided the wow factor.

Then Silva delivered the knockout.

"Among the top 10 economies of the world, Brazil is the only country that has not hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games," he said. "For the Olympic movement, it will be an opportunity to feel the warmth of our people, the exuberance of our culture, the sun of our joy and it will also be a chance to send a powerful message to the whole world: The Olympic Games belong to all peoples, to all continents and to all humanity."

Silva, a bearded former union leader, disappeared into a huge group hug with the joyous Rio team after Rogge announced that the city had won. Football great Pele had tears in his eyes. Brazil will now hold the world's two biggest sporting events in the space of just two years: in 2014, it is hosting the World Cup.

"There was absolutely no flaw in the bid," Rogge said.

Now, Africa and Antarctica are the only continents never to have been awarded an Olympics.

"We have sent out a message that we want to go global," IOC member Gerhard Heiberg said.

Obama held out the enticing prospect of a Chicago games helping to reconnect the United States with the world after the presidency of George W. Bush. He told the IOC that the "full force of the White House" would be applied so "visitors from all around the world feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people."

An uncomfortable moment came during Chicago's presentation when an IOC member from Pakistan, Syed Shahid Ali, noted that going through U.S. customs can be harrowing for foreigners. Obama responded that he wanted a Chicago games to offer "a reminder that America at its best is open to the world."

But the IOC's last two experiences in the United States were bad: the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were sullied by a bribery scandal and logistical problems and a bombing hit the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Former IOC member Kai Holm said the brevity of Obama's appearance — he was in and out in five hours — may have hurt Chicago.

"Too businesslike," Holm said. "It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect."

IOC members said Asian voters may have banded together, at Chicago's expense, in the first round in favor of Tokyo, which offered reassurances of financial security, with $4 billion already banked for the games.

"The whole thing doesn't make sense other than there has been a stupid bloc vote," Gosper said.

The last U.S. city to bid for the Summer Games, New York, did scarcely better. It was ousted in the second round in the 2005 vote that gave the 2012 Games to London.

Now, Chicago can only rue what might have been.

And Rio ... well, what an excuse for a party.

The 'Internet' turned 40 on sept 2

The 'Internet' turned 40 on sept 2. It may sound strange, but today it is quite impossible to think of world without the 'World Wide Web'.

On Sept 2, 1969, around about 20 people gathered in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles and two bulky computers were used to pass test data through a 15-foot gray cable. That was the beginning of the Internet. Now, 40 years later, we take a look at the Internet timeline.

Key milestones in the development and growth of the Internet

1969: On September 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of Arpanet, an experimental military network. The first connection between two sites UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California takes place on October 29, though the network crashes after the first two letters of the word "logon." UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah later join.

1970: Arpanet gets first East Coast node, at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Mass.

1972: Ray Tomlinson brings e-mail to the network, choosing "at" symbol as way to specify e-mail addresses belonging to other systems.

1973: Arpanet gets first international nodes, in England and Norway.

1974: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn develop communications technique called TCP, allowing multiple networks to understand one another, creating a true Internet. Concept later splits into TCP/IP before formal adoption on January 1, 1983.

1983: Domain name system is proposed. Creation of suffixes such as ".com," ''.gov" and ".edu" comes a year later.

1988: One of the first Internet worms, Morris, cripples thousands of computers.

1989: Quantum Computer Services, now AOL, introduces America Online service for Macintosh and Apple II computers, beginning an expansion that would connect nearly 27 million Americans online by 2002.

1990: Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web while developing ways to control computers remotely at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

1993: Marc Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois create Mosaic, the first Web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page, opening the Web to the world with software that is easy to use.

1994: Andreessen and others on the Mosaic team form a company to develop the first commercial Web browser, Netscape, piquing the interest of Microsoft Corp. and other developers who would tap the Web's commerce potential. Two immigration lawyers introduce the world to spam, advertising their green card lottery services.

1995: Inc. opens its virtual doors.

1996: Passage of US law curbing pornography online. Although key provisions are later struck down as unconstitutional, one that remains protects online services from liability for their users' conduct, allowing information and misinformation to thrive.

1998: Google Inc. forms out of a project that began in Stanford dorm rooms. US government delegates oversight of domain name policies to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Justice Department and 20 states sue Microsoft, accusing the maker of the ubiquitous Windows operating system of abusing its market power to thwart competition from Netscape and others.

1999: Napster popularizes music file-sharing and spawns successors that have permanently changed the recording industry. World Internet population surpasses 250 million.

2000: The dot-com boom of the 1990s becomes a bust as technology companies slide., eBay and other sites are crippled in one of the first widespread uses of the denial-of-service attack, which floods a site with so much bogus traffic that legitimate users cannot visit.

2002: World Internet population surpasses 500 million.

2006: World Internet population surpasses 1 billion.

2008: World Internet population surpasses 1.5 billion. China's Internet population reaches 250 million, surpassing the United States as the world's largest. Netscape's developers pull the plug on the pioneer browser, though an offshoot, Firefox, remains strong. Major airlines intensify deployment of Internet service on flights.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quake triggers tsunami in the Samoas, killing 82

AP – An abandoned vehicle is shown shortly after a tsunami warning was issued in American Samoa on Tuesday, …

APIA, Samoa – A powerful earthquake in the South Pacific hurled massive tsunami waves at the shores of Samoa and American Samoa, flattening villages and sweeping cars and people out to sea, leaving at least 82 dead and dozens missing.

Survivors fled the fast-churning water for higher ground and remained huddled there hours after the quake struck early Tuesday. Signs of devastation were everywhere, with a giant boat washed ashore lying on the edge of a highway and floodwaters swallowing up cars and homes.

The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Samoa, an island nation of 180,000 people located about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. It struck about 120 miles (190 kilometers) from neighboring American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people.

Four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters) high roared ashore on American Samoa, reaching up to a mile (1.6 kilometers) inland, Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, was quoted as saying by a parks service spokeswoman. He reported dozens of park workers missing.

Hampered by power and communications outages, officials struggled to determine damage and casualties.

Samoan police commissioner Lilo Maiava told The Associated Press that police there had confirmed 63 deaths but that officials were still searching the devastated areas, so the number of deaths might rise soon.

Hundreds of injured were being treated by health workers and that people are still struggling into centers seeking treatment, Maiava said.

At least 19 people were killed on American Samoa, officials there said.

"I don't think anybody is going to be spared in this disaster," said American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono, who was in Hawaii for a conference.

In Washington, President Barack Obama declared a disaster for American Samoa. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was deploying teams to provide support and assess damage.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi looked shaken Wednesday on board a flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to the Samoan capital of Apia.

"So much has gone. So many people are gone," he told reporters on board. "I'm so shocked, so saddened by all the loss."

Malielegaoi said his own village of Lepa was destroyed.

"Thankfully, the alarm sounded on the radio and gave people time to climb to higher ground," he said. "But not everyone escaped."

Gov. Tulafono told reporters in Honolulu that more victims could be found when rescuers reach areas that are inaccessible by roads. Tulafono said a member of his extended family was among the dead.

There were unconfirmed reports of at least five additional people dead in the island nation of Tonga, west of the Samoas, New Zealand's acting Prime Minister Bill English said.

"There are a considerable number of people who've been swept out to sea and are unaccounted for," English said. "We don't have information about the full impact and we do have some real concern that over the next 12 hours the picture could look worse rather than better."

He said a New Zealand P3 Orion maritime surveillance plane would reach the region later Wednesday to search for survivors. U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. John Titchen said a C-130 was being dispatched Wednesday to deliver aid to American Somoa, assess damage and take the governor back home.

On Samoa, New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said an Australian woman has been confirmed killed in Samoa, three other Australians have been hospitalized and six other Australians remain unaccounted for after the tsunami.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in American Samoa, reported at least 19 people killed in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila. Officials reported at least 50 injured.

American Samoa is home to a U.S. national park that appeared to be especially hard-hit.

Reynolds, the park superintendent, said he had been able to locate only 20 percent of the park's 40 to 50 employees and volunteers. He spoke to park service officials from Pago Pago Harbor and reported that the visitor center and offices were destroyed, according to Holly Bundock, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.

Residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake early Tuesday, which lasted two to three minutes and was centered about 20 miles (32 kilometers) below the ocean floor. It was followed by at least three large aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.

The quake came Tuesday morning for the Samoas, which lie just east of the international dateline. For Asia-Pacific countries on the other side of the line, it was already Wednesday.

The Samoan capital was virtually deserted with schools and businesses closed. Hours after the waves struck, fresh sirens rang out with another tsunami alert and panicked residents headed for higher ground again, although there was no indication of a new quake.

Eni Faleomavaega, who represents American Samoa as a non-voting delegate in the U.S. House, said he had talked to people by telephone who said that Pago Pago — just a few feet above sea level — was flattened and several hundred people's homes were destroyed.

The dominant industry in American Samoa — tuna canneries — was also affected. Chicken of the Sea's tuna packing plant in American Samoa was forced to close although the facility wasn't damaged, the San Diego-based company said.

The effects of the tsunami could be felt thousands of miles away.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said "very weak" tsunami waves were registered off the island of Hachijojima about 10 hours after the quake. There were no reports of injuries or damage in Japan, which is about 4,700 miles (7,600 kilometers) northwest of Samoa.

U.S. officials said strong currents and dangerous waves were forecast from California to Washington state. No major flooding was expected, however.

In Los Angeles, lifeguards said they will clear beaches at about 8 p.m. in response to an advisory for possible dangerous currents.

While the earthquake and tsunami were big, they were not on the same scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, said Brian Atwater of the U.S. Geological Survey in Seattle. That tsunami killed more than 230,000 in a dozen countries across Asia.

The 2004 quake was at least 10 times stronger than the measurements being reported for Tuesday's quake, Atwater said.


Sagapolutele reported from Pago Pago, American Samoa. Associated Press writers Ray Lilley in Wellington, New Zealand; Jaymes Song and Herbert A. Sample in Honolulu and Seth Borenstein and Michele Salcedo in Washington contributed to this report.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Survivors return to Provident Village

MANILA, PHilippines - Residents started returning to their homes in Provident Village, Marikina City yesterday as government workers cleared the area of debris brought by the onslaught of typhoon “Ondoy,” which left 72 dead in Marikina alone.

However, they saw that only the foundations remained, and receding floodwaters left about two feet of mud. Able-bodied residents took turns cleaning their homes of mud as they lamented that they received no government help since Ondoy struck last Saturday.

Among those affected were the relatives of ABS-CBN executive Arlene Lim-Farol, whose house was submerged in about three feet of water.

“Everything, except the structures was destroyed,” Farol said, noting that their residence is higher than the average house in Provident Village.

The residents claimed it would take them several days to dig up the mud and bring their lives back to normal.

Marikina police chief Senior Superintendent Romeo Magsalos said some areas in the village already have electricity, but residents have run out of potable water.

“The residents’ priorities are… clean water to drink, clothing, blankets and sleeping mats. Of course, they also need food and any other basic commodities,” Magsalos told The STAR in an interview.

Despite the massive relief operations conducted by Mayor Maria Lourdes Fernando, Magsalos said they still experienced shortage in supplies of food and other necessities. He said they are still closely monitoring the situation in schools converted into evacuation centers.

Magsalos said at least 59 of the recorded fatalities were residents of Provident Village, with the bodies of seven members of a family recovered in Barangay Concepcion Uno. Six other bodies were recovered from other parts of the city.

At the height of typhoon Ondoy, Farol said her parents, siblings and neighbors took refuge on the roof of their house. She said it was her sister, who arrived on board a six-by-six truck, who rescued them. “All the 16 persons who took shelter on the high roof were accounted for,” said Farol , adding that her relatives and household helpers are safe in her house in Manila.

Farol said the ceiling of their house collapsed, “All the window screens were covered by mud. Our appliances, including the big piano, cabinets and others were in total wreck… But my parents, and family survived the raging floodwaters.”

Magsalos also bewailed the fact that the Justice Hall, which houses the local police headquarters, was submerged in chest-deep waters last Saturday. He said the floodwaters have subsided but the police headquarters has neither water nor electricity.

“All our telephone lines are busted and we cannot perform our mandate very well. But we are coping by joining other government agencies in the ongoing clearing operations,” he said.

The Marikina City government has centralized relief operations in affected areas and established headquarters under the flyover in front of the Monasterio de Sta. Clara on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.

“All those who want to ask questions, like their missing relatives and others pertinent to the calamity and those who want to donate food and other basic commodities can proceed to the place,” he said adding that donors can contact Tek de Leon at cell phone number 0920-9052914. - By Non Alquitran (Philstar News Service,

Text msg on Marikina 'dam' release belied

MANILA - Authorities on Monday belied circulating text messages that water from the "Marikina dam" would be released, causing more flooding.

Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando said there is no such thing as a Marikina dam.

One such text message says: "If you have friends and families along Marcos highway, tell them to stay on a high area because authorities are about to open Marikina Dam. It will affect Marikina, Pasig area and lower Antipolo. So please pass for faster dissemination." Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Defense's Anthony Golez said there are no plans to release water from any other dam at the moment.

In an interview over ANC's on the Scene Monday afternoon, Golez said proper warnings will be given before authorities release water from filled up dams.

"Talking about misinformation, I would like to inform everybody that there is an ongoing text message that dams are going to be opened, that dams are going to spilling water into the different neighborhoods. Let me tell everybody that this information is not correct," he said.

"Even before we have to release water from our dams, we follow certain protocols. As a matter of fact, PAGASA, which is the overseer of the dams, follow certain protocols that even before they release water, they need to warn the communities that are situated within the area of these dams. And after they warn them for a certain period of time, then they are educated, the people are educated which are safe, which areas are not safe," he said.

Philippines asks for help as flood toll hits 140

MANILA (AFP) - – Overwhelmed Philippine authorities appealed for international aid Monday as the death toll from once-in-a-lifetime floods soared to 140 and weary survivors sheltered in squalid conditions.

Two days after the horror storm sent torrents of water through the nation's capital Manila and surrounding provinces, the government conceded it was unable to deal with the disaster on its own and needed urgent help.

"We are appealing for international humanitarian assistance," Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said in a nationally televised briefing.

"The potential for a more serious situation is there and we cannot wait for that to happen."

Teodoro launched the appeal as he announced the death toll had climbed sharply to 140 people, with another 32 missing and 453,000 forced out of their flooded or destroyed homes. Related article: Looters target homes

The death toll is expected to jump even further, as local authorities reported dozens of other deaths that appear not to have been included in the government's figures.

President Gloria Arroyo described the deluge, which was the worst to hit Manila in more than four decades and left 80 percent of the city under water, as a "once-in-a-lifetime" storm.

"(It) was an extreme event that has strained our response capabilities to the limit. But it is not breaking us," she said. Related article: Disease threat

But with the threat of disease lurking over the disaster zones and relief workers in dire shortage of supplies to help survivors, other officials said authorities were not coping.

"The system is overwhelmed, local government units are overwhelmed," the head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Anthony Golez, told reporters.

Authorities said some people remained stranded in their flooded homes more than 48 hours after the floods, while power and telephone services were still cut in the worst-hit areas of Manila. Related article: New storm threat

Poor drainage systems meant some places remained waist-deep in water, while vast swathes of the sprawling city of 12 million people were covered in sludge.

In schools, open-air gymnasiums and other makeshift evacuation camps, tens of thousands of people were desperately short of food, water and clothes.

At one gymnasium in eastern Manila, 3,000 people were sheltering in hot and humid conditions alongside the bodies of 11 neighbours lying in coffins.

There was no running water, and human faeces lay only a metre (yards) from where people were sleeping on the concrete floor.

"We are waiting for more aid to arrive. We are trying to mobilise our own relief operations here. But we need more help," the head of the local neighbourhood, Armando Endaya, told AFP. Related article: Flood hero who perished

Edgar Halog, a 44-year-old driver of one of Manila's iconic "jeepney" buses, was sheltering with his wife and seven children.

"We do not have any money, we do not know what to do. We don't have any other relatives. We are waiting for food rations," Halog told AFP.

In a wealthier part of Manila that was also swamped by the floods, residents raced against looters to retrieve televisions and other valuables, with hardly any sign of a police presence.

"We hope to recover something from our home, if there is anything left to recover," said resident Jun de Guzman, 48, as he and three relatives carrying brooms waded in the knee-deep muck covering what was left of Provident Village.

Health authorities also warned of disease outbreaks and appealed to the public for donations of medicine, clean water and food, as well as for medics to volunteer their services.

Infections including swine flu, diarrhoea and the bacterial disease leptospirosis were at the top of the government's list of concerns, Melissa Guerrero, chief aide to the health secretary, told AFP.

Defence Minister Teodoro said that apart from relief goods, funding and medicine, the Philippines may also ask for international rescue teams.

A small number of US forces, stationed in the Philippines to train local forces in combating terrorists, have helped in rescue efforts over the past two days.

After ripping across the Philippines, tropical storm Ketsana was upgraded to a full typhoon and was bearing down on central Vietnam, where officials expected it to make landfall late Tuesday.

Cristine Reyes recounts ordeal

MANILA – As she dreadfully watched the floodwaters devouring her Marikina home, actress Cristine Reyes had feared the worst - she and her family, who were trapped on their rooftop at the height of tropical storm Ondoy (international codename Ketsana), would not make it alive.

Floods had already reached the second floor of her home in Princeton Street in Provident Village, forcing them to move to the roof amid heavy downpour.

She, her family and some neighbors swam in floodwaters and then climbed the water tank at the back of the house to reach the rooftop where they would stay for 12 hours before help came. A very drenched Reyes tearfully appealed for help on television.

She recounted: “Talagang nagpra-pray ako, kami ng pamangkin ko na 3 years old. Tinuturuan ko. Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Sabihin mo Lord God, help us, save us.’ Sinasabi niya. Iyong bata nakikinig sa akin."

“Grabe iyong pinagdaanan namin. Akala ko ending na namin lahat. Pero hindi ako nawalan ng pag-asa. Buti na lang ligtas kami.”

An Army rubber boat finally came early Sunday and, to her surprise, actor Richard Gutierrez was part of the rescue team.

“Sobrang hindi ko ma-imagine iyong ginawa niya. Ni-risk niya iyong buhay niya. Hindi biro iyong nangyari sa akin,” she said.

The 700-square-meter house is still submerged in ankle-deep mud when Reyes returned to her home Monday. She inspected the damage and salvaged some of her belongings.

Reyes is currently staying at sister Ara Mina’s residence in Quezon City. The young actress said she has decided to leave her Marikina house and relocate.

She said although she could no longer save most of her furniture, the most important thing is she and her family are now safe.

“Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong. Sa mga hindi pa nare-rescue hanggang ngayon, sana matulungan natin sila sa abot ng makakaya natin,” she said. -Report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Water detected on the Moon

Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - – Water particles have been detected on the surface of the Moon by three missions, including an Indian probe.

The evidence, disclosed in new scientific papers, overturns the long accepted view that lunar soil is dry and comes just two weeks before a NASA probe is to crash into the surface near the Moon's southern pole to see if water can be detected in the dust and debris released by the impact.

The new data was gathered by probes equipped with NASA instruments designed to map the Moon's mineral composition.

The so-called "Moon Mineralogy Mapper," or M3, uses the reflection of sunlight off the Moon's surface to determine soil composition.

In one of the three papers published in the latest edition of the journal Science, researchers said they analyzed light waves detected by an M3 instrument on board an Indian satellite, Chandrayyan-1.

The reflected light waves indicated a chemical bond between oxygen and hydrogen -- proof, the researchers said, of the existence of water on the Moon's surface.

Larry Taylor of the University of Tennessee, one of the study's co-authors, said the instrument is capable of detecting the composition of the thin upper layer of the Moon's surface only to a depth of two or three inches.

Until now, scientists had advanced the theory that there might be ice at the permamently dark bottom of craters at the Moon's poles but that the rest of the Moon was totally dry.

Lunar rocks and soil contain about 45 percent oxygen, but the source of the the hydrogen observed by the instruments on the three probes remains to be determined.

Taylor and his colleagues believe it may have come from an astronomical phenomenon called the solar wind, which consist mainly of streams of positively charged hydrogen atoms emitted as the sun undergoes nuclear fusion.

They estimate that each ton of lunar soil consists of 25 percent water.

Two other probes equipped with M3-type instruments also detected the chemical signature for the presence of water.

These include data gathered by the American spacecraft Cassini as it passed near the moon a decade agon on its way to Saturn.

The third probe, also American, was Deep Impact, which was launched toward the comet Tempel-1 in 2005 to pierce it with a projectile in order to analyze the dust cloud created by the impact.

Deep Impact passed near the Moon to gather data with an instrument similar to M3.

Samples of lunar rock and soil brought back to Earth by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s also contained traces of water.

But the containers in which they were transported were not hermetically sealed so researchers dismissed the presence of water as coming from the Earth.

"To some extent, we were fooled," said Taylor, who has studied the original Apollo missions. "Since the boxes leaked, we just assumed the water we found was from contamination with terrestrial air."

Indian scientists lost radio contact with the Chandrayaan-1 lunar satellite last month, but it had already collected enough data to provide the firmest evidence so far of water concentrated near the lunar poles.

"To find water on the moon was one of the main objectives," mission director Mylswamy Annadurai told AFP in Bangalore.

"The baby has done its job," a clearly delighted Annadurai said. "It's a major milestone, although we still have to quantify the findings."

"It was a combined team effort and of great significance for international space cooperation," he added.

Friday, September 25, 2009

AIDS breakthrough as vaccine cuts infections for first time

BANGKOK (AFP) - – An experimental AIDS vaccine has for the first time cut the risk of infection in humans in what scientists Thursday called a "breakthrough" in the quarter-century fight against the epidemic.

The vaccine reduced the chance of being infected by a third, researchers announced after the world's largest trial of 16,000 volunteers, carried out by the US Army and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.

The surprising result comes after years of fruitless attempts by the medical world to find an HIV vaccine, including one trial jab that apparently boosted infection rates.

"It is the first demonstration that a vaccine against HIV can protect against infection," Colonel Jerome Kim of the US military HIV research programme told a news conference in Bangkok via videolink.

"This is a very important scientific advance and gives us hope that a globally effective vaccine may be possible in the future," he said.

Thai Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said the "outcome of this study is a scientific breakthrough."

The vaccine was a combination of two older drugs that had not reduced infection on their own and the researchers said they were now studying why the two apparently worked together.

The study combined the canarypox vaccine ALVAC, manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis of France, and AIDSVAX, originally made by VaxGen Inc and now licensed to the non-profit Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases.

Researchers said the latest vaccine showed a 31.2 percent efficacy in reducing the risk of HIV infection.

"The outcome represents a breakthrough in HIV vaccine development because for the first time ever there is evidence that HIV vaccine has preventative efficacy," said the research team in a statement.

The vaccine was tested on volunteers -- all HIV negative men and women aged from 18 to 30 -- at average risk of infection in two Thai provinces near Bangkok starting in October 2003.

Half received the vaccine and the rest were given a placebo. Out of the placebo recipients 74 of 8,198 became infected compared with 51 of 8,197 who got the vaccine.

The World Health Organization and the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS congratulated the researchers for the "encouraging" results.

"The study results, representing a significant scientific advance, are the first demonstration that a vaccine can prevent HIV infection in a general adult population and are of great importance," they said in a statement. Experts' reactions

The UN said it may not be possible to get licensing permission for the drug at the moment based on the results, and that further studies were needed to determine if the vaccine has the same effect in other parts of the world.

AIDS first came to public notice in 1981 and has since killed at least 25 million people worldwide, and 33 million others are living with AIDS or the HIV virus.

Swift progress in identifying the virus that caused AIDS unleashed early optimism that a vaccine would quickly emerge. HIV destroys immune cells and exposes the body to opportunistic disease.

But out of the 50 candidates that have been evaluated among humans, only two vaccines have made it through all three phases of trials, and both were flops. About 30 vaccines remain in the pipeline.

Scientists were in 2007 forced to abandon two advanced clinical trials of a vaccine by pharmaceutical company Merck after it appeared to actually heighten the risk of AIDS infection.

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, said the results of the latest test, although "modest", were the first concrete demonstration that a vaccine "could one day become a reality."

The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of researchers, policymakers, donors and advocates that includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said it was a "historic day in the 26-year quest to develop an AIDS vaccine."

The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), an organisation that promotes the search for a vaccine, said the trial results were "very exciting and a significant scientific achievement."

The head of the US agency tasked with controlling the spread of infectious disease said it was an important breakthrough.

"These new findings represent an important step forward in HIV vaccine research," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health, which provided major funding and logistical support for the study.

But a top AIDS scientist, France's Jean-Francois Delfraissy, warned that the results were "good news but the effect remains modest".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New PSP model coming

Sony confirms slimmer, lighter PSP model in the works; includes extended battery life and hi-definition video output to TVs.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Rumours have been flying around for a while that the PlayStation Portable would be getting a redesign.

One of the first rumours came from a UK event to launch the PSP in Education initiative, where Sony Computer Entertainment Europe managing director Ray Maguire called the current version of the PSP the "first iteration" of the hardware and that a "smaller, lighter" version would be coming in the future.

However, the company furiously backtracked after the event, with Sony America corporate communications director Dave Karraker saying, "Ray's comments regarding decreasing the size of the PSP were made in the general context that almost all consumer electronics shrink over time as advances are made in the technology to shrink the components used in manufacture. We have not, however, made any announcement regarding any new PSP hardware changes."

In June, Sony updated a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which showed a diagram of a possible new PSP model that featured a swivel screen and a way to switch between using it as a games machine and a mobile phone. More speculation followed that the new PSP was imminent and that it would also be a cell phone.

Today, Sony confirmed that a new PSP would be coming and that the redesign would indeed be a newer, smaller PSP. It also revealed the new model would come in a variety of different colours. Announced so far for North America are both the classic "piano black," along with "ice silver," which will arrive in September. There will also be a special Star Wars design: a white PSP with a picture of Darth Vader's face on the back, to be available in October.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai said that the new PSP will be 33 percent lighter, 19 percent slimmer, the battery will be more efficient, and there will also be faster loading of games. It will also come with the ability to output high-quality video by pressing the display button. This means that movies, games, photos, and all other PSP applications can be output to a TV screen.

Two bundles were announced for the new portable for North America. The first, titled "The PSP entertainment pack for North America," includes the silver PSP, a copy of the Daxter game, a 1GB memory stick Duo, and a Family Guy collection UMD. The second is the new Star Wars Battlefront PSP pack, which will include the Star Wars: Battlefront Renegade Squadron game and the special Star Wars PSP. Both will cost $199.99.

For a closer look, check out GameSpot Hardware's in-depth examination of the device.

New PS2, PSP models revealed

Lighter version of classic console, red PSPs head to Japan and Europe; SCEA reps mum on North American plans.

Today in Japan, Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed rumors by officially unveiling a new version the PlayStation 2. The latest iteration of the hardware--which has sold over 120 million units internationally in its seven-plus years on the market--will be available in three colors (black, white, and silver) and have a built-in AC adaptor. Officially announced for Japan, the PS2, model #SCPH-90000, has also been confirmed for release in the EU by Sony Europe. In Japan, it will retail for ¥16,000 (approx. $139), the same price as the old model, which is also the same size. No European pricing is yet available for the SCPH-90000 PS2.

Sony also announced today a new "Deep Red" edition of its PlayStation Portable will go on sale in Japan. As the name implies, the new PSP will be red in color, a hue Sony said was chosen for its appeal to holiday shoppers. In Japan, it will arrive on December 13 in two versions. The ¥22,800 (about $199) "PSP Deep Red Value Pack" includes a pouch, handstrap, cleaning cloth, and 32MB Memory Stick Duo for game data. The ¥29,800 (around $260) "PSP Deep Red 1 Seg Pack" includes the handheld's 1 Seg TV tuner, a 1GB Memory Stick Duo, and a viewing stand, as well as the aforementioned pouch, handstrap, and cloth.

Though the Deep Red PSP isn't yet officially headed for Europe, unconfirmed reports have the continent getting its own cherry-hued version of the console. The forums briefly displayed packaging for a bundle containing a new bright red PSP and UMD movie discs of the Spider-Man 2, which was packed in with the PSP at launch, and Spider-Man 3, which is currently bundled with the $399 40GB PlayStation 3 in Blu-ray disc form. (The post displaying the packaging has since been deleted by administrators.)

Sony Computer Entertainment America would not confirm nor deny the Spider-Man PSP bundle's existence, let alone whether or not it would be available outside Europe. SCEA reps also would not confirm whether or not the Deep Red PSP or the new PS2 would ever land on North American shores.

"We haven't announced anything, the only new PS2 we've announced is the new limited edition SingStar bundle that started shipping this week," a rep said, referencing the white PS2 package deal, which went on sale today in the US and Canada.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kanye West gets 9 BET Hip-Hop Awards nominations

West might still be under fire for his controversial act on MTV, but the ranting rapper could be looking at plenty of praise from BET next month.

West has received nine nominations for the fourth annual BET Hip-Hop Awards, which will be televised Oct. 27. The rapper caused a stir Sunday after he interrupted 19-year-old country singer Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The 32-year-old West's latest album, "808 & Heartbreak," has sold over a million copies.

Jay-Z and Lil Wayne drew the second-most nominations with seven apiece, while T.I. received six nods.

The network will also recognize veteran rapper Ice Cube with the "I Am Hip-Hop" icon award. The show will be hosted by comedian Mike Epps.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

iPod touch. New features. New price.

Next Level Fun
iPod touch. Starting at $199.

A great iPod. A great pocket computer. A portable game player.
Shop online and get free shipping or pick one up today at the Apple Retail Store

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Enjoy games, the web, email, and more, along with the new 3.1 software. Now at a lower price. Buy now

A great iPod.
Listen to mixes created just for you with Genius Mixes. Flick through your music in Cover Flow. Watch movies on a brilliant 3.5-inch screen. Give your iPod touch a shake to shuffle to a new song. And download music, movies, and more when you access the iTunes Store over Wi-Fi.
Learn about music Learn about movies

A great pocket computer.
Built-in Wi-Fi means you can quickly and easily surf the web, send email, update your Facebook status, and so much more—all on a device that fits in your pocket.
Learn more
A great portable game player.
iPod touch is designed to make playing games a great experience. New games are added to the App Store every day, and with Genius recommendations for apps, the App Store even suggests new ones based on what you've already downloaded. And games are only a part of the thousands of apps you can enjoy on iPod touch. Check out some of our current favorites.
See the Games and Apps Showcase