Come 2016, the Aquino administration will be on its sixth year of failure to address MRT3 passenger overcrowding.
Even after PNoy’s term is over, the MRT3 station running from North EDSA to Taft will still be an unsafe place to be in during rush hour.
Studies on modern railways the world over all agree on one thing: overcrowded trains and train stations equals more accidents equals more passenger deaths.
There is a certain point when apologies become tiring, because it is becoming repetitive and scripted. Commuters have over-extended their patience these past four years.
Assurances by Secretary Herminio Coloma are becoming hollow and meaningless in light of the malfunctioning facilities in almost every MRT3 station.
If it’s not the often-broken escalators, it’s the comfort rooms that do not just have faulty faucets, but ill-maintained sanitation. Even the train station computers are reported to be malfunctioning.
Why can’t the MRT management emulate Tokyo train stations? They hired packers who help squeeze passengers into the train cars, and can do so in such an orderly manner.
BAYAN MUNA Rep. Neri Colmenares is only stating what has already been obvious: four years of failure to solve overcrowding is a sign of incompetence on the part of Malacanang.
If you want to see the current state of a country, you only need to look at how it runs train stations.
After a well-hyped press release on the government takeover of the MRT3 last January 2014, commuter woes are still mounting, with no solution in sight.
It makes one think that the promised takeover may save the government billions of pesos, but it will surely tax daily commuters.
It is like being between a rock and a hard place. Either you take the overspeeding buses in EDSA, or you get yourself squeezed like sardines in the MRT during rush hour.
That is not much of a choice. That is a threat to one’s life and safety.
“Thanks! But no thanks!” That is how I feel about the drainage improvement, reblocking and repaving of Balete Drive from Aurora Boulevard to E. Rodriguez Avenue in Baranggay Mariana, Quezon City. The way it was done is almost the perfect model of how such a project should be done on an important alternative route to EDSA to the East and to Gregorio Araneta Avenue to the West. Gregorio Araneta Ave. or C 3 is the base of a triangle formed with Aurora and E. Rodriquez (formerly Espana Extension.) as the legs that meet at Cubao just short of the intersection of Aurora and EDSA (formerly Highway 54).
We received a written notice from our Baranggay Chairman, Regina Celeste “Bong” C. San Miguel dated March 25, 2014, warning us residents that the following side streets would not be accessible from Balete Dr. for a period of one week during the month of April: 3rd Street, Dama de Noche, Bouganvilla and Sampaguita Streets.
The first sign of work was the raising of all the water pipe manholes (Manila Water) by about two inches. Next, came the drilling of the cement paving in the areas that were to be re blocked. My only negative observation in this age of weekend long re blockings, was that a week was allowed to pass between the drilling and the tearing up of the cement paving prior to the re cementing by blocks (I suppose that is what is meant by re blocking.).
Meanwhile, the drainage was dug up and redone in a few parts of Balete Dr., mainly in the short stretch from 3rd Street to Aurora. Unlike the EDSA re blocking that was supposed to be done “One Time, Big and Fast Time” during the Holy Week holidays (giving rise to the package deal “Bisita Iglesia cum Stations of the Cross”, the latter being the EDSA traffic one had to endure to go around the seven Churches.), Balete Dr. was finished with a new thick coat of asphalt overlay over the old cement paving by early Holy Week, Holy Monday, I believe.
I don’t know who was responsible for our Balete Dr. project – Quezon City or the National Government’s DPWH? I don’t know who was responsible for planning and implementing the project with such a high level of professionalism – the DPWH, the City or the Baranggay? The reason why I include our Baranggay Government as the possible author of such a good example is what I learned when I last attended our Baranggay Assembly several years ago.
At that time, theManila Water was digging up Dona Magdalena Hemady Avenue (a parallel North – South street between Balete and Gilmore Avenue.). Usually, when the utility companies dig up a street they just dig as wide as their drainage or water pipes require to be able to be put in place. Then, they just replaced the foundation and paving on top of the pipe, and not always in uniformity with the untouched portions of the street.
At that time, our Baranggay Council was requiring Manila Water to replace the disturbed foundation and paving block by block. Manila Water was crying “Ouch!” in the pocketbook and asked for the assistance and intervention of the then City Mayor, now Speaker Francisco “Sonny” Belmonte.
Look around the Metropolis and you will see many streets where the surface is uneven because of either the utility diggings or the repaving that has not taken account of the height of existing manhole covers. The latter results in a series of holes in perfect alignment in an otherwise new and perfect asphalt overlay (The thicker the new asphalt, the deeper the hole.).
That was the “Thanks!” to whoever – National, City or Baranggay, was responsible portion. Now, the “But No Thanks!”
My parents transferred from Santol Street at the boundary of Manila and Quezon City to our home on Balete Dr., between Campanilla and Sampaguita Streets, Rosario Heights, Cubao, Q. C. in 1941. I grew up here. I lived here since 1948 except 1974 – 1975 and 1978 – 1981. I still remember the time in the 50’s when the area bounded by Balete and Dona M. Hemady still had rice paddies. The entire block across from us on Balete was vacant except for Talahib grass and burned every summer. The main roads, Balete, Hemady, Gilmore, Broadway (now Dona Juana Rodriquez Avenue) and Victoria Avenues were asphalted. However, all the side streets were merely gravel roads.
The White Lady of Balete Drive (Garchitorena y Recto) lived at Balete, Bouganvilla and Hibiscus Streets. She haunted Balete Dr. and became the best known Ghost in the Philippines well ahead of the White Lady of Loakan in Baguio City.
There was a time when we had a Quorum of the Senate living in our community now better known as New Manila. Our Barrio was organized under the leadership of an American neighbour – Mrs. Mariana Wilkinson. The first election was held at our house when the QCPD still used Volkswagen Beetles as Mobile Units and Patrol Cars.
Gradually, progress caught up with our community, as well as with the White Lady. The main streets were cemented. The side streets were asphalted. The empty lots were filled with houses. Then, our Baranggay became a favourite for Townhouse Developers. Land values went up. Real Estate taxes went up too.
Local governments got their ERA share of National Taxes. Baranggays got their share too. They had so much money that they paved and repaved roads and streets that were good enough as residential roads. When I met Mayor Belmonte more than ten years ago at our Thursday Club at Annabel’s on Morato, I thanked him for repaving our street – Campanilla. However, I suggested that, we should have saved the money and used it for building bridges across the Diliman Creek and the San Juan/San Francisco River to decongest the few streets that do cross these water obstacles.
He agreed and informed me that that was his priority. Our road, transport and traffic planners complain that our roads are finite and limited but that the number of vehicles keeps on increasing. According to them expropriation of land and the relocation of occupants for the building of new roads is expensive and tedious. However, we have so many roads that are only partially usable because they are dead end streets due to creeks and rivers that traverse or block them.
Very little expropriation and relocation is required to turn a dead end road into a more useful alternate route to decongest the existing neighborhood thoroughfares. The cost of a small bridge is relatively small in this age of flyovers and underpasses. Some examples of these strategies are the following bridges across the Pasig River: Makati – Mandaluyong, Pandacan and Rockwell.
On the local level in Quezon City we have the example of the following bridges across the Diliman Creek: East of EDSA, we have the Kalayaan Ave/K – J/Miami and K – H/Cambridge bridges. West of EDSA, we only had the Morato Ave bridge in the 40’s. To this were added the bridges on Scout Jimenez Street (formerly Leyte Street) and T. Gener (formerly K – B Street) and the Roxas bridge behind the St. Luke’s Medical Center (QC).
Japanese Ambassador Toshinao Urabe and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto F. Del Rosario exchanged notes for three (3) Grant Aid Projects amounting to 6.917 billion yen (approximately 3.041 billion pesos) on March 20/24, 2014 at the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.
The signed projects focus on rehabilitation and improvement in the fields of infrastructure and communications.
Programme for Rehabilitation and Recovery from Typhoon Yolanda
In the summit meeting with President Aquino last December, Japanese Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan would continue to extend support in the recovery and reconstruction phase. This project amounting to 4.6 billion yen (approximately 2.02 billion pesos) will provide Japan’s reliable disaster-resilient technology and urban planning in the rehabilitation of public infrastructure in Leyte and Samar in order to further the recovery of the people and communities severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda. Through this programme, Japan helps the Philippines to build a resilient society against natural disasters and achieve sustainable growth.
Project for Enhancement of Communications Systems
This project amounting to 1.152 billion yen (approximately 506.5 million pesos) will provide the installation of the VSAT Communication System and the INMARSAT Communication System in the headquarters of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and its district offices and vessels as well as the establishment of the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) in Cebu’s Mactan Channel. This project aims to improve the communications capabilities of the PCG and enhance the safety, search and rescue activities in the Philippines.
Project for Improvement of Water Supply System in Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD)
This project amounting to 1.165 billion yen (approximately 512.2 million pesos) will involve the installation of flow meters, pressure meters, and water quality sensors that will be monitored using the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA). SCADA will ensure the efficient and effective water supply management of the MCWD within Metropolitan Cebu.
Owing to the disasters of last year and the relentless efforts of the Government of the Philippines to propel the Philippines toward progress, the Government of Japan sincerely extends its support to a friend in need. Japan believes that these projects will signify its unflagging commitment to the “Strategic Partnership” between the two countries and continue to strengthen the friendship between the peoples of Japan and the Philippines.
THE country’s top rice-producing municipalities, cities and provinces, farmers and irrigators’ associations, and agricultural workers were honored by the Department of Agriculture in an awarding ceremony held at the Resorts World Manila, March 14.
This year’s Rice Achievers’ Awards conferred a total of over PhP110 million in prizes from the DA National Rice Program to 12 provinces, 48 municipalities and cities, 10 irrigators’ associations, three small water impounding system farmers’ associations (SWISAs), and 496 agricultural extension workers (AEWs).
For surpassing their palay (unhusked rice) production targets, attaining higher average yield, encouraging more farmers to use quality seeds and appropriate technologies, and prioritizing rice-related projects, the provinces of Nueva Ecija, North Cotabato, Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Pangasinan, Ilocos Norte, Bukidnon, Bulacan, Kalinga, Mindoro Occidental, Laguna, and Lanao del Norte were declared as the country’s top rice achievers for 2013.
Each of the provinces’ governors received a trophy and check worth P4 million for rice-related projects from Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and National Rice Program coordinator and acting undersecretary for field operations Dante Delima.
The top municipalities and cities, including the exceptional IAs each received P1-million worth of project grants. Outstanding SWISAs got P500,000 each in project grants, while the leading AEWs took home a cash incentive of P20,000 each.
Alcala said the annual contest, now on its third year, is the government’s way of thanking the country’s rice farmers and their respective provincial and municipal officials and AEWs for their continuing efforts and contribution to increase rice production.
“The Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers’ Awards is part of DA’s interventions and incentive system to encourage LGUs, IAs, SWISAs and AEWs to contribute their share in increasing farmers’ harvest and incomes, to attain national rice sufficiency,” the DA chief said.
The top provinces, cities and municipalities were chosen based on the following criteria: incremental increases in rice harvest and average yield per hectare over 2012 levels, increases over their 2012 targets, amount of budget devoted to rice projects and initiatives, number of farmers benefited, and degree of quality seed utilization, among others.
The combined palay production of the top 12 provinces amounted to 6.65 million metric tons (MMT), which represents about 36 percent of the country’s total harvest of 18.42 MMT last year.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will bring together the country’s water and power sectors to raise public awareness on the close link between water and energy consumption as the nation joins the rest of the world in celebrating World Water Day (WWD) on March 22.DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said this year’s celebration, which has a local theme “Water is Power,” will focus on the growing awareness that saving water may be one of the most effective ways to save energy – and vice versa. “We wish to highlight the important link between water and power, and how they are highly dependent on each other,” Paje said, noting that producing energy uses water, and providing freshwater uses energy. He said both processes face growing limits and problems.
He added: “In fact, much of our generated power relies on water, while many Filipinos rely on electrical power for domestic water supply.”Paje said that aside from providing Filipinos access to clean water and electricity, “the efficient use of both water and power is also an urgent issue the government is trying to address.”According to statistics, about 17 million people in the Philippines have no access to safe drinking water and over 15 million still have no access to electricity.To mark WWD 2014, the DENR, its attached agencies and partners have prepared a week-long program from March 17-22.
On March 17, a kick-off event will be held at the Angat Hydroelectric Power Plant in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Expected to attend are Paje, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and National Power Corp. (NPC) president Ma. Gladys Cruz-Sta. Rita.These officials, along with other representatives from NPC, National Irrigation Authority, Metropolitan Manila Water Sewerage System, and water concessionaires Maynilad and Manila Water, will be treated to a “Water Energy Tour Nexus” of the Angat, Ipo and La Mesa dams.
On March 18, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) will hold a day-long World Water Day Exhibit at the Activity Center of the Glorietta 2 in Makati City. At 5 p.m. on that day, there will be a free four-hour concert that will feature pop and alternative rock artists to draw attention to current efforts to revive Manila Bay, and major rivers and creeks in Metro Manila.On March 19, the EMB will hold an on-the-spot poster-making contest for elementary and high school students at the SM North EDSA, while their teachers undergo a Water Education workshop at the Air Quality Training Center inside the DENR compound in Quezon City.
On the same day, employees of the Laguna Lake Development Authority will lead tree-planting activities in Antipolo City and Taytay, Rizal. They will also hold a river clean-up in the nearby towns of San Mateo and Rodriguez the following day.The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, led by its chairperson Gina Lopez, will conduct an “estero tour” featuring the rehabilitated Estero de Aviles in San Miguel, Manila on March 20.
Employees of the DENR and Maynilad will hold a “Plant for Life” mangrove tree-planting activity along Cavite shores on March 18 in Bacoor and March 20 in Kawit.The DENR will also host “Water is Power” lecture series in selected schools in Pateros and the cities of Quezon, Marikina, Pasig, San Juan, and Taguig from March 18 to 20.All activities will culminate on March 21 at the Music Hall of the SM Mall of Asia, where a two-kilometer walk will be held outside to raise awareness on various water-related issues.The celebration of March 22 as “World Day for Water” was declared in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly. This year’s international theme is “Water and Energy.”
By VL Domingo
BEFORE transplanting, the farmer must have to buy at least 10 bags of mix-grade fertilizers for basal application to have a good crop. Because he has very little capital which he also borrowed from the usurer he buys only 1/3 of the plant requirement.
Furthermore, the price of fertilizer as an input initially went up by 136% (and it continues to increase), since only a few Chinese traders are importing it, thus again limiting the supply of fertilizers which provides the plant energy for productivity.
This is specially so when planting during the dry season. During the rainy season, somehow the farmers get free nitrogen from the air every time there is a thunderstorm that initiates nitrification. Meanwhile, his soil has gotten acidic after more than 50 years of chemical farming which was first introduced in the l960’s by ESSO (Standard Oil).
Not a few government employees lost their lives and jobs in the fertilizer subsidy scam for lack of supply.
A Regional Director in Lasam and a DA employee who knew too much about the scam were murdered. The DA employee with his wife, and his only daughter who just graduated from college and a niece working with him as his assistant in their house in Bulacan were murdered in the middle of the night, wiping out the whole family.
When palay is harvested haphazardly, you again lose 15-20% of what you should harvest from your backbreaking efforts in farming. This is after the farmers spend a lot of money on chemicals to protect their fields from pests and diseases.
Again they need to contract at least 20 harvesters. The practice then is they get 10% of your harvest. This is after shaking off easily 5% of the rice particles to the ground and stepping on them. They could save this if they could only hire harvesting machines. But there is none.
Worse, even the harvesters like the transplanters are gone.
In the barangays, there are two kinds of farm workers. There are those who want to harvest only while the others want to transplant only.
The practice of harvest sharing is gone; hence you could no longer be assured of harvesters on time. You have to wait for harvesters from the other barangay that may still have some harvesters. Meanwhile, the field rats are slowly harvesting your palay if you did not put a rat trap before harvest. There is then a need to rent a combined harvester.
But for the moment only a few towns have it because it is very expensive. It is too costly for an investor. Only a federation or a cooperative could afford to buy it and rent it out to its members if they could raise the funds which is usually not available from banks and the government is not also investing on it.
Availability of Warehouses
Again the supply chain of the grains industry is broken by the lack of investments in warehouses. Only traders are investing and making windfall profits at the expense of the farmer-producers. This is where the trader starts making his profits. This is where the cartels come in.
Only a few own rice warehouses in Metro Manila and they connive to dictate the price in the market.
Recently, they even hired persons and provided them money to queue for rice just to dramatize that there is no rice supply anymore from the NFA warehouses. The NFA then had to release their buffer stocks which some unscrupulous NFA employees usually keep and allow it to rot and sell to traders for a clean profit and recorded as losses in the books of the agency.
Farmer cooperatives have been given funds to build their own warehouses, but their trading funds were mismanaged leaving them bankrupt. So in effect there is no supply of warehouse space even as they stood in the middle of the fields like “white elephants” in the middle of brown and barren rice land for lack of irrigation.
This happens because of subsistence farming as the norm that now needs to be transformed into commercial farming with highly professionalized farmers federation to do the business of planting and trading palay and rice to supply the needs of the country and be truly self sufficient (not by statistical manipulations) .
Supply of Post-Harvest Facilities
Easily, 5-10% is lost in rice milling using dilapidated rice mills that are very inefficient. Part of the rice supply to the consumers is being given to feed mills for livestock instead of human consumption.
Drying in the highways shows the Jurassic way of drying palay which leads again to additional losses that could easily compensate for the 10% shortage that is reported every year.
Drying and Milling are not integrated because of the absence of investors. The government could easily invest on this through farmer federations but is not being done. If the government shifts its policy to invest instead of subsidizing, it will be easier for them to monitor the funds instead of using government money in anomalous subsidies and programs.
The millions of funds allocated by DA Regional offices for training monitoring, evaluation and support services can be realigned with the Government Social Investment Funds (GSIF) to finance the construction of post-harvest facilities, provide trading funds for the importation of inputs and buying palay from their members with incentives and selling to the government those that they could not sell for Quedan, stockpiling and buffer stocking.
GSIF is what is needed in completing the infrastructure in commercial rice production instead of just the farm to market road which others call as “road to my farm” among Congressmen and Senators.
Politics of Rice
The absence of rice supply in the market will topple down a President or he will lose his bid for re-election. This is the politics of rice. Thus a sitting President (with or without him knowing it actually puts a tacit approval to his/her henchmen to DALPO (Do All Possible) and allow even smugglers to bring in rice just to make sure that there is no shortage. Most often also this will be tolerated by his henchmen to keep them in power and in their high positions in government.
Thus, the previous President tolerated this sad reality through her Secretaries of Agriculture. The standing order then was to produce or tolerate smuggled rice (to insure supply in the hands of the retailers). Along the way, sometimes things go wrong in this “modus operandi”.
One popular businessman lost his life when he told the President about a smuggled rice and the President without knowing the implication since it is a complex reality in food security, had the goods confiscated. The businessman was then shot (as a double crosser) in his house probably even in front of his wife by telling on the smugglers.
The “Hunger Game” which starts with government lies that there is sufficient supply, has now graduated into a “Supply Game” which the government has failed to address by subsidizing creating anomalous transactions has now graduated into a “Killing Game”.
Like history, these anomalies in the P300 billion grains industry will keep on repeating itself from administration to administration until Kingdom Come unless there is a paradigm shift in dealing with this killing issue.
The first is to listen to what the farmers say (through their credible leaders) as a solution to this recurring problem of rice supply which starts from lack of palay supply, lack of seeds, lack of water, lack of inputs, lack of farm credit, which continues because of inefficient transplanting, harvesting, milling and warehousing thus making their unit costs higher than the world price which now results to unbridled smuggling of rice in all ports of the country.
The second is for the government to invest (not subsidize) in the commercial ventures of farmer federations and similar associations to now operate their own agribusiness.
The third is to allow the price of palay and rice to seek its own levels. When the farmers earn more because of free enterprise (not with government control) but with government investments, the farmers will produce more and better quality palay because they will now have regular incomes from the commercial venture in which they participated. They can then buy more manufacture goods and invigorate the manufacturing industry to be able to pay higher wages and can now afford to buy a more expensive rice directly sold to them by the farmers through cluster farming.
This will then enable the farmers to produce rice at lower unit cost, provide the supply needed by the traders and generate the local and national economy. With more incomes from palay farming then they don’t have to sell their seeds, keep some stocks for their use and will not become a consumer of rice themselves as claimed by many technocrats who are not even “walking the fields” just to justify their claim of certifying importation.
Before a “hot war” is not a “cold war”, it’s the “information war” or “media war” waged between MSM (Mainstream Media) and Alternative Media. For example, media becomes a key factor in the success or failure of “regime change” efforts of the incorrigible subversive foreign powers pushing their hegemonic drive, using “Orange Revolution”, “People Power”, “right to Protect” media campaigns for “regime change” inflicted on Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Georgia, and many others. In the Philippines, the information war and its consequences shape the direction of the lives of one hundred million Filipinos – for better or (and usually) for worst. At least once a month this column will try to sum up the key information battles transpiring or shaping up. Let’s start with the local media war.
Sergio Osmena and his Poe-ppet
At the end of last week Sen. Sergio Osmeña III surprised the public by publicly describing BS Aquino, his ward in the 2010 presidential elections, as “Noynoying”, a “poor manager” and “matigas ang ulo”. It is well known that he is today carving out another protégé in the form of the “Poe-ppet”. This comes after the “Brenda” of the Senate declares from-out-of the blue that 2016 needs another woman president, a position which she thinks she is too old to hold (how humble, suddenly). There are a dozen reasons why it should be known by all now that a “poe-ppet” is being groomed to take over the current one tattered by the Meralco price hike, MRT Balsy-Eldon scam, etc. Just like how BS Aquino was groomed to replace the wayward doll Gloria Arroyo earlier.
The pathologically exploitative Filipino Ruling Class and its foreign partners desperately need a new Muppet Show star to delay the revolt of the restive audience going hungrier by the year. The Poe-ppet is perfect and its handlers are trying to imbue it with the attributes of having FPJ’s name but without FPJ’s real heart for the anti-globalization, traditional values such as loyalty and gratitude, genuine humility and compassion for people. The Poe-ppet is a cold, wooden figure; warmth it cannot exude. It must be remembered, the Poe-ppet was proclaimed by PCOS-melec on the basis of 20-million votes in a “final tally” of June 6, 2013 but in the PCOS-melec “final final” posting on July 11 this became 16-million votes for the “Ta-lo Poe” candidate.
Delfin Lee’s captor sacked!
Nothing captures that picture of pervasive and unchecked corruption the Yellows have set up in the country than the case of Delfin Lee and his P 7-Billion swindle of the People’s housing funds. This involves BS Aquino’s, and Gloria Arroyo of course because this also involved former Cong. Romero Quimbo and former VP and HUDCC chair Noli de Castro, administrations. Delfin Lee, the housing development scammer who eluded authorities for years was arrested last week by Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, but less than a week later Capa was relieved by way of a “promotion” he himself argues to be a demotion; before this BS Aquino sidekick Mar Roxas tried to turn the tables on VP Binay, who is also housing Czar, for reporting that “influential people” tried to have Lee released.
It turned out that Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso Umali, treasurer of the ruling Liberal Party, called up BS Aquino’s police chief Purisima to “inquire” about Lee’s arrest. A controversy also erupted over an earlier erasure of Lee’s name from the PNP list of wanted criminals. There is no reason for a governor of a province far from the housing project of Lee, many of which are in Central Luzon, to be interested in billionaire Lee except for political funding. Clearly, Lee enjoys enormous power and protection from the Liberal Party of BS Aquino and Mar Roxas and their ilk. The media twist in all these is that attempt to turn the issue against Binay, and now expect a massive shift of MSM (Mainstream Media) to another issue to be created.
Cha-cha dancing Zombies
Who’s playing the Cha-cha tunes to which many are dancing to like Zombies? One of those playing the tune is the CorrectPhilippines which is one of the major groups leading from the hidden-behind of the March 15 rally at the Quirino Grandstand, along with groups like PSST (Patalsikin, Sipain, Salot sa Taumbayan), Fix the System Movement, et al whose human faces are not yet seen. But CorrectPhilippines is clear in its advocacy – Opening of the Economy for rape; it highlights Inquirer columns of Peter Wallace, the chief enforcer of the AmCham, ECCP (European) and others for further liberalization and privatization – and chief defender of Meralco’s December-January rate hike! These groups, like the Million Man March PR stunt, are really pervasive in the social media.
Cha-cha is a U.S. sponsored economic-geopolitical project which BS Aquino is obliged to obey. Aquino is playing coy against the bad cap Speaker Belmonte imposing the Cha-cha on Congress. When the right psychological moment comes the good cop will tilt in favor of the Cha-cha. To achieve this the MSM is burying the economic facts that nail the coffin on economic liberalization: the trillions of pesos of domestic capital available in BSP’s Special Deposit Account, the surplus in Foreign Exchange Reserves, the overflowing capital of banks just allowed to pump it into the real estate bubble. The answer to the economic crises, including unemployment, is restoring the cash flow to the people through nationalization of privatized giant public utilities like Meralco.
GDP: The hypnotic mantra
“PH to top SEAsia GDP 2014 growth at 7.5%” the February MSM headlines but in the same month the next headline followed, “Jobless rate climbs to 27.5 pct in Q4” or almost 13-million Filipinos jobless based on the employment survey of the SWS and in May this year the conservative BS Aquino government statistics admitted that “Philippine unemployment rate rises to 7.5 pct in Jan.”, based on the estimates by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The PSA figures also showed that underemployment remained high at 19.5 percent, working less than 40 hours a week, and higher than the 36.13 million recorded a year ago. The underemployment rate is double that of the unemployment rate.
Despite the unemployment figures and rising poverty the MSM continues brandishing the GDP growth figures as the magic words to mesmerize and entrance with the message that “everything is going fine”, and then push the Cha-cha for more of the same finance-capital monopolist “foreign investment” control of the economy that will primarily consists of real estate capture of Philippines land assets using U.S. dollars that will soon be worthless given its crashing status in the global financial system. The same worthless U.S. Dollars will take over Filipino companies making Filipino entrepreneurs mere peons in their own companies. The only measure of real economic growth is the HDI, Human Development Index, and that must be the standard.
More information war summaries next week, on Ukraine, Venezuela, and Philippines burning issues. (Tune to 1098AM, DWAD, Tues. To Fri. “Sulo ng Pilipino” program; watch GNN Sat. 8pm and Sun. 8am “Manila: Sunrise in the City”, Destiny Cable ch. 8 or SkyCable ch. 213, or www.gnntv-asia.com; log on to www.newkatipunero.blogspot.com)
FROM being an unknown destination, the Philippines is slowly becoming a favorite destination for the French. And part of the growing interest in the Philippines is a result of the efforts made by French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon.
Tour of Duty
Serving in Manila since 2012, Garachon has almost 27 years experience in the diplomatic service, having started his career in this field in 1985. Garachon is no stranger to Asia as he was named first secretary at the French embassy in New Delhi in 1989 and later became the consul of France in Hong Kong in 1993.
He served as his country’s political counselor in Bangkok (1999–2003) and as cultural counselor in Jakarta (2003–2007). Before his present assignment, he headed the human resources department of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While based here in Manila, Ambassador Garachon will concurrently serve as France’s non-resident ambassador to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. He succeeded former French envoy to the Philippines, Thierry Borja de Mozata.
Since taking the Philippine post, Garachon said French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing steadily because of aggressive cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries. “There is a momentum. And I think we have to keep this momentum. This is going to increase, I’m sure. There is plenty of room to increase the relations—of course—there is cultural relations, but also in the field of trade, in the field of politics, also the exchange of students between universities,” Garachon said in a newspaper interview during the French Embassy’s celebration of Bastille Day at his Makati City residence last July 14.
Embassy data showed French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14 percent from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012.
Garachon said promoting the Philippines in France was his “main difficulty” as an ambassador, as most French knew only nations that figured in their history.
“French people… see the geography very linked to history. And if a country has historical links with France, then it appears on the map. But for the Philippines, we never had any historical connection. Not at all. So for French people, the Philippines is just a question mark,” Garachon said.
“So part of my job and part of the job of the ambassador of the Philippines in Paris is to make French people discover more about the Philippines,” Garachon, who had been posted to Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok before being assigned to Manila, said.
To boost its image in France the Philippines hosted a three-month exhibit of pre-colonial art at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris from April to July. “I think this exhibit is a great occasion. [All over] Paris, you had a signboard about this exhibit about the Philippines, with beautiful pictures,” Garachon said.
“People loved it and because they were discovering something completely new. In France, nobody knows about the art of the Philippines. And so they discovered it and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.
The exhibit brings together Philippine pre-colonial art and artifacts from collections in the Philippines, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the United States.
It is the largest exhibit of Philippine art in Europe, according to the French Embassy in Manila.
History of Relations
History tells us that the relations between the Philippines and France go beyond 60 years. A French consulate was established in Manila in the late 19th century, during the time when the Philippines was still a colony of Spain.
When the Spanish expedition under Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines, 15 Frenchmen were among its crew. This includes Jean Petit of Angers, lieutenant of Trinidad and Bernard Calmette, chaplain of San Antonio.
French missionaries also contributed to the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. The first Diocesan seminary in the Philippines, the seminary of St. Clement in Manila, was set up with the aid of French Monsignor Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon in 1704.
French traders, technicians, soldiers, and officers and crews under the Manila Galleon trade also came to the Philippines. The French recognized the potentials of the Philippines in the trading sector by the 17th century. France discovered the potential use of abaca in the manufacture of naval supplies, particularly ropes. Despite the Spanish colonial government’s restrictions against foreign trade, French and other foreign traders were already in Manila before it was formally opened for foreign trade.
France became the first country to establish a consul in Spanish Philippines, followed by Belgium, the United States and finally Great Britain in November 1844. France established its consul in Manila in March 1824.
Diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines was officially established on June 26, 1947 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity. The short-lived First Philippine Republic had a diplomatic representative in Paris in 1898 when the United States and Spain were negotiating the terms for peace in what has come down in history as the Treaty of Paris.
French travel accounts of the Philippines in the 18th and 19th centuries help Filipino historians recreate the past. These publications are illustrated with charming photographs and engravings that provide a visual link to the Spanish Philippines.
In a historic visit to the Philippines last October French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with President Benigno Aquino III and discussed ways to enhance the two countries’ political, economic and cultural relations.
Ayrault was accompanied by a 130-member delegation composed of ministers, parliamentarians and businessmen. The visit, founded on the theme, “Enhancing Philippine-French Relations Through Political, Economic and Cultural Cooperation” is intended to renew bilateral ties between the Philippines and France and propel the countries economic partnerships to greater heights.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), bilateral trade between the the Philippines and France amounted to U$1.143 billion in 2011 as French investments in the Philippines reflected a “significant increase” with total approved investments of PhP1.145 billion, up 90 percent compared to 2010.
The DFA said that French companies such as LaFarge, Total, AXA and Alcatel “have strong presence in the country and have committed to increase their investments in the coming years.”
Leading French companies like RATP Dev and Thales have also expressed their interest to participate in the bidding for flagship projects under the country’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.
The Philippines and France are expected to be sign contracts in various various sectors such as energy, aviation and aeronautics, transportation, infrastructures, electronics, healthcare and environment in the next few years.
France has been supportive of Aquino administration’s development priorities particularly in the areas of “climate change, green infrastructures, sustainable urban development and services including transport, water supply and sanitation, agro-forestry and biodiversity protection, and capacity building for local government units.”
Both countries also enjoy a strong people-to-people exchange as there are 50,000 Filipinos in France and about 4,000 French nationals living in the Philippines.
Most Filipinos in France are engaged in the services sector and skilled professionals. In 2011, Filipinos in France remitted a total of $51.3 million.
- FDCP Chairman Briccio Santos knighted by France (manilastandardtoday.com)
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- Justin Bieber arrives in Philippines as he raises funds for Typhoon Haiyan victims (imarashed.com)
- Philippines bans worker deployment to Yemen (dailystar.com.lb)
LYDIA’S Lechon is a household name here in the Philippines, But not many people know that its entrepreneur Lydia de Roca started her business by selling lechon in a small stall in Baclaran market.
In the late 60s, the family-owned lechon store—known as “Mang Turing and Aling Ingga’s Native Lechon”, was doing good business with a modest store located at the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Baclaran. Lydia, helped out in the said store.
In 1969, after some courtship, Benigno de Roca (a son of another lechon business owner) and Lydia got married. The happy couple had a joyous occasion after their wedding and with PhP500 started their own lechon busiess–Lydia’s Lechon. In a television interview, Lydia related how she used to go with her father, who was a butcher, and how she started selling lechon in Baclaran at the age of 12. “Ito ang naituro sa akin ng tatay ko noong araw, hanggang sa nagtinda ako ng lechon. Twelve years old ako sa bangketa ng Baclaran,” she said. “Yung P500 na yon binibigay ko na sa tatay ko. Pinambili ko na ng baboy niya… Marami yun, P20 lang nun ang baboy eh,” she said. Aside from pigs, she used the money to buy charcoal and sauce for the lechon.
At that time, Benigno was a jeepney and bus driver, so they had to work hard to support their children. “Mahirap ang buhay namin. Pero nagtiyaga kami talaga. Pinagsumikapan namin… Naranasan ko pa yung bahay na nakatuntong sa ilog… Yun ang unang-unang inupahan ko, diyan sa may Tambo sa Paranaque, P35 ang upa sa isang buwan,” she said. Customer’s would flock to Lydia’s Lechon to sample the good food sold there. A big break for the couple’s business came along when one day when executives from the Hyatt Regency Hotel came along to buy some Lydia’s Lechon specialties. From that simple visit came daily lechon orders from the hotel.
“Maski nga di ko kinakaya kinakaya ko eh. Hindi pwedeng mahina ang loob mo. Sasabihin mo, ay ano kaya ang gagawin ko? Tatanggapin ko kaya? Mahirap kaya ito? Kaya ko kaya ito? Ako palaging yes,” she said.
The fame and praise for Lydia’s Lechon spread by word of mouth to many prospective clients, including other hotels and restaurants, and food caterers.
In the 1970′s, the Lydia’s Lechon boneless with paella recipe got the first prize in a competition for local chefs and it soon became one of the specialties of restaurant. It was a boost for the de Roca couple’s business.
After selling lechon from the market for 22 years, de Roca finally opened a restaurant–with a single table–along Roxas Boulevard in 1986.
“Talagang restaurant ang target ko. Kaya lang wala akong kapital pa eh. Hindi ko rin magagawang restaurant. Pero trying hard ako na maging restaurant, kaya naglagay ako ng isang lamesa at isang silya,” she recounted. Soon customers started coming to her restaurant and one of her frequent customers was mall tycoon Henry Sy, Sr., who always had lunch there on Sundays. “Nagkakwentuhan kami tapos meron daw siyang SM Food Court baka raw gusto kong magtayo ng ano… Sabi ko, oho gusto ko,” she said.
In April of 1989 the first branch of Lydia’s Lechon outside of the southern part of Metro Manila , in Timog Avenue, Quezon City was established. This was followed by other stores on the eastern part of the Metro. From there, fast food outlets of Lydia’s Lechon mushroomed within the popular malls of the metropolis. Although originally intended to be a close family corporation, the first franchise of Lydia’s Lechon was sold in 2005 for a fast food and retail outlet at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City. Today, they are known as the biggest chain of lechon outlets in the country. Presently, there are 21 branches of Lydia’s Lechon located in the Greater Manila area and Cavite.
Now, Lydia’s Lechon has some 15 branches in SM Food Courts, which account for some Php30,000 in daily sales.
The couple is now the proud owner of a 1,500 square-meter property in Baclaran, with a mansion and several luxury cars. It also houses the restaurant’s commissary and roasting area.
The De Roca couple also have their own piggery in an 8-hectare property in Malvar, Batangas where they raise 800-1,000 pigs.
In 2011, De Roca was awarded by Go Negosyo as one of the most outstanding women entrepreneurs of the Philippines.
Despite her success, De Roca remains humble and thankful that her four children—who have all graduated from college—are not spoiled and have helped the business flourish.
“Seven years old pa lang sila dinadala ko sila sa bangketa, kaya ang pangaral ko sa kanila eh sinusunod naman nila ngayon,” she said.
Up to now, De Roca still wields a knife and deftly chops up a lechon at the restaurant.
“Dito nag-simula ang swerte ko sa buhay. Kung sa tingin mo di ako marunong mag-tadtad ng lechon, umasenso kaya ako,” she said.
The smallest lechon sells for PhP6,500, and the capital for each one is in the neighborhood of PhP3,000. Lydia’s Lechon is also famous for its signature sauce made using a special recipe, de Roca said, noting this is still something none of her employees know about. Lydia has kept her lechon naturally simple but with no short cuts. It’s slowly cooked for two hours over charcoal and flavored only with tanglad, pandan, and murang sibuyas.
- EDUARDO and TESS NGAN TIAN: Entrepreneurs of ‘Pinoy Pizza’ (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- Lechon Kawali Recipe (pinoycook.wordpress.com)
- Elar’s Lechon (151 Quezon Ave. cor Speaker Perez St. Doña Imelda, Quezon City) (happyfoodtrippers.wordpress.com)
- Vos Brandy heirs ‘at war’ (businessmirror.com.ph)
- Christmas and New Year in Boracay Island (boracaypalawanhotels.wordpress.com)
- Lechon Kawali (angsarap.net)
- Surviving Christmas without “Guilt” (baronmethod.wordpress.com)
- Pigging Satisfaction Guaranteed |kuya J Restaurant | Review [photos] (onesettingatatime.wordpress.com)
- The End of the World at Portugal’s Roca Cape (anamericangirlintransit.com)
- Lechon Baboy Recipe (pinoycook.wordpress.com)
by Frederick Fabian
WHAT if a disaster of cataclysmic proportions hits Metro Manila, home to more than 15 million Filipinos—and the seat of the nation’s capital?
Thousands of lives will be lost and casualties can run to millions. It will be a harrowing sight that will surely bring the nation to its knees. That is, if we consider the potential disasters on a grand scale, such as the recent earthquake in Bohol and typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) that razed big parts of Leyte to the ground.
What if, instead of the Visayas, Yolanda took a path straight through the heart of the National Capital Region?
The resulting storm surge would drive the waters of the Laguna Lake inland and inundate the lakeside barangays of Laguna and drown millions of people. The loss of lives and damage to property would be triple the Visayas count.
What if the Marikina Valley Fault System shifted and triggered a massive earthquake? Are we ready to deal with such a scenario?
The Philippines, after all, is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of the world that is susceptible to earthquakes and volcanic activity. The island republic is also considered one of the world’s most dangerous places, because we are a constant recipient of typhoon landfalls more than any large country in the world.
As grim as it may sound, an inconvenient truth is better than a comfortable lie.
The Marikina Valley Fault System extends from San Mateo, Rizal and runs through Makati, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasig and Taguig. It has been observed by Phivolcs and other scientific experts as a potential origin of large-scale earthquakes that can reach a magnitude of 7 or higher within Metro Manila.
A possible death toll, as predicted by experts, can reach 35,000, with an estimated 120,000 injuries. The earthquake will also require the evacuation of three million people from the potential disaster areas.
In a research done by the Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study (MMEIRS), funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2004, it was revealed that a 7.2 magnitude earthquake can destroy 40% of residential buildings, fatalities numbering 114,000 and fires that will result to 18,000 more casualties.
While the eastern side of Metro Manila will suffer the brunt of the event, damage and consequential damage can affect the rest of the NCR. Dr. Norman Tungol of Phivolcs has advised that Metro residents, especially those living near the faultline, to be prepared for the worst, because earthquake prediction is not an exact science.
Aside from structural damage, another risk looming over the people of Metro Manila would be the possibility that reservoirs such as the Angat Dam would be damaged and cause flooding. Building collapse can cause electrical short circuits, petroleum and LPG leakages from storage tanks, among others, that would trigger fires, according to a report by online news site Bulatlat.com. Places susceptible to fires are Valenzuela, Caloocan, and the southern parts of Quezon City.
Newsfeeds in Facebook were filled with complaints and angry callouts about the incompetence of President Benigno Aquino III and his lack of political will in dealing with the recent typhoon. The complaints are well-placed and unquestionably valid: at the same space of the few hours when CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper was reporting on the lack of organized government efforts in Tacloban City, President Aquino was on the air with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that everything is under control despite contrary evidence.
It wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that the President is being cold to the plight of the people of Leyte, if his actions in the past week after the storm is to be gauged. After all, PNoy has been distant and detached from the real-life drama happening in Tacloban and surrounding towns, preferring to do a form of remote-control governance rather than be physically present where the people are suffering, where they are mourning the dead and where the children are going hungry. That appears to be too much for his constitution.
It seems that it is not something a privileged, upper-class-raised Noynoy can handle. How can a sheltered rich boy, the scion of Philippine political icons and hacienda landlords, possibly bear the harrowing sight of devastation and desperation when it’s taking place in front of him? The crisis is far from the safety and comfort of his Malacanang office. We can just imagine that he will treat the residents of Metro Manila the same way. Humans are creatures of habit, and if anything, the President is one. He has a terrible habit of placing the blame on someone else, as if he lacks the capability to own up responsibility.
Incompetence Is Matter Of Fact
As many rational and well-informed Filipinos would tell you, Malacañang has always been incompetent where it counts. Some may dismiss it as mere cynicism and pessimism. But several counts of wrong decisions and late responses to a crisis is an indicator not just of incompetence, but of impotence. We all know that this is not the first time that the Aquino administration has shown that it is incapable of delivering in crucial times. From the 2010 Manila Hostage Crisis, the growing unemployment rate despite his claims of economic growth, the 2011 vetoing of the budget provision for disaster management, to the mishandling of the pork barrel issue, the list just goes on.
Reputable news analysts and weather experts have predicted that the NCR can become the next ground zero based on past scientific data and environmental factors. There is more than enough evidence to support the possibility that significant parts of Metro Manila can and will be subjected to massive damage that can equal that of Tacloban and nearby Leyte towns. According to former Manila Chronicle newsman and science/technology writer Alan C. Robles, “a storm like Haiyan could bring the Philippine capital to its knees.”
In his interview with MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino, the official confirmed similar concerns by saying that it will be just like Tacloban, which was decimated to the ground when Yolanda struck. Tolentino confidently stated it will just be the same, if not worse, although he noted that some structures in Manila are better built to withstand typhoons. He significantly added, “It will also cause societal disruption.”
Welcome To Floodland
Metro Manila is 638 square kilometers in area, composed of 16 cities, one municipality, and has up to around 15 million people living in it. It is surrounded by bodies of water and flood-prone areas such as Barangka in Marikina, Pasig areas near Rosario, central parts of the city of Manila (Blumentritt, Maceda, España, etc.), and parts of Roxas Boulevard in Pasay.
The NCR is practically sandwiched between Manila Bay, facing the China Sea on the west side and Laguna Lake on the southeast. Another factor to consider is the northeastern part bordering the province of Rizal.
In recent years, the mountainsides there have practically been denuded and logged to the ground, and residents in the lower parts of Antipolo City near Marikina have experienced damaging floods due to the accumulated rainwater from Rizal flowing into the river.The Angat Dam and the Pampanga river basins are also hazards to Metro Manila if a super typhoon of the same scale as Yolanda hits. In 2012, disaster management official Edgardo Ollet admitted that the dam “has cracks and needs major repairs”.
One can imagine that the combined force of incessant raining and a highly possible super typhoon is all it would take, and a deluge of epic proportions is just waiting to happen. Meanwhile Dr. Mahar Lagmay of DOST’s Project Noah was also asked by Robles, and he was positive that another super typhoon can happen in the near future. Dr. Lagmay even put it this way: “It’s Russian roulette”. It may not hit now, or any time this week, or the next, but the chances are very high that it can and will happen. Scientists do not need to reiterate those facts to us, as it is already evident in our history as a country: tropical storms are regular occurences. The sad truth is that we as a society have not learned so much from past disasters. As philosopher George Santayana would put it, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Lessons In Foresight
Pecier Decierdo, a physics teacher who works for Mind Museum and science advocacy director for civil organization Filipino Freethinkers, has provided pointers that the public should always keep in mind when it comes to handling disasters. He stated, “More storms make landfall on the Philippines than on any other large country on Earth.”
This one fact demands that the science curriculum in the country should be tailored to produce basic education graduates who understand how tropical storms roll.” According to him, allowing an inadequately informed population to live in a storm-prone country is a massive inhumanity.
A public dialogue on disaster management should be top priority, so that people will be more capable and well-informed in handling the effects of natural disasters in our lives, rather than wait for government to dictate disaster measures. Decierdo remarked, “We should talk about the weather more”. It is known that the country has an insufficient number of meteorologists, and that the public does not regard due status to meteorologists and weather scientists, which results to having underpaid and overworked PAGASA employees.
Underpaid weather specialists and undermanned and ill-equipped weather stations result to inaccurate weather forecasting, which lead to deaths and losses that could otherwise have been prevented.
Using 2009’s Ondoy devastation as basis, we can expect that a Haiyan-scale super storm will bring in not just the strongest winds, but the force of floodwaters rushing in and submerging two-story buildings. Business and commerce in the metropolis will definitely be halted. Makati’s main thoroughfares would be clogged, and being a neighbouring city to flood-prone Pasay, it just makes it worse.
Roxas Boulevard, site of Manila’s significant commercial activities and facing Manila Bay, would be the one of the most damaged for obvious reasons. Metro Manila is located in a catchbasin between Manila Bay and Laguna Lake, which means that there is no exit for excess water pouring in from both sides. According to urban planner and master architect Paolo Alcazaren, most of the drains constructed since the Spanish period have either been lost, covered up, or clogged with garbage.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years.
This doesn’t mean that we should just be fatalistic and embrace the apocalyptic end times, because something can actually be done.
This is where disaster experts come in. In an interview with Rappler’s Marites Vitug, Kathryn Hawley of Asia Foundation advises that it’s best to prepare for a worst-case scenario and hope that it doesn’t happen. Measures such as stockpiling of water and food, strategic assigning of resources, land use regulations, low-cost housing programs, public awareness campaigns and poverty reduction strategies can help absorb the shocking blow of an imminent catastrophe.
A super typhoon hitting Metro Manila will definitely paralyze the country’s economy,because it will be more than the sum of the past typhoons of the last five years. If not a super typhoon, the threat of the Marikina Fault System is imminent. Combine that with mounting government negligence, festering corruption, and lack of public preparedness. It is a tragedy waiting to happen, and we cannot just stand by and ignore it. It is time to learn by foresight rather than hindsight.
Disaster readiness is the only way to reduce the “what ifs?”.
- This week: WHAT IF? A Doomsday Scenario (opinyon2010.wordpress.com)
- ‘Yolanda’ survivor faces uncertain future in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- 82,757 Metro Manila road accidents in 2012 (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- #TalkThursday: Risk mapping Metro Manila (rappler.com)
- Study: 37,000 may die if 7.2 quake would hit Metro Manila (balitaktakan.wordpress.com)
- NASA: Haiyan/Yolanda’s strong side could affect Metro Manila (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- ‘Metro Manila’ for ‘Yolanda’ survivors (entertainment.inquirer.net)
- [Pink Scene] TFP Cancels 2013 Metro Manila Pride Celebration (geeky-guide.com)
- Island-hopping ‘Yolanda’ to be felt in Metro Manila (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- How prepared is Metro Manila for a strong quake? (rappler.com)