Thursday, April 5, 2007

Learning To Speak Japanese: Trying Hard

(Daily Yomiuri Online) - Santa Monica's Wind, a buffet-style restaurant in the Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel in Chuo Ward, Kobe, offers its customers a view of Kobe Port and a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Western cuisines. In the middle of this cultural culinary mix is 33-year-old Filipino waiter Diego Bustillo, who strives to improve his Japanese language skills by chatting with the restaurant's customers.

"When you work, you have to entertain yourself and enjoy it," Bustillo said. "Otherwise, the job can be very stressful. But I like my job here." ...full story here

Preparing For The Worst To Come

The Philippines is on its way to a major climate change catastrophe--that is, unless the government takes urgent and ambitious action to avert a disaster that will put millions of Filipinos at risk. Greenpeace issued the warning today during the release of never-before seen maps that illustrate the extent of climate change impacts on the archipelago. The group additionally called for strong measures to mitigate the worst effects of climate change to help the country avoid certain disaster... full story here

Canada Wants More Filipino Workers (hurry, hurry)

A shortage of foodservice and housekeeping workers has B.C.'s $9.8-billion tourism and hospitality sector worried.

So much so that operators have launched an aggressive international recruitment campaign that is delivering Filipino workers to Vancouver Island's west coast.

"Worker shortage is a crisis, not just a challenge," says Charles McDiarmid, managing director of Tofino's up-market Wickaninnish Inn. "The entire 2006 season we spent thousands of dollars advertising for workers in Canada. There was not a day [in 2006] that we were not actively recruiting. But we were still chronically short between 10 and 20 workers."

"We hope to bring a number of Filipinos over [to Tofino] so they can establish camaraderie and a system of support." ... full story here

Hostage: A Political Gimmick?

(Channel News Asia) - One of the politicians who intervened in the 10-hour hostage drama in Manila last week has been accused by some of his colleagues of using the incident as a political gimmick.

They have called on the authorities to investigate him and jail those found guilty of conniving with the hostage-taker.

Accusations are being hurled against administration senatorial candidate Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson for his involvement in the hostage drama that brought the whole nation to a standstill... full story here

UK-based Firm Cancels Investment in South Cotabato

(SunStar General Santos) - Staunch opposition to coal projects in Barangay Ned in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato has taken its toll on a foreign firm interested in investing in a venture of a Philippine company.

The United Kingdom-based Crew Gold Corp has abandoned its interest at Daguma Agro Minerals, Inc., Levitico C. Toquero, Daguma Agro's consulting geologist, confirmed last week.

He said Crew Gold, which had conducted a due diligence study at a 2,000- hectare area of Daguma Agro, pulled out its equipment late last year due to mounting opposition by residents backed by the local Catholic Church.

Paper Dolls in Israel

Paper Dolls...the fascinating subculture of Filipino transsexuals working as caretakers for elderly Orthodox Jews in Israel...

As Paper Dolls chronicles these trials and tribulations, what emerges is a sensitive portrait of individuals trying to create and maintain their identity, independence, and happiness... full story here

Gloria: Women Divers Hall of Fame

( - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Republic of the Philippines has been honored and inducted to the Women Divers Hall of Fame (WDHOF) at the "Beneath the Sea" Gala Event at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey. WDHOF is an international non-profit professional honor society within the world's diving community that inducts women who have made remarkable contributions to the industry.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has been accorded this honor, not only in her capacity as an experienced diver, but more so because of the outstanding contributions she has made to the dive industry through edicts for the establishment of sanctuaries and a series of mandates for the protection of the Philippines' underwater coral and marine life... full story here

Filipino Workers In Australia Exploited

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) wants the Federal Government to investigate a south-east Queensland company it says is exploiting foreign workers.

The AMWU says 26 Filipino and Chinese workers are paying $277 each a week in rent and fees to Waterbrook Enterprises at Carole Park in Brisbane's west.

The union's, Dave Oliver, says the men are being forced to live nine to a house and being paid only $8 an hour after rent and fees are deducted.

Mr Oliver says one man has been sacked for complaining about the conditions and socialising with Filipino workers from other companies... full story here

What Not To Bring From Hong Kong

(The Philippine Daily Inquirer) - Filipino visitors returning from Hong Kong are reminded of new security rules at the Hong Kong International Airport, restricting the amount and kind of liquids one may bring out of the former crown colony.

In his report to the home office, Consul Victorio Mario Dimagiba Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong said that effective 21 March 2007, departing passengers could carry only a limited amount of liquids in their cabin or carry-on baggage.

These items, which must be stored in containers up to 100 milliliter (ml) and placed in a transparent re-sealable plastic bag measuring 20 x 20 centimeter (cm) (or 8 x 8 inches), are: gels; lotions and liquids, such as sun creams, suntan oil, suntan spray, perfume, face cream, body lotion, roll-on deodorant, and aftershave; pastes, such as toothpaste, Vaseline, and cream eye shadow; pressurized foams and sprays, such as shaving foams, shower foam, tanning foam, and pressurized deodorant; food stuffs, such as water, soft drinks, yoghurt, soup, and yogurt; and liquid cosmetics, such as liquid foundation, lip gloss, liquid mascara, make-up remover, and nail polish.

A Campaign Against AIDS (In France) ...just a break

Extortion At Manila Immigration (Are you a victim, too?)

Being barred from boarding her Dubai-bound plane for not coughing up $100 (Dh367) in ‘grease’ money to immigration agents in Manila is an ordeal Claire Dimaguina would rather forget.

The 28-year-old media professional was prevented from travelling twice though she presented an original visit visa issued by Dubai authorities and her passport shows she had been here twice before.

But she adamantly refused to give in to suggestions by the Bureau of Immigration agents at Ninoy Aquino International Airport to pay up.

After a week of troubles rebooking her flight, she was finally allowed to board her plane bound for Dubai, where a new job awaited her... full story here

Filipina Fined $600 For Possession of Beer, Vodka

(Borneo Bulletin / -A 27-year-old Filipina was fined $600 or a month in jail in default after pleading guilty to illegal possession of booze.

The Bandar Magistrate's Court yesterday heard that Mendoza Josephine Obereo kept 24 cans of Singha beer, 12 cans of Tiger beer and six bottles of Smimoff Vodka which were found in her car by Customs Preventive officers who inspected the defendant's vehicle on February 24 at the Kuala Lurah Control Post parking area.

Mistresses an acceptable fact of life in the Philippines?

(Yahoo News) - "And you don't have to be rich to have a mistress. In fact some mistresses at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder pay for the privilege by cooking and cleaning," the columnist and television personality (Jullie Yap Daza) said in an interview... full story here

Sorry Actors and Actresses

(Radio Singapore International) "...somehow they over-estimated the capability of Mr Cesar Montano, really translating his popularity into votes, the survey has already indicated that most of the actors and actresses who are running for public office, are now somehow at the end of the list, they are not part of the so-called short-list that was previously encountered, unlike the other elections. Now these so-called actors and actresses are at the bottom of the list..." more here

Here They Are: Filipinos In South Korea

image source here...

No Funds For Beijing Olympics?

(People's Daily Online) - The absence of funds from the private sector has caused a delay in training program of the Philippine athletes for the 2008 Beijing Olympics going, local media reported on Wednesday.

Twenty-five athletes from six sports, who were supposed to leave for China last month, will instead leave late this month, according to a report by The Philippine Star daily.

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) wants 60 athletes from swimming, diving, weightlifting, gymnastics, fencing, wushu, boxing, taekwondo, archery, shooting, rowing, track and field, tennis and equestrian to train abroad for the Olympics.

Earlier this year, the PSC hoped that the funds would have been raised by March and the training of the athletes, including those who will be based in the U.S., Russia, France, Germany or Australia, to be in full swing by April.

First Gentleman Mike Arroyo vowed to help raise the needed 250 million pesos (some five million U.S. dollars) budget for the Olympics. But according to PSC chairman Butch Ramirez, Arroyo plans to initiate the fund-raising shortly before or after the May 14 elections.

Philippine Inflation Lowest In 20 Years

The Philippines' inflation rate slowed down to its lowest level in 20 years in March, when the index averaged 2.2 per cent, the government said.

The March index was down from 2.6 per cent in February and 7.6 per cent in the same month in 2006.

'This was the lowest inflation rate since April 1987,' when the index was 1 per cent, according to the National Statistics Office (NSO).

'Slowdowns in the annual inflation rates of all the commodity groups except for clothing contributed to the downtrend,' the agency said.

The inflation rate for food, beverages and tobacco eased to 2.7 per cent in March from 3 per cent in February, while the index for fuel, light and water went down to 1.2 per cent from 1.5 per cent... full story here

11,000 Hectares More For Mangoes

(Yahoo News) - The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) is eyeing an additional 11,272 hectares of new land for mango production in anticipation of the growing demand for this Philippine tropical fruit in the US market, following a new mango import rule issued by Washington allowing its export to Hawaii and Guam.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the expansion is being eyed in the Davao region (Region XI) with 4,531 hectares; Central Mindanao (Region XII) with 2,000 hectyares; Zamboanga Peninsula (Region IX) with 760.5 hectares; Northern Mindanao (Region X) with 718 hectares; Cagayan Valley (Region II) with 620 hectares; and Central Luzon (Region III) with 599 hectares.

Also being considered are the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with 540 hectares; Western Visayas (Region VI) with 447 hectares; Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan (MIMAROPA Region IV-B) with 319 hectares; Central Visayas (Region VII) with 204 hectares; Eastern Visayas (Region VIII) with 174 hectares; Calabarzon (Region IV-A) with 160 hectares; Ilocos provinces (Region I) with 100 hectares; and Bicol (Region V) with 100 hectares... full story here

Philippines Has $24.7 Billion Foreign Reserves

(Yahoo News) - The Philippines' gross foreign reserves continued their yearlong record-breaking climb to a new peak of $24.7 billion at end- March after a fresh inflow of loans from overseas donors, the central bank said.

Record remittances, portfolio inflows and export earnings have helped push the Philippines reserves up since 2005. They would have breached the $25 billion mark last month were it not for debt repayments totalling $1.16 billion by the central bank and the government.

Income from investments abroad and central bank U.S. dollar purchases also helped lift the total up 0.8 percent from February's $24.5 billion and higher than the central bank's current 2007 forecast for gross international reserves of $24 billion... full story here