Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Nora Aunor reunites with two sons after three years

ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Actress and singer Nora Aunor (known as "The Superstar" to her fans) had a tearful reunion with her two sons during her show at the Banquet in Vallejo, California.

The iconic Filipino singer, who was arrested in 2005 in the United States for drug possession, had entered into a US drug court program to avoid serving prison time.

Her legal woes plus her preference to stay in the US to live a more anonymous life have kept her away from her sons for three years.
The show's producer helped send Aunor's sons, Ian and Kiko De Leon, from the Philippines.

"I just couldn't believe that I'm with her right now, you know that feeling, my heart is [beating fast] that you need to control your emotions. I'm really happy because it's been almost three years since we last [saw] each other," Kiko said.

"We didn't [talk] about what happened, we know what is true and untrue and if there are people who will still dwell on that issue its their problem, because we ... we are happy," said Ian, referring to his mother's 2005 drug case.

Aunor's fans in the US have stuck with her through the many scandals in her career and gladly paid the $45-$55 tickets to see her show.

Her admirers beamed with approval after the concert, expressing generous praises like "She's a really good singer, a champion", "The show is beautiful, we like it very much", and "She's really the best, we will never replace Nora!"

Aunor said she plans to take a break and make another movie while in the US.

Nora Cabaltera Villamayor in real life, the fifty-ish Aunor began her showbiz career when she was 14 years old.

Since then, she has made more than 170 films and recorded more than 20 albums. Her glorious fame in Philippine show business has been marred but not really affected by scandals related to her love life, her children and her drug use.

Aunor received a house as a gift from former president Joseph Estrada after she endorsed his candidacy in the 1998 elections. She has been called the Philippines' greatest pop icon.

Her fans, who call themselves "Noranians", have now spread to cyberspace with one fan club calling itself the International Circle of Online Noranians (ICON). The group runs the Web site 

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Shipbuilding giant hires 6,900 Filipino workers, expects to generate about 30,000 jobs

Tacloban City (May 2) -- This is good testament to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's 8 by '08 priority agenda, particularly that of creating more jobs and investment enhancement, among others.

More than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs are expected to be generated as Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines goes full blast in its operations in Subic. To date 6,900 workers are already employed, about 4,000 of who are skilled workers hired during the pre-operations and construction stages, DTI Upbeat informed.

To top it all, Hanjin's ship production in Subic is also expected to bring the export industries' growth close to $2 - 3.5 billion.

Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation, South Korea's ship-building giant and one of the world's largest shipyards, has recently marked the start of its production with the no less than Hanjin Chairman Cho Nam Ho presiding.

The company is set for the construction of new 4,300 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units container ships ordered by Germany and Greece, in Subic Bay. Lined up for the first production are six 4,300 TEU capacity container ships that will be delivered to Diorxy Maritime Corp. in Greece in 2009. Another six ships will be built on its second production round which will be delivered to NSC Schiffartsgeselhaft of Germany.

DTI Secretary Peter Favila said that the construction of the new ships is momentous not only for Hanjin but also for the Philippines because it will boost the local economy.

Secretary Favila said he strongly believes that with the training programs conducted by HHIC-PI for Filipinos, the vast experience and stature of Hanjin shipbuilding, and the competent Filipino technicians, this project will introduce the Philippines in the world map of large-scale shipbuilding as the new shipbuilding hub in Asia and the Pacific.

It would be recalled that so many welders were needed by Hanjin in Subic, which prompted TESDA to use the PGMA Training for Work Scholarship Program so that the welders could upgrade and enhance their skills and be qualified. (PIA 8)

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Deployment of OFWs to US, Canada doubled in 2006

By Veronica Uy

MANILA, Philippines -- The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed to the United States and Canada doubled in 2006, Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said Friday.

Citing a report from the department's Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, Brion said that total OFW deployment to the US increased from only 4,128 in 2005 to 11,406 in 2006, or an increase of 7,278. He said this makes the US the 11th top destination of documented OFWs globally.

On the other hand, documented OFW deployment to Canada grew from only 3,629 to 6,413 during the same period, or an increase of 2,784. Brion said this makes Canada the 17th top destination of OFWs among more than 180 host countries worldwide.

The labor chief said these figures are significant because legally documented OFWs are "at the heart of the Philippines' internationally acknowledged global migration management system."

Brion explained that the country's global migration management system revolves around a "circular" process of migration in which skilled OFWs with legitimate work visas are properly contracted and deployed for overseas jobs.

He said that after the OFWs complete their work contract during a specified period, they return to the home country either to be reintegrated into the economic mainstream or rehired on renewed visas for overseas work.

"The Philippine system of managing migration on a global scale is recognized by no less than the United Nations, primarily because it averts and prevents illegal entry of alien workers prejudicial to both the host and home countries of migrants," Brion said.

The labor secretary attributed the initial growth in OFW deployment to Canada to the recent accord forged by his department with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Employment in Saskatchewan for "Cooperation in the Fields of Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development."

Overall, he said, more and more OFWs are being deployed because the receiving countries need the OFWs' services and skills to boost their economic growth and to serve their graying populations.

The bureau's statistical data reveal that prior to a 176 percent (+7,278) growth to 11,406 last year, the annual deployment of documented OFWs to the US in the past five years totaled 3,405 in 2000; 4,689 in 2001; 4,058 in 2002; 3,831 in 2003; 3,831 in 2004; and 4,128 in 2005. They also show that documented OFW deployment to Canada totaled 2,020 in 2000; 3,132 in 2001; 3,535 in 2002; 4,006 in 2003; 4,453 in 2004; and 3,629 in 2005, before increasing by 76.71 percent (+2,784) to 6,413 in 2006.

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Green card holder a fresh voice on the hustings

By Patricia Laurel, May 02, 2007

The good news is: there are Filipinos, who after many years abroad are ready to come home to impart or share the knowledge they've acquired to our people back home.

Meet Dr. Martin Bautista. He is a returnee determined to make a difference. He vowed to return home one day to help turn his country around. In his mind he never left, he didn't exchange his Filipino passport for the coveted U.S. one. He chose instead to remain an immigrant. His thoughts were always back home, thinking of the people he left behind.

As evident in the PBS program, "Searching for (Asian) America," Bautista was one of two Filipino physicians featured in the episode as Asians doctors working, sometimes in the face of adversity, in the mostly white rural town of Guymon, Oklahoma. Bautista and his wife, Sylvia, also a physician, raised their children as Filipinos, teaching them Tagalog and reminding them constantly of their home country. In the program, Bautista admitted that he had achieved material success in the U.S., but felt a tug to return to his native land, to work for the betterment of the future of his home country.

Bautista's reason for leaving the Philippines is not a unique one. Like many Filipinos seeking a better life for his family, Bautista chose to make it on his own, instead of living off his parents and becoming a financial burden. It was also during the terrible time of martial law in the Philippines.

Bautista was born and raised in Quezon City. He attended the Ateneo de Manila School for 12 years, transferred to the University of the Philippines for nine years, and spent 18 years working as a physician in the United States. His life and struggles is a success story parents would be proud of. But instead of staying and enjoying the good life, he made his plans and prepared his wife and children for the journey home. There was something he needed to do back home.

Indeed, he returned home, and what he's undertaken is daunting, at best. He is running for a seat in the Senate. A legislative body that is overloaded with names that have been a permanent fixture and celebrities that don't have any business being in politics. But because the names are known to many, and because people aren't educated enough on important issues, and because most people are poor and need money, they sell their votes to the highest bidder. Sadly, our people vote for so many corrupt, rotten eggs in our country's vicious political cycle.

Unlike Filipino American Theodore B.M. Aquino, whose candidacy for senator was rejected by the Comelec unless he renounced his U.S. citizenship, Martin, a green card holder, is running as a Filipino citizen.

He said that if he loses, he could always be sponsored by one of his American-born kids and return to the U.S. The issue of his citizenship is not a factor.

Bautista has joined the Kapatiran Party that means The Brotherhood or The Alliance. There are three senatorial candidates from the party. All three have very impressive credentials: good educational background, informed and knowledgeable in the many issues and concerns that plague our country, no stains on their young political reputations. The party has hardly any funds to campaign as evident in their absent posters not plastered all over the country, only posters of airbrushed smiling candidates enticing the voter. Their unsophisticated website was probably created by a student of computer science. There are no frills there. There are those that say isn't it about time for a breath of fresh air to leak in?

Bautista has familiarized himself with all issues like medical (his expertise), poverty, corruption, etc., just about everything that plagues our country. He does not shy from questions thrown at him and does not read from notes, unlike his opponents, as shown recently in a TV political debate that included well known and beloved veteran screen actors. At the end of the debate, it was clear the actors needed to return to their professions and never entertain the thought of entering the political arena. The same should apply for some who are currently in politics or those thinking of becoming a politician because it's a way to get rich quick.

Bautista is not high on the ratings, but most likely his chances for 2010 will be very favorable. He's only 44. But he's making other politicians nervous. So far, the only negative thing written about him is he tends to stutter when he gets riled up, but not all the time.

In one interview, Bautista was quoted: "I invite all of you to join me. I am personally willing to bet everything material that I possess that if we ordinary citizens were to become aware that the power to change our country lies in each of us, then we can all work together in redeeming our Philippines. All the political dynasties with their innumerable guns, armies of goons, unlimited gold and Comelec will not stop an idea whose time has come."

Bautista has given interviews and speeches tirelessly. Despite the challenges, the negativity, he forges on talking and explaining ceaselessly about his plans to get us out of the hole we've dug ourselves deep into. It is indeed refreshing to watch him as he spoke and rallied the people at Quezon Circle, in Quezon City recently, to fight against the plague of poverty, something he hopes to abolish one day. A very tall order, but the man is managing to open tired, sleeping minds out there.

To learn more about Dr. Bautista's political platform, or to find out about the Kapatiran Party, visit their website at

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