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Piolo Pascual’s Impressive Easter tribute to family and fans in LA
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Myrna Aquitana_LighthouseAs we enter the highlight of the Lenten Season on Palm Sunday, this writer is reminded of Euripedes’ famous lines that said: “the greatest pleasure in life is Love.”

Though defined in various ways, “Love” was impressively shown by actor/producer, heartthrob 37 year-old Piolo Jose Pascual “PJ” in short,  in his Easter concert by paying tribute to his son, 20 year-old Iñigo Lazaro Pascual, his mother, the former Amelia Nonato and his adoring fans during the concert, produced by the energetic Vic Perez of V Entertainment held at the White Memorial Adventist Church in Los Angeles.

As spectators, my friend Danny Bajet, Lou Sabas, Alice Gonzales and I were just pleasantly surprised and mesmerized by Piolo’s wholesome personality like a “breath of fresh air” obliging song requests and selfies while singing through the crowd in spite of the venue security’s relentless effort to stop the crowd of fans practically mobbing and screaming toward him.

Piolo Pascual (MNS photo)

Piolo Pascual (MNS photo)

Garbed in a simple white-collared shirt and black jacket, Piolo’s charisma blended well with his warmth and courteous personality – attributes which particularly impressed me. He didn’t appear like the super star that he already is and together with the Band he’s been working with for several years now, he serenaded us with some of his popular hit songs such as:  “Babe I Love You,” “It’s a Little Bit Funny,” “This One’s For You,” If I give My Heart To You,” and “  “This One’s For You,.” Further, he also sang Martin Nievera’s OPM song such as “Be My Lady,” Elton John’s popular song such as “The Way You Look Tonight” and Louis Armstrong’s “Colors of the Rainbow.”

After a brief intermission, Piolo came back with a more casual brown leather jacket attire and dedicated Tagalog songs to his mom such as “Gaano Kita Kamahal,”  and “Kung Kailangan Mo Ako;” he turned to his fans and dedicated the hit song in his recent movie “Starting Over Again.”  It is no surprise that his fan base reaches far and wide and some of them even flew from Canada and Seattle to see and listen to him.

Good wholesome shows like these are hard to come by nowadays. In the spirit of rejoicing on Easter, we would like to commend producer Vic Perez for encouraging young artists to showcase their talent interspersed within the show, where a well known artist such as Piolo has in  his own way, welcomed these uprising artists. Congratulations, Vic Perez for a lovely night of entertainment. To PJ, we wish you all the blessings this Easter for your warmth and dedication to your fans. Mabuhay!

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PHL 3rd deadliest country for environmental activists – int’l group
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(Photo image courtesy of http://new.globalwitness.org/)

(Photo image courtesy of http://new.globalwitness.org/)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Philippines is the third deadliest country in the world for environmental activists, an international group reported.

London-based Global Witness, an organization probing corruption and environmental issues, released a report this week recording 67 killings of environmental activists in the Philippines over the past 12 years, making it the deadliest country for environmental defenders in Asia and the third in the world, next to Brazil and Honduras.

“In the Philippines, the risks to environmental and land defenders are acute…People have been killed opposing numerous environmental threats, including illegal logging, waste dumping, expansion of biofuel plantations and the construction of large-scale hydroelectric dams,” the Global Witness report stated.

Most killings of environmental activists, however, were suspected to have been caused by “opposition to mining operations,” according to the international group.

“The Philippines is rich in natural resources and has a significant mining industry, but there is very little transparency in this sector, with mining contracts and data seldom made public. Rules requiring mining companies to consult with and gain consent from communities who live in areas in which the firms seek to operate are not consistently followed,” the report read.

In March 2012, for instance, anti-mining activist Datu Jimmy Liguyon was shot dead in front of his family. The suspect in the killing, Alde “Butsoy” Salusad, has a standing arrest warrant, but remains at large.

‘State forces behind killings’

Global Witness attributed some of the killings of environmental activists in the Philippines to “state forces.”

“Of the few cases where the identity of the perpetrators have been documented, state forces are suspected of being behind the killings. Key state institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement agencies, are weak, and the military and the police are known to commit human rights violations with little accountability,” the report stated.

The group also noted how some of the assassinations had “deep political ties,” such as the killing of broadcaster Gerry Ortega in January 2011. Former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes and his brother, former Coron Mayor Mario Reyes, are being implicated in the Ortega slay and are among the country’s most wanted fugitives.

The international organization also pointed out the government’s inability to jail perpetrators of these killings. According to the group, only two perpetrators of the 67 confirmed killings of environmental activists have been imprisoned.

“The capacity and willingness of the judicial system to deliver justice for victims and their families is low in the Philippines, where involuntary disappearance only recently became a recognized crime and few killings have been resolved,” the group said in its report.

The organization also called on the Philippine government to “take immediate steps… to respect, protect and promote” the rights of environmental defenders in the country.

Global Witness is an international non-government organization which “investigates and campaigns to change the system by exposing the economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction.”

The group previously investigated illegal timber trade in Cambodia and Thailand, as well as the diamond trade that supposedly funded the Angolan Civil War from 1975 to 2002.  (MNS)

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Ejay opens up on romance with Yam Concepcion
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Ejay Falcon and Yam Concepcion (MNS Photo)

Ejay Falcon and Yam Concepcion (MNS Photo)

Actor Ejay Falcon admitted that he had a short-lived relationship with his “Dugong Buhay” leading lady Yam Concepcion.

Falcon said his relationship with Concepcion lasted only for a few months and they broke up two months ago.

It was Concepcion who initiated the break up, he said.

Magkaiba ang mundo namin, ‘yun talaga,” explained Falcon, who courted Concepcion while they were doing “Dugong Buhay.”

Falcon said their lack of time is one of the reasons behind their separation.

In the interview, Falcon again denied reports romantically linking him to actress Sunshine Cruz. (MNS)

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SC junks petition for use of laptops during Bar Exams
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(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

(Supreme Court of the Philippines}

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a petition pushing for the use of laptops during the Bar Examinations.

In an en banc resolution dated April 1, 2014, the SC denied the petition filed by a certain Cora C. Amarga.

The SC said that there is no valid and convincing reason to grant the petition to use a laptop in answering the Bar Examinations.

“The Court resolved, upon the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant, to deny the present petition of Cora C. Amarga for permission to use a laptop for answering the 2014 bar examinations, there being no valid and convincing reason to grant the same,” said the resolution signed by en banc Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta E. Vidal.

Amarga filed a similar petition in 2007, which was denied by the SC.  (MNS)

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Prove reward for CPP power couple skimmed, Palace dares solon
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President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the meeting on the update on effects of Typhoon Pablo at the President’s Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday (December 12). In photo are Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III presides over the meeting on the update on effects of Typhoon Pablo at the President’s Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Wednesday (December 12). In photo are Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Julia Andrea Abad, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) Secretary Ramon Carandang and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Saturday challenged a lawmaker to substantiate his claims that some government officials may have pocketed part of the reward money for the capture of top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte questioned the basis of Bayan Muna Rep. Isagani Zarate in claiming secretaries Voltaire Gazmin (defense) and Manuel Roxas II (interior) may have kept part of the money.

“We don’t know what the basis is for that and I have not seen the good congressman make any statement (kung) ano ang basehan at ano ba yan,” Valte said on government-run dzRB radio.

“We’re certain that is not true,” she added.

A report on Manila Standard Today had quoted Zarate as saying the two secretaries may have kept almost half of the reward money for the arrest of Wilma and Benito Tiamzon.

Zarate claimed documents from the Defense and Interior Departments showed the bounty for the Tiamzon couple was pegged at P10 million each, or P20 million total.

But he claimed the Armed Forces of the Philippines “understated” the amount and said the reward collected was P11.52 million, or P5.6 million per head.

Zarate said Gazmin and Roxas have been quiet about the AFP’s understated funds for reward money.

“This involves a total of P41.45 million, of which amount, the AFP claimed to have collected only some P22.4 million. So where is the rest of the reward money?” he said.(MNS)

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Palace: No reason yet to doubt PCSO amid Grand Lotto draw row
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PCSO-Philippine Lotto

PCSO-Philippine Lotto

MANILA (Mabuhay) – Malacañang on Saturday said there is no reason yet to doubt the integrity of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office amid reported rigging of last Monday’s 6/55 Grand Lotto draw.

In an interview aired on government-run radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said since the lottery is televised, “’yan ang ginawang safeguard para maipakitang maayos at walang nangyayaring kalokohan sa lotto draw.”

When asked if PCSO general manager Jose Ferdinand Rojas II will be summoned, Valte said: “At this point, there is no reason to do that [last Monday’s draw].”

Earlier, a photo posted on Filipino’s Patriotism’s Facebook page on Wednesday showed that nobody won the P249.8 million jackpot, while two – and not 25 – snagged the P169,410 pot for the five-digit lotto draw.

The PCSO earlier said a bettor from Muntinlupa City who placed her bet in Makati City won the P249.8 million 6/55 Grand Lotto jackpot prize.

Pero sa hard copy na ibinigay sa amin ng isang reliable source ay walang nanalo ng jackpot? at maging ang sinasabing 25 naman sa premyong P169,410 ay dalawa lang ang nanalo base sa hard copy ng results…?” the caption of the controversial photo read.

The photo has been shared more than 5,400 times as of posting time.

However, Rojas said the zero winner indicated in the document refers to Visayas and Mindanao.

Hindi doon nanggaling ang lucky lotto outlet na nagbigay ng winning ticket. Ang ating winning ticket ay nanggaling dito sa Luzon,” he said.

Rojas also showed the validation ticket that confirmed the result, as well as the photocopy of the winning ticket. The lucky bettor has claimed the prize, he said.

The bettor got the winning combination of 39-21-42-28-05-27 to win the night’s jackpot worth exactly P249,841,572.

According to PCSO, the winner – a mother of three – is from Muntinlupa. She bought her ticket from an outlet in Makati through an assistant.

Robert Cruz, manager of Land Bank PCSO, confirmed that the check has been deposited. (MNS)

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Filipino-American to host World Championship Robotics Competition
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Courtesy of FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Facebook page

Courtesy of FIRST – For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Facebook page

LOS ANGELES, C.A.,  - We are pleased to announce that Filipino-American, Jojo Aguilar, is returning as the Master of Ceremony for the 2014 First (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri on April 23-26, 2014 at the Edward Jones Dome.  More than 10,000 high school students from around the globe will travel to compete their custom-built robots and put them to the test.    FIRST is non-profit organization which produces robotics competition around the world exposing students K-12 to  the exciting opportunities in science, technology and engineering fields through robotics.

“After being the Master of Ceremony for the FIRST Robotics Los Angeles Regional Competition during the last five years and hosting the World Championships the last two years, being invited back to host another world championships is very exciting for me,” says Aguilar.

“Jojo easily gained the respect and admiration of competing students and other event workers at the competition in an atmosphere of significant pressure,” says First Production Developer, Blair Hundertmark.

First Robotics Competition combines sports excitement with the rigors of science and technology.  Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to fundraise, design a brand, exercise teamwork and build and program robots to perform tasks against competitors.

About Jojo Aguilar:  Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Jojo Aguilar started as an Outreach Specialist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory leading him to partner with FIRST and their robotics competition. He has also worked as an adjunct professor of Communications at California State University, Los Angeles.  As a Judo champion and Hapkido black belt, he is also a self-defense instructor at Los Angeles City College and teaches the “Quick and Dirty Self-Defense” class. He was a 1995 United States Judo Collegiate Nationals Gold Medalist.

For more information, please visit www.usfirst.org or for more information on Jojo Aguilar, you can visit his website at www.quickanddirty.us follow him on twitter @jojoaguilar.

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