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PHL home, handmade, and lifestyle collections featured in New York trade show
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Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. visits the booth of Kristal Leen de Guzman, owner and designer of Risqué Designs, a customized artisan footwear brand in the Philippines, at the NY Now Exhibit in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Kristal Leen de Guzman)

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. visits the booth of Kristal Leen de Guzman, owner and designer of Risqué Designs, a customized artisan footwear brand in the Philippines, at the NY Now Exhibit in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Kristal Leen de Guzman)

WASHINGTON, DC – Filipino designers, manufacturers, and exporters showcased their innovative works in the recently-concluded NY Now Exhibition, one of the biggest wholesale trade shows in New York which features home, handmade, and lifestyle design collections.

A contingent of 19 Filipino exhibitors under the Lifestyle Philippines brand represented the country in the NY Now Exhibition which took place in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from August 15 to 19, 2015.

Participating companies under the Home sector were Alice Blue Candles & Home Fragrances, Arden, Art n Nature, CSM Philippines, Finali, Klassy Collections, Lightworks, Markalex Creative Craft Crop., Mil Export Philippines, Nature’s Legacy, and Venzon Lighting.

Nineteen exhibitors under the Lifestyle Philippines brand represented the country in the recently-concluded NY Now Exhibition, one of the biggest wholesale trade shows in New York which features home, handmade, and lifestyle design collections, which took place in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from August 15 to 19, 2015.

Nineteen exhibitors under the Lifestyle Philippines brand represented the country in the recently-concluded NY Now Exhibition, one of the biggest wholesale trade shows in New York which features home, handmade, and lifestyle design collections, which took place in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from August 15 to 19, 2015.

Companies which showcased their collection under the Fashion sector were Ann Ong, Beatriz, Crystal Seas, kitSilver Jewellery, Larone, Megabijoux, Risque Design, and The Tanner Manila.

The exhibit attracted over 35,000 visitors and buyers from all over the United States including Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. who was pleased to see the Philippines represented in the NY NOW Exhibition.

“The Philippines has long been a source of innovative, beautiful, and exquisite designs in the fashion, furniture, and lifestyle sectors. It is definitely a source of pride to see this talent recognized in such a prestigious exhibition in no less than New York City, the fashion and design capital of the US,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Mrs. Ma. Victoria J. Cuisia (2nd from left) with ristal Leen de Guzman, owner and designer of Risqué Designs, a customized artisan footwear brand in the Philippines, at the NY Now Exhibit in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Kristal Leen de Guzman)

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Mrs. Ma. Victoria J. Cuisia (2nd from left) with ristal Leen de Guzman, owner and designer of Risqué Designs, a customized artisan footwear brand in the Philippines, at the NY Now Exhibit in the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Kristal Leen de Guzman)

Lifestyle Philippines is a curated exhibition of creative enterprises representing the Philippines’ unique and innovative designs. The brand aims to position the Philippines as a sourcing destination for finely-crafted lifestyle products for the world market.

The Philippines participation in NY Now was spearheaded by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), led by its Executive Director, Ms. Rosvi C. Gaetos. NY Now 2015 featured 2,600 exhibitors under 400 categories and attendees from 80 foreign countries.

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Experiencing the rite of ordination to the sacred priesthood of Br. Peter Vecellio, O.C. D.
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Myrna Aquitana_LighthouseOn the solemnity of the annual celebration of the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary recently, this author was invited by Jean O. Ng, an ardent parishioner of Saint Therese Church in the City of Alhambra, to experience the solemn rite of ordination to the sacred priesthood of Fr. Peter Mary Vecellio, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.C.D.

Fr. Peter was born in Minneapolis, MN. to parents: Raymund and Mary Vecellio, but was raised in the town of Minnetonka, MN. He attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Grade School and Benilde-St. Margaret’s Catholic High School. He further attended the University of Minnesota, but graduated at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Celebration of the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Celebration of the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

While at Franciscan University, he went through a major conversion in his life where he felt the “calling” to “offer his whole life to God ,” and become a priest. It was his mother, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, who played an important role in guiding him go through the whole process.

Fr. Peter chose to join the Order of Discalced Carmelites (O.C.D) because for him, “ultimately St. Therese and Our Lady led him to the Carmelite order and he was attracted to the Carmelites’ emphasis on prayer and the contemplative life.”

According to historical accounts, the Order of Discalced Carmelites “was juristically erected  in 1593 * They are commonly known as Secular Carmelites and they are an integral part of the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD) and they are juristically dependent upon the Discalced Carmelite Friars., who are in ‘fraternal communion’ with them and the cloistered Nuns of the Order. They share the same charisma with the Friars and Nuns, each according to his or her particular state of life, forming a single family with the same spirituality, and called by God to holiness and apostolic mission.

A solemn rite of ordination to the sacred priesthood of Fr. Peter Mary Vecellio, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.C.D.

A solemn rite of ordination to the sacred priesthood of Fr. Peter Mary Vecellio, of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, O.C.D.

There are two Carmelite Orders in the Church: the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance  (O. Cram.) and the Discalced Carmelite Order (OCD). The Discalced became a separate order under Teresa of Avila, so as to return to the more austere and contemplative life lived by the first Carmelites, and eventually by the end of the seventeenth (17th) century, the Discalced developed their own secular order. ‘Discalced,’ meant ‘shoeless’ signifying their great austerity. But seculars do not consider foregoing shoes to be a necessity for living internal austerity and poverty, Members of the OCDS on the other hand, are distinct from the secular order known as the Lay Carmelites (T.O.Carm.).”

Soon after Father Vicellio’s ordination, he is currently assigned to serve at the EL Carmelo Retreat House in Redlands, California where his goal is to serve the best way he can in doing retreat work as well as to grow in his love and dedication to the saints of Carmel and of the Carmelite charisma of prayer and transforming union with God.”

Surely, all of us who attended his ordination do wish him well in his chosen vocation and we’re hopeful that some of the younger generation can follow in his footsteps. May the Lord be always with you Father in all your religious undertakings.

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Patricia Javier bares she was once a mistress
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Patricia Javier (MNS Photo)

Patricia Javier (MNS Photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) — Former sexy star Patricia Javier, who has returned to the Philippines, revealed that she was once a mistress.

As a sexy star, she felt it would be difficult for her to find a man who would be proud of her.

“Ayun na nga po, baka wala nang binatang magseseryoso sa akin, doon na lang po ako sa may asawa, at least hindi ako papakialaman sa mga ginagawa ko,” Javier said.

Javier also revealed she once used illegal drugs as a way to avoid her problems.

“Kaya nga po, ‘yung I tried na mag-drugs para lang makalimutan ko ‘yung mga malungkot,” she added.

Javier moved to the United States in 2007 to start a family with her husband, chiropractor Dr. Rob Walcher. They now have two children.

She returned to the country to reboot her showbiz career. (MNS)

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Palace: Congress should review rules on balikbayan boxes
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President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the commemoration of the 137th Birth Anniversary of President Manuel L. Quezon (PMLQ) and the Inauguration of the “Museo ni Manuel L Quezon” during the flag raising ceremony at the Quezon Memorial Shrine in Elliptical Road, Quezon City on Wednesday (August 19, 2015). Also in photo are House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.; and Quezon City Vice Mayor Ma. Josefina Belmonte. (Photo by Rey Baniquet / Malacañang Photo Bureau / PCOOMNS Photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the commemoration of the 137th Birth Anniversary of President Manuel L. Quezon (PMLQ) and the Inauguration of the “Museo ni Manuel L Quezon” during the flag raising ceremony at the Quezon Memorial Shrine in Elliptical Road, Quezon City on Wednesday (August 19, 2015). Also in photo are House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.; Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr.; and Quezon City Vice Mayor Ma. Josefina Belmonte. (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — After the Bureau of Customs (BOC) drew flak for its plan to conduct physical inspections on balikbayan boxes, Malacañang said Wednesday that it is high time for Congress to review existing rules on these packages.

At a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. welcomed Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto’s proposal to amend BOC Memorandum Circular No. 7990, which sets rules for OFW-sent packages.

In Senate Bill 2913, Recto particularly pushed for an increase the tax-exempt value of the contents of a balikbayan box to $2,000 from the present $500.

“Mainam na nakapaghain si Senator Recto dahil pinag-uusapan ang bagay na iyan. Matagal na panahon na rin simula noong nagtakda ng mga patakaran hinggil diyan,” Coloma told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

“Napapanahon na rin siguro na pag-aralan ng ating mga mambabatas kung ang ano mang pagbabago ang kinakailangan,” he added.

Coloma nevertheless said that the executive has yet to study Recto’s entire proposal, and to come up with a stand on the measure.

“Pag-aaralan namin ang panukala at titingnan ano ang pinakamakatwirang na posisyon na maaaring mapanindigan ng pamahalaan kapag nabasa na at nauwaan na namin ang buong panukala ni Senador Recto,” Coloma said.

Policies on balikbayan boxes drew public attention during the past days after the BOC’s controversial plan to inspect these packages in an attempt to counter illegal smuggling.

On Monday, Aquino directed the BOC to no longer push ahead with its plan, and instead to just inspect suspicious balikbayan boxes. (MNS)

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Palace not worried about ‘no-remittance day’
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President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the project briefing on the major infrastructure projects in the Province of Cebu at the Equipment Management Division of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VII in Sergio Osmena Boulevard corner V. Sotto, Cebu City on Monday (August 24, 2015). Also in photo are Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the project briefing on the major infrastructure projects in the Province of Cebu at the Equipment Management Division of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region VII in Sergio Osmena Boulevard corner V. Sotto, Cebu City on Monday (August 24, 2015). Also in photo are Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — Malacañang is not worried about the plan of an overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) group to launch a “no-remittance day” on Friday to protest the Bureau of Customs (BOC)’s aborted plan to physically inspect balixbayan boxes.

During a press briefing on Wednesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. recalled that a similar initiative was launched two years, which he said did not have any negative impact on the economy.

“Ang dating naging karanasan diyan ay noon pang 2013, ‘nung kasagsagan ng isyu ng PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) o pork barrel, at noon naman ay walang naiulat na masamang epekto ito. Kaya kung ‘yon ang pagbabatayan ay tila wala naman tayong dapat ikabahala hinggil dito,” Coloma told reporters.

The Palace official added that while OFWs may delay their remittances for one day, they still have to transfer the money to help their families in the Philippines.

“Maaaring maantala siya ng isang araw pero hindi naman siguro ito nila iniisip na huwag ipadala,” Coloma said.

“Nananalig kami na sa paggamit nila ng katuwiran ay gagawin nila ‘yung pinakamainam para sa kapakanan ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” he added.

Migrante International, an OFW group, earlier called on Filipino migrant workers to join the remittance holiday to flight supposed “anti-migrant, anti-people” policies of the Aquino administration.

The BOC earlier faced public criticism due to its plan to conduct manual inspections on OFW-sent packages in an attempt to curb smuggling.

On Monday, Aquino directed the BOC to drop its plan and instead open only the suspicious packages.

Coloma nevertheless said that OFWs are free to join the remittance holiday.

“Iginagalang namin ang karapatang magpahayag ng saloobin sa hanay ng mga OFWs. Patuloy naming kinikilala ang mahalagang ambag ng mga OFWs sa ating ekonomiya,” he said. (MNS)

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Aquino assures OFWs of safeguards to prevent abuse in balikbayan box inspections
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President Benigno S. Aquino III is the guest of honor in the El Shaddai Charismatic Renewal Movement 31st anniversary celebration, coinciding with the 76th birthday of its spiritual leader-founder Mariano Z. Velarde, also known as Brother Mike, at the El Shaddai House of Prayer at Amvel Business Park in Paranaque City Sunday morning, (August 23). After the program, the President, along with Bro. Mike, DILG Sec. Manuel Roxas III, and DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin had a private breakfast. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III is the guest of honor in the El Shaddai Charismatic Renewal Movement 31st anniversary celebration, coinciding with the 76th birthday of its spiritual leader-founder Mariano Z. Velarde, also known as Brother Mike, at the El Shaddai House of Prayer at Amvel Business Park in Paranaque City Sunday morning, (August 23). After the program, the President, along with Bro. Mike, DILG Sec. Manuel Roxas III, and DND Sec. Voltaire Gazmin had a private breakfast. (MNS photo)

CEBU CITY (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that safeguards will be put in place to prevent abuse in balikbayan box inspections.

At a media briefing here, Aquino said he will review the Bureau of Customs’ proposed new policies in balikbayan box inspections with customs and finance officials on Monday afternoon.

The BOC has earlier announced that it will issue stricter guidelines on balikbayan boxes by October in an effort to curb technical smuggling.

In various posts on social media, OFWs complained that the measure would be an additional burden to them.

Others have urged their fellow migrant workers to stop sending their packages until BOC clarifies the plan.

Meanwhile, Customs chief Alberto Lina defended Monday the agency’s plan to open balikbayan boxes, saying the bureau is mandated to prevent the entry of contraband items as well as assess the value of items that need to be taxed.

Lina said that under the law, the bureau can inspect all balikbayan boxes entering the country.

He said the Bureau of Customs is hiring people to inspect up to two percent of 800,000 balikbayan boxes, or about 16,000 boxes, entering the country. He said the US Customs bureau also inspects about 2 percent of all incoming packages.

“We are hiring people to add on to the Bureau of Customs now,” he said.

The Customs chief noted that only returning overseas Filipino workers are given tax exemptions for items with value of up to P10,000, based on a presidential decree issued by then President Fidel Ramos.

Every item sent via balikbayan box is taxable, he added.

“[If you live abroad], you can bring anything but you will be taxed. There is no exemption. If you are a balikbayan with the intention of coming back to our country, with your passport and everything, like people who have studied abroad or returning OFWs, these are the only people given the privilege to bring in goods and that will not be taxed if the value of the goods is P10,000 and below,” he said.

He denied that the actual exemption is $500 and below, saying the exchange rate then when the presidential decree was issued was about $1:PHP7 or about P3,500. He said the exemption has been raised to P10,000.

Lina said items sent via balikbayan box will need to be assessed for duties and value-added tax. He said Customs inspectors need to open the boxes to check the items unless there is a packing list and invoice attached to the box.

Overseas Filipinos can list the items and present it to a broker, which will present the list to Customs. Lina, however, noted that brokers and freight forwarders do not submit these lists to Customs “so they would not have to pay duties and taxes.”

“The duty is 1 percent and VAT is 12 percent. The duty can go higher to 3 percent, 5 percent or 10 percent, depending on item that you are bringing into this country,” he said.

He cited as an example overseas Filipinos sending flatscreen TVs to their loved ones, saying these items should still be taxed 12 percent plus an additional 1 percent duty.

“We are asking our kababayan to declare right away, when they send a shipment there. They should email it or they should prepare a manifest together with the invoice so that the broker or the forwarder can file it properly.”

Even secondhand items such as bags or even a gift will need to be taxed.

“That is where the examiner will place a value. There is a secondhand value for Louis Vuitton bags here. That is the law, we have to follow the law,” he said.

Lina noted the bureau is mandated to prevent the entry of drugs, contraband items and even weapons of mass destruction, noting that various contraband items are being smuggled into the country through those boxes.

The Customs chief said the agency will get K-9 units to inspect balikbayan boxes for possible contraband items. The boxes will also be placed inside x-ray machines.

Lina warned that misdeclared items will be confiscated including microwave ovens, speakers and other household items. Items such as pornographic magazines will also be seized since these are banned.

He said confiscated items will be auctioned although the owner can still pay taxes “if that is really just a negligible thing.”

“If you are not honest, we will go after you. The word is honesty, here. You have to declare,” he said.

During the interview, the Customs chief was shown a photo of a balikbayan box that was opened by Customs inspectors.

Asked if this is OK with him, Lina said: “Hindi okay.”

Asked who should pay for the missing and destroyed items, he said: “Well, kung ang may kasalanan ay yuong Customs, kami ang magbabayad. Hindi pa naman natin natatanong kung sino ang may kasalanan dito. It was not only Customs [that opened the box.] The freight forwarder and brokers were also there.”

“Yes, (they could be at fault),” he said.

He said that freight forwarders sometimes open the boxes while packing the boxes inside the shipping containers.

Lina urged Filipinos to use only trusted freight forwarders and brokers so that their items will not go missing.

Asked about the possibility that unscrupulous Customs inspectors would steal the items, he said: “I assume I can trust my own people. I will assume it for the time being. You are just telling me that Customs is corrupt.”

He said Customs can track which person inspected the boxes since there are several representatives present when the boxes are opened including the examiner, the intelligence officer, the freight forwarder and office of the collector.

“We will answer there if there are really issues that are attributable to Customs. They have to prove it, that we are the ones at fault. It is unfair.”

He added: “We will take care of your goods. Nothing will be lost under my care provided you are honest.” (MNS)

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Pemberton admits choking Laude to death
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Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton when his mug shot was taken by Philippine National Police personnel. Pemberton is accused of murdering transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo, Philippines.

Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton when his mug shot was taken by Philippine National Police personnel. Pemberton is accused of murdering transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo, Philippines.

MANILA (Mabuhay) – US Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton admitted on Monday that he choked Jennifer Laude to death after learning that she was also a “man.”

Pemberton made the admission during the hearing on Laude’s murder at the Olongapo City Regional Trial Court Branch 74.

Pemberton strangled and dragged Laude after discovering that she was a transgender, Laude family lawyer Harry Roque told reporters.

In his testimony, Pemberton said that on Oct. 11, 2014, he went to the mall and several bars as part of his “liberty time.”

After going to several bars, he went back to the mall and later went to Ambyanz Resto Bar where he met “two women,” one whom was Laude.

He said Laude and the other unidentified woman went with him to Cellzone Lodge where one of the women performed oral sex on him.

After the woman left, Pemberton and Laude were left alone inside the hotel room, where Laude also began performed oral sex on him.

During the sex act, Pemberton said, he reached down between Laude’s legs and discovered that his sex partner had a penis.

According to Pemberton, he got angry – feeling that he was being raped by another man.

The American said he pushed Laude but the latter retaliated by slapping him.

Pemberton said he then choked Laude.

When he saw that she was no longer moving, he dragged her to the comfort room where he poured water on Laude in the hopes of reviving her.

Last May, Philippine National Police medico-legal officer and pathologist Dr. Maritess Ombao testified that Laude died due to strangulation and asphyxia by drowning.

Pemberton is accused of killing Laude, who was found dead in a bathroom of a motel in Olongapo City.

A bellboy identified Pemberton as the companion of Laude before her body was found.

The murder complaint was filed December last year.

Pemberton is currently detained at the JUSMAG facility inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. (MNS)

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