The latest news stories from the major news organizations in Cebu and Manila in the Philippines, the US and other countries.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July 13, 2009 Major News Stories

Masses in San Pablo stopped due to H1N1

At least five priests teaching in a Catholic college seminary in San Pablo City were unable to say Masses on Sunday and have been placed on quarantine after two seminarians they regularly deal with tested positive for the Influenza A(H1N1) virus last week.

Filipino maid with H1N1 critical in HK

A Filipino maid in Hong Kong was in a critical condition on Sunday in the city's most severe human swine flu case to date.  The 37-year-old woman, who arrived in Hong Kong on June 28 to start her job as a domestic helper, developed a sore throat and fever a day later, a spokeswoman for United Christian Hospital told AFP.

She checked into the hospital on July 7 and was admitted to its intensive care unit in critical condition.

"It is the most severe swine flu case that Hong Kong has found," the spokeswoman said.

The maid's employer—a pregnant woman—is undergoing tests for the flu in the hospital and is in stable condition, the spokeswoman said.

A government spokesman said by Saturday night, a total of 1,236 cases of swine flu, or influenza A(H1N1), has been reported in Hong Kong. There have been no deaths in the southern Chinese territory.

Thailand's H1N1 death toll up to 18

Thailand's swine flu death toll rose to 18 Sunday as the government confirmed three more fatalities and opened a vaccine plant to prevent tens of thousands of infections across the country.

RP school in Saudi reports A(H1N1) cases

PISTON to push transport strike, protests

Transport strike in Panay starts Monday

Transport groups on Panay Island will stage a two-day strike starting on Monday morning to protest the increase in oil prices and fines for traffic violations, one of their leaders said.

Tom back from US tomorrow

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña will be back in Cebu tomorrow after his two-week trip to the United States for a health checkup and visits.

Make SRP a storage lot for towers: PJ

CAPITOL officials shrug-ged off yesterday the latest tirade of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña against the Provincial Government, particularly his suggestion to convert the Cebu International Convention Center into a hospital.

Consumers to enjoy P.30 reduction in rate

The Energy Regulatory Commission clarified that the Mandatory Rate Reduction of P0.30 per kilowatt hour granted under Section 72 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 shall continue to be enjoyed by customers...

Kris thanks nation for prayers for Cory

Lubos ang pasasalamat ng bunso ni dating pangulong Cory sa lahat ng mga nagdasal para sa ikagagaling ng kanyang ina.

Cory not refusing chemo, treatment 

Obama to meet Glo July 30 in Washington

Just as the United States' chief spy, Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta, was flying in Sunday for a lightning visit, the White House announced that US President Barack Obama would meet with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Washington on July 30.

Arroyo to CIA chief: Blasts are 'nothing'

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top security officials assured the head of the United States' top spy on Sunday that the recent spate of bombings in Mindanao was "nothing to be worried about."

Leon Panetta, the visiting chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, met with Arroyo and key Cabinet officials in closed-door meeting in Malacañang on Sunday afternoon.

"He was given an overview and we assured him that this is nothing," National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of by phone after attending the meeting.

"They're routine in Mindanao," he said, referring to the bomb attacks that rocked Cotobato City, Jolo town, and Iligan City last week.

Blast hits bank in Caloocan—police

An explosion occurred at an Allied Bank building in Caloocan at past noon Sunday.  Police were also checking reports of a second blast near an Allied Bank branch in Valenzuela City.

Mindanao food aid to resume

The United Nations has announced that the delivery of food assistance to people displaced by conflicts in Mindanao will be resumed once travel restrictions imposed on its personnel are lifted.

'A day I thought may never come'

Gaunt and haggard, freed Italian aid worker Eugenio Vagni said his release from six months' captivity by armed Islamic militants in the Philippines was a day he thought might never come.

Vagni reunites with family

Napuno rin ng emosyon ang muling pagkikita ng Italyanong si Eugenio Vagni at ng kanyang asawa at isang taong gulang na anak. Giit ni Vagni, ang pagmamahal sa kanyang pamilya ang siyang nagbigay sa kanya ng lakas para labanan ang halos kawalan na ng pag-asa bilang bihag. 

'Nagging' wives led to Vagni release

The two wives of Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad who were arrested by the police and military last week apparently nagged Parad into releasing the bandit group's remaining hostage, Italian Eugenio Vagni of the International Committee of the Red Cross hostage, the military said.

Money changed hands for Vagni release 

A provincial official in Sulu province on Sunday admitted that money changed hands for the release of kidnapped Italian aid worker Eugenio Vagni but denied it was for ransom.

Vagni family, friends offer mass

Sa Italy, isang engrandeng homecoming ang inihahanda na ng mga kababayan ni Eugenio Vagni! Noong una, halos hindi pa makapaniwala ang kapatid ni Vagni na ganap na ngang malaya ang Red Cross volunteer.

Bishops hail Vagni's release

Catholic bishops lauded the release of Italian Eugenio Vagni, volunteer of the International Committee of the Red Cross, from the clutches of the Abu Sayyaf Group, as they called for an end to abductions in southern Philippines.

CBCP president welcomes successor

Catholic Bishops' Conference (CBCP) of the Philippines President Angel Lagdameo welcomed the election of Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar as his successor.

Left's chief peace broker back in Manila

The chief peace negotiator for communist rebels arrived in the country with his wife on Sunday, a few days after Malacañang revived safe conduct passes for leftist insurgents involved in the peace process.  National Democratic Front Chairman Luis Jalandoni and his wife, Consuelo Ledesma, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on board KLM Flight 803 at 8:45 a.m. Airport security prevented the media from interviewing them.

AFP declares Cebu and Bohol NPA-free

If the Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command is to be believed, Cebu and Bohol have been cleared of the communist-terrorist movement.

Slowdown, not recession for RP 

The Philippines will likely avoid a recession in 2009 but will have to contend with a snail's pace growth through 2010, according to New York-based think tank Global Source.

Cheney told CIA to withhold information

Strong quake shakes Peru

A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Moment Magnitude Scale shook southern Peru early Sunday, but appears to have caused only relatively minor damage, seismologists here said.

10 more hurt in Spain's bull run

Ten people were injured, two of them seriously, in the Pamplona bull run Sunday, two days after a man was gored to death by a bull, according to revised figures issued by organizers.

Mavericks ink Kidd to three-year NBA deal

MJ was 'murdered,' sister La Toya says

Michael Jackson was killed by a band of greedy hangers-on, his sister La Toya alleged in interviews with British Sunday newspapers.

'Richard set to appeal DOJ resolution'

Storm 'Huaning' threatens Batanes

Tropical depression "Huaning" is threatening the Batanes Islands in the extreme north and is expected to enhance the southwest monsoon, bringing rains to western portions of Luzon and the Visayas, the weather bureau said.

Bigger Mayon explosion feared

Should the Mayon Volcano explode, it could be bigger than its last eruption in 2006, a volcanologist warned, as local government officials mapped out contingency plans in case of an eruption.

Barcodes on trees help to save forests

Deep in the world's tropical rainforests, workers are hammering thousands of barcodes into hardwood trees to help in the fight against illegal logging, corruption and global warming.

Text messaging put to good use in schools

FILIPINOS are undisputedly the best in the world when it comes to text messaging.

Text2Teach is the Philippine project under the BridgeIt program, a global initiative that aims to narrow the educational divide between nations by improving the teaching of basic education in developing countries using high speed, wireless digital connection.

The text message-based program was deemed ideal for the Philippines not only because everybody knows how to use it, but also because the technology is cheap and can reach the farthest islands of the archipelago.

Text2Teach aims to help improve the quality of teaching in grades 5 and 6 classes in elementary school by providing multimedia packages designed to make science, math and English learning more exciting and meaningful among young learners.

The first phase of Text2Teach used the mobile phone, satellite technology, and media master to deliver content to the classrooms. The teachers use the mobile phone to order video clips which are delivered via satellite, stored in the media master, and viewed on TV.

For the second phase launched this year, the mobile phone is the storage device and is preloaded with the educational videos. All a teacher has to do is plug the phone to a TV and play the video lesson.

New videos will be accessed by downloading them through the mobile phone using Globe's 3G technology. The videos are integrated with specially developed lesson plans that comply with the Basic Education Curriculum and designed for grades 5 and 6 students in public elementary schools.

The teachers then show these materials on television to public elementary school students who would not have had access to these multimedia presentations if not for Text2Teach.

The teachers were trained by experts from the Seameo Innotech on how to integrate multimedia learning experience into their lesson plans.

There are 387 video modules in the electronic library and 480 lesson guides for teachers on topics that are generally discussed in the science, math, and English classes of Grade 5 and 6 students.

More interesting

Teachers show topics in line with the curriculum defined by the Department of Education.

Jeff Tarayao, head of community relations and corporate social responsibility of Globe Telecom, says that with Text2Teach, learning about volcanoes, for instance, has never been more interesting.

The students agree.

Just six years since it was launched, absenteeism among students attending Text2Teach classes has been reduced; student performance has risen as shown by higher average scores in science; teacher-pupil, pupil-pupil interaction got a boost, and, the classroom atmosphere has become more upbeat.

Tarayao says the teachers have been clamoring for even more content to show their enthusiastic students.

Since 2003, more than a million public elementary school students and more than 1,700 teachers and school officials in about 250 schools all over the Philippines have benefited from the program. And Text2Teach is reaching more schools in the country, targeting an additional 350 schools nationwide by 2010.

Text2Teach went to 118 public elementary schools in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development.

Tarayao says some schools are even sharing their content with the out of school youth who come to the Text2Teach classrooms after regular classes.

He says the challenge is to further expand the program to cover even more schools that want to experience the same benefits of Text2Teach.

It is possible given the commitment of the many organizations behind Text2Teach.

Ayala Foundation is the overall project leader, handles resource and partners mobilization and technical support for the project; Globe Telecom is the cellular capacity provider and powers the SMS network; Nokia Philippines provides the private sector funding, which includes the provision of a 3G-enabled device such as the Nokia N95 8GB, equipped with the Nokia Education Delivery (NED) software that allows the teacher to select from the 387 education videos specifically created for the project; Seameo Innotech crafts the lesson plans and handles the teacher training; while the Department of Education provided coordination with the public schools system.

Text2Teach's accomplishments did not go unnoticed.

Text2Teach was a finalist in the Stockholm Challenge in Sweden—the world's leading ICT Prize for entrepreneurs and projects who use information and communications technology to improve living conditions and increase economic growth.

Text2Teach was also awarded the best in Support and Improvement of Education Category during the 2006 Asian CSR Awards.

But for Globe, the reward is knowing that Text2Teach has helped make mobile phone communication and SMS technology relevant to the upliftment of education in the Philippines.

Luis Bunuel  - "Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese."

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