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

Sunday, January 2, 2011

January 3, 2011 Major News Stories

January 3, 2011 Major News Stories
January 3, 2011 Major News Stories


No storm, but keep umbrellas ready: Pag-asa

by cebuweb

NO tropical cyclone threatened or affected the country as of yesterday, but scattered rains may be expected in the next few days, the weather bureau said.

Rains in the past two days were brought about by the northeast monsoon, said Luciano Villamor, a weather observer at the Mactan, Cebu Station of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Scattered rains started to pour on January 1. That day, PAGASA 7 has measured 5.4 mm of rain in Lapu-Lapu City alone. As of 2pm yesterday, the volume of rain has reached 9.4 mm in Lapu-Lapu.

The agency assured that the volume of rain is still at a normal level, but warned that such may still cause disasters if rain continues for days.

Northeast monsoon comes within November until February, season considered as a major period of rainfall activity. Aside from rain, it also brings cold winds, which have the tendency to gain strength that makes it advisable for small boats not to sail in the ocean.

Meanwhile, PAGASA expects at least 20 typhoons to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this year. Eleven typhoons were recorded in 2010. Typhoon “Katring,” which made a landfall last October was the last tropical depression recorded last year. There were 21 typhoons that entered the country in 2009 with typhoon “Ondoy” causing the most devastation.

2 children missing in Southern Leyte landslide


LEYTE, Philippines – Two children have gone missing in landslide in Southern Leyte province, a disaster management official said Sunday.

The landslide hit St. Bernard town amid heavy rains, according to Angel Gaviola, director of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC).

He said people from 3 villages in the town have been evacuated while rescue operations are ongoing for 2 other barangays.

Another landslide also occurred in Barangsy San Rafael, Hinabangan, Western Samar, Gaviola said.

The other areas affected by heavy rains include the towns of Maslog, Jipapad, Oras, Dolores, Taft, and Can-avid in Eastern Samar.

150 airline passengers stranded in Kalibo


MANILA, Philippines – More than 150 passengers were stranded at the Kalibo airport in Aklan after Philippine Airlines (PAL) cancelled a 6 p.m. flight en route to Manila on Sunday.

Baguio temperature drops to 10.8 degrees Celsius; 9 degrees seen before Jan. 15

Couples could most likely handle the chill here easily when early morning temperatures dropped from 12.8 degrees Celsius on Jan. 1 to 10.8 degrees on Sunday.

Blast victims told: Don’t ignore even slight wounds

Merrymakers who had minor injuries during the New Year celebration must not delay seeking medical attention as their condition could worsen, health officials warned as firecracker-related accidents swelled to 794 up to early Sunday.

Fireworks injure 794 amid New Year revelry

by By Jojo Malig,

MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of people nationwide started the New Year missing several fingers, a Department of Health (DOH) official said Sunday.

Firecrackers injured 749 people while 35 were hit by stray bullets during the New Year revelry, said Dr. Eric Tayag of the DOH’s National Epidemiology Center.

Tayag told ANC that 116 cases involved eye injuries while 10 others involved firecracker ingestion.

He said the total of number of cases fell 20% from 998 in the same period last year.

The DOH is now on tetanus alert in anticipation of the surge of complications from untreated firecracker injuries, Tayag added.

Tetanus watch

He urged firecracker blast victims to immediately visit hospitals for treatment because of tetanus threat.

The DOH’s tetanus watch will end on the last day of January because the illness’ incubation period lasts from 3 to 28 days, Tayag explained.

“We’re on tetanus alert. Individuals who sustained injuries [and] feel pain in the jaw, develop seizures, please go to the hospital. That’s tetanus,” he warned.

DOH data revealed that 58% of the cases occurred in Metro Manila.

Nearly half of all the victims were passersby while 37% of the victims were under influence of alcohol, Tayag said.

He said he was alarmed by the number of children who were injured.

“We are so sorry many children still get (injured). They lost their fingers, some lost their eye, they get blind. Some actually had severe disfigurement,” he said.

“If only we could have done more and confiscated (more) ‘Piccolo’ [firecrackers] earlier, then we may have a significant decrease in the number of children injured,” he added.

Tayag said the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila is equipped to treat tetanus cases.

Piccolo ban

Tayag said the DOH is still puzzled with the legality of Piccolo fireworks sales.

“The info we had is Piccolo is an imported fireworks. The law, RA 7183, prohibits importation of ready-to-use firecrackers. The local manufacturers deny they are producing [and] when you look at the Piccolo sold it says ‘Made in Bulacan.’ So were going to look at this and probably work with the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] and perhaps meet the manufacturers so that once and for all we'll have a better intervention next year,” he added.

Tayag said the lone reported fatality this year from fireworks involved the said firecracker.

“Last year, 2 died from firecracker injuries, from brain hemorrage. This year, the lone death was due to intentional poisoning and that was Piccolo.”

He added that authorities are also looking into cases involving “kwitis” explosions that injured people. “’We’re going to study it if this will be added to the list of those prohibited.”

A better campaign

He said the DOH needs to improve its campaign against firecracker injuries.

“Quoting [Metro Manila police chief Director Nicanor] Bartolome, our best was not enough. We learned our lessons, we hope we’ll have an improved campaign,” the DOH official said.

Tayag thanked doctors, nurses, the media, local governments, and civil society groups that helped promote the campaign against fireworks injuries.

“We were able to manage, reduce number of injuries by 20% and that’s a significant number, a major outcome for all of us.”

Among victims were those who used ‘Bin Laden’ and ‘Goodbye, Philippines’

by cebuweb

AN OFFICIAL of the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday there were fewer victims of firecracker-related injuries this year, compared to the previous New Year’s Eve.

Dr. Susana Madarieta, DOH 7 director, said there were 36 people treated for blast or burn injuries in Central Visayas. Of that number, 30 came from Cebu, while three each were in Bohol and Negros Oriental.

Destruction of P3M in pyros upsets ex-mayor

by cebuweb

BUSINESSMAN Brian Lim admitted he was upset when the police destroyed P3 million worth of pyrotechnics confiscated from his mall outlet, on orders of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

Osmeña said he will help Lim if the businessman decides to file a case against the mayor and the police.

Lim said he will consult his lawyer about the matter.

He also said he will continue to offer free fireworks display for the Sinulog activities, particularly at Plaza Independencia and the selection of the Festival Queen.

PNoy, Cabinet to discuss toll, taxi fare hikes Thursday

President Benigno Aquino III and other government officials will meet on Thursday to discuss ways of cushioning the impact of the recent toll increases to the public, a Palace official said on Sunday.

“We have a cluster meeting on Thursday and that’s going to be part of the agenda," said Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office head Ricky Carandang in a radio interview.


He also said President Aquino may also meet with his economic managers in the coming days to tackle the toll adjustments implemented in the North Luzon and South Luzon expressways as well as the fare increase being sought by taxi operators.


Concern talaga ng Palace ang sabay-nabay na NLEX, SLEX, taxi. Talagang kailangan nating tingnan kung ano ang magagawa natin. Hindi naman natin sinasabi na hindi nararapat ang ilang mga increases, pero kailangan nating pag-aralan ang paraan kung papano matutulungan ang regular na consumers na ma-affect dito," Carandang told Radyo ng Bayan.

CCT's P21-B hike to go to DSWD, DepEd, DOH

(Updated 4:40) The Department of Budget and Management is preparing a budget execution strategy for the P21 billion given this year to the conditional cash transfer program to be distributed by the departments of Social Welfare and Development, Education, and Health.

Rules on power discounts for senior citizens out soon

POWER DISCOUNTS for senior citizens will finally push through as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) promises to pass final rules by this month.

ERC executive director Francis Saturnino C. Juan told BusinessWorld in a text message the final rules for the power discounts for senior citizens will be released by the second week of January.

"We will be issuing the final rules [for senior citizens’ power discount] no later than the second week of January," said Mr. Juan in the text message.

He added "there is no more need for a third public consultation because we have already gathered the comments from stakeholders."

Mr. Juan did not disclose possible contents of the rules for the power discounts for senior citizens.

Distribution utility Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) could not be reached for a comment on the issue.

The final rules are expected to provide guidelines for distribution utilities to give a 5% discount to senior citizens who own their electric meters and do not exceed more than 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of consumption in a month. The rules are also expected to outline the planned subsidy for these discounts of non-senior citizen consumers.

Republic Act 9994 grants qualified senior citizens a 5% discount on electricity consumption, provided that "the individual meters for the foregoing utilities are registered in the name of the senior citizen residing therein; Provided, further, that the monthly consumption does not exceed one hundred kilowatt-hours (100 kWh) of electricity."

The privilege is "granted per household, regardless of the number of senior citizens residing therein," the law states.

The law also states that "At least fifty percent (50%) discount shall be granted on the consumption of electricity, water, and telephone by the senior citizens center and residential care/group homes that are government-run or nonstock, nonprofit domestic corporation organized and operated primarily for the purpose of promoting the well-being of abandoned, neglected, unattached, or homeless senior citizens."

Non-senior citizens, however, will subsidize the cost of the discounts. Distribution utilities are also allowed in the second draft of rules "to determine the subsidy rate" of non-senior citizens.

Cebu town mayor wants cop's apology

by dr_tangarorang

CEBU CITY -- If he won't make a public apology, Senior Superintendent Erson Digal will "face a barrage of cases" and the Medellin Police Station will lose "logistical support."

This is what Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez said after Digal, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), named him as a suspect in the death of Edelberto Abao, a municipal employee, last week.

"(He) was showing incompetence after basing his conclusions on unverified statements and text messages," Ramirez said in a press statement.

But Digal said in a phone interview that there is no need to apologize.

"I did not say he is guilty," he said. "Kon moingon ta ana, mora tag huwes (I am not a judge and I did not say that)."

To erase doubts on impartiality, Digal said the CPPO turned over the investigation to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Central Visayas last December 30.

"We are just doing our job," Digal said. "It is his right if he won't support the police station anymore."

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the region stepped in to investigate the mayor's alleged involvement in the shooting.

Dr. Pedro Noval, DILG-Central Visayas director, said Sunday that a fact-finding inquiry has been conducted by the local government officer of Medellin on the death of Abao.

Results of the fact-finding will be submitted to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and to the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas.

New chief

Ramirez also expressed his disappointment on the relief of Senior Inspector Bonifacio Arriesgado, who has been temporarily replaced by Senior Inspector Danilo Delantar.

Ramirez is planning to take legal action against Digal for not consulting him about the new police chief.

"The Local Government Code provides the local chief executive supervision and control over the local police, so the PNP could not just change police chiefs on a whim," he said.

Digal said he already talked with Ramirez about Arriesgado's relief. He transferred Arriesgado to the Provincial Security Service Group pending the investigation of the latter's failure to report Abao's death to the police headquarters.

Ramirez learned that Digal also failed to immediately inform Governor Gwendolyn Garcia about the incident.

"Shouldn't you also be relieved for committing the same mistake that you used as a reason to yank out my chief of police?" he said.

Ramirez believed that his name was dragged into the controversy because of politics. He sees "Martinez's footprints" in the controversy.


Ramirez said the "witness" who issued an affidavit against him was Abao's son, Edelito "Bimbim" Abao, who allegedly worked for Marianito Yaun.

Bimbim's affidavit contained a dying declaration of his father, saying Ramirez allegedly shot him. But Bimbim's family also issued affidavits contradicting his claim.

Yaun was a former barangay captain of Antipolo, Medellin, who was killed in Cebu City during a shootout with the police.

Bimbim's elder brother, Cruztopher, Abao's sister Cruzabella and his live-in partner, Riza Tunacao, signed affidavits stating that Bimbim was nowhere near Abao at the hospital, except when the latter was wheeled out of the operating room, already unconscious.

Ramirez said Bimbim is angry at him because he submitted the latter's name to the province's illegal drugs watch list.


He said Bimbim was texting his family, trying to convince them to issue statements against Ramirez as there are "millions" involved.

"Digal should have done a more thorough investigation and checked who the witness was," Ramirez said.

He also alleged CIDG-Central Visayas investigator Angelito Yaun is doing "the legwork" for CPPO.

He alleged Angelito has an axe to grind against him because the latter is the brother of the former Medellin municipal government casual employee Huberto Yaun, whose services he terminated for reported anomalies.

He added that Angelito is a relative of the late Antipolo barangay captain Marianito Yaun.

The rest of the family also stated that Bimbim was at the hospital only to get the slug taken from Abao's thigh. Bimbim gave the slug, which the family said did not resemble a bullet as it was more like a small piece of metal, to CIDG.

"Whatever the CIDG has now is no longer credible as there was no proper turnover," Ramirez said.

In an earlier report, Ramirez denied he shot Abao, whom he described as a close friend.


He said after Abao was seen with a wound his right leg at 11 p.m. last December 27, he was taken to the Severo Verallo Hospital in Bogo City.

The still-conscious Abao was taken into the operating room at noontime the next day. He died in a private room at 4 p.m.

Ramirez said he ran to the hospital that afternoon when he heard Abao was already dying.

Abao's death certificate says he died of diabetes and hypertension, the mayor also said.

As for the case of obstruction of justice that Digal said would be filed against the hospital staff for refusing to release the death certificate to the investigator, Ramirez said there is a hospital policy not to release the certificate if the patient has outstanding bills.

It was Ramirez who paid Abao's hospital bills.

"The investigator should have brought a letter formally informing the hospital about an investigation," he said.

Truce between military, NPA rebels ends Monday


MANILA, Philippines - The Armed Forces believe that the Yuletide ceasefire observed by government and communist forces was generally a success even as the military expressed hopes that a longer and a more permanent truce will be sealed by both sides.

AFP says holiday truce a success; CPP cites another violation

The 19-day holiday ceasefire observed by government troops and communist insurgents - the longest in 10 years - was generally a success, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said, even as it expressed hopes that a longer and a more permanent truce will be forged by both sides.

Communist rebels bracing for military attacks

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, said on Sunday it has been bracing for the wave of attacks, particularly in Compostela Valley and Caraga Provinces – hosts to the movement's strong fronts – from government troops on Monday.

'Ka Roger' sends New Year greeting

by By Jojo Malig,

MANILA, Philippines – Communist guerrilla leader Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal is still alive.

Aquino gov’t unfazed by CPP-NPA spokesman’s call for war – Palace

The government is not about to be rattled by pronouncements supposedly made by long-missing communist spokesperson Gregorio "Ka Roger'' Rosales calling for continued war against the national government.

Group welcomes inclusion of 'landmine issue’ in peace talks

The Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) has welcomed the government plan to take up the contentious issue on the use of landmines when its peace panel meets with the communist-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Oslo this month.

Anti-terror specialist to lead Navy


MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III has named Rear Admiral Alexander Pama as the new Navy chief, the military announced Sunday.

DFA optimistic about release of Filipino seamen taken hostage by Somali pirates

The Department of Foreign Affairs is optimistic it could secure the early and safe release of 107 Filipino seafarers being held by Somali pirates.

Pirates seize Algerian-flagged ship with Pinoys

(Updated 5:21 p.m.) Pirates on New Year's day seized an Algerian-flagged cargo ship with Algerian, Filipino and Ukranian crew onboard, the European Union Naval Force Somalia reported Sunday.

Pinoy grad student in US freed, granted 1-year deportation reprieve

A Filipino graduate student in the United States, earlier arrested for being an illegal alien, was released last week and granted a one-year reprieve from deportation.

Mark Farrales, a 31-year-old Harvard graduate and doctoral candidate at UC San Diego, has been granted a one-year reprieve from his deportation to the Philippines and has been released from a Lancaster detention facility.

Farrales, who was brought to the United States illegally at age 10 in 1990, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at his home in Reseda last month. He was released from custody last week after Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) urged ICE to defer action on the deportation order and allow the Board of Immigration Appeals to revisit the case.

"Much to their credit, they agreed," Sherman said.

His chief of staff had already been reviewing the matter when Sherman himself learned of Farrales' situation from a Los Angeles Times article.

Mark Farrales was brought to the United States just days after two alleged hit men shot his father twice in the head outside their home in Quezon City. His father, Jaime Farrales, was a prominent lawyer who often spoke out against government corruption and had just announced a bid for office.

Jaime Farrales survived and fled with his family to Los Angeles on travel visas, seeking political asylum. A series of legal missteps and poor advice caused Jaime Farrales to have his political asylum application denied, said Leon Hazany, Mark Farrales' attorney.

When Jaime Farrales died in 2006, Hazany said, Mark was left without legal status.

Sherman said the circumstances in which the younger Farrales arrived in the country and the success he has had compelled the congressman to act.

"It's clearly in our national interest that young people who came here through no fault of their own and have proven themselves to be the good citizens of the future should be a part of this country," Sherman said.

Farrales said he planned to finish his dissertation on government corruption reform at UC San Diego. "It took days for it to sink in how lucky I am," he said. "But being allowed to stay here is not guaranteed."

Deferred action is used in cases that involve compelling and humanitarian issues to allow the individual additional time to pursue legal options, ICE said in a statement.

A year could be enough time to secure citizenship for Farrales, but it will be difficult, Hazany said. "I think his case is strong," he said. "But it's not what I think that matters; it's up to the Board of Immigration Appeals."

Farrales is relieved to be home and surrounded by family and friends. "The legal struggle is going to be there regardless and it's going to be long, arduous and tiresome," he said. "But it's a lot easier to fight on the outside than it is from the inside."

Fil-Am professor stabbed dead in US-Mexico border home

Former students, friends and relatives are mourning the death of Henry Abalayan Acejo, a Filipino-American language professor who was stabbed to death in his apartment in Tijuana, Mexico a week before Christmas.

Cayetano vows to pursue RH bill hearings in Senate


MANILA, Philippines - Senator Pia Cayetano vowed Sunday to push through with more public hearings this year on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill even if the measure is not part of the priority legislative agenda of the current Senate leadership.

DOF: Sales discounts, not tax breaks for oldies

The Department of Finance prefers widening the coverage of senior citizen discounts on purchases of medicines over the expanded value-added tax exemptions.

SSS starts amnesty program Monday, sees P16.5B in payments

The Social Security System expects to collect a total of P16.5 billion in short-term loan payments in 2011 as it kicks off on Monday another amnesty program for delinquent employers.

Emilio de Quiros Jr., SSS president and chief executive, said in a statement that the projected amount included P2.1 billion in overdue amortizations from such employers.

This means regular short-term loan payments are expected to reach P14 billion, equaling the amount recorded in 2010.

“Reducing the loan delinquency of members is a top priority of SSS,” De Quiros said. “We offer the six-month amnesty program to employers since employed members make up an overwhelming majority of overdue loan accounts.”

The new amnesty program, which will end on June 30, will benefit employees with overdue loans taken out under current or previous employers or when they were self-employed or voluntary members.

A previous amnesty program covered SSS employees, self-employed and voluntary members for loans payments due between May 2008 and December 2009.

De Quiros said the SSS collected a total of P919.8 million in principal and interest payments from that amnesty program, which was in force in 2010.

He said the new program for employers covered salary, calamity, emergency, educational, stock investment and privatization fund loans.

He said unpaid loans would incur continuing interest and monthly penalties of one percent, but employers could choose to pay them in full or in installments of up to 24 months, which would carry a 3-percent annual interest.

“The SSS will waive penalties on delinquent loan amortizations due on or before April 1, 2010, which is in accordance with guidelines approved by Malacañang last June 3,” De Quiros said.

“Penalties on loan amortizations that fall due after April 1 of last year are not covered by the loan condonation program,” he said.

Employers applying for amnesty must be up-to-date in paying contributions to have their loan penalties condoned, De Quiros added.

Road accidents in Thailand kill 234 in first 4 days of New Year holiday

Road accidents claimed 234 lives in Thailand's first four days of the seven-day New Year holiday, the government's Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department announced today.

South Korea battles FMD, bird flu

by Agence France-Presse

SEOUL, South Korea  - South Korea on Sunday reported seven new cases of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) as the country battles its worst outbreak of the highly contagious virus and its first avian influenza outbreak in more than two years.

Pope denounces abuses against Christians

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to remain strong in the face of intolerance and violence in a New Year's appeal that came several hours after a bomb blast outside an Egyptian church that killed at least 21 people as worshippers left Mass.

Pressure mounts on I.Coast's Gbagbo after deadline expires

Pressure ratcheted up Sunday on Ivory Coast's defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo to quit even as his rival faced the threat of a mob attack on his internationally recognised government's headquarters.

Year-round program

by cebuweb

THE Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) plans to strengthen its grassroots program for

this year.

The Cebu Sports Institute, a project of the CCSC headed by Edward Hayco, was kickstarted in 2010 and is manned by coaches who lent their services to train kids for free in different sports like boxing, taekwondo and chess.

PSC wary of taking over Palaro from DepEd

The idea of the Philippine Sports Commission taking over the Palarong Pambansa again sounds great—except that it would be a gargantuan problem if not sufficiently budgeted.

Donaire eyes unification bantam title bout

If he succeeds in dethroning WBC-WBO bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel in February, Nonito Donaire Jr. plans to unify the title by next taking on WBA king Koki Kameda of Japan.

Salvador eyes Vietnam chess title


MANILA, Philippines –  Filipino Grandmaster (GM) Roland "Kulot" Salvador leads the list of chess players who are vying to top the 1st HD Bank Cup Open Chess Tournament to be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

ABL: Patriots bow to Slammers in 2 OTs

from GMA

BANGKOK - Defending champion Philippine Patriots bowed to the Chang Thailand Slammers in a thrilling double overtime game Sunday night, 76-83, in a crucial setback that thwarted their bid for the top spot come the playoffs of the ASEAN Basketball League.

Spurs rout Thunder 101-74, move to 29-4 (AP)

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich recently emphasized to his players just how unacceptably average they were defensively. Maybe the NBA-leading Spurs got the message. The Spurs held Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City to its worst-shooting game this season, while Tim Duncan scored 21 points as San Antonio won its fourth in a row, 101-74 over the listless Thunder on Saturday night.

Heat rally for 17th win in 18 games (AP)

Even a 20-point deficit doesn't derail the Miami Heat these days. LeBron James had 25 points and 10 assists, Dwyane Wade also scored 25 points and the Heat overcame a 20-point deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors 114-107 on Saturday night for their 17th victory in 18 games. Chris Bosh added 20 points and 11 rebounds to help Miami pull into a virtual tie with Boston atop the Eastern Conference.

Ai-Ai defends MMFF best actress win


MANILA, Philippines – Ai-Ai delas Alas, the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) best actress, is not letting criticisms affect her.

Killer of 'Baywalk Bodies' member identified?


MANILA, Philippines – The family of singer Rejoice Rivera received a text message from an unnamed person who allegedly identified the gunman who killed Rivera, a member of the all-female sexy singing group “Baywalk Bodies.”

New Rizal monument in Rome for 150th birthday

from GMA

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of national hero Jose Rizal, Philippine diplomats in Rome announced plans for a new monument for him this year.

British government bids to save Beatle's birthplace

The British government stepped in Sunday to stop Beatles legend Ringo Starr's birthplace from being bulldozed.

Iran shops banned from selling Valentine gifts

Shops in Iran have been banned from selling Valentine cards and gifts as the traditional lovers' day gains increasing popularity in the Islamic republic, the ILNA news agency reported on Sunday.

1-1-11: Auspicious day for mystics and geeks alike

Today might just be a lucky day for number theorists and numerologists alike, because there's more to this number than just a date.

But for people who know what to look for, nothing can be further from the truth.


To begin with, 1111 is the sum of the digits of the first 100 prime numbers. And although the date itself isn't a prime number, the year 2011 is prime. Also, 2011 is the sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers.


Google started off 2011 with another one of its famous doodles. GMANews.TV




Online life as we know it starts here


So why all the fuss about prime numbers?


It's because the security of our online life as we know it — from Facebook to Yahoo Mail — depends largely on prime numbers.


Prime numbers are a fundamental building block of Internet security. When encoded using the special properties of prime numbers, private information becomes virtually impossible to get at.


Without prime numbers, you wouldn't be able to log into any of your email or social media accounts. You can argue about the effectiveness of Internet security all you want, but this much is certain: without the security of prime numbers, almost nothing on the Internet would be private at all.


Prime numbers are so valuable, in fact, that there is a cash prize for discovering a new prime number.


So the next time you get a personal greeting in your inbox, you know who to thank for getting it to you safely.


But there's more.


The beginning is the end is the beginning


While Harry Nilsson may be right as far as relationships go, in numerology, 1 is recognized as the beginning, the creator, or essentially the center. Perhaps this explains why many people make a wish when they see 11:11 on the clock. Most wouldn't be able to explain what's so special about a recurring number, but Joe Cooneywrites in Asbury Park Press that 1-1-11 is serious business for the world of numerology.


1 is also referred to as Yang, the balancing partner of Yin. Together, they are the opposing forces of Chinese philosophy. Along with 22 and 33, 11 is called a Master or Power number, and is believed to possess more potential than others. Eleven, which represents idealism, revelation, artistic and inventive genius, illumination, charisma and leadership, is considered to be the most intuitive of all numbers.


When the 26,000 year-old Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012 at 11:11, the date actually marks a rebirth of the world, not death. A network of people who consider themselves "lightworkers" believe that seeing 11:11 is a reminder that you are one of them. Their mission is to hold as much light for the planet as possible - in preparation for the "new world" which is all about unity rather than separation.


So it's not really the end of the world; it's actually something to really look forward to.


A number that celebrities look to


Queen of Talk Oprah Winfrey, who has been part of raising spiritual consciousness globally, has chosen 1-1-11 as the launch date of her new network.


"My vision for OWN is to create a network that inspires our viewers and makes them want to be who they are on their best day," she said on her website. The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which debuts today. will be home to several new shows, one of which is Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind.


Numerologically, 1-1-11 is a particularly auspicious day for Oprah, who is an Aquarius. Aquarius is the 11th sign of the zodiac and rules the 11th house of the zodiac which regulates hopes and wishes - which is a central part of her television persona.


The number 11 has also been noticed in DaVinci's famous painting of the Last Supper, where there are 11 rectangles on the wall and balanced 11 visible hands on the left and 11 on the right.


While numerology is admittedly mystical, it's difficult to deny that people tend to give meaning to certain patterns.


If nothing else, we could savor the date for the simple fact that apart from 11/11/11 in November and 12/12/12 in December next year, the next such date will be a decade later, on 2/2/22.


And that's what makes this date so special: there's something in it for everyone. No matter where or with whom you spend today, you're not alone in hoping for an auspicious year ahead.


In fact, between math and mysticism, you're in very good company.

Witchcraft declared legal profession in Romania

Romania has changed its labor laws to officially recognize witchcraft as a profession, prompting one self-described witch to threaten retaliation.

The move, which went into effect yesterday, is part of the government's drive to crack down on widespread tax evasion in a country that is in recession.

In addition to witches, astrologists, embalmers, valets and driving instructors are now considered by labor law to be working real jobs, making it harder for them to avoid income tax.

For months the measure had been debated, protested by witches and mocked by the media.

On yesterday, a witch called Bratara told, the website of a top TV station, that she plans to cast a spell using black pepper and yeast to create discord in the government.

Bekimon for beginners

by By Caroline J. Howard, ANC

Just months after the Jejemon phenomenon rattled, raised eyebrows, and befuddled schools across the country in 2010 – raising fears the use of words with a strange spelling would further weigh down the quality of education -  a whole new lingo has evolved in the country.

The gay lingo called “Bekimon” has gone viral and is making its way up the Pinoy pop culture.

"Day, ijugay mo sa refami para lumamig iti ng bonggang-bongga," says the gay-parent to his son as he reports that he wasn't allowed to take the periodical exam after his excuse letter was refused.

That's the first line of a clip titled "Excuse letter for Junakis" that is making waves on YouTube for its revolutionary gay lingo.

"Gay lingo has always been there," says Bern Josep Persia, also known as the wordsmith behind the Bekimon phenomenon on ANC's Headstart on Thursday. "When Jejemon surfaced, we decided to call 'Beki's,' or gay people who talk in gay lingo, the 'Bekimons.'"

While the Jejemon phenomenon prompted Google to call it one of the most-searched words on the Internet, Bekimon brewed in gay circles.

Following an accidental upload in the internet, demand for clips grew, prompting Bern to use technology to spread the lingo.

It has since taken on a life of its own, popularized in YouTube videos and a Facebook fan page.

Bekimon (noun): people who are "hard-core users" of gay language whether they are homosexuals or not

Some examples of Bekimon terms include “jowa” (boyfriend/ girlfriend or spouse), “kalurkey” (kaloka or crazy), “heller” (hello), and “the” (ate or sister).

Junakis, the unseen videographer whom Persia speaks to in his YouTube videos, was responsible for uploading the first Bekimon clip they produced in May.

"May pattern and paggawa ng gay lingo. They use letters k and y as a prefix to the word like bata (child) they use ‘kyota,’ ‘yung mga kyota ay ikyosok na sa kyoob.’ There's j-lo they use j in a word upuan becomes ‘jupuan,’ computer ‘jompyuter’ or laptop ‘joptop,’ or name association like naiimbyerna, nai-iByernadette Sembrano na ako, or Stress Drilon na ako, or na-sestress na ako, haggard na ako," said Persia who is also a regular face on ABS-CBN's morning show "Umagang Kay Ganda."

He first appeared on "Juanita Banana."

"Filipino gays make it funnier and more flowery so they change the pronunciation of words."

His personal picks include “itey, itech” that means ito (this), “bagella” (bad), “doongpler” and “balaychina” (bahay/ house), “palangganitang butas na kung tawagi'y hula-hoop” (plangak or yes).

Persia admitted that coming up with a dictionary for Bekimon is a tall order.

"It's very hard to make a dictionary using gay lingo, because it’s always been dynamic. There's this word called ‘wis’ which means ‘no.’ Eventually it changed to ‘wit’ and then ‘wititit’ and then to ‘witchells,’ ‘witchkels,’ ‘witchkelibangbang,' ‘witchkelibangbang benikulong summerfresh.’”

Persia said gay lingo reaches back to the days of Markova, when gays used language as a way to speak to each other and insulate themselves to avoid discrimination. He however adds, all actions should be backed with responsibility.

"Katulad ng normal na tao ang pagiging bakla, you have to hold yourself responsible with the things that you do, the things that you say. Ako yung nagpakalat ng Bekimon but in formal communication hindi ko ginagamit yung gay lingo."

Like language, Berns subscribes to free expression even when it comes to the choice of some gays to dress in drag. He considers himself lucky to have grown up accepted by his family.

While his gender was not an issue, Bern who had vitiligo at 12 years of age, the same skin condition as Michael Jackson, had to tolerate name-calling when he was younger until his skin tone evened-out when he was 17.

"It was hard for me to accept that I was not normal. Iba yung hitsura ko sa normal na bata. So I tried to do something , studied hard, worked hard to support my family."

He said he draws inspiration from his mother and his friends who understand and appreciate what he does.

He admitted that his life is made of soap-opera material.  Two weeks ago, "Maalaala Mo Kaya" approached him for his story.

Persia is at peace with himself and urged others to contribute to the betterment of the world.

Taiwan couples rush to wed


TAIPEI (AFP) – Nearly 7,000 Taiwanese couples were expected to tie the knot in New Year weddings on Saturday -- a 20-year high for a single day, the government and media reports said.

Household registration offices across the island opened their doors on the holiday to serve more than 6,800 couples who were expected to marry on the first day of the year 100 in Taiwan's calendar, said the interior ministry.

"The public often choose symbolic dates to get married and 100 symbolises happily ever after" in Chinese culture, the ministry said in a statement.

Last year, about 6,000 couples were married on September 9, which is the homophone of the phrase "everlasting" in Chinese, according to the United Daily News.

Government figures showed that 139,000 Taiwanese couples tied the knot in 2010, up from a record low of 117,000 a year previously.

The ministry said it was planning to launch a series of events to boost marriage rates with the island's birth rate among the world's lowest.



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