Blog Posts by VERA Files

  • Viva San Pedro Calungsod!

    Calungsod 1

    Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files

    Cebu's son has come home.

    Last Friday, Cebu held a National Thanksgiving Mass, to welcome back the statue San Pedro Calungsod after it was canonized last Oct. 21 by Pope Benedict XVI.

    An estimated 1.2 million people filled the 27- hectare reclaimed South Road Properties (SRP) open field where a small temple was built for the occasion, displaying admirable discipline and patience as they braved the noonday sun.

    The celebration started with a foot procession followed by a fluvial procession in the early afternoon. Devotees of different nationalities, the wealthy, the powerful  and the masses marched together to bring  the image San Pedro Calungsod to the Templete carrying their own San Pedro Calungsod statues on one hand  and a rosary in the other hand.

    Devotees from different cities and provinces travelled to Cebu just to be part of the event; to have a brief look at the exact image that was brought in Vatican to be blessed by Pope Benedict XVI.

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  • Rare musical treat: Iraqi oud master performs at the CCP

    Naseer Shamma2

    By Joseph Cortes,VERA Files

    In every part of the world that Iraqi oud master Naseer Shamma goes to, he makes an effort to familiarize himself with the local culture and music. By getting to know the traditional music of a country, he hopes to find ways of introducing the Arabic instrument into the local sound mix to further enlarge its compass worldwide. He is curious to hear the traditional music of the Philippines to hear if a collaboration is possible between the Arabic and Filipino sound worlds.

    Shamma, who is known throughout the Arabic world today as the chief exponent of the oud,is performing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater on Dec. 3, 2012, (Monday) 7 p.m. It is his first time to visit the country.

    The oud is a six-stringed instrument, which is considered to be ancestor of the guitar and other similar instruments. In form, it resembles the lute, which is its closest kin. However, the musical possibilities of the oud are vastly bigger than the lute,

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  • Licad acknowledges audience's applause,Nov 25 Boston concert

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Filipino pianist Cecile Licad continued her phenomenal mastery of the Chopin and Liszt repertoire with yet another electrifying recital at the Calderwood Hall of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston last Sunday afternoon.

    American music critic David Patterson of the Boston Musical Intelligencer wrote that the pianist's arresting velocity coupled with astounding muscle gave the Boston audience a dominating show of pianism from one of today keyboard powerhouses in music of two of the all time greatest writers for the instrument.

    Playing  to a full house  on a brand new German Steinway grand, Licad played Liszt's Première année: Suisse, from Années de pèlerinage and Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, the latter being the pianist's offering to the late Filipino  filmmaker  Marilou Diaz-Abaya  who passed away last  October 8.

    "Licad is in possession of enormous virtuosity. On this occasion, the still young, very fit looking, and gracious

    Read More »from Boston critic exalts Licad’s latest interpretation of Liszt and Chopin
  • Angara defends APECO vs. landgrabbing rap

    By Jonathan de Santos, VERA Files

    Sen. Edgardo Angara took the Senate floor on Wednesday to answer what he called malicious and vicious allegations against the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO), which he helped create.

    On Tuesday, Sen. Sergio Osmena III and members of Task Force Anti-APECO held a press conference against the continued existence of the freeport zone. Osmena said the government had spent P 2 billion to develop the area but that it has failed to attract investors.

    Angara said the figure of P2 billion had been "maliciously exaggerated."

    He said the government only released P915.8 million to APECO from 2008 to 2012. Of that amount, he said, P135.7 million was still in the bank.

    Around P78 million was used to pay workers and employees, P145 million for maintenance and operations and P556.8 million for capital outlay, or for infrastructure, he said.

    Addressing allegations that there were insertions in the budgets of departments of Trade, Agriculture,

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  • National Artist Salvador Bernal's last production design

    By Elizabeth Lolarga,VERA Files

    Photos courtesy of Tanghalang Ateneo

    "Strombotic spectacle," to borrow gay lingo, is the only phrase that can describe Tanghalang Ateneo's production of Sintang Dalisay which had a short, move-over engagement at the Asian Center Auditorim at the University of the Philippines Diliman after it was staged anew at the recent National Theater Festival. It received accolades and a prolonged standing ovation at the Belarus International Theater Festival in Eastern Europe in July this year.

    Based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and National Artist for Literature Rolando Tinio's translation of the play into Filipino, with additional materials from ancient awit (song) based on the star-crossed lovers' love story when it first reached the Philippines, Sintang Dalisay is a breath of fresh air.

    It comes right after the commemoration of the unsolved Ampatuan massacre in Muslim Maguidanao and the announcement of peace in Bangsamoro-land. That massacre in November

    Read More »from ‘Sintang Dalisay’: Refreshing antidote to unsolved Ampatuan massacre
  • Artisan cheese and coffee for the brave

    Gourmet Keso

    By Winnie Velasquez,VERA Files

    It all started on a lark but sometimes the best ideas come from a restless mind that finds stimulation in a new environment.  Public defender Xilca (pronounced Chill-ka) Alvarez-Protacio, 31, was at a crossroads in her life two years ago when she attended a forum organized by the Gawad Kalinga  Center for Social Innovation (GK-CSI).

    Frustrated by the realization that many poor litigants were repeat offenders and 95 per cent of their crimes were the result of poverty, she thought that the last thing her clients needed was another lawyer.  "What was essential was livelihood since they couldn't get jobs because of their criminal records." she said. Initially, she and some college students set up Clean Slate exclusively for probationers and parolees in Makati City. The small business produced dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner, and moisturizing liquid hand soap.

    A day after the GK-CSI forum, she joined some GK officers on a trip to the Enchanted Farm in Read More »from Artisan cheese and coffee for the brave
  • Farmers score Angaras for ‘landgrabbing’ in Aurora

    Anti-APECO advocates at the Senate

    By Jonathan de Santos, VERA Files

    Close to 3,000 families in Casiguran, Aurora stand to lose land that many of them have been tilling for half a century to make way for the extension of a Freeport zone that critics say does not benefit the community at all.

    The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which has been supporting the families in their struggle to own the land being transformed into the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO), blamed the farmers' problems on a "powerful political dynasty" at a press conference at the Senate Tuesday.

    Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the CBCP's National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), who was at the press conference, called APECO a case of "large-scale plunder and landgrabbing," citing the questionable purchase by APECO of land from provincial environmental officer Benjamin Miña at P650,000 per hectare but paying only P45,000 per hectare to displaced residents.

    Gariguez said, "The Philippine government has

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  • Alice Reyes’ Rama Hari returns to the stage

    Christian Bautista and Karylle in Rama Hari

    By Pablo A. Tariman,VERA Files

    In town for a short visit is   choreographer and Ballet Philippines founder Alice Reyes who is re-staging her work, "Rama Hari" which will open at the CCP main theater on November 30.

    With music by Ryan Cayabyab and libretto by poet and National Artist for Literature Bien Lumbera and retaining the original set and design of Salvador Bernal, Rama Hari was last seen in 1980 with Kuh Ledesma and Basil Valdez as the singing voices of the pop ballet's protagonists.

    For its 2012 revival,  Christian Bautista and  Karylle have taken over the singing roles of Rama and Sita while the dancing parts will be essayed by Jean Marc Cordero and Richardson Yadao and Carissa Adea and Katherine Trofeo.

    With humor, she likes to think that her 1980 opus was once her baby and rehearsing it once more after 32 years felt like seeing a favorite grandchild come to life again.

    "It is exciting for me because it's like rediscovering something dear to you and now you are suddenly

    Read More »from Alice Reyes’ Rama Hari returns to the stage
  • A novel weight-loss program

    By Winnie  Velasquez, VERA Files

    The Writing DietBest known for her book The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron is hardly the person readers would associate with a weight-loss program but as she says in the prologue of the book  The Writing Diet subtitled Write Yourself  Right-Size,  she accidentally stumbled upon a weight-loss regimen that works.

    In more than three decades of teaching creative unblocking, a 12-week process based on The Artist's Way, Cameron saw her students getting leaner and more fit as they progressed in the course. "To my seasoned eye, weight loss is a frequent by-product  of creative recovery. Overeating blocks our creativity. The flip side is also true: we can use creativity to block our overeating," she says.

    The Writing Diet works because it is practical and inexpensive. It  shows how creativity tools can be used to alter consciousness. "Writing is a weight-loss tool that is overlooked, under-used and extremely powerful," Cameron says.

    The seven tools are:

    1. Morning pages.

    Read More »from A novel weight-loss program
  • Ampatuan killing: Why some widows keep giving interviews

    By Mylah Reyes-Roque, VERA Files

    Seven women on Friday marked the third anniversary of the Ampatuan killing giving interviews left and right, at times dividing themselves in teams to appear in simultaneous TV and radio shows.

    Noemi Parcon, whose husband Joel is among the 58 people killed in the election-related rampage, said back home in Koronadal City, she and some of her fellow victims have been called publicity-seekers.

    It is uncalled for, she said, because the reality is, if they don't talk, they would be perceived as having been bought by the Ampatuans, the primary accused in the ongoing multiple murder case.

    "Ang isip kasi nila sa probinsiya, pag hindi ka na nakikita sa TV, hindi ka na nagpapa-interview, hindi ka na nagpupunta sa Maynila, nabayaran ka na (Those in the province think you've been bought if you don't appear on TV, don't give interviews and don't go to Manila)."

    Zenaida Duhay said that on her way to Manila from Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat, some people in her

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