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  • Text and photos by Luz Rimban, VERA Files

    RAMOS, Tarlac—The family of 20-year-old hazing victim Marc Andre Marcos brought him to his final resting place today and now faces the daunting task of finding his killers and haling them to court.

    But the Marcos family expects to find itself up against powerful people in a battle whose resolution may take years, or even decades, as they know from the experience of families of other hazing victims.

    Barely two months into his freshman year at the San Beda College of Law in Mendiola, Manila,  Andre died July 30 of multiple organ failure caused by hematoma—the bruises that covered his arms and legs—which cut off the supply of blood to his vital organs.

    The family said they were told that the bruises were inflicted by members and alumni of the Lex Leonum Fraternity during initiation rites held at a cock-breeding farm owned by the family of Gian Angelo Velus, one of the members, in Dasmariñas, Cavite.

    San Beda officials offered to cooperate by

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  • By Amer R. Amor

    VERA Files

    YOU are aware that the University of the Philippines is the country's national university. And according to the international research organization Quacquarelli Symonds Intelligence Unit's (QSIU) report on Asia's top universities, UP is the best university in the country.

    As your research will tell you, many of the nation's movers and shakers graduated from this university. UP has produced 34 out of the country's 57 National Artists and 36 out of the 37 National Scientists. Seven of the country's 15 presidents also hailed from UP.

    The university's trademark of excellence, long tradition, and its relatively inexpensive tuition make it a popular choice among college entrance examinees like you. You are probably one of the thousands and thousands of high school students who aspire to make it to UP and are headed to one of the 81 test centers this weekend to take the UP College Admission Test or UPCAT.

    Consider yourself lucky when you take the UPCAT on Aug. 4

    Read More »from 10 things UPCAT takers should know
  • Soprano Rachelle Gerodias rehearsing with the China National Symphony Orchestra when she debuted in Beijing two years ago.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    THE most visible Filipino soprano these days is Rachelle Gerodias and so far, she is one of the few local singers with international exposure.

    Seven years ago, she debuted as Liu (Turandot) at the Volksoper Wien in Vienna, Austria and sang in the New Year Concert with Sarajevo Philharmonic. Later, she was Susanna in Marriage of Figaro in Singapore and last year, she was Rosina (Barber of Seville) at the International Opera Festival at the Daegu Opera House in Korea. She got to reprise the same role in the recent staging of Barber of Seville which was well-received.

    Earlier, she got to have a first crack at her first Verdi role as Violetta in La Traviata also at the CCP.

    Last year, she debuted in Moscow in an all-Pilipino program at the Glinka Museum with Najib Ismail. She  teamed up with Rene Dalandan in a well-received New York recital. She further promoted Pilipino songs in the world tour of "Aawitan Kita." She debuted in Beijing, China as

    Read More »from Rachelle Gerodias at her prime
  • A former fratman gives a glimpse of “The Brotherhood”

    Marc Andrei RamosBy Ellen Tordesillas

    THE death of San Beda Law student Marc Andrei Marcos due to hazing once again causes pain and  frustration to many who can't  understand why fraternities have to be brutal and violent in the screening of their members.

    Raymund Narag, a  member of Scintilla Juris fraternity when he was studying at the University of the Philippines, was imprisoned for almost seven years in connection with the death of another  fratman, Dennis Venturina of Sigma Rho, during a rumble at the U.P in 1994.

    He has written several articles posted in his blog (  which he shares to the public for a better understanding of what he calls "the brotherhood".

    Hopefully, these senseless deaths  would stop.

    The introduction of  one of Narag's articles, titled "My Honor," gives a glimpse  of how his life had been turned upside down by the tragedy:

    "I will graduate with honors. This April 20 and 21, 2002, the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance

    Read More »from A former fratman gives a glimpse of “The Brotherhood”
  • Click on image to view slideshow

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    FOG, chill, almost non-stop rain--it's that time of the year in Baguio City when hotels and inns offer off-season prices. For some it's a good time for an R & R without the lowland crowd of holiday seekers jostling you at the usual tourist spots. For the foodie undaunted by dour weather forecasts, any time is reason for a trip north.

    A number of restaurants come highly recommended in local and foreign food guides (e.g., Hill Station in the Asian Miele Guide) or by word of mouth. Those wanting something beyond garlicky longganisa, raisin bread, ube jam or strawberries and cream traditionally linked with the city can take heart that Asean cuisine has finally arrived.

    It started more than a year ago with Happy Tummy, a Thai food place on Romulo Drive which had a few tables, some in the open, others inside native huts. There was a tacky wishing well at the center. Sometimes, depending on where the direction of the wind was, the unmistakable

    Read More »from New foodie’s haven in Baguio
  • Text, photos and video by Vincent Go, VERA Files

    NOT even the threat of rain around the Quezon Memorial Circle and the water puddles from a downpour the night before stopped the 100 or so persons with disabilities (PWDs) from running and racing in wheelchairs at the recently concluded M.O.V.E. Manila Run 2012.

    M.O.V.E., which stands for Making Ourselves Vigilant to Exercise, is the annual marathon for both wheelchairs users and non-wheelchair users was organized by the Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine (PARM).

    Held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle, the PWDs joined the 2.2 kilometer and 4.4 kilometer marathon. Some 400 fellow PWDs and friends were also at the event to lend their support and cheer on participants.

    PARM is the national society of physiatrists in the Philippines that "serves as an instrument for the advancement and recognition of practice of Rehabilitation Medicine as a medical specialty," according to its website.

    Organizer Dr. Ramon Sarmiento of PARM said

    Read More »from PWDs ‘Move’ in marathon
  • Sniper rifle designed by Government Arsenal

    By Norman Sison, VERA Files

    "THIS is what we need to face China" was the recurring comment from visitors as they admired four types of automatic rifles displayed on a rack at a recent gun show held at SM Megamall.

    Designed by Government Arsenal, an agency of the Department of National Defense, the rifles are enhanced versions of the M16 and are scheduled to replace the Vietnam War-era M16 models of the Philippine Army and other security forces for added firepower.

    One is a sniper rifle variant, which can take out targets at 1,000 meters. Another is an assault rifle version that fires bullets larger than those used by M16s, packing more punch.

    Thousands of enthusiasts troop to the annual gun show, going for 20 years now, held by the Association of Firearms and Ammunition Dealers of the Philippines. But the July 19-23 expo was the first time that Arsenal participated in the event.

    Unlike the dozens of gun makers and dealers at the expo, Arsenal was not there to sell but to give a

    Read More »from China dispute an opportunity for PH defense industry
  • Thumbs up, thumbs down for Aquino’s TV Patrol tirades

    President AquinoCommentary

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    THUMBS up to  President Aquino in setting aside tact and taking to task Noli de Castro's dubious role as journalist.

    Thumbs down  for once again whining about media not reporting his idea of good news, as if media is an extension of  Malacanang.

    This is a portion of Aquino's speech that directly hit De Castro even if his name was not mentioned:

    Noong Oktubre ng nakaraang taon, may isang reporter kayo ang nagbabalita sa NAIA 3. Ang sabi niya, sa puntong iyon, tumaas ng dalawampung porsiyento ang passenger arrivals sa paliparan. Magandang balita, at higit sa lahat, fact po iyan.  Sa kabila nito, nakuha pa pong humirit ng isang anchor n'yo at ang sabi po niya, and I quote,  "Nasa NAIA 3 ka kasi; kung nasa NAIA 1 ka, doon malala." Sa loob-loob ko po, anong kinalaman ng ibinabalita sa NAIA 3 sa NAIA 1? May nagsabi po bang ayos na ayos na ang NAIA 1? Kung mayroon man ho, hindi kami. Nakaligtaan niya atang mahigit 30 anyos na ang istrukturang ito.


    Read More »from Thumbs up, thumbs down for Aquino’s TV Patrol tirades
  • ABS-CBN orchestra under Gerard Salonga

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    CONDUCTOR Gerard Salonga was in his usual high spirits when he announced the formation of the ABS CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.

    "As you can see, we have a new home and a new partner which can help us spread the joy of music," said Salonga as the new orchestra regaled the audience with orchestral music from classical masters to Broadway favorites including a Ryan Cayabyab arrangement of "Maalaala Mo Kaya" which calls to mind the network's long-running and high-rating TV drama anthology.

    With some 40 instrumentalists in it, the ABS CBN orchestra has Mickey Munoz for its executive director. Apart from the network, the orchestra also has the support of the First Philippine Holdings Corporation.

    For now, Salonga's rehearsal and performance venue is the Dolphy Theater within the TV network compound.

    The good news is that the orchestra will not be limited to corporate work with the network and its sister company, Star Cinema. "We aim to bring live orchestral

    Read More »from Another corporate orchestra is born
  • Click on image to listen to the podcastClick on image to listen to the podcast

    by Babylyn Kano-Omar VERA Files

    BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi—Aside from the practice of underage voting and hakot or transporting voters to registration centers, election watchers also saw a migration of voters in the recently concluded Commission on Elections (Comelec) listing in the province.

    The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPRCV) observed that some voters who could not be accommodated in several registration centers because of long lines and the slow processing of forms opted to find other centers where they could get accredited as voters.

    Hours before the closing of some registration centers in Bongao, there were still a number of individuals waiting for their turn with the biometrics machines. Comelec however informed those who had accomplished and submitted their forms but were not accommodated at the end of the day that they could continue processing their application with their respective election officers.

    In the town of Sitangkai, underaged registrants were

    Read More »from Voters’ ‘migration’ seen in Tawi-Tawi registrations


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