The Inbox
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    By Chickie R. Locsin, VERA Files

    ‘The Philippines has the best talent in the world, but its animation industry is among the smallest in the world.”

    Coming from an Australian, Wayne Dearing, chief executive officer of  Top Draw Animation, the statement  is both a tribute and a challenge.

    Miguel del Rosario,  of  Toon City  Animation and vice-president of the industry organization, Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI), pinpoints on the need for  creativity to be complemented with business acumen.

    Top Draw and Toon City are  the biggest players in the animation industry in the Philippines and employ 400-500 full-time professionals working on multiple projects with contracts until 2018 .

    Toon City’s clients include Walt Disney Television Animation, Universal Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, MoonScoop Productions.


    Among their popular productions are  Angry Birds Toons and Voltron.

    Top Draw’s credits , on the other hand, include My Little Pony, Transformers and Monster High.

    A couple more

    Read More »from Wanted:Gov’t help  to boost PH animation industry
  • By Chickie Locsin, VERA Files


    As you gasp in excitement watching   Optimus Prime’s Autobots  battle Megatron’s Decepticons or delight at the splendor of Megan’s Pony Land, feel proud that the TV series that have thrilled millions all over the world are produced by Filipino artists in the Philippines.

    But producing what are fun to watch is actually a logistical nightmare.

    Stella Katigbak Dearing, who manages  the 500-man strong, labor-intensive operation of Top Draw, one of the busiest studios in the Philippine animation industry, eats pressure breakfast – the same stuff  every day- during production days.

    Aside from “Transformers” and “ My Little Pony,” Top Draw also produces “Monster High.”

    Dearing says her team  of  “the finest Filipino talents”  consists of  75 artists supported by  five  assistants and  two editors working full-time for 12 to14 weeks to produce  one 22 -minute episode of a TV animation series. 


    “The stress-level is on a constant high as we race to meet weekly deadlines

    Read More »from What it takes to produce a TV animated series
  • By Norman Sison, VERA Files

    “Go to Manila, go around the Nips, bounce off the Nips — but go to Manila.”

    It was January 1945. General Douglas MacArthur had landed his forces at Lingayen Gulf early that month to begin his campaign to liberate the main Philippine island of Luzon. With his eye fixed on Manila, MacArthur ordered Major General Verne Mudge, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, to proceed to the capital with utmost speed.

    Two other US army divisions competed for the honor of reaching Manila first. It was a virtual tank race.


    On February 3, the 1st Cavalry’s Sherman tanks smashed through the gate of the University of Santo Tomas and freed 4,000 mostly American civilians interned there by the Japanese army since 1942. Jubilant Filipinos, who waited for MacArthur to fulfil his famous “I shall return” pledge, spilled into the streets to welcome the American troops.

    It was a time for celebration. MacArthur announced on February 6: “Manila has fallen.” But the Battle of Manila was just

    Read More »from 70 years later, pain from Battle of Manila lingers
  • Values that tie PH and Iran

    By EllenT. Tordesillas

    US-centric Filipinos may not be aware that the Philippines and Iran share a lot of  common experiences- from rising from devastating natural calamities to political upheavals.


    Foremost is the  harnessing of  people power against an extravagant and tyrannical regimes.

    Many Filipinos like to think that we “invented” People Power with the ouster of President Ferdinand Marcos on Feb. 25, 1986 and inspired other countries in Eastern Europe, and much later Arab countries, to go out in the streets and overthrow tyrants.

    But the Iranians did it seven years earlier than the  EDSA People Power.  On  Feb. 11,1979  angry Iranians, mostly students, drove out the United States- supported Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.


    In fact, during the struggle against the Marcos regime, the opposition utilized some of the  methods  used by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution, to reach out to the masses  through messages in tape casettes,while he was still on exile.


    Read More »from Values that tie PH and Iran
  • By Jose Bayani D. Baylon, VERA Files  

    As the country remains gripped over the incident that cost the lives of 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force, I could only remind myself that war is never pretty. Now, someone might say, the 44 were not in a state of war as they were simply carrying out a police operation the like of which they were sworn to conduct. True, but the reality was that they were operating in an area so prone to war, or at least to skirmishes that fall short of war, and that is why we have been witness to a parade of flag-drape caskets amid grieving fathers and mothers, wives, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters now emotionally scarred forever.

    There were no flags to drape the caskets of some casualties of another war decades ago, because there was never enough time to identify the casualties anyway. But I know of this only because I have lived through stories of another war and the excesses that man commits against man, stories told me by my father, who

    Read More »from (War) Stories my father told me
  • Commentary

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas


    There was something amusing in the  narration of Mamasapano Mayor Tahirodin Benzar A. Ampatuan that reflects a trait common to many Filipinos.

    Mayor Ampatuan (yes, the Ampatuans of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre are still very much a force to reckon with in Maguindanao) said that at about 1:30 in the afternoon of Jan. 25, members of the joint Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) arrived to stop the battle between the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police on one side and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters on the other side.

    The fighting had been raging since dawn. The SAF commandos were on their way out of the area after they accomplished killing one of their targets, Malaysian  Zulkifli bin Hir alias ”Marwan”, high in the  terrorists list of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Marwan had a $5 million price of his head.
    Their other target, Basit Usman, a bomb

    Read More »from SAF44  stirred public interest on BBL
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    Blind massage therapists in a spa in Taguig. Those who are members of cooperatives are seeking exemption from a DOH order imposing expensive licensing requirements. (Photo by Jake Soriano)

    By Jake Soriano, VERA Files

    In December last year, blind massage therapists from Zamboanga City traveled all the way to Cagayan de Oro to undergo licensing exams.

    They took the nearly 500-km journey because their jobs were on the line. But Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) struck, and they were told to go home.

    No exams meant no licenses. Now they are in danger of losing their jobs because an administrative order on licensing issued by the Department of Health (DOH) way back in 2010 is now in force.

    DOH Administrative Order No. 2010-0034 imposes a blanket licensing requirement for all wanting to be massage therapists, whether blind or sighted.

    The intentions may be good but advocates call it a violation of the law and protest its implications for thousands who are blind and without adequate livelihood opportunities,

    Read More »from DOH order may cost thousands of blind people their jobs
  • By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Last year, Itu Aba (also known as Taiping or Ligaw), the biggest feature in the Spratly group of islands being disputed by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, figured in a controversy involving the appointment of the Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza to the Supreme Court.

    Supreme Court Justice Lourdes Sereno opposed the appointment of Jardeleza to the High Court accusing him of treason when he omitted Itu Aba in the Memorial or memorandum filed before the United Nations Arbitral Tribunal in connection with the case filed by the Philippine questioning the legality of China’s nine-dashed line map which overreaches into the territory of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

    Itu Aba is occupied by Taiwan, once part of China but now considers itself a sovereign state as Republic of China. The Philippines adopts a One-China policy which considers Taiwan a province of China.

    Jardeleza was of the view that including Itu Aba in

    Read More »from Justice Carpio explains  Itu Aba issue in the PH suit vs China
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    By Chickie R. Locsin, VERA Files

    Four years ago, mothers were dying in the Philippines at the rate of 221 per 100,000 live births.

    Given that maternal mortality is a barometer of a country’s health system, those are disturbing numbers. The situation has improved and it is expected that by this year, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) would only be 52  per 100,000 live births..

    One group working on reducing the country’s MMR is the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), whose basic mission is to enhance the quality of life of the Filipino.

    ZFF President Ernesto Garilao:“Most of the mothers who die during childbirth at home and at public hospitals are poor. If ZFF is to be true to its mission, it must address this inequality.

    To better achieve that broad objective, ZFF decided to focus on targets in the country’s Millennium Development Goals for health in partnership with government and other stakeholders in the health sector

    Zuellig observed that the incidence of maternal deaths is highest in

    Read More »from Zuellig foundation taps mayor power to improve rural healthcare system
  • By Reynard Magtoto, VERAFiles

    “I make movies because I have a story to tell and I have a story to share,” multi-awarded filmmaker Brillante Mendoza declared.

    Mendoza’s four-part documentary series, titled “Small Acts, Big Stories,” was inspired by the stories of ordinary people who wanted to make a difference through their extraordinary acts.

    His documentary (docu) series, screened recently at SM Naga, began when Solar News Channel launched its “One Small Act Campaign” through a photo contest in June 2012 in time for the country’s 114th Independence Day. The event gathered hundreds of photo entries, which told inspirational stories of ordinary Filipinos making a difference through their small acts.

    To help awaken the spirit of nationalism in every Filipino, Mendoza explored the bigger stories presenting the real life scenes of the people behind the photo entries. He was not after the quality of the photographs but the interesting stories behind them.

    For example, Mendoza chose a photograph

    Read More »from Brillante Mendoza puts spotlight on small acts that mean big


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