The Inbox
  • master plan Sabang plant

    By Norman Sison, VERA Files

    Palawan will soon be home to the Philippines’ largest micro-grid solar power plant, generating 1.3 megawatts of clean renewable energy.

    Costing P325 million, the plant will have 5,000 solar panels that will provide power to over 600 customers — homes, businesses and hotels — in Puerto Princesa City’s Sabang district. It will also have a battery pack, the largest in the ASEAN region, that will release stored energy during heavy cloud cover or bad weather.

    To put that in perspective, a mobile phone battery has about 4.6 watthours, while the Sabang plant’s battery pack is 782,000 times bigger, packing 3,600,000Wh.

    To provide nighttime power, the plant will also be equipped with diesel generators that can produce 1 MW of electricity. Atem Ramsundersingh, chief executive officer of Singapore-based WEnergy Global, said the generators will run on diesel fuel for the meantime. WEnergy has a 40-percent stake in the project.

    “Hopefully these machines will run on

    Read More »from Largest PH solar power plant to rise in Palawan
  • Why the 28 day-delay in reacting to water cannon incident in Bajo de Masinloc


    AFP Chief Emmanuel BautistaBy Ellen Tordesillas

    Why did it take Armed Forces Chief of Staff Emmanuel Bautista almost a month to tell the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs about the Chinese Coast Guards using water cannons against Filipino fishermen in Bajo de Masinloc?

    The incident was reported when Bautista told Monday the foreign correspondents in the Philippines about the incident: “Chinese Coast Guard tried to drive away Filipino fishing vessels to the extent of using water cannon.

    Asked if the Philippines would lodge a protest over the incident, Bautista said they would first have to investigate.

    What? Twenty-eight days have passed and the government is still investigating?

    Is this Bautista’s idea of making sure that the military perform its mandate “as protector s of the people and the state and of our national territory?”

    Following Bautista’s revelation, the Department of Foreign Affairs scrambled to join the act and summoned the Chinese Embassy charge d'affaires to convey the

    Read More »from Why the 28 day-delay in reacting to water cannon incident in Bajo de Masinloc

  • Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    A sabbatical from his work as a professor at the University of the Philippines Baguio has enabled Delfin Tolentino Jr. to see that the poetic muse had fled although this may be temporary. The passion for books, however, remains like the constant wife it is to bibliophiles like him.

    Among the reasons he cited for that year-long leave was a desire to return to creative work. In his artist's statement to "Bric a Brac," his latest exhibition of book art at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, he describes how "years of doing research and administrative work had throttled me. Writing memos, official letters and scholarly papers in often turgid prose had brought on a form of disquiet. It was time I stilled the soul."

    From what he called "the accumulated impedimenta of many years" that he found in his study, he has re-applied old but unforgotten skills in constructing books that are one of a kind or in limited editions of two or five.

    Briefly, the interest in

    Read More »from The playful, the serious collide in Del Tolentino’s book art
  • Racquel Villavicencio as best actress awardee in Jeffrey Jeturian's Bisperas.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The lady -- who won the Best Screenplay trophy for Mike de Leon’s “Batch ’81,” Best Production Design for Ishmael Bernal’s “Himala” and Best Actress for Jeffrey Jeturian’s “ Bisperas” -- is looking for words to describe her more than 30 years in show business.

    “It’s masalimuot (complicated) but a happy one as well and quite fulfilling,” Racquel Villavicencio finally finds the words. “On the whole, I like the work in showbiz because I am able to test my own creativity. Compared to the other industry, showbiz is not boring. I can work as actor, writer and production designer and see finished projects that I know will find their way in local film history.”

    After three decades in showbiz, she has remained slim, tall and gracious and oblivious of her achievements. In this encounter, she has just written the screenplay for TV 5’s “Bawat Sandali” and recalls her working relationship with director Joel Lamangan who megged the TV movie with Eric Quizon.


    Read More »from The making of a screenwriter, actor and production designer
  • Liberian President Sirleaf honors Zhao. (Liberian government website)By Tessa Jamandre, VERA Files

    China is sending a new ambassador to Manila at a time of strained Philippine-Chinese relations, with the Philippines preparing to step up its territorial claims against China before the international arbitral tribunal.

    Ambassador Zhao Jinhua, a 48-year-old diplomat who carved his career from the Asian Affairs Department of China’s Foreign Ministry, is arriving Sunday (Feb. 23) to take up his new post.

    A tough challenge awaits Zhao in the Philippines, which is embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over a cluster of isles, reefs, shoals and atolls in the South China Sea. The two countries, along with Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, have overlapping claims there.

    The Philippines is due to submit its Memorial, a very detailed presentation of facts and evidence, to the arbitral tribunal where it brought its case against China in January 2013. The bone of contention is China’s 9-dash line claim over nearly the whole South China Sea, so-called

    Read More »from China sends new envoy as PH steps up case on South China Sea
  • Lost letters in Palace hint deeper leadership problem

    Michael Martinez. Astounding!

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Now we know there is a problem with Malacanang’s communication system. Whether Malacanang knows that is a completely different matter.

    Two letters that later on became of national, even international, importance did not reach President Aquino. The first one was a letter from the late Jamalul Kiram III sent in 2010 in the first few months of the Aquino presidency and the other one was just last year from Maria Teresa Martinez, mother of Michael Christian Martinez, the 17-year old who, for the first time, enabled the Philippine flag to fly proudly in the Winter Olympics   by making it to the finals of the 2014 Winter Olympics figure skating competition in Sochi, Russia. This, despite lack of financial support from the government.

    Kiram III was one of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu, who has the title to a large part of the mineral-rich Sabah in North Borneo, which is occupied by Malaysia. The Philippines, by virtue of the authorization by the Sultan of Sulu, is

    Read More »from Lost letters in Palace hint deeper leadership problem
  • Negros Oriental fishermen return home from a fishing expedition.

    By Irma Faith Pal, VERA Files

    Dumaguete City – Some 278 fishermen from Negros Oriental have been waiting for nearly two-and-a-half years for P13.424-million in back compensation from a fishing company that was found by the National Labor Relations Commission in 2011 to have violated Labor Wage Standards.

    The fishermen served as crew in a paaling fishing expedition in 2008 for Pesca Maharlika Marine Resources, Inc., a Navotas-based fishing company.

    The NLRC, in a decision released on Oct. 12, 2011, awarded P13,424,437 to the fish workers who were deducted 20 percent of their contracted rate during their 10-month fishing expedition in Palawan.

    Sandra Delfin, the Department of Labor and Employment’s representative to the Negros Oriental Provincial Inter-Agency Council against Trafficking (PIACAT), said the NLRC decision on the labor aspect of the case entitles each fisher about P40,000 to P50,000, whether or not they filed a case against the fishing company.

    The action was brought about

    Read More »from Waiting for just wages
  • Derek Ramsey and Angel Aquino in Bawat Sandali.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The thing with movies made for TV audiences is that you don’t expect much.

    You are offered star values, you are expected to be tickled pink by romantic trailers and you hope you catch it in your free time.

    But when you are 60 and above, romantic flings are not likely to appeal to you. You leave the “kilig” factor to the very young but you secretly hope a kind of déjà vu happens in your TV viewing.

    Because like it or not, you identify with the characters when it touches or resembles a part of your private past.

    Director Joel Lamangan.Given this reality among one sector of TV audiences, TV 5’s “Bawat Sandali” directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Racquel Villavicencio, is a big surprise because the senior citizens in the preview audience were hooked by it to the very end and rooting for the married heroine gone bad and the single swain gone hopelessly in love.

    A clue that a film has sunk on the viewers’ consciousness is when they start reacting on the predicament of the

    Read More »from Love and passion with unlikely denouement

  • By TheMitch Meñez, VERA Files

    Photos by Little Wing Luna

    The once lush plant life of the Manila Seedling Bank is now a thing of the past. Last month, the demolition of plant nurseries, vendors’ stalls and other structures inside the seven-hectare property pushed through despite the absence of a court order.

    Now enclosed by makeshift gates and fences, the view is gray and grim. Inside, the greens are replaced by upturned earth---brown and black. Tractors and workers continuously are digging through every inch of the land preparing the area for whatever the Quezon City government has in store for it; the property is reportedly being developed into a mall.

    The city government claims that the property has been forfeited in its favor due to non-payment of real taxes. However, the Transfer Certificate of the compound (Title No. 309814-309816, T-004-2012005017) shows that the owner of the property is still the National Housing Authority.

    The city government has not shown any proof that it has

    Read More »from The demise of the Manila Seedling Bank
  • SC decision on Cybercrime law:OK, but…


    SC Justices prepare to hear arguments on Cybercrime Prevention law. Photo by

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    We did not fully get what we asked Supreme Court regarding the Republic Act 10175 otherwise known as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 which was to declare the whole of it as unconstitutional primarily because of its libel provisions. But we can live with the Supreme Court decision released yesterday.

    We still have to fully analyze the SC decision which upheld the constitutionality of the controversial law but struck down the most odious “take down”provision which empowered the Department of Justice) to restrict or block access to any online post which it deemed violating the law without any court order.

    The court also said only original authors of libelous material are covered by the cybercrime law, and not those who merely received or reacted to it. So those who “liked” and shared a libelous online item won’t be punished. Good luck to whoever is tasked to trace the original author after a post is shared and reposted thousands of times.

    But what we

    Read More »from SC decision on Cybercrime law:OK, but…


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