The Inbox
  • Senators’ applause for Tuason proves stealing pays


    Ruby Tuason in Senate hearingBy Ellen Tordesillas

    Sorry, but I don’t share the euphoria of Sen. TG Guingona, chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, over the testimony of Ruby Tuason in the Senate yesterday.

    After the hearing Guingona enthused: “A three-point shot na buzzer beater na, winning shot pa."


    Sure, Tuason detailed her role as “commissioner” in the anomalous operation of Janet Napoles with Senators Juan Ponce-Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada using the Priority Development Assistant Fund allotted for small-scale projects in poor communities. But except for some details, all that she said were already revealed by whistleblowers Ben Hur Luy, Merlina Suñas, Arthur Luy, Gertrudes K. Luy, Annabelle Luy, and Nova Batal Macalintal.

    Laywer Harry Roque noted that during the hearing, “ Tuason kept on relying on Ben Hur’s records.”

    Roque said Tuason’s testimony “ bolsters my position that her testimony is not indispensable and that the testimony of Ben Hur Luy et al are sufficient. Worse, she could not

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  • Emer Rojas

    By Johnna Villaviray Giolagon, VERA Files

    Engineer Emer Rojas is often described as a walking graphic health warning against smoking. Having lost his natural voice, he speaks only through an electrolarynx.

    In speaking tours he uses his robotic voice to illustrate the very real dangers of tobacco consumption. Unfortunately, many still choose to ignore his message.

    Information from the Department of Health indicates that about 10 people die every hour due to smoking-related diseases. Globally, the World Health Organization places tobacco-related deaths at one every eight seconds.

    Rojas was 44 years old when diagnosed with throat cancer. After smoking an average of 30 sticks of cigarette a day since he was 17 years old, the vice caught up with him. He had to quit a career with a giant telecommunications firm as he underwent treatment that eventually cost him his vocal cords.

    “I was lucky,” he described the trial that hit him at his prime. He now speaks with the help of an electrolarynx,

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  • Survey questions the DFA did not ask


    By Ellen Tordesillas
    Does Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario have a problem with the case filed with the United Nations Arbitral Court against China’s nine-dash line map that prompted him to commission Social Weather Stations to do a survey which focused on the case and the problem with China in the West Philippine Sea?

    SWS conducted a nationwide survey among 1,550 respondents on Dec. 11 through 16.

    Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez said they wanted to know the sentiments of the public on specific issues and the results showed that the Filipino people “overwhelmingly” support  the case filed by the Philippines at the UN Arbitral Tribunal January last year.

    The results could not be less than “overwhelming” what with questions like “Dahil ang Tsina ay malakas sa aspetong military at ekonomiya, sinampahan natin ng kaso ang Tsina sa United nation sa paniniwalang pantay-pantay ang labanan sa ilalim ng batas internasyunal. Sang-ayon ba kayo o hindi?” (Opinion on whether

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  • Arthur Espiritu (right) in a scene from Don Pasquale.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    Photos from the Facebook of Arthur Espiritu

    At 5 degrees Celsius, Filipino tenor Arthur Espiritu sang the role of the love-sick Ernesto in a well-received production of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at the Oper Leipzig, the third oldest opera house in Germany.

    Espiritu, the first Filipino tenor to sing at La Scala di Milan, said the opening night went well and the cast receive a very long and warm reception from the opening night audience. “I felt that we interpreted the piece quite nicely and everything geld,” added the tenor.

    The tenor said the Don Pasquale of baritone Jose Fardilha from Lisbon was fantastic and so were the Malatesta of Mathias Haussman and the Norina of Anna Virovlansky. “It was a solid cast and no one acted diva or divo which I loved so much. It was just a lot of fun and on the whole, it was just an amazing experience.”

    The opera directed by Lindy Hume was accompanied by the Gewandhaus Orchestra under conductor Anthony Bramall. One of

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  • Chino Gutierrez from Adoboriceterraces You Tube

    By Ellen Tordesillas, VERA Files

    Violinist Joaquin Maria “Chino” Gutierrez’s performance Saturday night at the Insular Theatre at the Filinvest Corporate City in Alabang was mesmerizing, just the right antidote to all the toxic reports that currently dominate the media.

    Gutierrez “Revelry” concert was a repeat of the successful concert he had last year at the Francisco Santiago Auditorium in Makati. With collaborating artist Corazon Pineda Kabayao in the piano, Gutierrez treated music lovers to Ysaye’s Sonata No. 2, Cesar Franck Sonata in A major, Suite Italienne by Stravinsky, Wieniawski’s Polonaise Brilliante in A major, La Deportacion by Dr. Jose Rizal-Kabayao and Tzigane by Ravel.

    His rendition of “Bayan Ko” (one of the several encores) was nakakatindig balahibo.

    Last Saturday’s concert is probably the last that Gutierrez will be giving before he leaves for Munich on March 3 to finish his Bachelor’s degree program in Violin Performance at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater

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  • Pres. Aquino warns the world against China in NY Times interview.

    By Ellen Tordesillas, VERA Files
    China on Friday reminded President Aquino it had fought on the side of the Allied Powers against fascist Japan and Germany in World War II, after Aquino likened China’s encroachment into the South China Sea with Adolf Hitler’s hegemonic moves in World War II.

    In a press briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei said, “As an unwavering upholder of international justice, China made huge sacrifice and indelible historical contribution to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. It is inconceivable and unreasonble to place China-Philippines South China Sea disputes in the same category with the WWII history.”

    In an interview with New York Times Tuesday, Aquino had called on the international community to support the Philippine position of resisting China’s hegemonic moves in the South China Sea and not to make the mistake of appeasing the Asian superpower.

    The Philippines and China have overlapping claims over areas in the South China Sea

    Read More »from China to Aquino: We fought Hitler in WWII
  • The unraveling of President Benigno Aquino III


    Pres. Aquino NY Times interview

    By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    In a meeting with Vietnamese Defense Minister Gen. Phung Quang Thanh in August last year, President Aquino asked the visiting official how they are able to maintain good relations with China despite conflicting territorial claims.

    (Despite a ferocious battle over the Paracels Islands in the South China Sea 40 years ago that killed more than 70 Vietnamese soldiers,China and Vietnam established a hotline to deal with fishery incidents in South China Sea waters following the meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang in Beijing last June.)

    Thanh told Aquino that almost every day, personnel of Vietnamese Navy battle Chinese fishermen who venture into disputed areas in the South China. Arrests are made, diplomatic protests are filed. But, he said, “We don’t talk to media.”

    For a while, Aquino seemed to have taken to heart the lesson from the Vietnamese defense minister. He was a voice of moderation when of China's

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  • Director Olivia Lamasan (center) with Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    After eleven feature films most of them blockbusters, film director Olivia Lamasan admits her film education started from the time her mother (a Nora Aunor fan) would drag her siblings to the movie theaters to watch her favorite movie star.

    “I have no schooling in film theories, no exposure in intellectual things like cinema verite and the like,” she says. “What I have is simple growing up experience and I guess I was luckier than most because I was naturally fascinated about people. I observe them a lot and always ask myself why they behave the way they do. I don’t even have exposure to good films. In school, I guess I am known for skipping Fr. Nick Cruz film appreciation class.”

    Having said that, the director felt that her movies probably look more real and very in touch because everything she did and executed was based on real people and real emotions. “I guess you become an effective director if you have natural interest in people. That’s where I

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  • Fight child abuse, boycott Woody Allen’s films


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    Woody Allen2I have scratched out “Blue Jasmine”, a movie directed by Woody Allen starring Cate Blanchett, from the list of not-to-be-missed movies this year.

    From now on, I will not watch any Woody Allen movie in sympathy with the cause of Dylan Farrow, daughter of American actress Mia Farrow, who came out last week with an open letter re-opening the painful childhood episode with her adoptive father.

    Last week Allen was honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association with the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, given to those who have made "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment."

    A few days after the award ceremonies, which Allen did not attend (the award was accepted for him by actress Diane Keaton), New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof carried the heart-wrenching letter of 28- year-old Dylan.

    Part of Dylan’s letter:

    “…when I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the

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  • Pride fuels standoff with Hongkong


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    HK Chief Executive CY LeungThe current standoff with Hongkong is an example of the danger of ignorance, power, and pride combined. As American minister Robert Fulghum  said in his book ,All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, “Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture, you know.”

    Last week, the Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the current 14-day visa-free arrangement for visiting Philippine diplomats and officials would be suspended starting Wednesday, February 5.

    The sanction, which does not cover Filipinos who are going to Hongkong as tourists, is still over the Aug. 23, 2010 hostage- taking  where eight Hongkong residents were killed  after  a  disgruntled and desperate Filipino policeman  hostaged  a bus-load of Hongkong tourists at the Rizal Park in Manila.

    In response, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Secretary Raul Hernandez issued the government position of no apology, just regret.

    Hernandez mentioned about “ generous offering” by the

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