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  • 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

    Read More »from Farmers score Angaras for ‘landgrabbing’ in Aurora
  • 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
  • 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
  • Maguindanao massacre on our mind

    Commentary

    Cagayan de Oro from Froilan Gallardo FB

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    The 2009 Maguindanao massacre and the sad fact that justice continues to elude the victims were foremost in the minds of the delegates to the 9th Spectrum Fellowship National Campus Journalism conference held at Mambukal resort in Negros Occidental.

    The Spectrum is the official student media corps of the University of St La Salle. There were about 60 participants in the conference coming not only from De La Salle but also from Far Eastern University, University of Sto. Tomas and University of San Agustin in Iloilo City.

    The range of topics was interesting. I came on the second day  (Friday) and I caught up with the lectures of Ernie Sarmiento, formerly chief photographer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, on photojournalism ethics, Philippine Star columnist Cito Beltran on opinion writing, GMA-7 (Iloilo)'s Rexcel Sorza on social media ethics, and RA Rivera on connecting through video.

    I missed the talk the day earlier of  Cagayan de Oro-based journalist 

    Read More »from Maguindanao massacre on our mind
  • 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

    Read More »from Ampatuan killing: Why some widows keep giving interviews
  • Ronnie Quizon (right) as Mabini with Alvin Anson on the set.

    By Norman  Sison,VERA Files

    Ronnie Quizon may be a fan of Andres Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine Revolution, but he immediately snapped up the offer to play a role (Apolinario Mabini) in the big-budget biopic about Bonifacio nemesis Emilio Aguinaldo, the Philippines' first president.

    "As a whole, I thought it was a no-brainer. I would love to be a part of such an ambitious project," says Quizon of El Presidente , one of the offerings in this year's Metro Manila Film Festival. "And I think it can be considered as a milestone in Philippine movie-making someday. I can only think of two words: epic proportions."

    Of course, that will be for the audience to decide. Movie budgets alone don't win accolades. There is no award for having the largest movie budget.

    One thing is definite: El Presidente ("The President" in Spanish) will get people talking about Aguinaldo's place in the nation's history. Making a movie about a historical figure is one thing. Telling history as it happened is

    Read More »from Ronnie Quizon: a Bonifacio fan plays Mabini in Aguinaldo biopic
  • David McKirdy reads from his book of poems.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Editors today generally spend less time in editing because time is money. This is the observation that novelist Ken Spillman gave at a panel discussion on "Uncut: Issues in Editing" at the recent "Read Lit District," the Third Philippine International Literary Festival in Makati City's Ayala Museum.

    Spillman, author of the successful Jake series for young readers and whose novel Advaita was described by Young India Books as a work of "sheer genius" that "gently pushes the boundaries of language," qualified that "the best writers respect and respond well to the editor's work."

    Because he also accepts editing jobs, he said as a reader he first tries to get "a feel of the manuscript. I look for copouts or parts where the author is struggling with a point of view or if he is able to sustain it and be effectively consistent if he switches it."

    A good editor, he added, "becomes a little bit more of a writer, a partner of the writer. He is

    Read More »from How to turn a manuscript into a bestseller
  • Ampatuan FilesBy VERA Files

    The advocacy group Center for International Law (Centerlaw) launched Friday an electronic resource of public documents relating to the trial of the Ampatuans and their accomplices for the mass murder of 58 people, 32 of them journalists, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao exactly three years ago.

    The e-resource "Ampatuan Files"  contains scans of the documents filed in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 by the prosecution and defense lawyers, as well as orders issued by the court, sourced mostly from the Roque & Butuyan Law Offices, which provides it legal services.

    The court has been hearing the consolidated criminal case People of the Philippines vs Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr., et al.

    CenterLaw has been assisting the heirs of 13 journalists and media workers killed, as well as the heirs of two civilians accidentally included in the convoy of victims.

    Centerlaw stressed that the website is not the official source of the documents.

    Ampatuan Files initially started as a

    Read More »from E-resource on Ampatuan murder trial launched
  • am radio3

    By  Winnie  Velasquez, VERA Files

    From the Sixties to the Seventies, schoolchildren in the barrios rose at the crack of dawn as the cock crowed. They started their day thus because after a simple breakfast they made their way to school crossing rivers and trekking for miles to their classrooms which were located nearer the centers of town. Their city counterparts woke up to a different set of "croakers" from Monday to Friday.

    Public schools in the city started their morning sessions with the flag ceremony at seven in the morning; private schools begun their day at 7:30. The wake-up call  then was at 5:30 to give them  time to bathe, have a full breakfast and be ready for school in less than an hour. Public schools were barely five to ten minutes from home, while their private counterparts were a little farther so they had to be at their gates at 6 a.m. to board the school bus. Those who took the family car had 30 more minutes to spare. School bells rung at 7 a.m., 15 minutes were

    Read More »from Wake-uppers and ‘croakers” on AM Radio
  • Greenpeace presscon

    By Jonathan de Santos,VERA Files

    The country's organic farmers could lose access to international agricultural markets if their crops are continually exposed to genetically-modified crops which are a source of pollen contamination.

    This is what happened to corn farmers in Alfonso Lista town in Ifugao province when a contract for them to supply organic corn to Japan was canceled, said Daniel Ocampo, sustainable agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.  Buyers from Japan stopped importing the Ifugao corn when they found that crops had been contaminated by genetically-modified corn being grown in the same town.

    Ocampo, speaking Wednesday at a Greenpeace press conference on the risks of allowing field testing of genetically-modified organism (GMO) crops, said the organic agricultural trade has "no tolerance for contamination."

    Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told reporters at the Ninth National Organic Agriculture Congress in Cebu City earlier this month that organic

    Read More »from Genetically modified crops threaten organic agriculture

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