The Inbox
  • Jo experiences Filipino gesture of respect for elder when boy kisses her hand.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Before she could even sing one note in tonight's much-awaited concert, operatic sensation and Grammy award-winning crossover artist Sumi Jo already promised over 200 children and teenagers saved from the mean streets that she would return to the Philippines to be with them.

    During her visit yesterday to Tuloy sa Don Bosco Streetchildren Village on Alabang-Zapote Road, Muntinlupa City, to turn over a donation and her music CDs to Tuloy Foundation Inc., she watched a short musical program in the gym. She swayed from her seat and applauded appreciatively.

    She addressed the children with her lilting "Hello, angels!" They sang and mimed a welcome song, David Pomeranz's "In Your Hands," but when they got to "You Raise Me Up," an inspirational song popularized by John Groban, she rose spontaneously and finished the chorus with them. Technically speaking, that was her Manila debut.

    Rocky Evangelista, SDB, the foundation's president and founder

    Read More »from ‘Hello, angels, I’m a singer’

  • Photos by Little Wing Luna, VERA Files

    Text by Mitch Meñez

    Kung hei fat choi!

    Chinatown was ablaze in red Friday as it welcomed the Year of the Wood Horse.

    People wore red, the children held red envelopes which contain money, the lanterns that line the strees and shop fronts were all in red..

    Red symbolizes fire, which the Chinese believe drive away bad luck and evil spirits.

    The Chinese calendar follows the lunar cycle and as such, start with the darkest day. The culmination at the end of the month, when the moon is at its brightest, brings forth the celebration which welcomes good fortune and blessing. Dragon dancers were in the streets and welcomed into business places to drive away evil spirits and bring in good luck.

    Chinese astrologers see a lot of outbursts, conflicts, and clashes in this Year of the Wood Horse. The London-based “Independent” said some astrologers “see wood as providing fuel for the energetic horse sign.”

    There’s a lot to watch out for in this year of the Wood

    Read More »from Enter the Wood Horse
  • Sumi Jo stresses that it's not just the voice that matters in expressing, she uses her hands and body too.

    By Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Photos by Anna Leah Sarabia

    In her next reincarnation, Sumi Jo, Korean lyric coloratura and toast of the opera world, would rather be "something else." What she is today still entails battles with loneliness, caring for and covering up her throat ("Winter is hard for singers"), the discipline of sitting, studying, practicing 30,000 times in her head just to produce a song.

    She debuts in the Philippines as part of an Asian tour Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at SM Aura's Samsung Hall, Bonifacio Global City of Taguig, with collaborating artist Najib Ismail, in a program of love songs to be sung in different styles and languages.

    The woman whom the terror of the operatic world, Maestro Herbert von Karajan, described as the "voice from above" that comes in 100 years, said the concert is "exclusively dedicated to the victims and survivors of Haiyan. I believe in the power of music to heal hearts."

    Jo, Unesco International Artist for Peace, announced that concert

    Read More »from Voice from heaven as human as anyone else
  • Baritone Gamaliel Viray a special tribute on February 22 with a performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    This year is the 4th death anniversary of baritone Gamaliel Viray and Santa Isabel College Conservatory of Music will pay special tribute to him with a performance of Mendelssohn’s monumental oratorio, “Elijah” on February 22 at the school’s Santo Cristo de Tesoro Auditorium to be conducted by Dr. Raul Navarro.

    The presentation will also launch the Gamaliel Viray Music Festival, a bi-annual event to commemorate the life and art of the late beloved bass-baritone. The concert will also celebrate the 150th presence of the Daughters of Charity in Santa Isabel College.

    The soloists include Santa Isabel music faculty, alumni, guest performers and students, led by Viray’s protégé, baritone Joseleo Logdat, Grand Prix Winner of the 6th Yokohama International Music Competition and currently finishing his studies in Elisabeth University of Music in Japan.

    Points out Logdat:“Mr. Viray has always been my inspiration. I am glad that I was the first and the last

    Read More »from Music festival to honor baritone Gamaliel Viray
  • 2Mark Meily with Jericho Rosales on the set.

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    The director who won top honors for “Crying Ladies,” “La Visa Loca” and “Baler,” among others, opines the basics of filmmaking can be learned but its essence cannot be totally taught.

    “You can introduce the subject, you can guide the students but from there, it’s up to the beginner to explore the world of filmmaking,” director Mark Meily adds.

    Meily has been both an assiduous student and teacher of filmmaking he can now share what it was like to be a student and what he now enjoys as a teacher.

    “I love teaching. I got many insights teaching in the film school of Marilou Diaz Abaya and at La Salle and I tell you it is in school where you are guided. But everything else will depend on what you get outside the school. I always remind my students, ‘When you want to tell a story, don’t verbalize it. Simply visualize it,’” he says.

    What the students don’t realize is that teachers learn from them as well. “You get many inputs from them when you interact in the

    Read More »from Mark Meily: The director as teacher and student
  • Commentary

    What is a blog Universal McCann

    By Harry L. Roque, VERA Files

    Bloggers enjoy the same protection as journalists.

    This was the recent ruling of the US Court of Appeals in the case of Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox. In this case, Crystal Cox, a blogger, claimed that Obsidian finance company was guilty of tax fraud. The US District Court earlier found Cox guilty of defamation and awarded the finance company $ 2.5 in damages. The lower court issued its ruling anchored on the assumption that since Cox is a blogger and not a journalist, a complainant in a defamation suit is entitled to the presumption of” legal malice or a presumption that the defamatory statement is presumed malicious.

    Further, Cox, as a mere blogger is not entitled to invoke the definition of actual malice established in the New York Times vs. Sullivan case. The 1964 US Supreme Court ruling set the precedent for the rule that journalists can only be held liable for false information if they knew of its falsity or in utter disregard of the

    Read More »from Bloggers equally protected as journalists
  • PNoy, Ramon Ang and Zenaida Ducut


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    ERC Chair Zenaida Ducut ANC yahooTwo lawmakers who are allies of President Aquino last week filed with the Office of the President a complaint against Chairperson Zenaida Ducut of the Energy Regulatory Commisssion accusing her of failure to protect the interest of the consumers when it approved last December Meralco’s application for a staggering P4.15/kilowatt-hour increase.

    “Respondent is guilty of gross neglect of duty by tacitly approving, without the barest hint of due process, the unprecedented generation charges Meralco sought to pass on to consumers in the months of December 2013, February 2014 and March 2014,” Akbayan Partylist Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez said in their complaint.

    It would be interesting to see how Malacañang will handle the complaint considering that last December in Tokyo, Aquino confessed being powerless about the unconscionable increase because he said, “ERC does not report to us, they are independent of us.”

    Feeling the public’s anger

    Read More »from PNoy, Ramon Ang and Zenaida Ducut
  • Members of watercolor group each working on their portraits of model Loren Burgos.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Even seasoned painter Jonahmar Salvosa admits that watercolor is a medium difficult to master.

    The Agos Kulay Maynila president said, "It is the hardest of all the media. If you make a mistake, that's it. You can't paint over your mistake or erase it. You have to start with a new sheet of paper. A mistake can be spotted, unless you're developing a new style or venturing into the abstract."

    He described watercolor as having "a mind of its own. It takes awhile before you can tame it." When would-be painters ask him for lessons, he starts them off with watercolor. After a few sessions, even only three days, depending on their interest and commitment, they can level up to oil or acrylic. He said, almost jokingly, "Instant artist agad. They learn three media in one setting."

    Agos Kulay (Watercolor Society of Manila) has been around since 1992. Its on-spot portrait sessions used to be held weekly at the Army and Navy Club in Manila before the

    Read More »from The challenges of watercolor and live portraiture
  • Wanted: Tagalog word for “human trafficking”


    From the MTV "Enslaved"

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    In an informal survey conducted by a civil society group working to stop human trafficking, they asked people in the streets what comes to their mind when they hear the phrase “human trafficking.”

    Everybody answered:“Traffic.” As in vehicular traffic.

    Such is the level of public awareness about human trafficking- the trade in human beings for several purposes, most commonly sexual slavery, pornography, forced labor , extraction of organs or tissues, surrogacy.

    The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking under the Department of Justice is aware of the importance of public cooperation in the campaign against this abominable crime in which the Philippines ranks high as one of the source countries of trafficked persons.

    They want to involve the public, especially the people in the provinces, through an information campaign. And they also know that to do that, they have to speak the language or the dialect of the people they are dealing with.

    Yet, up to

    Read More »from Wanted: Tagalog word for “human trafficking”
  • Sumi Jo as Lucia di Lammermoor

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    From the looks of it, the opera odyssey of internationally acclaimed Korean diva Sumi Jo would make a good material for soap opera.

    Her mother enrolled her for a piano lesson at age four and voice at age six and spent eight hours a day studying music.

    Although the family lived on rented place, her mother bought her a piano she could practice on.

    Her mother dreamed of becoming a singer herself but decided her daughter Sumi Jo would pursue that dream. Obedient daughter never let her mother down and got the highest grade when she auditioned at Korea’s National University.

    She only had $300 when she went to Italy to study at St. Cecilia Academy and fainted on an Italian street probably from lack of sleep while diligently studying music and the Italian language.

    She was equally close to her father who died on the night she had a singing engagement in Paris. Her mother reminded her not to cancel the concert and instead offer the concert in memory of her

    Read More »from Dialogue with Sumi Jo


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