Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.’s recent visit to Russia opened a window of opportunity for Olongapo City to attract tourists and investments.

On Monday, Alexander Zusik, president of Philippines-Russia International Development Enterprise (PRIDE), Audrey Zverev, general director of PRIDE’s Moscow Office and Elizabeth Joudro arrived in the Olongapo to scout for probable business venture and tourist destinations in the city.

PRIDE is working on bringing Russian tourists to Olongapo and Subic Bay. With Russia’s booming economy, Russians are looking for countries to visit and relax as tourists and also invest their excess money in worthwhile projects especially in Asia. Russians are known to love the sand, the beach and bask in the sun which Olongapo has plenty of.

“I am promoting Olongapo as another tourist destination for Russians in the Philippines,” said Gordon. “I also encourage them to invest.”

PRIDE has already established an office at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. The company was primarily engaged in the business of tour-operations, travel agency, international tour packages. But the company’s long-term plan is to invite other Russian investors to construct and operate eco-friendly resorts and hotel complexes for the Russians’ leisure activities.

The company is seriously considering building hotels and resorts in the city and the Freeport Zone. These establishments will cater to the Russian market and will surely add more variety to the type of tourists that frequent Olongapo and Subic Bay such as the Americans, Taiwanese, Koreans and Japanese.

“More investments means more jobs for Olongapeños,” Gordon enthused. “The city government is continuously providing free trainings that are related to the industries that we cater to and are in demand, such as welding and housekeeping,” shares Gordon

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. welcomed Alexander Zusik, president of Philippines-Russia International Development Enterprise (PRIDE), Audrey Zverev, general director of PRIDE’s Moscow Office and Elizabeth Joudro who arrived on June 29, 2009 at the city. The group has expressed their intention in putting up eco-friendly tourism facilities in the city and invite more tourists from Russia to consider Olongapo City as a destination.

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Subic business wants billboards banned along SCTEx

SUBIC BAY FREE PORT — Businessmen in this free port are now advocating for a ban on commercial billboards along the scenic Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), pointing out that an unsullied view of the natural landscape would be a better come-on for tourists.

Prof. Danny Piano, president of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC), said tourists have expressed appreciation of the billboard-free view along the SCTEx, adding that a lack of clear-cut policies on commercial billboards might spur the proliferation of giant outdoor advertisements along the 94-kilometer expressway.

“The scenery along SCTEx, when blocked by giant billboards, could also seriously harm tourism in the area,” Piano warned.

“[Billboards] will destroy the beautiful landscape, which is the foundation of the tourism industry,” Piano said during the recent taping here of The Freeport Forum, a new television show covering developments in Subic and the Clark Free Port.

He added that concerned government agencies should come up with clear and strict policies against the erection of billboards along the SCTEx, which was built to hasten the flow of goods and services between economic centers in the Central Luzon region.

Piano said Subic businessmen, who consider tourism as a major industry in this free port, believe it is in the best interest of the public to prohibit billboard advertisements along the SCTEx.

“There is a growing movement to make this so,” Piano said, adding that his group’s position is backed by several organizations and local government units (LGUs).

Piano said the SBFCC has sent a position paper on the proposed billboards ban to Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Narciso Abaya, who reportedly committed his agency’s full support to protect beautiful sceneries along the SCTEx.

However, Piano said the BCDA hedged on its jurisdiction over billboards erected outside the right-of-way (ROW) limits of the SCTEx, saying that outside the ROW, the rights of owners of the private properties will prevail.

Because of this, Piano said the national government must integrate policies related to the construction of billboards and place the responsibility of implementation under a single agency.

“In the meantime, agreements between [concerned] agencies and LGUs could be employed [to effect the billboards ban],” Piano said.

He added that Olongapo City has already passed a resolution for the abatement and dismantling of billboards along the SCTEx.

Last year a Pampanga board member voiced the same sentiment, and recently CDC director Maximo Sangil asked the same from Abaya, according to Piano.

Piano also pointed out that one reason why European countries like Great Britain, Germany, France, Ireland and Austria retained their appeal to visitors despite rapid development in their respective countryside was the prohibition of billboards along highways.

“Business people in these countries recognize that an unmarred landscape promotes tourism and benefits them in the long run,” Piano said.

In the United States, he added, the state of Vermont, likewise, recorded a 50-percent rise in tourism in the first two years that its highways became billboard-free.

IN PHOTO -- IF the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce could have its way, billboard advertising would be banned along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway for an unimpeded view of the landscape during the drive over the mountains of Zambales. NONIE REYES

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Wartime sea tragedy to be remembered in Subic

Ailsa Nisbet, 82, along with her daughter Marg Curtis and cousin Ron Hayes, will represent one of 15 Australian families at the July 1 memorial at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

THE hardest thing for families who lost relatives in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru during World War II was not knowing the fate of their loved ones.

But for those families, closure may finally come on Wednesday when a plaque is unveiled at an official ceremony marking Australia's worst maritime tragedy.

Ailsa Nisbet, 82, along with her daughter Marg Curtis and cousin Ron Hayes, will represent one of 15 Australian families at the July 1 memorial at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

They leave Melbourne today to pay respects to Ms Nisbet's brother, Private John "Jack" Groat, who was on board the Montevideo Maru when it sank on July 1, 1942, carrying 845 prisoners of war from Australia's Lark Force and 208 civilian men.

The troops had been taken prisoner after Japan invaded Rabaul in Papua New Guinea in January 1942.

The unmarked Japanese ship left occupied Rabaul on June 22, 1942 but nine days later an American submarine, unaware it was carrying allied prisoners, torpedoed it off the Philippines coast.

The sinking of the ship was not reported back to Australia, and for several years the fate of the prisoners of war was unknown.

Ms Nisbet said for years her brother's fate was a mystery.

"The family was first told he was missing," she said.

"Then they said 'missing presumed dead', then we got a message he was a prisoner of war, then we got a letter from Jack saying he was being looked after by the Japanese.

"But that's all. Mum didn't hear what happened until late 1945. And there is still doubt about it," she said.

In 1997, Ms Nisbet visited Rabaul to see where her brother was stationed and this year Ms Curtis and Mr Hayes completed a three-day trek retracing the escape many Lark Force men made during Japanese occupation.

"It's a very emotional trip," Ms Nisbet said.

"It's been many, many years and nothing has been heard of the Montevideo Maru and it's just all coming out now.

"I'm the last member of the family and it will be a closure for me to go up there."

Former federal Labor leader Kim Beazley, whose uncle Reverend Sydney Beazley was lost on the ship, is the patron of the Montevideo Maru Memorial Committee.

Phil Ainsworth, in the Philippines for the event, said the committee aimed to get more national recognition for the tragedy.

"This memorial will give the families some comfort because even now 67 years later they still feel discomforted and in grief," he said.

Another attendee is Andrea Williams, whose grandfather and great uncle were on board. She wants a government response similar to that for the recently found HMAS Sydney, another World War II sea tragedy that claimed 645 lives.

"There is a fair amount of literature on the Montevideo sinking but there are some nagging specifics, like why there was no inquiry into the fate of these men," she said.

Australian archives had several passenger lists but they were inconsistent and there was no passenger manifest, she said.

"What has happened to the nominal roll of the men apparently on board?"

Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin marked the 67th anniversary of the sinking of the Montevideo Maru in a speech to Parliament last Friday.

Mr Griffin said the Australian Government put $7200 towards the memorial and the Australian ambassador to the Philippines, Rod Smith, will attend.

"I've spoken to individuals who lost family members as part of the Montevideo Maru and I know these things remain with people forever," he said.

"I express my heartfelt sympathy for their loss." By Ilya Gridneff AAP - The Age

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Ex-Subic casino workers seek payment of back pay

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines—With the recent closure by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) of several foreign-owned hotels and a casino here, former employees are clamoring for payment of back wages and benefits before the firm’s remaining assets are taken by its creditors.

Romeo Caoile, spokesperson for the displaced employees of Legend International Resorts Ltd. (LIRL), said the employees feared that nothing would be left to them after the creditors of the Hong Kong-registered company divide its assets to cover its debts.

“The same fate [awaits] the more than 200 employees left working at LIRL’s remaining establishments,” Caoile said.

Rehabilitation plan

In 2006, foreign investors and local non-financial creditors of LIRL, like the SBMA and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), agreed to a corporate rehabilitation plan for the company that ultimately failed to restore its profitability.

Due to this, Caoile said the LIRL management decided to put regular employees on a rotation basis.

“One of the first things they did is to suspend our salaries and benefits, and then they employed us on a rotation basis. Then we were retrenched when we did not accept to work as casual employees because we had already been working there for years,” he said.

Most of LIRL’s 700 employees who lost their jobs in 2007 filed a case of illegal dismissal with the National Labor Relations Commission. “[We filed the case] to get what is rightfully ours, especially since we have lost our livelihood when they retrenched us,” Caoile said.

He said more than 200 employees lost their jobs in 2006 when Pagcor revoked LIRL’s gaming license when the firm failed to pay more than P1 billion it owed the government.

“I understand that the casino had debts to Pagcor, but the hotels still had plenty of customers,” he said.

On Friday, the SBMA shut down and barricaded LIRL’s establishments due to nonpayment of arrears.

Lawyer Robert Ongsiako, SBMA deputy administrator for legal affairs, said LIRL had over P200 million cash in bank, “excluding their movable and physical assets.”

However, Ongsiako said the SBMA cannot yet seize control of LIRL’s property. “That is another matter for the court to decide,” he said.

He said the SBMA was collecting more than P800 million from LIRL.

Efren Zubiri, the local representative of LIRL’s liquidators in Hong Kong, said the issue “should be discussed in the proper forum.” Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon

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SBMA has A(H1N1) quarantine facility

THE Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) established a quarantine facility for the use of employees, residents and visitors who might have been exposed to A (H1N1).

Pointing out that the Subic Bay Freeport Zone is another port of entry for foreigners and tourists alike, SBMA administrator Armand Arreza said the Subic authority has to be ready for any contingency now that the A-H1N1 is spreading worldwide.

“As one of the major tourism and investment destinations in the country, it is not impossible that an unsuspecting visitor may arrive in Subic by air, land or sea, before knowing that he or she has been infected by the virus,” Arreza said.

According to Dr. Solomon Jacalne, manager of the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department (PHSD), the Subic quarantine facility would be used primarily to separate members of the SBMA medical staff who were exposed to patients believed to have been infected by swine flu.

Jacalne, however, stressed that once any Subic visitor, worker or resident is found to be infected by A-H1N1, he would have to be transferred to the Jose B. Lingad Medical Hospital in Pampanga, the only hospital in the region identified by the Department of Health (DOH) as capable of handling A-H1N1 cases. (With Mia Gonzalez & Henry Empeño) Written by Rene Acosta business Mirror Reporter

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South Korean invasion

South Korean invasion: Part II
Opinion Written by Omerta / Butch del Castillo - Business Mirror

In my previous column (“The South Korean Invasion,” June 26 issue), I wrote about how the Jisan Mining Corp. of South Korea despoiled the black-sand beaches and adjoining farmlands of six coastal towns in Cagayan, home province of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. The piece was based on accounts of irate Cagayan residents supporting a courageous town executive, Buguey Mayor Ignacio M. Taruc, who was recently suspended by the provincial government (ostensibly for simple misconduct).

That mining company had found in those black-sand beaches an incredibly rich source of magnetite. Magnetite is a mineral used by South Korea’s giant steel industry in the iron-smelting process.

Over and above the violent objections of the people of Cagayan—but with the help of unusually accommodating municipal and provincial authorities—Jisan Mining was able to literally slice off, and send home, the once-pristine beachfronts which Cagayan folk used to be proud of.

This unspeakable deed, of course, couldn’t have been committed without the consent of the local officials of that province. A reader identified in his blog only as “Subicslugger” has aptly said, “The major problem with Koreans in the Philippines is the fact that Filipino officials let the Koreans do whatever they want…. All it takes is a couple of white envelopes.” The Koreans (Jisan Mining, Subic Bay High Rise), he adds, have little regard for the environment and even less regard for the local population. (I agree completely, except that brown manila envelopes, not small white ones, may have actually figured in the Cagayan scenario.)

That blogger is right on the nose. No bribery can occur if there are no takers. Another blogger with the handle “gbevers” said: …“The problem is that both Filipinos and Koreans seem more willing to sacrifice the environment to the Money god. In other words, Filipinos and Koreans are a perfect match. Koreans love giving bribes, and Filipinos love taking them.”

And that’s probably one of the major reasons South Koreans have been coming in droves over the past few years. (The other reason is a Korean won can buy here much more than it can back home; even the financially challenged are strutting around like big shots in Manila.)

Danilo C. Almeda, the Bureau of Immigration’s chief immigration officer in charge of the Alien Registration Division confirms that South Koreans have long displaced the Japanese, Chinese and Indians in terms of tourist, immigrant and non-immigrant arrivals in the Philippines. In fact, he says, in the first six months of the year, South Korean arrivals were the second most numerous and fast catching up with the number of arrivals from the United States—a number that includes a heavy mix of Pinoy balikbayan with dual citizenships.

Almeda says owing to the open-arms policy of the government encouraging tourists and investors to come in, visas are freely given to South Koreans. Asked if their burgeoning numbers in the country have not begun to worry the BI, he says “our role is to step in only when any of them run afoul with local laws or otherwise behave in undesirable ways.”

The Philippines, to be sure, has become a favorite destination, especially of South Korean youngsters. We are told that many of them are sent here by well-off parents to study to help them escape or avoid compulsory two-year military service in their country. The rosters of private schools are now fatter with the names of South Korean enrollees from the grade-school to tertiary levels.

But besides the students, businessmen big-time and small, also love it here for a singular reason. They are like migrating birds that have discovered a vast pond where they can settle down for a spell of feasting.

They like our bureaucratic setup and the culture of corruption in which it operates. They have delightfully discovered how easily corruptible our officials are. Like what gbevers said, they love to give bribes and our officials love taking them, a perfect match! Thus, businessmen come here, secure in the knowledge that local rules and laws are easily bended or ignored if you know to which official to hand over those white or brown envelopes.

Jisan Mining has gotten away with its despicable deed simply because it got plenty of help from the officials of the province. Cagayan Gov. Alvaro T. Antonio, according to the residents, has been accused of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for his role in the destruction of those black beaches. Whether or not the case before the Ombudsman’s office would prosper is anybody’s guess. We can only be consoled by the fact that the people of Cagayan will long remember him as the provincial leader under whose watch the destruction of these once-pristine beaches was tolerated.

The rape of Cagayan’s scenic beaches is only one of the major tragedies being caused by the South Korean invasion that I speak of. Unless we can muster the political will to whip them into line, this is just the beginning of a long series of similar debacles, I’m afraid.

One need not strain to find another example of how South Korean businessmen are flouting local rules and laws with impunity. Witness how we have paid so heavy a price in exchange for the $1-billion ship-building facility built by Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction-Philippines at the Subic Bay industrial enclave in the former US naval base. Since the construction of this mammoth shipbuilding facility began in 2006, 26 Filipino workers have died in various industrial accidents.

Our senators, notably Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, investigated the unusually high rate of industrial accidents—tallied at some 5,000 over less than three years. The Estrada committee found that Hanjin in several instances violated our labor laws and neglected to adopt standard safety measures required in projects of such magnitude. The investigation—which included a well-publicized inspection by the son of former President Joseph Estrada—was conducted in March this year.

Estrada’s Senate panel found out for themselves that the workers’ safety was, indeed, being compromised. Lapses included workers not wearing safety equipment, lack of full-time doctors on-site, lack of safety inspections, little safety-training time, and indiscriminate hiring of sub-contractors in Hanjin’s rush to finish the facility’s construction.

The Estrada committee also found out that actual ship-building began while the facility had yet to be fully constructed, a situation that presented so many dangers to its 1,800 workers. (In South Korean culture, rough treatment of workers is an ordinary thing. This was the confession made by Jeong Sup Shim, company president, before a Senate hearing. He was quoted as saying, “in our country, the military culture still remains and exists, especially in the construction side.” Which reminds us of how the Egyptian Pharaohs thought nothing of sacrificing the lives of many thousands of slaves to build their burial sites—the great pyramids.

But what’s funny is that nothing more has been heard about the safety issue even as more and more industrial accidents occur at Hanjin with frightening regularity. The Senate panel concluded its investigation by giving Hanjin the equivalent of a light slap on the wrist. Funnier still is the apologia offered by a Department of Labor official who said the industrial deaths were largely the fault of Filipino workers unaccustomed to such massive industrial undertakings.

The South Koreans, it seems, have mastered the art of getting whatever they want from the government authorities. It’s the art of pinpointing, and greasing, whichever wheel in the bureaucratic machinery may be squeaking. It’s not solely their fault, no sir. We Filipinos are equally to blame for being such big suckers.

And that’s not all. Hanjin Heavy Industries has also won other big infrastructure jobs for the government. It has won government contracts to build roads, a mass rail-transit system and complex dam and irrigation systems. In other words, Hanjin now has a formidable presence in many big-ticket undertakings—especially those to be funded by official development assistance from the South Korean government. It has learned only too well that without the backing of our top government officials, it cannot hope to get anywhere in this country. To Hanjin, this is the least of its problems.

Greasing whichever wheel in the government machinery is squeaky has apparently become standard operating procedure for Hanjin. A concrete example is the project it bagged to put up a diversion dam in Catubig, Bulao and Hagbay in Northern Samar. This is a project that calls for the building of an irrigation and drainage system, including steel gates under Contract No. HCAAP-C-1.

Hanjin earlier committed to finish the project by March next year, or shortly before the May presidential elections. So far, however, it has completed only 13.85 percent of the project. It has consumed 60 percent of its allotted time but has done too little so far, prompting Carlos Salazar, chief of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), to demand that Hanjin yield the project to the NIA. In the bureaucratic jargon any project delay is redundantly called a “negative slippage,” forcing Salazar to announce that the NIA was taking over the project phases that Hanjin obviously couldn’t deliver on time. Salazar’s ultimatum had a tone of finality of a Supreme Court ruling: “We are constrained to invoke the provision in our contract documents, Article GC-22, NIA’s Right to Take Over or Delete Part of Contract work.”

The letter was addressed to Myung Goo Kwon, country director and general manager of Hanjin. He told Kwon his letter was merely formalizing what he had earlier told Hanjin project manager Deok Weon Lim that NIA was taking over the Bulao and Hagbay portions of the project so that Hanjin could concentrate on the Catubig portion.

The farmers tilling 4,550 hectares of land in Northern Samar have long been looking forward to the completion of this dam and its irrigation facilities. It would be a big boon, their sole hope of ever wrenching themselves from the grip of poverty.

But to the Hanjin executives, the fulminations of Salazar were hardly a problem. They merely went over Salazar’s head and presto (!)—they won a 158-day reprieve that moved the project’s completion date to August 25, 2010, instead of March 31, as they had earlier promised.

Clearly, Hanjin and the other South Korean companies doing business in this country have become past masters in the manipulation of our bureaucracy. What’s very sad is we have only ourselves to blame for this.
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By the way, there were seventeen persons ( Hanjin sub-contractors ) brought to the hospital yesterday, one of them dead, after a boom truck they were riding lost control at Cawag, Subic, Zambales

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Gordon slams Binay’s claim on poll deal

SENATOR Richard Gordon yesterday lashed back at Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay for insinuating that the poll automation deal won by the consortium, Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., is tainted with fraud.

Gordon, principal author of the Automated Elections System Law, laughed off Binay’s suspicion that President Arroyo’s “secret” side trip to Cartagenia last week, which coincided with the establishment of Philippine diplomatic ties with Barbados, had something to do with the automation project. Smartmatic is registered with Barbados, a tiny Caribbean state in Latin America and a former British colony that has gained a reputation as a haven for laundering money.

Binay, president of the United Opposition, went to the extent of comparing the President’s journey to Colombia to her secret trip to Boao, Hainan in China in April 2007 in which she supposedly discussed the national broadband project with top executives of the ZTE at the telecommunications firm’s headquarters.

Gordon said it is unfair and malicious to compare Smartmatic’s contract with the botched $329-million NBN-ZTE contract.

“In the first place, the poll automation project was awarded to Smartmatic as a result of an open, public bidding. In contrast, the NBN project was awarded to ZTE Corp. through negotiated contract,” he said to emphasize that there is transparency in the bidding process for the automation deal.

He also pointed out that Smartmatic offered the lowest bid at P7.2 billion for the government funded project with an authorized budget of P11.3 billion.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Barbados were established in the wake of criticisms over the allegedly flawed certification of Smartmatic’s Article of Incorporation and by-laws issued by the government of Barbados.

By. Fel Maragay - Manila Standard Today

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Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr. is calling on all Olongapeños to support the city in the up-and-coming WOW Philippines-Best of Central Luzon “Olongapo–Subic Bay Day’’.

‘’We need to support the whole day affair that will showcase the best of the best of Central Luzon specifically Olongapo and Subic Bay Freeport Zone,’’ Mayor Gordon said

During the whole day event on Sunday, July 5, 2009 at Clamshell, Intramuros, Manila, product exhibits, cultural performances, colorful festivals and services will feature the best of the city and SBFZ.

Olongapo City talents including Mayor Gordon and the BONGGO Band, ‘Pase Ballo’ and Teatro Gat’ Aitab, will perform inside the Clamshell while Olongapo City National High School (OCNHS) Street Dancers and Tabacuhan Elementary School Drum and Lyre will perform in front of the venue to commence the opening of the program.

Witnessing the event will be Senator Richard J. Gordon, Mayor Bong Gordon, SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza, Dept. of Tourism Under-secretary Oscar Palabyab, DOT Region III Director Ronaldo Tiotuico and Central Luzon Tourism Council Chair Lydia Co,

Other performances will be by the Law Enforcement Department (LED) Star Band, Olongapo Youth Choir and the Pamulaklakin Aeta Cultural Dancers.

It can be recalled that on June 17, 2009, the Department of Tourism Region III launched the WOW Philippines-Best of Central Luzon at Clamshell, Intramuros, Manila to feature the best of the different cities and provinces in the country.


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18 fishers rescued off Zambales

Eighteen fishermen were safely rescued from the seawaters off Zambales over the weekend after their fishing boat went adrift as typhoon "Feria" was exiting the country, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Monday.

Coast Guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said FB Ma. Antonia II suffered engine trouble while it was on its way to Subic Pier from fishing grounds off Capones and Zapatos Islands in Zambales on Friday afternoon.

"The bad weather brought by typhoon 'Feria' in the area may have caused the sea vessel's engine to momentarily break down," Tamayo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

He said the owner of the fishing vessel, Zaldy Chua, immediately sought assistance from the local PCG office in locating and rescuing its crew members.

After almost a day, Tamayo said the PCG search and rescue team found the boat floating near the vicinity of San Antonio, Zambales.

He identified those rescued as boat captain Edelito Empoc and crew members Vico Aguasan, Ronilo Solana, Rolando Lumantad, Lolong Patalinhug, Jhonrey dela Cuesta, Jorlan Libores, Charlie Solana, Jojo Salipod, Lito Empoc, Ed Banes, Rolando Siasat, Boyet Conoser, Roger Onde, Ranil Escares, Junjun Catayin, Cito Masarte and Rubel Lumantad.

"All survivors are in good physical condition and safety returned back home," Tamayo said. By Marlon Ramos - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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3 fishers missing off Zambales, 10 rescued

By Tonette Orejas - Central Luzon Desk

Three fishermen remained missing on Sunday, three days after their boat capsized off the coast of San Antonio, Zambales, amid strong rains and winds brought about by Typhoon "Feria" (international codename: Nangka) on Thursday, police said.

Local fishermen and the San Antonio police have not abandoned the search operations as of Sunday, said Senior Superintendent Rolando Felix, Zambales provincial police director.

The missing fishermen are natives of Subic town, some 60 kilometers south of San Antonio, he said.

Felix said 10 other fishermen from Subic town who were rescued by San Antonio fishermen returned to their families on Saturday.

The 10 men drifted at sea without food and water for almost two days, it was learned.

Their boats -- BIRT and Maria Antonia -- were battered by strong waves a few hours after these sailed out to the South China Sea from the villages of Matain and Wawandue, both in Subic town, police said.

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Court junks case vs. Hanafil, SBMA

SUBIC BAY Free Port—The forcible entry charge filed by the former operator of the Subic Bay golf course against its successor, the Hanafil Golf and Tour Inc. (Hanafil), and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has been dismissed by a court in Olongapo City.

Judge Rosemary Bautista, presiding judge of Branch 3 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC-3), threw out the case filed by the Universal International Group Development Corp. (UIGDC) after concluding that the Taiwanese-owned firm has engaged in forum shopping.

Bautista signed the order clearing Hanafil and the SBMA of charges of forcible entry on June 18, according to Hanafil president and CEO Benjamin John Defensor III.

In effect, the court “recognized the right of the SBMA to terminate its lease development agreement [LDA] with the UIGDC, thereby making it clear that Hanafil is the new rightful lessee of the property,” Defensor explained.

In dismissing the case filed by the UIGDC, the court noted that the complainant had filed different cases in different courts against the SBMA and Hanafil.

According to Judge Bautista, evidence submitted by the parties indicated that the UIGDC has initiated three separate actions before different courts.

These included a petition for certiorari with prayer for preliminary mandatory injunction and temporary restraining order (TRO) filed in April 2008 before the Court of Appeals (CA); the forcible entry case filed in May 2008 before the MTCC-3 in Olongapo; and the case for breach of contract and damages, annulment of lease development agreement with prayer for TRO and preliminary mandatory injunction filed in January 2009 before Branch 72 of the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City.

Proving the presence of these cases filed before various courts, Bautista ruled that the UIGDC is guilty of forum shopping and all the elements of litis pendentia.

Hanafil, a Filipino-Korean joint venture backed by Hanatour, Korea’s biggest tour operator, took over the management of the 19-hole Subic golf course last year after winning in a public bidding for the operation of the facility.

The SBMA itself took over the facility in June 2007 after the UIGDC failed to settle financial obligations to the SBMA that have ballooned to some $150 million, as well as to honor its development commitments under its lease development agreement.

Among the unfulfilled commitments in UIGDC’s 1995 agreement with the SBMA were the construction of world-class facilities like a new clubhouse, a 100-room condominium, 30 VIP villas and a five-star hotel and resort prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference summit meeting in Subic in November 1996.

Meanwhile, SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza clarified that because the LDA between SBMA and UIGDC was rescinded on June 8, 2007, by the SBMA board, a lessor-lessee relationship no longer exists between the two parties.

He added that the SBMA validly pre-terminated the LDA because the lessee committed contractual breaches.

“As a consequence of the valid pre-termination, SBMA has repossessed the golf course without any court order,” Arreza also explained.

Arreza said that no less than the Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the provisions in the LDA between UIGDC and SBMA, including the pre-termination and repossession of the property by UIGDC in case of violations by the company.

For its part, Hanafil has complied with all the requirements of the SBMA, Defensor averred.

He added that the firm has started the reconstruction of the Subic golf course into a world-class, all-weather championship golfing facility with 27 holes.

Hanafil is also completing plans to build a five-star hotel and luxury villas near the golf facility, Defensor said. Written by Henry Empeño Business Mirror Correspondent

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Subic freeport reinvents itself amidst global recession

Armand Arreza, administrator of the Subic Bay free port, points to a photo of the Bay and explains his plans to convert the sprawling enclave from a light industrial zone into a tourism and logistics hub. Photo courtesy: AFP.

SUBIC BAY (AFP) - May de los Santos used to make laptops and mobile phones at a high-tech Taiwanese electronics factory in Subic Bay free port.

She joined the ranks of the laid off as the global financial crisis kicked in, but the 31-year-old has since been training to work as a chambermaid in a local hotel.

"I don't mind going to these classes. I am used to hard work and the hotel industry is the one with demand for workers," she told AFP.

She is one of an army of laid-off workers who are being retrained to meet the demands of the free port, said Severo Pastor, an official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the government agency that oversees the enclave.

And these days, he said, that demand is coming from tourism.

Like de los Santos, the port is adapting to the times--transforming from a light industrial zone to a tourism zone and regional logistics hub.

Free port administrator Armand Arreza says Subic's manufacturing future had been in question even before the crisis hit its electronics companies.

For years, low-wage competition from China and Vietnam has been luring companies away and a recent upgrade of Clark, just 75 kilometres (47 miles) from here rendered many of Subic's facilities redundant.

Both Subic and Clark were once US military bases that employed thousands of Filipinos. But a 1992 US military pullout left the Philippines scrambling to find alternative uses for the facilities and jobs for the locals.

Amazingly, Subic adapted swiftly and efficiently, transforming from a naval base into a 13,600-hectare (33,600-acre) free port with an international airport and factories that turned out electronics, garments, shoes, armoured vehicles and medical equipment.

Special "techno-parks" were set up for Taiwanese and Japanese manufacturers.

Federal Express (FedEx) established its Asian courier hub in 1996, using the former base's military airport while South Korea's Hanjin Heavy Industries built a shipyard in 2006 that is now the world's fourth largest.

This year however low-wage rivals abroad and the economic crisis have forced Subic factories to retrench more than 4,000 workers or place them on "forced leave," said Arreza.

FedEx shut its Subic hub in February, moving to China with its larger market and attractive perks.

Arreza said the situation is improving and some workers may be re-hired but he doubts that Subic will ever return to the days of the 1990s.

"Low-cost manufacturing is not the area where Subic is competitive," he said. "Most of our land area is protected forests and protected seas. We don't have any space to accommodate large industrial parks."

Only 4,000 hectares of Subic can be developed compared to 30,000 hectares in nearby Clark.

The future lies in tourism, medical care, ship building and logistics, using the ample space still available for warehouses especially around the largely unused Subic airport, said Arreza.

Hanjin is staying put and companies that require skilled labour may also find it more economical to remain in Subic, he said.

For displaced workers, the government is offering re-training for positions in Subic's tourism industry or even abroad.

Its well-preserved forests, wide seafront and recreational facilities and hotels have always made it popular with tourists and a new highway has made the area even more accessible to day-trippers.

There are no figures on Subic tourist arrivals but Arreza notes that between 8,000 and 10,000 cars of non-free port workers enter Subic everyday, presumably many of them carrying tourists.

Zenaida Pineda, 40, a former electronics worker here, said she now earns as much working as a chambermaid in a Subic hotel as she did at her factory job.

"I like housekeeping more because you can move around, not just stay at your work station. Besides, working on electronics hurt my eyes," she said.

Prof. Danny Piano, president of the local chamber of commerce, said, "Subic manufacturers can survive. The Philippines has the capability to do good high-end work," due to workers' better education, communication and English skills.

Subic exported $977.8 million worth of goods last year.

"There needs to be a balance between industry and tourism. After all, this is a free port," Piano said. (By MYNARDO MACARAIG/AFP)

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Gordon turns down Lakas invite, pushes for coalition

Senator Richard Gordon yesterday spurned the call of the leadership of the Lakas-Kampi for pro-administration presidential aspirants to join the newly-formed ruling party if they wish to be counted for its presidential nomination.

Gordon said while he wants to be chosen administration standard-bearer in the 2010 elections, he prefers not to be a card-bearing member of Lakas-Kampi because he has formed his own group, the Bagumbayan.

The senator from Olongapo City has opted to become independent even if he won the 2004 senatorial election under the administration banner. Lakas-Kampi stalwarts have mentioned Gordon among the stable of potential presidential bets of the administration. But he did not attend the recent assembly of Lakas and Kampi leaders at the Manila Hotel in which they sealed the merger of the two parties.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Lakas-Kampi interim president, said the presidential hopefuls should sign up with the administration party if they want to make it to the shortlist of nominees.

“It is as if they are trying to say that it’s tempting to be part of a big party machinery. But I cannot accept their invitation. I have already launched the Bagumbayan,” Gordon told the Kapihan sa Senado.

He said there can only be one acceptable arrangement for him —for Lakas-Kampi and Bagumbayan to forge a coalition.

The call of the Lakas-Kampi leadership is also addressed to Vice President Noli de Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who are both partyless.

De Castro said he is not keen on joining Lakas-Kampi for the moment because he wants to avoid partisan politics and to concentrate on his duties as member of the Arroyo Cabinet.

Teodoro, on the other hand, has signified his willingness to join the administration party. Fel V. Maragay - Manila Standard Today

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Big, small travel agents vital in tourism – Gordon

All Philippine tourism stakeholders, big and small, have vital role to play in the growth and development of the industry, according to Sen. Richard Gordon, a former tourism secretary.

Gordon, in a recent speech before travel agents, stressed this when he said “the government and the tourism stakeholders must work hand in hand to make the tourism law (Tourism Act of 2009) effective.”

“With the faithful implementation of this law, the nation can have a better institution to regulate and promote tourism and install the necessary infrastructures to make our country truly world-class,” he said.

Gordon cited the National Association of Independent Travel Agencies as one which should be included in the deliberation of issues as this biggest group of travel agents had and is playing a very important role.

Naitas was active in the drafting of the law, opposing the provision giving positions in new tourism agencies only to members of the Federation of Tourism Industries of the Philippines and the Philippine Travel Agencies Association to the detriments of other stakeholders, especially the small and medium operators.

Naitas also opposed the proposal to require hotels and hospitality establishments to charge each tourist an additional $5 as “tourism fee” which would have priced the Philippines out as a tourist destination.

He said that a “tourism related industry congress will be conveyed so that tourism stakeholders can choose the people who are going to occupy – not for title, but for development of the industry – positions in the Tourism Promotions Board and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.”


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Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. and Congresswoman Carissa Coscolluela of Buhay Partylist led the groundbreaking ceremony of the one-story Multi-Purpose Building in Kalalake Elementary School, Olongapo City on June 25, 2009.

Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Ligaya B. Monato was represented by Ronaldo Pozon, Principal of New Cabalan National High School. According to Pozon, “The Multi-Purpose Building will house a function hall, several bedrooms and comfort rooms which will be used for the academic, technical and vocational skills development of the students of CENTEX (Center for Excellence) and SINAG Center.”

The project, funded by Coscolluela through the initiative of Mayor Gordon and Sen. Richard Gordon, is aimed to address the growing needs of the students of Olongapo and provide them proper school equipment and tools that will create a more conducive learning environment.

“Napakasipag po ng inyong mga leaders, sa pangunguna ni Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr., na lumapit sa mga national agencies at sa iba’t ibang opisyal para mangalap ng pondo na gagamitin sa pagpapatayo ng mga school buildings dito sa Olongapo,” Coscolluela said in her speech.

“Ang Buhay Partylist ay patuloy na tutulong sa inyong mga pangangailangan. Handang-handa po kaming tumulong sa lahat ng paraan na aming makakaya,” Coscolluela said.

Meanwhile, Gordon thanked Coscolluela for her countless contributions and generous support to the city. “We are indeed very fortunate to have partners and collaborators in helping us achieve our goals and further develop our city,” said Gordon.

“I hope that the students, teachers and administration of Kalalake Elementary School will take care of this facility. May this aid you in your continuous pursuit in achieving excellence,” Gordon concluded.

Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. and Buhay Partylist Representative Carissa Coscolluela led the ground breaking ceremony of the Multi-Purpose Building at Kalalake Elementary School. With them were Principal Nilda Quitanog, New Cabalan National High School Principal Ronaldo Pozon and Danny Miguel, Supervisor in Charge of Facilities.


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The Barangay Disaster Coordinating Council (BDCC) of Barangay Sta. Rita is one of the finalists for this year’s Best BDCC in the urban category of the 2009 Gawad Kalasag award.

“This is a first for Barangay Sta. Rita. After being hailed as the Best BDCC in the Regional Level, they automatically qualified for the National Level of the Gawad Kalasag 2009,” according to Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr.

Originally pitted against two other cities, Bacolod and Davao City, Barangay Sta. Rita is now set to go one-on-one against Davao after Bacolod dropped out of the competition.

According to Captain Jerome Michael Bacay, “Barangay Sta. Rita takes pride in having our own Fire Rescue and Disaster Response Unit with Chief Arturo De Jesus.”

The said unit provides immediate response to emergency situations in the barangay during calamities and other disaster situations and even responding to calls outside the bgy.

“Patuloy kaming sinusuportahan ni Mayor Bong Gordon sa pamamagitan ng mga trainings at kagamitan na ipinagkakaloob niya sa aming barangay. Malaking tulong din na kaagapay ng mga barangay officials ang aming mga kabarangay sa pag-iwas sa sakuna. Kung walang kooperasyon ang lahat, hindi natin makakamit ang ganitong pagkilala,” added Bacay.

A validating team visited the city recently and assessed the barangay based on their basic disaster management capability. The validating team was headed by Regional Disaster Coordinating Council Director Neri Amparo. Also part of the team were Dionisio Magayanes, Jr., Angelo Pailando, Crsipina Abat, Engr. Edmundo Fernandez and Tessie Castañeda.

Gordon is encouraging other barangays in the city to strengthen their disaster management plans. “Let us continue what Barangay Sta. Rita has started. They were recognized in the national level and helped make Olongapo City more competitive. Naghahanda din ang lungsod para sa Best City Disaster Coordinating Council category ng Gawad Kalasag,” remarked Gordon.

The Gawad Kalasag (Kalamidad at Sakuna Labanan Sariling Galing ang Kaligtasan) has been promoting total disaster risk management among local disaster coordinating councils.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) has been actively providing incentives and awards with the hope of strengthening the spirit of volunteerism among private and public emergency responders and enhancing monitoring systems in the national and local levels through the Kalasag Awards.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009


Mayor James Gordon, Jr. proudly announced at the flag raising ceremony on Monday, June 22, 2009 the opening of a German Language Training through the Olongapo City Skills Training Center. The one (1) month German lesson is open to all Olongapeños who are willing to learn German language .

“This is a great opportunity for us Filipinos to learn foreign language, it’s a plus factor when you apply for a job,” Mayor Gordon said.

The German language training is in connection with the first ever Call Center company to be established by Europhil in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), Olongapo City.

Europhil is a German call center company which will open this year with an initial manpower requirement of one hundred fifty six (156). The German language lesson will start on Monday, June 29, 2009, Mondays to Fridays, 5 to 7 pm at the Olongapo City Skills Training Center being administered by Councilor Edwin Piano. The Skills Training is an extension of Gordon College for the different Skills Trainings of the city such as welding, call center, computer and German language trainings.

Inquiries may be directed to the City Skills Training Center at telephone number 222-2565, 222-2206.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SBMA asks firm to suspend Korean foreman

A top official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) sought the suspension of a Korean foreman at the Hanjin shipyard who was held by company officials after he hit a Filipino worker with a steel flashlight in the face and head on Tuesday.

Arceo Malit, a deputy foreman at Unit 25 of Hanjin’s pre-outfitting section, said Lee Cheon Sik, a foreman at the assembly part, hit him for no reason.

Lee was held for investigation by Hanjin safety officials, said Taek Kyun Yoo, general manager of the Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Philippines Inc.

Malit, 26, was taken to the St. Jude Hospital in Olongapo City where he was treated for wounds and placed under observation.

Frustrated murder

He said he would file a frustrated murder case against Lee. Melchor Remedios, president of the workers union at Hanjin, said Lee was looking for a foreman at the fit-up section to ask why the pipes had not been installed yet at about noon Tuesday.

Malit was in the same area and Lee asked him to come with him to an office. It was on their way to the office when Lee attacked Malit, the union report said.

Armand Arreza, administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, asked its labor and law enforcement departments to look into the incident.

“If Lee is found guilty, we will not hesitate to turn him over to the Bureau of Immigration for appropriate action,” Arreza said in a statement.

He also asked Lee’s employer, Greenbeach, a Hanjin subcontractor, to suspend Lee pending the result of the investigation.

“We will definitely not tolerate or condone any form of violence at the workplace or any such incident that may compromise the safety and welfare of workers in the freeport,” he said.

Arreza, in his statement, said a team from the SBMA’s labor department checked on Malit’s condition at the St. Jude Hospital in Olongapo City where the worker was brought.

A CT scan, the statement said, showed that Malit did not suffer any serious head injury as a result of the blow. By Tonette Orejas - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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Gordon to Comelec: Use tracking system

SENATOR Richard J. Gordon (Ind.) yesterday advised the Commission on Election (Comelec) to ensure that a tracking system is in place during the distribution of the voting machines to guarantee that all the equipment would reach the polling places in time.

Gordon, father of election modernization in the country and principal author of the amended Automated Elections System Law, said that the poll body must know when the machines would reach every polling precinct nationwide.

He also urged the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) to take part in the process by confirming the arrival of the machines or reporting the delay thereof.

“During the transportation of the machines, the Comelec should know where these machines are at any time. That is why there should be a tracking system. If you can have GPS (global positioning system), that would be better,” Gordon said during the Senate hearing regarding the updates on the preparation for the May 2010 elections.

“We have to assure the people that the machines, which have already been tested, will be delivered to certain polling place at a particular time. If it does not come on time, the PPCRV would immediately report it,” he added.

Gordon stressed that the public must be assured that the Comelec’s preparations for the May 2010 automated elections are going fine to allay fears of a no election scenario.

“When we succeed here, the country would feel a surge of confidence. That’s what I want to see. We can heave a sign of relief because, for once, we are able to have honest, clean, speedy and credible elections,” he said.


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Olongapo City is making waves in Guam as Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. lands in the headline of The Pacific Daily News (PDN), the top morning newspaper based in Hagåtña, Guam.

“Olongapo City could be a source for experienced workers,” PDN quoted Gordon during his second visit to the island recently.

The Guam Government, under Governor Felix Camacho, several senators, the Mayor’s Council of Guam, the Department of Public Works and Navy officials, are seriously considering opening more opportunities to Olongapeños, which is not limited to employment.

Gordon brought several businessmen during his second visit to Guam for possible investment opportunities. The mayor is set to bring another group upon an invitation from the Guam government.

The City Government, under Gordon’s leadership, has been actively seeking potential hires for the construction projects that the military buildup will create as a result of the transfer of the U.S. military facility from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. Some 8,000 Olongapeños have already enlisted and in a job fair held last month, some 4,000 more applicants expressed interest on the Guam project.

Gordon is committed to delivering what is needed by the said project, banking on the experience and exposure of the Olongapeños in operating and running a military base.

“Olongapo City, being the site of the former U.S. Naval Base in Subic Bay and now a major training center for welders, could be a source of workers for the U.S. military buildup on Guam,” said Mayor Gordon.

To enhance more the capabilities of former base employees, Gordon is providing free trainings in construction and welding to better equip the people for the buildup.

According to Gordon, “Olongapo City is the biggest welding center in the world. The city was already able to send welders to Florida, Korea and Australia.” Early on, he already sent 15 of the best welders to Guam.

Gordon is confident that his proposal for a sisterhood agreement between Olongapo and Guam will greatly help Guam in the selection of skilled workers and in turn, help Guam in terms of their health care by making use of the health care facilities in Olongapo and the Subic Bay area.

The copy of The Pacific Daily News, a newspaper based in Guam, which headlined Olongapo City as a source of skilled workers for the Guam buildup as a result of the transfer of the U.S. military facility from Okinawa, Japan to Guam. Mayor James “Bong” Gordon, Jr. is also looking for possible business investments for Olongapo businessmen in the island and the establishment of a sisterhood agreement between Olongapo City and Guam.


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City Mayor James “Bong” Gordon Jr. has again designated Olongapo First Lady and Zambales Vice Gov. Anne Marie Gordon as Chairman of the Fiesta Executive Committee (Execom).

In a letter, Mayor Bong Gordon acknowledged the success of 2006 City Fiesta under the chairmanship of Vice Gov. Anne Marie Gordon. ‘’Dahil sa maganda at maayos na pagpapalakad ni Vice Gov. Gordon, naniniwala ako na kayang-kaya niyang ipag-patuloy ang kanyang nasimulang pagpapa-sigla sa City Fiesta.’’

Likewise, Mayor Gordon also assigned business woman Iluminada Santos as C0-chairman. She was the treasurer of the 2006 City Fiesta execom.

The newly appointed Execom will organize the other committees needed in planning the different events and activities, not only during the actual fiesta but all year round.

The 2006 City Fiesta through the leadership of Vice Gov. Gordon was able to give one million pesos to the livelihood project and training programs of the Livelihood Cooperative and Development Office (LCDO).

The Philhealth Indigency Program also received P1 million for the hospitalization and medical assistance of the city’s poor residents.

The 2006 Execom also funded the Olongapo Center for Youth with P1M and Php 30,000 for the Olongapo City Government Choir.

As part of the colorful tradition of the city, one of the highlights of the annual City Fiesta is the search for the City Fiesta Queen which aims to raise funds for the different programs of the city for education, health and livelihood. (end)


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Monday, June 22, 2009


Copies of the Comprehensive Barangay Profile (CBP) at the seventeen (17) barangays in the city have been turned-over to Olongapo Mayor James ‘’Bong’’ Gordon, Jr.

The seventeen (17) barangay chairmen, assisted by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) City Director Eliseo de Guzman, handed the hard bound copies of the CBP to Mayor Gordon during the flag raising ceremony of city officials and employees on June 22, 2009 at Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center.

“Ang CBP ang magsisilbing bibliya ng bawat barangay. This will be the primary source of information about the barangay community and to the potential entrepreneurs as a basis for their major decisions for gainful business opportunity,’’ said Mayor Gordon.

DILG City Dir. de Guzman stressed that Olongapo is pioneering in the CBP implementation in the country. “Ang Comprehensive Barangay Profile (CBP) ng Olongapo ay ang kauna-unahan sa Pilipinas kaya maipag-mamalaki natin ito. Ang mga barangay ng Olongapo lamang ang naka-kompleto na ngayon ng CBP sa bansa kaya masasabi ko rin na dumaan ito sa ‘butas ng karayom bago natapos.’’’

He also pointed-out the importance of CBP in providing factual basis for planning and decision making in the delivery of public service of the barangay. It provides the general characteristics, demography, social, cultural and economic dimensions, its potentials as well as its weaknesses.

Meanwhile, Olongapo City Public Library Administrator Elizabeth Daduya also received copies of the CBP. ‘’Magagamit ang CBP ng mga kababayan natin na nais malaman ang history ng kanilang barangay, magtungo lamang sila sa Public Library,’’ said Daduya.

DILG-Olongapo City launched and initiated the project to develop a comprehensive profile of all the seventeen (17) barangays of the city through the search for the best and most comprehensive barangay profile, winners of the search are guaranteed cash incentives from the city government and trophies/plaques of recognition from the DILG.

Mayor Bong Gordon with the city’s barangay chairmen, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) City Director Eliseo de Guzman, City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) Head Engr. Marivic Nierras and City Public Library Administrator Elizabeth Daduya during the turn-over of the hard bound copies of the CBP at the flag raising ceremony of city officials and employees on June 22, 2009 at Rizal Triangle Multi-Purpose Center.


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers Day Special: Who's afraid of Dick Gordon?

60 MINUTES: How much information can you get out of a 60-minute interview? The Students and Campuses Bulletin puts this idea to the test as it interviews notable Filipinos about their lives, their philosophies, and their achievements, all within the self-imposed time limit. 60 Minutes aims to teach, inform and inspire today’s Filipino youth.

Interview by: Rachel C. Barawid, Ina R. Hernando, Jaser A. Marasigna, Ivy Lisa F. Mendoza. Photos by: Pol Briana, Jr.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Students & Campuses Section
Manila Bulletin

He may be tough and gung-ho leader that people know him to be, but strip him of every position, accolade or achievement that he has ever attained, Senator Richard Gordon is first and foremost a dedicated dad, a loving father, and a proud son.

Gordon has come face-to-face with the biggest tragedies and calamities, or even tough political issues, but he is not ashamed to admit that he still breaks down and cries at the memory of his father James Leonard Gordon who was assassinated during his term as first mayor of Olongapo in Zambales.

“It was very hard coping with that tragedy. It’s still here. I still cry. I only cry for two things, my father and my country. You never forget your parents. When you talk about your father the way he died, talagang tatamaan ka dun. So you teach your children and grandchildren that.

You make your own history. You don’t want your family’s history to end with you. You want it to begin with you, to higher heights,” reveals the 63 year old solon.

Despite those melancholy moments, Gordon makes sure he passes on the lessons he learned – starting from his great grandfather Col. Jose Tagle, a revolutionary hero whose bravery freed Cavitenos against the Spaniards in the Battle of Imus; and of course, his father who gave up privileges of being an American to serve his people as a Filipino.

“I’m firm but fair, the same way I am with government, the same way I am with myself. I teach them to live within their means, to respect everybody. Never fear the future. Do not put people in a category. Do not accept fate. Do not accept chance na talagang ganyan ang buhay or wala tayong magagawa. Analyze the situation. You have to lead by example,” he shares.

It may seem out of character for Gordon, a father to four children and lolo to 11 grandchildren, but he is actually the doting and affectionate type who regularly keep track of his kids’ whereabouts and even say “ I love you” on the phone. He explains that this gives his children the assurance that “they’re special people but they are not to be specially treated.”

Gordon has always been active in his endeavors even as a student. But like any ordinary high-schooler, he had his share of mischiefs, neglecting school for parties and movies. For this, he flunked in his sophomore year at the Ateneo, a failure he regrets to this day.

From then on, he strived to become a good leader in school, excelling both in academics and joining in every extra-curricular activity imaginable.

“I was active all the time. I was class president. I taught catechism. I was a sacristan. I was in debating, I was the head cheerleader, part of the track team, active in cub scouts and drum and bugle corps, and an officer at the ROTC. I was everywhere,” he proudly recalls.

This same energy and drive to excel later on brought him to government as the youngest delegate(at age 24) to the 1971 Constitutional Convention even when he was yet to finish his studies as a sophomore law student at the University of the Philippines.

In high school, Sen. Gordon also learned the value of hardwork and perseverance during his summer jobs as waiter, cashier, shoeshine boy and entrepreneur selling teddy bears, love bags, and Zippo lighters.

Armed with perseverance and leadership, Gordon transformed Olongapo from a sin city to a model city when he was mayor for 14 years(1980-1993). He introduced various innovations in local governance. After the dismantlement of the US Military Bases in 1991, he led an army of 8,000 volunteers in making Subic into a premiere investment hub. The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority attracted over 300 investors and provided some 90,000 jobs for Filipinos.

As Secretary of Tourism in 2001, Gordon worked wonders for the then tarnished reputation of the Philippine tourism industry, plagued by kidnappings, damaging travel advisories, the SARS disease and the continued threat of terrorism. He used the same volunteer spirit to inspire a culture of tourism among Filipinos and paved the way for a cultural renaissance in the Walled City of Intramuros. With his “WOW Philippines! More than the Usual!” campaign, tourist arrivals increased; the country was placed back on the world tourism map with him serving as World Tourism Organization(WTO) commissioner for East Asia & the Pacific in 2002 and chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association(PATA) in 2003; and Intramuros became a glittering tourist destination offering the best of the regions’ culture, cuisines and products.

In this 60 Minutes interview, Gordon reveals more of his adventures in the Senate, hi passion for helping people through the Red Cross, his fatherhood style, and grand plans if ever he becomes father of the country.

RICHARD GORDON(RG): Is this for Father’s Day? Father na father na ako eh (laughs proudly). I have 11 grandchildren, eight boys and three girls. The eldest is Leo, eight years old.

RG: Ah no, I’m firm but fair. That’s the way I am with government, the same way I am with myself. W enjoy one another. I teach them values. I’m a very happy grandfather, and father too.

SCB: Do you spend a lot of time together?
RG: Weekends. Or sometimes they spend the night with us. Except with our youngest who is always in Olongapo. We just stay home where I’m at peace. We eat out once in a while or sometimes I take them to the basketball game, nung mga bata pa sila, Ateneo-La Salle. Or when we have time in Subic, we go fishing, boating or swimming.

SCB: How do you teach values in this day and age?
RG: I taught my children to live within their means. They’re taught to respect everybody. So they don’t just say ‘yes,’ they say ‘yes lolo, yes ma’am, yes sir.’ Ganun din kasi ako pinalaki. They just don’t go and get anything without permission. They grew up watching TV for a few hours only. And it shows in the resuts of their schooling.

SCB: And your kids are passing these on to their children?
RG: Yes, yes, just like my kids. Pag aalis sila, they have a self –imposed curfew. They always call every night. Up to now. When they were kids, I would call them every night kasi nasa Olongapo ako, nadito sila sa Manila. So when they go to a party, they have to call first before they go home para I can expect them. When they arrive home they’ll call. They have this sense that they’re special people but they are not to be specially treated.

SCB: Don’t you run out of things to say to each other because you call each other everyday?
RG: No. We just say “I love you” to each other. The call always ends with “I love you.”

SCB: Kids today are no longer that affectionate…
RG: Ngayon? Well my grandchildren are affectionate.

SCB: Aren’t grandparents supposed to be the spoilers?
RG: I don’t live by a category. I never categorize people nor myself. I’m a grandparent, I’m still a father. I don’t father my grandchildren. But when I see something that I don’t agree with, I tell my son, I tell my daughter. I’ll tell them this is the way I think. It’s up to them. One of the best compliments I’ve ever had was when I was out one night and my grandchildren were asked, “Where’s your lolo?” “He’s out helping people at night in the storm.” So they know. You have to lead by example.

SCB: You have set very high standards for yourself and your family. Aren’t you being too harsh on yourself?
RG: You have to be. Otherwise you become a hollow man. What do you live for? To be comfortable? You don’t live forever. You live to respect yourself. When you no longer care, you no longer have a soul. Am I too harsh? Of course not. I exact leadership. I exact character. Some of us don’t demand from ourselves, we don’t demand of our fellowmen. You have to earn respect.

SCB: Did you learn this from your dad?
RG: Yes, of course. My father was unafraid. And he probably learned it from my grandfather. They were both high school graduates, they were successful. They did not have to steal. They work hard. I teach the work ethic. Dika pwedeng tamad pagka-Gordon ka. Dapat masipag ka. Tatay ko, nanay ko masipag.

SCB: What do you remember most about your father?
RG: He was a great man. In spite of the fact that he lacked formal education, he was a high school graduate, my mother was the same thing, I tell my kids that, can you imagine how great he would have been if he studied more.
But he was never afraid to face the challenge of the future. He chose to be Filipino.
That takes a lot. Komportable ka, Amerikano ka, may insurance ka, you belong to the most powerful nation in the world. He chose to be Filipino. All his brothers went to the States. Siya Amerikano pinanganak, mestiso siya, katulad ng kapatid niya. Pinili niya Pilipino and he died a Filipino.
He raised me as Filipino. Why did he do that? Because he had a father who was an American, who loved the Philippines and never went back to America. And his other grandfather, was the first Filipino who won the battle against Spain and saved the revolution. Jose Tagle with Aguinaldo won the battle of Imus. That is his sword there. Jose Tagle won the first battle of the revolution. But nauna sa kanila yung Muslim. Tinalo ni Lapu Lapu.

SCB: What’s the most important lesson you learned from your father?
RG: Never fear the future. Never make fear get in the way of your future.

SCB: In what context was that taught to you?
RG: Well yung buhay niya.Meron siyang paniwala na aayusin niya yung bayan niya. Binabaril, pinapaputukan siya ng Granada, hindi siya tumigil. So when you think of the Gordon na inalis ni Cory, naninindigan, o inalis ni Erap, naninindigan, or lumalaban kay Marcos o tumitindig sa Senado, at hindi pinapalambas yung mga nagungulimbat dito.

SCB: Is this the same lesson you want your kids to learn from you?
RG: Yeah. Sa kanila, siguro hindi naman ako namatay. Ang tatay ko namatay, pwersado ako na magtrabaho sa bayan. Sila nakikita nila, may diin sa kanila yun. I’m never always around, so yung eldest son ko, he doesn’t want to go to politics. He wants to take care of his family. Wala silang yayaaand they bring their kids to school. Tatlong anak niya lalaki, isa lang yaya nila recently lang.

SCB: Was there a time when you were discriminated when you were a boy because you were carrying an American name?
RG: Hindi naman na –discriminate. I would not let anybody discriminate me. Sasabihin nila GI baby ka, suntukan na. (laughs) Pag Kastila yung nagsasabi lumalaban ako talaga. Pag tinanggal yung sumbrero ko, kasi crew cut ako noon, hindi ako pwedeng magpahaba ng buhok, kukunin nila yung sumbrero ko. But look at that, I was in Letran. Look at my desk, all the schools that I attended are there.

SCB: What schools are those?
RG: UP, Ateneo, Letran. Wala lang dyan yung Lourdes, wala pang bandera ang Lourdes.

SCB: But where lies your loyalty?
RG: All of the above. (laughs)

SCB: Safe answer…
RG: No, because they all formed me. Pagpasok ko sa Letran anong sinasabi nila? Aguinaldo was from Letran. Quezon was from Letran. Baka maging presidente ako.

SCB: How were you as a student?
RG: Active all the time, never a doormat. I was class president. I was active in the cub scouts. I was active as drum and bugle corps, grade 1 to 3 yan. I taught catechism. I was a sacristan, Sanctuary Society. I was in debating, I was in ROTCCC, I was an officer. I was everywhere, that’s why I was a hall of famer. I was in the track team. I was head cheerleader.

SCB: Where do you get the drive to excel, then and now?
RG: From my mother who had a lot of energy. She never pushed me, she just showed me by her example. My mother hardly slept. I knew she was trying to get us through school, and my father. So we had our duty when we came home, we had four restaurants, we had theatres, we had a hotel, we had a piggery, we had jeepneys. Very entrepreneurial ang mga magulang ko. I was never in want. I was never in want for anything. But I was always told, you have to keep moving. You have to work. And I’ll go home, maglalagay ako ng comics na binili ko ng grade school ako, or nung high school ako, ilalagay ko sa sampayan. Tatawagan ko yung mga kapitbahay, magsa-shine kami ng sapatos ng Amerikano. Pagpasok sa restaurant namin kami nagsa-shine, eh di kumikita kami. Tapos nag-aarkila sila ng comics, nagbabasa sila. So entrepreneurial ako.
Later on I would sell teddy bears, love bags. I was also barking orders, ‘porter house medium well.’ Tutulungan ko yung mga waiter. Magbabasa ako ng libro, I tell the waiters, alam niyo ang mga waiters, you are the most trusted because noong araw, kaya nagkaroon ng mga waiter ‘yung mga hari, kailangan may magsisilbi ng pagkain, kailangan pagtiwalaan ng hari ‘yun at kailangan magalingdahil mapapahiya yung hari pag balasubas kayong magsilbi. Tinuturo ko sa mga waiter naming yan, kailangan malinis kayo.

SCB: So you held summer jobs?
RG: I worked for my parents. Nagkakakaha ako.

SCB: With pay?
RG: No. nagungupit ako. (laughs) No, pinapaalam ko naman sa tatay ko yan. Kukuha ako ng ganito ha, pag sumobra, tatawagan ako, ang laki naman ng kinuha mo. (laughs) But I was never in want. May pera ako eh. Kumikita ako. Nagpapalit ako ng dollar sa mga waiters. I collected Zippo lighters. Tapos ibebenta ko sa mga classmates ko. Mga USS America, USS Constellation.

SCB: Was there a time na you felt that you failed in something?
RG: Oh yeah.

SCB: How did you deal with it?
RG: The biggest failure in my life was when I repeated second year high school. I love the movies, I love going to parties at that time, and then ang sama ng timing nagbago pa mga teachers. Yung mga Filipino Jesuits pumasok bigla. Pinalitan yung mga Amerikano. They were very demanding.

SCB: Where were you then?
RG: In Ateneo. So when I flunked, that was a big failure. And when you come back to it, it wasn’t really a failure because if you learn from your failures, that’s the time I decided I would be very active in meaningful things. Not just parties. That’s the time that I decided that I will be a very meaningful leader in school.

SCB: What did you parents say when you flunked?
RG: My mother was livid and my father was quiet. Sabi niya I’ll take you to school and I’ll tell you what you’ll do. So nung dinala niya ako sa eskwela, sabi niya, you made a mistake, pick it up. Mag-aral ka, and if you reall try as diligent as you can and can’t get honors, get honors in another way, by being a leader: Ayun, lalo ako naging active sa leadership.

SCB: What was your first ambition?
RG: To be a pilot. (laughs) ‘Yung pari tinatanong ako, sabi ni Father, well your exams show you’re not diligent in Math. I went to take up History and Government. History is my first love. When I graduated, I applied sa Procter and Gamble, Unilever, lahat ‘yan tinanggap ako. Pero nung kumukuha ako ng exams sabi ng mga classmates ko, uy Dick may Math dito, History ka eh, business ito. Tawa-tawa lang ako, mga cum laude sila. I got the job and I got offers from all the companies.

SCB: Which company did you chose?
RG: Procter and Gamble. I handled Tide and Safeguard. I stayed for a year, umalis ako dahil pinatay tatay ko. Sabi ko no, iba na ito. Pinatay na ang father ko.

SCB: How did you cope with the tragedy?
RG: Very hard. It’s still here. I still cry. I only cry for two things, my father and my country. You never forget your parents. When you talk about your father, the way he died, talagang tatamaan ka dun. So you teach your children that. You teach your grandchildren that. You have a great history but your history is not borowing from the. You learn from them, you make your own history. You don’t want your family’s history to end with you. You want it to begin with you, to higher heights.

SCB: In the face of tragedy, nandun ka sa gitna, how do you feel about sa ganun?
RG: I’m the bravest when I’m in the middle of a tragedy. Hindi ako umiikak in the middle of a tragedy. I have to be brave. I have to be strong.

SCB: It seems you have never lost in faith in the Filipino, despite their attitude today…
RG: I have never lost faith in the Filipino because all countries go through a period of strife, of difficulty, of questioning. Can you imagine if you were black in America? Today you have a black American president. If they had lost faith, eh di wala na ‘yan. You never lose faith. Imagine if you were black during the time of Lincoln. How can you lose faith?

SCB: Are you going to run for president?
RG: You know the reason why I am not announcing is because if I announced, lahat ng gagawin ko sasabihin politika. I could be charged with premature campaigning.

SCB: But a lot of them are doing that…
RG: Just because everybody’s killing people, I should start killing people?

SCB: So why aren’t they charged?
RG: Because it’s a very apathetic society. Complacent. Tamad tayo mag-analyze. That’s one of the things I teach my children and my grandchildren. Analyze ninyo lahat. Do not put people in a category. Do not accept fate. Do not accept chance na talagang ganyan and buhay o wala tayong magagawa.
If you analyze the situation tama ba na surveys ang magdidikta kung sino ang iboboto natin? Na susuko na sasabihing huwag na tumakbo ‘tong si (Bayani) Fernando, sila Gordon, (Gilbert) Teodoro dahil hindi sila nagre-rate. Bakit nasuri naba kung ano ang record namin, ang integridad, ang vision?
Ang ibig sabihin porke lamag na sa isang survey dahil nag-aadvertise siya, eh ibig sabihin huwag ka na lumaban? Eh di survey nalang ang gamitin natin sa pagboto. Huwag na tayong gumastos pa ng automated elections, survey na lang naman pala eh.

SCB: But it’s a “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Even your work at Red Cross is being said as politicking…
RG: Ah so 40 years na pala ako namumulitika, kasi 40 years na ko sa Red Cross eh. Sixty years na nanay ko sa Red Cross.

SCB: Para kasing whether you do it or not, people will take it that way…
RG: Ah hindi. Malinaw ako eh. Mapapaliwanag ko yan. Nanalo naman ako as the youngest Con Con delegate, I was only 24 then. Ibig ba sabihin Red Cross ang nagpanalo sa akin? As mayor, Red Cross and nagpanalo sa akin? Hindi ko naman pinagkakalandakan na Red Cross ako eh.
Ang masama dito yung gumagawa ng masama hindi niyo sinisingil, kundi yung gumagawa ng mabuti, yung may track record. Sinisingil ng tao, sinisingil ng media. Pero nakikita ninyo sa ating lipunan may mga tao na manunugal, pumapatay ng tao, pero pag bumanat takot lahat eh.

SCB: So what are you afraid of?
RG: Me? I would be lying to you if I say I’m afraid of nothing. I’m afraid of an immediate threat. But I’m not afraid of a long term threat. I can fix it. Yung bigla na lang lalabas, siyempre…you’re in a plane, baka mag-crash, siyempre matatakot ka.
Am I afraid to run for President? No, I’m not afraid. Am I afraid because I have no money?

SCB: Are you afraid to lose?
RG: No. I think I will win. When I decide to run, I will win. Because masigasig akong mangampanya. Number 29 ako ng tumakbo ako sa Senado. I had no Iglesia ni Cristo, I won number 5. I had no money. Nanghihinayang ba ako? No, I just feel let down by society na nakukuha sila sa pasayaw-sayaw, sa mga slogan na walang ibig sabihin, na hindi sila tumitingin sa kakayahan ng tao. Diba pag mag-aaply ka sa trabaho, ano bang nagawa mo? What is your experience? Where did you go to school? Anong values mo? Saan ka pupunta dito sa kumpanya? What will you contribute to the company? We don’t even ask our people that. Diba malinaw nung nakita niyo ako sa ABS-CBN sa ANC, sinong hero mo? Tatay ko. Hindi naman ako nagpa-pause sa answer ko.

SCB: You have a solid group of volunteers, how are you going to bring this to the natinal level… kasi parang most of the people are apathetic?
RG: Didn’t I win as Senator with those volunteers? The only thing that they have in the Senate that they can claim is marami silang poster, or TV ads. Starting off in the presidency, all this things being equal, mas marami kang pera lamang ka dahil marami kang advertising.
Pero marami rin akong track record at naniniwala ako sa tao. Minsa sinasabi ko, ano bang nangyayari sa bayan natin? Bakit pinapayagan ‘to? And that’s the reason why you’re running. That’s the reason why you will run because you have a people na gusto mong baguhin ang attitude.

SCB: Did you shine in the ANC Forum because of your track record or because you speak so well?
RG: All of the above. You have to communicate. Communication is not verbal exercise. May laman dapat ang sinasabi mo. Wala kang laman kung wala kang nagawa. Hindi sapat yung pinag-aralan mo pag hindi alam gamitin yung pinag-aralan mo. Did you think I shone?

SCB: Yeah… Specially because when you were asked who your hero was, you did not hesitate with your answer while another presidentiable froze and was not able to answer.
RG: I always say that. Pag tinatanong ako kung sinong mga role models ko, sasabihin ko tatay ko, nanay ko. For motivational capabilities si (John) Kennedy at saka si (Ronald) Reagan. For political will, si (Harry) Truman.

SCB: With your track record, you have all the reason to win. But what would make you lose if you run as president?
RG: Kapag ang tao hindi nag-aaral, talo tayo. But then naniniwala ako na nag-aaral sila sa presidency eh. What would make me lose is hindi ko ma-communicate yung message ko na yun.

SCB: So who should be afraid of Dick Gordon?
RG: Yung mga corrupt. Yung mga nang –aabuso. Because if I’m president, you will see action agad. I don’t wait. Kapag may nag-complain sa akin, I call people right away.

SCB: Malilinis ninyo ba yun?
RG: Kaya ko.

SCB: Where do you start?
RG: With myself. Kapag nakita ninyo ako na nagnakaw, magnakaw na kayo.

SCB: Pero alam na ng tao na hindi niyo gagawin yun…
RG: That’s precisely it. Kung sino yung konduktor, kung lazy ang kudukotor, lazy ang tao. Ang tao kasi ide-define mo eh. Ako, I’m going to be honest, you can expect that I will be honest and you know that I will be honest. But I want you to be honest and I want you to be a watcher. People can call me on this phone and I don’t know them. They ask for blood, they ask for help in hospitals, they ask “Yung anak ko na OFW kunin ninyo.” And you don’t see that on TV but I do that everyday.
Heto tignan ninyo yung phone ko (hands the phone over to SCB staff). I’m the Red Cross chairman and they report to me. That’s the kind of presidency that I will have. They are required to tell their chairman kung ano ang nangyayari. It could be a landslide in Compastela Valley and if they don’t report kung ano ang nangyayari in their area and I find out, lagot sila.

SCB: Tech-savvy po ba kayo?
RG: No, I hate it.

SCB: So how do you relax?
RG: I relax while am working. Ngayon relaxed ako. (laughs)

SCB: Which books do you read?
RG: I am now reading “House of War: The Pentagon and the Disastrous Rise of American Power,” by James Caroll, it’s 600 plus pages, ganyan kakapal.

SCB: Do you have time to watch movies?
RG: Not lately. Sa bahay na lang kami nagdi-DVD ni Kate.

SCB: Hindi naman pirated?
RG: Hindi, I’m a lawyer of the industry. (laughs)

SCB: Ano yung guilty pleasures ninyo?
RG: That’s for me to know and for you to discover. (laughs)

SCB: Among the many hats that you wore, what’s the most fulfilling?
RG: Red Cross. Wala naman akong sweldo dyan eh but I enjoy doing it. Like my mother who is still with the Red Cross. Yung mga taong nagmamahal sa akin kasi they know that no one is high or low, we help period. Nobody will be left behind.

SCB: Briefly what kind of president will you be?
RG: Hardworking, focused, fast, friendly, flexible, forward-looking president.

SCB: Puro “F” yun ah.
RG: That’s a slogan, that’s me. I’ll be a teaching-president. I will enable and enoble you, this country. Ako sometimes, I ask myself how I am different. Sila nagngangapa pa sila kung ano ang sasabihin, ako you ask me, I’ll answer right away. No pausing, no “ah…” walang plastic. Ako, I tend to cry. Naiiyak ako minsan eh. I watch a movie, I cry. Is that a sign of weakness? No, it’s a sign that you are human.

SCB: Do you have regrets?
RG: Kapag tapos na, I don’t. I don’t dwell on it. I don’t dwell on what could have beens. Of course I have regrets but I don’t dwell on it. Do I regret being a Filipino? Do I regret my father choosing to be a Filipino? Can I do that? There’s no time for that. I meet with my staff and I tell them, “Quit na tayo. Gusto ko mag-quit eh.” I’m just saying that because sometimes I’m perplexed. This country wants change and yet kapag nag-survey ang mga iboboto nila yung mga bobo! And am not saying that because I’m not rating but because I don’t know if these are real surveys. How can you trust that?
Ano regret ko? Na wala akong pera? Can I blame my parents? We’ve had enough. Should I tell myself, “Sorry, hindi ka kasi nagpa-smuggling eh.” And I tell you this, I don’t think I should spend my own money to campaign. Magnanakaw lang ako eh.

SCB: So what are your dreams for the country?
RG: I have many dreams for this country.
First of all, I want every Filipino to be assured that when they work someday, they have enough to send their kids to school, they have enough for their insurance, they have enough to retire on. That’s a dream, a real dream, an aspiration and it will take time.

I want this country to be proud of itself. I want this country to stand tall, be respected because we have earned it. That’s my dream, enable, enoble, yung hindi tayo pala-hingi, hindi pala-asa. For the country, you have to be a stakeholder. How can I best make the Pasig clean? If I show them that there is a nice walkway and there are businesses out there that they can earn income from. And they will say “Dapat pangalagaan natin huwag nating bastusin.” And that’s how to build a country.

There will always be pain in this life and you have to alleviate human suffering, that’s a Red Cross motto. Uplift human dignity... You cannot give that unless they know I have dignity and I have earned that.

Look at this place(referring to his office), everywhere you look, Knights of the Round Table - there’s a higher goal, a lofty goal, use might for right, hindi might is right, but might for right. Don Quixote De La Mancha – a book and a sword, a dreamer because he thinks of the way how it should be. That’s me, that’s what I want your children to be. Because without that aspiration, you are not a human being. You are created by the Lord to be better than what you think you are.

Aim high, you have the power. Bawal ang Tamad. Lalong bawal ang Tanga. You should have a sense of duty, don’t be waited on. Duty first. You have to have dignity, you have to have determination. Those are my slogans. Self-help, self-reliance.

So do you expect me to give them money? No, because if I give you money, I have power over you. But if you earn it, you have dignity.

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Ocean energy project eyed in Zambales

Deep Ocean Power Philippines, a unit of California-based Deep Ocean Power, is conducting studies on at least 36 sites for possible ocean power sources.

These sites are in Panay, Negros, Laoag, Zambales, Mindoro, Isabela, and parts of Mindanao.

Said potential sites stretch 21,450 hectares however the areas subject to verification under the prescribed blocking of system of the Department of Energy.

Deep Ocean is currently engaged in the business of using ocean thermal energy conversion which makes use of the temperature differential between the warm surface waters of the oceans, heated by solar radiation, and the deeper cold waters to generate electricity.

In Western Visayas, the DOE is looking for investors to develop a 100-megawatt ocean thermal energy resource potential in San Jose, Antique.

The said 100-MW project would cost US$ 250 million. Asia Pulse Data Source via COMTEX

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SBMA awaits court order for subic casino closure

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Zambales, Philippines—A court order is the only thing keeping a group of hotels in this free port from being closed down due to accumulated debts, according to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

Administrator Armand Arreza said the SBMA has not yet stopped the operations of Legend International Resorts Ltd., which owns and operates three hotels—Legenda Hotel, Grand Seasons Hotel, and Legenda Suites.

But Arreza said Legend, a Hong Kong-registered company, has accumulated debts amounting to about P877 million.

He said the SBMA was pushing the closure for “nonpayment of lease and casino fees.”

In 2006, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the government agency responsible for regulating casino operations in the country, closed the Legenda Casino and cancelled its gaming license after its operator failed to pay the government more than P365 million in gaming franchise, it was learned.

The closure came after a Pagcor special audit team discovered that Legend was charging expenses of its hotels to the casino operations, “thus, causing artificial net loss,” a Pagcor statement said.

About 200 casino personnel were affected by the closure, but the hotels remain operational.

Arreza said the firm had not been paying the lease and casino fees since 2000. “The company is already under liquidation,” he said.

A Hong Kong court in 2006 appointed a liquidator, Kevin Flynn, for the Legend group at the Subic Bay Freeport. Flynn announced in July 2006 the termination of the services of Khoo Boo Boon as chief executive officer of Legenda Hotel.

Flynn, who was tasked with helping the Legend group regain its profitability and save the jobs of more than 1,500 employees, appointed a new management and operations team.

Since then, the company has been the subject of “suits and countersuits, which merely delayed the inevitable,” an SBMA source said. By Robert Gonzaga - iNQUIRER Central Luzon Desk

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