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(Photo from Instagram | @garciajoshuae)


Is it for the reel or for real?


The poser is addressed to actress Julia Barretto and movie co-star Joshua Garcia.


At a time when their movie, “ Love You to the Stars and Back,” were being promoted, they came forward with the admission that they are now “romantically tied” with each other.


Interviewed by top showbiz show host Boy Abunda on ABS-CBN, Julia, who is getting attention for her role in the top-rating series on the network “A Love to Last,” made her admission of her relationship with her co-star.


Julia, the daughter of actress Marjorie Barretto and actor Dennis Padilla, admitted that she like Joshua for courting her the old way and she has been happy with him since they started their relationship.


In fact, Boy Abunda made her choose between Joshua and Ronnie Alonte, her partner in the tv series “A Love to Last,” and she readily selected her movie partner Joshua.


Earlier, in an interview with the entertainment press, Julia was also put the spot by asking her to choose between her "A Love To Last" co-star Ronnie Alonte and her big-screen leading man Joshua Garcia.


Julia, now 20, whose real name is Julia Francesca Barretto Baldivia, also picked Joshua over Ronnie.


"Everything is real," said Julia in another intervie on her romantic ties with Joshua.


Incidentally, Ronnie is now linked to former "Pinoy Big Brother" housemate Loisa Andalio.


"I'm going to pick Joshua because Ronnie has a different love to last," Claudine said during an ABS-CBN press conference on the top rating series “A Love to Last.”


Interviewed on ABS-CBN’s "Tonight With Boy Abunda," Julia revealed their honest and genuine feelings for each other make it easier for their tandem to emit a natural chemistry that strikes their fans. 


"It's hard to fake. It's hard to pretend. 'Yon ang hindi ko kayang gawin," she told the tv host.


Julia added she has  given Joshua "exclusive rights" to date her, which means she is no longer available to entertain other suitors.  


"If you feel something for the person already, siyempre, you give the person also the exclusive rights," she added. 


According to Barretto, it's now just a matter of time before she says "yes" to the young heartthrob, whom she believes to have already proven himself. 


"Sa totoo lang, if I'm being honest, wala naman nang kailangang gawin. It's just a matter of time. It will just happen, but he doesn't really have to prove anything anymore," she said. 

The two stars’ network reported that Joshua has admitted that while he liked Julia even before they worked on “Vince and Kath and James,” it was only in January this year that he started courting the actress.


“Sobra kong nae-enjoy 'yung presence niya and sobra niya akong napapasaya. May mga scenes nga kaming ginawa ni direk na mga heavy scenes na hindi ko magawa kasi masaya talaga [ako kasama siya]. Napapasaya niya ako ng sobra,” he said in an ABS-CBN report.


If they were to go on a road trip, Joshua said he would love to bring Julia to his hometown in Batangas so that the actress can finally meet his relatives and friends.


Despite confessing his feelings for the young actress, Joshua said he’s still afraid to ask her to be his girlfriend.


“Puwede siyang mag hindi. Kasi sa ngayon, 'yung trabahong pumapasok sa amin, ang hirap sayangin. Nakakatakot kasi talagang magtanong. Kasi parang lahat naman tayo natatakot tayong ma-reject,” he said.


Julia, for her part, shared that she would not have allowed Joshua to court her if she doesn’t like him.


“Siyempre pinayagan ko siya manligaw kasi siyempre may gusto rin naman talaga sa kanya,” she said blushing, according to the ABS-CBN report.


Julia said she also doesn’t feel that there would be a problem if ever they officially become a couple.


“If I’m being very honest, I’ve learned to prioritize my work but he’s become such an important person in my life and it’s not like nakakasagabal siya sa trabaho ko. So I don’t see any problem naman kung if ever, pagsabayin 'yun,” she said.


It also makes Julia happy that her family accepts Joshua for who he is.


“Very well loved naman siya by my family, very well accepted kaya nakakatuwa din naman para sa akin,” she said.


In fact, Barretto’s mother Marjorie was also present at the press conference and she expressed her support for the two.


“Kung sino ang gusto ng anak ko, doon ako. Basta happy at protective sa mga anak ko, okay na ako. Basta inspired,” Marjorie said.


Asked what quality of Garcia does she personally like, Marjorie said: “Nakikita ko kasi very makapamilya siya. Important sa amin 'yun. He likes being with our family. Parang he looks like a good son. Pero hindi ko pa nami-meet ang family.”


Barretto and Garcia call each other “Baba” but they decided not to disclose the reason behind it.


“Love you to the Stars and Back” hits theaters nationwide starting August 30.

AFP and President Duterte

Published in Editorial & Other Articles

There is a shadowy group allegedly composed of soldiers and policemen calling for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte.


The group calls itself the "Patriotic and Democractic Movement" (PADEM) and claims that the Chief Executive committed "gross crimes in betrayal of public trusts and in violation of national sovereignty and democractic rights of the the Filipino people."


The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police immediately categorically denied the recent statement issued by the group that pretends to be representative of the men and women of the AFP and the PNP and came out in support of the Chief Executive.


 AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that the entire AFP supports the constitutionally mandated government and unequivocally supports the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief.


"The accusations and issues cited by the group are unfounded and uncalled for. Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to," Padilla stressed, adding that current developments and issues that the group wishes to take advantage of are now being addressed by the Department of Justice and parties to a possible crime are now under detention.


"Let us respect these processes and not allow ourselves to be used by individuals or groups with vested interests. We appeal for sobriety, reason and patience as we await the results of these processes," the AFP spokesperson added.


As the constitutionally mandated protectors of the people, the AFP should stand by the law abiding citizens whenever necessary and should not countenance forces who undermine the stability and security of the country and those who wish to destabilize the nation thru unconstitutional means. Whatever their grievances, the group and the public in general should respect the apolitical stance of the military and help bring unity and healing instead of fomenting divisiveness and collapse.

Henry Sy leads PHL's richest list in Forbes mag

Published in Business

MAKATI CITY — Henry Sy Sr. of the SM malls, BDO Universal Bank and other businesses continues to be the Philippines’ richest man in 2017, the 10th year in a row.


This is shown in a report of Forbes Asia magazine which listed also the other wealthy Filipinos, including newcomers to the top 50 list. 

The 92-year-old property and banking tycoon increased his net worth  to $18 billion this year from $13.7 billion in 2016 due to good business under the Duterte administration.


Sy, who also operates malls in China, and his family are also into casino, hotels, condominiums and community development, supermarkets and lately plans to buy the well-known bakeshop and eatery Goldilocks. 

Sy, who started his fortune in a small store of shoes called Shoe Mart in the Quiapo district in Manila, holds a 54 percent stake in SM Investments. 

John Gokongwei Jr., 91, founder of JG Summit Corp., is the second richest Filipino in the Forbes listing with a net worth of $5.5 billion. This is $1.3 billion lower than his $6.8 billion net worth last year. 


Gokongwei controls Robinsons Malls, Cebu Pacific, Go Hotels. condominiums, a bank and other businesses.


Enrique Razon Jr., at No. 3, has a net worth of $4.3 billion, higher by $800 million than his last year’s wealth of $3.5 billion. The 57-year-old Spanish-Filipino tycoon is chairman of port operator International Container Terminal Services (ICTS) which has global investments. 

Forbes said in a statement an infrastructure push by the Philippine government has been particularly favorable for some construction and property development tycoons on the list. 

Based on the list, seven of the 10 biggest dollar gainers have sizable interests in construction and property development. 

These include construction tycoon David Consunji (No. 6, $3.68 billion), chairman of DMCI Holdings, and Ramon Ang (No. 10, $2.3 billion) of San Miguel, who nearly doubled his wealth due largely to a favorable initial public offering by his cement company, Eagle Cement. 

Megawide Construction cofounders Michael Cosiquien (No. 29, $385 million) and Edgar Saavedra (No. 31, $375 million) also saw their wealth rise by more than 45 percent, buoyed by a 30 percent uptick in the shares of the 20-year-old company, which handles construction of schools, Mactan-Cebu International Airport and the country’s first intermodal transportation hub. 

Others on the list did not fare as well, Forbes said, as half of the country’s top 50 tycoons saw their net worth fall. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange index was virtually flat over the past year and the peso slumped against the US dollar on a surge in imports, taking a toll on the wealth of the Philippines’ richest.  

Lucio Tan (No. 4, $4.2 billion), whose LT Group has interests in tobacco, spirits, banking and property development, saw his fortune shrink by $700 million from $4.9 billionlast year. 

While Edgar Sia II (No. 21, $820 million) enjoyed a surge in his net worth last year, his wealth fell by 32 percent this year as shares of his DoubleDragon Properties retreated. 

Net worth of Alfredo Yao (No. 25, $600 million) was down 26 percent as shares in his soft drink maker Macay Holdings dipped 21 percent on news of an impending raise in taxes on sugary drinks. 

Making his debut on the list is Eusebio Tanco (No. 45, $150 million). Shares of his key asset STI Education Systems Holdings soared 136 percent over the past year, due to an expanding demand for courses in fields such as information and communications technology, and business and management. 

There are two returnees to the list this year – Walter Brown (No. 43, $160 million) and Philip Ang (No. 50, $120 million) both returned to the list after a one-year hiatus.


In defense of Philippine sovereignty

Published in Perry Scope

Recently, Sandy Cay, a sandbar near Pag-Asa Island, a Philippine territory in the Kalayaan Group of Islands in the Spratlys, became the center of contention between President Rodrigo Duterte and Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.  


In a statement released to the press, Carpio said Chinese Navy ships and other vessels have encroached in the Sandy Cay’s 12-nautical mile territorial waters. “In short, Sandy Cay is a Philippine land territory that is being seized, to put it mildly, or being invaded, to put it frankly, by China,” he said. 


Carpio was referring to information that Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano disclosed from his sources in the military stating that China has deployed two frigates, one Coast Guard vessel, and two large fishing vessels, with their maritime militia, within three miles of Pag-Asa Island.


Carpio said President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano have the constitutional duty to defend and protect Philippine territory. “The very least that they could do now is to vigorously protest this invasion of Philippine territory by China,” Carpio said. “If both are courageous, they should send a Philippine Navy ship to guard Sandy Cay and if the Chinese Navy ships attack the Philippine Navy vessel, they should invoke the Philippine-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT).”  MDT is a 1951 treaty that binds the two countries to come to the aid of each other if attacked.

“If Sandy Cay becomes Chinese territory, it will reduce by a third or more Pag-asa’s territorial sea, depending on how large a reclaimed area China will create out of Sandy Cay,” Carpio said.  “It will also prevent the Philippines from extending the territorial sea of Pag-asa to include Subi (Zamora) Reef.”  


National security

But National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. – a retired four-star general – defended his boss, saying: “China has not seized sandbars in Pag-Asa Atoll. There should be no alarm on that, as long as they don’t occupy any of the sandbars. There are many Chinese as well as Vietnamese fishing boats in and near Pag-Asa Island.”  That’s very strange because of his military background and key role in the “national security” of the country, he should be the first to come to the defense of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Instead, he capitulated.

And to add insult to an injury, Foreign Secretary Cayetano defended China’s incursion – nay, invasion – of Sandy Cay.  He reportedly said, “The presence of [Chinese] ships alone does not mean anything. … There [are] reasons for certain presence of certain vessels, but the situation in the area is very stable. There is no situation there that is a cause of lowering mutual trust between all of the claimants at this point in time.”  Which makes one wonder: where did he get his training or experience in foreign affairs and diplomacy?  From what is understood, his appointment as Foreign Secretary was his reward  -- “consuelo de bobo’ – for his blind loyalty to Duterte when he ran and lost as Duterte’s vice presidential running mate in the 2016 elections.  But rewarding him for his unquestioned loyalty is one thing; but putting him in charge of the country’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world is, to put it mildly, irresponsible.


But it was the commander-in-chief himself who surrendered control of Sandy Cay to the Chinese.  “China assured me [Duterte] that they will not build anything there. I called the Ambassador [when I read the news]. He said, ‘We will assure you that we are not building anything there.’ Why would they risk invading a sandbar and get into a quarrel with us? [What will they get out of it?]  But didn’t the Chinese promise that they will not militarize the artificial islands they built around seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago – on Philippine territory?  

But the most ridiculous – and downright stupid – reaction came from no less than Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Joel Garcia who said, “As what the Secretary of Foreign Affairs [Cayetano] mentioned earlier, if it does not affect our sovereignty, specifically the areas where we have sovereign rights, I don’t think the Chinese vessels are violating international law.” I can’t believe that the top honcho of the Coast Guard who is in charge of defending the country’s territory has no idea what “sovereignty” and “sovereign rights” mean.   


Silence is deafening


With all this hullabaloo going on, the ultimate guardians of the country’s territory, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (a retired three-star general) and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año (a four-star general) are uncharacteristically quiet.  Why the quietude?  Which makes one wonder: are they under a gag order? 


Indeed, their silence is deafening except for the AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, who has the unenviable “PR” job of justifying the unjustifiable.  In response to a reporter’s question at a Malacañang press conference, he said: “We will work to clarify all of these things [at] the bilateral consultative mechanism,” which is the regular dialogue between the Philippines and China, covering various issues, including territorial disputes.  My reaction? Hahaha… 


But I really feel sorry for Padilla, who is paid to do a “snow job.”  But if he does well in defending the indefensible, he just might earn his second star and move up the food chain.  But at whose expense?


Indeed, the military is virtually grounded, with no apparent contingency plan to defend Philippine territory.  With no warships and an air force that consists of a few trainer fighter planes, the country is at the mercy of China.  Duterte admits it and China knows it.  All Duterte can do was curse, “Putang ina! Na-leche na naman tayo ng Tsina!”  [Son of a whore!  China screwed us again!] 


The same is true with the nationalist and leftist groups, who are akin to the “three mystic monkeys” – “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” An example of which was when a U.S. Navy drone, believed to be used for reconnaissance, was recovered in waters off Masbate in central Philippines in January 2013.  It didn’t take too long for Filipino protesters to gather near the U.S. Embassy in Manila to denounce the U.S. government for violating the country’s sovereignty.


In contrast, the Philippine government’s silence on the Chinese invasion of Sandy Cay demonstrates its lack of resolve to protect Philippine territory from foreign invasion.  Duterte’s reason for not confronting Chinese incursion into Philippine territory is that he saw no reason for the Philippines to go to war with China over a disputed sandbar in the West Philippine Sea. 


“Why should I defend a sandbar and kill Filipinos because of a sandbar? China assured me that they would not build anything there,” Duterte said during a press briefing in Malacañang. Well, it’s just a sandbar; however, China can build a militarized artificial island like it did with seven reefs and shoals a few years ago.


But didn’t he realize that Philippine-U.S. MDT covers attack on Philippine warships wherever they may be, including international waters?  It is for this reason that China couldn’t attack or expel the BRP Sierra Madre – an old dilapidated World War II-vintage U.S. LST vessel, which was deliberately grounded at the Ayungin Shoal in the Spratlys to serve as the Philippine Marines’ outpost to assert Philippine sovereignty over the region.    


In my article, “What price sovereignty?” (January 20, 2014), I wrote: “Would the Philippines disallow American military presence needed to protect the sovereignty that we hold so dearly? But without U.S. presence, our sovereignty would be exposed to Chinese imperialistic advances. It’s a dilemma that the Philippines has to grapple with. Simply put, the Philippines cannot have it both ways. Sometimes you got to give a little to gain strategic advantage.”


Isn’t it time that we assert sovereignty over what is rightfully ours?


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