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BIG WINNERS. Cindy Dumol, representing Roxas City, Capiz, and Dennis Frias Malones, representing Bulacan province, pose for a photo opportunity as winners of Mr. & Ms. Republic of the Philippines 2018 during the coronation night at the Sofitel Hotel. The winners will tour around the country and Filipino communities abroad to encourage them to visit the Philippines and help their countrymen. 



PASAY CITY – Filipina beauty titlist and philanthropist Excelsa de Jesus bagged the Miss Republic of the Philippines (RP) International crown on a coronation night last week at the Sofitel Hotel here.


De Jesus won the Miss Philippines America in 2016 in the United States where she was also bestowed the title Ambassador of Tourism to the Philippines.


De Jesus, a barista in New York, represented the Big Apple in the just concluded Mr. and Ms. Republic of the Philippines pageant in Manila.


De Jesus often used her spare time to support charities and assist in their programs. She earlier went on a mission trip to give hygiene kits to children in Cebu, Palawan, Estancia, Iloilo, and Bohol.


She bested other contestants coming from the US, Canada, Melbourne, and Perth, Australia.


Excelsa De Jesus, representing New York City, bags the Ms. Republic of the Philippines-International 2018 title during the coronation night at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.. For the past two years, De Jesus has been conducting fund raising activities to help empower the sick and needy Filipino youths. The pageant, which was revived in 2015, aims to promote local tourism. 



Cindy Marriah Dumol, meanwhile, bagged the Ms. RP title and was crowned by her predecessor Fermira Dianne Ramos, who won the previous crown in 2015.


Ms. Davao City Thamara Alexandria Pacursa won Ms. RP Luzon, while Ms. Caloocan City Patricia Mae Baratilla bagged Ms. RP Visayas and Ms. Laguna Chariss Jedidiah Gusay won Ms. RP Mindanao.


Bulacan candidate Dennis Frias Malones Jr. bagged the Mr. RP title.


Mr. RP Luzon was won by John Carlo Morales from Bataan, Mr. RP Visayas was bagged by Lipa City Jay Lester Abrenica and Mr. RP Mindanao was won by Taguig City candidate Jedryk Costes.


Bataan candidate Morales also bagged the Mr. RP Friendship award, while the Ms. RP Friendship award was won by Marinel Dizon from Muntinlupa City.


Named most photogenic candidates were Mr. Taguig City Jedryk Costes and Ms. Quezon Province Ma. Beatrix Panganiban.


Morales also won in the evening wear category, while his female counterpart was Panganiban.


For the Barong Tagalog and Pormang Terno categories, Mr. Jerome Vasquez from Batangas and Ms. April Liban from Isabela won, respectively.


The Ms. Republic of the Philippines was first staged in 1969, with the past winners serving as the representatives of the country at the Miss World pageant.


The representation, however, lasted until 1976, when the Ms. World franchise was transferred to Mutya ng Pilipinas. It also had a hiatus in 1978 and was only revived in 2015, with the aim to promote local tourism. 


Alden Richards finalist in New York festival

Published in Entertainment



(Photo from Instagram | @aldenrichards02)


The Alden Richards starrer "Alaala" got a finalist nod on the Docudrama at the 2018 New York Festivals. 


The TV special, which is set during the Martial Law period, features the life of human rights activist Bonifacio Ilagan, whose life is dedicated to advance the causes of the people especially during the oppressive times of the Marcos regime.


When the TV special aired, it stirred a lot of controversy online because Marcos apologists claimed it was just a political propaganda. However, historical assessment would help people understand how cruel that era actually was.


GMA Network, for its part, earned praises for being brave particularly in this time when it is not necessarily desirable to side with the people because of prevalent political atrocities happening everywhere when it produced and aired "Alaala."


In "Alaala," Richards proved his worth as an actor by playing a risky role. His superstar status of being a matinee idol could be endangered by playing in an extremely political project. 


However, Richards portrayed Ilagan with absolute acting prowess. He showed that mainstream actors, no matter how boxed they may be in imagined stereotypes, could contribute to nationalist awakening.


It was not only Richards who was commended in the project. His co-stars Rocco Nacino, Bianca Umali and Gina Alajar were also praised for their effective portrayals. 


"Alaala," in way or the other, is a testament to the power of television to influence people to valid political causes.


"Alaala" reaped great reviews and good ratings. It only goes to show that the dark chapter of Philippine history is still remembered by the present generation. "Alaala" was megged by award-winning director Adolfo Alix, Jr. and Rember Gelera. It was produced by GMA News and Public Affairs.


"Alaala" was written by Palanca awardee Bonifacio “Boni” Ilagan himself and produced as a TV special to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines in September 21, 1972.


The short film follows the journey of Bonifacio as he recalls his days as an idealistic youth and his eventual capture and torture under the hands of the Philippine Constabulary.


Supplementing the short film, a documentary was also be produced to show behind the scenes clips and interviews from personalities who experienced Martial Law atrocities first hand. It also featured Richards, a self-professed millennial, in interviews sharing the lessons he learned from Boni’s past, and why Filipinos should never forget what happened in the darkest years of the nation.


The 2018 New York Festivals honors the world’s best TV and film projects in over 50 countries. For this year, other than "Alaala," GMA Network received 11 more finalist nods for the programs: "State of the Nation with Jessica Soho," "Front Row," "Reel Time," " I-Witness," "Brigada" and "Reporters Notebook." Jessica Soho also earned a nod as Best Anchor.


Alden, 26, is Richard Reyes Faulkerson, Jr. in real life who was born in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna. His father was half American whose father was an American who Alden never met personally.


 Aside from being an actor, Alden is a television host with "Eat Bulaga," a model and commercial endorser.  He is known for being the other half of the phenomenal love team “AlDub” with Maine Mendoza.


Alden played roles and appearances in programs and films such as Alakdana, My Beloved, One True Love, Indio, Bingit, Mundo Mo’y Akin, Teen Gen, Carmela, Ilustrado, Juan Tamad, Encantadia, Destined To Be Yours, Ang Panday 2, The Road, Sosy Problems, Imagine You and Me, and a lot more.  (John Mycal Feraren/Claire Delfin Media Service)


Koreans’ quest for reconciliation

Published in Perry Scope

In a gesture of friendship, South Korean President Moon Jae-in hosted a luncheon for Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un after the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.  It was the most significant diplomatic encounter between the two Koreas in many years.


Their meeting was preceded by another event, when dignitaries from around the world assembled at the Olympic Stadium’s VIP box.  In the box sat twelve world leaders and their spouses, who included U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, North Korea’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong Nam, and Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un’s sister. The presence of Ms. Kim signals a thawing of tensions between the two Koreas.


Interestingly, Pence who was seated on the front row with his wife Karen to his right, was just a few feet away from Kim Yo-jong who was seated on the second row right behind Mrs. Pence, an arm’s length away from Pence.  It was reported in the news that Pence seemed to have made no effort to acknowledge her. It’s interesting to note that by not acknowledging her presence, it is considered a “snub” – an insult in Asian cultures.  It certainly would have earned Pence – and by extension, the United States – some respect had he simply nodded to acknowledge her presence.  It was a diplomatic faux pas, which Pence could have avoided with a smile.   But as it turned out, he coldly ignored her and watched the entire show with a stiff neck.


Missed opportunity


What could have been a great opportunity to start a new chapter in U.S.-North Korea relations, Pence’s seemingly arrogant stance had doused any prospect to jump start bilateral talks between the two countries… or even better, a trilateral negotiation including South Korea.   It could also open the door for the inclusion of China in future talks, particularly the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  But to convince North Korea to abandon her nuclear program would be an exercise in futility.  It would be like telling a little boy to throw his marbles away.  No way!


But as North Korea grows up and matures into a more responsible society, the notion of peaceful coexistence between the two Koreas gains viability.  But first, the two Koreas must end the state of war that they’re in since the Korean Armistice was signed in 1953.   


Korean Reunification


But a final peace agreement has yet to be achieved, not with the current political situation.  And for it to evolve into a détente between the two Koreas, they must demonstrate that they’re willing to sit down and discuss the issues that have driven a wedge between them.  The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would have offered that opportunity.  For the first time in 65 years, the two nations joined together in an Olympics parade as One Korea.  And proudly beaming with a smile, South Korean President Moon seemed to be enjoying playing host. Surely, he is looking at the Winter Olympics as an opportunity to re-establish bilateral talks with North Korea.


Although it’s too soon to talk about reunification without inciting protests from South Korean conservatives -- who have been critical of the use of the Unification Flag – the timing for such an overture fits perfectly well.  The conservatives claimed that the Reunification Flag has undermined South Korea’s “big moment” as host to the Olympics.  


Generational loyalty


Incidentally, the conservatives used to be avowedly pro-reunification.  However, over the years, their numbers dwindled, which paradoxically is indicative of generational loyalty; that is, younger generations of South Koreans identify themselves distinctly different from North Koreans.  To them, the concept of “One Korea” and “shared nationalism” is fading away. As one South Korean think tank researcher said, “The more and more we move to younger generations, the idea that we are one people is disappearing.”  A recent survey by RealMeter showed that only four out of 10 South Koreans favored the idea of the two Koreas flying the Unification Flag at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.  By contrast, a similar poll conducted in 2002 showed 76% of South Koreans approved of flying the Reunification Flag during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.


While South Korean “nationalism” may be a major factor in blocking any attempt to reunify the two Koreas, “family reunification” has a strong emotional pull in bringing the two Koreas under one government in an open society.  It’s hard to imagine how this could be achieved with North Korea ruled by an authoritarian government in a communist society, while South Korea, by contrast, is governed democratically in a capitalistic free market economy.  South Korea is one of the richest countries in the world, while North Korea is a pauper state.  


Unifying the two Koreas


Politics aside, it would be ideal to unify the two Koreas under the South Korean model simply because the union would have a better chance of thriving.  It would bring progress to the lives of 25.6 million North Korean.  If unification is to be done under a North Korean government, what do you think would happen to the lives of the 51.1 million South Koreans who would be forcibly integrated into a repressive communist society?


But the problem with unifying the two Koreas under a South Korean government is that China would most likely object to such union.  There is just no way that China would agree to letting go of North Korea, which has served as a buffer zone to China’s eastern flank.  And with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that North Korea could use to threaten South Korea, Japan, and America’s western periphery, the U.S. nuclear defense umbrella is weakened.


But China’s objection to a unified Korea under a South Korean government is not the only problem.   Although the U.S. must appear to favor “One Korea” under a South Korean government, the U.S. could be taking a political risk because once a unified Korea is achieved under a South Korean government, there is no assurance that South Korea’s defense alliance with the U.S. would survive in its current form.  Indeed, with the elimination of a North Korean nuclear threat and massive troop invasion, the U.S.-South Korea defense alliance would no longer be as needed as it is today, which means that South Korea would eventually ask the 28,500 American troops to leave.  And in the case of China, there would no longer be a need to be adversarial.  China had always been trying to maintain friendly bilateral relations with South Korea and if North Korea doesn’t exist anymore, there is no reason why they can’t be friends.  After all, China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner.  Indeed, China would immensely benefit -- politically, economically, and militarily --from a unified Korea


Kim Jong-un’s invitation


During the luncheon hosted by Moon, Kim Yo-jong extended a formal invitation to Moon to visit North Korea.  Moon responded by suggesting the two countries “should accomplish this by creating the right conditions,” adding that talks between North Korea and the United States were also needed, and requested that “North Korea be more active in talking with the US.”  That was a smart move by Moon.  Clearly, Moon still needs the protective nuclear umbrella of Uncle Sam.


If Kim agrees to Moon’s suggestion to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table, then it would open the door to a peaceful resolution of the Korean people’s quest for reconciliation and reunification.  


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On the Philippine Rise

Published in Editorial & Other Articles

It used to be called the Benham Rise after its discoverer, Admiral Andrew Ellicot Kennedy Benham, an American. It is a seismically active undersea region and extinct volcanic ridge located in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 km east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela consisting of 24.4 million hectares dubbed as marine paradise as it lies under the migration path of important tuna species including the Pacific Bluefin tuna. Since 2012, the United Nations recognized the Benham Rise as part of the Philippine exclusive economic zone. In May 2017, owing to its importance, the area was designated as a world heritage site as President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 25 designating it as a “protected food supply exclusive zone” and renaming the region as Philippine Rise. Mining and oil exploration was also banned in the Benham Plateau as a protected area.
While it has not been noticed and unexplored for decades despite its size, Philippine Rise has become a center of controversy these days due to virtually virtual frantic efforts of China and several countries to do research in the vast region and presumably make plans to explore and make full use of its resources. Malacanang also was put to task for stating that Filipinos have no capability to do exploration in the region, unaware that many Filipino scientists and experts, including the government’s Department of Agriculture and its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the University of the Philippines and the Philippine Navy, with support of the Oceana, the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization. No less than Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol ventured into region and even touted photos of their big catch of tuna during their trip there.
Now, Malacanang has changed its tune. Philippine Rise is open to all Filipinos and nations to do scientific exploration and study in the region but made it clear that there will be stricter rules to follow. "Because we have sovereign rights over Benham Rise, since it was awarded to us as an extended continental shelf, we have the right to exclusively explore and even conduct scientific research in it,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, who is an international lawyer, adding  that the exclusive rights include "consent" if foreigners would also want to conduct research. "Whether they are Americans, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolians, Singaporeans, et cetera, if they comply, we will approve. If they do not comply, we will not approve," stressed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Caytano. The explorers, however, must share the results of their studies to the Philippine government and appropriate agencies.
It’s high time the Philippine government start studying ways to take advantage of the rich fish population of the Philippine Rise and its other assets to boost the economic growth of the country and for the Philippines to rise with it, but rules should be clear to avoid the experience in the South China Sea or West Philippine Sea.

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