Cebu Reporter's Blog

A reporter's ramblings on the latest news and happenings in Cebu

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blog notes

I wrote about this in a newspaper several weeks ago. But another blog is writing about the discovery of a fossil of an Ice Age carabao in Cebu that dates back to 10,000 years. Wow. The dwarf carabao may be indicative of a biological phenomenon known as "island dwarfism", where animals living in areas with limited resources (eg. islands) adapt to be smaller.

Another blog headlines the possible sea-borne attacks of terrorists during the ASEAN Summit. I believe that will be far from taking place because I know our authorities have already mapped out plans to secure the Mactan Channel, the main entrance via sea to Cebu. I also wrote a news about the NAVY SEALS guarding the channel so I guess we should all take a good night sleep and not worry about rumors of attacks.

I would like to congratulate the USC dance troupe who wowed delegates and officials of China during their visit to the country recently. The dancers were part of the delegations headed by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. Kudos dancers, keep up the good work.

Desperate Attempt

I can't believe they are still at it. It's barely 17 days more to go and they still brought up the idea of holding the ASEAN Summit in Manila "especially when there is security threat in Cebu". Security what? They want to transfer the holding of the ASEAN Summit from Cebu to Manila for security reasons? Cebu is far more secured than Manila. And have you read reports of bombings in Cebu? Never. Because Cebu is safe and Manila is not.

Why can't they just shut their mouths up and see how Cebu will roll out the red carpet for the ASEAN dignitaries and delegates. Cebu is the best venue. Better than Manila, I bet my life. They really can't accept the fact that the ASEAN Summit will be held in Cebu because they thought, for all of their lives, that Manila is imperial. That only Manila can hold a summit like the ASEAN. That only Manila is this and that. Sucks!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Covering the ASEAN Summit

It will be my first time to cover such a big event. When the 12th ASEAN Summit kicks off, I will be at the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) to cover the event. I already have an accreditation, which means, of course, that I am a legitimate media member, and I will be at the International Media Center inside the CICC, which I heard will be supplied with free-flowing food and drinks.

I have already offered eggs to the Carmelite Sisters, paid P100 to a Sto. Nino Church sinulog dancer, and prayed so hard my knees sore, just to ask for Divine Intervention on the prediction of world-famous psychic Max Soliven that the CICC will collapse during the summit (well, if it does, I hope his president will be there with me).

Heard over the radio while writing this blog: "Cebuanos urged to use tawas, deodorant during summit to avoid embarrasing ASEAN Summit visitors". Whaaat? That's a clear violation of the human rights of those die hard naturalist (I can't find the exact word but what I mean is those who do not use deodorant and enjoy the smell of their armpits). And what about those who cannot afford to buy tawas (price: P5 to 10 per pack) or deodorant (price: P25 to P40)? Will the government shell out cash to provide tawas and deodorant to the public?

Going back to the Summit coverage. Cebu reporters have agreed to wear coat and tie or long sleeves with tie during the summit. I also learned, although not yet confirmed, that the Cebu host media will have a special station inside the CICC. That's good news for us reporters in Cebu. Why? Because we hate those Manila reporters who think we are nothing but pig shit cleaners and they are the best news reporters and writers in the country.

The media will not be going to the CICC through different vehicles. There will be designated buses that will pick us up on designated areas. That's part of security. And I fully understand that.

I also learned from veterans that the media who will be covering the ASEAN Summit will be locked up inside the CICC, with all the food and amenities, waiting for a press release because we can't go directly to the meeting venue, which is Shangri-la Hotel, to cover the event. Isn't that nice? hehehehe.

Effects of ASEAN in Cebu

Demolitions of shanties and stalls as well as apprehensions of trisikads have started in Cebu City and Mandaue City in a desperate attempt by both local government units to rid the two cities of "eye sores" during the ASEAN Summit.

Yes, billions of pesos will be coming in to Cebu during the summit. But who benefits and who suffers? Big establishments, hotels, restaurants, car rentals, sex dens among others will surely benefit from the ASEAN money. But what about those street vendors, trisikad drivers, sari-sari store vendors located along the ceremonial routes who will be demolished? It will be hungry tommy for them.

I can understand the preparations being made by the local governments for the ASEAN Summit. They want to demolish the squatter's area located along the parade routes, they want to rid the streets of cigarette vendors and trisikads just to project a "beautiful Cebu" image to the visiting dignitaries and foreign media.

But are all these preparations really necessary? Can we maintain the well-paved roads, highly-decorated houses and establishments along the streets, flowers and plants in center islands, even after the Summit? Yes, those dignitaries and foreign media will surely be awed and wowed by the street decorations, security, and nice roads that we currently have now. But how would they react if they come back to Cebu after months or years following the ASEAN summit and then they will see the real, day-to-day situation here?

Many call it tourism. But for those who really know the situation of our roads, streets, and security before the ASEAN preparation, this is nothing but hypocrisy and desperate act of boastfulness.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Manila's Envy

I pity Max Soliven and the few Manila-based journalists and columnists who, without mercy or utter consideration, lambasted those who are behind the construction of the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), the proposed venue for the 12th ASEAN Summit.

I pity them, Max Soliven more specifically, because they are making baseless accusations and commentaries on the state of the CICC. And the source of their information kuno? Someone who has an axe to grind against Cebu government officials. Yes, Soliven, and the couple of those Manila-based journalists and columnists, have all the rights that they can claim in writing down their thoughts and opinions.

But for God’s sake, don’t they know how to sanitize the rumors they receive before putting them into print?

Also, have they been to the CICC lately? Have they checked the interior portion of the CICC? The walls? The running elevators? Etc? If only Soliven will go out of his office to see the light and visit CICC, he will, for sure, die in shame in what he’s been saying about the facility.

The CICC will be usable during the ASEAN Summit. It will be finished. It will be world-class and state-of-the-art. It will be the envy of the few Manilans who think that they are Gods and that Cebu or other provinces outside Manila’s backyard are nothing but shit pickers.

After the ASEAN Summit, more and more international gatherings have been scheduled at the CICC. Mark my word, Cebu will soon be the country’s convention capital.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Doomed from the Start

A very reliable source revealed that ever since the day that the CICC was started, one of the architects of the project (yes there were two) told Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia that the facility will never be finished in 9 months in time for the ASEAN Summit. The architect also allegedly warned Gov. Garcia that linking and marketing CICC with the ASEAN Summit will create a big blunder because the facility will never be finished.

But Arch. Manuel Guanzon was persistent and expressed confidence that CICC will be finished. Now, he could be wrong. I mean, entirely wrong. Barely eight days before Guanzon's self-imposed deadline of Nov. 15, the CICC is far from finished. And I'm pretty sure, from a layman's view that it will take more months for the CICC to be completed.

In the first place, the CICC was never considered as a venue for the ASEAN Summit. It was the Shangri-La Hotel in Mactan. This is a fact as President Arroyo clearly stated that the grand summit will be held in Shangri-La, and not at the CICC.

And it was also revealed yesterday by my source that only the media center will be 100 percent available and usable during the Summit.

I wonder if Arch. Guanzon will still accept the P1.5 million bet for his pet project to be finished by Nov. 15.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cebu Flash Flood Victim

Flood casualty. Rescue personnel of the Philippine Air Force take a breather after retreiving the body of Michael Depay, 20, (in black body bag) from a creek at a dumpsite in barangay Inayawan, Cebu City this morning. Depay was the fourth confirmed dead when a flashflood swept away 12 young men in Talisay City, Cebu last Saturday. Eight of them were able to save themselves from the grips of death. (Photo by me)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Money and Values

What would you do when you find bundles of money along the road and no one saw you picked it up?

The answer will surely vary depending on our values.

Last Wednesday, Eric Amaro, 18, and Arnel Pajanunot, 19, were on a bike at around 5 a.m. when they saw a shoulder bag along the road in barangay Guadalupe, Carcar. Seeing that the shoulder bag was clean, the two picked it up, opened the bag and then, to their surprise, saw bundles of P500 cash. When the counted the money, it all summed up to P99,000.

Amaro and Pajanunot, two teeners who live below the poverty line, two dreamers who stopped going to school due to poverty, and two mortals who badly need money for a mother's medical needs and for a family's daily substinence, were stunned for a moment.

"I was so shocked. I didn't know what to do. It was the first time that I saw such amount of money," said Amaro, whose mother needed money for immediate medical assistance due to an infected wound.

The two immediately went home and show the bag to their parents. But from the moment that they saw the money up to the time that they reached home, the two said they didn't think of pocketing the cash.

"It was not ours. I know someone, its owner was looking for the money during that time. I had to return it," said Pajanunot.

Their parents, despite having the need to keep the money, advised the two to surrender the cash to a TV station in Cebu City, in which the two did. Yesterday, the teeners went to GMA-7 to return the cash, in full. Not even a single centavo was missing.

The owner of the bag, after learning from a radio broadcast about the teeners act, immediately went to the TV station and claimed the money. The owner, a businesswoman, passed the screening, even identiying the amount of cash and the content of the two bank books inside the bag.

The teeners, who received P10,000 cash, promised employment by the mayor of Carcar, will be recognized in various events, including during the town's fiesta, and other in a special ceremony that will be conducted by the Provincial Government of Cebu. The businesswoman also promised to pay for the medical expenses of Amaro's mother.

What a good example of good values over greed for money. Amaro and Pajanunot, who deserve to be praised and recognized, should make our corrupt politicians die in shame. The teeners are so poor they need all the money that they could earn but refused to give in to the temptation of pocketing the cash they didn't own. Our politicians have everything in life and yet still long for the money of the tax payers. An example of contrasting values.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Will the CICC be finished by Nov. 15?

It's already Nov. 2 and my heart is pounding harder than the usual. Barely 13 days more to go and the question on whether or not the controversial Cebu International Convention Center or CICC will be finished will finally be answered.

I can feel the adrenalin rush as I passed by the CICC this morning. Construction workers, as many as the eyes can see, are doing all they can to meet the demands of the contractor. I can hardly imagine the stress on the shoulders of Architect Manuel Guanzon, contractor Willy Te, and Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia who all claimed that the CICC will be finished by Nov. 15. As the clock ticks, as the d-day comes to a close, I can only cross my fingers and wait for Nov. 15 to answer the P1-million question "Will it be finished?".

Playing safe, however, was Vice Guv. Greg Sanchez, who did not give a categorical answer when asked on whether or not the CICC will be finished by Nov. 15.

Thirteen days and counting down.

10,000 yr. old fossil of extinct dwarf buffalo discovered in Cebu

The website of the National Geographic Society revealed that a fossil of an extinct dwarf buffalo, which probably lived between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago, was found on a hillside in Cebu and was left untouched 40 years after it was discovered.

According to a news item of the, the fossil that sat for 40 years inside a jar owned by Filipino mining engineer Michael Armas was confirmed to be that of the extinct species of pygmy water buffalo that once lived only in the Philippines.

The tiny bovine stood up to 2.5 feet (0.7 meter) tall and weighed about 350 pounds (160 kilograms), the website said. The find carries special significance because it could offer insight into a phenomenon called island dwarfing, a process in which large species confined to isolated islands tend to grow smaller due to fewer resources, said the National Geographic news item

Filipino mining engineer Michael Armas found the unusual set of fossils about 40 years ago as he was excavating a hillside on the island of Cebu looking for phosphate, a naturally occurring compound used in detergents and fertilizers. He took the fossils home with him, where they sat in a jar for several years.