Archive for July, 2008

An 82% Drop In NY Times Profit Earnings: Why?

July 27, 2008

New York Times Chief Executive Janet Robinson blamed her company’s profit decline to the “US economic slowdown and secular forces playing out across the media industry.” Considering the sluggish business climate, she meant, the newspaper incurred high operational expenses and it lost some of its profit-generating advertisers.

New York Times Co. says its second-quarter earnings fell 82 percent from the year-ago quarter boosted by a one-time gain. Meanwhile, print advertising revenue continued to shrink.

The New York-based newspaper publisher says its quarterly net income dropped to $21.1 million, or 15 cents per share, which included 11 cents per share in buyout costs.” (07/23/08) Photo Credit: AP/Lennihan, M.

The National Association of America (NAA) likewise reported newspaper industry’s sharpest fall in print classifieds in decades, needing the boost of internet ads revenue to counter losses. In the first quarter of 2008, total ad revenues for newspapers amounted to $804 million, a 7.2 percent rise over Q1 2007’s $750 million. But this is lower than the 22% growth rate from the previous year. ClickZ Network (06/16/08, Kaye, K.)

There’s more to the drop in NY Times earnings than what the eyes can see. Critics say the newspaper has pandered heavily to the anti-American agenda of the secular progressives, leftists, and liberals who tolerate bias and unbalanced reporting. The newspaper isn’t the kind that subscribers have been used to reading. This certainly causes alienation particularly among disappointed conservatives who expect non-partisan coverage and fairness in reporting.

A number of subscribers dropped out of advertising and readership, disillusioned by the perception that the newspaper is “biased, anti-American, and rabidly anti-Pres. George W. Bush.” There are those who complain NY Times gives lop-sided coverage for Barack Obama’s campaign in the current presidential race to the disadvantage of John McCain whose OpEd has been refused publication by the newspaper.

In 2003, there was Jayson Blair who resigned from the newspaper after being caught of plagiarism and fabrication. A few months ago, it printed innuendoes implying infidelity and wrongdoing in an unsubstantiated McCain-Vicki Iseman “affair.” The newspaper came up with the worst discouraging assessments about the Iraq War which made readers feel someone in America wanted the United States to fail. =0=

A Torture Chamber, A Safe-house For Travelers, A Street Named After A Bishop…Some Of Naga City’s Notable Landmarks

July 27, 2008

Jose V. Barrameda, Jr.’s interesting account on some memorable landmarks in Naga City published in Bicol Mail this week (07/24/08, Barrameda, J.V.Jr.,) includes Penafrancia Avenue, the genteel paved road from Plaza Quince Martires at the city proper to the old Penafrancia Church. Though he didn’t describe much of what is in the stretch of the famed avenue, he gave us a glimpse of the old buildings that dotted the city in the past. Their historical significance proved very enlightening.

The Naga Police Station in Barlin Street served as an infamous torture chamber where brave Bicolano heroes and martyrs met their unjustified deaths during the Spanish time. Barrameda wrote:

During the mass arrests in September 1896, Florencio Lerma (who was also held in the Casino Español); Cornelio Mercado; Don Tomas Prieto, alcalde of Nueva Caceres; and Macatio Valentin were brought to and tortured in the cuartel by Civil Guards under the direction of Captain Francisco Andreu, chief of the Guardia Civil in Ambos Camarines, and Don Ricardo Lacosta, Spanish civil governor of the province. The horrific torture wrenched the first of two legally infirm confessions from the frail pharmacist Prieto which the authorities used as basis for the arrest, torture and prosecution of scores of Filipinos in the province, some of whom were also subsequently forced to sign fabricated confessions under extreme duress.”

The author then clearly described Casa Tribunal along Elias Angeles Street, an edifice of brick and wood where the municipal council (ayuntamiento) similar to that in Spain, transacted government business in Naga in the last quarter of the 1800’s. The building also provided free accommodations to travelers who came to the city. After the Spanish and American occupations, the Casa Tribunal served a different purpose:

“Destroyed by American bombs in World War II… it was eventually rebuilt as a smaller wooden building that became the city police headquarters. After the century-old Spanish cuartel being used by the PC-INP burned down in 1978, the city government constructed a new building at the cuartel site which housed the Naga City Police Department. The former police headquarter building on this site became the Naga City Library until the latter’s transfer to its new, modern building in the City Hall complex.”

On the other hand, the Casa Espanol of Arana Street which was a social and recreational center of people of Spanish descent in Naga and neighboring towns had disturbing incidents when the Katipunan was discovered in Manila:

Civil Governor Ricardo Lacosta ordered to mass arrest all over Camarines starting in September 1896. The Casino Español became one of several holding areas for harsh interrogation and violent torture. Among those taken to the Casino were Antonio Arejola, Camilo Jacob (from the infirmary of the San Francisco Church), Florencio Lerma (who was subsequently transferred to the nearby Cuartel General of the Guardia Civil), Macario Melgarejo, Mariano Ordenanza and Manuel Pastor, and from Daet, Roman Cabesudo, Ponciano Caminar, Diego Liñan, Valentin Lipana, Gregorio Luyon, Adriano Pajarillo, and Pedro Zenarosa. Many arrests were made on mere denunciation by Spaniards in meetings in the Casino.

Two years after, in 1898, enraged Nagueños violently trashed the clubhouse during the bloody uprising led by Elias Angeles and Felix Plazo.”

Today, our young generation of Bicolanos may never know of Casa Real in General Luna Street where as early as 1588, the place, facing Naga River, served as the residence of the alcalde mayor of Nueva Caceres who had jurisdiction over the entire Bicol peninsula and Catanduanes. Unfortunately, like the buildings Barrameda described, the Casa Real had been razed, torn down, and largely forgotten.

Penafrancia Avenue was once called Calle Via Gainza, a famous city street memorializing Francisco Gainza, the illustrious Bishop of Nueva Caceres credited for establishing Colegio de Sta Isabel (Universidad de Sta Isabel) in 1868, the nation’s first normal school for girls. The great bishop also made curriculum improvements for the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary which became then, Bicol region’s top study hub for priests, religious, and lay citizens. As a pope delegate, Gainza was with the Bishop of Manila in opposing the stripping of the religious affiliations of rebel priests Gomez, Burgos and Zamora (Goburza) as sought by the Spanish government in Manila.

What was unclear though was why Calle Via Gainza which aptly pays tribute to the bishop’s admirable contributions to Naga City was renamed as Penafrancia Avenue. The reason for the change was unclear.

In our minds, street names like Calle Via Gainza could have been better left alone. In a way, they are sentinels of a period in history gone by. Retaining old street names helps preserve our cultural linkage with the past. In simple practical terms, the postman’s job of delivering letters is made easy when old street names are retained. Unless there’s an imperative to make changes, old names better stay as they are. As invaluable remnants of the old, they make us remember the richness of our past; they make us feel the meaning of history. =0=

Aurora Borealis’ Intriguing Noises & The Heavenly Apparitions Of Light

July 25, 2008

The eerie mysterious glow of light and hissing roar of the wind observed in the earth’s polar latitudes is called the Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis, named after the enchanting goddess of Dawn (Aurora) and the North (Borealis.)

Folklore surrounds the amorphous undulating kaleidoscope of colors. From time to time, they appear in the night sky more beautifully when the chilly winds of fall set in. Photo: US Airforce/Strang, J.

The cryptic sound from the bright polar horizon scares and puzzles human beings for millenia. Explorer Ernest William Hawkes, in his book The Labrador Eskimo (1916) has this to say about Aurora’s mythic origin as the Eskimos have it in their tradition:

The sky is a great dome of hard material arched over the Earth. There is a hole in it through which the spirits pass to the true heavens. Only the spirits of those who have died a voluntary or violent death, and the Raven, have been over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the Aurora. They can be seen there feasting and playing football with a walrus skull.

The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the Aurora is the voices of these spirits trying to communicate with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered in a whispering voice.”

Scientists have a better explanation for the spectacular light display in the sky. Vassilis Angelopoulos of the University of California, Los Angeles and his co-researchers in the THEMIS mission (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) said energy explosions are behind the bursts of light which occur a third of the way between Earth and the Moon. They are substorms, triggered by snapping “magnetic field lines” which cause the Aurora’s intriguing noises and heavenly apparition of lights. Associated Press (07/25/08, Dunn, M) =0=

Dolphy’s Hindi Ko Ito Narating Na Mag-isa

July 25, 2008

With a bit of seriousness, a pinch of comedy, a dash of love, hope, and forgiveness, Dolphy, RP’s top comedian celebrates his 80th birthday on July 25, 2008 with a dazzling legacy book about his life entitled “Dolphy: Hindi Ko Ito Narating Na Mag-isa” which he dedicates to the Filipino Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs.)

Endearingly funny, self-deprecating, mature, and humble, this is what the apostle of laughter and reconciliation said of his fascinating life-story:

Harinawa’y makapagdulot ng aral ang aking mga pinagdaanan….Kung kayo may nasaktan ko, patawarin niyo ako, at kung kayo ang nagkasala sa aki’y pinatatawad ko na kayo.” ABS-CBN, (07/25/08 Buan-DeVeza,R.)

In spite of his foibles, it must be effortless for tinseltown’s most beloved jester to once again capture the hearts and dreams of many Filipinos worldwide whom he partly credits for his phenomenal success. Unlike his colleagues in TV and movies, Dolphy chooses to entertain people rather than be in the business of politics. The people respect and adore him for sticking to what he does best—make everybody happy.=0=

Employment Prospects For Nurses Further Dim As 27,765 Pass Licensure Test

July 24, 2008

Nursing, the Philippines’ over-represented and most popular profession has recently added 27,765 to its roster of board examination passers when the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) released the names of successful examinees on July 25, 2005.

The number represents 43% of a total of 64,459 examinees who took the June, 2008 licensure test. The new nurses are expected to further clog the bottle-neck in foreign (OFW) and domestic employment which is experiencing a slump in job recruitment.

Hiring is expected to tighten owing to oversupply and lack of demand. The government needs a rational strategy to solve the growing joblessness among licensed nurses and those who fail to pass the board exam in the country.=0=

Sizing Up GMA’s SONA: What The US Ambassador Wants To Hear Versus What The People Feel

July 23, 2008

More than a week before Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) State of the Nation Address (SONA,) there was this type of conditioning the government wanted for its people. The pompous military, 6,000 strong, hammered peace on the people’s mind even if according to them, there was no threat of disturbance. In a bewildering display of “respect for human rights,” police officers, in their scary gears and numbers, agreed to go on a human rights seminar. At the same time they assured the SONA will be a peaceful event.

But barely a week before the speech, there are pictures of armed military men here and there, in full-battle regalia, readying for something that one could only guess as preparedness for mayhem. (Photo Credit: Malaya/SalvadorR) The story has turned symbolically worrisome. The government is fully aware of the people’s widespread antipathy towards GMA, the most unpopular president since 1986.

There are reports of NPA ‘sparrows” who’d try to bring chaos at the SONA on July 30, 2008, giving advance warnings to anti-government protesters of what to expect if they venture out in the streets. Superficially, people can’t tiss apart truth, genuine public concern, and military scare tactics.

In a rather awkward statement, US Ambassador Kristie Kenney in Manila says she wants to hear GMA speak on the successes of her economic policies and the government’s in-roads in the peace process in Mindanao. The ambassador puts a positive spin on GMA’s SONA, but what she says doesn’t jibe with what the Filipinos are thinking.

I think the President has made a lot of economic reforms and the Philippine economy has been doing well. I’m hoping she’ll tell us more that she’s continuing on that important point of her program.”

We are hopeful and eager to see a comprehensive peace agreement in Mindanao. I think that will be so important for all citizens of the Philippines, for economic growth, and we are ready to continue to be a dedicated partner in that search,” Kenney said. Malaya (07/24/08, DeVera,E.)

Her remark seems a cheap shot at diplomatic correctness which most likely doesn’t reflect the Filipino sentiment at the moment. For sure Filipinos don’t want words that they can’t nibble especially if these words fall short of truth. They want a concrete plan of action which they can bring to their sleep: a solution to the hunger they’re facing. The people ask for accountability, a panacea for the rising prices of fuel and groceries, and they demand a resolution to the unsolved government corruption scandals—problems which simply don’t go away and leave the people numb in despair. =0=

Dr. Fish Does Unusual Pedicure In A Foot Spa

July 22, 2008

Business-minded people don’t seem to run out of ideas. In the case of John Ho who runs a hair and nails spa someplace in Washington D.C., having a small carp-like fish called garra rufa (aka Dr. Fish) to do pedicure for his customers seem a good business proposition.

This is a good treatment for everyone who likes to have nice feet,” Ho said. AP/photo (07/21/08, Barakat, M.)

Before a standard foot care and grooming service, Ho’s patrons are allowed a deep in a water tank where the gentle fish, numbering about a hundred, carefully nibble away dirt and debris from the skin surface. The fish acts like a natural razor, removing the exfoliating scaly skin while the foot thaws in mildly warm water.

For $35 and $50 per 15 and 30-minute service respectively, the ticklish fish pedicure is like the traditional stone rub (perhaps, the latter being more efficient,) which rids the foot of its shedding stratum corneum, the cornified outer skin layer. Whether the fish pedicure is sanitary and safe or devoid of any public health risks remains to be seen. =0=

Dark Knight’s Blockbuster Bonanza, Zimbabwe’s $100 Billion Dollar Note, & GMA’s Dismal Popularity Rating

July 21, 2008

$155.34 million
-Hollywood’s popular record-breaking block-buster entertainment “The Dark Knight” is Christopher Nolan’s dark sequel to “Batman Begins” which drew excited fans and profits in tinseltown on the first week of showing. Recently deceased actor Heath Ledger acts as the Joker. There are those who think the movie is too violent and may not be appropriate for kids below 12.

$100 billion note
-To cope with a hyperinflation of 2.2 million percent, Zimbabwe’s Central Bank issued this latest huge bank note in a series of high money denominations, to deal with cash and food shortages leaving 80% of its people below the poverty line.

(-) 38%
-Social Weather Station (SWS) revealed the dismal approval rating of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo on July 18, 2008, making her the most unpopular Philippine president since 1986. It’s lower than her (-) 33% approval rating in May 2005, prompting Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, head of CBCP to advise the president to take her unpopularity “seriously.”

-The number of US military troops who died in the Iraq War since it started 5 years ago, according to a recent count by the Associated Press on July 20, 2008.

-No one has lost money in FDIC-insured savings of up to $100,000 in the last 75 years, said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who cautions anxious Americans of harder times ahead, but assures the soundness of the US banking system.

30 days
-The expected time to retrieve the estimated 200,000 liters of industrial fuel and 10 metric-ton toxic endosulfan trapped in the sunken Princess of the Stars (threatening to pollute the Sibuyan Sea.) The projected cost of retrieval is $7.5 million (P318 million.)

87 drums
-Number of missing drums of toxic toluene diisocyanate (apart from the hazardous 10 metric tons of endosulfan and ship fuel in the Princess of the Sea) that need retrieval from another ship, M/V Ocean Papa, also grounded by Typhoon Frank.

-Central Luzon’s number of dengue fever cases, a rise of 273% from last year’s number with two reported deaths as of July 21, 2008.

$1.42 billion
-Total remittance of OFW’s in May 2008, a 15.5% increase from last year’s. This is accompanied by the exodus of 533,945 Filipinos, a 39.5% rise in the first five months of 2008 who seek jobs abroad.

$145.59 million
-The amount of foreign investments withdrawn from the Philippines in June, 2008—a reversal to last year’s inflow investments totaling $871.41 million which entered the country. A total of $417 million from foreign investors left the country since Jan. 2008. =0=

Penafrancia Fiesta 2008

July 20, 2008

It’s in September when Bicolanos pay tribute to the Virgin of Penafrancia, the patroness of the Bicol region in the Philippines. Wrapped in lore and tradition, the age-old Marian devotion starts with the Traslacion, a religious procession which brings Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia’s brown image and the Divino Rostro (Divine Face) of Jesus to the Naga Cathedral marking the start of the annual nine-day prayers.

Drawing enthusiastic crowds from all corners of the world, the feast of food, family reunions, prayers, parades, thanksgivings, and revelries, is highlighted by a colorful river procession of devotees and “voyadores,” marking the return of Ina’s ebony icon in her home at the Basilica Shrine. Photo Credits: Raph Garcia/Colnago/etal=0=

Naga City, Philippines


September 3 – September 11, 2008
5:00 PM – Solemn Novenary Masses in honor of the Divino Rostro at the Basilica of Peñafrancia

September 11
4:30 AM – Penitential Procession in honor of the Divino Rostro


4:30 AM – Penitential Procession in honor of the Divino Rostro
6:00 AM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Peñafrancia Basilica)
12:30 PM – TRASLACION Procession from the Basilica to Naga Cathedral

September 12 – 20, 2008
5:00 PM -Solemn Novenary Masses in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia (Naga Metropolitan Cathedral)

September 13 (Saturday)
5:00 PM Novena Mass

September 14 (Sunday)
5:00 PM Novena Mass

September 15 (Monday)
5:00 PM Novena Mass

September 16 (Tuesday)
6:00 AM – Pontifical Mass (Naga Cathedral)
Diocese of Virac
8:00 AM – Pontifical Mass (Naga Cathedral)
Prelature of Libmanan
5:00 PM – Novena Mass

September 17 (Wednesday)
6:00 AM -Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Naga Cathedral )
Diocese of Daet
5:00 PM -Novena Mass

September 18 (Thursday)
6:00 AM -Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Naga Cathedral)
Diocese of Sorsogon
8:00 AM -Pontifical Mass
Diocese of Cabanatuan
5:00 PM -Novena Mass
5:30 PM -Union of Bicol Clergy Mass – (Cathedral Church)
7:00 PM -Clergy Night (Archbishop’s Residence)

September 19 (Friday)
4:00 AM – Penitential Procession in honor of Our Lady of Peñafrancia from the Cathedral towards the South
(Downtown Area)
6:00 AM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass
Diocese of Masbate
8:00 AM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Naga Cathedral)
Diocese of Legazpi
10:00 AM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Naga Cathedral)
Military Ordinariate
5:00 PM – Novena Mass
7:00PM – Prayer Vigil (Adoracion Nocturna Filipina)-(Naga Cathedral)

September 20 (Saturday) Metropolitan Cathedral
4:00 AM – Penitential Procession in honor of Our Lady of
Peñafrancia from the Cathedral towards North
Bagumbayan Area)
6:00 AM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Archdioceseof Caceres)
8:00 AM – Concelebrated Mass
10:00 AM – Concelebrated Mass
6:00 PM – Pontifical Concelebrated Mass (Basilica Diamond Jubilee Pavilion)

– Community Masses at the Basilica Church
at 4:00 AM – 8:30 PM and
Basilica Diamond Jubilee Pavilion
at 5:00 AM –11:00 AM

Basilica of Peñafrancia
6:30 AM – For the Society of Jesus, Vincentians and Daughters of Charity
8:00 AM – Archdiocese of Caceres
9:30 AM – Diocese of Sorsogon
11:00 AM – Diocese of Legazpi
6:00 PM – For the Filipino-Chinese Community

The Bounty of Green River Formation: Hyping America’s Vast Oil Shale Reserve

July 20, 2008

We’ve bad mouthed the use of oil because it pollutes the environment. Yet for a time, in spite of our need to clean up the atmosphere and help lessen global warming, we’re still stuck with fossil-fuel based technologies. Until we perfect our cleaner alternatives of solar, electro-magnetic, nuclear, wind, hydroelectric, hydrogen, fuel cell etcetera versus the use of oil, there’s always this temptation to tap the bowels of the earth for precious combustible hydrocarbons to fuel the world economy.

The United States of America is ambivalent about drilling, but right at the heartland, the nation which owns 25% of the world’s wealth, has a vast reserve of shale oil that boggles the imagination of dreamers, prospectors, and entrepreneurs.

Oil shale is hard to unlock and stubborn to get. That’s the downside. But if this reserve is extracted and utilized (with utmost care to spare the environment,) the benefit will not only be for Americans, but for the world as well. The fast growing economies of China and India alone have astronomically raised the world’s need for oil and there is little indication that it’s abating.

While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, the estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Green River Formation would last for more than 400 years.” –Oil Shale Resources of USA, Source: =0=