12 Nov JUAN ROUND TABLE: November 11, 2015


JUAN Roundtable Nov 11 2015 copy

  1. Osmundo Esguerra: From janitor to self-taught wood artist

1.11 OSMUNDO Esguerra, whose understated, elegant woodcraft and impeccable restoration of antiques have earned him iconic status among the cognoscenti, is being honored with a coffee-table book and exhibit tonight.


The self-taught furniture craftsman with no high school diploma or draftsman skills developed a unique style that combines traditional and contemporary aesthetics to highlight the organic beauty of wood.

The choice of wood, the exacting joinery and the careful sanding and polishing, lend integrity and sleekness to his works, thus elevating them into functional art.

With the eponymous title “Osmundo Esguerra,” the book, published by Soumak Projects, is a pictorial essay on wood-turned bowls that he has produced in the last decade.

Wood turning is a method in which the wood is rotated by a machine called a lathe while it is being shaped by a stationary tool. The bowls, featured in the book and on exhibit at the Soumak home accessories store, were shaped mostly from burl, the deformed outgrowth of a trunk.

Esguerra examines the unusual shapes and the interesting qualities of the burl. He then chisels it to bring out its light and dark areas, and gouges the wood until the bowl’s wall is of the right thickness.

Sisa: A fairytale story of how one uses his innate artistry and passion. Everything pays off eventually.


2.11Once bitter rivals who called each other names, will Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and former senator Panfilo Lacson unite for the 2016 elections?

A presidential bet, Santiago said that there are feelers for her to include Lacson in her senatorial slate. The senator said she was discussing her Senate line-up with her running mate, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

On sick leave due to stage 4 lung cancer, Santiago returned to the Senate on Tuesday, November 10, to deliver a speech on the Philippines’ military deal with the United States.

Asked about Lacson, Santiago told reporters: “I have not been negative. I have said that I will maintain an open mind.”

The presidential aspirant’s answer came as a surprise after she got into a bitter feud with Lacson in 2013. Lacson drew Santiago’s ire when the former police chief defended her bitter rival, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, at the height of the Senate fund scandal.

Santiago then insinuated that Lacson was gay, calling him “Pinky Lacson.” Lacson lashed back by branding Santiago a “crusading crook.”

Now, the two seem to be willing to mend ties.

Lacson told Rappler that he was open to joining Santiago’s slate as a guest candidate.

“I’m sticking to my stand not to decline an offer from any presidential candidate as long as he/she is not declared [a] nuisance [bet],” said the former rehabilitation secretary.

Lacson though clarified that the feelers to Santiago did not come from him, and he only heard about the idea from the media.

“In fact, a friend just texted me that Senator Miriam is inviting me for lunch either [Wednesday] or Thursday at my convenience. I said I’m not available on those dates.”

The last presidential candidate to join the race, Santiago has yet to form a senatorial slate. She has so far endorsed senatorial bet and overseas Filipino workers’ rights advocate Susan “Toots” Ople.

‘Good faith’

Lacson is an independent senatorial contender who is running as a guest candidate of two slates: the ruling Liberal Party (LP) of former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Independent presidential bet Senator Grace Poe initially invited Lacson to join her slate as well but withdrew the invitation, saying she wanted to support other candidates without a party. Lacson had said that Poe chose actor Edu Manzano over him. 

Sisa: Sa pula? Sa puti? Pwede namang gawing stripes diba?

  1. Biometrics incomplete? You may still vote, says Comelec

3.11REGISTERED voters with incomplete or corrupted biometrics data will still be allowed to vote in next year’s polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Tuesday.

Those without biometrics at all, however, will be purged from the voters’ list.

“We will separate the voters without biometrics and those with incomplete biometrics or those that were corrupted in the database will not be deactivated. They will be allowed to vote next year,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said.

Jimenez cited Comelec Resolution No. 10013 which provides that voters with incomplete or corrupted biometrics data shall not be deactivated but be allowed to vote in the May 2016 elections.

This is because there were instances when not all of the biometrics data of a registrant were taken during the validation process due to technical problems.

Some registrants, he said, were told to come back the next day to complete the process but did not return.

“Other cases were the result of deadline beating during the last few days of the registration period,” Jimenez said.

Those who will be allowed to vote despite lacking biometrics data will have to complete their records at a later date, he said.

Sisa: Yung information drive sana madagdagan. Pasensya na, may mga tao talagang hindi nanonood ng TV. Pwede namang mag boost post sa facebook diba? 

  1. Filipino MMA fighter Mark Striegl looking to fill void left by Manny Pacquiao

4.11Manny Pacquiao’s impending retirement will leave a void that one MMA fighter is hoping to fill. The sport has produced a handful of homegrown heroes but none has proved more popular than undefeated bantamweight Mark Striegl.

He was educated outside the Philippines, unlike Pacquiao, but Striegl returned to the country to launch his MMA career and has fought in Manila five times and Baguio once. His poster boy looks and 14-1 professional record have quickly helped to establish him as a firm favorite among the Filipino fans.

Four of Striegl’s last five fights have been in Manila and he has the co-headlining slot at next month’s ONE: ‘Spirit of Champions’ card where he will be taking on an undefeated Australian at the Mall of Asia Arena. It’s a venue that the 26 year old says is starting to feel like home,

“I always look forward to fighting in Manila. There’s no place I’d rather be. Filipinos have a strong sense of pride in any of their athletes competing on the world stage but fighting in Manila definitely makes it more meaningful.”

It’s a pertinent remark because Pacquiao hasn’t fought in Manila since 2006, well before he became a major global star by beating the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto. It means Filipino boxing fans wanting to see their hero in action have had to fly to far off places like Macau or Las Vegas.

MMA fans by contrast are fortunate enough to see the top Filipino fighters competing regularly at venues like the 20,000 capacity MOA Arena. However matchmakers have resisted the temptation to hand Striegl the sort of easy matchup which would have guaranteed a crowd pleasing result on December 11th.

Instead he is being thrown in with Jordan Lucas, an 8-0 champion from Australia who is six years Striegl’s junior. It’s the sort of high stakes fight in which reputations are won and lost and the Filipino is expecting a tough test.

Sisa: Ok. Next.

  1. Homeless out, world leaders in: Manila readies for APEC summit

5.11The Philippines has swept 20,000 homeless from the streets, cancelled hundreds of flights and declared public holidays in Manila to ensure a safe and efficient summit of 21 world leaders next week, officials say.

Major streets in the usually chaotic capital are being closed to traffic to speed up the shuttling of delegates to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and related meetings.

Presidents Barack Obama of the United States, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are among the world leaders flying to the November 18-19 event.

They also include the leaders of the other economies of the 21-member grouping, plus the president of Colombia, who will have observer status.

“We face real security threats here….We have to prevent even the most insignificant incident from happening because that will be a black mark on us,” Marciano Paynor, head of the summit-organizing committee said.

About 18,000 police are being drafted in to guard the summit venues, hotels and routes, Manila police spokesman Chief Inspector Kimberly Gonzales told AFP Tuesday, November 10.

Sisa:  Yung traffic sa practice, nakakainit ng ulo ha. Pati makina ng kotse uminit! Pero mas iinit pa pag dating ng HOT Canadian Prime Minister. Elya Bella na naman si Kris Aquino!

  1. House to pass pay hike bill but not tax reform

6.11THE HOUSE of Representatives is expected to approve today the proposed Salary Standardization Law (SSL) of 2015 after Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. obtained President Aquino’s endorsement of the bill that seeks to grant a total of P226 billion in pay hike to 1.3 million government workers.

But Belmonte said he still had to get Mr. Aquino’s certification of the measure that proposes cuts in individual and corporate income tax rates, despite the “strong pitch” that he and Senate President Franklin Drilon made to the Chief Executive and his economic managers on Monday.

The President “did not say ‘no,’” Belmonte said on Tuesday. “He only said we have said our piece. At some point we expect [him and his economic managers] to say whether they agree or [not],” he added.

“Higher salaries without tax reform means these government employees would go to higher tax brackets, pay more taxes, and take home less [pay],” Sen. Sonny Angara said.

Angara, as chair of the Senate ways and means committee, spearheading moves in the Senate to convince finance officials to support tax reform bills. But under the Constitution, the Senate cannot approve such measures without the House of Representatives doing so first.

Without Mr. Aquino’s certification of the tax bill as “urgent,” it may “no longer be viable,” the Speaker said.

Sisa: Maawa naman kayo sa tao. Ninanakawan niyo na, hilahod pa sa pagbabayad ng tax.

  1. House panel passes soft drinks tax

7.11 The measure that could raise prices of softdrinks by P10 per liter is closer to becoming a law after the House Committee on Ways and Means approved on Tuesday the bill imposing taxes on sugar sweetened drinks.

The proposed law hurdled the committee headed by Marikina City Rep. Romero Federico Quimbo despite the staunch opposition lodged by the Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines.

Under the measure,  a P10 excise tax will be imposed on soft drinks, soda drinks, fruit drinks, and punch, sports drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, energy drinks and all non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages.

The additional tax, which will be imposed on top of the 12 percent value-added tax for consumer goods, will be increased by 4 percent each year starting Jan. 1, 2017 if it is passed next year.

Excluded from the bill’s coverage are 100 percent natural fruit juices, 100 percent natural vegetable juices, yogurt and fruit-flavored yogurt beverages, meal replacement beverages, weight loss products, and all milk products.

The BIAP has opposed the bill’s passage, saying taxing sugar-sweetened drinks would rob Filipino consumers of the power to purchase common sweetened beverages sch as powdered juice drinks, three-in-one coffee, and ready to drink juices.

The group added that imposing levies on sugar sweetened drinks will be a “disservice” to the public since only affluent consumers stand to benefit from the exemptions provided for in the measure.

“Wealthy Filipinos who can afford pure beverages will be spared from the tax on sweetened beverages. In addition, crafted drinks such as those sold in coffee or tea shops, which are similarly sweetened or have sugar, will not be taxed a single centavo,” BIAP said in its position paper. 

Sisa:  Putakaahhh. Pati 3-in-1 may tax?!

  1. Enrile to Miriam: ‘We can’t fight China with saliva’

8.11 “What do we have? Our laway (saliva)?”

Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile criticized his archenemy Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago for opposing a Philippine-United States military deal widely seen to counter China’s growing naval power in the South China Sea.

Enrile rejected the Senate resolution that Santiago sponsored on Tuesday, November 10, declaring the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement(EDCA) invalid for lacking Senate approval. (READ: 15 senators vote against PH-US military deal)

A former defense minister, Enrile said that the deal will help the Philippines respond to Chinese aggression in the disputed sea.

“An alliance with anybody with the naval capability like the US, we should welcome as a boon to our security,” he told reporters.

In a swipe at Santiago, he said: “Let the talkative ones hold the guns to fight the people who will be coming here to invade us if we cannot settle these problems in a peaceful manner.”

In a vote of 15-1-3, the Senate passed Santiago’s resolution on Tuesday. The resolution expressed “the strong sense” of the chamber that the EDCA is a treaty that should have undergone Senate scrutiny.

Enrile was among the 3 senators who abstained from the vote, saying EDCA’s legality should be left to the Supreme Court to decide.

The minority leader said the Philippine military, one of the weakest in Asia, is unable to stand up to China’s military and coast guard.

“My God, we are facing a problem that’s beyond the capability of the country to handle militarily, even politically. Why should we be quibbling about our relationships with other countries? As far as security is concerned, it’s the primary function of government and the entire people of the nation to maintain security,” he said.

The military deal gives US troops wider access to Philippine bases, and allows Washington to build facilities like barracks, warehouses, and fuel depots in the bases. It is widely seen as a response to Manila’s dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea. The US is a treaty ally of the Philippines.

The EDCA was signed in April 2014 ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Manila. It has yet to be implemented as the deal is pending before the High Court for over a year now.

Obama will again visit Manila next week for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Media reports say the Philippine Supreme Court might rule on the deal in time for his trip.                                                                                                                                         

Sisa: Aliw na aliw lang ako pag nakikita kong nagsasabong ang dalawang ito! PERO pareho silang nasa kampo ni Bong Bong! 

  1. Are you ready to try medical marijuana?

 9.11I’m not a very religious person, but if cannabis can do all of the things that patients and sufferers of various illnesses have told me, then it must be God’s greatest gift to mankind,” says a medical marijuana advocate whom we’ll call the Maven.

For the past two-and-a-half years, the Maven has made it his personal mission to provide patients and their families access to cannabis oil, a form of medical marijuana that can be taken orally. The Maven makes the oil himself and dispenses it to patients at cost, and, needless to say, at his own risk.

According to the Maven, the oil—basically an extract of the cannabis plant that is suspended in an edible oil—makes it easier to consume and to regulate the dosage. One or more drops can be taken orally, or through a feeding tube for patients unable to eat normally. It can be taken in doses low enough for children. It can also be frozen in molds and taken as a suppository, a particularly effective treatment for patients in acute pain, he says.

With Australia and Canada inching closer to joining the 23 states in the United States where the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is now legal, global opinion in favor of medical marijuana is fast gaining momentum.

In the Philippines, House Bill No. 4477, otherwise known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, remains a hotly-debated topic.

Palliative use

Despite the medical establishment’s opposition, support for medical marijuana continues to grow, although few are willing to actually stand up and be counted, especially during this election season.

But even the usually conservative Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has issued pastoral guidelines for “the palliative and compassionate use of narcotics, particularly in the case of the terminally ill.”

A growing number of Filipinos, however, are not waiting for the law or the state to catch up.

More and more people suffering from chronic, crippling and painful illnesses are trying cannabis to relieve their symptoms, as word of mouth spreads about the positive results other sufferers have experienced.

“It’s a groundswell,” says the Maven. “I am not alone. I’ve met a few other people who are doing the same thing and we’re sharing notes. Hopefully, by next year, we have developed a better process for extracting cannabis from the plant. Our aim is to come up with the cleanest extract, preserving all of the beneficial compounds in marijuana.”


Sisa: May point ha. May point.

  1. Promise seen for wireless pacemakers placed without surgery

10.11Researchers are reporting encouraging results for a new generation of pacemakers — miniature, wireless ones that can be implanted through a leg vein without surgery.

In a study of 725 patients, one of these devices, made by Medtronic, was successfully implanted 99 percent of the time, with a low rate of complications compared to traditional pacemakers.

Leaders of the company-sponsored study discussed the research Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Orlando. Results also were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Two months ago, the journal published a study of a similar device made by St. Jude Medical. Both of these mini pacemakers are already sold in Europe and the companies are seeking federal Food and Drug Administration approval to sell them in the US.

Roughly 200,000 people in the US each year get a pacemaker, a device to regulate their heartbeats. Pacemakers are implanted just under the skin in the chest, with wires called leads that go into the heart. The wires can break, wear out or become infected and are the main weakness of these pacing systems.

The mini pacemaker is the size of a large pill and can be placed without surgery, through a tube into a blood vessel in the groin, and attached to the right side of the heart.

“I think it is a breakthrough,” said Dr. Douglas Zipes, an Indiana University School of Medicine heart rhythm expert and past president of the American College of Cardiology. “Leads have been the Achilles’ heel of our implanted devices. To get rid of them will clearly benefit patients.”

Sisa: Teka, magkano naman ito?


  1. Nurture cyberkids to cut risks, UN agencies urge

11.11CYBERKIDS, beware: When it comes to information and communications technology (ICT), the higher the use, the greater risk exposure, whether in the form of content, conduct or contact.

This reality was presented during a recent international conference on children’s rights in the digital age where the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) stressed the need for “a clear understanding of the risks” and the need “to build children’s resilience to deal with them.”

During the Unesco-Unicef Asia-Pacific Consultation on “Policies and Initiatives to Promote Children’s Safe, Effective and Responsible Use of ICT” from Sept. 9-11 in Bangkok, where the Philippines was represented by this writer, 60 representatives from various governments, international groups, nongovernment organizations, tech corporations, parents and students came together to suggest policy guidelines for effective ICT use in the region.

The meeting was held at the Pullman Hotel in the Thai capital.

As of 2014, almost 38 million out of 100 million Filipinos regularly go online, two-thirds of them below the age of 30.

According to EU Kids Online, 66 percent of youth in 33 countries regularly use the Internet in their own bedrooms. Sixty percent of Australian children aged 5 or below use touch-screen devices, said Donell Holloway and Lelia Green of Edith Cowan University. “New touch and swipe technologies make it possible for the 0 to 4’s to use the Internet before walking and talking,” they said.

What lessons were learned from the meeting, and more importantly, what can be done?

One of the points raised was the need to understand the views of the youth on ICT, before creating digital citizenship programs. Another point, nurture young digitally-savvy models.

Sisa: See the difference between kids now and when we were kids. Madaming lampa ngayon!

  1. Grace Poe apologizes to cousin Sheryl Cruz over parentage issue

12.11Sen. Grace Poe on Tuesday apologized to her cousin Sheryl Cruz after the latter expressed dismay about her mother Rosemarie Sonora’s involvement in the lawmaker’s parentage issue.

“Humihingi ako ng pasensya sa kanya. Hindi ko nais mapasama ang pangalan nila. Wala naman akong sinabi na magpa-DNA test din sila,” said Poe, the adoptive daughter of Sonora’s sister Susan Roces.

In an interview on radio dzBB, Cruz expressed dismay over the continued discussion of an urban legend that Poe was Sonora’s lovechild with the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

The issue was exacerbated by jokes made by Poe and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. about being siblings.

Poe’s parentage has been a hot issue because of questions surrounding her citizenship. She recently underwent DNA testing to try to shed more light on her parentage to lay the issue of her being a natural-born Filipino to rest.

Cruz expressed resentment toward Poe and Roces, saying an interview to set the record straight would close the issue.

“Isang interview lang ng auntie ko mabibigyan na ‘to ng tuldok,” Cruz said.

 Sisa: My point: if there is no truth in it, just shrug your shoulders about it. No big issue. Bakit si Bong Bong tinawanan lang?


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