May 312014



MANILA, Philippines—A Philippine Airlines flight to Darwin, Australia, was cancelled Saturday night after the airport there was shut down due to the ash cloud coming from Indonesia’s Mt. Sangeang Api, which erupted on Friday.

Cancelled was PAL flight PR-221 to Darwin, Northern Territory, which was supposed to leave at 10 p.m. and arrive at 4 a.m. Darwin time.  The second leg of the flight to Brisbane International Airport was also cancelled.

The Smartraveller website run by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the ash plume had drifted over parts of northern Australia and had “the potential to cause disruption to commercial aviation in Indonesia and Australia in the coming days.”

Air travellers were advised to consult their airlines and the Australian meteorology bureau’s website for flight disruption information.

Australian media quoted Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss as saying that depending on wind and weather conditions, the ash might also affect flights to and from other airports such as Brisbane.

Mt. Sangeang Api, located on Sangeang island in Indonesia’s Lesser Sunda Islands, erupted at around 4 p.m. on Friday, local time.




PAL launches new routes to Australia, China, Middle East

PAL launches more flights in Australia


PAL starts flying to new routes in Australia

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May 312014
Top Asian News at 12:30 a.m. GMT

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Police arrested a third suspect Saturday in the gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, as a top state official said he was recommending a federal investigation into a case that has triggered national outrage. The three suspects detained in the attack in Uttar Pradesh state are cousins in their 20s from an extended family, and they face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty, said police officer N. Malik. Two other suspects from the same village are also being sought, he said. WASHINGTON (AP) — The only American soldier held prisoner in Afghanistan has been freed by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Afghan detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Obama administration officials said Saturday. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was handed over to U.S. special forces by the Taliban Saturday evening, local time, in an area of eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Officials said the exchange was not violent and the 28-year-old Bergdahl was in good condition and able to walk. BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand’s army seized power in a May 22 coup, the Southeast Asian nation’s second in eight years. Here, four Associated Press correspondents who have been covering the crisis and the political turmoil leading up to it offer their insight into recent events: Q: THAILAND IS KNOWN AS THE “LAND OF SMILES.” WHY IS THERE SO MUCH POLITICAL TURMOIL? BANGKOK (AP) — In junta-ruled Read More …

May 312014

By Ana Villanueva Lykes WHILE we love to hate Kris Aquino for constantly crying on TV, she is laughing her way to the bank. Although we find her pathetic, she is one of highest-paid celebrities in the country, earning about 150 million pesos in 2011 alone. And there is nothing pathetic about that. This drama queen can teach us a lot about money, relationships, journalism, politics, good citizenship, and the art of Taglish. She is a role model on what to do and what not to do to achieve success in life. Sobbing to success We all know Krissy too well, not only because we’ve watched her grow up from a quiet girl to one of the most powerful celebrities, but also because we had mourned for her while she stood by her hero father’s final resting place. That was the first time we saw her tears. We cried with her too when she laid her beloved mother to rest. But the tears never stopped as we followed her on her trail of failed relationships. And before long, our tears dried up and sympathy turned to irritation. We cradled her like a daughter when she was orphaned, but she has turned into a whiny little brat who cries at the mere poke of a playmate. The problem is that she tends to choose mates that don’t play nice. There’s the bad boy of Philippine movies, then her live-in married partner with whom she bore a love child, and the gun-toting Read More …

May 312014
Lessons worth more than ¥1 million

FILIPINO STUDENTS manning the ‘Bayanihan Haiyan Aid’ booth at the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University cafeteria from Nov. 12-22 There are times in life when we doubt if any good can come out of a tragedy.  Other times, those doubts are erased, and a series of fortunate events leads to great and wondrous things. Six months after a terrible typhoon devastated Eastern Visayas, I look back and know I have been very blessed to be a witness to the latter—learning lessons that will sustain me through life’s unpredictable ups and downs. I have been living in Japan for the past three years as an undergraduate student in a tiny city called Beppu located on Japan’s southern island, Kyushu (Oita Prefecture). I had just started my fourth year taking up Sustainable Development at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU), an international university in Japan, when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck. The magnitude of the disaster slowly revealed itself on news and social media.  Feeling utterly helpless and far away, our Filipino community of 16 students and 4 faculty at APU felt this immense need to help our fellow Filipinos in Eastern Visayas who were affected. Although our little community has had its share of conflicts, we really came together and set all of that aside to focus on raising funds for the typhoon victims. There were even a few of us who had family members that were affected in Tacloban. COMMON HUMANITY Encouraging messages of many languages written by the students, guests Read More …

May 312014
Battling religious discrimination against same-sex couples

Not too long ago, I experienced the impact of the decision of the US  Supreme Court in the case of the United States v. Windsor.  While going over my snail mail, I found a handwritten envelope from a certain Eddie claiming to be a member of a church group in Glendale, California.  I browsed through a five-page handwritten letter and realized it was not an inquiry letter the likes of which I typically receive, but hate mail—five pages of venomous ramblings, barely coherent, condemning me for being a supporter of same-sex marriages. The letter writer said, “I consider you evil Ms Tancinco because you support and help same-sex marriages, in which God Yahweh don’t accept same-sex marriages and homosexual is a sin.”  In addition to judging me as evil, the letter sender declared that “God Yahweh can give you early death” and will “punish you with your future death.” Should I take this seriously? Maybe not. I respect each person’s right to speak his mind and espouse his own particular set of beliefs. The letter sender may just be expressing his opinion. But after the shooting in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara, such expressions of disgust and malevolence may be accompanied by the infliction of physical harm and violence. It is easy to say that the letter should be ignored. Being human, however, it is difficult not to take offense at the slanderous insinuations and judgments made for being an advocate of same-sex couples’ rights. Everyday ordeal I realize, of course, Read More …

May 312014
Legal setback

The boardroom battle at seafood processing giant Alliance Select Foods International Inc., pitting the majority shareholders against two Singaporeans minority shareholders, could soon be over with the latter recently suffering a  legal setback. The Regional Trial Court of Pasig recently dismissed the petition of Hedy Chua and Albert Hong Hin Kay for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the entry of Strong Oak Inc. in Alliance, saying that this did not appear to be of “extreme urgency.” The court ruling is a victory for the majority stockholders of Alliance, led by chairman George E. Sycip and president and CEO Jonathan Y. Dee. The Singaporeans were protesting a board resolution passed by Alliance to allow Strong Oak, Inc. to acquire 28.7 percent of the company’s shares through a private placement worth around P563.7 million. The investment involves the issuance of 430,286,226 shares to Strong Oak for P1.31 per share. The legal setback for the Singaporeans did not surprise observers, as the latest lawsuit, like two others the Singaporean had filed earlier to compel management to give them unprecedented access to company records, is deemed to be based on flimsy grounds. The two Singaporeans have been raising hell within the company. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 Chua and Hong have accused the Filipino majority shareholders of engaging in self-dealing. The two Singaporeans have also insisted that their personal auditor, who did nothing for the company but limited his work for the Singaporeans only, be compensated SGD20,000 Read More …

May 312014
Phl to remain strong this year, says HSBC

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine economy is expected to remain strong this year despite the slowdown in the first quarter, according to the latest HSBC Global Research.  “The economy slowed more than expected due to output loss from Typhoon Haiyan. Growth, however, was still above trend, reflecting sticky household consumption and gradually rising investment,” HSBC Asian economist Trinh Nguyen said in the research. Nguyen said with this optimism, the bank is maintaining its 2014 Philippine growth forecast of 5.9 percent, a deceleration from 7.2 percent in 2013. The Philippines grew 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 coming from a year of major disasters. Despite this, the Philippines ranked as the third fastest growing economy in Asia, after China (7.4 percent) and Malaysia (6.2 percent). The government believes that the Philippines is on the right path with nine consecutive quarters of above 5.5 percent GDP (grow domestic product) growth, bringing President Aquino’s average quarterly GDP growth rate to six percent. The report noted that despite slowing growth, supply-side constraints would push headline inflation higher in the third quarter of 2014. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1  “This will cause the BSP to hike main policy rates to mop up liquidity. We expect the central bank to raise rates by 50bp by yearend, taking the policy rate to four percent,” she said. Describing the implications of the GDP slowdown, the HSBC economist said “optimism is riding high in the Philippines and the slower-than-expected growth rate in Q1 Read More …

May 312014
Hitachi plans to expand infra systems business

MANILA, Philippines – Hitachi Ltd., a diversified energy solutions company, plans to expand its infrastructure systems business in Southeast Asia by building a structure that can respond quickly to the increasingly diverse needs and changes in the region. Toward this end, Hitachi will roll out business activities with close ties to the region and its customers to maximize the value provided to those customers and increase competitiveness on a global scale. The company believes that Southeast Asia has demonstrated rapidly increasing demand not only for large-scale urban development and social infrastructures in energy, transport, and water sectors, but also for industrial infrastructures, including industrial parks and resource development. From now on, Hitachi Infrastructure Systems (Asia) will manage business with localized leadership which would create and execute business and sales strategies for the entire Southeast Asian region. At the same time, it will dramatically expand the scope of its business offerings to encompass urban and energy solutions, which will primarily provide information and control solutions for the power and transportation and urban infrastructure fields and energy management systems. It would also provide water and environment solutions, which will primarily provide water treatment systems, monitoring and control systems and other solutions; industrial plants solutions, which will primarily provide industrial plants, information and control solutions for industrial fields, and security systems; and components, which will provide uninterrupted power supplies (UPS), inverters, and compressors, the company said. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 In a speech in Singapore last week announcing Read More …

May 312014
PPA earnings up 50% in Q1

MANILA, Philippines – State-run Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) booked a 50 percent increase in earnings in the first quarter of the year amid the growing volume of cargo handled by ports nationwide. PPA general manager Juan Sta. Ana said the agency’s net income amounted to P1.63 billion from January to March this year or P540 million higher compared to P1.09 billion in the same period last year. Sta. Ana said the earnings in the first quarter exceeded the agency’s income target of P960 million and is a testament that the measures being undertaken to reduce red tape and increase efficiency at the ports are effective.  “Simplifying requirements, reducing red tape and benchmarking Philippine port operations to world standards are giving huge positives to the agency,” he stressed. Data showed that PPA’s gross revenues grew 32.5 percent to P2.79 billion in the first quarter from P2.1 billion in the same period last year. The amount exceeded the agency’s target of P2.39 billion by 17 percent. Port revenues alone surged 34 percent to P2.77 billion from P2.07 billion. Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1 The agency’s fund management income, however, fell 42 percent to P19.78 million due to increased operational spending resulting in lesser temporary idle cash available for use in short-term investments. Total expenses rose 15 percent to P1.16 billion as operating expenses inched up by P1.06 billion primarily due to the increase in the cost of administration and continued repair and maintenance projects. Non-operating expenses such as Read More …