todays top stories

BREAKING NEWS: Duterte threatens to terminate Visiting Forces Agreement

January 24, 2020

BREAKING NEWS: President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) should the US Government rectify their error. The president was dismayed on the American Government's immediate cancellation of the US Visa of Senator Ronald dela Rosa without justifiable reasons. But Senator Panfilo Lacson is quick to tell that there is no connection between Sen dela Rosa's visa cancellation with the bilateral agreement entered into by the United States and the Philippines. "A US visa is a conditional authorization granted to a foreigner. It may be cancelled without explanation or justification. The VFA is a bilateral agreement between the Ph and the US that went through some careful and diplomatic discussion. Pray tell, where is the connection," the senator said in his twitter account.  As for Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, he said "that agreement should always be subject to review. He (the President) can even say that 'times have changed and it is no longer needed by the country." Pimentel, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, added the President may cancell the accord "with or without a reason." For his part, Senator Ronald dela Rosa said "I don't deserve this bargain but it is not all about me. It is about a one-sided foreign relations." Although Dela Rosa has also openly said he is backing the president's idea of terminating the visiting forces agreement should the American Government would not rectify its cancellation of the US visa of the senator. In President Duterte's speech in Leyte the president was fuming mad upon knowing the said visa cancellation of his close ally in government - Sen Ronald dela Rosa. "I'm warning you. This is the first time. Kapag hindi ninyo ginawa ang correction diyan, I will terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). Tapusin ko 'yan pu**** in*** yan," was the president's angry reaction on dela Rosa's US visa termination.

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Deadly Coronavirus kills 17; downs 530 in China

January 24, 2020

CHINA - The deadly Coronavirus has already claimed 17 deaths and 530 patients, according to a radio report in Wuhan, China, a city with recorded 11 million people. As a result of this deadly Coronavirus, Chinese medical practitioners are now wearing Hazmat-clad suit to protect themselves from cross-infection from the deadly virus believed coming from the animals. Wuhan City, a city with estimated 11 million people, is where the virus reportedly started according to medical historians and experts. The deadly virus from China has also reached Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and just recently the virus also penetrated United States. Radio Free Asia has just released on social media a 17-second clip filmed in Huizhou, southern part of Guangdong Province in South China. The first confirmed Coronavirus was from a small coastal city in China with a population of nearly five million people. Guangdong province has a total infected patients of 26 according to the Radio Free Asia. Based on initial investigation by Chinese medical doctors and scientists, the virus is believed coming from live animals traded in Huanan Seafood Market. This is among the largest marketplaces in Wuhan, where the confirmed cases of medical practitioners infected by the virus.  It was also earlier reported that there are now 20 cases of medical practitioners under treatment for possible virus infection.  The Chinese authorities advised people to just stay indoors to avoid this so-called airborne diseases brought about by the Coronavirus.

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P129,000 fake bills seized in CDO raid

January 24, 2020

CAGAYAN de Oro City--About P 129,000 counterfeit bills was seized by the combined elements of the Criminal Investigation Detection Group (CIDG) and agents of the Central Bank here Thursday morning. Armed with a search warrant, the law enforcers raided the house of a certain Roberto de la Serna in Tablon, Cagayan De Oro City and seized the reported fake money. Police Lt. Noel Oclarit, head of the CIDG team, said that the suspect has been in surveillance after the law enforcers received reports about the alleged production of counterfeit money in the suspect’s computer shop. Oclaret said that the raiding team found the bundle of fake P 128,000 Philippine peso bills during the raid on De la Serna’s computer shop. He said that the Central Bank agents examined and confirmed that the P 1,000-peso bills were counterfeit. Oclaret said that the raiding team also seized the computer, printers and other accessories needed in the production of printing materials. He said that the team also recovered a .38 caliber revolver with four rounds of live ammunitions. Annie Ladislao, the suspect’s mother-in-law has denied that her son-in-law is engaged in illegal activities. De la Serna owned a computer shop, a mini-mart, and printing shop, all with business permits. -0-

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SEC to 3 lending firms: 'Stop!'

January 24, 2020

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered three lending firms to stop offering loans to the public through online platforms without the necessary licenses. In a press statement, the SEC ordered Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan to stop offering loans after the Commission En Banc issued the order on January 21, enjoining the owners, operators, promoters, representatives, agents and any and all persons claiming and acting for and in their behalf to immediately cease and desist, under pain of contempt, from engaging in, promoting and facilitating unauthorized lending activities.   The SEC likewise ordered Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan to cease from offering and advertising their lending business through the internet and to delete or remove promotional presentations and offerings from the internet, including the lending applications they operate.   Section 4 of Republic Act No. 9474, or the Lending Company Regulation Act of 2007, requires that a lending company be established only as a corporation. It further provides that “no lending company shall conduct business unless granted an authority to operate by the SEC.”   Any person who shall engage in the business of lending without a validly subsisting authority to operate from the SEC may face a fine ranging from P10,000 to P50,000 or imprisonment of six months to 10 years or both, under Section 12 of the Lending Company Regulation Act.   Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan offered loans to the public through their respective websites, mobile applications, Facebook pages and other similar online platforms, based on the findings of the Commission’s Corporate Governance and Finance Department and Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD).   Certifications by the SEC Company Registration and Monitoring Department (CRMD), however, showed that Peso Tree, Pesoalo and Pinoy Cash Loan were not registered as corporations and that they were not issued the necessary certificate of authority to operate as lending companies.   The EIPD further found the online lending operators to have employed abusive collection practices by imposing high interest rates, onerous and misleading terms and conditions, making misrepresentations as to non-collection of charges and fees and subjecting their debtors to public humiliation and ridicule to the extent of violating their right to privacy to ensure prompt and full collection of indebtedness.   “Considering that the Online Lending Operators are not incorporated entities and have no Certificate of Authority to Operate as Lending Companies or Financing Companies, the lending activities and transaction are illegal and have to be stopped immediately by this Commission,” the order read.   “Finally, the Commission cannot turn a blind eye on the fact that the Online Lending Operator's violation in the instant case was aggravated by the fact that they conducted their business in an unscrupulous manner with evident bad faith, by charging their borrowers unconscionable interest rates, subjecting them to inhumane treatment using abusive and degrading language, and similar other harassment strategies in order to collect debts. This has to stop immediately.”   The SEC earlier issued cease and desist orders covering a total of 48 online lending platforms and their operators for engaging in the business of lending or financing without incorporating and securing a certificate of authority. More information is available on the Lending & Financing Companies page on the Commission’s website. (PR)

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Chinese New Year’s warning: Be on guard against toxic rat-inspired 'lucky' figurines

January 24, 2020

THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health group, has detected lead, a hazardous chemical, on some cute but toxic rat-inspired figurines. To mark the Chinese New Year of the Metal Rat, the group purchased 11 decorative rat figurines from retailers in Binondo and Quiapo, Manila for P100 to P200 per set and had them screened for lead, a heavy metal banned in paint formulations, using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device. “While five of the samples are luckily negative for lead content, six had lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm),” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. Out of the 11 samples, the group detected lead ranging from 874 to 3,798 ppm on six samples.  None of the 11 samples had product labeling information, and none of the lead-painted ones provided any lead hazard warning, “These adorable items can easily pass for toys, so it’s very important to ensure that such items are guaranteed lead-safe,” Dizon said. A child can be exposed to lead when she or he plays with a lead-coated item, bite it and ingest the lead.  Lead exposure may also happen if the item is broken or damaged, contaminating the household dust with lead that a child can ingest as a result of hand-to-mouth behavior. Lead is exposure is detrimental to human health, especially to the developing brain and central nervous system of a young child. Childhood exposure to lead, considered one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), can result to lower intelligence, speech and language problems, hearing loss, reduced bone and muscle growth, increased blood pressure, damage to the kidneys, and behavioral disorders. Last year, the year of the Earth Pig, the EcoWaste Coalition detected lead up to 5,042 ppm on three piggy banks.  In 2018, the year of the Earth Dog, four samples of dog figurines were found to contain lead up to 6,578 ppm. In 2017, the year of the Fire Rooster, lead measuring 5,032 ppm was uncovered in one lucky rooster figurine, while in 2016, the year of the Fire Monkey, lead up to 7,800 ppm was discovered in brightly colored monkey ornaments. To avoid buying lead-containing products, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to insist on their right to product information and to refrain from buying items that carry no information and offer no assurance of safety from harmful chemicals such as lead. The group asserted that producers, importers, distributors and retailers should only make and offer for sale products that are duly labeled and certified as compliant to product safety regulations. /http://www.ecowastecoalition.org

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Cagayan de Oro Chinese New Year Festival Heritage Feature:

January 24, 2020

La Casa del Chino Ygua, the oldest house in Cagayan de Oro A reproduction of the Casa del Chino Ygua from XU Museo de Oro. Ygua is the 4th from left. At the corner of Don Apolinar Velez and Archbishop Santiago Hayes streets stands an unimposing two story brick building which has withstood ravages of time, the Philippine Revolution, the Filipino-American War, and World War II. It’s perhaps unfortunate how today, despite the quantum gains made by modern communications, few of Cagayan de Oro City’s growing populace are aware it’s now the city’s oldest surviving residence and has quite a history behind it. Known to local history buffs as La Casa del Chino Ygua*, it has been recognized as a historically significant structure by the National Historical Institute of the Philippines, as confirmed by the NHI marker installed there in April 7, 2000, the Centennial of the Battle of Cagayan, also known as Siete de Abril. According to local historian Antonio Julian Roa Montalvan II, the house was built by Sia Ygua, a resident of Amoy (present day Xiamen) a city in the province of Fukien (now Fujian). Ygua is recorded as the earliest Chinese to have settled in Cagayan. While Amoy was an exit port, most of the Chinese who migrated outside the region came from the Yueyang and Fujian but Ygua was really a native of Amoy. (Montalvan, 2004) In a manuscript transcribed from Sia family records by Johnson L. Sia, a 4th generation descendant of Ygua, he writes how his great grandfather arrived in Cagayan de Misamis (as Cagayan de Oro was then known) in 1854 and opened his business in 1857. Named Tong Joo after his second son, it was a typical trading post that dealt in indigenous products like copra, tobacco, abaca and the like. The business prospered and soon expanded to the nearby towns. In time it became one of the largest business establishments in the area (Sia, 2004) According to a short account of the house written by the late Fr. Francisco Demetrio, S.J. in his publication Cagayan (1971), Ygua became friends with the Recollect priests of the nearby San Agustin church. Due to his industry, and the help given him by the fathers, he gradually amassed a fortune. Like most Chinese who settled in Cagayan, he took active part in civic and public life. He was known for his good heartedness. It is said that when he died, practically everyone in Cagayan wore black in mourning (Demetrio, 1971). Ygua built his residence in 1882 at a time when the running conflicts between Moros in Sulu and Cotabato and the Spanish regime in Mindanao and the Visayas was beginning to affect his business. To better secure himself and his trade, Ygua had his house built of sturdy brick and stone which were shipped from Amoy (along with the builders) by Chinese junks in two boatloads. The original house was a two-storey structure constructed on an irregular shaped 2,000 square meter lot. It was located on the corner of what today is Archbishop Santiago Hayes (formerly Victoria) and Don Apolinar Velez (formerly Calle del Mar) streets, and extended all the way to Pabayo street.    The house had a floor area of 600 square meters and was built of brick and stone. In addition, its posts, beams, floors, door, and window jambs were sourced from two large old Molave trees. Alternating planks of 1” x 8” Molave and Balayon wood were used for the floor, while the roof was also made of bricks and stone. (Sia, 2004). In his account Johnston L. Sia claims La Casa del China Ygua was the first brick house in town, but according to Fr. Demetrio, it was the second ‘balay nga bato’ (house of stone) in Cagayan, as houses made of brick and stone (which were status symbols then as they are now) were then known. “There were many houses of stone in old Cagayan, so we are not sure if the Sia house was the first. An old house in Burgos yielded 1800s adobe stones and bricks. In fact, nearby the Sia house, just across actually (the empty lot on the corner across it) used to be a big house of stone belonging to Consolacion Roa y Cases Abejuela,” Dr. Montalvan commented. “Barring any hard evidence, we should deviate from the qualifier first.” The house is now not only the oldest surviving residence in Cagayan de Oro, but also holds an honored place in the country’s history. The NHI marker installed on its Hayes street side recounts how on January 10, 1899, patriotic Kagay-anons celebrated independence through a Fiesta Nacional as a sign of support for the Philippine revolutionary government headed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. They gathered in front of Ygua’s house, marched around the poblacion playing music, made speeches at the Casa Real (the governor’s residence), fired cannons and raised the Philippine Flag for only the second time in Mindanao. (Montalvan, 2002) On April 7, 1900, Filipino revolucionarios of the Mindanao Battalion led by Gen. Nicolas Capistrano attacked the American garrison of the 40th Infantry Regiment, U.S. Volunteers near present day Gaston Park in the Battle of Cagayan. However, they suffered many casualties (U.S. records show 52 Filipinos killed, Filipino archives say 200) and were eventually beaten back by the American’s superior firepower. (ibid.) The remains of many fatalities were buried in the backyard of Ygua’s house. To appease the souls and spare the inhabitants from being disturbed, Ygua turned their burial place into a temporary cockpit. The blood from the fighting cocks was believed to appease the restless souls. Until 1971, candles were lighted along the house in memory of the dead soldiers during All Souls Day. (Demetrio, 1971)  When Sia Ygua passed away in Manila, his businesses were left to his managers. In time, two of his sons and a daughter came to the Philippines. The daughter, Sia Hong Moi, married a Manileño and stayed in the capital. The sons, Sia Simeon Velez and Sia Tong Joo, came to Cagayan de Misamis and eventually took over his businesses. In 1936, Sia Simeon Velez and Sia Tong Joo divided the family property, and the brick house came into the possession of Sia Tong Joo. Sia Tong Joo married Lu Oh O and had six children who stayed in Cagayan: three sons (Sia Bon Din, Sia Bon Suan and Sia Bon Hiok) and three daughters (Sia Pian Tin, Sia Chay Oan and Sia Chay Pin). They lived in the brick house, and even after the children had grown and had families of their own, the house remained as the center of family activities, being the venue for family gatherings and reunions during festivals like the Chinese New Year. The house suffered extensive damage during World War II. After the war, Sia Tong Joo renovated the house. Because of the shortage of materials, the roof had to be patched using nipa and the walls replaced by talisayan wood. Through these measures the house was given a semblance of its former appearance. The first major renovation of the house was undertaken in 1948. The damaged bricks were replaced by cement while plywood and asbestos were used for the walls. The 1” x 8” planks were however so sturdy they remained intact. Sia Tong Joo left for China in 1948, but his wife and children remained in Cagayan. Eventually, the son Sia Bon Din left and engaged in business in Talakag, Bukidnon and his other son Sia Bon Hiok left for Hong Kong. Meanwhile, his three daughters got married and moved out as well. The house thus eventually passed on to Sia Bon Suan. Sia Bon Suan married Betty Lim Siok Oan, and had 13 children: six sons (William, Henry, John, Augustin, Benjamin and Peter) and seven daughters (Ana, Corazon, Mely, Mary, Helen, Teresita and Shirley). Sia Bon Suan and his wife passed away in 1981 and 1975, respectively, and in due time his properties were divided among his children. The brick house was passed on to his fifth son, Dr. Benjamin Sia. The house was renovated for the second time in 1993 by Dr. Sia to how it looks today. It has been  over a century and half since Sia Ygua came to the Philippines. His descendants have spanned five generations and have been completely assimilated into Philippine society. More than 200 descendants live all across the country, the majority of who remain in Cagayan de Oro. *( although Igua is currently with an “I”,  we have chosen to use “Y” for anthropological reasons; i.e, it was spelled as such during the Hispanic period: e.g. iglesia was spelled yglesia)                                                                                                                         -30- (Compiled from stories earlier published in Cagayan by Fr. Francisco Demetrio, S.J. on August 28, 1971; Cagayan de Oro Ethnohistory Reader by Antonio J. Montalvan II in 2004; and a manuscript transcribed by Johnson L. Sia from Sia family records in December 17, 2004. Johnson Sia is a fourth generation descendant of Sia Ygua. He is currently a Vice President at Citibank. He finished his high school in Cagayan de Oro, obtained his Bachelor’s degree from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1988 and his Masters in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management in 1992.) The NHI marker installed on April 7, 2000 commemorates the Centennial of the Battle of Cagayan fought on the same date 100 yrs. before.

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