NEW SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
IN THE year 2000, a Swiss foundation initiated a campaign aimed at identifying the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Considering that the original Seven Wonders catalog was compiled in the 2nd century BCE, and with just one of those wonders, the Pyramids of Giza, still standing, it became evident that an update was long overdue.
Interestingly, people worldwide seemed to concur, as more than 100 million votes were cast through the Internet or via text messaging.
When the final results were unveiled in 2007, they elicited both applause and criticism. Some prominent contenders, such as Athens’s Acropolis, didn’t make the final cut. Do you align with the choices made for the new list?
Please read on:
- Great Wall of China
Great might be an understatement. One of the world’s largest building-construction projects, the Great Wall of China is widely thought to be about 5,500 miles (8,850 km) long; a disputed Chinese study, however, claims the length is 13,170 miles (21,200 km). Work began in the 7th century BCE (Before the Common Era) and continued for two millennia. Although called a “wall,” the structure actually features two parallel walls for lengthy stretches. In addition, watchtowers and barracks dot the bulwark. One not-so-great thing about the wall, however, was its effectiveness. Although it was built to prevent invasions and raids, the wall largely failed to provide actual security. Instead, scholars have noted that it served more as “political propaganda.”
- Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá is a Mayan city on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, which flourished in the 9th and 10th centuries CE. Under the Mayan tribe Itzá—who were strongly influenced by the Toltecs—a number of important monuments and temples were built. Among the most notable is the stepped pyramid El Castillo (“The Castle”), which rises 79 feet (24 meters) above the Main Plaza. A testament to the Mayans’ astronomical abilities, the structure features a total of 365 steps, the number of days in the solar year. During the spring and autumnal equinoxes, the setting sun casts shadows on the pyramid that give the appearance of a serpent slithering down the north stairway; at the base is a stone snake head. Life there was not all work and science, however. Chichén Itzá is home to the largest tlachtli (a type of sporting field) in the Americas. On that field the residents played a ritual ball game popular throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
The ancient city of Petra, Jordan, is located in a remote valley, nestled among sandstone mountains and cliffs. It was purported to be one of the places where Moses struck a rock and water gushed forth. Later the Nabataeans, an Arab tribe, made it their capital, and during this time it flourished, becoming an important trade center, especially for spices. Noted carvers, the Nabataeans chiseled dwellings, temples, and tombs into the sandstone, which changed color with the shifting sun. In addition, they constructed a water system that allowed for lush gardens and farming. At its height, Petra reportedly had a population of 30,000. The city began to decline, however, as trade routes shifted. A major earthquake in 363 CE caused more difficulty, and after another tremor hit in 551, Petra was gradually abandoned. Although rediscovered in 1912, it was largely ignored by archaeologists until the late 20th century, and many questions remain about the city.
- Machu Picchu
This Incan site near Cuzco, Peru, was “discovered” in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, who believed it was Vilcabamba, a secret Incan stronghold used during the 16th-century rebellion against Spanish rule. Although that claim was later disproved, the purpose of Machu Picchu has confounded scholars. Bingham believed it was home to the “Virgins of the Sun,” women who lived in convents under a vow of chastity. Others think that it was likely a pilgrimage site, while some believe it was a royal retreat. (One thing it apparently should not be is the site of a beer commercial. In 2000 a crane being used for such an ad fell and cracked a monument.) What is known is that Machu Picchu is one of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact. Despite its relative isolation high in the Andes Mountains, it features agricultural terraces, plazas, residential areas, and temples.
- Christ the Redeemer
Christ the Redeemer, a colossal statue of Jesus, stands atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro. Its origins date to just after World War I, when some Brazilians feared a “tide of godlessness.” They proposed a statue, which was ultimately designed by Heitor da Silva Costa, Carlos Oswald, and Paul Landowski. Construction began in 1926 and was completed five years later. The resulting monument stands 98 feet (30 meters) tall—not including its base, which is about 26 feet (8 meters) high—and its outstretched arms span 92 feet (28 meters). It is the largest Art Deco sculpture in the world. Christ the Redeemer is made of reinforced concrete and is covered in approximately six million tiles. Somewhat disconcertingly, the statue has often been struck by lightning, and in 2014 the tip of Jesus’s right thumb was damaged during a storm.
The Colosseum in Rome was built in the first century by order of the Emperor Vespasian. A feat of engineering, the amphitheater measures 620 by 513 feet (189 by 156 meters) and features a complex system of vaults. It was capable of holding 50,000 spectators, who watched a variety of events. Perhaps most notable were gladiator fights, though men battling animals was also common. In addition, water was sometimes pumped into the Colosseum for mock naval engagements. However, the belief that Christians were martyred there—namely, by being thrown to lions—is debated. According to some estimates, about 500,000 people died in the Colosseum. Additionally, so many animals were captured and then killed there that certain species reportedly became extinct.
- Taj Mahal
This mausoleum complex in Agra, India, is regarded as one of the world’s most iconic monuments and is perhaps the finest example of Mughal architecture. It was built by Emperor Shah Jahān (reigned 1628–58) to honor his wife Mumtāz Maḥal (“Chosen One of the Palace”), who died in 1631 giving birth to their 14th child. It took about 22 years and 20,000 workers to construct the complex, which includes an immense garden with a reflecting pool. The mausoleum is made of white marble that features semiprecious stones in geometric and floral patterns. Its majestic central dome is surrounded by four smaller domes. According to some reports, Shah Jahān wished to have his own mausoleum made out of black marble. However, he was deposed by one of his sons before any work began.
(Filed by Jr Amigo/ai/mnm)
Ni Patricia Lanzagarita
NABABAHALA at nalulungkot ang mga mag-aaral sa panibagong dagdag-pasahe na hindi lamang ipatutupad sa Metro Manila kung hindi pati na rin sa mga probinsya sa buong bansa.
Ito’y matapos dinggin ng Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) ang kahilingan ng mga transport group na taasan ang minimum na pasahe sa gitna ng pagsirit ng presyo ng petrolyo.
Nakatakdang magbigay ng pinal na desisyon ang LTFRB ukol sa taas-pasahe sa susunod na linggo.
Kaugnay nito ay naglabas ng kanilang hinaing ang mga estudyanteng komyuter.
Ayon kay Prince, isang working at BS Psychology student na halos araw-araw gumagamit ng pampublikong sasakyan, malaki ang epekto nito sa kanya dahil sa halip na maipandadagdag niya ito sa mga gastusin para sa eskwelahan ay mapupunta pa ito sa pamasahe.
“Bilang isang commuter na araw-araw sumasakay ng jeepney, nakalulungkot at nakakabahala ang pagtaas ng pamasahe dahil alam naman nating mahirap ang buhay ngayon,” sabi ni Prince.
Para naman sa isang BS Information Technology student na ayaw ipabanggit ang kanyang pangalan, bagaman sang-ayon siya sa pagtaas ng pamasahe dahil kita niya mula sa kanyang araw-araw na karanasan ang pagkadismaya ng mga tsuper ay masakit na, aniya, sa bulsa ang malaking pagtaas nito.
“Bilang estudyante, oo [malaki ang epekto nito] kasi umaasa lang naman ako sa baon na ibinibigay sa akin kada araw kaya bina-budget ko nang maigi ‘yung gastusin ko araw-araw,” sabi niya.
Samantala, idiniin naman ni Threo, isang BA Journalism student, ang malaking epekto nito sa kanyang allowance dahil ang malaking porsiyento umano nito ay nakalaan na sa kanyang transport expenses.
“Hindi rin natin masisisi dahil kailangan ding kumita ng mga drayber. ‘Yung issue naman ng pamasahe eh madalas nagmumula sa issue ng pagtaas ng langis na kung titingnan ay wala sa kamay ng common commuters or jeepney drivers ang mga possibleng mga solusyon kaya ang dapat umaasikaso dyan ay yung mga nakaupo,” dagdag pa niya.
Tila umaaray na ang ilan sa mga estudyante sa dagdag-pasahe kahit wala pa man ang opisyal na desisyon ng LTFRB ukol dito. (ai/mnm)
By Junex Doronio
WHO WILL BLINK FIRST?
This is the question as there are only four more days to go before the shadowy Medusa ransomware group will release in public the data that it has hacked from the government health insurer Philhealth if the latter refuses to cough up $300,000 or roughly P17 million in ransom.
Cybersecurity expert Renzon Cruz has expressed apprehension that Medusa may release a lengthy video ranging from 30 to 50 minutes in the event of non-compliance from PhilHealth, flaunting a series of PII data and IDs across various social media platforms like X (Twitter), Telegram, and Facebook.
Cruz said Medusa is well equipped as it even has a public relations arm, identified as “OSINT without Borders”, which seems to function on reporting breaches and re-publishing stolen data.
Just like the wily mythological creature, the shadowy Medusa ransomware group reportedly collaborates with global affiliates, expanding its reach and impact.
According to thecyberexpress.com, since its emergence in June 2021, the Medusa ransomware group has remained a prominent concern for cybersecurity experts.
The PhilHealth hacking was confirmed by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) on Monday evening, September 25, saying it was notified by PhilHealth regarding a ransomware attack.
Philhealth, however, assured that only employee information was breached.
Last September 22, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) first bared the cyberattack on the PhilHealth database.
DICT Undersecretary Jeffrey Ian Dy said the $300,000 or roughly P17 million ransom is in exchange for three things, namely:
- to hand over the decryption keys so the data can be accessed again;
- to delete the data that they obtained and not publish these to the public; and
- to give DICT a copy of the data which is in their possession.
DICT said it is working with PhilHealth and its outsourced cybersecurity vendors to complete the “clean up” of the system. (ai/mnm)
AS MANY of us Filipinos now know, Medusa is the ransomware group that launched an attack on PhilHealth’s cyber vulnerabilities recently.
To make matters worse, the country’s state insurer has been given a four-day ultimatum to comply with the demands of the cybercriminal group.
Medusa is accordingly demanding a $300,000 ransom, or P17,100,000 in Philippine configuration.
Any extension costs any victim like PhilHealth $10,000 per day according to published reports.
To better understand how Medusa operates and victimizes vulnerable targets please read on:
How Medusa operates
According to Lawrence Abrams from BleepingComputer, Medusa began targeting companies worldwide with multi-million-dollar ransom demands two years ago.
The ransomware operation, referred to as Medusa, gained significant momentum in 2023, specifically focusing on corporate victims with ransom demands in the millions.
While the Medusa operation was initiated in June 2021, it initially had limited activity with only a few victims.
However, in 2023, the ransomware group significantly escalated its operations and even established a “Medusa Blog” to release data from victims who refused to pay the ransom.
Medusa garnered media attention this year when it claimed responsibility for an attack on the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) district and shared a video containing stolen data.
In his latest BleepingComputer article, Abrams clarified that several malware families adopt the name Medusa, including a Mirai-based botnet with ransomware capabilities, a Medusa Android malware, and the well-known MedusaLocker ransomware operation.
It’s important to note that there has been confusion in reporting due to the common name, with many assuming it’s the same as MedusaLocker. However, the Medusa and MedusaLocker ransomware operations are distinct entities.
The MedusaLocker operation was launched in 2019 as a Ransomware-as-a-Service, involving numerous affiliates, a commonly used ransom note named “How_to_back_files.html,” and a wide range of file extensions for encrypted files. Negotiations for MedusaLocker typically occur on a Tor website at qd7pcafncosqfqu3ha6fcx4h6sr7tzwagzpcdcnytiw3b6varaeqv5yd.onion.
On the other hand, the Medusa ransomware operation emerged around June 2021, using a ransom note named “!!!READ_ME_MEDUSA!!!.txt” and a static encrypted file extension of “.MEDUSA.” Negotiations for this operation also take place on a Tor website, specifically at medusacegu2ufmc3kx2kkqicrlcxdettsjcenhjena6uannk5f4ffuyd.onion.
Regarding the encryption of Windows devices, Abrams explains that BleepingComputer has only been able to analyze the Medusa encryptor for Windows. It remains uncertain whether they have developed one for Linux systems at this time.
The Windows encryptor can be configured using command-line options, allowing threat actors to determine how files will be encrypted on the device as follows:
Option | Description
-V | Get version
-d | Do not delete self
-f | Exclude system folder
-i | In path
-k | Key file path
-n | Use network
-p | Do not preprocess (preprocess = kill services and shadow copies)
-s | Exclude system drive
-t | Note file path
-v | Show console window
-w | Initial run powershell path (powershell -executionpolicy bypass -File %s)
For example, the -v command line argument will cause the ransomware to display a console, showing status messages as it encrypts a device.
In a regular run, without command line arguments, the Medusa ransomware will terminate over 280 Windows services and processes for programs that may prevent files from being encrypted. These include Windows services for mail servers, database servers, backup servers, and security software.
The ransomware will then delete Windows Shadow Volume Copies to prevent them from being used to recover files.
Ransomware expert Michael Gillespie also analyzed the encryptor and told BleepingComputer it encrypts files using AES-256 + RSA-2048 encryption using the BCrypt library.
Gillespie further confirmed that the encryption method used in Medusa is different than the one used in MedusaLocker.
When encrypting files, the ransomware will append the .MEDUSA extension to encrypted file names, as shown below. For example, 1.doc would be encrypted and renamed to 1.doc.MEDUSA.
In each folder, the ransomware will create a ransom note named !!!READ_ME_MEDUSA!!!.txt that contains information about what happened to the victim’s files.
The ransom note will also include extension contact information, including a Tor data leak site, a Tor negotiation site, a Telegram channel, a Tox ID, and the email@example.com email address.
The Tor negotiation site is at http://medusacegu2ufmc3kx2kkqicrlcxdettsjcenhjena6uannk5f4ffuyd.onion.
As an extra step to prevent the restoration of files from backups, the Medusa ransomware will run the following command to delete locally stored files associated with backup programs, like Windows Backup. This command will also delete virtual disk hard drives (VHD) used by virtual machines.
The Tor negotiation site calls itself “Secure Chat,” where each victim has a unique ID that can be used to communicate with the ransomware gang.
Like most enterprise-targeting ransomware operations, Medusa has a data leak site named ‘Medusa Blog.’ This site is used as part of the gang’s double-extortion strategy, where they leak data for victims who refuse to pay a ransom.
When a victim is added to the data leak, their data is not immediately published. Instead, the threat actors give the victims paid options to extend the countdown before data is released, to delete the data, or to download all of the data. Each of these options has different prices.
These three options are done to apply extra pressure on the victim to scare them into paying a ransom.
Unfortunately, no known weaknesses in the Medusa Ransomware encryption allow victims to recover their files for free.
Researchers will continue to analyze the encryptor, and if a weakness is found, we will report it at BleepingComputer.
By Liza Soriano
SPEAKER Martin Romualdez expressed optimism regarding the Philippines’ economic outlook, citing a recent meeting with a team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that projected a substantial recovery in the second half of the year.
Romualdez emphasized that the IMF’s assessment was reassuring, indicating that the Philippine economy possessed the potential to rebound robustly in the latter half of 2023 and continue to experience accelerated growth in 2024.
This prediction comes against the backdrop of global economic concerns and potential slowdowns in 2023.
“The IMF’s positive forecast not only instills confidence but also underscores the resilience and dedication of our nation’s citizens. It reflects the effectiveness of the sound economic policies and reforms implemented during the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.,” Romualdez stated.
He further urged everyone to draw inspiration from the IMF’s encouraging outlook, emphasizing the importance of redoubling efforts to revitalize the nation’s economy.
The Speaker’s office reported that the IMF team specifically acknowledged the forthcoming national budget for 2024, expected to be approved early, as well as various measures aimed at enhancing the country’s competitiveness in attracting foreign direct investments.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives gave its approval on the third and final reading to the proposed 2024 budget of P5.768 trillion, with pending modifications to be addressed by a select committee.
This budgetary allocation marks a pivotal step toward achieving the economic recovery and growth envisioned by both Speaker Romualdez and the IMF. (ai/mnm)
Climate change activists initiated a protest march on Friday from Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, and Mendiola in Manila to Liwasang Bonifacio, as they assailed the United States government for its alleged failure to provide enough “Climate Finance.”
The protest came in the wake of United States President Joe Biden’s recent meeting with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum. Biden has accordingly acknowledged the concerns raised by these leaders regarding the devastating impact of climate change on their regions. He reassured them of the United States’ commitment to assisting them in addressing this pressing challenge.
Images show members of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and various other groups proudly displaying their banners as they marched from Mendiola to Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila.
Young students enthusiastically painted balloon-like lanterns as they participated in the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival, at Lucky Chinatown Mall in Binondo, Manila on Friday. The Mooncake Festival extends for a week, commencing on September 26 and concluding on October 1, 2023.
AMIDST heightened production expenses and dwindling egg supplies, retailers in Blumentritt Market, Manila, have implemented a P10 price hike per egg tray.
Additionally, egg producers are urging the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide support to corn farmers in a bid to bring down the cost of their products.
In the accompanying photos: Workers at an egg establishment in Blumentritt, Manila, diligently sort through each tray of eggs.
By Liezelle Soriano
An-Waray party-list Representative Florencio “Bem” Noel has been removed from the House of Representatives after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) canceled the group’s registration.
Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Representative Janette Garin made the motion last Wednesday in the plenary, saying that the lower house has received official communication from Comelec removing AW.
Garin said that the letter issued read “Certificate of Finality and Entry of Judgement canceling the registration of An-Waray party-list.”
“I move that the secretary general be directed to execute and implement the resolution and accordingly, drop the An Waray Party-List Representative from the roll of members of the 19th Congress,” the lawmaker said.
The party’s registration was previously canceled by the Comelec for allowing the then-second nominee Victoria Isabel Noel to take a seat in the House of Representatives without the necessary authorization back in 2016 which the party appealed.
In their appeal, the party-list said that there was insufficient evidence to justify the decision and for being contrary to the law.
“The act of taking her oath and her assumption of office with no Certificate of Proclamation [.] clearly constitutes a violation of the rules relating to Party-list representatives,” said in the Comelec resolution.
HANGZHOU – Barring any unforeseen circumstance, Asia’s best pole vaulter and Filipino superstar Ernest John Obiena is expected to deliver the Philippines’ first gold medal in the 19th Asian Games here on Saturday.
Obiena, the overwhelming favorite to win the pole vault gold in the Asiad, is expected to obliterate the opposition in the event slated at 7:05 p.m. at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre.
“My aim is to win (in Hangzhou). That’s the goal,” said Obiena in a previous interview.
The 27-year-old Obiena, who regained the no. 2 rank in the world following his runner-up finish to world champion Arman “Mondo” Duplantis in the 2023 Diamond League in Eugene, Oregon almost two weeks ago, holds the Asian record of 6 meters, he twice achieved in Budapest last August and Norway last June.
Obiena, however, doesn’t own the Asian Games record. That distinction belongs to Japanese Seito Yamamoto, who leaped to a height of 5.75 meters during the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games.
The Filipino pole vaulter, who was recovering from an ACL injury at that time, placed only 7th in that edition as he struggled to find any rhythm of sorts. He went on to leap just 5.45 meters.
Obiena will be aiming for payback against the 31-year-old Yamamoto, who according to Japan Running News, will be having another tour of duty for Japan in the Asiad.
Yamamoto’s best showing this season, however, is just 5.60 he did in the L’Anneau-Halle d’athlétisme de Metz in France last February. Yamamoto plus three Chinese pole vaulters will be in the field.
“This is the opportunity for us Filipino athletes to show what we’ve got,” said Obiena, who will also have a chance to end a three-decade medal drought by the country in the Asiad, where the last medal from athletics was won by Elma Muros, who bagged the bronze in the women’s long jump event.
“We are determined to contribute to the Philippine Team’s campaign. Our men and women are ready,” said athletics secretary general and team manager Edward Kho.
The only minor concern for Obiena, if it’s a worry at all, is jet lag.
“EJ is recovering from jet lag after arriving a few days ago from a competition in Oregon, USA. But he is a veteran. He will do what he has to do come tomorrow night’s finals in the pole vault,” said athletics chief Terry Capistrano. (ai/mnm)
HANGZHOU – Olympic silver medalist Nesthy Petecio failed to repeat against rival Lin Yu Ting of Chinese Taipei and made an early exit in the 19th Asian Games Friday at the Hangzhou gymnasium.
Lin used her height and reach advantage to keep at bay her Filipina adversary on the way to pulling off a 4-1 decision, and a place in the quarterfinals of the women’s 57-kg class.
Two years ago, Petecio, 31, took the measure out of the 5-foot-9 Chinese Taipei fighter by beating her, 3-2, in the Round of 16 of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where the native of Davao Del Sur won a silver medal.
This time, it wasn’t meant to be.
“Nag-unahan kami kung sino ang makakakuha ng saktong style. At naunahan niya talaga ako,” said Petecio, who was humble in defeat.
The loss denied Petecio her first shot at clinching a return ticket to the Olympics set in Paris next year as the quadrennial showcase serves as a qualifier to the Olympiad.
Now she has to go through and compete in the World Championship in the hopes of making it in the Paris Games and complete what had been an unfinished business for her.
“Hindi pa tayo tapos,” Petecio vowed.
Petecio’s exit also ended the women’s team campaign in the Asiad, leaving the men’s team – now down to just three fighters – to carry the fight in a bid to win Philippine boxing’s first gold medal since the 2010 edition of the quadrennial meet in Guangzhou, China.
Other than Petecio, those who failed to advance include her fellow Olympian Irish Magno, Aira Villegas, Aaron Jude Bado, Mark Ashley Fajardo, and Marjon Pianar.
CHUN’AN, Zhejang, China — Daniel Patrick Caluag vies in cycling’s BMX Racing on Sunday, October 1, exactly the same day nine years ago when he won the country’s one and only gold medal at the Asian Games’ 17th edition in Incheon, South Korea.
“I remember it as if it was yesterday,” said Caluag on Friday after his second day of testing the track in this city situated 155 kms from the 19th Asian Games main hub of Hangzhou.
He was a young 27-year-old rider coming off his first Olympics in London 2012 and capturing gold at the 2013 Asian championships in Singapore — BMX racing is relatively new on the global stage having been accepted as a medal sport in the Olympics only in Beijing 2008.
“I was heading to my first Asian Games, just after the birth of my daughter, Sydney,” added Caluag, who for his Incheon success was named Athlete of the Year by the Philippine Sportswriters Association.
“I was young, motivated, and hungry for success, eager to be the best in BMX and to put the Philippines on the map,” he said.
On Sunday, he’ll be up against riders many of them a decade younger than him hoping to emerge champion on the Chun’an track — although all BMX tracks follow UCI regulations, no two tracks all over the world are the same.
Caluag flew in three days ago from the US where he works full time as a Registered Nurse like his wife and former coach Stephanie — they were frontliners during the pandemic with Caluag getting himself infected and quarantined for more than a month.
“Now, as I left for the 19th Asian Games, Sydney just turned nine,” he said. “I approach it with much more confidence and understanding.”
He added: “I have nothing and I have much to gain. I am truly blessed to be able to continue to do the thing I love — ride my BMX — at 36 years old, the oldest rider on the track.”
Caluag will be racing on Sunday with fellow Filipino-American, 23-year-old Patrick Coo, who made a name for himself two years ago by winning gold at the Asian championships.
Caluag recalls his experience in London in 2012.
“Heading to London to work with the esteemed Dr. Jason Richardson [former world champion and PanAm Games gold medalist], I was driven to put forth my very best effort,” he said. “While BMX was a fairly new sport to Asia, I was already considered one of the top athletes in the world in the sport. Knowing I had an advantage due to my years of experience, I was more relaxed heading into the Games.”
The start list has yet to be released by the competition organizers but Caluag said he feels relaxed ahead of the event.
“I am more relaxed going into these Games,” he said, adding “It’s hard to measure progress in a changing sport like this, but I am certain I have become older and wiser. In the gym, my numbers have been higher than back in 2012 which gives me hope that I can represent the Philippines with pride and success.”
Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino agreed BMX in Asia has moved forward by leaps and bounds, but he remains confident Caluag could pull off another surprise — when nobody was looking, Caluag won that one and only gold in 2014.
“I was confident of a medal,” said Tolentino, also president of PhilCycling, of the Incheon experience, adding he felt the gold was achievable because Caluag had his brother CJ Caluag riding as his blocker.
But Tolentino knows how difficult winning in the Asian Games has become.
“Gold is rare in the Asian Games, especially with cycling discipline,” he said. “It is equivalent to blood being spilled during training.”
By Liezelle Soriano
FOR yet unknown reasons, the top-ranking Philippine educational institution Ateneo de Manila University made a steep dive in the 2024 edition of Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.
From its previous perch of 351-500 in the 2023 edition, Ateneo slid into the 1001-1200 bracket, according to THE’s recent report.
The steep decline also puzzles even Commission on Higher Education Chairman Prospero De Vera III who said on Friday that their agency would look into the factors as to why the Philippine universities’ rankings suffered a sudden setback instead of climbing up in the rankings.
“We should also look at criteria/areas where they are not going up fast (or worse may have gone down) like research and compare that with higher ranked universities. Then we know what we have to improve on,” De Vera said.
De Vera added that there is a possibility that international higher education institutions have “faster score improvement” now.
“Because these HEIs are increasing investments in research, faculty development, facilities, etc. compared to Philippine HEIs, they end up ranking higher than Philippine HEIs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines, which is supported by the government, also dropped from 801–100th place to 1,201–1500th this year.
The overall score decreased from 29.8 to 33.9 last year to 22.8 to 28.2, despite improvements in the teaching and global outlook categories.
De La Salle University, which had previously been included in the 1,200 to 1,500, slid into the 1,501+ category and is ranked third among HEIs with Philippine locations.
However, De Vera said that a lower ranking does not necessarily indicate a lesser score in THE’s world ranking. (ai/mnm)
SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang leads the launch of Better World Smokey Mountain in Tondo. This is the fifth Better World Community Center of SMC.
Marking its 133rd anniversary, San Miguel Corporation (SMC), through its San Miguel Foundation (SMF), has unveiled the latest and largest addition to its Better World Community Centers — a 3,700 sq.m facility near the former Smokey Mountain landfill that will serve as a learning and skills development center for 2,500 families or roughly 12,500 individuals from the historically underserved communities in Tondo.
Dubbed Better World Smokey Mountain, the center has 39 modern classrooms spread across four levels. It is part of SMC’s ambitious goal to uplift the lives of 15 million Filipinos by 2030.
“As we celebrate San Miguel’s 133rd anniversary, our commitment to nation-building and in helping uplift the lives of more Filipinos is as strong as ever. And today, a critical challenge in our country is the widening skills gap in our disadvantaged communities, which hinders the progress of many of our kababayans,” said SMC President and CEO Ramon S. Ang.
“Our goal is to equip our Tondo beneficiaries with essential skills, and instill in them a growth mindset, and a vision of a brighter future. By providing these families the opportunity to upskill, we hope to ultimately boost their income levels, decrease unemployment, elevate overall living standards, and help them realize inter-generational change.”
At the center’s launch Friday, Ang, who grew up in Tondo, was visibly moved upon seeing the children beneficiaries at the facility. On the spot, he announced to Manila Mayor Honey Lacuna a P500-million initial donation to help build more school facilities in the City of Manila.
He added that this was in gratitude to the city where he grew up, and further encouraged children from poor families to persevere and study well because, like him, they too can succeed in life.
SMC has been working with partners to boost skills training and entrepreneurship all over the country as part of its overall approach to nation-building which includes investing in critical, job-generating industries that are seen to boost both local and national economies.
Just last August, Ang announced the expansion of a years-long program with the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) that will provide skills training for the disadvantaged, and even displaced workers, returning OFWs, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities, in more provinces all over the country.
SMC started building Better World community centers in 2019 to address various societal issues — hunger, access to healthcare, education, and women empowerment, among others —at the ground level together with different non-government organizations.
For BWSM, SMC is working with AHA Learning Center, Upskills+ Foundations Inc., Project Pearls, Sandiwaan Center for Learning Inc., and Tulay sa Pag-Unlad Inc. These organizations have helped develop various programs to meet the diverse needs of families in the community.
These include academic support to help bridge learning gaps among elementary students; essential life skills training for high school students; vocational training opportunities for out-of-school youth and unemployed mothers; women-empowerment programs; teacher training and support; and specialized sessions in music, arts, dance, and digital creativity, led by accomplished industry professionals.
Families can become members by contributing “sweat equity”, which includes helping in the facility’s upkeep and engaging in various community activities.
Even families already benefiting from similar services provided by other organizations are encouraged to join.
BWSM is the fifth Better World Community Center of SMC.
Thus far, 2023 has been a significant year for SMC. Following the pandemic years, the company has marked numerous milestones, including the development of major projects, seen to boost the Philippines’ growth, development, and future readiness.
Reflecting its greater role in nation-building, SMC has also launched its new Group vision–“A resilient and globally-competitive Philippines where everyone can enrich and enjoy their lives”– and purpose statement: “To lead in nation-building by creating opportunities that will uplift generations of Filipinos, allowing all to share in the rewards of sustainable development and prosperity”.
More significantly, the company has also doubled down on its strong commitment to sustainability, declaring four major goals: uplift the lives of at least 15 million Filipinos by 2030; implement a circular economy approach by 2040; achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, and establish a fully sustainable and ethically sound supply chain by 2040. (ai/mnm)
HANGZHOU — Call it the lull before the storm, Jordan’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hugging Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone, Justin Brownlee, and TNT Tropang Giga teammate Calvin Oftana when they ran across each other at a training facility in the 19th Asian Games last Wednesday.
Even the TNT utility guy doubling for the national team got a warm embrace from the inherently friendly Hollis-Jefferson, whose Jordanian squad will face Gilas Pilipinas on Saturday, September 30, for an outright berth in the quarterfinals.
Game time is at 5:30 p.m. at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium, with the encounter expected to be anything but cordial.
The Philippine team had just concluded a one-and-a-half-hour practice for the game against Thailand on Thursday and was on its way to the third-floor elevator when Jordan’s top player showed up smiling broadly and started throwing high fives all around.
Apparently, the Jordanians were also having team practice at an adjacent playing court in preparation for their game against Bahrain the next day, and Hollis-Jefferson seized the chance to catch up with familiar faces.
There wouldn’t be much of that pleasantry in their next meeting, though, with both teams looking to sweep Group C of the preliminaries and move on, avoiding any disastrous detours in the event of a loss.
The Philippines and Jordan arranged the all-important clash between two unbeaten teams after they each dispatched their first two opponents, Bahrain and Thailand.
Nobody from Gilas, least of all Cone, is under any illusion, however, that Jordan will be a walk in the park.
“They’re gonna be tough,” said Cone after Gilas survived Thailand and a barrage of three-point shots from Tyler Lamb and Frederick Lish, 87-72.
“What can you say? They blew this team [Thais] out by 37 points, and we only beat them by what, 15 or whatever? So if you look at it that way, we don’t have much of a chance.
“But I think [if] you walk into our locker room when you talk to every one of those guys, they think we can beat Jordan.”
Though Cone wouldn’t go to specifics, it’s almost a foregone conclusion Gilas’ defensive strategy on Saturday would cover a big percentage of Hollis-Jefferson’s offense.
“We’re gonna try to put a big performance together and go out and play Jordan,” he said.
PBA fans may well remember Hollis-Jefferson for snaring the Best Import award over Brownlee in the Governors’ Cup last April, and for his 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists performance as TNT beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game Six, 97-93, for the championship.
Hollis-Jefferson, who had NBA stints with Portland, Toronto, and Brooklyn, iced his superb play by hitting two pressure free throws in the dying seconds that secured the victory.
He also showed great magnanimity by paying tribute to Brownlee, who valiantly battled the ill effects of severe food poisoning which landed him in the hospital after Game Five.
Brownlee had 29 points in Game Six.
Their rematch on foreign soil should provide a dramatic subplot when their national teams meet for a shot at the quarters, and an interesting preview of their forthcoming duels back home, five weeks before the new PBA season opens. (ai/mnm)
ONCE in a while, a very savvy and smart kid makes a difference and changes the course of history. Here are six people who left their mark at a young age.
Here they are:
- Joan of Arc
At age 13, believing she was on a mission from God but having no military experience, Joan of Arc led the French army in a major victory against the English at Orléans during the Hundred Years’ War and helped make it possible for Charles VII to regain the kingdom in 1429. Joan of Arc was captured by the English in 1430 and burned at the stake in 1431. She became a French national hero and was, at long last, canonized in 1920, becoming Saint Joan of Arc.
- Bobby Fischer
In 1958, at age 15, Bobby Fischer became the youngest chess player in history to be named grandmaster, the highest title possible. He had begun to attract international attention two years earlier when he was victorious in what became known as the “Game of the Century” between him and Donald Byrne. He continued to gather awards and winnings until the mid-1970s, when he went into seclusion, only to reemerge in 1992 to play one highly publicized game versus his former opponent Boris Spassky.
- Louis Braille
The Braille language for the blind was developed by Louis Braille in 1824, when he was just 15 years old. He tweaked it and expanded it after that, but, having been blind himself since the age of 3, he was inspired at a young age to conceive of a way to read and write. Braille consists of a code of 63 characters, each made up of one to six raised dots arranged in a six-position matrix or cell. The dots are embossed on paper and are read by using one’s fingers. He published the first Braille book, a three-volume history book, in 1837.
- Barbara Johns
In 1951 the 16-year-old Barbara Johns initiated a student strike over substandard facilities at her segregated school in Farmville, Virginia. Her activism attracted the attention of two National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) lawyers, who took her case to court to fight for better resources and to demand equality. The case, Dorothy E. Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, was one of five reviewed by the Supreme Court during the hearings of Brown v. Board of Education and used as evidence that segregated schools are unconstitutional.
- Mary Shelley
Though she didn’t publish it until she was 21, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus when she was 18. She wrote several other well-regarded novels throughout her career, but Frankenstein became her best known and remains a classic.
- Malala Yousafzai
In 2014, at age 17, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The young activist from Pakistan had become famous for speaking out against the Taliban and encouraging young girls like herself to pursue an education. She made her first public speech touting the cause when she was only 11 years old. She attracted international attention when she survived an attempt on her life at age 15.
(Filed by Jr Amigo/ai/mnm)
By Junex Doronio
PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has sustained a significant backlash in the most recent survey and for a ranking member of Sanlakas-Cebu, this might be due to his inability to deliver on his campaign pledge to reduce the cost of rice to P20 per kilogram.
This issue has become a glaring weakness for him, leading to disillusionment among the vast majority of the 31 million Filipinos who cast their votes in his favor during the May 2022 election, the socialist-leaning official said.
“Ang tinatahak na landas ni PBBM ay taliwas sa inaasahan ng mayoryang nagluklok sa kanya. Ang bigas na pangunahing pagkain na mahalaga sa mamamayan ang naging batayan ng pagboto sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. Ang pangakong gawing 20 pesos ang kilo ng bigas at ‘di niya kayang pangatawanan ang siyang magiging daan upang masiphayo ang mga umaasa sa kanya. Ito rin ang magiging daan upang dumausdos ang kanyang popularidad,” Sanlakas -Cebu secretary general Teodorico “Ka Teody” Duran Navea told Maharlika Nu Media in an exclusive interview Friday.
Known as one of the RJ factions of the leftist groups, Sanlakas-Cebu rooted for then-presidential candidate labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) in 2022.
RJ is the shortened term for the “rejectionists” or those who reject the “protracted people’s war” or prolonged armed struggle advocated by the RA or “reaffirmists.”
The RAs adhere to armed revolution by encircling the cities from the countryside — a concept that was copied from China’s Mao Zedong by the late Jose Ma. Sison, the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968.
Most recent survey
According to a recent survey conducted by Publicus Asia, there has been a decline in favorable sentiments towards the administration of President Marcos, accompanied by an increase in sentiments opposing the administration.
In the third-quarter survey by Publicus, released recently, it was found that 43 percent of respondents expressed support for the administration, a decrease from the 48 percent recorded in the second-quarter survey. Publicus noted that this decrease suggests a reduction in alignment with the current administration and its priorities compared to the previous quarter.
Conversely, anti-administration sentiments rose from 18 percent in the first quarter to 23 percent in the third quarter, indicating that a greater number of respondents are now opposed to or dissatisfied with the administration’s leadership. This trend suggests an ongoing increase in dissatisfaction with the administration.
Notably, the National Capital Region (NCR) witnessed a significant drop in pro-administration support, falling from 47 percent to 35 percent, while anti-administration support in the NCR increased from 17 percent to 30 percent. Southern Luzon also experienced a decline in pro-administration support, from 41 percent to 36 percent, although Mindanao continued to strongly support the Marcos administration, with 56 percent favoring it.
Despite these shifts, respondents’ political leaning toward the opposition or the Liberal Party remained stable at 45 percent. Pro-opposition support remained statistically constant at 20 percent, slightly higher than the 18 percent recorded in the previous quarter, while anti-opposition support decreased from 35 percent to 33 percent.
Publicus noted that some respondents may be adopting a “wait-and-see” approach, cautiously awaiting improvements from the current administration while refraining from full commitment to the opposition until concrete changes are observed.
The survey was conducted from September 7 to 12 and involved 1,500 respondents selected from a market research panel of over 200,000 Filipinos maintained by PureSpectrum, a US-based panel marketplace. Respondents were divided into five geographical areas: NCR, North Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. (ai/mnm)
By Patricia Lanzagarita
THE media and journalism industry honored on Thursday (28 Sept 2023) the annual celebration of World News Day, a global campaign to amplify the power, significance, and impacts of fact-based journalism.
The yearly event started way back in 2018 with the goal of raising awareness about the important role of journalists and media outfits in people’s everyday lives by providing credible and factual news.
David Walmsley, the founder of the World News Day Organization, said that he established this event to change the relationship between the news industry and its audience.
“Journalists are considered in too many parts of the world to be troublemakers. I want audience members to meet their reporters and hear the effort they put in to getting the story right,” Walmsley stated.
World News Day was organized by the WAN-IFRA’s World Editors Forum and Canadian Journalism Foundation, and supported by Google News Initiative.
“World News Day is for the audience, not the journalism industry. It exists to celebrate strong journalism and to push for more of it.”
Source: World News Day Organization
By Junex Doronio
THE PHILIPPINES’ LONGTIME ALLY and the world’s prime superpower United States of America has commended the brave act of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in removing the floating barrier in Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The floating barrier was installed last week by the China Coast Guard and prevented Filipino fishermen from operating in the international common fishing ground.
Describing the removal of the floating barrier installed by CCG as “a bold step in defending their own sovereignty” on the part of the Philippines, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Lindsey Ford also reaffirmed Washington’s security commitments to its Asian ally during a congressional hearing on Thursday (Friday in the Philippines).
“The department has been incredibly clear that when it comes to our treaty commitments to the Philippines, we believe an armed attack against the Philippine Armed Forces, public vessels, and aircraft, apply to the South China Sea. That includes the Philippine Coast Guard,” Ford told a House of Representatives subcommittee on foreign affairs.
On Monday, September 25, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) removed the floating barrier put up by the Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) following the order of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año.
Notably, even retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio who once led the “anti-Marcos” 1Sambayan opposition coalition in 2022 is now supporting President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s move to strengthen the country’s alliances with other states amid China’s moves in the West Philippine Sea.
The Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Bajo de Masinloc, is 198 kilometers west of Subic Bay in Zambales province, thus part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ), although China claims it otherwise.
“The 2016 Arbitral Award has affirmed that BDM is the traditional fishing ground of Filipino fishermen. Thus, any obstruction hindering the livelihoods of Filipino fisherfolk in the shoal violates international law. It also infringes on the Philippines’ sovereignty over BDM,” PCG Commodore Jay Tarriela earlier maintained.
Unfortunately, China refuses to honor the 2016 Arbitral Ruling up to this very day and has been making efforts to block supply ships from the Philippine Navy right inside territorial waters in the WPS several times recently.
Opening of the Malolos Congress on September 15, 1898, Image Courtesy of Kahimyang.com
On September 29, 1898, the Malolos Congress ratified the June 12, 1898 Act of the Declaration of Independence proclaimed in Kawit, Cavite.
The Declaration of Independence of the Philippines was attended by only one foreigner, an American colonel of artillery, Mr. L. M. Johnson. The Philippine independence was not recognized by any other country.
It all began on September 15, 1898, when the revolutionary congress convened in Barasoain Church in Malolos which also decided to draft a constitution. This constitution would become the Malolos Constitution of 1899.
The new constitution was approved by the Revolutionary Congress on January 20, 1899, and sanctioned by President Emilio Aguinaldo on January 21, 1899.
Source: Philippines News Agency, Pambansang Komisyong Pangkasaysayan
(Filed by Jr Amigo/ai/mnm)