Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Am A Victim Of Groupon Philippines

I am a victim of Groupon Philippines, and  here is my bad experience with this group buying company. Please read on, learn from it and don't be a hapless victim to this cheat.

In March this year, I've purchased a "hot deal of the day" from Groupon which was a dine-in promo at Barrio Fiesta. I was aware that the deal was valid for only three months upon purchase so I didn't attempt to redeem it when the validity expired. Thus I have no idea really if I would have encountered problems if I decided then to redeem the voucher within the validity period.  Then I decided to buy another deal from Groupon in April. I purchased five (5) Numlock watches which totaled Php 3995. It stated on its Fine Print that "Delivery will begin on May 14, 2012 and will take 5 – 7 working days" but it was months before they delivered my purchase and, alas, the 2Go courier had only 3 watches instead of 5! So I refused the package and returned it to sender. Then I immediately called Groupon, but it seemed their customer hotline was unattended because despite  the many times I've dialed it nobody was answering the phone! I repeated the futile attempt for several days but their phone was either busy or nobody was answering it. 

I then emailed them and surprise, surprise a customer agent by the name of Aya called me using the number 09175992247 and asked me about my complaint. I told her about the nondelivery of my purchase and she assured me that they will attend to it ASAP.  

Weeks passed and still no delivery, so I tried to call the same mobile number but they're not answering. Then I texted them my name and the nature of my complaint and I told them if they don't deliver soon I would opt for a refund. A woman called me back (forgot the name) and she informed me the items were already delivered,  and I told her I refused the delivery because they were 3 instead of 5 watches. She promised me that Groupon will look into it and delivery will be at the soonest. 

Weeks after and still no watches.  I sent them another text message on November (around the third week) inquiring about the delivery. A woman called me and informed me that the courier failed to find my address, and I replied "What?!" She read me the delivery address and I told her that it's accurate and she apologized then asked for landmarks so the courier would know the exact address she said. And then she assured me (again!) that the delivery will be within the week, but up to now I can't tell time because not a watch has been delivered, as in zilch and zero. 

I tried their Facebook page, and the reply was always "Please provide us with your email address so we can attend to it" just like an automaton. Through Facebook I came to learn that many are disgruntled with Groupon, and the complaints usually concern nondelivery and failure to refund. Recently though I noticed that only the "likes" and positive comments appear on their page now and I no longer encounter complaints. Maybe because negative comments swarm their Wall that Groupon block and/or screen posts.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another US shooting spree downs 3 in Oregon

From USA Today:
10:21PM EST December 11. 2012 - PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A gunman opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall Tuesday, killing two people and wounding another as people were doing their Christmas shopping, authorities said.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as a gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and what looked like a hockey mask fired rounds fire from a military-style rifle near the food court at Clackamas Town Center.
Parents with children joined other shoppers rushing to stores' backrooms for safety as teams of police officers began entering the mall to find the shooter.

(Associated Press)

Clackamas County sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes said later that the gunman was dead, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A shopper told KATU-TV he saw a man lying on the floor with a gun next to him.
Authorities went store-to-store to confirm that there was only one shooter and to escort hiding shoppers outside, Rhodes said.
Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy's, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest.
He heard the gunman say, "I am the shooter," as if announcing himself, Patty said. He then fired several shots paced seconds apart.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Inmates as call center agents?! Bilibid Or Not

Only in the Philippines, folks. Then: Dancing Inmates. Now: Call Center Inmates.

I wonder if there will be an outsourcing or just outbreaking? :)

From Yahoo News:
TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA – An information and communications technology (ICT)-based training program has been initiated for detainees in an effort to provide them with the necessary skills that would make them viable workforce upon their release from prison.
Incidentally, the IT course being offered is on call center training.
The program, ostensibly called BILIB I.T. (a wordplay of “bilibid” that describes a prison), was started by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority(TESDA) and technology training school Informatics.

The training is being pilot tested at Camp BagongDiwa in Taguig City, with the idea to have it emulated in other municipalities with detention centers.  (Alexander Villafania)

Inmates lining up - no, not for their mug shots -  but for their  training program 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Do we need Jaymar Waradje as state witness in Julie Ann Rodelas kidnap-slay case?

I'll just share a few thoughts on the controversial case of the slain model Julie Ann Rodelas. First off, it's not a rape-slay case as what several news blogs I've browsed through have labelled it. According to latest police information, there is no conclusive evidence that rape was committed although they're not ruling out the possibility. I don't know when or if  the police investigators will be able to have conclusive findings before Rodelas' burial this Saturday. I hope they already did a thorough autopsy of the body; otherwise, the victim's family faces the agony of exhumation.

Secondly, I'm bothered by the statement coming from the media and from the police that one of the accomplices Jaymar Waradje will be a state witness. Do the prosecution really need him as a state witness? I believe the evidence is very strong to convict the perps, so why turn Waradje as state witness? In exchange for what? Immunity from being prosecuted? A lesser penalty? I hope not. For crying out loud, the man knowingly participated in the crime - abducting a defenseless woman "to teach her a lesson". In my view, he should be put to jail along with his cohorts! Let's teach them all a lesson!

Four of the six suspects in the Rodelas kidnap-slay case: Althea Altamirano, Fernando Quiambao Jr., Gelan Pasawilan, and Jaymar Waradje

Thirdly, I noticed that several members of our police are overeager to grant interviews. I saw in the early news tonight that reporters were pointing their cameras and mics to forensic people (see video below) as the latter comb the black Montero for blood splatter and other evidence. Said car is owned by one of the suspects Fernando Quiambao Jr and believed to be the one used by the suspects to kidnap and dump Rodelas' body. Hindi kaya ma-contaminate ang ebidensya? Remember the Vizconde Massacre? Nakakainis lang kasi madalas kong makita ang ganitong eksena sa mga imbetigasyon ng mga kapulisan natin.  Andaming umeeksena sa scene of the crime at di man lang nila masaway. Journalists should also practice discretion, please.

Lastly, in connection with my observations and video above (please take note of Chief Inspector Marcelo's statements being corrected), I think the police should designate a spokesperson and /or schedule press conferences during an investigation, especially if it's high profile.  Our police officers have proclivity for explosive statements and often they tend to falter on leading questions by the media. Reporter: Sir, may nangyari po bang rape? Police: Oo, maaaring may nangyaring ganun.  We don't need speculations, sir, we need definitive statements based on forensic evidence gathered. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kennedy to Sotto: Apologize for unsanctioned theft

It's a shame that this is the second time that I'll be blogging about plagiarism committed by our country's top leaders. The first one I wrote in November 2010 was that of Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo who copied his ruling from two international law experts, namely professors Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Decent of the universities of Syracuse and McGill respectively. Del Castillo's ruling has involved the dismissal of the case of 70 comfort women in compelling the Philippine government to support their claim to seek apology and reparation from the Japanese government. More shameful is the fact that Del Castillo was absolved by his colleagues in togas and that his impeachment was shelved by the House of Representatives.

Now, it's Wanbol University's Tito Escalera aka Sen. Tito Sotto who's turned into a copycat. We all know that Sotto is against the Reproductive Health Bill and to convince Filipinos of the "evil" of the RH Bill, he resorts to all kinds of tactics - from grandstanding and shedding crocodile tears in the Senate. In so doing, he's been lifting phrases, sentences and paragraphs from different sources including those of the late Robert F. Kennedy. Sotto has been chastised and called names by those whose works he plagiarized and by the lot of us who cannot tolerate dishonesty in any form from any public official. And yet he refuses to admit the flagrant act and apologize. Just like his character Tito Escalera in Iskul Bukol, Sen. Sotto is talagang kapalmuks.

Below is the scathing letter from Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy,  to our "esteemed" Senator Sotto who made RFK's "ripple of hope" his very own.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pres. PNoy:From Noynoying To Annoying

A couple of days ago in one of his overseas visits, President Benigno Aquino III once again lambasted his archenemy the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Just like his smoking habit (I heard he smokes up to three packs a day!), our dear president simply cannot give up his hobby of enumerating Arroyo's transgressions to us Filipinos. We all know Arroyo rigged the 2004 presidential elections and that she and her husband Mike along with some close political allies had received pay-offs from the NBN-ZTE deal as well from other government procurement projects. Oh, and that she has a son named Mikey who considers himself an actor but cannot really act (sorry, can't resist this one hehehe). But to always segue to her in  public speaking events and interviews and blame her for the widespread malaise in the country, it's becoming disagreeable.

Aquino is cruising every avenue to prosecute Arroyo at every turn. To Arroyo, her former student is as tenacious as a pit bull - he just won't let go no matter how she tries to shake him off. Definitely, the wheelchair thing failed to elicit sympathy from PNoy.

His quest to bring down Arroyo and her cohorts seems to highlight the rumor that he's noynoying, or basically doing nothing in his incumbency. IMO, PNoy sounds like a broken record in his personal vendetta against the former prez that he begins to annoy me - a lot. Mr. President napakarami pong problema ng bansa that needs your full attention. There's our territorial disputes with China and other neighbors, the "sin tax" on tobacco and alcohol, the RH bill, red tape, the Freedom of Information bill, the state of our international airports, and so on.

I'm not asking PNoy to let the corrupt go scot free; what I want is for him to accomplish what he always promises in his SONAs which is improved lives for Filipinos. Let the Ombudsman and other inquiry agencies such as the Revenue Integrity Protection Services (RIPS) do the digging for him. Tutal may mga appointees (which is euphism for tuta)  naman si presidente sa mga yan for sure. Although admittedly I rarely hear of RIPS doing its mandate so baka wala ring ginagawa ang ahensya para bantayan ang kaban ng bayan. At tutal may common pain in the butt naman sila ng dating pangulo so may be he can now ease off the noose on Arroyo. The common and shared pain? If Arroyo has Mikey, PNoy has a sister named Kris who considers herself an actress but also cannot act  (sorry, can't resist that one too). I remember a joke bandied about Kris Aquino when she's just started her showbiz career. Q: Anong pagkakaiba ng iyak at tawa ni Kris Aquino? A: Eh, di wala!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cloud Atlas: Shrugged Off The Box Office?

The much-awaited epic drama Cloud Atlas is now playing  in US theaters, and looks like despite the hype it's not doing that well in the box office. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 62%  rating and it's causing divisiveness among movie buffs. I was one of the many film fans who have been awaiting this film to hit the local cinemas but not anymore. One critic considered it as a "self-indulgent, ambitious mess", and if this is truly the case it's no wonder it's been overtaken by political drama Argo (starring Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston) both in revenues and rave reviews. Reportedly, producers spent $102 million in making this three-hour film (with the German government putting in some dough) and with just $9.4 million in opening profit, the producers' ROI presents, er, a cloudy picture.

It seems the problem lies in the storytelling. It is based on David Mitchell's novel of the same title, and naysayers agree that this film is one of those great literature that goes awry when translated into the visual medium. I've seen the trailer and definitely the visual effects and the cinematography are amazing, but the plot line simply, well, flatlined according to critics. It is six interwoven stories at different time frames in different locales. Sounds convoluted, right? Well, it is. And because the film uses basically the same actors, there's the valiant attempt to transform them from one character to another. But such attempt proved futile in my opinion because I've seen excerpts of  "yellowfaced" Jim Sturgess playing the role of a Korean liberator; and my, oh my, it was downright awful. If the directors thought they were going to pull it off with the prosthetic slant eyes, they decided wrong. For me, believability has gone out of the window with a slam when I saw Sturgess as Hae-Joo Chang.

Jim Sturgess as Hae-Joo Chang in Cloud Atlas

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shawn Mullins - Beautiful Wreck, Beautiful Soul

Nothing is a  more pleasant experience than to stumble upon something that can move you in many ways. Serendipity, I think, is what it's called. A serendipitous discovery is what I would consider my introduction to Shawn Mullins' music. It was late '90s and grunge, which sustained me during college years, has lost its appeal  on Generation X. Gradually, the angst-filled lyrics and the incessant riffing became a thing of the past. So I was in auditory limbo, so to speak, when one day I was listening to the now-defunct NU 107 station and this raspy voice threaded through the airwaves half talking, half singing a jaded view of Hollywood. Nothing new about the subject; it's formulaic, but with the husky voice and gentler guitar accompaniment it was a welcomed novelty for me. 

The song was Lullaby, and it was the song that catapulted Mullins from the whiskey-soaked bars and Chinese restaurants into  the mainstream music scene. It was by sheer luck that many days after I got hooked on Mullins my brother, who's been working abroad, brought home with him  Soul's Core, a 14-track album which includes Lullaby.  Apparently my brother had enough of John Fogerty and The Eagles that he'd turned to Mullins too. LOL.

The songs Twin Rocks, Oregon and  Anchored In You instantly appealed to me. With his sometimes melancholy, sometimes congenial voice (you can actually hear his smile), great guitar playing and lyrical simplicity he moved me.  Certainly, he didn't need evocative phrases to accomplish that.  In Anchored In You, which could be his torch song in the album, he simply laments "I'm stoned in San Francisco with you on my mind".

Twin Rocks, Oregon is a poignant piece, probably his autobiographical anthem. Singing in first person as he often does,  Mullins talks about a vagrant artist possibly not unlike himself when he started his musical journey. He begins with "I met him on the cliffs of Twin Rocks, Oregon" then continues describing the man who "had a bottle of Mad Dog he held in his hand/That he waved around a lot to make his point."  The two talk over a shared joint about their shared experience, particularly the frustrations that come in the way in pursuit of one's passion ("I don't reckon I'll be makin' it big/You know it's hard to get rich off a tout of coffee house gigs"), and then their version of vindication (And he said yeah, but ain't it a blessin' to do what you wanna do).

Mullins' visage looks like his voice and music - gritty, with uncompromising lines, and looking like life has thrown some punches  his way. Beautiful wreck is how I would describe it,  to borrow the title of one of his more recent songs, and I kinda like it.  I mean this guy's got a soul for life and for his music that you got to embrace everything about him.

John Paul Encinas: Biggest Bully Of Them All?

I saw this disturbing news last night in 24 Oras of one very angry and very huge customer named John Paul Encinas verbally and physically attacking a lady cashier. Apparently the altercation resulted from their disagreement over Encinas' tab amounting to a mere Php85! Encinas could have been provoked, as he alleged, but to retaliate in that way? And his excuse? Kasi daw tao lang siya, which I think is the lamest and tritest excuse for human ill behavior.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What ails President Pnoy?

I read just a couple of minutes ago that President Aquino has cut short his dinner with PM Gillard of Australia because he felt ill. According to the report, he excused himself without taking a bite.  I wonder if  it's not his "wheelchair joke" about former PGMA going down the wrong way.  Below is the complete report from Inquirer.

CANBERRA, Australia, Philippines — A “sick” President Benigno Aquino III had to cut short his attendance at the official dinner hosted by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Held at the private dining room of the Parliament House, the dinner was attended by the Australian ruling class — top officials of the Gillard Cabinet, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, diplomats, military officials and other invited guests.
A concerned Gillard then dispensed with formalities and protocol of the banquet, after Aquino complained of “not feeling well.”
“Can I acknowledge Your Excellency, Mr. President. Thank you for gracing us with your presence this evening. We are very, very disappointed that you had become unwell, but we wish you a very speedy recovery and a goodnight’s rest here in Australia,” said Gillard who delivered her speech ahead of the President’s.
“As the President—and I have warmed up—I have remarked and if all members of this delegation could note this that he should be saved from any paperwork during the course of this evening,” she said to chuckles from the banquet guests.
“I know what it’s like to be chased around with paperwork when you’re feeling unwell and I’m sure it’s going to aid his recovery if he is left undisturbed tonight which is my way of acknowledging our other honored Filipino guests,” she added.
Aquino spoke briefly but left soon after his speech without touching his food. The President was escorted by Gillard.
Upon instructions from the prime minister, the guests still went ahead with the traditional toast usually led by heads of state or government, and partook of a three-course meal, with a pan fried snapper as the main course.
Sought for comment, Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang confirmed that Aquino, who came from two-day state visit to New Zealand, was sick.
“Yes, a bit. But he should be better tomorrow.”
Asked if his boss was nursing a cold or flu, Carandang said:  “No. He’s fine. He finished all his duties today.”

Random Thoughts

I saw the first and the third Obama-Romney debate, and I think the first one was a debacle for Obama but the third was surely a trophy for him. "Biggest whopper" and "horses and bayonets" should be   memes by now.

Police nabbed last Sunday yet another suspect in the Maguindanao Massacre. Yet 35 months after the carnage, the trial of the Ampatuans continues so sluggishly.  Now, what do they say about justice delayed? Dapat yata i-masaker na lang yang mga Ampatuan!

This just came in - with the tab! According to recent survey, Pinays love to gulp down alcohol more than their male counterparts - 52% versus 48% of the 2,500 respondents. Who do you think is the bigger tipper? LOL, definitely not the sober one!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Paranormal Romance at UP

Do you believe in ghosts? Or do you suspend belief until you see the truth with your own eyes?

Oh, LOL, forgive the dramatic statements above; I blame the horror films I've been watching lately for the theatrics. Let me make it clear that I remain a skeptic to this day of ghosts despite of my "paranormal" experience when I was at the University of the Philippines in Diliman and despite of their alleged manifestations I often see on Paranormal State. I quoted paranormal because I'm still not quite sure if what happened back then was of the supernatural dimension or if it were merely a case of daymare or bangungot as we Pinoys call it. So, here goes my ghost story (well, sort of) as a toast to the forthcoming observance of All Souls' Day. Cheers to the souls of our dearly departed, mayhap including Gogol's dead ones!

During my UP days I stayed at one of the residence halls inside the campus. Here's a hint for those who plan to study in Diliman: The dorm is located behind Palma Hall and is exclusively for girls. It's a big dorm (I think during our time we were around 400 residents there), and it's made up of two floors, a basement and the infamous maze-like corridors. It was at the basement where I stayed for about three years. During my stay there residents were sometimes given the option of their room preference and in my case I opted for the basement because it was quieter and much cooler there.

It was my last sem and my schedule was a bit lax. It was a Thursday and my first class was at 7-8:30 am at the Math building and my next one was 11:30 am. After my Math 1 class I rode the Ikot jeep, bought some supplies plus a newspaper from the Shopping Center (SC) then rode Ikot again to my dorm. Down I went to the mostly unlit and empty corridors. The rooms and corridors were usually deserted during that time of the day since residents were attending classes or doing some other activities around campus. Yes, I know, I should have been out and enjoying my last sem at the university instead of staying cooped up in my room, but I also know that it's fruitless to try to turn back the clock so drop it!:) Anyway, back to my story.

So I got inside my room (which I shared with three others) around 9:30 and opted to read the paper and then fell asleep. I didn't have an idea for how long I was asleep when suddenly I felt a heavy pressure on my chest. I had difficulty breathing and I started to struggle but I just couldn't move my limbs. My eyes were wide open - I was seeing the whirring fan, the sunlight filtering through the yellow curtains, and dust motes swirling in the room. I remember those curtains one of my roomies had brought from home, effectively covering the rows of glass windows (which were about 6 feet high and 5 feet wide), but sheer enough to let some sunshine in. I didn't know for how long I struggled but I finally woke up. I sat up on my bed, breathless, and somewhat puzzled. I looked towards the head of my bed and saw nothing there. My bed was near the windows with only about a foot from them. I looked across the room and saw nothing strange - not a thing was out of place. I got out of the room to compose myself and spent a few minutes upstairs at the dorm's main hall and decided that it was just a bad dream. I then came down to my room again to prepare for my next class and forgot all about the incident.

However, a week after, the same thing happened to me. I got the same schedule but I opted not to go to SC but walked the way from my Math class straight to my dorm, which took around 10 minutes. As my routine, I started reading while lying in bed and before long I was dozing off. And then the dream came again. The same details thus I was in a real panic as I tried to free myself from that something (or someone?) that's preventing me to move. "Oh no, not again!", I screamed in my head, repeatedly. Believe me, I tried to scream but nothing came out of my mouth. I got even more frightened because as the dream went on I became sure that there was somebody holding me down. As I struggled and tried to lift the pressure off my chest and hands (I often sleep with my hands above my head, palms up) my eyes were wide with panic while I saw details of the room - the dust motes, the sunlight, the fan. And then I sensed the presence of a woman standing behind my head, in the small space between my bed and the rows of windows. And standing behind her were two tall men, peering over the woman's shoulders and staring down at me! Strange, I didn't actually see them because I couldn't lift my head or move any part of my body, but I was very certain they were there. Not unlike the first incident, I was not sure for how long I lain there struggling and trying to cry for help. Eventually, I was able to move and get up. And unlike the first incident, I didn't sit in my bed puzzling over what just happened and I definitely didn't look around the room to see if the woman and the two men were actually there. What I did was flee my room pronto, not sparing a second to close the door, and then scampered through the long, dark corridor (damn UP for their cost cutting measures!), took the long flight of stairs two at a time, that by the time I reached the main hall I was sweating, breathless, and scared as hell! If I had gotten curious glances from the dorm's staff I, for the life of me, would not notice nor would I care as I was busy calming myself down and try to rationalize what just took place.

After several minutes sitting in the TV room I recalled details that caused me more goosebumps and more hair to stand on end. I realized that the woman and the two men were also "present" during my previous sleep/wake experience! After my first "dream", everything about the event was all fuzzy to me as I was more puzzled than perturbed that I didn't think much about the details. I knew everyone can have recurring dreams, but to dream of the same dream twice with exactly the same scary details?! I stay rooted and tensed on my seat,very scared to come down to my room. I waited there for a very long time for one of my roomies to arrive from her classes. I never any of my roommates about the incidents lest I'd cause undue fear. It was years later before I told some friends and family about my experience.

A bit of history about the residence hall. The dorm is said to be a former infirmary for American soldiers during WWII, however, this I cannot verify. Although I noticed during my stay there that our beds were steel bunks - they looked quite old but still sturdy. Some of them with attached steel poles, which to me looked like the ones in hospitals used for IV drips.

As with most old buildings it has its share of urban legends. It was rumored that a student committed suicide there and, allegedly, the suicide took place in one of the so-called B1 corridor rooms (my room was one of these rooms). It's said that her ghost roams the corridors of the dorm - day in, day out. Another rumor that had been passed among us residents then (and I'm sure up to now) was that of a former resident of the B1 rooms (again!). According to one version that resident was alone and up one late night in her room typing her assignment (apparently this was way, way back before the advent of computers) when nature called. She got out of her room to a nearby bathroom and on her way back she heard the clicking of typewriter keys. She assumed that one of her roommates decided to sleep over after all and hurried towards their room. According to the story said resident was still hearing someone furiously typing away when she reached her door, but when she opened it the room was still and silent and nobody was there. And when she turned to her typewriter she saw that somebody typed the sentence "Tulungan nyo ako (Help me)" over and over again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Unique burial coffins discovered in the Philippines

News feed from the Associated Press says Filipino archaeologists dug up limestone coffins at Mt. Kamhantik in the sleepy town of Mulanay in the province of Quezon. Local scientists, who started the dig in 2011, considered the tombs unique since early discoveries showed only wooden coffins were used by ancient Filipinos in their burial rituals. Carbon dating tests revealed the graves may date back 1,000 years ago. Below is the rest of the AP report.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday.

National Museum official Eusebio Dizon said the village on Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, could be at least 1,000 years old based on U.S. carbon dating tests done on a human tooth found in one of 15 limestone graves he and other archaeologists have dug out since last year.

The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.

Past archaeological discoveries have shown Filipinos of that era used wooden coffins in the country's mountainous north and earthen coffins and jars elsewhere, according to Dizon, who has done extensive archaeological work and studies in the Philippines and 27 other countries over the past 35 years.

Aside from the tombs, archaeologists have found thousands of shards of earthen jars, metal objects and bone fragments of humans, monkeys, wild pigs and other animals in the tombs. The limestone outcrops had round holes where wooden posts of houses or sheds may have once stood, Dizon told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.
The tombs were similar to ancient sarcophagus, which have become popular tourist attractions in Egypt and Europe, although the ones found in Mulanay were simple box-like limestone coffins without mythological or elaborate human images on the tops and sides.

Archaeologists have only worked on a small portion of a five-hectare (12-acre) forest area, where Mulanay officials said more artifacts and limestone coffins could be buried.

A preliminary National Museum report said its top archaeologists found "a complex archaeological site with both habitation and burial remains from the period of approximately 10th to the 14th century ... the first of its kind in the Philippines having carved limestone tombs."

The discovery has been welcomed with excitement in Mulanay, a sleepy coastal town of 50,000 people in an impoverished mountainous region that until recently was best known as a major battleground between army troops and Marxist rebels.
"Before, if you mention this region, people will say 'Oh, that's NPA country,'" Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda said, referring to the New People's Army rebels. "But that era is past and now we can erase that image and this archaeological site will be a big help."

Mulanay tourism officer Sanny Cortez said that after archaeologists have finished their work in a few years, his town plans to turn Mount Kamhantik's peak into an archaeological and ecotourism park. A museum would also be built nearby.
Despite the loss of thick tree covers in the 1,300-foot (396-meter) mountain's foothills as villagers clear the jungle for homes and farms, the forested mountain still harbors a rich wildlife, including rare hornbills, wild cats and huge numbers of cave bats, including a white one recently seen by environmental officials. The mountaintop offers a scenic view of Tayabas Bay and the peak of Mayon volcano, famous for its near-perfect cone, Ojeda said.

The archaeological site is part of 280 hectares (692 acres) of forest land that was declared a government-protected area in 1998 to keep away treasure hunters and slash-and-burn farmers. Treasure hunters looking for gold exposed some of the limestone tombs years ago, but it was only last year that Manila-based archaeologists started to unearth the graves and artifacts and realize the significance of the find.

Treasure hunting has damaged many archaeological sites in the country. In the early 1990s, Filipino archaeologists led by Dizon discovered that 2,000-year-old burial jars with unique human face designs had been destroyed by treasure hunters in a cave in Maitum town in southern Sarangani province.

Archaeologists worked for a few years to glue the sack loads of clay shards piece by piece and restored more than 150 ancient burial jars to shape. Some of the Maitum jars are displayed at the National Museum in Manila with a plan to exhibit them in France next year, Dizon said.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anti-Islam Filmmaker Tracked Down

The man who started it all has been finally identified. The maker of the incendiary film Innocence of Muslims is now known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula aka Sam Bacile, the latter was the name used to upload the film on YouTube. Below is the report from Associated Press.

The anti-Muslim film implicated in mob protests against U.S. diplomatic missions in the Mideast received logistical help from a man once convicted of financial crimes and featured actors who complained that their inflammatory dialogue was dubbed in after filming.

The self-proclaimed director of “Innocence of Muslims” initially claimed a Jewish and Israeli background. But others involved in the film said his statements were contrived as evidence mounted that the film’s key player was a southern Californian Coptic Christian with a checkered past.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles Wednesday that he managed logistics for the company that produced “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad.

The movie has been blamed for inflaming mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya this week as well as U.S. Embassy in Yemen on Thursday.

Nakoula denied he had directed the film, though he said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cellphone number that the AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where Nakoula was located.

Nakoula told the AP he is a Coptic Christian and supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.

The film was implicated in protests that resulted in the burning of the U.S. consulate Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy employees were killed during the mob violence, but U.S. officials now say they are investigating whether the assault was a planned terrorist strike linked to Tuesday’s 11-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Controversial Film and Outspoken Pastor Prompted Muslims To Cry "Foul"

For those of you who haven't seen Innocence of Muslims, the controversial (and allegedly) anti-Islam film that had prompted the killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three more of the embassy staff there, it's a cheaply made one with amateur actors. Despite of its lack of cinematic merit, it's still garnering clicks and causing protests across the globe and the world wide web. It is also feared that more repercussions (i.e. violent attacks) will be staged by Radical Islamists against the United States.

The very outspoken and openly anti-Islamist Terry Jones fired up the already volatile sentiments by promoting the film. Jones, the fundamentalist pastor from Florida, led the burning of the Qur'an in April this year.

Currently the video, posted by a Sam Bacile on YouTube, has about 34,500 dislikes and about the same number of fiery comments. Some consider the film a satire and an exercise of freedom of expression, and therefore should be tolerated and/or not to be taken seriously. It's like Monty Phython's Life Of Brian , although this British comedy is a tad tamer probably because it was filmed way back in the late 1970s.

Hopefully, the situation will cool down and be resolved without further casualties. You can help by not commenting against Muslims or Christians or any religious group for that matter. I believe that morality has nothing to do with religion.

Watergate Pnoy Style

Many observers didn't miss the similarities between the Watergate Scandal that happened in the US during the early 1970s and that of Rico Puno-led raid of Robredo's condo last month. Watergate prompted Nixon to resign and its local version gave Puno no choice but to give up his very lucrative post (most likely Pnoy didn't give him choice on the matter). Should we call it Juetengate? Pistolgate? Pnoy-Punogate?
I see Puno's move both as audacious and stupid. I'll bet he's got big guns behind him (literally and figuratively as what Sen. Santiago has hinted on several of her interviews), thinking he'd be protected from all sides while executing the raid. It is stupid; in fact, more stupid than a gaggle of Stooges, albeit less funny. What could Puno and company been thinking carrying out the "lockdown"(the term preferred by the people behind the fiasco), with uniformed police officers in tow? That's just as discreet as Mommy Dionisia about her Hermes bag!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained for the West Memphis Three

I just had a viewing marathon of the Paradise Lost Trilogy, which meant I spent more than six hours glued to the TV screen and consumed about 10 mgs of caffeine. FYI, the Paradise Lost Trilogy is the award-winning documentary series by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for HBO. It went in depth on the triple murders that occurred in West Memphis Arkansas in 1993. Three 8-year-old boys were stabbed, mutilated (one of the victim's has had his penis cut off) and allegedly sexually assaulted then ditched in the shallow creek in the area known as Robin Hood Hills. Actual crime scene photos and footages were used, so be ready to be grossed out. In the aftermath of the crime, three teenage boys were arrested -Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr - whom locals and police believed to have connections with a satanic cult. After the first installment (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills) was shown in 1996, the suspects gained sympathy from some quarters which later formed the Save Memphis Three support group or the Save WM3. The group believed that the suspects were arrested because they were the easiest fall guys around: They are from impoverished rural area and practiced "weird" lifestyle. Echols, believed to be the leader of the group, adored heavy metal bands particularly Metallica and wore black clothes and liked to paint his nails black. The documentary also showed the bungled police investigation - from lost blood scrapings to coerced confessions.
It's truly unbelievable watching the case unfolds, on how crime and punishment is sometimes meted out in America. Geez, it resembles a witch hunt in the medieval times! Believe me, the documentary is worth the sleep deprivation and caffeine overload. Plus, Metallica songs are interspersed throughout the series so expect your auditory nerve to take a trip down the great '90s (James Hetfield et al., o brothers, where art thou?). On a side note, I say it was uncharacteristically generous of the band to allow their songs to be used in the documentary. I heard a rumor that during their concert here in Manila back in '93 even their front acts (the late Karl Roy and Razorback, I think) paid for their tickets. LOL Talk about greedy flies! Ok, back to Paradise. The trio were released from prison in August 19 last year arguably due to the showing of this film. Presently, rewards are being offered for some up to US200,000, for the capture of the real suspect/s. Hmmmm, maybe Metallica will join the hunt just for the money. Happy hunting, guys!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Robert "Blair Witch" Carabuena apologized; was doused, cursed and hospitalized in one day

Robert "Blair Witch" Carabuena finally showed his face in public today after insulting and manhandling MMDA enforcer Sonny Fabros last week. The incident was caught on cam by TV5, and eventually went viral. Pinoy netizens made Carabuena a social networking pariah in no time, forcing him to close his Facebook among other online accounts. Obviously his Volvo didn't earn him any pogi points with the irate public hehehe. Media reports say Carabuena went to the MMDA office earlier today and read a public apology to Fabros. MMDA Chair Tolentino, however, said they will still pursue the criminal complaint against him. Likewise, his victim didn't accept the apology. Fabros said in a TV interview that he didn't feel Carabuena was sincere in his apology. Hmmm, hindi na-impress si Manong Sonny sa humble pie image ng Ateneo grad na si Blair Witch. Later on, on his way to the prosecutor's office to file his counter affidavit, Carabuena reportedly was cursed and doused with water. Lucky for him mineral water daw yung isinaboy at di galing sa kanal. Allegedly, he was rushed to the hospital after his day in court. Tskk, tssk Carabuena was given a dose of his own medicine apparently.