Monthly Archives: August 2012

Magnitude 7.6 quake hits Philippines; tsunami alerts raised

August 31 2012 Philippine earthquake

A magnitude 7.6 quake hit islands in eastern Visayas and northeastern Mindanao shortly before 9PM of August 31 (Philippine time). The epicenter of the earthquake is at 96 kilometers east of Sulangan village in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, according to the United States Geological Service. The said agency also provides the following details:

Coordinates: 10.83 N and 126.76E with

Depth: 10km

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has issued Tsunami Alert Level 3 in the following provinces: Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao Del Norte and Surigao Del Sur. All these provinces are facing the Pacific Ocean in the east. People living near coastal areas in the said provinces are urged to evacuate immediately.

tsunami alerts philippines august 31 2012

Tsunami warnings were raised in several Philippine provinces because of a magnitude 7.6 earthquake Friday night (Credits: Office of Civil Defense)

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, as concurrent head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council “to monitor the tsunami in coordination with Phivolcs” and to “ensure that the affected PDRRMCs inform the local government officials and to further ensure that the evacuation in the affected areas be peaceful and orderly.”

NOTE: The website of PHIVOLCS is currently down. This was confirmed to me by Secretary Manolo Quezon via Twitter. When asked if there’s if there’s a possibility that the PHIVOLCS website can be fixed anytime soon, he said: “We will certainly look into this but let’s all concentrate on prompt advisories at this time.”

Netizens are using the hashtag #phtrenchquake for updates and advisories about this earthquake.

UPDATE, 11:30PM – Hawaii, United States-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) has lifted its tsunami warning for the Philippines. However, the PTWC stressed in its report that “ONLY NATIONAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO MAKE DECISIONS REGARDING THE OFFICIAL STATE OF ALERT IN THEIR AREA AND ANY ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN IN RESPONSE.” NDRRMC Executive Director Benito Ramos stressed that PHIVOLCS is yet to lift its tsunami warning for the abovementioned areas.

According to the PTWC,  when no major waves are observed two hours after those were expected to arrive, local authorities can assume that the danger has passed. It also warned that boats and coastal structures will remain in danger for the next several hours because of rapid currents.


August 30 2012 Marcelo Del Pilar Day Holiday in Bulacan

The province of Bulacan will have two local holidays within the next two weeks: Marcelo H. Del Pilar Day on August 30 and the Araw ng mga Barangay on September 11. The two aforementioned dates are listed as annual provincial holidays in Bulacan’s Administrative Code, which was signed by then-Governor Josefina Dela Cruz back in 2007. Click here to download the Administrative Code of Bulacan (in pdf format).

Born in August 30, 1850, Marcelo H. Del Pilar is considered as one of the pillars of the reform movement during the last two decades of Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Del Pilar used the pen name Plaridel, and his colleagues in the revolutionary newspaper La Solidaridad include Graciano Lopez-Jaena and Jose Rizal. Del Pilar is Bulacan’s provincial hero.

Marcelo H. del Pilar

Marcelo H. del Pilar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philippines wins 2012 Jones Cup over US

Philippines vs US 2012 Jones Cup final score

Smart Gilas Pilipinas national basketball team clinched the 2012 Jones Cup title by beating team United States, 76-75 in their August 26 match. Down by as much as 14 in the third quarter, players LA Tenorio and Marcus Douthit powered the Philippine team’s successful title bid. Tenorio scored most of his game-high 20 points in the final period.

Like in past tournaments, this year’s Jones Cup follows a single round robin format. The Philippines men’s national basketball team won the gold medal by ending the tournament with the best win-loss record. As of posting time, the the next three positions in the team standings has not been finalized.

After dominating the first two quarters, the American team wavered in the dying minutes of the third quarter, allowing the nationals to cut the deficit to eight. Tenorio went on to score seven of the Philippines’ first nine points in the final canto. A shootout from both squads turned the game into a seesaw battle until its final moments.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas wins 2012 Jones Cup championship

Smart Gilas Pilipinas wins 2012 Jones Cup championship (Credit: Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants Facebook page)

This is the country’s fourth Jones Cup crown, while the United States has won the tournament 15 times. The Philippines last topped the Jones Cup tournament in 1998 (courtesy of the Philippine Centennial team under the mentorship of then-Alaska Milkmen head coach Tim Cone). Veteran mentor Chot Reyes is now on his second stint as Smart Gilas Pilipinas head coach. The win snaps a decade of heartbreaking losses for the Philippines to teams such as South Korea and Jordan, which began during the 2002 Asian Games.

Please “like” The Filipino Scribe on Facebook!  

PS: The team that carried the US banner in this year’s Jones Cup is not the one that won the gold in the recently-concluded 2012 London Olympics, which was led by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. However, it must be understood that the US has never sent a team composed of NBA superstars to this particular tournament.

Smart Gilas wins 2012 Jones Cup title, 76-75!

0.9 seconds, PH leads US 76-75 – US with possession

4.5 seconds PH leads US, 76-75

0:08, PH 76- US 75 – PH with possession!

0:19: PH 76, US 75

0:36: US 75, PH 74

1:24: PH 74, US 73

2:10: US 73, PH 72

2:26: PH 72, US 70

3:01: PH 70, US 70

3:53: PH 70, US 68

4:40: PH 68, US 68

5:35: US 66, PH 65

5:39: US 66, PH 64

6:26: PH 64, US 63

7:08: PH 62, USA 61

7:45: PH 61, USA 59 (LA Tenorio scoring 9 7 points in this quarter alone)

8:22: USA 59, PH 59

9:01: USA 59, PH 56 (After a 3-point shot by LA Tenorio)

9:27: USA 59, PH 53

3rd quarter

0:00: USA 59 – PH 51

0:39: USA, 59, PH, 49

1:27: USA 57, PH, 44

2:34: USA 54 – PH, 44

*What can you say about this win by Team Pilipinas? 🙂

Please “like” The Filipino Scribe on Facebook!  

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno

President Benigno Aquino III has appointed Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno as the new Chief Justice. Sereno will succeed Renato Corona, who was impeached from his post last May 29. The announcement came three days before the August 27 deadline for Aquino to name a successor to Corona.

maria lourdes sereno

Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno is the new Chief Justice (credits:

Here’s the complete statement from the Office of the President:

In the midst of this period of deep mourning for the loss of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, the President is cognizant of his constitutional duty to appoint the next Chief Justice of the Philippines. He has therefore decided to appoint Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Punzalan Aranal-Sereno as the 24th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The President is confident that Chief Justice Sereno will lead the judiciary in undertaking much-needed reforms. We believe the Judicial Branch of government has a historic opportunity to restore our people’s confidence in the judicial system.”

June 2012 nursing board passers released

The Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) has released this afternoon the names of the 27,823 passers during the Nurse Licensure Examinations held last June 30 to July 1, 2012. The Board of Nursing conducted the examinations in Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan, Davao, Iloilo, La Union, Legazpi, Lucena, Nueva Ecija, Pagadian, Pampanga, Tacloban, Tuguegarao, and Zamboanga.

Click here to download the passing rate obtained by all nursing schools around the country during the 2012 nursing licensure exams (file downloaded from the PRC website). The complete list of passers has been uploaded by the PRC in this link (note: the WinRAR file is 1.7 MB). Congratulations to all the newly-minted nurses out there!

Meanwhile, here’s the list of the top ten performing schools during the June 2012 exams. To be included in this list, the school has to have at least 50 examinees. It should also have a passing percentage of not lower than 80%.


Please “like” the Facebook page of “The Filipino Scribe”!

Jesse Robredo, Luis Villafuerte, and Jejomar Binay

Prior to serving in the cabinet of President Benigno Aquino III, the late interior secretary Jesse Robredo earned national and international recognition for his leadership of Naga City, the capital of Camarines Sur province. Robredo served as mayor for six non-consecutive terms, or a total of 19 years. His stint in public office, however, has not been free from controversy.

Two weeks before the May 2007 elections, elements identified with the camp of Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte tried to have then-Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo disqualified from seeking reelection because of citizenship issues. Tributes for the late secretary will certainly dominate the headlines in the days to come, but this is one event that should not be forgotten.

Villafuerte served as president of Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (KAMPI) until it merged with LAKAS-CMD (the other dominant administration party at that time) in May 2009.  Then-Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo formed KAMPI in 1997 as a launching pad for a potential 1998 presidential bid (she ran and won as the running made of LAKAS-NUCD standard-bearer Jose de Venecia instead).

Jesse Robredo Naga City Mayor

Then-Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo (Credits: Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism)

Robredo was so convinced that the Commission on Elections will rule against him that he persuaded his wife to run for mayor as well. The other candidate for the position is Jojo Villafuerte, a nephew of the elder Villafuerte. The move to have Robredo disqualified from the race gained greater national attention after former president Corazon Aquino and erstwhile members of the Arroyo cabinet announced their support for him.

Aquino went on to describe Robredo as “one of the best mayors (the Philippines) has ever had,” adding that all mayors should be like him. Despite the citizenship issue, Robredo handily won reelection that year, winning by more than 40000 votes. Same as in 1998 when he first became term-limited, Robredo did not field a relative to succeed him as mayor.

In 2007, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s Alecks Pabico quoted Robredo to have said: “Not a relative, not my wife, not anyone who has blood relations with us (will take over my post).” At age 42, Robredo received the coveted Ramon Magsaysay Award for government service in August 2000.

Robredo was awarded Asia’s Nobel Prize for “giving credence to the promise of democracy by demonstrating that effective city management is compatible with yielding power to the people.” Robredo, the citation also states, “demonstrated that democratic government can also be good government.” Looking back now, the attempt to engage an outstanding public servant like Robredo in political trickery definitely looks silly. The ones behind it should be ashamed of themselves.

jejomar binay funny picture

Jesse Robredo and Vice President Jejomar Binay had a minor dispute in 2010 over the interior secretary post

Robredo vs. Binay

Robredo got embroiled in another controversy in 2010. Shortly after being proclaimed as the Vice President, Jejomar Binay expressed his interest to be the interior secretary. Several individuals, most notably Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod, publicly dissuaded Aquino from appointing Binay.

The outgoing Naga City mayor eventually landed the job, while Binay largely settled for the positions previously handled by Noli de Castro, his predecessor. Robredo is affiliated with the Liberal Party (or the Balay faction) while Binay is supported by the Samar group.

Robredo and Binay have been able to co-exist peacefully the past two years. However, sometime last year, a public word war erupted between the secretary and Binay’s son Junjun (who succeeded his father as Makati Mayor) after the violent demolition of slums in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati.

On Tito Sotto the Plagiarizer’s ‘blogger lang’ remark

Plagiarism + sloppy researching = Tito Sotto

(NB: I am not a fan of Senator/part-time noontime show host Vicente “Tito” Sotto III. Shortly before the May 2010 elections, I labeled him together with Senators Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid as “The Three Stooges.” Philippine Star’s Boo Chanco reprinted that post in his April 9, 2010 column.)

The list of public personalities embroiled in plagiarism scandals in different contexts has gotten longer recently. Early this year, the House Justice Committee voted to impeach Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo for plagiarizing excerpts from a foreign journal article parts for a decision he penned. A year before that, Palanca-award Hall of Famer Krip Yuson was found to have plagiarized another writer’s work for a magazine article.

Overseas, Hungarian president resigned last April after it was revealed that he plagiarized parts of his doctoral dissertation twenty years ago. Just this August, Time magazine managing editor and CNN TV host Fareed Zakaria was slapped a one month suspension (which has since been rescinded) for writing a column which contains a paragraph copied without any attribution from a New Yorker article. Sotto is obviously in good company.

Pal Schmitt of Hungary resigned as president because of a plagiarism scandal. (Credits: BBC News)

Plagiarism in educational institutions is considered a crime. For example, professors at the University of the Philippines can refer students who are caught plagiarizing in the Student Disciplinary Tribunal for due process. If found guilty, erring students can face any of the following penalties, as stipulated in the Student’s Code – suspension, expulsion, and revocation of the degree earned (if the act is discovered after the student has already graduated).

Aside from being ridiculed publicly, plagiarizers outside the academe do not really have to worry about any legal consequence. Will an author whose work had been plagiarized go as far as filing a case against the offending party in relation to the Intellectual Property Code? In the present Congress, Rep. Winston Castelo of Quezon City proposed a bill that recommends tough sanctions against guilty individuals. Download Castelo anti-plagiarism bill here.

Last Wednesday, the Senator-comedian delivered part II of his so-called “turno en contra” on the reproductive health bill. The full text of his speech can be read in the Senate website. Two days before that, he made headlines by claiming that the 1975 death of his first son with actress Helen Gamboa was caused by a contraceptive pill (a claim immediately rebutted by former health secretary Esperanza Cabral). Aside from the loopholes in Sotto’s arguments, it was also discovered that huge chunks of his two speeches was copied word-for-word without proper attribution from FIVE BLOGGERS.

Instead of giving a public apology (which is what business magnate Manny Pangilinan did in 2010), Sotto went on the offensive. Speaking to Karen Davila on ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart, Sotto claimed that he should not quote American blogger Sarah Pope anymore since they are just both citing the work of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. As an added punch line, Sotto said: “Bakit ko naman iko-quote ang blogger? Blogger lang iyon.

Tito Sotto: “Bakit ko naman iko-quote ang blogger? Blogger lang iyon.” (credits: Kiks de la Tonga/LIKHAAN)

Blogs can be a useful source of information, and yes, as Sotto and his chief-of-staff contends, their contents are readily available in the public domain. However, information obtained from blogs should be treated with a grain of salt. The easiness by which one can put up a blog is the medium’s greatest weakness. Aside from being poorly written, many blogs out there contain trash.

Except on rare instances like when the subject of the story is the site owner, blogs are secondary sources of information. When we discuss other peoples’ research in our work, we more often than not add our own interpretation of it. Sotto would have been free from charges of plagiarism had he said in his speech something like: “According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, as cited by American blogger Sarah Pope…

Nevertheless, Sotto’s aides are still guilty of sloppy researching. Why settle for a secondary source when accessing the primary reference will take you just a few minutes more of researching?  This is the problem with those who rely on Wikipedia hook, line, and sinker. Rather than relying on what a Wikipedia article on a certain subjects says, researchers should check out the list of references at the bottom of the said page instead for fact-verification.

The plagiarism scandal involving Sotto has now been reported in ABC News, Washington Post, The Guardian in Great Britain, and many other foreign media outlets. This whole episode should raise awareness not just among politicians but to everyone that detecting plagiarism is as easy as perpetrating the act itself, thanks to online search engines.

tito sotto plagiarism - washington post

The plagiarism scandal involving Tito Sotto has been reported by foreign media outlets. (Screenshot from Washington Post website)

In this particular case, online users not affiliated with media outlets are the ones that first proved Sotto’s plagiarism. Two factors have worked against Sotto:1) Google has made it almost effortless to detect plagiarism, and 2) The dubious nature of Sotto’s claims in his speech (ergo, that a contraceptive pill caused the death of his first child) naturally invited scrutiny into it.

What should we expect from here? Sotto is not likely to face any legal charges for what he did (hence, he had the gall to dare bloggers to sue him). Concerned parties may instead file a complaint against Sotto through the Senate Ethics Committee but it is improbable for Senators to censure one of their own.

Even more preposterous is for anyone to expect Sotto to resign his Senate seat. His term ends in 2016, and he is eligible for reelection. As it is, engaging in plagiarism in school can get you expelled, but if you’re an honorable senator, plagiarism carries no tangible consequence.

Postscript: Red Tani of the Filipino Freethinkers has published an article questioning the scientific credentials of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, Sotto’s alleged expert source. Before you concern yourself about citing an author properly, you should first assess the credibility of that source.

%d bloggers like this: