Monthly Archives: September 2013

Proclamation 655 – Philippine holidays for 2014

2014 Calendar Holidays Philippines

President Benigno Aquino III has issued Proclamation 655 which lists all national holidays for the year 2014. The proclamation, signed last September 25, was released a full three months before 2013 ends. Click here to read the full text of Proclamation 655.

Filipinos will enjoy at least 18 holidays for 2013, regular holidays and special non-working days combined. They are the following:

Regular Holidays


January 1, 2014 – New Year’s Day

April 9, 2014 – Araw ng Kagitingan (Fall of Bataan)

April 17, 2014 – Maundy Thursday

April 18, 2014 – Good Friday


May 1, 2014 – Labor Day


June 12, 2014 – Araw ng Kalayaan (Independence Day)


August 25, 2014 – National Heroes Day


November 30, 2014 – Bonifacio Day


December 25, 2014 – Christmas Day


December 30, 2014 – Rizal Day

Special non-working days


January 31, 2014 – Chinese New Year

February 25, 2014 – EDSA People Power Anniversary (for schools only)


April 19, 2014 – Black Saturday


August 21, 2014 – Ninoy Aquino Day


November 1, 2014 – All Saints’ Day


Additional non-working days


December 24, 2014 – Christmas Eve

December 26, 2014 – Day after Christmas


December 31, 2014 – Last day of the year

Two additional holidays will be declared in the second half of 2014 in connection with the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eidul Adha, two sacred days in Islam. The dates for these, which are both national holidays, will be determined by the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos based on the Islamic calendar (Hijra) or the lunar calendar, or upon Islamic astronomical calculations.

(PS: Please visit this The Filipino Scribe regularly for updates on local and national holidays and their corresponding pay rules.)



Megan Young wins Miss World 2013

Actress-turned-beauty queen Megan Young bested candidates from 125 countries all over the world to become Miss World 2013. The competition was held in Bali, Indonesia Saturday night (Manila time). Young is the first Filipina to win in the said competition.

During the question-and-answer part, Young was asked why she thinks she deserves to win the Miss World crown. She replied: “The Miss World for me treasures the core values of humanity and a guide to understanding people, why they act the way that they do, the way they live their lives, and I will use these core values and my understanding – not only by helping others but to show other people how they can understand others, so that as one, together, we shall help society. Thank you.”

She gave the response within the 30-second time limit. Aside from Young, candidates from France, Ghana, Brazil, Spain. and Gibraltar made it to the final round, as reposted by GMA News.

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Aquino admin used pork barrel vs Renato Corona – Jinggoy

Senator Jinggoy Estrada revealed during his privilege speech Wednesday afternoon that senators who voted last year to impeach then-Chief Justice Renato Corona received an additional of P50 million to their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation.

Estrada said this was announced through “a private and confidential letter” from now Senate President Franklin Drilon, who chaired the Senate finance committee at that time. Drilon swiftly denied Estrada’s claim, saying that no such letter exists. “I maintain that the senators voted according to their conscience and their impartial evaluation of the evidence presented during the Coronal trial,” he said.

The problem is, one of his former colleagues directly belied Drilon’s denials. Speaking to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, former Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed that those who voted to convict Corona indeed received a P50 million incentive from the administration. He however clarified that he’s not among the recipients of this since he had “no regular PDAF.”

Panfilo Lacson

Panfilo Lacson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Corona was understandably elated by Estrada’s bombshell, describing it as a vindication for him. In a brief statement, the ousted chief justice claimed Estrada’s speech proved that his removal from office is unconstitutional and that all charges against him are baseless. He also faulted Malacanang for launching a “massive demolition campaign” directed to him.

The revelation that President Benigno Aquino III co-opted lawmakers into voting against Corona by using the pork barrel fund as a bargaining chip is nothing new.

In his testimony for the defense panel during the Corona trial, Navotas Rep. Tobias Tiangco said that leaders of the House of Representatives repeatedly stressed to them that those who will not endorse the impeachment complaint against will get “zero PDAF.”

Tiangco added: “Ayaw kong mapag-initan. I do not want to catch the ire of the most powerful man in the country, the President of the Philippines.”

However, as reported by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, then-Senate President and impeachment court presiding officer Juan Ponce Enrile regarded Tiangco’s testimony as irrelevant to the trial.


Clearly, the Aquino administration used the power of the purse to make lawmakers on both Houses of Congress submit to its will. Isn’t this a blatant form of corruption? Whatever happened to tuwid na daan?

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COMELEC disqualifies Laguna’s ER Ejercito for campaign overspending

In a rare move, the Commission on Election announced Thursday afternoon the disqualification of Emilio Ramon (ER) Ejercito from being the governor of Laguna for campaign overspending. The poll body’s first division decided on the matter, according to COMELEC Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr.

In a statement posted on the poll body’s website, Brillantes noted that by spending P6 million on television ads alone for his 2013 re-election bid, Ejercito violated existing campaign finance regulations.

According to Republic Act 906 or the Fair Elections Act, local bets are only allowed to spend three pesos “for every voter currently registered in the constituency where he or she filed his or her certificate of candidacy.” Hence, since Laguna has 1,525,522 registered voters for the May midterm elections, Ejercito’s spending limit is P4.6 million. Ejercito has five days to file a motion for reconsideration before the COMELEC en banc.

In disqualifying Ejercito, Brillantes said the poll body hopes to show Filipinos that they are in fact determined to level the playing field in the electoral process. “Hindi po kami nagbibiro,” he reiterated, adding that COMELEC is poised to file more election-related charges against other erring candidates soon.

Emilio Ramon Ejercito

Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon “ER” Ejercito (CREDITS: SCENEMA CONCEPT INTERNATIONAL INC.)

The recent gubernatorial race in Laguna was one of the most-watched in the country. Ejercito ran under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). His uncle, former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, is one for the leaders of UNA.

The ruling Liberal Party fielded Rep. Edgar San Luis to challenge Ejercito. Despite President Benigno Aquino III’s endorsement, San Luis lost his bid to undeat Ejercito.

The implication of this move by COMELEC is not hard to see. For the longest time, people have argued that the poll body is spineless in dealing with campaign overspending. That may be changing now. Please read excerpts from our 2009 interview with Ferdinand Rafanan, who was the head of COMELEC’s Legal Department at that time, to know more about it.

Despite COMELEC’s noble intentions, the move to disqualify Ejercito is bound to be tainted by politics. As an opposition stalwart, Ejercito is expected to fight out his disqualification. Late last year, two UNA-aligned governors, Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu and Amado Espino of Pangasinan, was suspended due to administrative charges. Understandably, both claimed being subjected to persecution.

Ejercito’s disqualification comes shortly after his cousin, Senator Jinggoy Estrada, was implicated in the still-unresolved pork barrel fund scam. Interestingly, in a privilege speech yesterday, Estrada denounced what he described as the Commission on Audit’s ‘selective’ targeting of opposition figures linked to the scandal (more about this on a future post).

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Gregory John Smith, owner of stolen photo, speaks out

(NOTE: Gregory John Smith sent the following via Facebook in response to a query from The Filipino Scribe. He is the owner of the image that Mark Joseph Solis, a graduate student from the University of the Philippines, used in winning a photo competition organized by the Embassy of Chile last week.)

Please tell us about your background

I am a social entrepreneur of the Global Network of Social Entrepreneurs of ASHOKA, highly respected for their ethical practice and innovative actions to change the world. I founded the Children At Risk Foundation – CARF 20 years ago to help street children in Brazil and other parts of the world, including the Philippines. My project today helps almost 2000 children at risk in Brazil.

What is the photo all about?

The child depicted in the winning image is one of my kids. The photo was actually taken by me in Brazil in 2006, whilst on Christmas holidays at the coast together with four brothers from the same poverty stricken family in Brasil, who were supported by our programme at the time. The photo was taken on a beach in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, whilst the kids were having fun chucking seaweed at each other. The original image can be found on my Flickr Gallery here:

How did you know that your photo was used by Solis without your permission?

I have been flowing over with letters of support from many Filipino friends who found the idea of an imposter entering my photo into such a respected contest as rather disgusting, also letters of support from many other citizens around the world. I obviously have many international followers on Flickr, where the many portraits of my children have had more than 10 million views according to Flickr Stats.

mark joseph solis

UP DIliman graduate student Mark Joseph Solis won a national photo contest by using an image taken by Gregory John Smith (Photo uploaded by Carlos Celdran)

Do you plan to pursue charges against Solis?

As I myself have already planned a visit to Manila and New Smokey Mountain at the beginning of 2014, together with some of the young people from my social development programme in Brazil, to visit a partnership programme that we support in a small way there called Young Warriors (I recommend that you all try to support those kids in some way).

I found this was a nice opportunity to suggest to the organizers of this contest that they revert the prize money to my foundation, also the travel prize, which we would make really good use of to help pay the trip for our own Young Warriors who will be going for the visit and who need all the support they can get, coming from poverty stricken families here in Brazil, instead of offering such a round-trip to Brazil and Chile to an imposter.

I think my suggestion is much more in line with the thoughts behind the contest. So I have commented to the contest organizers explaining the situation, also sent an e-mail to the chairman of the Jury, Mr. Oscar Lopez, a well-known Filipino businessman, as I am sure that being involved in such an episode plays havoc with his own integrity as a successful business entrepreneur.

I have also commented about the situation to the Chilean Ambassador to Manila, Roberto Mayorga, who conceptualized the contest. Unfortunately I do not have the time to hunt down personal contact information for these important people to make direct contact with them, so I am relying on the internet connections to do the job for me. So far I have heard nothing, but then again, it is the weekend, so maybe on Monday I shall get an answer from someone.

I really would love to see this unfortunate situation turned around into something really positive, seeing as we already have this inter-cultural exchange that we will be doing between the underprivileged Young Warriors of New Smokey Mountain and the underprivileged Young Warriors from my own programme in Brazil. I think that would bring more dignity to an otherwise rather embarrassing situation for the contest organizers. 

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Mark Joseph Tajo Solis’ ‘stolen shots’

“The higher you fly, the harder you fall,” the legend of Icarus goes. Mark Joseph Tajo Solis, a graduate student from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, learned it the hard way. Just a few days ago, Solis won first place in the Embassy of Chile’s Calidad Humana photography contest. Aside from winning $1,000 in cash, he also won for himself a round-trip ticket to Chile.

The board of the judges includes the who’s who of academia and business: Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Oscar Lopez from the Lopez Group of Companies, the institution heads of UP, ADMU, DLSU, UA&P, and UST, among others. Chilean ambassador to the Philippines Roberto Mayorga even wrote an op-ed about it. See this link to see’s news story about the event.  However, Solis’ stay on Cloud Nine proved to be short-lived.

mark joseph solis

Mark Joseph Solis won a national photo contest for a picture he didn’t take (Credits:

Everything began to unravel for him early Sunday morning when Gregory John Smith, a Brazil-based social entrepreneur and founder of Children at Risk Foundation, posted on his Facebook page that he actually owns Solis’ prize-winning photograph.

“There is really no limit to people’s abuse of others in this world. This is one of my photographs that just won first prize in a contest that I never entered,” Smith said. He also posted a link to his Flickr account where he originally uploaded the image in 2006.

With the caption “Neptune, King of the Sea,” the photo shows a young boy drenched all over and with seaweeds on his head. In submitting the picture to the competition, Solis claimed that the picture shows a young boy from Zamboanga City whose house was ravaged by Typhoon Lawin back in 2012. To add insult to the injury, Solis entered the same image in a competition by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. For that contest, he claimed that the photo was taken in Ramanathapuram, India.

John Gregory Smith

Brazil-based John Gregory Smith is the true owner of the image Mark Joseph Solis used for the photo contest

Following the revelation, Solis deactivated his Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Nevertheless, the damage has been done, and as it turns out, there were two other instances where Solis won recognition for submitting photos he stole from the Internet.

In 2011, Solis won the SAY PEACE Photo Contest organized by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) for his purported picture of a young boy from Koronadal, South Cotabato. However, some Facebook users discovered that the boy in the picture is actually a Nepali and that it was shot by Alexandre Sattler, a photographer from France who uploaded the said picture in his Flickr page way back 2006. See Sattler’s original image in this link and compare it to Solis’ enhanced version here.

Last July, Solis won second place in the photo competition organized by the Philippine-based Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (INNOTECH) for the culture category.

He submitted a photo taken from the Ati-Atihan Festival in 2009, for which he got $300. See his ‘winning’ entry here. In reality, the picture was actually taken by travel blogger Renzelle Mae Abasolo. The picture is included in a slideshow she uploaded in her website in August 2011. Check out her post here.

At the very least, Solis should be stripped of all the accolades he dubiously earned. Contest organizers ought to make sure that happens. Now, can he be expelled from UP DIliman for his actions? The 2012 Code of Student Conduct (CSC) penalizes plagiarism and other actions analogous to intellectual dishonesty by suspension for one semester or expulsion (read the draft CSC here).

However, as pointed out by UP alumnus and lawyer Victor Bernabe, Solis might be able to escape that through a technicality since he did not use the photos for an academic requirement. Nevertheless, Solis now faces the challenge of living the years ahead in shame a la disgraced journalist Stephen Glass.

*In his apology to Mr. Smith, Solis said he was merely driven by his “youth, lack of experience, and the inability to see the repercussions of my actions.” He added: “The sheer amount of the prize, the stiff competition, and the unique opportunity to be abroad blinded me from undertaking what is supposed to be an honest and a rightful conduct.”

But how does that explain the fact that he committed the same crime thrice? Is he that morally bankrupt? Sorry, but I cannot buy his apology.

(PS: Mr. John Gregory Smith sent a statement in response to a query from The Filipino Scribe. We will be posting it here soon.)


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