Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bishop Oscar Solis 2nd Annual Golf Tournament

Join and Get Involved Today Bishop Solis Golf Tournament



Fresh from the phenomenal success of Impostora, the primetime TV hit that showcased the impressive capability of GMA Pinoy TV in the drama genre, comes the newest primetime offering from the Kapuso Network – the first-ever suspense drama on primetime TV, La Vendetta.

Premiering on November 12, La Vendetta presents a riveting story of love, deceit and vengeance that features a powerhouse cast of today’s highly respected and commendable dramatic actors, led by the remarkable threesome of Jean Garcia, Jennylyn Mercado, and Sunshine Dizon. The three actresses are sisters who find themselves entangled in a vicious web of mystery in which one of them meets a tragic death. Betrayed and denied a blissful life with the man she truly loves, the dead sister’s soul is driven by a harrowing hatred that surmounts even the afterlife. As a vengeful ghost, she will stop at nothing in her quest to torment her murderer and bring justice to her own death.

Who among the three sisters becomes the hapless victim of a ruthless crime? Is it the strong-willed Amanda (Jean Garcia), the eldest one who manipulates the lives of her sisters? Is it Amanda’s stepsister Eloisa (Sunshine Dizon) who, despite her apparent weakness, also harbors a mysterious persona? Or will it be Almira (Jennylyn Mercado), the youngest sister who is torn between her love for both her elder siblings and the one who is most affected by Amanda’s assertive and controlling nature?

La Vendetta boasts of a compelling plot that will not only keep viewers hooked to its captivating story but will also keep everyone involved in the guesswork behind the mysterious death of one of the three sisters.

Jennylyn Mercado is reunited with erstwhile reel and real life partner Mark Herras as Galo, Almira’s impoverished lover who is willing to do anything to fight for his beloved. In La Vendetta, Amanda opposes Almira and Galo’s relationship and forces Almira to marry the rich Gabby Trajano (Polo Ravales) instead.

Completing La Vendetta’s stellar lineup are Luis Alandy as Ariel, Amanda’s boyfriend who shows concern for Eloisa; Paolo Contis plays the ambitious family gardener, Junjun; Chynna Ortaleza as Joana, Galo’s sister; Lotlot De Leon as Rodora, the family cook; Rustom Padilla as Alfie, Amanda’s gay friend; Dante Rivero as Edwin Cardinale, Amanda and Almira’s father and Eloisa’s stepfather; Snooky Serna as Janet, Edwin’s second wife and the mother of Eloisa and Almira; Caridad Sanchez as Nana Mildred, the trusted nanny of the house and keeper of the Cardinale family’s darkest secret; and Wendell Ramos as Rigo, a psychiatrist who falls in love with Amanda. La Vendetta also stars Angelica Jones, Ella Guevara, Ynna Asistio, and Joseph Marco.

Directed by Gil Tejada Jr. and Lore Reyes, La Vendetta starts airing November 12 (PST 6:35 pm) only on GMA Pinoy TV. Call your preferred pay TV operator and subscribe today. For more information, please log on to www.gmapinoytv.com.

Tel: 310- 989- 4578
Email: joshandowitt@yahoo.com

Jocelyn Dulnuan: Shattered Dreams

Two years ago, Jocelyn Dulnuan, 25 years old at that time, left her fiancé and two-year old daughter and journeyed to a distant land searching for a job to provide a better future for her family. Two years later, her dream was shattered when her life was snuffed out -- a victim of foul play -- in her living quarters in the basement of a $15 million palatial mansion located in a posh neighborhood in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Dulnuan, a native of Hingyon, Ifugao province graduated from the University of Baguio, Philippines with a degree in Criminology. She did not pursue a career in criminology but instead she took a job overseas to support her family. Dulnuan's sojourn brought her to Hong Kong where her mother is working as a housekeeper. Then she moved to Canada in November 2006 and worked in several jobs in the Greater Toronto Area. Two months ago, Dulnuan started working for an affluent family, Dr. Jayshree Chanchlani and her husband Vasdev, a businessman. Last October 1, 2007, Dr. Chanchlani discovered her dead body when she got home after 5:00 PM. Her husband was on a business trip abroad at that time.

Three weeks later, Dulnuan's remains returned home to her family in the Philippines. One of the observers from Migrante International said that "the remains bore several stabbed wounds on the chest, and bruises in many parts of the body including the neck, knee, arms and legs." It was believed that more than one killers were involved; however, the Canadian police wouldn't confirm that.

It was reported by The Mississauga News that evidence recovered from the scene suggests that Dulnuan knew her killer. The homicide inspector assigned to the case, Norm English, stated that the murder was an "isolated incident" and that the killer "might have targeted Dulnuan, the mansion, or both." He added that "the location was targeted for a specific reason that I am not prepared to comment on." English said that "detectives have found no signs of forced entry."

It was further reported that two weeks before her death, Dulnuan called her fiancé, Sandy Kinnud, and told him that she was being threatened. However, Dulnuan's mother, Godeliva, who works in Hong Kong, said that she spoke to her twice the day before her murder and she did not mention any threat to her life.

But what is intriguing is that if it was a simple case of robbery why would the killer bother to go to Dulnuan's quarters in the basement and kill her? The fact that there was no forced entry would support the theory that Dulnuan knew her killer. To date, the murder remains unsolved.

Dulnuan's murder has become an international cause celebre. Dulnuan's sister-in-law, Imie Belanger, asked the Philippine consulate in Toronto for assistance in repatriating Dulnuan's remains to the Philippines. But her request was shrugged off. A consular officer told her that they did not have the funds to repatriate Dulnuan's remains and that Dulnuan was an "unregistered worker." So what if she was an unregistered worker? She was a Filipino citizen and one of 10 million OFWs who remitted more than $15 billion this year. Wasn't that enough to provide consular assistance? Frustrated with the consulate's callous indifference, the Filipino community in the Greater Toronto Area took it upon themselves to raise the money to send Dulnuan's remains to her family for burial. They raised $10,000. The consulate, after getting a lot of flak, decided to contribute $5,000 to the fund.

Dulnuan was categorized as an "unregistered worker" because she failed to report to the Philippine government that she was working in Canada. However, she was registered when she worked in Hong Kong and her working papers in Canada were legitimate.

The growing number of Filipino domestic workers going overseas is spurred by the Labor Export Policy (LEP) of the Philippines and the "Super Maids" program that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo implemented when 30,000 OFWs returned from Lebanon in early 2006. At that time, Arroyo said that a training program would be started to upgrade the skills of overseas Filipino domestic helpers. She said that with their upgraded skills, the "super maids" -- as she called them -- could get higher pay from foreign employers. However, the program led to further "de-skilling" of Filipino professionals who end up in low-paying jobs in foreign countries.

In a media release issued by the National Alliance of Philippine Women in Canada (NAPWC), it claimed that Canada's Live-in Caregiver Program (PCP) requires caregivers to live in the homes of their employers for a 24-month period. The NAPWC said that LCP is perpetuating a "cycle of poverty, debt, isolation, and vulnerability to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse." It said further that 97% of all live-in caregivers in Canada are Filipino women. Since the early 1980s, when Canada implemented LCP, more than 100,000 Filipino women have entered Canada. Statistical information shows that everyday, 3,000 Filipinos leave the country for overseas employment. And each day, eight Filipinos return home dead. Since 2003, there were 23 unsolved murder of overseas Filipino workers.

In my opinion, the Arroyo administration is guilty of neglect. The Dulnuan murder case is just the tip of the iceberg. Countless incidents of violence and abuse against OFWs are occurring every day. With ten million OFWs in more than 190 countries remitting $15 billion this year, they deserve the protection of the Philippine government. As the number one beneficiary of the OFWs' remittances, the Philippine government should not turn a blind eye to the plight of the OFWs. The OFW remittances are the primary reason for the Philippines' economic recovery.

The OFWs are like orphans in a foreign land. They endure the sacrifices they make to fulfill their dreams of a better life for their families back home. They persevere in adverse working conditions. They overcome the obstacles they face each day. They bond into a tight-knit "family" and protect each other. And when one of them falls, they feel the pain of the shattered dreams of the fallen kindred.


Monday, October 29, 2007

The Calm After California's Firestorm

(Photo by V.Penaranda: Los Angeles)

Bishop Oscar Solis 2nd Annual Golf Tournament

Bishop Oscar Solis, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Vicar for Archdiocesan Ethnic (Multi-Cultural) Ministry, invites you to the 2nd Annual Golf Tournament for 2007. Register now to secure a spot in this special golf tournament with Bishop Solis.

Date & Time: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 at 9:30 a.m.
Location: Robinson Ranch Golf Club, Santa Clarita, CA
Tournament Coordinator: Willie Calove
Tournament Fee: $150.00 includes greens fees, lunch & dinner

Special Awards and Prizes:
Hole-In-One: Mercedes Benz C350 (fully-loaded) or $40,000 cash
Closest to the Hole: Trophies and Plaques

This golf tournament is a fundraiser to benefit the Office of Ethnic Ministry designated by Cardinal Roger Mahony to serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of the diverse and growing racial groups that comprise the parish communities throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest Catholic archdiocese in the United States.

The proceeds are dedicated to help finance sponsored spiritual retreats, seminars, conferences and other events conducive for training and forming leaders of our various cultural groups so they can help build bridges between communities and pave the way for peoples of different races and cultures to live in unity and solidarity as on Christian family.

Sponsorship Opportunities
• Gold Sponsor: $1,500 includes One Full Page Ad in the Souvenir Program, shared T Box Sign, Four Player Slots, Dinner Buffet and Press Releases
• Silver Sponsor: $1,000 includes One-Half Page Ad in the Souvenir Program, shared T - Box Sign, Two Player Slots, Buffet Dinner and Press Releases
• Bronze Sponsor: $500 includes One-Fourth Page Ad in the Souvenir Program, shared T Box Sign, One Player Slot, Buffet Dinner and Press Releases
• Benefactor: $300
• Cash, Raffle and Gift Donors

For Sponsorship Forms, Golf Tournament Registration or more information, please call the Office of Ethnic Ministry at (213) 637-7356 or send an e-mail to Lupe Garrido, Assistant to Bishop Solis, at: mggarrido (at) la-archdiocese (dot) org.

Deadline for sponsorships is November 14, 2007
Sponsored by the Office of Ethnic Ministry, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

STATE OPERATIONS CENTER SITUATION REPORT From Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES)

October 28, 2007; 1000 Hours


Warmer weather is expected for the extreme Southwestern California including Orange, San Diego, Western Riverside and Southwestern San Bernardino Counties Sunday along with east winds from 15 to 20 mph through the favored passes with peak gusts to 30 mph. This will not be a strong or widespread wind event. Maximum temperatures will climb into the mid 70s at the coast, the 80s just inland from the coast and the low 90s in the valleys. Mountains and deserts will also be 5 to 10 degrees above average. Cooler temperatures are expected Monday and by Tuesday the clouds will shroud coastal and valley areas. It will be much cooler with areas of drizzle west of the mountains and gusty west winds in the mountains and deserts. The next weekend is forecast for a large upper ridge over the eastern pacific and western third of the nation; possibly setting up a Santa Ana type flow pattern.


Local Proclamations: Ventura County, San Diego County, Orange County, City of Irvine, Orange County, Los Angeles County, City of Banning, and the City of San Jacinto. The San Diego County proclamation was made by the County Chief Administrative Officer and subsequently ratified by the Board of Supervisors on October 24, 2007. Riverside County has requested an amendment to the State of Emergency Proclamation and Presidential Declaration to include significant wind damage. Riverside County is continuing to gather data to support their request to OES.

Governor’s Proclamation: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura due to wildfires.

Governor's Executive Order: On October 26, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-13-07 which took several actions to assist in the recovery from the disaster.

Presidential Declaration: Issued 10/24/07 (FEMA -1731-DR). The previous Emergency Declaration (EM 3279) issued on 10/23/07 and the eight Fire Management Assistance Grants are now included in this one Declaration. This Declaration authorizes Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation Grants for the declared counties. The Public Assistance program is presently limited to debris removal and emergency protective measures. Reimbursement for the repair or replacement of damaged public facilities is not authorized; this authorization will depend on the results of the initial damage assessments.

Fire Activity Summary:
There are 8 active fires in Southern California. The priority for fighting fires is: the Harris, Slide, Poomacha, Santiago, Witch, Rice, Valley, and Ammo (formerly Pendleton). The MACS level remains at Level 4 (the highest level) for Southern California. Level 4 reflects a total Geographical Area commitment or statewide effort requiring MACS activities.

Fatalities: 7
Reported Injuries: 108
Total Acres Burned to Date: 516,356
Structures Destroyed: 2,768
Structures Threatened: 14,125
Structures Damaged: 437

Fire Resources Committed:
· 1,477 Engines
· 209 Water Tenders
· 250 Hand crews
· 138 Dozers
· 13,135 personnel

Harris Incident CA-MVU-010427 San Diego County. 90,750 acres with 65% containment. There have been 32 firefighter injuries. 206 residences and 247 outbuildings destroyed. 250 residences and 2 outbuildings damaged.
Slide Incident. CA-BDF-10570 San Bernardino County. 12,789 acres with 75% containment. 201 residences and 3 outbuildings destroyed, 5,500 threatened. 12 hour threat to Crab Flats, Running Springs, Smiley Park, and Green Valley Lake.
Poomacha Incident CA-MVU-10643 San Diego County. 49,150 acres with 50% containment. 138 homes and 19 outbuildings have been destroyed. 500 homes are threatened in the communities of Mt. Palomar, Palomar Observatory, Crosley Homestead and Tibia Mountain. This fire has resulted in 18 firefighter injuries.
Santiago Incident CA-ORC-68555 Orange County. 27,900 acres with 50% containment. 15 residences and 9 outbuildings have been destroyed. 8 residences & 12 outbuildings damaged. 5 firefighter injuries.
Witch Incident CA-MVU-010432 San Diego County. 197,990 acres with 90% containment. 1,040 residences and 414 outbuildings destroyed. 70 residences and 25 outbuildings damaged. 38 firefighters have been injured.
Rice Incident CA-MVU-010502 San Diego County. 9,000 acres with 100% containment. 208 structures & 40 outbuildings destroyed. 5 firefighter injuries. Last Report
Grass Valley Incident CA-BDF-10566 San Bernardino County. Grass Valley 1,140 acres with 95% containment. 162 homes destroyed, 20 damaged. 6,000 threatened. Last Report
Ammo Incident. Pendleton CA-MCP-001111 San Diego County. 21,084 acres with 100% containment. 6 firefighter injuries. Last Report

Buckweed Incident - 38,356 acres
Cajon Incident - 250 acres
Canyon Incident - 4,500 acres
Coronado Hills Fire - 300 acres
Grant – 1 acres
Magic Incident - 2824 acres
Martin Incident - 75 acres
McCoy Incident - 300 acres
Meadowridge Incident - 20 acres
Nightsky – 35 acres
October – 100 acres
Ranch – 58,401 acres
Roca Incident - 270 acres
Rosa Incident - 411 acres
Sedgewick Incident - 710 acres

Shelter Status
Number in Shelters: 1,454 people in 18 shelters as reported by counties (includes non-Red Cross shelters). This includes 1,432 people in 13 Red Cross and Partner shelters.

Essential Facilities Activated
· Operational Area Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs): Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Riverside
· Southern Regional Emergency Operations Center (SREOC)
· State Operations Center (SOC)
· Joint Field Office (reports issued at 1200 and 2400): Opened 10/24/07 at Pasadena Main Phone: (626) 431-3000

Local Assistance Centers (LACs): (Updated information will be provided in each 1000 hr report)
Nine Local Assistance Centers are currently open and have reported 7,200 service visits as of close of business, October 27, 2007.


Individual Assistance Program (No changes from the previous report)
FEMA Tele-registrations: 5,706
Housing Assistance amount approved: $159,468 for 60 registrants
Housing Assistance amount disbursed: $10,776

Inspection Services (No changes from the previous report)
Inspections issued: 2,139
Inspectors on the ground: 173
In the Field: 57

San Bernardino County: Lake Arrowhead, Cedar Glen and all communities east of Crestline to Green Valley Lake and the Snow Valley Lake area. Residents were evacuated to the National Orange Show in San Bernardino, and the Victorville Fairgrounds in Victorville. Mountain Community Hospital has been advised to evacuate.

Orange County: Four areas – Silverado Canyon, Modjeska Canyon, Live Oak Canyon, and Rancho Santa Margarita (north sector).

Voluntary evacuations ordered for:
Black Mountain area NW of Santa Ysabel, including the La Jolla Indian Reservation, Rincon Reservation, San Pascual Reservation and Bear Valley, La Costa – Carlsbad area S of Palomar Airport, Near Brown Field, Oceanside – Morrow Hills

San Bernardino County: The mandatory evacuation order for Crestline has been reduced to voluntary.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for:
Fallbrook - From the Riverside County border on the north, to the northern portion of Camp Pendleton in the south and including the community of Rainbow on the east, Camp Pendleton-Southeastern region of the base, Escondido, Valley Center, Paradise Hills, Rancho Pasqual, Del Mar Heights and Carmel Valley - West of Rancho Santa Fe Farms, east of I-5, and north of Highway 56, Scripps Ranch - South of Beeler Canyon Road, west of Sycamore, east of I-15 and north of MCAS Miramar, Poway: Areas West and North of Poway Drive; and South of Twin Peaks Road East of Community Road to Tierra Bonita Road on the north and Donard Drive on the south; west of Ipava Drive; west and north of Poway Drive, Solano Beach, Chula Vista, Rancho Bernardo - West of I-15, east of I-5, north of 56 to the city limits, Carlsbad Encinitas, Olivenhain, Rancho Penasquitos - North of SR-56 to Rancho Bernardo Rd, west of I-15 to east Rancho Santa Fe Farms, San Marcos, Tierra Bonita & Twin Peaks, Serra Mesa, and the San Onofre housing complex.

Los Angeles County: All evacuations have been lifted.

Medical Facility Evacuations: Of the 1,586 patients evacuated from 26 facilities, 873 have been returned.

DONATIONS (Updated information will be provided in each 2000 hr report)
Donations Hotline number is 1-800-750-2858 and is open from 0800 to 2000. This line is dedicated for large businesses to donate bulk goods and services. Since operations began on 10/23/07, the hotline has received 683 calls and inquiries as of close of business 10/27/07. Numerous bulk donations have been captured in the Resource Information Management System (RIMS) which are being matched to Care and Shelter needs and other victim service requests. A high-level summary of large corporate donations of bulk goods to date.

A task force has been established in southern California to address the issue of fraud management during and immediately following a disaster that includes state, local and private sector representatives.

American Red Cross
Shelter numbers have decreased by 719 – down to 13 shelters from 20.
Total ARC Managed and Partner shelters: 13
Total population of ARC Managed and Partner shelters: 1,432

Debris Management
· The Cal/EPA EOC is still in operation and will remain so for at least the rest of the next week.
· A Regional MAC has been formed to manage debris removal issues. Ted Rauh, CIWMB is the lead for Cal/EPA on this MAC. This MAC will also address hazardous waste issues. Local county MACs have been formed in San Diego County, San Bernardino County, LA County and Orange County. These MACs include local jurisdictions with state representation.
· The CIWMB will send a team to San Diego on Monday to meet with the County Debris MAC to discuss what the debris management plan will look like. On Tuesday they will meet with the San Bernardino MAC to do the same.
· On Monday Don Johnson will meet with OES and FEMA at the JFO to discuss coordination of debris removal with FEMA. The primary purpose of this meeting is to reach agreement with them on what portion of the debris removal they will pay for. Next week CIWMB will begin the process to establish an office for the Regional Debris MAC in Southern California. USEPA has indicated a willingness to work closely with us on the debris removal and a formal request for their support is being developed. Their support may help to meet some of our manpower needs.

California National Guard
2,661 CNG personnel continuing to support fire suppression missions. Details provided within the State Resources Committed.

Public Numbers for Fire Areas and Public inquiries

Listed are the contact numbers for help and assistance about issues concerning the Southern California wildfires.

FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) 800-621-FEMA, option 3
California Department of Insurance Hotline 800-927-HELP

Red Cross 866-GET-INFO

San Diego Fire and Evacuation Info 619-570-1070
Los Angeles Co. Dept of Mental Heath Hotline 800-854-7771

Other County Numbers:
Orange County PIO 714-628-7085
Orange County Media 714-573-6200
Ventura 805-388-4276
Los Angeles 800-980-4990

San Bernardino County
Info Line
USFS 909-355-8800

San Diego 211 or cell users

Santa Barbara 805-961-5770 or

Riverside 951-940-6985

FEMA Command and Control in Pasadena has mushroomed to a couple dozen vehicles and a string of tents in front of the FEMA building in Pasadena. Personnel from all branch of armed services including Army, Navy and Marines, and Air Force as well as Federal Agencies including the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms), FBI, and others are coordinating disasater recovery efforts from Pasadena to all of Southern California.

Southern California Fires at a Glance...

San Diego County
Witch Fire – 197,990 acres – 45% contained
Harris Fire – 84,300 acres – 20% contained
Poomacha Fire – 39,000 acres – 35% contained
Rice Fire – 9,000 acres – 40% contained
Horno/Ammo Fire – 19,353 acres – 80% contained
Wilcox Fire – 100 acres – 100% contained
Cajon Fire – 250 acres – 100% contained
McCoy Fire – 300 acres – 100% contained
Coronado Hills Fire – 300 acres – 100% contained

San Bernardino County
Slide Fire – 13,378 acres – 15% contained
Grass Valley Fire - 1,100 acres – 70% contained
Martin Fire – 123 acres – 100% contained
Walker Fire – 160 acres 100% contained

Orange County
Santiago Fire – 27,000 acres – 30% contained

Los Angeles County
Ranch Fire – 58,396 acres – 87% contained
Canyon Fire – 4,565 acres – 100% contained
Magic Fire – 2,824 acres – 100% contained
Buckweed Fire – 38,356 acres – 100% contained
Meadowridge Fire – 40 acres - 100% contained

Santa Barbara County
Sedgewick Fire – 710 acres – 100% contained

Riverside County
Rosa Fire – 411 acres – 100% contained
Roca Fire – 270 acres – 100% contained

Ventura County
Nightsky Fire – 35 acres – 100% contained

Thursday, October 25, 2007

President Bush Visits California Firestorm's Aftermath

President Bush aboard AirForce One landed a little past 9:30 am of October 25, 2007 at Miramar Air Station San Diego accompanied on the flight from Washington by key Government Officials including Congressman Drier and Senator Dianne Feinstein among others. President Bush saw firsthand the damage from the devastating wildfires in Southern California aboard presidential chopper Marine One with Governor Arnold Swartzenneger and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff , and promised federal help for the victims of the disaster.

President Bush comforts Kendra Jeffcoate while her husband Jay looks on, whose home was damaged by the California wildfires. "We're not going to forget you in Washington, D.C.," Bush said at the command center for the nearly 200,000-acre Witch Fire in San Diego County.

"We want the people to know that there's a better day ahead," he said.

"Today your life may look dismal, but tomorrow life will be better, and to the extent that the federal government can help, we want to do so."

Earlier, wearing black pants and rolled-up shirtsleeves, the president crunched through the rubble of a home in the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood in San Diego with the property owner Kendra Jeffcoate and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The woman pointed out where the rooms of the home once stood, as she and Bush perched on the terra cotta tiles of her roof -- which now lay on the ground.

Ironically, the only recognizable structure remaining was the corner of a stucco wall with the address plaque on it.

The president is working to prove his administration is proactively tackling the disaster, after he and top officials were accused of a late and ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina two years ago.

The cost of homes destroyed by the wildfires is likely to top $1 billion in San Diego County alone, an emergency official said.

Before he spoke, Bush shook hands with dozens of firefighters and police who were working the fires. He praised their bravery and their service as they battled fires that had consumed 462,415 acres (723 square miles) since Sunday.
Almost 1,600 homes have been destroyed.

Hours earlier, fire crews found two bodies inside a home in Poway, one of the communities hit hardest by the fires, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

They are only the second and third bodies found in a burned home so far -- the first was a Navy civilian engineer who died at his home in Tecate Sunday.

Seven other deaths are labeled fire-related: Three people died during evacuations, and four others died after being evacuated. Seventy-eight people, including at least 36 firefighters, have been injured.

Winds that fanned the wildfires calmed to single-digit speeds Thursday, while the lifting of evacuation orders allowed thousands to return to check on their homes.

At one point, almost 1 million people were under evacuation orders as fires burned from the Mexican border to northern Los Angeles County.

All residential areas in the city of San Diego have been reopened to residents who fled the fires, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced Thursday afternoon.

About 19,440 evacuees remain in shelters statewide, officials said, although many others are staying in hotels or with family and friends.

At the largest shelter, Qualcomm Stadium, most of the 11,000 evacuees there earlier this week had left. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said 2,500 were left Thursday, and police said 300 people had spent the night at what's usually the home of the San Diego Chargers.

Evacuee Mark Davis was able to return to the site of his Rancho Bernardo home Wednesday, finding the two-story structure burned to the ground.

"It was us. We had been there 28 years, and it had a lot of our flavor," Davis said

The wildfires are the largest natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director David Paulison promised "a different type of response than the federal government put together" for the 2005 storm.

Almost 8,900 firefighters have been battling the blazes.

"It hurts us to have those homes lost. It hurts us to have those injuries. And it is frustrating for us to watch our community be devastated by this," firefighter Andy Menshek said.

On Thursday morning, officials cited some degree of containment on all but one of the 23 blazes in the seven-county area since the weekend. The Slide Fire in the San Bernardino Mountains still burned out of control.

The Witch Fire, the largest at almost 200,000 acres, was 20 percent contained, fire officials said.

The National Weather Service forecast light winds across Southern California on Thursday, relieving the pressure on firefighters.

Meanwhile, arson investigations are under way in Orange and Riverside counties in connection with some of the wildfires. Watch how arson investigators look for clues »

The FBI, the ATF, and the Orange County Fire Authority are investigating the Santiago Fire that has burned 23,000 acres.

"We found multiple points of origin and that leads us to suspect arson, and our investigators confirmed this is in fact arson," said Kris Concepcion, the battalion chief for the Santiago Fire.

"Whoever has started this has started it in different points that indicate that they wanted it to grow rapidly," Concepcion said on CNN's "American Morning." Watch the raging flames of the Santiago Fire »

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also considers the Rosa Fire in Riverside County an arson case. It burned more than 400 acres before being fully contained

President Bush proceeded to Kit Carson Park in Escondido where he met with some of the first responders.

At an earlier stop in a Rancho Bernardo neighborhood, he was asked a question about comparing this disaster to Katrina. "I'm thinking about people whose lives are turned upside down. The experts can try to figure out whether the response was appropriate or not," he said. "All I can tell you is when the governor calls, I answer his phone."

He also said: "There is all kinds of time for history to compare this response or that response. "Those of us who are here from government, our hearts are right here with the Jeffcoat's (family),'' he said, referring to a family he visited.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Congressman Drier: Coming Together to Fight the Wildfires

The wildfires raging across California have been devastating. Thousands have lost their homes and businesses and record numbers of our fellow citizens have been forced to flee. As the fires continue to burn and the Santa Ana winds continue to blow, there are brave men and women on the frontlines fighting to contain them. And at the same time, a massive effort is underway to help those individuals suffering from this tragedy.

The federal government is working with state and local officials to provide fire-fighting assistance and disaster assistance for those who have lost homes and businesses. The bipartisan California Congressional delegation, Governor Schwarzenegger, and President Bush are working together to ensure every need is met. President Bush has already declared a Federal Emergency, which frees up federal resources to help fight the fires. For example, the federal government is providing Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) units to assist the fight. These units are self-contained, reusable 3,000 gallon aerial fluid dispersal systems that attach to airplanes. These units provide an emergency capability to supplement existing commercial tankers that fight wildfires. Additionally, we have requested and received a Federal Disaster Declaration from the President. This declaration will ensure that federal assistance will be made available to those who need to rebuild their lives. Assistance will also be available to state and local governments to repair disaster-damaged facilities.

This natural disaster has affected millions of Californians, and the full scope of the damage has not yet been realized. As we work first to contain the fires, we must be ready to help those whose lives have been destroyed once the fires are out. We can take steps now to be ready when the rebuilding begins. For evacuees, help may be needed now in the form of simple items like diapers or clothes. For those who have lost their homes, much more will be required. Please visit my website for information on how you can help, updates on the battle against the fires, and what the federal government is doing to help those affected.


David Dreier
Member of Congress

Homeland Security's FEMA Deploys Mobile Emergency Response System

Pasadena: As wildfires continue to spread in Southern California, the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 10 Administrator Susan Reinertson has called for the deployment of regional disaster response teams, to supplement state and local response efforts.

"Yesterday afternoon, Region 10 deployed 24 emergency responders to the affected Counties, and our Mobile Emergency Response System (MERS) detachment has sent a large convoy of support vehicles south toward California," said Reinertson. "MERS is setting up a 300 person Joint Field Office in Pasadena, and will provide communications and command and control support for additional forward operating sites located near front line fire-fighting positions."

FEMA Region 10, headquartered in Bothell, WA, serves the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The region is also poised to provide its resources to support disasters in other areas of the United States when necessary. "Our experiences during past disasters have taught us to assume a proactive, forward-leaning approach," said Reinertson, "This deployment is one example of how the new FEMA will make sure that state and local governments are getting the help that they need from the federal government."

Over 510,000 people have been evacuated as a result of the California wildfires, and more than 1,600 homes have already been destroyed. 20 fires have burned more than 400,000 acres from Mexico’s border to northern Los Angeles County, causing the largest mass evacuation of residents in the State's history.

Yesterday, President George Bush issued an Emergency Disaster declaration for California, and ordered greater federal aid to supplement state and local response activities in the affected areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

As a result of the federal declaration, FEMA is authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and protect public health, safety, and property, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the affected counties.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Three huge Truck RV's with dozens of support vehicles bearing the Homeland Security logo with their satellite antennas pointed south has set up at the Operations Headquarters in a building in Pasadena. Also around the area can be seen Military personnel setting up a series of command and control tents in the building's parking lot. President Bush is expected to visit the California Firestorm's aftermath in Temecula October 25, 2007 as fire still rages in several parts of Southern California.

Monday, October 22, 2007

California Wildfires Seen from Earth Observatory

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, wildfires ignited in the paper-dry, drought-stricken vegetation of Southern California over the weekend of October 20, 2007, and exploded into massive infernos that forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their communities. Driven by Santa Ana winds, fires grew thousands of acres in just one to two days. The fires sped down from the mountains into the outskirts of coastal cities, including San Diego. Dozens of homes have burned to the ground, and at least one person has died, according to local news reports. Several of the fires were burning completely out of control as of October 22.

This image of the fires in California was captured at 1:55 p.m. U.S. Pacific Daylight Time on October 22, 2007. Places where MODIS detected actively burning fires are outlined in red. Thick streamers of smoke unfurl over the Pacific Ocean. The brownish plumes are clouds of dust. Fires northwest of Los Angeles seemed calmer at the time of this image than they were the previous day.

The drought in the Southwest throughout summer 2007 has been “extreme” according to the categories used by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Dry vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane force as they race downslope from the deserts of the Great Basin and through narrow mountain passes, are often a devastating combination in Southern California. According to the Incident Management Situation Report from the National Interagency Fire Center for October 22, Santa Ana winds were expected to continue through Wednesday.

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering MODIS Direct Broadcast facility.

12 Fires Burn in Southern California

Oct. 22 (Bloomberg) -- More than 250,000 people fled their homes in southern California as some of the state's worst wildfires, fueled by strong winds, scorched more than 100,000 acres and caused at least one death.

Twelve wildfires have burned more than 100,665 acres (40,739 hectares) from Santa Barbara to San Diego County near the Mexican border, said Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry.

Fires in northern San Diego County forced evacuations of 250,000 people, including communities with million-dollar homes. San Diego officials said the damage could be worse than the destruction caused four years ago by similar fires, which cost $1.1 billion and damaged 4,847 structures.

``This is nowhere near finished,'' said Chief Bill Metcalf, San Diego County area fire coordinator. ``It is worse than many of us imagined. We're seeing 100- to 200-feet flame lengths and truly explosive fire behavior.''

The fires also destroyed buildings in Malibu, where many movie stars have homes northwest of Los Angeles, and Lake Arrowhead, a mountain community northeast of Los Angeles. Roads and freeways near the affected areas were closed because of the fires or jammed with people fleeing.

California power-system operators declared an electricity transmission emergency after the wildfires disabled wires and required utilities to curtail supplies.

Aircraft sometimes were grounded because of high winds, said Patti Roberts, a spokeswoman for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's emergency office.

State of Emergency

``There are a number of fires that are zero-contained,'' Roberts said.

Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency for the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura, according to a statement on the state Office of Emergency Services' Web site. The proclamation allows the agency to deploy emergency staff, equipment and facilities and provide assistance to local governments, according to the statement.

The fires are ``beyond our capabilities,'' said San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Tracy Jarman. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said the Red Cross ``is maxed out.''

The governor ordered 1,500 National Guardsmen to assist in fighting the fires or provide logistics.

`Tragic Time'

``It's a tragic time for California,'' Schwarzenegger said after touring the affected areas. ``The conditions are really terrible.''

Most of the new blazes started yesterday, ``but they are already very widespread and are likely to spread quite rapidly,'' said Neena Saith, a catastrophe response analyst with Risk Management Solutions in London.

Paula Rosput Reynolds, chief executive officer of property insurer Safeco Corp., said the company was watching developments ``pretty closely.'' State Farm Mutual Insurance Co., the largest insurer of homes in the U.S., has received its first claim from a homeowner for fire damage, spokesman Fraser Engerman said.

Towns in northern San Diego being evacuated include Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Ramona and Escondido. Hewlett-Packard Co. evacuated employees from its printer-research facility located in northern San Diego county, spokesman Edward Woodward said.

Among those who evacuated was San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson, the most valuable player last year in the National Football League, the Associated Press reported.

Rancho Santa Fe

Directly in the path of one of the fires is secluded, affluent Rancho Santa Fe, an exclusive residential community on rolling hills filled with eucalyptus trees, orchards, stables and riding trails.

Located about 5 miles inland from the ocean and about 15 miles northeast of the better-known coastal community of La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe was ranked by Forbes magazine last year as the second-most expensive postal code in the nation based on median sales price. The average sales price of a home there this month was $2.5 million, according to DataQuick real estate compilations.

``This fire will probably be the worst this county has ever seen, worse than the Cedar Fire,'' San Diego Sheriff Bill Kolender said, referring to the 2003 fire.

All schools in San Diego county are closed tomorrow.

Santa Ana Winds

Endangered animals like the California condor are being evacuated from the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The park should be safe because it is heavily irrigated and much brush has been removed, the San Diego Zoo said on its Web site.

Gusting Santa Ana winds carried embers as far as 2 miles (3 kilometers) to kindle new fires. Temperatures may surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius). Some areas of southern California have received little more than an inch (2 centimeters) of rain since Jan. 1.

``Without a fire, this would be a windstorm. When you add in the fire, it's a firestorm,'' Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman said.

The fires are burning areas ranging from 50 acres to 30,000 acres, Berlant said. About 100 engines and 1,000 personnel were on the scene of each fire as firefighters were imported from northern California, Nevada and Arizona.

Firefighters Hurt

A civilian was killed and four firefighters were hurt in the San Diego-area blaze that destroyed ``multiple structures,'' Berlant said.

In the Malibu area, one of the buildings destroyed was Hodge Castle, a 10,500-square-foot (975-square-meter) landmark owned by philanthropist Lilly Lawrence, which overlooks the Malibu lagoon.

California power system operators told owners of electrical generators in the southern part of the state to defer any maintenance today to ensure availability from local power plants after wildfires disabled a transmission line.

La Gloria's Skullduggery

The recent bombing in Glorietta 2, Makati last October 19 has unleashed another shock wave across the country. The bombing killed 11 people and injured more than 120. According to police sources, traces of C4 plastic explosives were found at the site. What is odd is that no terrorist organization claimed the bombing. What is odder is that a lot of people are now pointing their fingers at the Arroyo administration for the bombing. And what is intriguing is that it happened following the bribery scandal and the filing of impeachment against President Arroyo in the House of Representatives.

The bribery scandal came to light when Gov. Fr. Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, in a press conference, claimed that he received P500,000 during a Malacanang meeting hosted by President Arroyo for governors. Three other governors also claimed that they received money from presidential aides. On the same day, Arroyo also hosted a separate breakfast meeting for some 190 congressmen and women. Manila Congressman Bienvenido Abante, a preacher, who attended the breakfast, echoed the claim of Gov. Fr. Panlilio -- he too received P500,000 from a presidential aide.

It is interesting to note that Arroyo was not around when the "pampadulas" (grease money) were distributed by her aides. Nobody would really expect her to be present during the distribution, after all she would not dirty her hands with "grease." In my opinion, the reason for the bribery was to derail the impeachment petition which is now in Congress. If it is defeated, Arroyo would be immune for one year from another impeachment attempt.

So it is not surprising that President Arroyo invited -- "summoned" was the word used by another journalist --the governors and members of Congress to Malacanang. Assuming that all of the 190 members of Congress who were greased would reject the impeachment petition, their number is more than enough to defeat the impeachment petition. But instead of fixing a potential problem, it backfired and created a bigger problem -- a bribery scandal -- that could ignite another people power revolt and force Arroyo to resign.

Just hours before the Glorietta blast, several Catholic bishops called for her resignation and cited "moral bankruptcy" of the government. In addition, Speaker De Venecia urged Arroyo to lead a "moral revolution" and eradicate corruption in the government. But does she have the moral right to lead a "moral revolution" when members of her own family were implicated to a multitude of corruption scandals?

It would not then be surprising if Arroyo would play her last ace to pre-empt any attempt to dislodge her. There were rumors that the Glorietta explosion may have been the handiwork of people associated with Arroyo. If so, could it be a diversionary tactic --the tail wagging the dog -- to buttress her shaky position? Or could it be the precursor to a martial law? Interestingly, with the enactment of the Human Security Act, Arroyo has immense power at her disposal.

We need to remember that La Gloria is a master -- nay, a grand master -- of skullduggery. Remember the "Hello Garci" election cheating scandal two years ago? On the brink of total collapse, she promised former President Fidel V. Ramos, who came to her rescue, that she would support a Charter change to a parliamentary system and would step down when it is approved. Speaker De Venecia, a strong advocate for parliamentary system also came out to her defense. As a result, her political life was given a respite.

But as soon as she consolidated her power, she reneged. However, she did call for a Charter change but on her own terms: political power beyond 2010. She was able to get enough signatures for a people's initiative in support of the custom-made-for-Arroyo Charter change. She could have gotten it her way had the Supreme Court not reject the flawed people's initiative.

Was it then an accident that Arroyo's Charter change proposal coincided with the bribery scandal? What is baffling is her timetable for the proposed Charter change. She calls it the "roadmap to federalism by 2012." The question is: why 2012? What will happen between 2010 and 2012? Is she going to hold on to the presidency until 2012? And then what? As Rep. Satur Ocampo said, "the bribery scandal is linked to the President's move to revive Cha-cha… she is literally buying her way beyond 2010, again on board her Cha-cha train."

It is interesting to note that she has chosen a federal system of government for her Cha-cha revival. Federalism is very popular in Mindanao -- particularly Muslim Mindanao -- and in the Visayas where a lot of Visayans resented the "Imperial Manila" central government. By gaining the loyalty of Mindanao and the Visayas, Arroyo could become the first President or Prime Minister of a federal government. As a matter of fact, during the 2004 elections, she did well in Mindanao and the Visayas. In the 2007 mid-term elections, she proved her strength in Mindanao and the Visayas including the populous Cebu. Does it surprise anyone that after winning the 2004 election, she had her inauguration in Cebu?

As a politician once said, "In politics, nothing happens by accident." It then becomes apparent that Arroyo could have been working on a scenario that would perpetuate her in power beyond 2010. Today, there in nothing on earth that could stop her; however, things could change tomorrow.

The Associated Press reported that "military elements were angry over the scandals rocking the Arroyo administration while troops were laying down their lives battling Abu Sayyaf bandits down south in Basilan and armed forces chief Esperon admitting 'there was no money for the increase in battle pay recently promised by President Arroyo'." Recently, the Commandant of the Marines, Major General Ben Dolorfino, said that the corruption scandals were affecting his troops and warned that another coup attempt could ignite a civil war. Clearly, these are red flags that signals potential trouble for Arroyo.

Arroyo should know that the loyalty of the military is paramount to her political survival. After all, had the military top brass in 2001 not abandon then President Joseph Estrada, Arroyo would still be a low-keyed Vice President assigned to ribbon-cutting ceremonies around the country. If there is one thing that would give her a nightmare is the thought of Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, Gen. Dolorfino, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, and Gen. Danilo Lim banding together.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wild Fires Hit Southern California

CNN Los Angeles: At least seven fires burned October 21, 2007 near Malibu, the beach community that is home to dozens of celebrities. Fires shut down the Malibu section of the Pacific Coast Highway.

Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said five single family home and two commercial buildings -- a glass company and Malibu Presbyterian Church -- were destroyed in Malibu. Nine single family homes and five commercial buildings had been damaged, he said of the blaze that consumed 1,200 acres.

The department said about 200 homes in the Malibu area were evacuated.

Helicopters that were dumping water on the fires would be grounded at dusk, said Freeman. He said fire fighters were in a "good position" to fight the blaze with engine companies after dark.

Freeman said the Malibu area fire began around 4:50 a.m. (7:50 a.m. ET) Sunday. As of 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) the Malibu fire was not under control, he said. The cause is still under investigation but several downed power lines were found in the area, he said. Freeman's "best projection" is that the fire will last at least two days.

"Thousands of homes are going to be threatened at one time or another based on the movement of the fire," said Freeman. Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Pamela Conley Ulich said earlier Sunday, "We are at the mercy of the wind."

Hot weather and Santa Ana winds marked the height of traditional wildfire season this weekend, after one of the driest years on record. Watch the fires rage »

Noting there have not been any reported injuries in Malibu, Freeman urged residents not to return to their homes to retrieve anything.

"We're all scared to death and we have nowhere to go," Susan Nuttall, 51, told The Associated Press as she sat in her black Mercedes in a cul-de-sac after fleeing her condominium near the Pepperdine campus. She was wearing a bathrobe and holding her Chihuahua. View images of the destruction »

Flames consumed Malibu's landmark Castle Kashan, a fortress-like hilltop home with turrets and arched windows.

Chunks of brick fell from the exterior of the burning structure overlooking the coast. The house was not directly in the fire's path, but powerful winds carried embers to the building, fire inspector Rick Dominguez said. Castle Kashan is owned by Lilly Lawrence, a Malibu philanthropist.

Daniel Collins, who has been staying at Castle Kashan for a few months, said he woke to thick smoke and "flames licking the windows."

"It was pretty intense," he told CNN. "And we were probably in this house for an hour or so watching this and finally they got us out of there. By the time we left, the castle was engulfed in flames."

Collins said he felt safe because there were many firefighters. Once he was helped from the castle, Collins rushed to see if his neighbors were safe and they were, he said.

Meanwhile, students at Pepperdine's Malibu campus were told to gather at Firestone Field House, while faculty and staff were gathering at Tyler Campus Center, campus police told CNN.

School spokesman Rick Gibson said school authorities went door-to-door clearing out the dorms. However, he said the school does not believe students and faculty are in any danger.

Los Angeles Fire Inspector Sam Padilla said the department was encouraging evacuations at the school because aerial views of the fires, fanned by winds, showed some buildings on the campus were threatened.

Power was also knocked out on the campus, he said.

The fire department as of 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) listed the following areas as being under mandatory evacuation orders: Montenedo, Malibu Road, Malibu Colony, Pepperdine, Malibu Crest, Serra Retreat and Big Rock.

The residential area Malibu Crest and vacation area Sierra Retreat also were evacuated Sunday, Padilla said.

Evacuation centers were set up at Zuma Beach and authorities had aerial teams serving as lookouts, and helicopters and fire engines to areas as they became threatened, Dominguez said.

Featured Fil-Am Artist: Saxophonist Michael Paulo - Totally Beautiful Jazz

(Michael Paulo just blowin at Temecula Wine & Jazz Festival in California: Music for your Soul)

One of the most versatile and cosmopolitan saxophonists in pop, soul and contemporary jazz for nearly 20 years, Michael Paulo has added his distinct saxpertise to a virtual who's who of artists, including Al Jarreau (Paulo's longest term touring association), James Ingram, No. 1 Smooth Jazz Trumpeter and guitarist Rick Braun and Peter White, Oleta Adams, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, Jeffrey Osborne, Jeff Lorber, David Benoit, Carl Anderson, Bobby Caldwell, Johnny Mathis and more. Paulo grew up in a musical family (his father a pianist, his mother a singer, his siblings all playing instruments) and though he came upon the sax relatively late at age 15, he quickly became first horn player in his high school band and was playing professional gigs around the islands within a few years. Rather than accept a scholarship to North Texas State, he chose a more adventurous road by joining Hawaiian pop/rock band Kalapana, which had some success on the mainland but was most popular in Japan. After playing regularly and recording on all four of Kalapana's albums from 1975 through 1979, Paulo recorded a solo album for Japanese release on Trio records. In addition to exposing him to the Japanese jazz audience, Tats in the Rainbow gave him the opportunity to work with legendary pianist Herbie Hancock.

Paulo moved to Los Angeles in 1981 and quickly established himself by playing with percussionist Ray Armondo and a local R&B outfit featuring members of Rufus. Two years later, he caught his big break when Al Jarreau hired him for his touring band. The young saxman became an integral part of the Jarreau experience while touring the world for the next decade. Paulo also gained international recognition as a result of his work on Jarreau's famed "Live in London" release.

In 1988, Paulo met producer Robert Kraft while recording a solo for singer /songwriter Vonda Sheppard . Impressed with the young saxophonist talent, Kraft secured Michael a major recording contract with MCA Records. Kraft produced his MCA debut One Passion, which became a Top Ten hit on the contemporary Jazz/NAC charts. 1990's Fusebox, on GRP Records which charted in the Top 20 on Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart. In 1994 Paulo launched his own label Noteworthy Records with the release of his fourth solo project Save the Children. Paulo spent much of the Nineties managing Noteworthy Records and touring with other artists, strengthening his solo career overseas with many Asian tours as well. Internationally, he is especially beloved in Asia and Thailand where Save the Children was first released. While that album found Paulo reflecting on the joys of fatherhood and his many world excursions, its similarly successful 1996 follow-up, My Heart and Soul, was about the simple balance between Paulo's passions for slamming funk and dreamy balladry. My Heart and Soul was immediately a top ten Smooth Jazz hit.

It's a love affair which continues on Midnight Passion, a picture perfect reflection on where Paulo has been and where he-and smooth jazz-are headed as we approach the new millennium. In 2002 Michael released a Holiday Recording Sax for Christmas that was awarded a "Hawaiian Grammy" Hoku Award for Best Jazz Cd of the Year . In 2003 and 2004 Michael expanded his Horizons performing with the Honolulu Symphony and Asian American Symphonies. Michael has also been involved in producing events ,his latest being the 1st annual Temecula Jazz Festival which was a resounding success in 2004. He continues a rewarding ten year relationship as the musical host of the Dolphin Days Music Festival in Hawaii, an event that benefits the Shriners Hospital for Children.

Michael Paulo's reputation as the no. 1 Asian American (Fil-Am) Jazz artist continues with each new year. A dynamic live performer Michael has constantly left his audiences wanting more. His emotive playing and endearing style has never failed to capture the hearts of his fans all over the world.. With a new release entitled "Beautiful", Michael Paulo is poised to build upon his status as one of the most dynamic saxophonist in the world.

As we move on towards 2008, enjoy Michael Paulo's latest CD entitled: "Beautiful" by clicking the link below:

Immigration grants one-year visa-free stay to ‘balikbayans’

MANILA, Philippines–The Bureau of Immigration has relaxed its rules for returning Filipinos or “balikbayans” by giving them a one-year visa-free stay in the country, Commissioner Marcelino Libanan has said.

A balikbayan principally refers to a former Philippine citizen who has become a naturalized citizen of another country.

Libanan said they decided to ease the bureau’s rule after being swamped with queries and complaints from returning Filipinos who claimed that they were confused by some immigration officers who would give them a 21-day stay instead of one year on the pretext that they have been to the country more than once over a 12-month period.

“We will be doing our balikbayans a disservice if such mistakes by some of our immigration officers are not addressed and rectified, especially in light of our government’s thrust to encourage our countrymen abroad to visit the land of their birth and even settle and have business here,” Libanan said.

Under immigration rules, a balikbayan shall declare before a Philippine immigration officer at the port of entry that he or she is availing of the balikbayan privilege and shall present his or her valid passport in addition to other supporting documents such as the passenger’s cancelled Philippine passport, birth certificate, naturalization papers to show former Philippine citizenship or certification from the adopted country.

Libanan said the balikbayan privilege was extended to foreign spouses as well as minor, unmarried children provided they were traveling together.

A “balikbayan” refers to:

1. Former Filipino citizens holding foreign passports, including spouses and children traveling with them;
2. Filipinos who have been continuously out of the Philippines for at least one (1) year; and
3. Filipino overseas contract workers.

Aside from visa-entry to the Philippines for a period of one year, the other benefits of a balikbayan include the following:

1. Travel tax exemption;
2. Duty-free shopping privilege of up to US$2,000.00 (US$1,000.00 as arriving Balikbayan and US$1,000.00 as arriving passenger), with the following limitations:

a. Shopping must be done within two (2) days upon arrival;
b. Duty-free shopping privilege can be availed of only once a year; and
c. Purchases must be made personally by the balikbayan.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

More Testimonies from the October 19 Glorietta Blast

The latest news is C-4 bomb component used in Glorietta blast - PNP chemist and Glorietta death toll rises to 10. For its part, Makati blast a ‘terror act,’ military says: Leftists, rightists, extremists eyed.

After 24 hours of no groups coming forward to claim responsibility for the blast, ‘RSM spokesman’(Rajah Solaiman Movement) owns up to Glorietta 2 blast although it’s far from being confirmed. What have come in, prior to this news, were denials: Abu Sayyaf denies hand in Makati bomb attack while MILF offers help in deadly blast probe.

All we know are slender clues to a whole that has yet to be literally pieced together: Investigators to scour Glorietta underground for blast clues.

The past is now. Perhaps it’s the part of me that constantly refers to the past, to make sense of the present, that draws me at this time, to the eyewitness accounts being published on-line. The point when eyewitness bear witness to what they saw, where testimony makes the transition from an oral story to one written down, and thus, becomes a story that can enter history, is the point where journalism and history connect. Or perhaps it’s the need to keep yesterday’s events on a human scale, knowing it’s that scale that is the best antidote to whoever perpetrated the bombing.

So let us begin with the testimonies:

From an eyewitness:

True enough, when we were on the third floor of Glorietta 2, we were able to find Toby’s. I told my friend to go there and make her purchase, while I would be browsing at the tiangge stores right outside. I was looking at the latest fashionable blouses, muttering to myself that I would never be able to pull them off. I still tried on one blouse, but to no avail. Hindi talaga bagay…shucks.

I received a text message from my friend at around 1:25 P.M., telling me that she was near Timezone waiting for me, but urging me to take my time. Immediately after I got her text, I tried to locate her. Not able to find her, I decided to call her up.

Just when the phone was ringing, I heard a very loud explosion nearby coupled with a very intense shake which felt like an Intensity 10 earthquake. I almost fell to the ground because of the impact! I felt like I was in twilight zone or something, as I watched debris falling everywhere and smoke billowing from behind. Suddenly, people were screaming and shouting and pushing me. I had no choice but to follow the crowd. I began to wonder whether my friend was safe and as I was about to call her up, I heard what seemed like another explosion. I froze for a second, terrified, not knowing where to go. At that very second, I felt terror grip my body, wondering if there were still several bombs about to go off, and wondering if we were running headlong into another bomb. I don’t know how my legs were able to function but before I knew it, I was walking straight into Landmark.

Thankfully, the guards removed the table and opened the doors wide in order to receive the big crowd emanating from Glorietta 2. As I stepped into what felt like safe ground, I received a call from my friend asking me where I was. I was relieved upon hearing her voice knowing that at least she was OK. I told her I was at Landmark and not to worry about me. I called up my husband to tell him what happened. Fortunately he was just nearby and that he would pick me up immediately. I couldn’t contact my friend anymore since the network (Globe) was already busy. Good thing there was no traffic in sending text messages. After texting her and knowing she was ok, and that her driver was about to pick her up, it was only at that moment that I suddenly felt relieved.

Another eyewitness, Cindy also relates:

Earlier that day we agreed to dine in Pizza Hut which was in the second floor of Glorietta 2. We proceeded to Pizza Hut and placed our orders. Moments later a loud bang was heard. I didn’t move thinking that it was nothing serious. I actually thought that it was some activity prepared by Glorietta. But the whole Glorietta trembled like there was an earthquake. The ceiling almost fell but luckily only small debris fell from the ceiling. My friend was pushing me to stand. Immediately I packed my things. We turned our heads and saw heavy white smoke outside the establishment. People were screaming and running away from the smoke. That was the time that I realized that it was an explosion and that it might not be the only one. We panicked! I grabbed my friend’s hand and we ran toward the escalators in the activity area. Pizza Hut was just about 20 meters away where the bombing happened. We were lucky that the direction of the bomb explosion was in the direction of Park Square and not toward the activity area. At the bottom of the escalator, some insulators of the mall can be found. Debris kept falling inside and the smoke was approaching the activity area. I told my friend to ran headed for SM. We ran and never looked back. People from SM didn’t know that there was a bombing incident at Glorietta. Later a group of women and security guards were screaming and running toward us. At that instant we ran to MRT station, bought tickets and finally got out of the place.

Another eyewitness told of her mother’s story:

On the way back to office, while on board the escalator, we heard a loud blast. I was stunned as I watched the ceiling of the floor below me collapse like domino tiles and orange plastic pipes started to fall too. I saw the sales girls from the collapsed stores running for their lives. I was thinking someone must have been killed down there. I was stunned and stood still on the moving escalator until my friend Milette hugged me and shouted, “RUN!”. It jolted me and made me realize that the floor in which we were in could also collapse. I grabbed her hand and ran as fast as I could to Landmark department store which is connected to the mall we came from. My heart was pounding. Our other friends got separated from us but we all made ourway safely back to office on foot.

Another eyewitness recounts:

Apparently, Mommy was also at Glorietta looking for the Baby Couture stall as she was supposed to buy a bag for her god daughter. Thank God for Mommy’s bad sense of direction, she somehow got lost and went the other way from where the stall was. (note: the Baby Couture is located at Glorietta 2 together with the other baby/kiddie shops at the 2nd floor). Then she heard a loud bang and felt the vibration. Thinking it must be an earthquake she entered Abensons and asked the salesman if she can stay there for safety. What scared her was when she saw a lot of people rushing out from the mall, some were hysterical, some were crying… then she heard some screaming “may bomba may bomba!” (there’s a bomb! there’s a bomb!).

There were those in the vicinity of the blast, as "Bryanton Post" relates:

Melissa, a friend whom I was supposed to meet last night, was eating in Via Mare in Landmark when the blast occurred. Had she decided to eat in Glorietta after a physical exam in one of the clinics there, she later told me, she would have been included among the casualties. The impact, she said, was so strong that it was even felt in Landmark. An earthquake, people around her kept saying. No, she said to herself. It felt more like the whole mall had just taken a roller coaster ride, she told me.

If that was even felt in Landmark, I can’t simply imagine the impact in Glorietta.

Another account is by "O-C Mumzie", who was in a gym in the area:

Ten minutes behind schedule now, I focused on the remaining tasks on my to-do list. I hurried to the locker room to change, gather my things and check-out. And then it happened… the building rocked and the sound of exploding glass and screams rang out. Glorietta 2 had just been bombed. And then a second blast.

At that point, we didn’t know what it was. For some reason though, I feared the worse. My friend, Maricar, asked me what happened and I just said “I think it was a bomb”. I guess it was the screams that told me. We peered though the 3rd floor gym lobby and saw the security guard rolling down the steel partitions. Beyond, we could see thick clouds of smoke (we learned later was pulverized cement) billowing from inside the mall and the screams of terror became more audible. I heard the receptionist say the blast came from nearby Timezone. My God! The children! With that thought, I knew I had to focus and look after my own safety. It was a mother’s instinct in me that suddenly took control of my every move– I needed to be safe for my own children.

Immediately I helped Maricar take control. After gathering my things, I helped her clean out her locker and carried one of her bags. I told her we should exit though the ground floor of the gym that would lead us directly outside the mall and into an open park. In seconds, we were out and joined the hundreds already gathered in the safety of open ground. I called my husband, my kids, my sisters and friends who mattered to me most just to let them know I’m okay. My car was stranded ar the car park with my driver so my husband sent his driver to pick me up at the packed Starbucks at 6750.

But here’s a curious thing, which to me, will gain significance as the various eyewitness accounts are cross-checked and the specific circumstances begin to emerge. Take this account by others who was there in Glorietta 2 at the time of the blast:

For the life of me, I couldn’t understand how I failed to feel the earthquake-like blast, as described by those interviewed in TV newscasts, in Glorietta 2 yesterday, when the rest of the people beside who were also there, watching from the second floor, not very far from the scene of the blast, those at the activity center below, running, scampering towards the exit doors. We were looking at each other wondering what was going on! We weren’t panicky, we were simply bewildered. What I heard were the ear-splitting squeaks of shutters and doors of shops and stores being shut and hurled down in hurried succession.

I took the escalator studiedly. I stayed and waited for a while at the ground floor where some mall security people were gathered trying to piece the information they got from their radio transceivers, for news because I was curious. I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to know if there was a fire because smoke filled the area. I asked a security guard what was that all about. He simply replied, “Ma’am, I do not have an official word yet, you are safe, please stay calm and walk towards the exit door carefully.” When I got out of the exit door facing the Shangri-la Hotel, all the people were politely and courteously requested by the security guards to cross towards the tent because they were sealing the perimeters off in and around Glorietta.

The smoke wafting out of the door smelled of gunpowder or firecrackers, I distinctly remember. I couldn’t leave the tent because it rained. Besides, the immediate surroundings were filled with cars - firetrucks, ambulance, private cars, police cars, news companies’, etc. The paths towards Landmark were completely sealed off.

Video clips taken by Gambit01 and provided by tonyo.blogspot.com

(Compiled by Jay Fermin ppp-usa; eyewitnesses identities are protected for security reasons. Writer's Note: I was hoping to have an exclusive interview with an Ayala Land Top Executive Saturday, October 20, for an article I'm working on: "Ayala Land's Direction in 2008", but the Ayala Executive who was supposed to leave for Los Angeles last Friday, October 19, had to cancel his flight at the last minute and proceed to Glorietta 2 and oversee post-tragedy operations for Ayala Land - owner and operator of Glorietta Malls. Initial assessment place the damage at more than P100 Million. Now, I hope I can get the interview come Monday when he arrives. Ayala Land is shouldering all expenses to the victims of this tragedy. My sympathy and prayers for all the victims.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Images of Glorietta 2 Blast

(photos by Disneycute; Manila)

Makati Bombing Eyewitnesses Recount Ordeal

October 19, 2007 - The blast, which occurred during lunch-hour, spread panic in the city of 12 million people, which has in the past been the scene of attacks by Muslim separatist rebels.

Several shoppers said the blast was heard from a nearby baby store in the mall. Liana Navarro, sister of Black and White Movement’s Leah Navarro and who was in the mall with her mother, said several people including children were seen with "obvious injuries."

Another witness, Arel Vertucio, said the explosion was so strong that it was felt up to the third level of the mall. Vertucio said he saw some people lying on the ground.

Eyewitness Icy Marinas was only 15 meters away from the Glorietta explosion when it occurred. She said the blast felt like an "intense earthquake."

She said she saw a pregnant woman crying after the blast while other women started rushing out of the mall with their families. She added that she saw "three bloodied men" near the blast site while the security guards just stood around with no reaction.

Charlie Nepomuceno, an employee at the Glorietta mall, said the powerful explosion appeared to have centered on an escalator.

"It left a deep crater at the foot of the escalator," he said. "It also ripped open the roof of the building. I saw a man thrown on to the roof who had lost a leg."

He said a badly mangled body of a woman was near the escalator.

Manila has largely been spared a spate of bomb attacks by Muslim rebels that have plagued the southern Mindanao region. But it has been hit in the past. A series of bomb blasts in 2000 killed at least 22 people.

President Arroyo ordered the police to "leave no stone unturned" in its investigation on the explosion.

"The President is deeply saddened by this incident and extends her sympathies to the families of the casualties…She has also ordered the PNP to get to the bottom of things and to leave no stone unturned," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

Bunye said the President also ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development to extend assistance to the victims.

Arroyo in a statement Friday early evening also issued a stern warning against those who want to take advantage of the Makati mall blast.

"I warned those who seek to destabilize our government not to exploit this incident for their selfish political motives," Mrs. Arroyo said following her emergency meeting with the NSC and other officials in Malacañang.

Mrs. Arroyo said that the government is undertaking measures to ensure that the incident would not happen again including ordering the Philippine National Police to go on a high alert and the deployment of additional 2,000 cops in Metro Manila.

"This is a time for all of us to unite. Sana ay maunawaan ng ating mga kababayan ang mga pag-iingat na ating isinasagawa. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat (I hope our countrymen understand the measures we are implementing. Thank you)," she said.

After her NSC meeting, Mrs. Arroyo immediately went to visit patients confined at the Makati Medical Center who were among those injured during what authorities called a possible terrorist attack in the upscale mall in Makati City. With reports from Reuters, Agence France-Presse

C4 High Explosive Allegedly found at Mall Bombing

Eight people were killed while at least 129 others were injured after an explosion ripped through an upscale mall in Makati City Friday afternoon.

"As of 8:00 this evening, we have accounted for eight casualties and 129 injured. They are scattered I think in three hospitals in Makati," National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director General Geary Barias said in an interview with ANC’s Crossroads.

Officials also reported that ten persons were reported missing. Fire and rescue authorities were still searching for bodies they suspect may be trapped under the debris thrown by the powerful blast.

A report said among those injured were two South Koreans and a Chinese citizen.

Reuters reported that police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said traces of C4 plastic explosives were found at the location. The bomb appeared to have been left near a cellphone repair shop at the bottom of an escalator, they said.

Philippine National Police chief Avelino Razon earlier debunked reports that the blast that hit Glorietta 2 ground level at 1:30 p.m. was caused by a gas leak.

"This was a bomb. But beyond that we can't say anything else yet because we are still investigating. What I can say is it was not [liquefied petroleum gas] that caused this," Razon told reporters.

He said there was still no conclusive evidence to determine if the blast was caused by a C-4 bomb, a military explosive, or any other improvised explosive device. He added that the police cannot definitely say if the explosion was a terrorist attack.

Glorietta Mall Bombing Kills at least 8

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- October 19, 2007. A powerful explosion ripped through three floors of a shopping mall in the heart of Manila's financial district Friday, killing eight people, injuring scores and sending police and troops on the highest state of alert.

Rescue workers examine the damage caused by the powerful blast at the Glorietta 2 mall. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said "circumstances indicate it is highly probable that it was caused by an explosive device." The same mall was targeted by a bombing in 2000.

She said police and the military went on the highest alert and deployed an additional 2,000 personnel to secure public areas "to prevent a similar occurrence."
The afternoon explosion at the glitzy Glorietta 2 mall toppled roofs, destroyed walls, and sent debris crashing onto cars outside.

At least eight people were killed and more than 70 were injured, said metropolitan Manila police chief Geary Barias. Police sealed off the shopping complex and searched debris for clues of explosives.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said authorities were looking into a possible terrorist attack, but "there is no conclusive evidence yet. "Mario Em, a taxi driver, said he had just dropped two women off at the mall when the blast hurled the passengers against his vehicle, killing them instantly.

He said he pulled one of the victims, who was pregnant, from underneath his car.

Officials said the shock waves from the blast, which appeared to have originated from a basement entry for delivery vehicles, shot through three floors of the mall as well as sideways.

Mae Ann Sison said her sister, Angelica Cortez, was on an escalator going down from the second floor when the blast tossed her in the air.

"She landed on the escalator and her right foot got caught in the escalator chain and she was hit by glass shards from shops around her," Sison said, adding a chunk of concrete hit her sister's head.

Al-Qaida-linked militants, who have waged a yearslong bloody bombing campaign in the southern Philippines, have targeted Manila before.

Makati city Councilor Jejomar Binay Jr. said a bombing at the same mall in May 2000 that wounded 13 people was the work of Muslim extremists. Five months later, five nearly simultaneous bombs around Manila blamed on the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiyah network killed 20 people and wounded about 100 others.

In 2004, Abu Sayyaf militants blew up a passenger ferry in Manila Bay, killing 116 people in the country's worst terrorist attack. The following year, four people were killed and dozens wounded when a bomb exploded on a Makati bus and two southern cities.

Several months ago, authorities were alerted to an alleged terror plot to plant bombs in Manila's business districts of Makati and Ortigas, said a government counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

People inside the mall scampered toward the exits when the blast shook the mall.

"One man who was in front of me was already dead. There was a child, but we don't know where the child is now," said Dennis Inigo, who was shopping at the time.

"The man's wife was with me a while ago, and her leg was shattered. Many people were falling on top of each other," he said. "It was loud, and then it became dusty."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Young Adults Bowl for GAWAD KALINGA

I was chating with a Freshmen from CalState L.A. over a cup of ice cold Frappuccino at a local Starbucks. "Raquel" shared with me how young adults, ages 18-30, within California are gathering in small groups to send their delegates to compete in a series of bowling tournaments to help the projects of Gawad Kalinga (GK). Small groups from all over California are meeting to select their Bowlers for a great cause.

You see, 100% of the proceeds raised from “Bowl 4 GK” will go directly to Gawad Kalinga. “Bowl 4 GK” aims to be community event that will inspire College youth to network and learn more about the great movement that is happening in the Philippines.

There will be a "SoCal Alley Tournament" for the teams within Southern California, a "San Diego Alley Tournament" for the teams within San Diego Area and a "NorCal Alley Tournament" for the teams within Northern California.

Winners from all Tournaments will battle it out to win the best bowling team among each other, which will be held at South Point Bowling Center, South Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

This is a historical event that you don't want to miss. This is a chance for you to help a nation and be a HERO for your fellow brothers and sisters.

Come and join them to "Bowl for a Nation, Bowl for a Cause, Bowl for GK."

Join Today Bowl4GK

(Jay Fermin ppp-usa)