Detained artist is
finalist in international art award
FREE ERICSON ACOSTA
November 14, 2011
QUEZON CITY – Artist and political
detainee Ericson Acosta is one of the three finalists in the
prestigious 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize.
The other two
finalists are musician Win Maw of Burma and filmmaker Dhondup Wanchen
The Imprisoned Artist
Prize is one of the awards given by Freedom to Create, an
international award-giving body launched in 2008 aimed to “celebrate
the courage and creativity of artists and the positive influence of
their work to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit”.
Acosta is the sole
Filipino finalist in the Freedom to Create Awards.
The Imprisoned Artist
Prize is presented to artists who are incarcerated “because of their
courage and creativity in pursuing their art, and the role of their
work in highlighting injustice”. One winner will be awarded
USD$25,000, which will then be utilized in securing the artist’s
release, and advocacies and campaigns for his or her freedom.
“In 2011, we have
received over 2000 prize entries from more than 145 countries around
the globe. A total prize fund of US$100,000 will be awarded to the
winning artists and their nominated advocacy organisations to further
the cause their artwork has highlighted,” the group’s website said.
Among the judges for
the Prize are actress Daryl Hannah, novelist Salman Rushdie and
danseur Mikhail Baryshnikov. Winners will be announced on the Freedom
to Create Award Festival on November 19 in
Cape Town, South Africa.
Acosta is an artist,
journalist and cultural worker who was illegally arrested by members
of the Armed Forces of the
on February 13, 2011 in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge,
Samar province in the Eastern Visayan region. He faces trumped-up
charges of illegal possession of explosives and is currently detained
at the Calbayog
City sub-provincial jail. Acosta's counsel filed a Petition for Review
of his case before the Philippine government's Department of Justice
(DOJ) last September 1.
Even in jail, Acosta
continues to make his art and music heard despite and in spite of the
most pressing of circumstances. A raw recording dubbed “Prison
Sessions” featuring Acosta singing his original compositions in jail
instantly enjoyed thousands of hits and followers online. He also
maintains an online journal, Jailhouse Blog.
call on DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima to immediately withdraw fabricated
complaints against him. Among his supporters are officials of the
National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), National Artists for
Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and F. Sionil Jose, Philippine Center of
International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists),
Concerned Artists of the Philippines, University of the Philippines
National Writers’ Workshop fellows and panel, and artists from the
USA, Canada, Europe and Asia who attended the International Conference
on Progressive Culture last July.
entrepreneur, 70 yr old ma in $10M drug cartel, money laundering raps
Senior Reporter, Philippine News Service (PNS)
November 13, 2011
A 42-year old
“Emerging Asian” awardee honoured as “Outstanding Entrepreneur” of the
Asian Business Association of Orange County is back in the news. From
the pages of Filipino newspapers, this time his entrepreneurship made
it really big with news landing in the pages of major newspaper
throughout United States.
This as the former
awardee was indicted on conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to
structure financial transactions. The co-accused – his 70 year old
mother dubbed in the news as the “ringleader” of a bigtime drug
Both are of
Filipino-Chinese descent facing Federal charges directly linked to
what US authorities have dubbed a narcotics ring involved in illegal
drug trafficking of a controlled substance.
Arrested yet out on
$75,000 (Php 1.8M) bail is Lucita Uy and son, Lemuel Uy Libunao whose
bond was $150,000 (Php 3.6M). Uy has been named and tagged by US
authorities and the US media as the “ringleader” and the son, a
The duo is assisted by
the Glenn K Osajima Law Offices in
with Court trial set on November 29, 2011. Pending the Court date,
mother’s and son’s passports have been confiscated with further Orders
out on travel restrictions.
Local follow ups
confirmed that Libunao along with his Ilongga wife and two children
made at least two trips to her hometown in
The young couple is also known to relatives and friends to have an
opulent lifestyle in the US with regular foreign vacations. In fact,
the wife was reportedly set for another hometown visit for a school
reunion prior to her husband’s arrest.
The US Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed the charges versus Uy and Libunao
and two others who were similarly arrested. Said confirmation was
subject of an official news release obtained by Philippine News
Uy and Libunao when
arraigned pleaded not guilty. US authorities in pursuing the charges
against mother and son established a four-year buying and selling
spree of controlled substance Promethazine. A cough suppressant, use
of Promethazine is known to be habit-forming and has since been
commonly-abused. “Diverted” Promethazine has street value of $150 to
$200 in Los Angeles while price is more than doubled at P$300 to $600
a pint of bottle in Houston, Texas.
controlled-substance, only authorized and registered doctors or
pharmacists can avail of wholesale Promethazine purchase. Mother and
son are now charged to have elaborately planned the illegal drug
trafficking in two
US states by setting up three pharmacies. Incidentally, all
areas of Uy and Libunao’s pharmacy have predominant presence of
Promethazine as abused
and illegally sold is known to cause a “high” to users similar to what
Heroine would cause. If taken with alcohol, the results are often
In a 36-paged
indictment obtained by PNS, established were wire transfers in
hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least 10 bank accounts that
were opened through the years by Uy and Libunao. Two of the
questioned seized accounts included “nominee accounts” under the name
of Libunao’s Ilongga wife with initial deposits of $10,000 and $5,000.
“More than twice as
many Americans abuse prescription drugs than those using cocaine,
hallucinogens, heroin, and inhalants combined,” said Timothy J.
Landrum, DEA Special Agent in Charge in an official DEA News Release.
“DEA is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to
ensure those who endanger our communities by distributing these
dangerous drugs are brought to justice.”
“According to court
documents, Uy acquired three pharmacies – Plaza Pharmacy in Santa Ana,
Value Plus Pharmacy in Long Beach, and Blue Rose Pharmacy in Buena
Park – so she could obtain promethazine from wholesale distributors,”
the DEA news release continued.
The indictment further
stated deposits of more than $6.9 million in cash and more than $2.7
million in money orders into bank accounts courtesy of the ‘drug
“In conjunction with
the indictment, the IRS - Criminal Investigation is seeking to forfeit
property allegedly obtained with the proceeds of the illegal
distribution scheme. The property to be forfeited includes seven real
properties located in Monrovia, Claremont and Houston; $64,500 in
cash; a 2007 Mercedes Benz S550; a 2007 Honda CRV; a 2007 Toyota
Tundra; and 11 luxury watches including a Rolex trimmed in diamonds,”
the DEA said. “The allegations against Uy and her co-conspirators
indicate they intended to enrich themselves by engaging in conduct
that put the lives of others at risk,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation
Special Agent in Charge Leslie P. DeMarco. “One of the government’s
most powerful weapons is the ability to seize through asset forfeiture
the property obtained through this illegal distribution scheme,
including real estate, cash, vehicles and jewelry. By taking away
their assets and profits, we deprive them of the proceeds of their
If convicted, Uy and
Libunao would face a statutory maximum sentence of 25 years in federal
prison while two others similarly charged would each face up to 20
years in prison.
US blogger and culture
writer Brande Victorian in a post wrote, “I had really hoped the
purple drank trend would die out, but thanks to Lil Wayne and a
Houston grandmother from the Philippines, the sizzurp supply and
demand chain lives on. Seventy-year-old Lucita Uy reportedly raked in
at least $10 million by purchasing 97,000 pints of
prescription-strength cough syrup and smuggling it from
to make the purple stuff. According to the Houston Chronicle, the
going price is $300-$600 per pint, and granny had enough to make 1.5
million doses. If you think perhaps her kids and grandkids are the
mastermind behind the scheme and she’s just an innocent bystander,
don’t. Uy once served 20 months in federal prison a decade ago for
money laundering. I can only imagine what she was up to in her
Another post by
Danielle Pointdujour wrote an article titled “When Old Folks Go Bad:
Grandma charged with running $10 Million “Purple Drank” Ring.
“Whose granny is
this??,” he asked. “A 70 year-old Houston grandmother from the
Philippines has been charged with being the ring leader of a
multi-million dollar codeine distribution ring. Lucita Uy apparently
felt like President Obama was taking too long to up her social
security payments and decided to form her own criminal enterprise
instead. The grandmother along with her son Lemuel Libunao and two
others, banked at least $10 million and used pharmacies that she owned
to purchase 97,000 pints of prescription-strength cough syrup and
smuggle them from California to Houston.”
Remembering Leyte Gulf
Benigno S. Aquino III (center 2nd row) leads dignitaries
(clockwise) H.E. Toshinao Urabe of Japan, US Ambassador Harry
Thomas, James Cristoff of Canada, Leyte governor Carlos Jericho
Petilla, Veterans Federation of the Philippines executive
vice-president Francisco San Miguel and Capt. Craig White of
Australia during the wreath laying ceremony in connection with
the 67th Leyte Gulf Landings anniversary at Candahug, Palo,
Leyte, October 20. (VINO R. CUAYZON)
By ALICE NICART, PIA
October 20, 2011
PALO, Leyte – As a
young adult, he was merely a fisherman, a vocation he opted to choose
in order to elude the unkind treatment of the Japanese who ruled in
their community, in Tanauan, Leyte.
Yet, there were times
when he could not escape the cruelty of the invaders. Sometimes, when
he would get ashore, the Japanese would ask, “Sakana nay?” (Is their
fish?) and when he would answer “Nay” (none) he would be slapped in
Thus recounted Mr.
Leovigildo Azucena, 88, in a brief interview shortly before the formal
commemorative program today for the 67th Leyte Gulf Landings or the
famously known MacArthur Landing.
The fondly called Lolo
Gil narrated, that he was fishing one night in October when he heard
of sounds, which he dismissed instantly, could not be the sounds of
Not long after,
however, what he rejected as sounds of, became an ultimate and a sheer
reality, as more and more ships appeared his very eyes, which were
firing to the direction upshore.
“Move out!, move out!”
a crew shouted at him repeatedly.
“No, sir! Please! I am
a Filipino”, he cried and he gave them his boiled banana for dinner.
In an instant, he was
picked up from his tiny boat and found himself in the middle of
American soldiers. Still frightened for any harm the armed men could
do to him, he chilled in fear.
But a small table was
arranged in his front and his fear turned to joy for he imagined an
American food is about to be served him. But no. The Americans laid
wide a map on the table, pointing at some angles and questioned him,
“Where are you?”, “Where are we?”, “Where is Tolosa?”, “Where is the
mountain where the Japanese hide?”
Because he believed in
the intentions of his new found friends, and fed-up by the cruelty of
the Japanese, the young gentleman faithfully answered the questions.
This writer asked why
he spoke good English then, “I was a Grade VII pupil when the war
broke, and there were even times when I would be the substitute of our
teacher”, he replied.
As he continued his
recollection, he said that after the friendly interrogation, he was
allowed to eat with a Chorizo which according to him was as big as his
legs with matching pack of Lucky Strike cigarette.
At dawn he was told to
disembark the ship and go to the civilians as far as 20 miles and
informed them of another bombing that was to happen any day soon.
And the bombing did
occur, but he stressed there was no Filipino civilian found dead.
Sooner, Gil was hired as an interpreter by the American soldiers and a
member of the ship’s crew until he was registered as a US Scout. Yes,
he maintains his claim, that he was the only Filipino who was able to
board the American ship during the Leyte Landings.
Now at 88, and
already a Lolo, the young Gil, (some 67 years ago), assured he is
still vibrant specially, he said, when he sees ladies in mini skirts.
He has since enjoyed his benefits as a US Veteran and all his six sons
who entered the US Navy are now living in the States, the others have
already retired. He promised though he is no longer returning to the
US because it is in the Philippines where the real paradise is.
most sought after by ship owners worldwide
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY – The
Filipino seafarers are the top choice by ship owners all over the
world, Atty. Manuel Portus, Regional Director of Marina in Eastern
Visayas, informed during the Harampang Ha PIA media forum that
launched this year’s National Maritime Week celebration on September
26 to October 1.
It is a fact that
one-third of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers are Filipinos, Director
statement was backed up with data, the Philippine Information Agency
found out. For one, a report mentioned that the chairman of
International Mariners Management Association of Japan (IMMAJ) has
stated that Filipino seafarers are the top choice of Japanese ship
managers and owners.
Data from the
Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) shows that 266,533
Filipino seafarers were deployed all over the world in 2007. Out of
this, more than 50,000 Filipino seafarers work in
3,000 merchant ships. This indicates that roughly 65 percent of
Japan's maritime personnel are Filipinos.
European shipping company with a manpower agency in
has been hiring all-Filipino crews for its tanker fleet since 2004.
This is another
confirmation that Filipino seafarers are the most sought seafarers in
the global shipping industry. In fact, Filipinos are in demand to man
ships at sea – from luxury cruise ships to giant tankers and container
There are many reasons
why the world wide shipping industry seeks to employ Filipino
One of the foremost
reasons mentioned was that Filipinos are seafarers by nature. The
Philippines is an archipelago with vast coastline of 36,289
kilometers, more than USA’s 19,924 kilometers, UK’s 12,429 kilometers,
China’s 14,500 kilometers, France’s 4,668 kilometers, and is almost
equal to Russia’s
37,653 kilometer coastline.
As the Philippine
archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands, Filipinos have natural
mariner's instincts and always work cheerfully despite months of
separation from their families. They never show that they are
homesick. While on shore leave, instead of going to the nearest bars
to waste their earnings, they prefer to spend their time more at
Internet cafes, writing e-mails or chatting online with their loved
ones in the Philippines.
Another reason why
shipping industry worldwide prefers Filipino seafarers is because of
their dedication and discipline. Filipino seafarers work with
dedication and are much disciplined. They are also very conscious
about their conduct especially while on shore leave.
Filipino seafarers are
hard-working. Filipino seafarers have more stamina and work physically
more on board the ships. Filipino seafarers are also reliable and
loyal. They are also are flexible and willingly perform duties that
are not part of their contracts. They highly trainable and adapt to
changing environment, and have problem-solving capability.
Perhaps, one of the
most important reason why Filipino seafarers are preferred is they are
fluent in English. They have good command of the English language and
have good communication skills.
World Rabies Day
message: “Register and vaccinate you dogs”
By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
TACLOBAN CITY –
The Department of Health Region Center for Health Development in
Eastern Visayas is set to spearhead the commemoration of World Rabies
Day on September 28.
DOH Region 8 Director
Edgardo Gonzaga said that the highlight this year’s celebration in
Eastern Visayas is the Mass Dog Vaccination at the Barangay Hall or
Basketball Court in the respective cities and municipalities in the
six provinces of the Region.
Director Gonzaga said
that the objective of the activity is to vaccinate at least 70 to 80
percent of the total dog population of every municipality.
The theme for this
year, “Register and Vaccinate your dogs,” underscores the importance
of registration and vaccination of all dogs as a crucial key in
controlling the incidence of rabies in the
and reducing the number of resulting deaths.
With over 700
Filipinos seeking emergency treatment for dog bites each day last
year, dogs are clearly the primary source of rabies in the country,
according to latest records from the Department of Health (DOH).
Less known to the
public is that 88 percent of rabies infection is acquired from pet
dogs, shattering the myth that stray dogs are the primary source of
Official count of
incidence of dog bites reached roughly 266,000 last year, resulting in
257 deaths due to rabies infection, the DOH National Rabies Prevention
Control Program said.
obtained from the DOH also showed that from January to May 21 this
year, the health agency has so far monitored 76 deaths due to rabies,
with Central Luzon registering the highest number with 13 fatalities.
Almost 50 percent of these cases affected children aged 5 to 14.
Still not very many
are aware that the incubation period or the time for the infection to
develop, for rabies can be as short as a few days, but can also last
as long as five years. About 95 percent of people who have been
infected by a rabid animal, however, develop the disease within one
The tragedy is that
once a patient starts to show symptoms, there is no treatment and he
or she usually dies within 10 days.
People also need to be
made aware that transmission is not only limited to actual animal
bites. Anyone handling a dead animal that has acquired the virus can
be infected if they touch their eyes or lips if they have traces of
the animal’s fluids on their hands.
Dispelling myths about
rabies can also help reduce incidences of deaths due to the deadly
virus. Many people still believe that rabies should be handled by
traditional healers using folk medicine such as “tandok,” which is
done by placing a deer horn over the wound. Such procedure is
believed to suck out the rabies virus from the injury.
Health records have
shown that patients who received “tandok” treatment died either of
rabies or tetanus. Dog bites must always be seen by a medical expert.
Rabies is a viral
disease in mammals which animals and people can get through exposure
to saliva or nervous tissue of a rabid animal. It spreads from the
exposure site through the nervous system to the brain, eventually
causing death if not immediately treated with medical care.
More than 55,000
people die from rabies each year, mostly in
Asia where little medical care exists. The largest source of
rabies in humans around the world is due to uncontrolled rabies in
dogs, and children are most at risk for being bitten.
This is why it is
so important to educate the public on how easy it can be to prevent
rabies through animal vaccinations, being aware of the surroundings,
and having available medical treatment nearby.
sexuality education module pilot-tested at Palo school
Media Relations Center
September 22, 2011
TACLOBAN CITY – A
module on responsible adolescent sexuality education is being
pilot-tested by the provincial government of
Leyte through the Provincial Population Office to curb premarital
sex and teenage pregnancy.
The special module,
carefully crafted by the Leyte PopCom, was piloted at the Palo Central
School over the week with Grade 5 & 6 pupils as participants.
Leyte Governor Carlos
Jericho Petilla, who was in hand to evaluate the whole presentation of
the module, tells teachers at the Palo Central School that this
education has undergone close scrutiny and will be further refined
before the same module will be introduced in all public elementary and
high schools in the province.
“The main purpose in
coming up with this module was brought about mainly by a survey which
placed Eastern Visayas second in rank in terms of teenagers engaged in
premarital sex,” Gov. Petilla told teachers after the whole module was
presented to the pupils.
Also, the governor
disclosed, that he was quite alarmed of the number of teenage mothers
delivering babies in various birthing clinics in the province.
“Pregnant mothers are
getting younger and younger these days. The youngest of whom we have
encountered is only 12 years old, which is very alarming,” the
Further, Gov. Petilla
said children and adolescents need accurate and comprehensive
education about sexuality to practice healthy sexual behavior as
adults in the future. He warns that early, exploitative, or risky
sexual activity may lead to health and social problems, such as
unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including
human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency
For teenagers and
young adults, sexuality education can provide a welcome opportunity to
get correct answers to burning questions. Research among teens has
shown that young people want and need more information about
reproductive health, sexuality and the environment. Information
usually comes "too late" and does not include enough detail.
The module piloted by
the province consist mainly of a puppet show discussing major physical
and emotional changes among adolescents, as well as friendly and
interactive discussions on sexuality behaviour and open forum where
the students can openly ask questions.
After the pilot-test,
the module will still have to undergo minor revisions before it can be
shown in all public schools in the province. The module would also be
made available to freshman and sophomore students where most students
are starting their teenage lives.
The same module has
also been screened both by the Department of Education and the church.