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June 22, 2024

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Israel approves plan to import 92K foreign workers
Intercargo: Only One Bulk Carrier Sank in 2023
Philippines maintains competitiveness ranking at 52nd
DepEd eyes new learning model to boost mental health program
MMC approves resolution vs ‘spaghetti’ wires
Obiena wins gold in Poland tilt
PVL opens Combine to free agents
Plastic waste imminent threat to ecosystem

ABU DHABI, June 22 ------ Plastic waste is classified as one of the largest threats to the ecosystem in all its forms due to its negative impact on soil and agricultural crops, as well as its role in the extinction of millions of terrestrial and marine species, thereby threatening global food security. A recent report by the Switzerland-based non-profit EA Earth Action estimates that 220 million tones of plastic waste will be produced globally in 2024. The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has emphasized that plastic waste significantly affects marine life through ingestion by marine creatures or entanglement in plastic debris. Additionally, the breakdown of plastics in sea water forms toxic chemicals that adversely impact human health through seafood contamination.


The agency highlighted that the greatest challenge comes from single-use plastics such as bags, bottles, and utensils, which persist for long periods as various types of waste in marine and terrestrial environments. These plastics break down into small particles known as microplastics (pieces less than 5mm in size), which enter the human body primarily through food, as well as through skin contact or inhalation. Regarding the ban on plastic products, the agency indicated that there is no general ban on plastic products since many of them are irreplaceable. The ban specifically applies to plastic bags and certain single-use Styrofoam products. In 2020, the agency called for a reduction in the use of single-use plastics and non-plastics that can be avoided by promoting a culture of reuse and recycling, and encouraging the use of reusable alternatives with less environmental impact. The agency implemented several campaigns to enforce the ban on plastic materials in June 2022, launching the community campaign "Mission to Zero initiative for single-use plastic'' to achieve zero waste from single-use plastics and zero carbon emissions, without significantly impacting biodiversity.


The campaign aimed to encourage Abu Dhabi residents to switch to sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives, such as reusable materials, reduce reliance on single-use items, and minimize waste. Imad Saad, an environmental expert, said plastics have become an integral part of the people's daily lives, with indispensable benefits, but also many negative aspects that must be addressed. He added plastic waste is one of the most dangerous pollutants on Earth due to the non-biodegradability and recycling challenges of most plastics. It is a major cause of death for many terrestrial mammals and livestock, such as camels, cows, and sheep. He cited statistics from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment indicating that 50 percent of camel deaths in the UAE are caused by plastic bags. 





Israel approves plan to import 92K foreign workers

JERUSALEM, June 22 ------ Seeking to address a labor shortage, Israeli officials approved a quota of 92,000 foreign workers to fill jobs in agriculture, industry, hotels and restaurants, the Prime Minister’s Office announced. This marks the first time Israel has authorized foreign workers for the restaurant industry. Seventy percent of the quota is specifically set aside for agricultural laborers. Israeli agriculture is facing staggering losses in production and manpower. Before Oct. 7, Israel had 29,900 foreigners, mostly Thais, working in farms, orchards, greenhouses and packing plants. Israeli workers who might have filled the gaps have been called up for military reserve duty while Palestinian laborers are currently banned as security risks.


Many growing areas are within two kilometers of the Lebanese border where farmers have not been able to freely access fields and orchards. “Despite the challenges of the war, the packing house works around the clock, with the aim of providing fresh Israeli produce continuously, while dealing with the directives of the Home Front Command,” said Asaf Keret, CEO of Beresheet, a fruit-packing business jointly run by several kibbutzim in the Upper Galilee and Golan Heights. Keret was addressing a delegation of fruit growers and agricultural officials touring Beresheet’s orchards.  He called on the government to boost agriculture with further measures, such as grants for planting, raising lang quotas, and other incentives. “The fruit growers are at the height of the picking season and are faced with picking under the fire of Hezbollah, and we are prepared to market the produce of the farmers of the Galilee and the Golan to the marketing chains and wholesale companies. Thanks to our dedicated farmers and workers, I am sure that we will be able to supply the produce to the residents of the State of Israel,” Keret said. The remaining foreign workers will fill gaps in industry, and hotels, with 2,000 to work for the first time in restaurants.


Since Oct. 7, Hezbollah rocket barrages and drone attacks have killed 10 civilians and 15 soldiers. Leaders of the Iran-backed terror group have said they will continue the attacks to prevent thousands of residents of northern Israel from returning to their homes. Israeli officials have been calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed and removed from Southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War. 





Renewed Calls for Houthi to Release Crew and End Attacks

June 22 ------ The shipping industry is once again speaking out calling for action both to release crewmembers being detained as well as to stop the assaults on the freedom of navigation. The statements followed the news that the bulker Tutor sank on Tuesday and the Verbena continues to drift abandoned in the Gulf of Aden. Ship manager STAMCO sought to remind the world that after nearly 200 days the 25 crewmembers of the Galaxy Leader remain in captivity in Yemen. The assault in November 2023 was the first by the Houthi against shipping and the vessel is the only one detained by the militants, although Iran is also detaining several tankers and the MSC Aries along with the crews from those vessels. “There is nothing to be gained by the Houthi in keeping the 25 crewmembers,” STAMCO wrote in its new statement. They highlighted that they are citizens of Bulgaria, the Philippines, Ukraine, Mexico, and Romania, and have nothing to do with any regional or local conflicts. They said that the governments had been trying to obtain the release of the crew to no avail.


At the same time, 14 of the leading shipping organizations and trade groups issued a new joint statement saying they were “appalled and deeply saddened” by the news of the crewmember missing on the bulker Tutor. The organizations “utterly condemn these assaults,” while calling for more action to protect the freedom of navigation and innocent crewmembers. “This is an unacceptable situation, and these attacks must stop now,” the groups wrote in their statement. “We call for states with influence in the region to safeguard our innocent seafarers and for the swift de-escalation of the situation in the Red Sea. We have heard the condemnation and appreciate the words of support, but we urgently seek action to stop the unlawful attacks on these vital workers and this vital industry.”


Previously, the Secretary-General of the IMO also issued a video statement condemning the attacks including the one that killed an engineer on the Tutor and severely wounded a person on the Verbena. 


These calls come as the EUNAVFOR Aspides highlighted that it was marking four months since its formation to protect ships in the Red Sea region. Despite the efforts of the U.S., UK, France, the EU, and other forces, they have not been able to stop the Houthi attacks. The U.S. increased its efforts with new strikes to destroy Houthi radar installations after last week’s increased attacks which included the Tutor and Verbena. 





Intercargo: Only One Bulk Carrier Sank in 2023

June 22 ------ The dry bulk shipping sector is maintaining a trend of improving safety standards with the tightening of international regulatory framework and adoption of new technologies that have enhanced ship design cited as key factors in preventing the loss of vessels and lives. Industry body Intercargo has released the annual Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2024 indicating that despite a significant increase in the bulk fleet, there is a clear trend of safety improvements over the past decade. 


Over the period, the number of dry bulk vessels has increased by 20 percent, from about 10,400 in 2013 to 12,226 by January this year. The bulk fleet represents more than 40 percent of world tonnage and carries an estimated 55 percent of the global transport work. Despite the increase, vessel losses have averaged only 2.1 per year, with 21 bulk carriers of more than 10,000 dwt reported lost over the 10-year period. These casualties caused the tragic loss of 89 seafarers’ lives through 2022, but not last year: In 2023, there was only one loss of a dry bulk vessel and no loss of lives. Bulk carrier M/V Yong Xing 56, which was sailing under the Chinese flag, was the only vessel lost in 2023 when it sank in Russia after being damaged in a collision with heavy ice flows. The 21 Chinese crew of the 15-year-old vessel were safely evacuated.


The report shows that during the past decade, vessels amounting to 1.78 million dwt in total have been lost, an average 177,526 dwt per year. The average age of the bulk carriers lost was 19.4 years.


Though the industry is recording improvements in safety standards, cargo liquefaction continues to be a major concern. It remains the greatest contributor to loss of life, accounting for 55 lives or 62 percent of the total loss of life in the past ten years. For vessels, groundings remain the greatest cause of ship losses, with nine losses or 43 percent of the total.


Intercargo highlights that when considering factors like high levels of trade, congested ports, older fleets, and extreme weather, the improvement in safety standards reflects an increased focus on measures cutting across safety awareness training, improved ship design, application of new technology and compliance with regulations. “Bulk carrier safety must never be overlooked. We have come a long way since the ‘dark days’ of the 1980s, when we experienced many tragic losses of lives and vessels. Since then, safety performance of the sector has steadily improved,” said Dimitris Fafalios, Intercargo Chairman.


The current trend is a major shift from the 1990 to 2000 period when the bulk carrier sector was losing between five and 26 carriers annually, resulting in the loss of 23 to 186 seafarers respectively.





MSC Containerships to Use Shore Power in Hamburg as Port Expands Capacity

June 22 ------ A month after Hamburg inaugurated its shore power capability for containerships, the port authority reports it has signed an agreement with MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company. The container carrier giant will begin using shore power on its container vessels making it the first shipping line to be using shore power both for its cruise ships and containerships in the port.


Hamburg began developing its shore power capabilities more than two years ago. The Hamburg Container Terminal (CTH) was the first of the major terminals outfitted with the capability which was tested earlier this year and inaugurated with a CMA CGM containership in May. The terminal is operated by Eurogate. Hamburg reports it is the first large port in Europe capable of providing shore power for containerships.


The plant at the CTH has three connection points, each with an output of 7.5 megavolt amperes. The electricity used comes 100 percent from renewable sources. CTH can handle three mega-ships at one time using shore power. The plant was financed in roughly equal parts by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg with support from the federal government. The total cost of the plant is around $14 million. “After we signed a joint letter of intent with MSC Cruises in June last year to use shore power in the Port of Hamburg, I am delighted that MSC now wants to work with us to make shipping and port operations more environmentally friendly by using shore power for container ships in the Port of Hamburg,” said Friedrich Stuhrmann, Chief Commercial Officer of HPA.”


The port highlights that it is continuing to build its capabilities and is also in discussion with more shipping lines. The other container terminals in Hamburg are currently being equipped with shore power systems. A new shore power system for cruise ships calling at Hamburg went into operation at the Cruise Center Steinwerder in April 2024. The HPA reports that in addition to MSC, Carnival Corp. including Princess Cruises as well as TUI Cruises, Fred. Olsen, Phoenix Risen, and Norwegian Cruise Line have also committed to using shore power. 


The port is also developing a new cruise terminal in HafenCity. The terminal is currently under construction. It will be outfitted to provide shore power when it opens in 2025.





OFW remittances hit $2.86 billion in April

MANILA, Philippines, June 22 ------ Dollars sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) reached $2.86 billion in April, up by 3.1 percent from the same month last year, but the latest figure was the lowest level in 11 months, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed.


Data showed that personal remittances in April grew by 3.1 percent year on year from the $2.77 billion in the same month last year. It marked the fastest growth since the 3.9-percent rise in December 2023. However, the sum of net compensation of employees, personal transfers and capital transfers between households in April was the lowest in 11 months or since the $2.78 billion in May last year. Nonetheless, the BSP said the 3.1-percent increase was brought about by the three percent rise in remittances sent by land-based workers with work contracts of one year or more, to $2.1 billion in April.


Similarly, remittances from sea and land-based workers with work contracts of less than one year grew by 3.6 percent to $620 million. For the four-month period of 2024, personal remittances inched up by 2.8 percent to $12.01 billion from $11.68 billion in the same period a year ago. Of the total, cash remittances coursed through banks went up by 3.1 percent to $2.56 billion in April from $2.49 billion in the same month last year. It was also the lowest level since the $2.49 billion recorded in May 2023. Still, at 3.1 percent, the growth rate in cash remittances was the fastest in four months or since the 3.8 percent in December last year.


The BSP also reported a 2.8-percent rise in cash remittances to $10.78 billion from January to April compared to $10.49 billion in the same period a year prior. “The growth in cash remittances from the United States, Saudi Arabia and Singapore contributed mainly to the increase in remittances in the first four months of 2024,” the BSP said. In terms of the country sources, the US posted the biggest share of overall remittances with 41.2 percent, followed by Singapore with seven percent and Saudi Arabia with six percent.


Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said the modest single-digit growth in remittances would continue to support consumer spending in the Philippines. In the coming months, he said that OFWs may continue to send more money home as dependents still need to cope with higher prices of goods and services in the country. He also noted that there might be a seasonal increase in OFW remittances to fund school tuition around July to August. However, risks of economic slowdown in the US and in other countries may become a drag on remittances this year, especially if there would be job losses for some OFWs.


The BSP sees both personal and cash remittances increasing by three percent this year.





Philippines maintains competitiveness ranking at 52nd

MANILA, Philippines, June 22 ------ The Philippines maintained its standing in this year’s edition of the World Competitiveness Ranking of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), but it remained among the laggards in the Asia-Pacific region, with infrastructure identified as an area where improvements have to be made.


The government believes the implementation of Executive Order 59, which streamlines the permitting process for priority infrastructure projects, will help improve the country’s competitiveness ranking next year. IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking for 2024 showed the Philippines placed 52nd out of 67 economies, the same ranking in the previous year. Of the 14 economies in the Asia-Pacific, the Philippines placed 13th, unchanged for five consecutive years.


IMD ranks economies using perceptions of executives with statistical data, based on criteria grouped into four factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. In terms of economic performance, the Philippines remained in the 40th spot. Under economic performance, the Philippines moved up in three sub-factors such as domestic economy, international trade and international investment, but saw its ranking drop in terms of employment and prices. When it comes to government efficiency, the Philippines’ ranking improved to 49th this year from 52nd last year.


In this factor, the country’s ranking improved in the public finance and institutional framework sub-factors, but declined in terms of tax policy, business legislation and societal framework. As for business efficiency, the Philippines’ ranking dropped to 43rd place this year from the previous year’s 40th. Under this factor, the Philippines only saw its ranking improve in the productivity and efficiency sub-factor, while it went down in terms of labor market, finance, management practices and attitudes and values. In infrastructure, the Philippines fell to 61st place this year from 58th last year. 


In this factor, the Philippines’ ranking dropped in almost all sub-factors such as basic infrastructure, technological infrastructure, scientific infrastructure and education, while it maintained its position in the health and environment sub-factor.





Immigration notes increase in foreigners denied entry to PH

MANILA, June 22 ------ Stricter protocols will be enforced for arriving foreign passengers following a raid on a Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) hub in Porac, Pampanga, the Bureau of Immigration said. 


BI deputy spokesperson Melvin Mabilac said there has been an increase in the number of foreigners denied entry to the Philippines. "May naka-task na pong mga immigration personnel na nagpo-profile even from the queueing area pa lang at nakita natin 'yong increase ng hindi pinapapasok," he said. He said all foreign nationals are being screened.


"Sa possibility na ang pagpasok nila ay hindi naman sang-ayon sa kanilang declared purpose at ilang gagawin dito sa Pilipinas na nakikita natin na possible sila ay maging threat sa national security, public health or safety and public morals," Mabilac told Teleradyo Serbisyo. While the Immigration bureau did not give a specific number of people for deportation, Mabilac noted that their detention facility is beyond the ideal capacity. 


Currently, the foreign nationals rescued from the controversial Lucky South 99 POGO Hub in Porac are legally under Immigration custody. But, physically, they are at the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission headquarters for lack of space at the BI's facility. Mabilac added that Immigration is also dependent on information passed on to them by the foreign national's country of origin.





USDA: Philippine rice imports set to grow after tariff cuts

June 22 ------ The Philippines is poised to retain its position as the leading global rice importer this year and the next, according to the latest forecasts from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 


The USDA now expects that the country’s rice imports will reach up to 4.6 million metric tons this year, with a further rise to 4.7 million metric tons in 2025. These figures represent an upward revision from the USDA's earlier estimates in May, which had pegged imports at 4.1 million metric tons for this year and 4.2 million metric tons for 2025. The surge in rice consumption is primarily attributed to reduced tariffs on the commodity, according to the USDA. 


Data from the Bureau of Plant Industry revealed that as of June 6, rice imports totaling 2.17 million metric tons had already been recorded, with the majority (1.59 million metric tons, or 73 percent of the total) originating from Vietnam. Government projections suggest that the retail price of imported rice is expected to see a decrease of P6 to P7 per kilogram starting in August, following the implementation of reduced tariffs on the staple. Shipments of rice with reduced tariffs are scheduled to arrive in the country in July.


Forecasts for the retail prices of imported rice are based on estimates provided by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Monitoring conducted by the Department of Agriculture in public markets in Metro Manila indicated that well-milled rice is currently priced between P48 and P55 per kilogram, while regular rice ranges from P45 to P52 per kilogram. Imported well-milled rice is priced between P52 and P55 per kilogram, while imported regular rice falls within the range of P48 to P51 per kilogram. Special variety imported rice is sold for P57 to P65 per kilogram, and premium imported rice is priced at P50 to P62 per kilogram. 


In comparison, domestically grown rice is available at P56 to P65 per kilogram for the special variety and P50 to P58 per kilogram for the premium variety.





DepEd eyes new learning model to boost mental health program

MANILA, Philippines, June 22 ------ The Department of Education (DepEd) is looking into enhancing its mental health programs in the K-12 curriculum by integrating a learning model on emotional and social competencies that Filipino students need before they join the workforce.


Called the Filipino Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) competency framework, the model was developed by ChildFund Philippines, a nongovernmental organization (NGO). “The SEL framework will serve as a blueprint right now in terms of not only the curricular aspect, but also the support services rendered to schools. More so now that we are rapidly expanding our mental health program intended to address not only bullying, which is only a small issue in the greater discussion of mental health,” Education Assistant Secretary Dexter Galban explained in an interview.


ChildFund education specialist Marlene Floresca said the SEL framework identifies the social and emotional competencies all students should learn to be able to achieve their life goals. She added that based on the framework, each one must develop the values of “pagpapakatao” (being humane) and “pakikipagkapwa-tao” (fellowship) in order to grow up as “batang mahusay at may tiwala sa sarili at kapwa”.


Floresca identified six general SEL competencies through which students could improve themselves:pagkilala sa sarili” (knowing oneself), “pamamahala sa sarili” (self-care), “pagiging responsable” (being responsible), “pagsisikap” (industry), “pakikisama” (getting along with others) and “pagmamalasakit” (compassion). “Researches have shown that social and emotional learning promotes good social behavior,” she said, adding that a further localized SEL framework seeks to promote behaviors that combat bullying and aggressive interactions with one’s peers and even with family and community members.


In developing that model, ChildFund interviewed K-12 and Alternative Learning System students in six areas—Metro Manila and the provinces of Apayao, Negros Occidental, North Cotabato, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. For that endeavor, the NGO partnered with the education advocacy group Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization-Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (Seameo-Innotech). Former Education Secretary Leonor Briones, director of Seameo-Innotech, cited bullying as among the mental health issues that students and teachers need to address.


DepEd monitored physical bullying in the majority of the 7,742 cases logged in the school year 2022-2023. Other forms of bullying were social bullying (1,742), cyberbullying (1,137), and gender-based bullying (590). According to a study this month by De La Salle University and the Second Congressional Commission on Education (Edcom 2), bullying among students was more common in public schools with large class sizes and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The study identified the regions of Caraga and Mimaropa as “bullying hot spots,” or those with the highest incidence of bullying in the country.


The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), in its 2022 study, showed that one out of three Filipino students encountered bullying at least once a week. It said that by gender, 43 percent of female students and 53 percent of male students experienced bullying several times a month. Galban cited the need to tackle the bullying problem since most employers—from what he observed at a recent career expo organized by DepEd—were looking for emotional skills now “being advocated [through] the SEL framework.” “These are not soft skills, … but essential skills, the capability to maneuver the workplace when there is pressure and disruptions,” he said.


Emphasizing that students come from different socioeconomic backgrounds with varying levels of support, he said the SEL model “allows them to gain essential skills … when they become part of the job market once they emerge from the K-12 program.”





SIM registration ‘not silver bullet’ vs text scams, says NTC

June 22 ------ The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has vowed to address the concerns on POGO-related scamming activities as it admitted that the SIM Registration Law, which it said is not a "silver bullet" against messaging scams, continues to face several challenges in its implementation. 


The agency issued a statement Monday after Senator Sherwin Gatchalian told them to "stop sleeping on its job" to realize the intent of the SIM Registration Act, which was signed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in October 2022, to reduce, if not eliminate, scams perpetrated through text or online messages. Gatchalian noted the "significant number" of SIM cards, which are reported to be used for scamming purposes, seized from raided POGO hubs, citing the raids against Smartweb Technology Corporation in Pasay City, Zun Yuan Technology in Bamban, Tarlac, and Lucky South 99 in Porac and Angeles City, Pampanga. "The NTC fully acknowledges the call of our legislators on the need to further strengthen not only the law, but also its enforcement, to which the NTC remains committed. Although the SIM Registration Act is not a silver bullet against messaging scams, it is nevertheless one of the most important tools for our law enforcement authorities because it provides legal sanctions for SIM-aided offenses," the NTC said.


Despite their efforts and cooperation with various law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of apprehended perpetrators of scams in the country, the NTC said the implementation of law continues to face several challenges, adding that the POGO-related scamming activities "become a regional phenomenon not confined only within the Philippines." Furthermore, the NTC emphasized that there are other ways that scammers can victimize individuals, such as messaging through over-the-top platforms like Whatsapp, Viber, Telegram, and Messenger, which they said are not covered by law.


Apart from this, the agency said scammers also use IMSI Catchers, which are portable, easily-assembled, and mobile cell-sites capable of sending messages without the need of SIMs. "In light of these recent developments and discoveries, the NTC shall continue to tighten its regulations pertaining to SIM registration to the fullest extent allowed under the existing law," the NTC said. Despite NTC's assurance, three more senators urged the agency to step up in performing their mandate in curbing scams and explain the factors why this problem continue to proliferate.





MMC approves resolution vs ‘spaghetti’ wires

MANILA, Philippines, June 22 ------ The Metro Manila Council (MMC) yesterday approved a resolution urging local government units (LGUs) to enact ordinances that would regulate the installation of telecommunications and electric wires.


The resolution seeks to eliminate dangling or “spaghetti” wires that clutter the streets and pose risks to the public. The resolution was approved during a joint meeting of the MMC and the Regional Development Council at the MMDA headquarters in Pasig. Acting MMDA Chairman Romando Artes emphasized the urgency of addressing the problem, noting that tangled wires and overloaded electric poles disrupt traffic flow and pose threats to public safety.


Artes said an information drive would be launched to warn residents about potential disruptions during the cleanup of dangling wires and cables in Metro Manila. Artes underscored the need for cooperation among LGUs, telecommunication companies and utility firms to remove unused and tangled wires. San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora, who heads the MMC, supported the resolution. He said the city government has been implementing an ordinance on anti-dangling wires since 2020 to prevent fires and road accidents.





Tawa-tawa, guava, siling labuyo don't cure dengue - DOH

MANILA, June 22 ------ Plants like tawa-tawa, guava and siling labuyo have yet to be proven to cure dengue, an official from the Department of Health (DOH) emphasized.


According to Dr. Kim Patrick Tejano, Medical Officer IV of the DOH-Disease for Elimination and Vector-borne Diseases, there is no specific treatment for dengue to date. He said only supportive treatment is available, where symptoms are managed until the patient gets better. "Our experts on dengue and other infectious diseases suggest against the using tawa-tawa and bayabas for dengue patients kasi there are no proven effects for the improvement or for the resolution ng mga sintomas ng dengue... Kapag may sintomas tayo ng dengue, magpakonsulta sa doktor," he told the media at the health literacy conference in Subic, Olongapo City. 


“There are no proven effects yet on dengue," he said of supposed plant-based cures. Tejano shared studies are ongoing to find an effective cure for the disease but that it is difficult to develop anti-virals, especially for dengue. "Last year po, noon sa isang convention ng dengue, meron tayong mga probable na and ongoing clinical trial on anti-virals. And hopefully, as soon as possible, magkaroon ng tayo ng definitive treatment para masagip, masugpo agad iyong virus mismo at hindi lang tayo panay supportive treatment," he added. He added there are currently no vaccines against dengue that have been registered with the Food and Drug Administration.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "most people with dengue have mild or no symptoms and will get better in 1–2 weeks. Rarely, dengue can be severe and lead to death." "If symptoms occur, they usually begin 4–10 days after infection and last for 2–7 days," it added.


The WHO lists symptoms as follows: high fever (40°C/104°F), severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and rash.





Bini beats 'em all

June 22 ------ It's official! P-Pop girl group Bini is now the music act to beat! With multiple viral hit singles, endorsement deals, special events performances left and right and a major concert just around the corner, it is clear these eight talented Filipino misses are dominating the Philippine entertainment landscape. Bini's achievements keep piling up that after becoming the most streamed OPM group and the number one OPM female and girl group on Spotify Philippines, they now dethroned international pop star Taylor Swift from the top spot on Spotify Philippines' Daily Top Artists Chart, a position Swift held for 968 days.  


In an interview during their launch as the new faces of Jollibee's Cheesy Yumburger, group leader Jhoanna expressed gratitude, saying, "Thank you to our listeners. We're avid fans of Taylor Swift, so it feels like two worlds colliding. Thank you so much to our supporters." Not only are Filipinos enjoying their music, but their popularity has also reached K-pop stars who now sing and cover Bini's songs and choreography. Notably, Solar from South Korean girl group Mamamoo surprised her Filipino fans by singing Bini's hit song "Pantropiko" during her concert in the Philippines on June 16 at The Theatre at Solaire Resort. "There is a song that I prepared. I expected you guys to know this song. The song was really nice," Solar said during her concert. Bini members were thrilled by this unexpected tribute. Mikha noted, "It's crazy because her pronunciation was so good. We didn't expect Solar of Mamamoo, especially since she's my bias. We're fans of Mamamoo." Other K-Pop groups that have covered "Pantropiko" and their other hit song "Salamin, Salamin" include Unis, Lapillus, Queenz Eye, Seventeen, NCT Dream, Enhypen, GOT7, Red Velvet and Aespa, among many others. Stacey said, "We look up to K-Pop idols, so we can't believe that they know Bini. It's so humbling, and we really appreciate it. We hope P-Pop continues to rise." She added, "We didn't expect K-Pop idols to cover 'Pantropiko' and 'Salamin, Salamin.' We've seen covers from Red Velvet, Aespa, and of course, the K-Pop fans also so we didn't expect. Different fandoms are uniting for Bini. We hope they support other P-Pop groups as well."


Bini is also preparing for their upcoming events, including a three-day concert at the New Frontier Theater from June 28 to 30, and performances in Baguio and Cebu on July 7 and 14, which are already sold out. They also have a show in General Santos on July 20 as part of their regional tour. "Right now, we're preparing every day from morning until night, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., because we really want to give our best. We want to give the best for the Blooms and the audience, so we need to prepare thoroughly," Stacey said.With continuous rehearsals, event shoots, and endorsement deals, the group has little rest but feels blessed by their career's progress. "There's no rest. For now, we really don't have much rest because we're preparing for the three-day concert. We even requested extra concert rehearsals to ensure the quality of our performance for Bini Verse," Stacey continued. Jhoanna added, "We have three consecutive days of commercial shoots, but we don't feel tired because we're so blessed. While there are still offers, we accept them because we don't know how long they'll keep coming." In addition to concerts and regional tours, fans can look forward to their new single "Cherry on Top," which will soon be released to their fanbase, the "Blooms." "We hope you support our next single, 'Cherry on Top.' It's exciting because we're exploring new things. This is just the start of what Bini can do," Jhoanna said.





Alexa Ilacad surprised to be part of ‘PBB Gen11’ after manifesting to explore ‘hosting’

June 22 ------ The secret is out! Alexa Ilacad is the latest addition to the hosts of the upcoming “Gen11” season of widely popular reality show “Pinoy Big Brother”. Alexa will be joining Kim Chiu, Robi Domingo, Enchong Dee, Melai Cantiveros-Francisco and Bianca Gonzalez. Speaking to ABS-CBN News during Kyle Echarri’s birthday celebration, Alexa shared her excitement to be part of the show. “I’m so happy. It’s something new to me. But honestly it’s something I always wanted to try,” she said. 


With Big Brother’s doors opening this July, she added, “I’m nervous, I’m scared. Everything.” Alexa revealed that she had manifested this gig.  “You know it’s so cool, ‘cause your last interview with me, I said that I would love to venture into hosting. And here it is, I think it’s just so cool. This is probably the perfect timing,” she said.  As for her role in the mix, Alexa said, “I’m the online host, that’s all I know. [I have] big shoes to fill.”


Alexa is a homegrown talent of ABS-CBN and had started her career in Goin’ Bulilit. She said she was excited that the kiddie gag show is back and there’s a new batch of little superstars that will carve their own careers in the industry. “I’m really excited for the kids. Kasi sa totoo lang, it’s such an amazing experience. It was a big part of my childhood, and I know it’s gonna a big part of theirs too, and I just hope they enjoy it,” she said. 


Both “Goin’ Bulilit” and “Pinoy Big Brother: Gen 11” will premiere on ABS-CBN Studios this July.





Miss Manila coronation airs on GMA Network

June 22 ------ Celebrating the epitome of being a true-blooded Manileña has never been this enchanting, as GMA Network proudly airs the Coronation Night of ‘Miss Manila 2024’ on Sunday, June 23. Miss Manila will be hosted by former Miss Universe titleholders Catriona Gray and R'Bonney Gabriel and GMA Network’s Global Endorser Gabbi Garcia. Among those who will serve as judges are GMA Network Senior Vice President Atty. Annette Gozon-Valdes, ABS-CBN Board Member Ma. Rosario “Charo” Santos-Concio, and Miss Universe Philippines 2024 Chelsea Manalo. This year's coronation night brings together 24 aspiring candidates to find the “Manileña that embodies the values of empowerment and leadership to deliver a meaningful contribution to her life and to her fellow Manilans.”


Further, be captivated by spectacular performances from reigning queen Miss Manila 2023 Gabrielle Lantzer, Sparkle artist Thea Astley, Jeremy G., and David Young.


Ready to find out who will win the crown? Catch the Miss Manila 2024 Coronation Night on June 23, 2 p.m. on GMA Network and Kapuso Stream.  





Obiena wins gold in Poland tilt

MANILA, Philippines, June 22 ------ Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena has returned to his winning ways after ruling the Irena Szewinska Memorial in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Obiena, who will compete in the Paris Olympics next month, flew over 5.97 meters in the competition to grab the lead over Greece’s Emmanouil Karalis, who had the advantage at the time with 5.92 meters. The two then tried to go above the 6.02-meter mark but were unable to do so, solidifying Obiena’s win.


Coming in third in the competition is Poland’s Piotr Lisek with 5.75 meters. It has been an up-and-down string of competitions for Obiena, who won the gold in the Los Angeles Grand Prix last month. About a week later, he placed seventh at the Ostrava Golden Spike in the Czech Republic as he broke one of his poles.


He bounced back with a silver in the Oslo Bislett Games before being the penultimate pole vaulter once again in the BAUHAUS-galan in Sweden.





PVL opens Combine to free agents

June 22 ------ The Premier Volleyball League (PVL) opened the Combine activities set from June 25 and 26 at Gameville Ball Park in Sheridan, Mandaluyong to the free agents of the league. This event is a golden opportunity for free agents – players who have competed during or after the 2021 season and currently have no valid contract – to showcase their talents to league coaches and potentially secure a contract.


Although free agents will not participate in the Draft festivities scheduled for July 8, the Combine presents a significant chance for uncontracted players to be observed by PVL team coaches. PVL Commissioner Sherwin Malonzo emphasized the importance of this event, stating, “This Combine serves as the second chance that many players are yearning for to get a team. It’s an opportunity for them to demonstrate their skills and dedication in front of the decision-makers of our league.”


Free agents eager to participate can register online at Application forms can be emailed to


The schedule for the Combine is as follows:

• Day 1: June 25, from 7:00 AM to 12:00 PM

• Day 2: June 26, from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM


Also taking part in the Combine are the 47 aspirants who will be part of the PVL Draft.





Oleksandr Usyk vs Tyson Fury rematch set for December

June 22 ------ Undisputed heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury have scheduled a December 21 rematch in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. "The world will watch another historical fight again," Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority, posted on social media. "Our commitment to boxing fans continues. We hope you enjoy it." 


Usyk defeated Fury via split decision on May 18 in Riyadh. Usyk (22-0-0, 14 KOs) had two judges on his side with scores of 114-113 and 115-112, while Fury (34-1-1, 24 KOs) won over the other judge, 114-113. With the victory, Usyk cemented himself as the first undisputed heavyweight champion in nearly 25 years. Lennox Lewis was the last boxer to accomplish the feat thanks to a win over Evander Holyfield in 1999.


Usyk, 37, of Ukraine, already had signed a two-fight deal with Fury, 35, of England. The original rematch date was Oct. 12.





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