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June 23, 2024

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Rising protectionism threatens global shipping, ICS says
PCG sends BRP Gabriela Silang to sea exercise with Indonesia, Japan
PSA: Philippines' tourism sector surges post-pandemic
SWS: Most Pinoys feel no changes in quality of life
Give dad the gift of quality time with Lionsgate Play movie marathon
Beauty Gonzalez, Sid Lucero to join forces in new film ‘Outside’
Manny Pacquiao, Don Lee to star in new action movie

US state requires Ten Commandments displayed in classrooms

HOUSTON, United States, June 23 ------ The governor of Louisiana signed a bill requiring the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom in the conservative US state, reigniting the debate over separation of church and state. The legislation, the first of its kind in the nation, mandates that the biblical text be on display starting in 2025 in all public school classrooms from kindergarten through state-funded universities. "If you want to respect the rule of law, you got to start from the original law given -- which was Moses," Jeff Landry, Republican governor of the southern state, said at the bill's signing ceremony. The law requires the Ten Commandments to be displayed as a poster or framed document "and shall be printed in a large, easily readable font," the bill's text reads.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) responded to the legislation by indicating it would take the case to court. "The law violates the separation of church and state and is blatantly unconstitutional," the organization said in a statement.


The First Amendment of the US Constitution forbids the establishment of a national religion or the preference of one religion over another. The bill, HB 71, is the first of its kind to be signed into law, though similar bills have been drafted and put forth in other southern states within the US "Bible Belt."  






LONDON, June 23 ------ Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels' share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry's Statistical Review of World Energy report said on Thursday. Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5C (2.7F), the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme. "We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead," Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.


Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 Exajoules (EJ), the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time. "In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged," Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.


The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil fuel share of energy fell below 70% for the first time since the industrial revolution. "In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth," Energy Institute Chief Executive Nick Wayth said.


Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023. They took over from BP (BP.L), opens new tab last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s. Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6% to a new high. But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year. “China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable," KPMG's Virley told reporters.





Rising protectionism threatens global shipping, ICS says

June 23 ------ The negative impact of protectionism is seen as one of the biggest emerging threats to global shipping. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Chamber of Marine Commerce, Canada (CMC) convened over 120 industry leaders to the flagship “Shaping the Future of Shipping Summit: Weathering the Storms” in Montreal, Canada. The summit centered on the unique challenges the maritime sector faces, including the aftermath of the pandemic, strikes, global geopolitical conflicts, decarbonization, the human element and the impact of climate change, all having a significant impact. Industry leaders who participated in the summit called on governments to recognize the negative impacts to global trade that increased protectionism is having.


“We are at a critical time in shipping…we are experiencing an unprecedented threat to free trade. The number of unilateral barriers to trade being imposed by countries is increasing exponentially. Now I understand that the intentions of such barriers may be well meaning, but the reality is that trade is increasingly being weaponized as nations seek to obtain greater economic advantage or achieve political aims,” Emanuele Grimaldi, International Chamber of Shipping Chairman, stressed. “Shipping is responsible for transporting over fourteen trillion dollars’ worth of goods each year. And each trade barrier that is placed on shipping has a magnifying effect that will negatively impact global trade and ultimately reduce growth for all. The failure of global institutions like the World Trade Organization further exacerbate this issue as we need strong institutions to facilitate efficient and cost-effective trade between nations.”


“ICS commissioned the Harvard Kennedy School of Government to look at this issue [protectionism] back in 2021 and they found that cutting restrictive trade policies could boost the global economy by over 3% points. The report also found that high-income countries could see an average increase of 4.5% percent in their goods exports if they were to loosen tariff and non-tariff restrictions on trade. Developing economies would experience an even greater increase, of seven percent if they reduced their restrictions in a ‘modest and equal’ way. Over two trillion dollars of world imports are being affected by constraints like these, that is equivalent to the annual GDP of Canada,” Grimaldi stated.


“Since this report was published, we have seen the introduction of new unilateral regulations and taxes that negatively impact trade. The EU ETS and the CBAM proposals in Europe have created systems that impact free trade. Europe and the United States are also proposing to place massive tariffs on electric vehicles made in China, all at a time when we are asking the world to move to electric cars.  Some in the United States are even considering placing a tariff on ships calling at US ports just because they are built in China. And of course, our members in the tanker sector are having to manage the imposition of sanctions on behalf of governments in response to the dreadful attack on the Ukraine by Russia.”


“This rising tide of protectionism creates more complexity for our industry and cost for our customers. The last thing we need at this time is a trade war, but protectionism is on the rise,” Grimaldi concluded.


“At a time when the world already faces significant challenges including the race to net zero and labor availability, protectionism just results in self-inflected wounds,” Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said.





Greece Adopts High-Tech Whale Safety Monitors for Strait of Kythira

June 23 ------ The Greek government has reached an agreement with two NGOs, The Green Tank and OceanCare, to roll out the "SAvE Whales" detection and alert system in the Strait of Kythira. This special-purpose hydrophone array is designed to help protect endangered sperm whales from collisions with ships in areas where re-routing vessel traffic isn't practical. "Today is a landmark day for the protection of sperm whales and the country's biodiversity protection policy," said Ioli Christopoulou, Co-founder and Policy Director of The Green Tank. 


The "SAvE Whales" system, developed by Dr. Emmanuel Skarsoulis from the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH), uses an array of three solar-powered buoys equipped with hydrophones to detect and locate sperm whales by the sound of the cetaceans' echolocation clicks. Using triangulation and computer processing, the system can automatically locate whales up to about four miles away at depths of up to 900 meters, and it can alert nearby ships to slow down or change course to reduce risk.


Ship strikes account for more than half of all sperm whale deaths in the Mediterranean. The Hellenic Trench - just west of Crete - is a particularly high-risk area because of its rich marine life, which attracts sperm whale mothers with calves.


The collaboration aims to scale up the "SAvE Whales" technology, and could make it an official mitigation and warning tool for mariners in the Strait of Kythira. The system has already been tested off Crete, and has proven effective at locating sperm whales to within about 40 meters. 





Höegh Autoliners: First Aurora class vessel embarks on sea trials

June 23 ------ The first of twelve multi-fuel Aurora-class vessels ordered by Norway-based shipping company Höegh Autoliners has left the shipyard for its first sea trial. The pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) is being built at China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI) in Jiangsu. In the next ten days, the newbuilding will be sailing in the ocean east of Shanghai, the company revealed. The ship is commencing sea trials after weeks of testing, making sure the equipment is ready and ensuring seaworthiness. “This is another tangible step towards the net zero future, we are pursuing. The Aurora Class is the largest and most environmentally friendly car carrier ever built,” Höegh Autoliners said.


The vessel, which will have the capacity to carry up to 9,100 cars, was floated out of the drydock in January this year. Back in January 2022, Höegh Autoliners entered into a contract with CMHI for four fixed and eight optional multi-fuel and zero-carbon ready Aurora-class vessels. The vessels’ multi-fuel engine can run on marine gas oil (MGO) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). With modifications, the vessels can transition to use future zero-carbon fuels including ammonia or methanol.  


The program is progressing at full speed with the option for vessels nine to twelve declared, including an option for installing ammonia engines on these vessels. The company has secured committed financing for all of the ordered Aurora-class vessels on attractive terms. The newbuilding program is expected to be crucial in realizing the company’s ambition to be a net zero emissions operator by 2040.





NCR workers may get wage hike in July - DOLE

MANILA, Philippines, June 23 ------ Minimum wage earners in Metro Manila are likely to get an increase in their daily take-home by mid-July, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported. DOLE Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma said the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in the National Capital Region (NCR) is set to hold a public hearing and come out with a decision before the anniversary date of the latest wage order in July. “We expect a decision after their deliberation,” he said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum.


Historically, Laguesma said, the RTWPB grants salary increases after its deliberation. He said the wage board has no authority to cut down the prevailing wage rate. “All deliberations of the wage board are on increases, though some would say they are small and not enough. But the bottom line is there is an increase,” he said.


According to Laguesma, the RTWPB in NCR initiated the process in May following the directive of President Marcos for a timely wage review 60 days prior to the anniversary of the latest wage adjustment in the different regions. Laguesma said the RTWPB in NCR initiated the review even without a pending petition for a salary hike. Recently, a formal petition seeking a P500 increase in daily wage was filed before the NCR wage board, he said.


The prevailing daily minimum wage rate in NCR is P610, which workers claimed is way below the living wage. Laguesma said the RTWPBs must strike a balance between workers’ needs and employers’ capacity to pay in their decisions. As this developed, the labor coalition Nagkaisa urged the RTWPB in NCR to address the demand of workers for not less than P150 increase in daily wage. Nagkaisa noted that for the past 35 years, the RTWPBs never granted what the workers have petitioned. Last year, the workers asked for a P100 pay hike, but the RTWPB only granted P40 without a clear basis, Nagkaisa said.





PCG sends BRP Gabriela Silang to sea exercise with Indonesia, Japan

MANILA, June 23 ------ The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed BRP Gabriela Silang (OPV-8301) to join the Regional Marine Pollution Exercise (MARPOLEX) 2024 among the coast guards of the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan in Bacolod City. During the send-off ceremony for the 83-meter offshore patrol vessel at Panacan Wharf in Davao City, PCG District Southeastern Mindanao Commander, Commodore Rejard Marfe said the exercise is to showcase the dedication of the three countries in protecting the seas and their maritime borders during emergencies. 


“We exemplify steadfast guardianship to our nation’s ship serving as a beacon of safety and protection of the open waters,” Marfe said. The participation of BRP Gabriela Silang and its crew, he said, is part of the PCG’s responsibility as “custodians of our marine environment. Your dedication will enhance our readiness, allowing us to promptly and efficiently respond to pollution incidents, thus protecting marine ecosystems and coastal communities,” he said.


The MARPOLEX 2024 is scheduled on June 24 to 29. At the event, the coast guard representatives of each country will take part in exercises on search and rescue, firefighting, oil spill recovery, equipment recovery, and damage assessment.





G7 leaders oppose China’s ‘dangerous use of coast guard’ in SCS

MANILA, Philippines, June 23 ------ The Group of Seven (G7) called out China for its “increasing use” of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Filipino vessels, reiterating its opposition to Chinese “intimidation activities” in the South China Sea. In a communiqué following the G7 Summit in Apulia, Italy, the leaders of the powerful economic grouping raised concerns about the situation in the East and South China Seas, reiterating their “strong opposition to any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force or coercion."


“We continue opposing China’s dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia in the South China Sea and its repeated obstruction of countries’ high seas freedom of navigation,” they said in the statement. “We express serious concern about the increasing use of dangerous maneuvers and water cannons against Philippine vessels.”


The G7 leaders then reaffirmed that they do not recognize China’s maritime claims beyond the zones specified by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by citing the 2016 Arbitral Ruling on the South China Sea. “In this regard, we reaffirm that there is no legal basis for China’s expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea, and we oppose China’s militarization, and coercive and intimidation activities in the South China Sea,” they added. We re-emphasize the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas. They noted that the 2016 Arbitral Award is “legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings,” and could serve as a “useful basis for peacefully resolving” maritime disputes.


The G7 represents the world's leading industrialized democracies – Canada, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. China lays claim to a huge swath of the South China Sea, including areas within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. In August 2023, its Chinese Coast Guard first used its water cannon to disrupt the passage of Filipino vessels resupplying the detachment manning the BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.


Despite the Chinese presence near Ayungin, the Philippine government has recently concluded a successful resupply mission to the grounded ship. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Romeo Branwer Jr. said late Friday afternoon that the latest resupply effort was “very successful” but did not provide the date and other specific details of the mission. "It's enough to say we will continue bringing supplies to our troops, we will continue rotating our troops in all the features that we are occupying in the West Philippine Sea and we will continue to protect our territory and our sovereign rights," Brawner said. He said there were no Chinese attempts to seize the supplies like what happened in the May 19 airdrop mission, where Chinese Coast Guard personnel managed to snatch one airdrop pack, only to throw its contents in the water. 





Motorcycles in NCR quadruple in 10 years

MANILA, Philippines June 23 ------ The number of motorcycles in Metro Manila grew by almost four times in the past 10 years as a result of the booming e-commerce demand and the entry of two-wheeled services. Based on data from the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), daily volume of motorcycles around Metro Manila quadrupled to 1.67 million in 2023, from 433,340 in 2013, the largest increase among all vehicle types.


The CPBRD said motorcycle traffic in the region grew on the growing popularity of e-commerce deliveries and the spiking demand for two-wheeled transport. Notably, motorcycle taxi service pioneer Angkas started operating its business in 2016 and was followed by other providers like JoyRide PH and Move It. As such, the birth of motorcycle taxis was flagged as one of the reasons for the rise in two-wheel presence in Metro Manila. However, the CPBRD said the spike in motorcycle use in the metro also comes with a cost. The research arm of Congress reported that motorcycle accidents went up by 80 percent to 36,486 in 2023 from 20,272 in 2013.


Further, the CPBRD said commuters are losing some of their traditional forms of transport, such as jeepneys, as a consequence of the government’s modernization program. Daily traffic from public utility jeepneys (PUJs) decreased by half to 95,659 in 2023, from 193,221 in 2013, as the government mandated PUJ drivers to give up their traditional units for new models. “This (declining PUJ traffic) can be partly attributed to the phasing out of traditional PUJs in line with the ongoing public utility vehicle modernization program,” the CPBRD said.


The traffic crisis in Metro Manila can be attributed to the growing volume of private vehicles and the shrinking availability of public units. Since the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) started arranging data based on vehicle purpose in 2017, the government has observed that public transport, in general, is waning. Daily traffic in Metro Manila from public transport dipped by almost a third to 284,731 in 2023, from 418,927 in 2017. Meanwhile, the volume of private cars rose by nearly half to 3.35 million, from 2.28 million, during the period.


Among public roads, Commonwealth Avenue listed the highest daily traffic at 407,988 in 2023, followed by EDSA’s 407,342 and Quezon Avenue’s 312,486. The CPBRD obtained its data from the average annual daily traffic of the MMDA that tracks the everyday volume of vehicles passing through circumferential and radial roads.





BIR tells employees not to use public Wi-Fi on work laptops

June 23 ------ The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has instructed its employees to refrain from connecting government-issued laptops to public Wi-Fi networks. Under Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) 22-2024, dated June 14, 2024, and signed by BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui Jr., the bureau said the directive is aimed at safeguarding sensitive taxpayer information. One key provision in RMO 22-2024 prohibited using BIR-issued laptops on public Wi-Fi networks.


The order specified that BIR employees are not allowed from connecting their laptops to public Wi-Fi hotspots, like those found in internet cafes, malls, and other places offering free Wi-Fi services. When connecting to home Wi-Fi, a pocket Wi-Fi, or a mobile hotspot, BIR added that employees must verify that the access point has secure configurations. Using public Wi-Fi with government-issued laptops can make sensitive data vulnerable to hackers that could compromise confidential tax information.


Government agencies have been increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks as they store valuable data that hackers can exploit for financial gain. In April, the Bureau of Customs fell victim to a data breach, resulting in the compromise of about 4.5 gigabytes of data by hackers. The Department of Information and Communications Technology said the breached data included the personal information of more than 2,200 employees and approximately 80,000 customers. A recent study by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky showed that the Philippines recorded an average of one cyber threat per second in 2023, totaling nearly 72,000 daily threats. 





200 groups apply for party-list registration

MANILA, Philippines, June 23 ------ Around 200 party-list groups have applied for registration with the poll body, according to the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). “Out of these new applicants, 120 were dismissed while 80 are still set for hearing,” Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said in a message sent to The STAR.


Once registered, publication of a “Manifestation of Intent to Participate” by these party-list groups in two national broadsheets is required for them to be able to join next year’s elections. Garcia said that once published and no petition is filed to block the application, the party-list group becomes qualified to join the 2025 elections. Only organized groups duly registered with the Comelec and have filed the Manifestation of Intent to Participate may join the party-list elections next year.


In an order, Garcia said “the petitioner needs to submit four copies of the Proof of Publication with the Office of the Clerk of Commission located at the Palacio del Gobernador Bldg., Intramuros, Manila within 15 days from the receipt of the Order.” The Comelec said if there are those opposed to the group seeking to run in the 2025 elections, they may a file a petition before the Commission within ten days from the date of publication. The poll body said that as of last count, there were 145 applicants that were approved as party-list groups to be joining the elections May next year.


One of the recent party-list groups that expressed intention to participate in the 2025 elections is the newly formed “Pilipinas Babangon Muli or PBBM.” The group, with headquarters at Hacienda Villas, Taal, Batangas, is led by a certain Jose Panganiban Jr. It said that it has 140 chapters nationwide.





PSA: Philippines' tourism sector surges post-pandemic

June 23 ------ The country posted the highest growth in the tourism sector last year despite coming from the pandemic period, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.


The PSA reported that the share of tourism direct gross value added to the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product (GDP), was estimated at 8.6 percent in 2023. The tourism sector contributed P2.09 trillion in 2023, higher by 47.9 percent compared with the P1.41 trillion in 2022. “This is the highest growth of tourism since the start of the data compilation in the year 2000,” the PSA noted.


The statistics agency monitors the following for the measurement of tourism growth: accommodation services, food and beverage serving activities, transport services, travel agencies and other reservation services, entertainment and recreation services, shopping, and miscellaneous services. Among the forms of tourism expenditures, inbound tourism expenditure posted the highest annual growth of 87.7 percent, amounting to P697.46 billion last year, followed by domestic tourism expenditure, which grew by 72.3 percent, from P1.55 trillion to P 2.67 trillion. Meanwhile, outbound tourism expenditure posted a 10.0 percent growth, from P189.29 billion to PhP 208.25 billion.


Internal tourism expenditure, comprising inbound and domestic tourism, grew by 75.3 percent to P3.36 trillion from P1.92 trillion. On the other hand, employment in the tourism industry was estimated at 6.21 million in 2023, up by 6.4 percent compared with the 5.84 million individuals in tourism characteristic industries in 2022. The tourism industry shared 12.9 percent of the total employment in the country last year.


Latest data from the Department of Tourism showed that a total of 2,010,522 international visitors entered the country in April, with 94.21 percent or 1,894,076 of the country’s total international arrivals delivered by foreign tourists, while 5.79 percent or 116,446 are overseas Filipinos. This is 15.11 percent higher than the international arrivals recorded at 1,746,630 in the same period last year.





SWS: Most Pinoys feel no changes in quality of life

MANILA, Philippines, June 23 ------ The quality of life of most Filipinos stayed the same over the past year, with only one in three saying it improved, according to a recent survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS). Results of the survey conducted from March 21 to 25 found 45 percent of respondents saying their quality of life stayed the same in the past 12 months. Some 30 percent said it improved, while 25 percent said it got worse.


The latest survey results were similar to the one conducted by SWS in December 2023. It resulted in a “net gainers” score of +5, which is the rounded off difference of those who said their lives improved from those who said their lives worsened. The “net gainers” score was -2 in October 2023 and +11 in June 2023. It was +18 in December 2019 – the last survey conducted before the pandemic.


Across areas, the “net gainers” score was highest among those in balance Luzon at +14 (from +6), followed by those in Metro Manila at +9 (from +16), the Visayas at -2 (from +4) and Mindanao at -8 (from -3). By educational attainment, the “net gainers” score was highest among those with some college education at +12 (from +5), followed by college graduates at +10 (from +25), non-elementary graduates at -1 (from +5) and those with some high school education at -4 (same as in December 2023 survey).


SWS said the “net gainers” score was higher among “non-hungry” and “not-poor” families. The survey had 1,500 respondents and a margin of error of plus/minus 2.5 percent for national percentages.





Give dad the gift of quality time with Lionsgate Play movie marathon

June 23 ------  It's still Father's Month, and there is always time to celebrate the special man in your life. Instead of getting him a traditional gift like a tie or a book, why not give him the gift of quality time?  Make this Father's Month extra special by planning a movie marathon with must-watch films on Lionsgate Play. From action-packed thrillers to heartwarming comedies, there's something for every dad's taste on this streaming platform. Here are seven must-watch films on Lionsgate Play that promise a memorable movie night with Dad.  


Knives Out

Directed by Rian Johnson, Knives Out is a modern twist on the classic murder mystery genre, blending wit, humor, and suspense seamlessly. When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead, Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is enlisted to solve the case. With an all-star ensemble cast and a cleverly woven plot, this film is an entertaining whodunit that Dad will love trying to solve alongside you.


The Impossible

Take a heart-stopping journey with The Impossible, a gripping drama based on the true story of a family's ordeal during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland, the film is an emotional rollercoaster that showcases the strength of family bonds and the human spirit. Grab a box of tissues and appreciate the resilience and love that can emerge even in dire circumstances.



For a high-octane, edge-of-your-seat experience, Greenland is the perfect pick. This disaster thriller follows a family's desperate journey to find sanctuary as a comet races towards Earth, threatening global annihilation. Gerard Butler delivers a compelling performance as a father determined to protect his loved ones at all costs. It’s a nail-biting ride that will keep you and Dad hooked from start to finish.


Train to Busan

If you and Dad enjoy a good scare, Train to Busan is a must-watch. This South Korean horror thriller starring Gong Yoo tells the story of a father and daughter's fight for survival during a zombie outbreak on a speeding train. The film balances intense action with poignant moments of sacrifice and humanity, making it a gripping watch that will leave you both breathless.



How far would a father go to find his missing child? Prisoners explore this question through a tense and haunting crime drama. After his daughter goes missing, a desperate father (Hugh Jackman) takes matters into his own hands, risking everything to bring her back. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an outstanding performance as the detective trying to solve the case in this thought-provoking and emotionally charged film.


Dune (1984)

While you're probably familiar with the latest adaptation, the 1984 version of Dune is a cult classic that deserves a spot on your must-watch list — ask Dad! Directed by David Lynch, this film adaptation of the Frank Herbert novel stars Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, the chosen one in a battle for control over the valuable spice melange.





Beauty Gonzalez, Sid Lucero to join forces in new film ‘Outside’

June 23 ------ Beauty Gonzalez and Sid Lucero will star in the upcoming horror film “Outside,” which revolves around a couple’s quest to keep their family safe amid the horrors of a zombie outbreak. Gonzalez and Lucero’s casting was confirmed by a streaming platform in a press statement, which also announced the film’s October 11 release.


In the statement, the family’s quest for survival will be haunted by “old traumas,” apparently referring to Gonzales and Lucero’s characters, which will eventually play a role in their journey. The movie is directed by Filipino-Australian Carlo Ledesma, who is said to prioritize “compelling human characters, their intricate connections, and conflicts,” in his filmmaking. He is best known for his thesis film “The Haircut,” which bagged the Mini Movie Channel Award for Best Short Film at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.


“Outside” was previously revealed at the Netflix APAC Southeast Asia Showcase earlier this month, which was graced by filmmakers and creatives from Thailand and Indonesia.





Manny Pacquiao, Don Lee to star in new action movie

June 23 ------ Former Senator Manny Pacquiao is collaborating with American-Korean actor Ma Dong-seok, also known as Don Lee, for an upcoming action movie, part of which would be filmed in the Philippines. In a media interview, former Ilocos Sur Gov. and movie producer Chavit Singson shared that the  “Pambansang Kamao” has met with the “Train to Busan” actor, and that the film will include boxing aspects. “Pumunta ako ng Korea, kasama si Manny. Pinakilala ko si Pacquiao sa most popular sa Korea na si Don Lee. Gagawa kami ng pelikula kasama si Manny. Action film ang gagawin namin ni Don Lee. Mga boxing so bagay kay Manny,” said the politician.


Singson teased that they plan to shoot the film here in the Philippines, as Lee plans to build a studio in the country. “Sa Pilipinas gagawin kasi gusto ni Don Lee na gumawa ng studio sa Vigan na puwede rin gamitin ng iba kagaya sa Hollywood,” revealed the governor.


In April, Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee Pacquiao met with Lee in Korea. In photos shared by Jinkee on Instagram, the Korean actor said that he’s a fan of the Filipino boxer, as he asked Manny for an autograph for the Big Punch Boxing Club. Apart from his scene-stealing performance in “Train to Busan,” Lee is also known for his roles in Marvel’s “Eternals.” Pacquiao, on top of his boxing career and politics, squeezed in some show biz commitments, such as his last film, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry “Wapakman” in 2009. He also promoted his documentary film “Manny,” which was released in 2015. Meanwhile, Singson also previously teased that Season 2 of one of the most popular series in Korea, “Vagabond,” is set to film in the Philippines as a continuation of the story.





Kieffer Alas, Gilas boys out to prove worth in FIBA U17 World Cup

MANILA, June 23 ------ The Gilas Pilipinas boys are set to compete in the 2024 FIBA U-17 World Cup later this month. The young Filipino hoopers are bound to go up against Lithuania, Spain, and Puerto Rico on the world stage in Turkey, and among their leaders is young star and De La Salle-Zobel ace Kieffer Alas.


The 6-foot-2, Las Piñas native, is expected to lead the Gilas boys to international glory yet again much like how they did during the U16 Asian Championships in 2023, but he said that they are out there to prove that their prowess goes beyond the continent. "We're there to fight against the strong teams, to compete with them, and give them a good fight naman para we can show na ‘di lang kami pang Asia at pang world rin kami," he said at the sidelines of the Philippine Sportswriters Association, Tuesday morning at the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila. 


Alas will be coming into the tournament with plenty of experiences under his belt as aside from their Asian dominance in the U-16 championships, he also was named as a part of the Mythical 5 of the UAAP Season 86 boys' basketball tournament as well as the country's No.2 high school player. However, Kieffer downplayed all of these feats. "Actually and honestly, that's a factor pero that's local competition, ito worlds na. I'm just gonna use it as a confidence booster na if kaya ko dito sa local, then I can help din dito sa world stage as well."


What he is baking on, on the other hand, is the trust and knowledge that Gilas men's tactician Tim Cone imparted to him when the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel mentor visited them in one of their practices. "Tim Cone is the head coach of our men's team, ‘di ba? Even though bata pa lang kami, he has a plan for us. He also told us na even though our height is one of the smallest sa World Cup, he can see by our practices pa lang na kaya naming lumaban," he revealed.


Moving forward, what Alas is looking forward to is getting as many lessons and experiences as he can get, saying that he will be eventually sharing these with his teammates in Muntinlupa. "I'll just share with them na nakalaban ko yung mga [possible] NBA players, so imagine kung maka-compete yung team namin doon, imagine sa UAAP, maybe we can possibly reach the Final Four and hopefully win the championship," said Kieffer, who revealed that he will be returning with the Junior Archers for Season 87. "I will be committing this Season to La Salle Zobel, then let's see." he added.


But for now, his focus is on balling out for Gilas in the World Cup. "Honestly, our team, that is not in our mind," he answered when asked about playing with possible future basketball stars. "Yes, it's a bonus that we can compete with [possibly] famous players in the future, pero that's not what we're thinking about right now. We just want to compete with the best of the best," he ended.


Gilas will opening their campaign against Lithuania on the 29th.





Mbappe rules out representing France at Paris Olympics

June 23 ------ France captain Kylian Mbappe admitted that he will not represent his country at the upcoming Paris Olympics. “For the Olympics my club has a position which is very clear so that means I think I will not participate in the Olympics. That is how it is,” Mbappe said.


The 25-year-old, who was speaking ahead of France’s opening Euro 2024 game on Monday against Austria, has just signed for Real Madrid and will join the European champions for the new season under freedom of contract from Paris Saint-Germain. The men’s Olympics football tournament begins on July 24, with the final on August 9. 


The Spanish season is due to start a week later, while Madrid is also due to play Atalanta in the UEFA Super Cup in Warsaw on August 14. “Joining a new team in September would not be the best way to begin my adventure,” admitted Mbappe, who had previously stated a wish to be able to play for Thierry Henry’s French Olympic team. “I wish the best to the France team. I will of course watch all their games as a spectator rather than an actor, and I hope they bring back the gold medal.”


This week Lionel Messi confirmed he would also not go to the Olympics, turning down the chance to win the gold medal with Argentina for a second time.





It's been 53 years since Meralco celebrated a championship

June 23 ------ MERALCO is looking to make history by winning its first-ever PBA crown since its inception in 2010. That is, if it triumphs over San Miguel in Game Six of the Season 48 Philippine Cup finals. Nonetheless, aside from the quest to win its maiden title in the professional league, the company, unknown to perhaps some younger fans, is also eyeing to end a 53-year title drought in major basketball competitions in the country.


The last time the lights went on for Meralco

On July 11, 1971, Meralco ruled the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA), considered the top league in the country before the PBA was formed in 1975. Meralco, then nicknamed the Reddy Kilowatts or Reddies, defeated Crispa, 65-58, at the Araneta Coliseum to capture the crown that capped off a six-game sweep of the tournament. Coincidentally, one of the teams that Meralco beat on the road to the championship round was San Miguel, based on the research by Edmon1974’s Blog. The Reddy Kilowatts defeated the San Miguel side, then called the SMC Braves, 82-73.


According to the account of the championship game by The Manila Times’ Anthony Exaltado, Robert Jaworski and import Charles Greenfield played big in the final. The game was, at one point, tied at 52-all, then Reddies ahead, 57-54, until the two combined for seven points in the last two minutes to put the game away. Meralco’s other reinforcement Bob Preysley also provided a lift on the boards, while also putting the clamps on his Crispa counterpart Tom Cowart, who was arrested by police after the final due to a rape charge. Lauro Mumar, a member of the 1954 national team that took the bronze medal in the 1954 FIBA World Cup, was the Reddies' coach in their championship run.


The 1971 MICAA title was the company’s first in the post-war era, according to the same report. Meralco previously won the 1934 crown before making its return to the amateur league in 1968. Meralco’s MICAA stint, however, didn’t last long following the breakthrough, as the team was disbanded a year after due to Martial Law. The company returned to basketball in 2010 after purchasing Sta. Lucia's PBA franchise. The Bolts had come close to breaking the drought after four finals appearances, but lost to Barangay Ginebra in all of them.


Last Friday, Meralco defeated San Miguel, 92-88, to seize a 3-2 lead in the finals, the first time the franchise held such lead in a seven-game series.





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