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Yet Another Football Twist

January 12, 2011


Well, that was strange. I don’t think anybody saw it coming. At least, I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I’m talking about Azkals’ (Philippine Men’s Football Team) former head coach Simon McMenemy. As has been reported by the major dailies, the man that led the unforeseen historic run by the Azkals in last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup is now out of a job.

Team manager Dan Palami who has sought the assistance of the German Football Association (DFB) announced that the team will now be handled by German Hans Michael Weiss upon recommendation of the DFB. Last week, reports had it that Palami was considering up to three coaching candidates as he came in contact with the DFB. Apparently, with the change in leadership of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the expiration of his contract last December 31, McMenemy expected to still be the top consideration. And who wouldn’t? You have to give the man who turned the country buzzing about football for the first time ever some props, right?

Well, it seems that the business of football is a little trickier than that. Reports have surfaced that the assistance package to be provided by the DFB includes a grant of EUR 500,000. If you put it that way, then certainly whoever the DFB recommends is THE choice. Add to that the fact that McMenemy lacks the “B” coaching license required to coach the Azkals in the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup games against Mongolia, then loyalty and gratitude aside, it’s nearly a no-brainer.

It’s not so much the replacement of McMenemy that surprises, though. It was more how he got hold of the news. Like most of us in the loop, he found out through Twitter. And if you want a glimpse into how that felt. Here’s his tweet:

To clarify his side, Palami responded by posting this note on Facebook.

That explains…well, I’m not sure how that explains random people finding out on Twitter before the concerned parties did, instead of being in close contact with them through the whole process. But we’ve all been on long flights and weddings, and we all know how draining that can be. I understand the sarcasm I let out just then, and that’s not to undermine everything Palami has done for the cause of national football, for he may truly be the man responsible for the Azkals’ rise. I suppose after the initial sting, McMenemy felt that way too, or so suggests this tweet:

Reports now say that he will be offered the Under-17 coaching job to develop the countries’ football prospects. Again, the question of courtesy aside, this really seems to suit McMenemy’s strengths better, as he told Expat 10 days upon landing to step into the head coaching job back in Spetember. His background has been in football development, and this might end up helping the growth of national football in the grand scheme of things even more than being at the helm of producing results for the Azkals.

In a brief conversation with him, he told this author he’s still waiting to see what kind of offer the PFF comes to him with. There are head coaching offers from other countries in the South East Asian region, so indeed, there are things to ponder on.

All drama aside, it IS good news that Palami and the PFF is now getting help. It should bode well for Philippine football in the long run should this partnership with the DFB run its course. The initial test will be on the 9th of February when the Azkals face Mongolia in Bacolod for the AFC Challenge Cup. Until then, we shall see.

What is the Metro Manila Film Festival?

January 11, 2011


2010 Metro Manila Film Festival Best Picture - Ang Tanging Ina Mo: Last Na 'To (Your One and Only Mother: The Last Movie), the sequel to the hugely successful 2003 comedy about a single mother raising a brood full of children

For expats wondering where all the Hollywood films went beginning Christmas – or were surprised at their return two weeks later – (a belated) welcome to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

The 2010 edition of the MMFF, as abbreviated, brings the festival to its 36th year. It itself had a predecessor in the pioneering Manila Film Festival, which ran from 1966 to 1974. That celebration of the Philippines’ film finest was the brainchild of then-city mayor Antonio Villegas. The Metropolitan Film Festival – now the MMFF – debuted in place of the Manila Film Festival originally as a commemoration of the third anniversary of Martial Law declaration in the country, but with the same spirit of support for homegrown cinema.

Despite the name, the festival films – in recent years, those produced by the major film outfits; indie films rarely make a showing – are actually shown nationwide. Also, it has evolved from its inception to become quite the extravaganza, as actors in participating films parade on floats to kick-start the two-week showcase. It’s not quite the Rose Parade, but the Parade of Stars is always a crowd-drawer on Roxas Boulevard.

A rundown of past winners orients one with several Filipino cinema greats, including former screen tandem Nora Aunor and Christopher de Leon, who have won the Best Actress and Best Actor festival trophies a whopping seven and eight times, respectively.  Three directors are additionally tied for the most directing trophies with three each. In addition to a truckload of information on Philippine cinema, this blog summarizes each installment of the festival, all of which can be navigated to from here.

As with anything showbiz this corner of the world it seems, controversy is second nature. The Awards Night, which occurs midway through the participating films’ runs, is a particular issue magnet. If you just so happened to chance upon the entertainment sections of dailies during the most recent MMFF, you’d have read stories of snubbed actresses and directors.

One such incident that comes to mind even smacked of international flavor: in the 1994 ceremonies, former Miss Mauritius beauty contest candidate (the Miss Universe pageant was held in Manila that year) Viveka Babajee, an award presenter, involved herself in a name-switch scam for the Best Actress plum. Unfortunately, she has since passed away.

Many – and I mean many – more controversies have surrounded the MMFF in its more than three decades of existence. Here is a quite lengthy list researched due to the latest round of controversy, which includes even the criteria by which the Best Picture is chosen (box office haul at the time of awarding, which is usually three days after the festival opening, now counts for 50 percent).

More than controversy, however, the festival endeavors to stay true to its original purpose of supporting the local film industry. Indeed, in this latest installment of the MMFF, the film RPG Metanoia heralded another milestone for Philippine cinema as the country’s first 3D animated feature (it’s one of two MMFF films I personally saw and I must say, it’s quite good, even story-wise). The MMFF might be over, but if you’re willing to sift through the language barrier and see an entire movie in Filipino, you can catch some of the films still playing at select cinemas.

Keep updated with the latest Expat Newspaper, out now.

Cebu Sizzles with Sinulog 2011!

January 10, 2011

Sinulog fever hits Cebu once again, and as our writer Richard A. Ramos reports, there’s more to catch than the grand parade on the 16th. The following is a partial list of activities set for the week leading up to the grand celebration:

  • January 12 (Wednesday): Miss Cebu Coronation Night, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, 7 p.m.
  • January 13 (Thursday): Handumanan: The Concert (in honor of the balikbayan community), Ayala Center Cebu
  • January 14 (Friday): Sinulog Festival Queen selection, Cebu City Sports Center
  • January 15 (Saturday): Fluvial Procession of the Sto. Nino Image, 6 a.m.; Solemn Procession, 1:30 p.m.

Visitors are in for a slamming time as more exciting shows, concerts, exhibits, street parties and other events are set for the following days. A more complete schedule of activities can be found on the festival website, If you haven’t booked a room yet, do so now or risk missing out on what is said to be the country’s largest festival.

In the meantime, enjoy some amazing snapshots of last year’s celebration on Flickr, courtesy of the Sinulog 2010 photo contest winners.

Keep reading Expat Newspaper for all the latest news.


Gays and HIV/AIDS Advocacy: When the Spotlight Hurts

January 7, 2011

It’s the chicken-and-egg conundrum: is turning the spotlight on “men who have sex with men” or MSMs as a high-risk group – sometimes even the group at highest risk – for HIV/AIDS helping or hurting?

Since the virus was first discovered in 1977, gay men have been earmarked as likely carriers for their supposed promiscuous lifestyle. In fact, in its early days, the disease had been known as gay-related immune deficiency or GRID, until it became clear that the disease was not limited to gays. As many statistics show, however, gays seem to be disproportionately affected.

So, is it wrong to state the facts? No. But it would do well to elaborate on why high-risk groups are at high risk. One may recall when the spotlight was turned on call center agents last year – news reports were for the most part careful to associate the disease with risky lifestyle practices and not particular companies or industries. The same is true among MSM, who in addition are hesitant to come out and be tested due stigmas against them, according to studies. An applicable idea from Libel as Politics, a collection of insights on libel decriminalization in the Philippines from some of country’s foremost legal and media minds, comes to mind as a parallelism: is repeating that someone is an “alleged killer” 20 times in an article any less defaming than naming that person as the actual killer? Bottom line: there’s a reason negative stigmas, and therefore ignorance, persists.

It is therefore key to treat the disease as one that can and does affect anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, industry or any other classification. The same message that needs to reach high-risk groups is the same one that needs to reach everyone else. The medium is the message, said Marshall McLuhan, and narrowcasting it solely at a gay rights rally or migrant workers forum just allows everyone else to feel it’s not their problem and/or aren’t at risk. And there is definitely danger in ignorance, when not just gays, but others a continent and culture away as well, are uninformed.

Read on about government commitments to fight HIV/AIDS in 2011 in the latest issue of Expat Newspaper, out now.

What Should They Do??

January 6, 2011


What is it with the Filipino culture that leaves it incredibly wanting in terms of accountability? This administration in particular has provided us with a wealth of examples. August of last year bore witness to one of the most tragic (both in terms of the bloodshed and in the display of utter incompetence) event seen on live TV. The backlash was immense. Justifiable unfavorable travel advisories abound. Diplomatic relationships were tested. Incident reviews dominated the news. But did anyone stand up and say “my bad”? Even as the IIRC (Incident Investigation and Review Committee) came out with its recommendations of whose heads should roll, nobody showed the necessary decency to just step down in the face such an international embarrassment.

The whole blame-passing that followed the hostage crisis made the resignation of then-Department of Tourism undersecretary Enteng Romano all the more commendable when the smoke cleared on the overwhelmingly unfavorable response to “Pilipinas Kay Ganda”. But a host of government officials, though, still have yet to follow suit in learning that virtue. The errors may not be on the same scale as that of the unfortunate August incident (God forbid there be one that is), but these people have to understand that the Filipino people deserve people in office that will hold themselves accountable for their actions, or often, lack thereof.

Even in the face of historic success, something similar had to surface, as was the case when the rise of the Azkals (Philippine Men’s Football Team) made known the dysfunction that has been living in the comforts of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF). Amid allegations of illegal cash disbursements, and the PFF unseating him of the PFF presidency, Jose Mari Martinez insists that his ouster is beyond the rules of the PFF’s governing body FIFA, even attempting to file a TRO to combat it.

Now, there’s clamor for Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson to step down from his congressional seat if he is to plead guilty to drug possession charges in Hong Kong, as has been reported will be the case. But with the ongoing trend of clinging on to power, and by the confrontational tone of his father’s arguments (calling for the Senate to first expel Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is wanted for the Dacer-Corbito double murder) against the call for Singson to step down, it doesn’t appear as though a resignation letter will be penned anytime soon.

So if they’re not going to be responsible for handling everything that comes with the position they’re in, what should they do?

Maybe they should all just use the LeBron James technique.

Outtakes: Ilocos Norte

January 3, 2011



The four-day trip to Ilocos Norte was not nearly enough to truly breathe in everything the region had to offer. So now that you’re about to get a fresh set of vacation leaves, you might want to consider heading north. Have a see…

The dragon fruit which symbolizes the Ilocano’s retrofitting culture can amazingly be your full meal as they can make vegan burgers, dumplings, bread, pastries and wine. Its local name is saniata, which roughly translates to “progress”. Very Ilocano indeed.

The Kapurpurawan White Rock Formation is the crown jewel of this area’s quaint appeal…

…and another one

The windmills of the Northwind Bangui Bay Project. Once you’re done with the customary photo-ops, enjoy the treats available at nearby Kangkang Windmill Cafe.

Look out Cam Sur! Ilocos Norte is looking to be the next wake boarding haven with its unparalleled 470 hectares. Zorb wheels, manually propelled rubber rafts are among some of the proposed water sports for this massive lake which also serves as a pit stop for many rare migrant birds.

On the way to the sand dunes of Paoay…

…where you can do this

…or conquer the dunes aboard one of these

Governor Imee Marcos gets in the act

Recreated from the fifties, Sitio Remedios, they say, “serves as a reminder of a more genteel era”. And had stayed longer, it would’ve served as the venue for a lot of fun memories. Beautiful heritage village with the sea just a stone’s throw away – absolutely enchanting.

I can only imagine what throwing a party at Sitio Remedios would be like…

But perhaps the clincher is its next door neighbor, Palayopoy (meaning “breezy”) Resort where you can retire to this…

Yes, wake up, look to your left, and you’ve got an unobstructed view of the beach. That’s an insanely good morning.

But you can’t talk about Ilocos Norte and not talk about the grub. For the entirety of my stay there, I could hardly manage dinner as whole day feasting was too much for me. Here’s a sample of what awaits you:

Ilocos’ famous bagnet

Crispy dinuguan

The Ilocanos are at it again with their dinuguan pizza

Read more in the latest issue of Expat Newspaper, out now.

EXPAT Dec 26, 2010-Jan 8, 2011

January 3, 2011

In the latest issue of Expat Newspaper: the Philippines inaugurates its first Climate Change Academy; a new team player in the BPO scene hits town; and we review the tumultuous year that was 2010.

Expat wishes everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!

EXPAT Dec 26, 2010-Jan 8, 2011

The Forgotten Ones

December 22, 2010


It was recently brought to my attention that the Philippine Women’s Basketball Team Discovery Perlas, which recently (well, last October actually) won the championship in the 7th Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA), won the country’s first title in women’s basketball in 39 years. So if my math and knowledge of Philippine history serves me right, that was before former President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Wow. But what’s even more amazing is that it hardly caused a ripple in the country’s pop culture. And while I read about their success and despite being a self-confessed basketball junkie, I didn’t even post a single tweet about it. But there I was very keen in broadcasting my support on Facebook for the Azkals (Philippine Men’s Football Team) ever since they qualified for the AFF Suzuki Cup. Which begs the question, in this basketball-crazed country, “What’s up with that?”

I have no clue. Maybe it’s the lack of popularity of women’s basketball in general. Perhaps it’s because there was no TV broadcast of the games. In the face of their historical victory, I don’t think they made one TV appearance; the Azkals have been on every morning show and primetime news outfit (I think), and have been given a couple of heroes’ welcome, and massive celebrity treatment for reaching the semifinals. I’m sure the TV-friendly mugs of the Younghusband brothers and Neil Etheridge have a lot to do with that, but still.

Alright, I’m not pretending to have given Discovery Perlas their proper dues when they won. In fact, I only realized that the Philippine Women’s Basketball has endured through 39 title-less years from Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Noli Eala’s tweet: Sad that r Women’s Natl bball team w/c won SEA title aftr 39 title-less yrs did not get the same attn that Azkals r rightfully getting now.”

So I guess this is an attempt to make amends for my negligence. Up next for Discovery Perlas is the FIBA-Asia Women’s Championship and the Southeast Asian Games in 2011 where they hope to ride the crest of their success while looking to add more ceiling to their team to attain similar success. The crew that won the SEABA title only had one player standing above six feet. They’re eyeing the naturalization of 6’3” Chinese Zheng Xiaojing to fill the gaping hole in their inside game.

The country needs to know about what it can celebrate as a nation. This administration’s penchant for incompetence (hostage crisis, failed tourism campaign, errors in the new peso bills, the judicial system) still has five more full years for us to withstand. I know the surveys say the people are content and approving of the current administration, but you know what they say about these surveys anyway. Oh, right, we’re talking about sports. Check out a few highlights from the girls below:

And here’s a short clip from their championship game against Thailand:

Christmas in the City

December 17, 2010

The park during daytime...


Yesterday marked the official start of the Christmas season here in the Philippines as the traditional nine-day novena mass known as simbang gabi has already begun.

Here in the city, Ayala Triangle Gardens offers urbanites a place to relax after work and to experience the Christmas season through the daily Symphony of Parol show. Visitors will definitely also enjoy dining in any of the following restaurants: Golden Spoon, Chef Laudico’s Bfast, Banapple, Bon Chon Chicken, Amici and Caramia, CBD (Cheesesteaks, Burgers, and Drinks), Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Kanin Club, Momo Cafe, Omakase, Pho24 and Wee Nam Kee.

...and by night

Get the latest issue of Expat Newspaper and read more about this mini haven in the metro.

Outtakes: Amanpulo

December 15, 2010

We had the opportunity to visit the island paradise of Amanpulo and needless to say, there was a surplus of beautiful scenes captured. Here are some taken by Expat’s superb photographer and friend Emma Gomez, seen only here on our WordPress site (for more, grab the latest Expat Newspaper and Expat Travel & Lifestyle magazine nearest you):

Dawn at a Hillside Casita

Island wear

Spanish breakfast

Organic garden greens

At the Windsurf Hut

Amanpulo's famed - and still unspoiled - beach

Poolside at one of the villas

A dip in the pool to cap the night?