Opinion & Community

More direct China to PH flights expected

MANILA  — Direct flights from China’s Guangxi Province to the country's top tourist destinations Davao, Cebu and Clark can soon be expected to bring in additional tourists from China.
This after the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently closed a deal with Chinese state-owned Guangxi Tourism Development Group Co., Ltd. to mount these additional flights during the recent “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing.
“This undertaking will open up secondary gateways in the Philippines to the Chinese market and bring in additional tourists from mainland China,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said in a statement.
Teo, who was with the entourage of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, said the chartered flights add to the list of air carriers that directly service 13 Chinese cities for trips to Manila, Kalibo, Cebu and Laoag.
It was not mentioned which airline will be providing the services or when the services will start.-- PNA
She, however, described the deal as a “win-win” situation for both parties and expressed excitement for the launch of the said flights.
“We are excited about Guangxi’s commitment, as we tap its 55 million population of what is considered the Asian center of economy and finance,” she added.
Meanwhile, tour operator Sun Fair International, which has offices in Xiamen and Hong Kong, has already committed additional ten thousand Chinese tourists coming from the cities of Shanghai, Xiamen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Beijing, starting this month.
The additional Chinese tourists will make up a diverse group of leisure travelers, divers and adventure seekers to rollers, businessmen, culinary travelers to shoppers, and even employees on company paid tours, Sun Fair International said in a statement.
Proposed local destinations include Manila, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, Davao, Surigao, Subic, and Negros Occidental. (Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)

Sweet Surprise: McDonald’s Unveils a Change to its Vanilla Soft Serve

Removal of an artificial flavor from vanilla soft serve which already had no artificial colors or preservatives – positively changed Vanilla Cone, McCafé Shakes and McFlurry

OAK BROOK, Ill. — (May 22, 2017) — McDonald’s USA announced that its vanilla soft serve – featured in its popular vanilla cone, McCafé Shakes and McFlurry desserts – is made with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. The introduction of the soft serve began in Fall of 2016 and has nearly completed its transition to all 14,000+ restaurants nationwide. A popular destination for cold, sweet treats, this change impacts 60% of the desserts McDonald’s serves.   

In addition, the chocolate and strawberry McCafé shake syrup has no high fructose corn syrup and the whipped topping served on all three flavors of shakes is made with no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“This summer we have a sweet surprise,” said Darci Forrest, senior director of menu innovation at McDonald’s. “We’ve been raising the bar at McDonald’s on serving delicious food that our customers can feel good about eating. Soft serve now joins other changes we have made, such as removing artificial preservatives from McNuggets, committing to cage-free eggs by 2025 and only serving chicken made from chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine*. This, combined with the fact that 100 percent of the milk used in our soft serve is U.S. sourced, makes this classic treat even more enjoyable during the hot summer months.”  

Desserts have been a favorite at McDonald’s for nearly 60 years. Last summer alone, McDonald’s customers enjoyed 68 million cones. This summer, guests can continue to enjoy their classic cone, but also celebrate the return of a fan favorite from 2012 — the Rolo McFlurry. For a limited time, the company is making summer more delicious with the rich combination of chewy caramel and smooth milk chocolate pieces to its iconic vanilla soft serve. The Rolo McFlurry will be available nationwide for a limited time from May 24 to Sept. 11.   

“We are proud to partner with McDonald’s to bring our dairy products from thousands of dairy farmers across the U.S. to their millions of customers daily,” said Barb O’Brien, president of Dairy Management Inc.

Over the past two years, McDonald’s has made a series of changes to its menu, including the launch of All Day Breakfast and updated Chicken McNuggets, a new premium salad blend and using real butter on its English Muffins, bagels and biscuits, among other significant changes. The updated soft serve is part of McDonald’s food journey and another way the company is helping customers feel good about the food they’re enjoying.  

*Farmers still use ionophores, a class of antibiotics that are not prescribed to people, to help keep chickens healthy.

About McDonald’s USA 
McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 25 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonaldsand Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.


Life-saving device for all hotels pushed

The executive members of the Friends of the Filipino/American Community (FFAC), a not for profit political action committee (PAC) of the greater Northern California met with Philippine Consul General Henry S. Bensurto Jr. and his staff at the San Francisco office on May 11 to discuss and advocate for Hotels in the Philippines to have in their establishment a life saving device known as a "Defibrillator". Defibrillation is a treatment for life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmias, specifically ventricular fibrillation (VF) and non-perfusing ventricular tachycardia (VT). A defibrillator delivers a dose of electric current (often called a countershock) to the heart. In attendance for FFAC was former Union Vice Mayor Jim Navarro, Atty. Ben Reyes, Atty. Cesar Fumar, Evelyn Centeno and Rose Pavone.

Each year, many Filipinos die from sudden cardiac arrest during their stay at the Philippine hotels because the device was not available during the cardiac event that could otherwise have saved their lives.

The key to survival is timely initiation of a "chain of survival", including CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Because of recent technological advances, a portable lifesaving device, called an "automated external defibrillator" or "AED" has recently become an important medical tool. Trained non-medical personnel can use these simplified electronic machines to treat a person in cardiac arrest. The AED device guides the user through the process by audible or visual prompts without requiring any discretion or judgment.

FFAC will work closely with the Consulate General Office (CGO), the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Health (DOH) to bring this very important issue to the forefront and advocate to become a law that having an AED will be a standard of operation (SOP) in all the hotel industries in the Philippines.

A Notario or Immigration Consultant is not an Attorney

Question: I found a person who called himself a ‘notario’ and said he would do the work I needed for ½ the cost of an attorney. He also said I did not need a Waiver. Should I hire him?


Answer:  Your immigration situation and your immigration case is critcally important. Is it worth to save some money to hire somebody who is not even a lawyer? A notario, or notary public, is not a lawyer and cannot practice law in the United States. Confusion about what a notary public can do in the US is common for many immigrants, however, because in some other countries, notaries can act as attorneys. An Immigration Consultant similarly is not an attorney.

Many notary publics take advantage of immigrants, leading them to believe that a notary can advise them on the law. Do not hire a notary to handle your immigration matter -- for that you need a lawyer. 

Generally, it is not a good idea to hire a notario or immigration consultant. Even well meaning notarios or Immigration Consultants can seriously harm your immigration case. If the notario doesn't have sufficient knowledge about immigration law, he or she may file documents incorrectly and permanently harm your case. Some notarios may take your money without ever even intending to file your paperwork. If you receive incompetent immigration help, your application may be delayed, you may incur unnecessary fees, and you could even face removal proceedings. If you've been the victim of immigration fraud, visit the American Bar Association's resources for victims of notario fraud for information about where to get help. 


The Immigration Consultant and/or Notario are not licensed by any governmental organization as are attorneys. Similarly, attorneys have passed the Bar and are licensed by the State to give legal advice and to best help your case. Can you imagine if you are directed by a legal consultant or notario to leave the U.S. for Consulate Processing and find out it is denied as you needed a Waiver and are barred for years from coming into the U.S.? These type of gross errors would most likely not occur with a seasoned immigration attorney.


Question: Well, who legally can represent me?


Answer: While immigrants aren't required to be represented, immigration law can be very complicated so it's a good idea to obtain competent legal advice before submitting any paperwork to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But who should you consult with? There are two main categories of professionals that can legally help with your immigration case: Attorneys who are licensed to practice law in your state, and
Accredited representatives of organizations recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Neither of these categories would be a Notario or Legal Consultant.

In other words, make certain that you properly have done your research when you are hiring somebody to help you with your immigration and make sure he or she is a qualified attorney.

Facts about coconut water

Facts about coconut water

Coconut water (buko juice) is a popular drink in Asia and South America. The top ten countries on the list of world-leading coconut producers according to volume are: Indonesia, Philippines, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. The Philippines export more than $1 billion worth of coconuts to the United States alone.

What actually is coconut water?

Coconut water is the clear liquid inside coconuts which, in early development, “serves as a suspension for the endosperm of the coconut during its nuclear phase” of growth. The endosperm matures into “cellular phase and deposits into the rink of the coconut meat.” The coconut water and the soft meat of young coconut is a delicacy, popular among locals and tourists in those tropical countries and others where coconuts thrive. They are sold fresh on the street by vendors with machetes who cut a hole at the top for drinking, with or without a straw. They are also available bottled, soft-packed, and canned, usually consumed chilled.

What are the other coconut products?

Besides its water and meat, other coconuts products include copra, coconut oil and coconut milk (gata) for cooking and for cosmetics, palm sugar, flower syrup, butter, desiccated coconut, powdered sugar, jelly, cream, kefir (probiotic), flour, vinegar, nata de coco fruit jelly, etc. Indeed, coconut is a versatile fruit, nut, and seed, all in one.

Can it reverse Alzheimer’s?

The popular claim that coconut oil products can reverse Alzheimer’s disease is baseless and unfounded. There is no scientific evidence to this effect. The same is true with the other medicinal claims for other illnesses, like depression, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, allergies, As a matter of fact, there is a controversy that coconut oil and products can be detrimental to the consumer’s blood cholesterol/lipids levels and cardiovascular health, if consumed regularly. Fresh uncontaminated coconut water is deemed acceptable and safe. Scientifically, the use of coconut oil for hair, skin, and lips, as conditioner-moisturizer has been proven to be of good cosmetic value.

What are the nutritional values of coconut water?

Coconut water is 95 percent water and 100 ml provides only 19 calories, 4 percent carbohydrates, under 1 percent protein and fat. It does not contain any vitamin or dietary minerals of any significant value. Unless contaminated by a handler, fresh coconut water is sterile, free of microbes.

While this has been marketed as “natural energy drink or sport drink,” claiming it has significant electrolyte content, this is not true. The potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium in unprocessed coconut water per 100 ml are insignificant and not balanced. The health benefit claims, that it is antiviral, that it lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar, are false, and the US Food and Drug Administration has warned producers against misleading marketing.

Various firms have faced class action lawsuits over false advertisements that coconut water was “super-hydrating,” nutrient-packed,” and “mega-electrolyte” source. The suit was settled with a US$10 Million award in April 2012.

Was coconut water used as IV fluids?

During World War II, coconut water was used as intravenous fluids for rehydration when medical fluids was not available during emergencies. It is actually not similar in composition as our plasma. Intravenous coconut water is not accepted as within safe standard of care today and must not be performed at all as it would be malpractice. Drinking it occasionally is the safer way to take coconut water.

Is excessive consumption safe?

No, drinking a large amount of coconut water is unsafe. As a matter of fact, coconut water is used in southern districts of Tamil Nadu, India, for senicide of the elderly, a traditional accepted practice performed by family members called thalaikoothal, an involuntary euthanasia for those incapacitated and seriously ill, where “the elderly is made to drink an excessive amount of coconut water, eventually resulting in fever and death.” Besides pulmonary (excess water in the lungs, as in drowning) due to fluid overload, the exact mechanism causing the demise is not clear.

Are coconut food products healthy for us?

Olive oil is preferred over coconut oil for cooking and overall use. The virgin variety of each is considered better than their regular form. While olive oil is universally recommended as a healthy oil, there is a lot of controversy about coconut oil because of its high saturated fat content (albeit from non-meat source). The use of virgin coconut oil in cosmetics (skin moisturizer and hair conditioner-shiner, lip balms, etc.) has been proven beneficial, but not as a food or as a cooking ingredient for DAILY consumption. Advocates, including some physicians, think differently. While the controversy lingers, occasional indulgences and in moderation are safe. For many, the great unique appetizing taste of coconut milk (gata) in main courses (red meat/chicken/vegetables) and in desserts is hard to resist. I confess, I am one of them.

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Permanent Residence Still Possible After Petitioner’s Death

By Attorneys Devin Connolly & Nancy E. Miller

The death of a close family member is obviously a very difficult time in a person’s life. This is even more true when the death results in both the loss of a beloved family member and the loss of the potential to become a permanent resident status in the U.S. (Green card).  Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), an approved visa petition is automatically revoked when the petitioner dies before the beneficiary is issued a green card.  The law is harsh but not absolute.  A person may still be able to get their green card despite the petitioner’s death. 

Section 204(l) of the INA allows people to still be granted their green cards if they are able to demonstrate that they meet certain eligibility criteria as stated in the INA.  In order to qualify under Section 204(l) of the INA, the immigrant beneficiary must have resided in the United States at the time of the petitioner’s death and must continue to reside in the U.S.  Prior to this important change, only certain widows and widowers who were petitioned by their U.S. citizen spouse were granted the opportunity to obtain permanent resident status after the death of the petitioner.  

The first issue that must be resolved surrounds the definition of “residence.”  As stated above, the beneficiary of the visa petition must actually reside in the U.S. at the time of their family member’s death.  They will not be eligible under INA 204(l) simply by being physically present in the U.S. on the exact day that their relative passed away.  Rather, it is required that they maintained a residence in the U.S. at the time of the petitioner’s death.  However, it is not required that they were physically present in the U.S. on the date of death.  Thus, an immigrant beneficiary may still be eligible for adjustment of status if they were actually abroad when the petitioner died, so long as they can establish that they were actually residing in the U.S. at the time of the petitioner’s death.  It is also important to note that the law does not require that they have lawful status in the U.S. at the time of death.  

There are also other requirements that must be established in addition to residence.  These including demonstrating that the beneficiary deserves a favorable exercise of discretion and that they have an acceptable substitute sponsor.  Finally, Section 204(l) of the INA may also provide immigration benefits for more people than just the beneficiary named on the petition.  It may also allow the named beneficiary’s spouse and children to be granted permanent resident status. 

In some instances, the deceased family member was also the only or primary qualifying relative for a needed waiver of a ground of inadmissibility.  Section 204(l) allows the beneficiary to continue to pursue the waiver with the deceased family member as the qualifying relative. 

Section 204(l) of the INA is clearly greatly beneficial to many people.  Unfortunately, though, not everyone qualifies.  For those beneficiaries who are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status under INA 204(l), they still have the opportunity to apply for “Humanitarian Reinstatement.”  

As stated earlier, the underlying petition is automatically revoked upon the death of the petitioner.  However, “Humanitarian Reinstatement” provides hope for those family members living abroad that waited patiently for their immigrant visa petition to become current.  A request for “Humanitarian Reinstatement” is a request that the petition be reinstated on humanitarian grounds.  If the request is granted, the beneficiary, and potentially his or her spouse and children, will be permitted to continue with the Immigrant Visa process and reunite with their remaining family members in the United States.  

The United States Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual provides a list of factors the USCIS should consider in evaluating requests for reinstatements.  These factors include, but are not limited to, whether there will be a disruption of an established family unit; any potential hardship to U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residents; if the beneficiary is elderly, has strong family ties to the U.S., or is in poor health with no home to go to, and whether there was an undue delay in the processing of the petition. 

The death of a loved one can devastate a family.  And, for some prospective immigrants, the death may also threaten to further tear apart the family unit.  But it is important to remember that immigrating to the U.S. may still be possible despite the death of your close family member.  Anyone who has lost a petitioning family member prior to obtaining their green card should consult a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney to find out whether they can still obtain lawful permanent residence.


His worst crisis yet

He has only been president for four months, yet there is already talk of Donald Trump facing impeachment proceedings. And with good reason.
If – and this is a big if – dismissed FBI Director James Comey is telling the truth regarding the details of his meeting at the White House with President Trump prior to his being axed, then an impeachable offense was indeed committed by Mr. Trump.
There may or may not be a recording of that conversation. The president says there is, and if so then this must be the one piece of evidence that will determine the fate of the POTUS. It will not be a case of he said, he said. And yes, the similarity to Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal that forced him to resign from the presidency is not lost on us.
Some of the facts are crystal clear. During a meeting at the White House, President Trump asked the vice president and the head of the CIA who were both present to leave the room, leaving only Messrs. Trump and Comey to talk. What was discussed between the two men is the issue behind the brewing crisis, one that will determine if impeachment proceedings against the president will proceed or not.
If anything, Comey has been more consistent in his claims, unlike Mr. Trump who has contradicted his own statements on a number of occasions.
If there is no recording of the conversation as Mr. Trump had implied, then this is when it boils down to he said, he said.
In calling Comey “a nut job” and “crazy”, one can’t help but think that the president is actually afraid of the former FBI chief, who may have been getting too close to the truth behind Mr. Trump’s Russia connections for comfort. That Comey was in the middle of investigating those alleged Russia links made his dismissal all the more suspicious.
Earlier, Mr. Trump had referred to Comey as a “showboat” and a “grandstander.” This, after the then FBI chief had apparently refused to pledge his loyalty to the president.
This is where President Trump fails. He feels that anyone who does not figuratively bow before him must be an enemy, one who is to be destroyed. He still refuses to accept the fact that the only persons whose loyalty he can demand are the officials of the Republican Party. Even then, and as the saying goes, their loyalty to the party and president ends where their loyalty to the country begins.
Government officials, whether from the judiciary or the legislature, must only pledge their loyalty to the country, the flag, the Constitution, and the people of the United States.
The president is out of the country on official business this week, but when he returns he can expect to be flooded with questions that he cannot easily ignore nor brush aside. He will have to face the nation and come clean about everything he knows regarding the Russia ties of his closest associates, relatives included.
He may refuse to recognize it, but President Donald Trump is now in the midst of his worst crisis yet, and it is one that he may not survive unscathed.

Duterte’s fatal attraction

Offhand, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with President Rodrigo Duterte going to Russia in order, he says, to correct the country’s “overdependence on traditional partners.”
Presumably the Philippines’ chief executive expects to receive the same kind of “friendly” aid that China has committed to the country, specifically billions of dollars in soft loans and outright grants, plus thousands of free firearms for the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Philippine National Police.
So off he goes this week to the Kremlin to presumably meet President Vladimir Putin, whom Duterte now calls “my friend” and whom he had previously expressed high admiration for.
By his words and by his actions, Mr. Duterte is hell bent on pivoting the country’s economic, social, and political ties to the two former communist superpowers at the expense of more traditional allies such as the US and Japan.
This may be his prerogative but for one thing. All surveys show that the majority of Filipinos still prefer to side with the US and still have a strong distrust for China. 
And why shouldn’t they? China continues to encroach on Philippine territory and very recently threatened to wage war on the country – you know, it’s the one that Mr. Duterte is supposed to protect with his life -- if it tries to occupy any of the islets the Asian power claims to be theirs, but which are infinitely closer to the Philippine land mass than to China.
At least Russia hasn’t done anything that can even be remotely considered as a threat to the Philippines’ integrity.
Still, the question must be asked: Why Russia, of all countries?
There are no strong ties linking the Philippines and Russia, and the number of citizens of both states living and working in the other is minimal, at best, choosing Russia over such countries as Australia, New Zealand, and India, among others, must be considered as odd, to say the least.
By his own admission, Mr. Duterte admits that he is now addicted to the powerful drug Fentanyl, so this must be clouding his thinking. Maybe addicted is too strong a word, but what else can be said of his imbibing the drug on a daily basis, without which he says he cannot function normally?
                                                Russian “tools”
A story is told about the late Indonesian strongman Sukarno, who once paid a visit to the former USSR (the former superpower centered around Mother Russia). In order to assure that the Indon leader would always toe the communist Russian line, he was gifted with a prostitute or two while there.
Russia’s use of sex as a tool to keep both its friends and enemies in check is widely known. So after his visit, Sukarno was reportedly informed that there were highly incriminating photos of him in the act. The veiled threat was that the photos would become public if he ever did anything that Russia disapproved of.
They did not realize that Bong Sukarno was a man made of sterner stuff. He called the Russian dare, even offering to show the photos over Indonesian television. The Russkies backed off, of course.
More recently, a stunning  Russian spy was uncovered while working for their embassy in the US. The pretty woman did not deny that she was working for Russian intelligence, and had bedded some powerful US politicians.
When she was forced to go back home, she received a heroine’s welcome. Presumably, she is still working for Russian intelligence, but no longer as a spy.
At the very least, Mr. Duterte should be wary of the “gifts” he will receive while paying a visit to Mr. Putin, who he must be reminded was once head of the dreaded KGB. 
The Philippine president is most welcome to receive aid, grants, weapons and whatever else Russia offers the country, but he must make sure that his admitted weakness for the ladies does not put him in a most precarious situation.
Incidentally, rumors were rife some months ago that US President Donald Trump is so enamored with Russia for the wrong reason. In a visit to the Kremlin not too long ago, he was reportedly given the same gift or tool that Russia likes to offer foreign leaders.
The rumor mill says that he and his host/hosts engaged in some bedroom games involving golden showers.
I don’t want to believe that this POTUS has ever done anything that smacks of perversion, but who knows? He remains attracted to Putin and Russia and only he can say why. But just to be on the safe side, maybe he should warn his Philippine counterpart?
Mr.Duterte’s attraction to China and Russia may just turn fatal for him one of these days.

Drunk motorist thought to have died after falling asleep in SUV

MANILA -- Barangay watchmen Ermita, Manila thought a Chinese motorist died inside his car after he fell asleep and caused traffic congestion on San Marcelino Street.
According to a report by Mav Gonzales on "24 Oras" on Wednesday, May 24, the Chinese man was supposedly drunk and that he fell asleep.
"Nakita ko 'yung tao talagang... di ko alam kung wala ng pulso o ano... dahil nashock din ako, ayaw ng gumalaw eh. Hindi ko nga makausap eh dahil di namin magising eh, parang di gumagalaw eh. Amoy alak siya," said barangay ex-O Sonny Rapada.
The report said the barangay officials had called for police to respond to the incident as it already caused traffic in the area.
The report added that when the driver woke up, he seemed to be clueless of what happened.
When the cops came, they approached the man, asked for his license and told him about his violation.
The cops also assisted the Chinese national in going home.
Meanwhile, officials advised the public not to drive if they are under the influence of alcohol.
"Kung nakainom, dapat di na magmamaneho para di na maabutan 'yung disgrasya," Rapada said. — GMA News
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