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Whang-od's family urges public: 'Stop the negativity'

MANILA – The family of Filipino traditional tattoo artist Whang-od called on the public to "stop the negativity" after the organizers of Manila FAME suffered a backlash for bringing the artist to the trade fair in Manila.
In an interview with Rappler, Grace Palicas, the grandniece of Whang-od who did tattooing with the artist during the fair, said the family was surprised by the backlash. (READ: VIRAL: Was Whang-od exploited at Manila FAME?)
Palicas said that Whang-od herself requested to do as much tattooing as she could during the fair since "she's already in Manila."
"Gusto niya talaga na siya. Ang masasabi ko lang, sana nandoon sila sa event para alam nila. Hindi tayo sana mapanghusga. Sabi nga ni Bob Marley, stop the negativity," Palicas said, paraphrasing the famous line in the late singer's "Positive Vibration" song.
(She really wanted to do it. All I can say is that, I hope they were at the event so they know [what happened]. I hope we won't be judgmental. As Bob Marley said, stop the negativity.)
Palicas refuted claims that Whang-od did all "300 tattoos from 10 am to 5 pm for two days," which sparked concerns that the elderly artist was "overworked."
"As much as possible, she wanted to ink as many people with tattoo. She put tattoos to around 120 people. I know this because I was the one who takes note of the numbers," Palicas said in a mix of English and Filipino.
The rest were made by Palicas and another family member, Elyang.

Many netizens had slammed the fair organizers for "exploiting" and "overworking" Whang-od, who claimed she turned 100 years old in February.
According to Palicas, Whang-od did not work for 8 hours straight during her two-day stay at the fair. Tattoo sessions only went on for about 4 hours with breaks per day, she said. READ: Whang-od at Manila FAME: Marginal notes on a damaged culture)
Asked about the viral photo where the artist was "napping" during the press conference, Palicas explained that Whang-od got bored of the questions and also closed her eyes because the flash from the cameras hurt her eyes.
"Naboboring kasi siya sa mga tanong tapos 'yung mga camera, masyadong maliwanag pero sinabihan ni Nerza (del Rosario) 'yung mga cameraman na 'wag na magflash," Palicas said, defending the Manila FAME team.
(She got bored with the questions and the flash coming from the cameras hurt her eyes, that's why Nerza del Rosario told the photographers and cameramen to stop using flash.)
Del Rosario is part of the Manila FAME team.
Many also likened the live tattoo sessions during the trade fair to the 1904 Philippine Exposition at St Louis World's Fair featuring indigenous people as living exhibits.
Jayvee Franz Paclay Sabawil, a relative of the artists, echoed the same sentiments. He said the tattoo sessions should have been held in a private room.
In defense of the event, Palicas said it was only during the opening ceremony on Friday, October 21 – from 9 am to 10 am – that the tattoo sessions were done in the middle of the hall. The rest of the sessions were done in a private room.

'She's really happy'
As seen on photos, her family members described Whang-od's first visit to Manila as nothing but happy.
"Nag-iistorya siya sa Manila na, 'Ah, ganoon pala 'yung mga buildings at mga tao.' Pero wala siyang sinabing sana hindi siya tumuloy. Masaya siya at tumatawa nga. Nagjo-joke kami na, 'Sikat na si Whang-od!' She's really happy," Eva Oggay, the tattoo artist's niece, told Rappler.
(She said in her stories about Manilla, "Ah, so that's hwo their buildings and people are." But she never told us she shouldn't have pushed through [with the trip]. She's happy and she was laughing. We sometimes joke that "Whang-od is already famous!" She's really happy.)
"Tapos kung tatanong namin kung pagod, kami pa ang papagalitan. 'Kain kayo ng kain! Ako magta-tattoo,' sabi niya, (When we ask if she's tired, she would even scold us, "All you do is eat! I will do tattoos)" Oggay added.
Oggay also noted that a medical team was on standby to look after the artist. The trip to and from Manila was also short and sweet, she said.
"Wala talaga siyang reklamo (She has no complaints)," said Oggay.
In 2015, a campaign calling for the recognition of Whang-od as National Artist went viral. Indigenous art forms, however, are under the "Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA)" or the National Living Treasures Award.
The organizers of the Manila FAME explained that they brought the artist to Manila to endorse her nomination for the award.
Whang-od's nomination to the GAMABA Award was officially accepted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) during the second day of the Manila FAME on October 21. –


PH has most ISIS-claimed attacks outside Iraq, Syria – report

MANILA – The Philippines has the most attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) outside their stronghold in Iraq and Syria, data gathered by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) showed.
The global think tank tallied in its "Considering Claimed Attacks: Islamic State's Hidden Narrative" report that of 222 ISIS-claimed terror attacks around the globe in the last 5 months, 99 occurred in the Philippines.
TRAC counted from May 20 to September 22, 2017. The Philippines is trailed by Afghanistan (43 claims), and Egypt (33 claims) in the list of 21 countries attacked by ISIS.
All the Philippine attacks claimed by the international terror group happened in Mindanao, save for one – the Resorts World Manila shooting.
Of the terror attacks in southern Philippines, 70 happened in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, where a 5-month war against homegrown terrorists had just been won by government forces.
The report noted that the Philippines saw a sharp increase through the years in ISIS-claimed attacks: ISIS did not claim any attacks in the same period in 2015, and claimed only 6 in 2016.
Most of the assaults claimed by ISIS, the report noted, are encounters in the Marawi battle area which varied from sniping a soldier to initiating a jailbreak.
"Claims in Philippines alone took the Islamic State brand to a new level of perceived global capabilities and effectiveness," the report read.
The study pointed out that since the ISIS has begun retreating in Mosul and Raqqa in Iraq and Syria, respectively, Marawi has become a "beacon and option for [ISIS] supporters globally."

ISIS-inspired, PH-executed
The Marawi siege, the report said, was a product of effective ISIS globalization and the proactivity of local terrorist groups.
“For the siege of Marawi, [ISIS] central provided some fighters and funding as well as instruction via tactics of urban warfare. But all strategies and operations came from native Filipinos and Malaysians based in the South Philippines,” the report read.
The siege was organized by the Maute group, a terror group in Mindanao. (READ: Terror in Mindanao: The Mautes of Marawi)
The report said that ISIS influence still can't be underestimated.
While local terror groups such as the Maute group can prove themselves capable of pulling a siege, they won't be as effective as they were in the war without the aid of ISIS, the report said.
It is through ISIS that the Maute group learned how to weaponize social media, such as spreading propaganda videos on Facebook and communicating through encrypted channels like Telegram.
"Therefore, Marawi was at once a testament to the power of the ISIS global communications network in its own right, and at the same time, a prime example of ISIS dependence on local groups and conditions," the report reads.
With the symbiosis pointed out, TRAC said the success of ISIS, and consequently, the number of attacks claimed, in the archipelagic country will depend on its fragmented local population.
"The future of the ISIS brand in the Philippines depends largely on the locals – the interests and aspirations of both the Muslim public and entrenched power brokers, such as autonomous [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] commanders," it added. –


Trillanes’ US visit has nothing to do with Trump missing East Asia Summit —Paynor

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's meeting with senior United States government officials is not the reason behind US President Donald Trump's decision to skip the East Asia Summit, one of the high-profile meetings to be held in November in the Philippines, a Philippine official said Wednesday.
Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr., director general for operations of the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council, said the cancellation of Trump's attendance to the East Asia Summit is a scheduling issue.
"The reason is he (Trump) would have been out of the US for too long, because hindi lang naman ito 'yung pinuntahan niya," Paynor said at a news forum.
Trump will be in the Philippines on November 12-13. The East Asia Summit is slated for the 14th.
"Everybody understands that when a leader cannot come, it's not that he doesn't want to," Paynor said.
He dismissed suggestions that Trillanes' recent US visit had something to do with the cancellation. He said the visit of Trillanes, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, to the US is a "non-issue."
"Kung maniwala mga tao, that's their problem. These things are discussed on a higher level," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue," Paynor said, referring to Trillanes' US trip. "Anybody can claim that. I can claim I talked to the White House and I told Trump 'Do not come here.' Will you pick it up just because I said it?"
Trillanes himself has said that his talks with US officials, particularly US Senator Marco Rubio, were not to dissuade Trump from going to the Philippines for the ASEAN Summit. They were, he claimed, a bid to strengthen US-Philippine ties.
Paynor added that when the US government requested a change in the schedule of the East Asia Summit, the date had already been set, and making any change to it would mean consulting 16 other leaders who would participate in the meeting.
The meeting would push through, Paynor said, with the US government sending a representative in place of Trump. He said it is likely that the representative would be either the US Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Secretary of State.
Trump, however, will be attending the ASEAN Summit meeting, Paynor said.
For his part, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano said there is nothing wrong with Trump's missing the meeting because his mere attendance to the main ASEAN Summit events is already a "very, very strong message of friendship."
The East Asia Summit is composed of the ten ASEAN countries, along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US.
Duterte and Trump have also "agreed in principle" to meet for a bilateral talk on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit, though details are at the moment scarce, said Paynor. –GMA News


U.S. embassy closed on Undas

InterAksyon file photo of the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard, Manila.
MANILA, Philippines — The United States embassy and its affiliated offices will be closed on Tuesday, October 31, and Wednesday, November 1, for the All Saints Day holidays.

It will be open on Monday, October 20, and resume normal operation on November 2, Thursday.


New Army battalion to go after Northern Mindanao Reds

Show of force by NPA guerrillas in Bukidnon. Photographed by Erwin M. Mascariñas, News5-InterAksyon
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — With prospects of resumed peace talks between communist rebels and the government still up in the air the military in Northern Mindanao beefed up its forces, organizing a new battalion to counter the threat posed by the New People’s Army, especially in Bukidnon province.

Captain Joe Patrick Martinez, spokesman of the 4th Infantry Division said the 88th Infantry Battalion based in South Poblacion, Maramag, Bukidnon is a mix of 450 new recruits and battle-hardened soldiers from other divisions, as well as fresh graduates of the 4ID.

Bukidnon is considered one of the hotbeds of the NPA in Northern Mindanao. Recently, a number of companies based there were attacked by the rebels who burned equipment and facilities and seized firearms from security guards.

4ID commander Major General Ronald Villanueva said the newly-activated battalion’s tasks and mission are aligned with the military’s counterinsurgency campaign, Oplan “Kapayapaan.”


‘Kung pwede lang umatras’ –Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday denied that he wanted to perpetuate himself in power even after he said he would declare a revolutionary government amid supposed efforts to destabilize his administration.
Duterte at a speech during the Federalism Summit and PDP-Laban Oath-Taking in Camarines Sur said that he was not interested in staying in power beyond his term.
“I do not intend to perpetuate myself. I will not shame my family and all for any ambition in this world,” Duterte said.
“Sinasabi nila na mag-revolutionary government ako dahil gusto kong tumagal, anak ng—kung maari lang, kung pwede umatras lang eh, nakakahiya lang,” he added.
Duterte also implied that he would declare a revolutionary government so he could declare government posts vacant.
“Revolutionary government kasi gusto ko tanggalin na ‘yan, wala nang ano, ‘Ikaw, ikaw, ikaw. Alis diyan.’ ‘Ikaw, ikaw, ikaw. Alis.’ ‘Ikaw, judge. Alis ka.’ ‘Ikaw, Ombudsman, umalis ka na.’ ‘Ikaw, Justice, umalis ka na.’ Palitan ko na kayo ng taga-Bicol na magaganda,” he said.
Duterte repeated that he was not happy being president because of his age, the sheer volume of work, and the pressure that went with the post.
Duterte on Friday threatened to declare a revolutionary government in case destabilization moves by his critics, particularly the Left, continue and start slipping into chaos.
He said he would not declare martial law because it would require him to report to Congress.
"'Pag ang destablization ninyo patagilid na at medyo magulo na, I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term," he said in a report on state-run PTV News on Friday.
"I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full-scale war against the Reds," Duterte added.
He said he will declare the revolutionary government if he thinks his critics are "about to take over the nation" and install a new government. —NB, GMA News


Duterte touts donated rifles from China: ‘Yun ang nakakuha sa dalawa

President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday touted the rifle donations of China, saying these were instrumental in the operations of security forces.
“China, dalawang beses na naglipad dito para sa… And ‘yung sniper [rifle] nila was of great help. ‘Yung mahaba nila na sniper [rifle]. ‘Yun ang nakakuha kay ano—‘yung dalawa ng madaling araw,” Duterte said, who was berating the New People’s Army while boasting of an upcoming Kalashnikov rifle donation from Russia when he made the remark.
“‘Yun ang nakakuha, it’s about a distance of about one kilometer. Isang kilometro ‘yun eh. Eh walang hangin pagka umaga. ‘Yun ang nagamit natin,” he added.
Duterte's remarks come a day after terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon were killed by government troops in Marawi City on Monday. Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Eduardo Año on Monday said that a sniper's shot to the head finished off Maute, while Hapilon was killed by gunshots to the chest.
China in June donated P370 million worth of arms and ammunition, including units of the TY-85 7.62 mm sniper rifle, CS/LR4A high precision rifle, and CQ-A5 5.56 automatic rifle.
Philippine National Police Senior Superintendent Rolando Anduyan said cops assigned in Marawi were using at least 210 M-4 type 5.56 rifles and one Dragunuv sniper rifle from China. —GMA


Robredo stresses importance of human rights,

Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo on Tuesday underscored the importance of human rights, and hoped that the country's current situation would not negatively affect its trading relations with the European Union.
"I am aware that human rights is currently a contentious issue in our country. I never thought I would see the day when such a universally accepted...concept can be painted as undesirable and wrong," she said before European businessmen in a speech at the EU-Philippines Business Summit in Parañaque City.
Just last Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened diplomats of the European Union to leave the Philippines within 24 hours, after a delegation of the Progressive Alliance and party of European Socialists warned that the Philippines' Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) may be affected should killings in the country persist.
The EU later clarified that the delegation was not an official EU mission.
The GSP+, currently under review by the EU, grants the Philippines zero duties on some 6,274 locally made products.
The agreement between the two parties requires the Philippine ratification of 27 international conventions which cater to human and labor rights, environmental protection, and good governance, among others.
"Every day, I worry about how this will affect our young ones and our future generations, but I hope that this will not extensively strain relations between my country and the European Union," Robredo said, adding that the Philippines values the EU's friendship and support beyond economics, trade and aid. — GMA News

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