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Philippine Environmental Heroes for 2011 - Inside Science

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EarthSavers Movement founding chair, and now Climate Change Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez, announced the eight recipients of this year's Fr. Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism. The Award, given annually for a decade now in observance of International Earth Day, is co-organized by the EarthSavers UNESCO DREAM Center, the United Nations National Commission (UNACOM), the Philippine Center of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) headed by Secretary Ramon Paje, with the blessings of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales.

 

Alvarez said Dr. Gerry Ortega is being posthumously honored as an environmental leader and media practitioner promoting climate balance and sustainable development, particularly his opposition to destructive mining activities in the Province of Palawan.

 

"The Award is also being posthumously bestowed upon Dr. Leonard Co for his significant contributions to Philippine botany and his lifetime dedication to plant biodiversity conservation in the Philippines," said Alvarez, a former senator and environment secretary.

 

Joining Dr. Ortega and Dr. Co as this year's Fr. Neri Satur Awardees are Fr. Pete Montallana OFM, chairman of the Save Sierra Madre Network in recognition of his group's efforts to protect and preserve the remaining forests in the country particularly one of our major carbon sinks (forests absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen), the Sierra Madre forest range while Albay Gov. Joey Salceda was honored for his pioneering leadership in climate adaptation in local government in his province.

 

The Award was also bestowed upon the PLDT-Smart Foundation Inc. for being a leader in eco-education through community service projects such as "Doon Po Sa Amin" which encouraged the use of computer and internet technologies, while The Manila Times was recognized for its continued effort in environmental education through media, especially on the global issue of climate change.

 

Negros-based Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation Inc. was awarded for its efforts to promote and adopt renewable technologies through its project "Hydraulic Ram Pump" in providing the basic needs for water, sanitation and energy in rural communities. Ram pumps convey water from streams and brooks to higher elevations without any power or moving parts, simply by using basic principles of hydraulics.

 

Finally, the Climate Institute of Washington D.C. was recognized as a global leader in promoting climate balance and international awareness of climate change through several international media including symposia and conferences, which provide decision-makers with adequate information that help shape global action on climate change. 


The Climate Institute is headed by John Topping Jr, a longtime friend of the Philippine climate community. Topping is a Yale and Dartmouth alumnus, receiving the first Martin Luther King award from Dartmouth. He was formerly the Staff Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office of air and radiation under the Reagan administration. Another key member of the Climate Institute is Dr. Mike McCracken, formerly executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and connected with Lawrence Livermore and UC-Davis. Both Topping and McCracken are co-editors of the book Sudden and Disruptive Climate Change (UK: Earthscan, 2008).


One of their programs in the Philippines is an innovative black soot reduction program involving a modification of jeepney diesel engines financed by private carbon credit mechanisms (outside of the Kyoto Protocol). A description of this project done by an Australian company locally can be read in this YaleGlobal article by Topping.

 

The Fr. Neri Satur Award, named in honor of the late priest-environmentalist and deputized forest ranger who lost his life in the hands of illegal loggers in the forests of Bukidnon in 1991, is given to individuals, groups or entities from different sectors in recognition of their exceptional contribution to protect our environment. The award trophy, depicting Fr. Satur embracing a tree, was a masterpiece rendered by National Artist for Sculpture Abdulmari Imao.

 

Other past awardees include Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Francisco Claver, Bishop Jose Manguiran, Bishop Ramon Villena, Fr. James B. Reuter, Fr. Ben Beltran, Sr. Aida Velasquez; eco-media writers Jerry Esplanada of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Katherine Andraneda of the Philippine Star; eco-friendly businesses like UNILEVER, SM Malls, MAP, GTZ; eco-entertainers-artists Francis Magalona, Kim Atienza, Richard Gutierrez; eco-advocates Architect Jun Palafox, Dr. Metodio Palaypay; science-educator Dr. Tomas Ongoco; and inventors Jun Catan and Ben Santos, among others.


Dennis Posadas is the author of Jump Start: A Technopreneurship Fable (Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009) and Rice & Chips: Technopreneurship and Innovation in Asia (Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007). A free audio excerpt of his latest ebook, Green Thinking: a business fable on clean energy, can be heard at http://greenthinkingfable.blogspot.com

 



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Author's Note: This article uses virtual reality technology to provide an immersive experience. Adobe Flash 10 or higher is required to view the 360-degree VRs. Average VR size is 1.8Mb each.

On Good Friday each year, in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, particularly in Brgy. San Pedro, Cutud, thousands of people flock to witness the world-renowned crucifixion that is re-enacted on a man-made hill.

Originated in 1955, the staging of "Via Crucis" (Way of the Cross), is the only Kapampangan piece on the Passion of Christ written by an amateur, Ricardo Navarro.

It was first performed during the Holy Week 57 years ago by volunteer artists of Brgy. San Pedro Cutud who, like the rest of the Filipinos during that period, had time on their hands because work or exertion on those days was taboo.

It was only in 1962 that the barangay first witnessed an actual crucifixion during the play. The Christ was portrayed by Artemio Anoza, a resident of nearby Apalit town and a quack doctor who dreamt that he would become a full-fledge religious leader. Wanting to realize this dream, he volunteered himself to be crucified as a sacrifice.

Since then, not a year passed without an actual crucifixion taking place during the re-enactment that has now been joined by many as a "panata" or vow of sacrifice.

In 1965, the role players and the penitents were invited to perform outside the barangay, this time in Betis, Guagua. The event caught national interest and subsequently became an international tourist attraction.

Through the years, Ricardo Navarro passed on the family tradition he began to his son, Rolando; and then to his grandson, Allan Navarro, who is the present director of the street play.

Contrary to the Catholic Church's teachings and the commercialization of the event, the fervor for the tradition stays, with the townsfolk sticking to their faith and spiritual practice, constantly remaining pure in their panata which continues to be a source of community solidarity and strength.

All VRs taken on April 22, 2011. Text obtained from the official leaflet. The author can be reached at: fung@firefly.ph

Is Earth Hour just hype? - Inside Science

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So here we go again. We are being asked to switch off our lights for one hour this March 26, Saturday at 830pm and participate in Earth Hour, so that the Philippines will end up in the news as being one of its most avid supporters worldwide. Suddenly, companies are now on the bandwagon - after all, it is a cheap way to appear "green" to the public.

Do I have anything against Earth Hour? No, not at all. In fact, I do try to join in and turn off my lights, and participate in this symbolic exercise.

What I'm against is the hype machine that surrounds it. To top it off, people shutoff their 12W light bulbs yet drive off to attend an Earth Hour concert - thus generating more carbon in the process.

One thing you have to realize is that even if a large number of us shutoff our lights, it doesn't necessarily mean that a coal plant also shuts down for an hour - thus cutting off the carbon emission for an hour. No it doesn't work that way. One hour is really too short to shut down and restart an electric plant.

In the quest towards a low carbon economy, symbolism is fine - at the start. But if that's all you do year in and year out, you are just contributing to fueling the hype machine. Go beyond that. Go for permanent change.

When March 26 this Saturday 830pm comes, do join in and shutoff your lights. But after that, figure out a way how to permanently replace that light with an energy conserving one, and figure out how to reduce your waste lighting permanently. If you still have fluorescent bulbs, replace these with CFL's or better yet LED lighting. Consider investing in air conditioners, heat exchangers and other appliances with better energy saving ratios.

Unfortunately, it is cheaper for companies to be Earth Hour sponsors than to actually make permanent changes to their operations to allow them to consume less electricity.

Want to make Earth Hour better? Figure out what you are doing this year that makes you use and generate less carbon from last year.

Is Earth Hour just hype? It really depends on how you observe it. Symbolism that leads to action is fine. Symbolism that remains just that is simply hype.

Dennis Posadas is the author of Jump Start: A Technopreneurship Fable (Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009). A sample of his new Green Thinking fable ebook on clean energy can be read at http://greenthinkingfable.blogspot.com 
The failure of the cooling system at one of Japan's aging nuclear plants (built during the 70's) particularly the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the recent earthquake illustrates some of the considerations when designing backup and failsafe systems. We want a system to be "fail safe" because there is a potential for harm or injury if the system does not perform as intended.


Typically, there are two schools of thought on systems failure. One is to determine the physics of failure of a system, and try to mathematically model it then design it in a way that makes it robust. This makes sense for single components, but becomes difficult if you are dealing with complex systems (e.g. airplanes, automobiles, nuclear reactors) that are built from many different components - often coming from different suppliers.


So a Boeing 747 may have an engine coming from GE, Pratt and Whitney or Rolls Royce, or a Toyota may have an airconditioning compressor coming from Sanden and tires from Bridgestone. In these cases, it would probably be almost impossible to model everything, so another school of thought is to design the system with enough engineering safety margins and redundancy to perform adequately to assumed worst case scenarios and to use statistics (e.g. Weibull and other distributions) to model failure rates and predict safety margins.


Test engineers often try to stress existing components before they put them into critical systems and try to verify that they will fail at a certain point, then tell the users to only use the component way below where it normally fails. So if a motor oil is designed to last for 15,000 km, you can assume that the test engineers have verified that many cars had been tested until the oil brokedown possibly at 20,000 km or greater, giving the guaranteed figure some margin of safety.


Aside from the safety and reliability factors built into systems by the design engineers, the operating engineers also try to make improvements even when the systems are already operational. These can include changes they make as the years go by, and new technologies are developed that are better or more reliable than older systems. Techniques that operating engineers can use include Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA). These are basically systematic discussion and mind mapping tools to allow engineers to share and discuss potential problems openly and propose changes. There is always a conflict between the engineers who wish to make safety changes, and management who often have to weigh the cost versus benefit of these changes. But it is always good to have your imaginative and creative thinking hats on when doing these activities.


For example, instead of having the need to manually push cooling rods on reactors when there is an emergency, some systems have them drop because of gravity. In the case of the Japanese reactors, motors and pumps had to be on to keep the water going. Another possible improvement is to have the coolant automatically drop by gravity because the valves open when power is lost. In this way, a system is designed to fail safely.


One important target that design and operational engineers need to spot is the danger of a single point failure. This is when you only have one component (e.g. a screw, a motor, a bearing, etc.) that can be the only thing separating you from safety and disaster. The obvious single point failures are easy to spot, the less obvious ones need to be worked on. If engineers know that a particular component could be a single point failure mechanism, they either build a redundant backup (e.g. an extra post on a building) or make the component more reliable (e.g. make the post stronger).


There are two approaches we often take when it comes to the reliability of components or systems. We speak of improving the component reliability rate (e.g. make microchips, jet engines, nuclear cooling systems, etc. more reliable) versus adding redundant (or backup) systems. Think of owning just one car that doesn't breakdown (or hardly breaks down) versus having two less reliable cars, but knowing that the likelihood that both will breakdown at the same time is unlikely. This was the consideration that Boeing engineers considered when they only put two engines on their 777 model, instead of four engines like in the 747. However, the individual engine reliability in the 777 is extremely high.


Things to remember: if you have two or more components operating in parallel (e.g. you have two cars, or two houses), the reliability of the combined system is greater than each component taken individually. So if you have two houses, and one falls down in an earthquake, you still have another house you can move into. Of course, redundancy is always expensive. Another thing to remember is if you have two or more components that are operating in series (e.g. to get to work you need to take the train and the airplane), the total reliability is less than each of the components. If one of the components fail, automatically the entire system fails because they are in series.


There are also what are called k out of n systems. For example, if the Titanic had hit the iceberg head on, only the front bulkhead would have been damaged. If it had eight bulkheads, and one was damaged, it could have reached port with 7 out of 8 bulkheads intact.


However, because the sailor on watch was looking at Leonardo de Caprio and Cate Winslet, the Titanic veered too late and the iceberg sliced through the side of the ship, damaging several bulkheads in the process.


When the disaster doesn't strike, it is often thought to be a statistically improbable scenario - until it happens. But if we begin to take all scenarios, even highly unlikely ones seriously, we will end up with very impractical and expensive systems.


Striking a balance - not compromising human health and safety, without ending up with a structurally engineered doghouse, is in everyone's interest.


Of course, if an unforeseen disaster strikes, and our favorite dog lies crushed in the rubble, we all wish we had spent the little extra time and money to make the system a little bit more safer and stronger.


Dennis Posadas is the author of Jump Start: A Technopreneurship Fable (Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009) whose latest ebook, Green Thinking fable (http://greenthinkingfable.blogspot.com) deals with clean energy. He was formerly at one time in his professional career, managing equipment system reliability in the semiconductor industry.

Virtually Yours, Rizal - Tales of the Nomad

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Author's Note: This article uses virtual reality technology to provide an immersive experience. Click the images to view the 360-degree VRs. Adobe Flash 10 or higher is required. Average VR size is 2.4Mb each.

The author joins the nation in celebration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal on June 19, 2011.


Rizal Shrine in Fort Santiago

The Rizal Shrine dedicated to the lifework of José Rizal is located on Santa Clara Street, Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila.

This is a fortified complex which houses the building the Philippines' national hero spent his last night and where his family later found concealed in an oil lamp, the famous poem Mi último adiós (My Last Farewell). The shrine is home to various memorabilia, books, manuscripts and artworks belonging to the prodigious and multifaceted Rizal.

The shrine is compose of 2 levels: the first level house the Opening to Memory mural where the trial and execution of Rizal was depicted; the Chamber of Text displays the hero's writings, manuscripts, and other memorabilia; and lastly, the model of the prison cell where Rizal was incarcerated from 3 November to 29 December 1896. The Reliquary Room on the 2nd level exhibits the things Rizal used while in Europe, at the center of the room, encased in a glass cylinder is a bullet, still lodged in a part of Rizal's bone from his execution in Luneta.

Rizal Shrine in Calamba

Along historic Calle Real, just a few steps away from the Old Calamba City Hall, now the City College of Calamba, and the parish church, is the shrine dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal. The shrine is a replica of the Spanish colonial style house where Rizal was born on June 19, 1861, to Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonzo. The house was typical of the residences of the Filipino gentry of Hispanic times, with its ground floor of lime and stone, its upper floor of the best hardwood, its roof of red tile.

Reconstructed in 1949, the Rizal shrine is now maintained by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the houses furniture and kitchenware of the colonial era, as well as Dr. Rizal's clothes, paintings, sculptures, other paraphernalia and laminated excerpts of his written works.

The house had a small stable for horses and storage for carriages on the ground floor, and a living and dining area and bedrooms on the upper floor. The family also had good-sized library where Rizal's first lessons took place.

In the garden is a bahay kubo (nipa hut) - a replica on the one where Rizal used to spend his days as a child and a statue of Rizal as a boy - an added attraction made by Dudley Diaz for the 1996 Centennial celebration. There is also a wishing well at the back of the house where visitors never missed to inspect simply because of the notion that it makes wishes come true.

Rizal Shrine in Dapitan

Rizal was implicated in the activities of the nascent rebellion and in July 1892 was deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga (in Mindanao). Aboard the steamer Cebu and under heavy guard, Rizal left Manila, sailing to Mindoro and Panay, until he reached Dapitan at seven o'clock in the evening of June 17. From that day until July 31, 1896, Dapitan bear witness to one of the most fruitful periods in Rizal's life. There he built a school, a hospital and a water supply system. He taught and engaged in farming and horticulture, as well a practice medicine and served the poor.

In a letter to his friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, on December 19, 1893, Rizal described his peaceful life in Dapitan:

"I shall tell you how we lived here. I have three houses-one square, another hexagonal, and the third octagonal. All these houses are made of bamboo, wood, and nipa. I live in the square house, together with my mother, my sister, Trinidad, and my nephew. In the octagonal house live some young boys who are my pupils. The hexagonal house is my barn where I keep my chickens."

Near the end of his exile he met and courted the stepdaughter of a patient, an Irishwoman named Josephine Bracken. He was unable to obtain an ecclesiastical marriage because he would not return to the religion of his youth and was not known to be clearly against revolution. He nonetheless considered Josephine to be his wife and the only person mentioned in the poem, Farewell, sweet stranger, my friend, my joy...

VRs taken from November 2008 to April 2009 with the assistance and support of National Historical Commission of the Philippines. Portions of text from wikipedia.org, wikipilipinas.org, joserizal.ph, & calambacity.gov.ph. The author can be reached at: fung@firefly.ph

By Efren N. Padilla

CALIFORNIA, United States--My recent visit to Subic Bay Freeport in December of 2010 reminded me of a verse from the Book of Matthew: "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them."

I was disappointed.

Subic didn't look like the vibrant and colorful place they showed in its official website or the place that my friend dubbed as Little America where drivers still obey the stop signs.

Instead, I saw a place wasting away--its harbor waterfront littered with rows and rows of used cars, its downtown boarded up with abandoned construction sites, its runway falling into disrepair, and its golf course overtaken by weeds.

How is it that a place that was once proudly dubbed as Little America and founded upon some of the best American planning designs has been shamelessly allowed to turn into what one Subic resident calls "a clandestine den of smugglers and profiteers" is incomprehensible to me.

What is the matter with us? Why can't we successfully develop our free ports like what other countries have done?

Why is it that we can't seem to get our act together even when opportunities are served to us on a silver platter? Why do we have a penchant for giving what is sacred to the dogs or throwing pearls to pigs?

Are our leaders inherently corrupt or are they simply too incompetent to be entrusted with the task of managing the general welfare? I must confess that I don't have an answer.

I am still looking for a clue on why we seem incapable to effect real change for the benefit of our people. However, I am entertaining the thought that my architect friend shared to me--that the impetus for real change may come from outside of our political system, not from within.

I think what he alludes to is the tendency of those whom we entrust with power to think within the box rather than outside the box. As we may have already known, thinking within the box is not only less challenging but also expedient to one's own short-term interest or political survival.

And so, if our political life seems familiar and "pa-weather-weather lang," then our citizens are warranted in their perception that indeed nothing will change for the better in our country, except for the lives of the few who are momentarily in position of power.

Is this the best we can offer our people?


Note: The author is an urban and regional planning consultant and a professor of urban sociology and urban planning at California State University, East Bay. He has written books on the American Urban Regional Experience and Perspectives on Urban Society. Email: efren.padilla@csueastbay.edu

Agence France-Presse

GENEVA--Scientists have found evidence of a "drastic" shift since the 1970s in north Atlantic Ocean currents that usually influence weather in the northern hemisphere, Swiss researchers said on Tuesday.

The team of biochemists and oceanographers from Switzerland, Canada and the United States detected changes in deep sea Atlantic corals that indicated the declining influence of the cold northern Labrador Current.

They said in the US National Academy of Science journal PNAS that the change "since the early 1970s is largely unique in the context of the last approximately 1,800 years," and raised the prospect of a direct link with global warming.

The Labrador Current interacts with the warmer Gulfstream from the south.

They in turn have a complex interaction with a climate pattern, the North Atlantic Oscillation, which has a dominant impact on weather in Europe and North America.

Scientists have pointed to a disruption or shifts in the oscillation as an explanation for moist or harsh winters in Europe, or severe summer droughts such as in Russia, in recent years.

One of the five scientists, Carsten Schubert, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Acquatic Sciences and Technology (EAWAG), underlined that for nearly 2,000 years the sub polar Labrador current off northern Canada and Newfoundland was the dominant force.

However that pattern appeared to have only been repeated occasionally in recent decades.

"Now the southern current has taken over, it's really a drastic change," Schubert told AFP, pointing to the evidence of the shift towards warmer water in the northwest Atlantic.

The research was based on nitrogen isotope signatures in 700 year old coral reefs on the ocean floor, which feed on sinking organic particles.

While water pushed by the Gulfstream is salty and rich in nutrients, the colder Arctic waters carried by the Labrador current contain fewer nutrients.

Changes could be dated because of the natural growth rings seen in corals.

"The researchers suspect there is a direct connection between the changes in oceanic currents in the North Atlantic and global warming caused by human activities," said EAWAG in a statement.
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Agence France-Presse

SAN FRANCISCO--Sony revealed on Monday that mobile phone game sensation "Angry Birds" is heading for the Japanese entertainment giant's PlayStation 3 consoles and PSP handheld videogame devices.

The addictive puzzle game in which players catapult birds to smash through structures protecting egg-stealing green pigs has rocketed to popularity since being released by Finland-based Rovio Mobile in late 2009.

"Angry Birds" will feature 63 levels, Sony said in a PlayStation blog message listing games set for release in the coming week.

Sony did not indicate the price it would charge for "Angry Birds."
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Digg founder launches tech newsletter - Tech Addicts

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Agence France-Presse 

SAN FRANCISCO--The founder of popular social news website Digg on Monday launched an email newsletter promising video interviews, product reviews, "rants" and early peeks at new Internet offerings.

Subscribers who pay $3.99 a month will be the first to receive "Foundation," crafted by Kevin Rose, Digg founder turned angel investor and host of video podcast "Diggnation," which is broadcast online by Revision 3.

"I plan on releasing rants, product reviews, rumors, and occasionally sending out early access to pre-launch websites," Rose said in an email message to followers of the "fforward" podcast.

Foundation videos will be available free at Revision3.com, iTunes, and at Rose's blog a month after subscribers receive ad-free versions in the newsletters, according to Rose.
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Expensive gift for one lady love - Rushes

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By the Inquirer Entertainment Staff

MANILA, Philippines--'Tis the season  of giving... expensive presents! Drama Actor asked Showbiz Insider to buy a Christmas gift for Lady Love.

SI was stunned when DA handed over a check for P150,000. DA wanted to surprise LL with a baby Birkin. Nothing fake or cheap for LL! After all, she's had to endure all sorts of nasty intrigues since hooking up with DA.

Walking ATM

Speaking of costly gifts:

Insiders are upset with Hunky Actor who, they allege, has been abusing the kindness and generosity of Controversial Celebrity.

CC apparently gave HA full access to a personal ATM card and the guy has been withdrawing like crazy of late.

CC's pals are livid, asking: "Why does HA, who has wealthy benefactors here and abroad, need to extort moolah from CC?"

Maybe HA wants to be a billionaire... really bad.

Blast from the past

Perplexing, this. According to Reliable Source, TV5 is thinking of teaming up new recruit Aga Muhlach with Willie Revillame, John Estrada and Richard Gomez in a sitcom reminiscent of the old ABS-CBN show, "Palibhasa Lalake."

Ah, boys will be boys. But isn't the concept a little too retro for comfort?

Undue influence

Supporters of Popular Star are worried that Famous Celebrity is pulling strings and that, as a result, the latter's film got the bigger share of the studio's attention in the marketing and promo department.

Not that PS needs help there. She can very well bank on years of goodwill. Unlike FC, who has earned only ill will.

Who the Puck?

Spotted in a PAL flight to the country was hot young Hollywood star Mark Salling, or Puck on the show "Glee."

Fellow passengers were charmed by the singing hunk who "was low key and unassuming."

"He just took a taxi. He was going on vacation in Boracay with a friend."

How true is this?

Totoo kaya? Zanjoe Marudo and Bea Alonzo were spotted in Old Swiss Inn on December 25 -
"very sweet," says our Thrilled Mole.

The next day daw - this report from Thrilled Mole 2 - they were seen together again, this time as half of a foursome, in Starbucks, Edsa Shang mall, with Lino Cayetano and Liz Uy.

That was close

December 28 on "Unang Hirit," Lhar Santiago, reported that during the MMFF parade on December 24, Dennis Trillo almost got into a fist fight with the person in charge of their float, when his girlfriend and "Rosario" co-star, Jennyln Mercado, almost figured in an accident.

Giving back

Gerald Anderson threw a Christmas bash and gave presents to his fans as his way of thanking them, "Showbiz News Ngayon" reported on December 27. "Sobrang thankful ako na nandiyan sila," Gerald said.

Angel stays

On the same "SNN" night, Angel Locsin brushed off rumors that she is transferring to another network soon.

"May kontrata pa po ako sa ABS-CBN. Hindi ko naman po siguro hobby na lumipat ng istasyon." (Uh, we didn't know that.)

Empress' castle

Empress Schuck - still on the same "SNN" night - said she waited a long time before her career took off. When it did, the young actress took full advantage. She just gifted her family with a new house.

Create a... scandal!

These days, it's as quick as mixing instant coffee.

Just add water and, presto, a waning star or wannabe promoting a new product becomes the toast of Showtown. It's too obvious to ignore.

Scandal breaks on Monday.

Expect the star in question to have a tell-all on Wednesday and/or throw a press conference and/or appear in public (where he/she can be "ambushed") on Friday, in time for the weekend chismis shows.

If the star and his/her drum beaters are lucky, the intrigue will get picked up for another week.

Unless another enterprising star comes up with another cheap gimmick. Bayani San Diego Jr.

Top of the talk shows

For those who missed last weekend's gabfests on TV, and why we are moved, if we are moved.

Regine Velasquez, on her red wedding gown:
"Kasi... sa mga soaps [at] movies, nagsusuot na ako ng trahe de boda na puti... parang gusto ko ng iba." (Akala namin, ano, kasi... wala lang.)

Michelle van Eimeren on Ogie, her ex-husband:
"He's like parang kapatid ko. He just looks so happy, so I'm very happy for him." (Parang okay naman.)

Message to Regine and Ogie, from Michelle's new husband, Mark Morrow:
"I just wish them happiness in the future." (Parang okay din.)

Diether Ocampo on rumors he is courting Kris Aquino:
"I think we're both not ready for that." (Wala na yan... tapos na ang promo period for "Dalaw.")

("Startalk," "The Buzz" with Gerry Plaza and Allan Policarpio, Contributors)
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