Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LONDON OLYMPICS: PHELPS BEATEN ANEW!


 Chad Le Clos beat Phelps at own game




Sobbing on the top of the podium, South Africa's Chad Le Clos looked like he could hardly believe that he had not only won a gold medal but beaten his hero Michael Phelps to do so.
Le Clos stole the 200 meters butterfly title from Phelps in the dying seconds, just getting to the wall 0.05 seconds before the American on Tuesday and the outcome was ironic, given Phelps' famous ability to execute masterful finishes.
I felt like him, swimming that last 50 I felt like I was Phelps, said Le Clos. I always wanted to swim in an Olympic Games and I wanted to be like him.
I always remembered Phelps coming off the last wall strongly, using that momentum, so that's what I tried to do.
Phelps, who sealed his legacy on Tuesday with a record 19th Olympic medal, praised Le Clos' performance, describing him as a very, very good competitor, a very hard working kid, a very hungry kid.
Le Clos' surprise win came hot on the heels of a gold for his compatriot Cameron Van der Burgh, who broke the breaststroke world record on Sunday.
Although the South African relay team finished outside the medals in both the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle, the two individual golds will give the African nation hope that its swimming programme is undergoing a renaissance.
The South Africans took three medals in Athens but was disappointed to go home empty-handed from Beijing and the 20-year-old Le Clos said the future looked positive, with a group of young athletes waiting in the wings.
I really believe that the future's bright for us, he said.




PINOY STYLE 'SARCIADO'

PINOY STYLE 'SARCIADO'





Filipinos want birth control, priests don't

Filipinos want birth 
control, priests don't

In the Philippines, access to contraceptives is limited for the most part to those with the means to pay. The Catholic Church has fought a "reproductive health bill" in the legislature that would change that.


Shortly after sunrise, a woman with soulful eyes and short-cropped black hair hurried down a narrow alley in flip-flops, picking her way around clusters of squatting children, piles of trash and chunks of concrete in Manila.
Yolanda Naz's daily scramble had begun. Peddling small shampoo packets in the shantytown of San Andres, she raced to earn enough money to feed her eight children.
She went door to door in the sweltering heat, charming and cajoling neighbors into parting with a few pesos. After several hours, she had scrounged enough to buy a kilo of rice, a few eggs and a cup of tiny shrimp.
"My husband and I skip lunch if there is no money," Naz said as she dished rice and shrimp sauce into eight plastic bowls in the 10-by-12-foot room where the family eats and sleeps.
This was not the life Naz wanted. She and her husband, who sells coconut drinks from a pushcart, agreed early in their marriage to stop at three children. Though a devout Catholic, she took birth control pills in defiance of priests' instructions at Sunday Mass.
But after her third child was born, the mayor of Manila — with the blessing of Roman Catholic bishops — halted the distribution of contraceptives at public clinics to promote "a culture of life." The order put birth control pills and other contraceptives out of reach for millions of poor Filipinos, who could not afford to buy them at private pharmacies.
"For us, the banning of the pills was ugly," Naz said. "We were the ones who suffered."
At 36, she had more children than teeth, common for poor women after repeated pregnancies and breast-feeding.
Undernourished and living in close quarters, her children were often sick. Measles was sweeping through the shantytown, afflicting two of Naz's sons and her 3-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who hung like a rag doll from her mother's arms.
"I pray to God. I pray really, really hard," she said. "Should God decide to take my kids, just don't let them suffer."
In the Philippines, a country of 96 million people, access to birth control is mostly limited to those with the means to buy it. A "reproductive health bill" in the national legislature seeks to change that: It calls for public education about contraceptives and government subsidies to make them available to everyone.
The church and like-minded opponents have stalled the legislation for 14 years. Following Vatican dictates, Philippine bishops oppose any "artificial" measures to prevent pregnancy, sanctioning only natural means such as periodic abstention from sex.
It's one example of how religious and political forces affect women's control over childbearing and, as a result, the trajectory of population growth in the developing world.
The church's stance puts it at odds with many of its followers in the Philippines. Eight out of 10 Filipinos are Catholic. Even for weekday Mass, popular churches draw huge crowds that tie up Manila traffic.
Polls show, however, that 70% of the population supports the reproductive health bill, which also calls for sex education in schools.
Birth control is a source of political dispute in many societies, including the United States. In the Philippines, however, the battle has been particularly acrimonious because of the church's wide reach and influence.
Priests denounce the reproductive health bill during Mass. Some churches post billboards with gruesome images of aborted fetuses and the message "NO to Reproductive Health Bill — YES to the Gospel of Life."
Lawmakers say the church threatens to deny them Communion if they vote for the legislation.
In 2010, Benigno Aquino III was elected president after pledging to sign the bill. Bishop Nereo Odchimar, then president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, suggested Aquino might be excommunicated if he followed through on the commitment.
Neither man's resolve has been tested: After years of debate, a consensus version of the law has yet to emerge from the Philippine Congress and reach the president's desk.
For nearly four decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development was the major donor of contraceptives to the Philippines, spending about $400 million total. The administration of George W. Bush phased out the program in 2008, saying it was time for the Philippine government to take full responsibility.
Then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo refused, deferring to bishops who had supported her election. She acknowledged taking birth control pills as a young mother but said she had since sought forgiveness from a priest.
"The contraceptive pills do not only prevent conception, they even destroy conception once it is already there," retired Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said in an interview. "That is abortion."
Since U.S. funding ended, affordable contraceptives have become scarce, particularly in Manila. A patchwork of programs funded mainly by foreign donors provides limited access for the poor.
According to a 2008 government survey, 39% of married Philippine women in their childbearing years said they wanted to avoid or postpone pregnancy but were not using modern contraceptives. By far, the most commonly cited reason was fear of side effects. Other reasons included a husband's opposition, cost and lack of availability.
Half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended, the survey found.
A similar pattern holds across the developing world, where an estimated 222 million women want to avoid pregnancy but do not use modern birth control.
If they did, unplanned births in those countries would fall by two-thirds, as would the number of abortions, according to an analysis by the U.N. Population Fund and the Guttmacher Institute, a New York think tank that supports access to contraception and safe abortion.
Under that scenario, the global population would keep rising but more slowly.
The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing populations in Asia. It is on track to increase by more than half, to 155 million, by 2050.
Greater Manila is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. About a third of its 12 million inhabitants live in poverty, many in teeming shantytowns that sprawl across trash dumps and cemeteries.
Still, former Manila Mayor Jose "Lito" Atienza, who ordered the removal of contraceptives from public clinics a dozen years ago, said he sees economic potential in a growing population.
"Our people are so talented and so skilled and brilliant and bright," he said, citing Manila's entrepreneurial street vendors and the 10 million Filipinos working overseas who boost the economy by sending money home.
"When you have more people, you have a bigger labor force. You have a bigger social security base. You have more productivity. You have more consumption. More production. The whole cycle of the economy moves faster."
Atienza said he also opposes birth control because he believes it "weakens the family" and is in conflict with the Filipino Constitution's protection of the unborn.

"Government should not spend government funds for this purpose," he said.
Erlinda A. Casitas presses her thick thumbs into her thigh to demonstrate how she dislodges a fetus and massages it out of the womb.
"I usually feel for the baby, for the swelling, and then I apply pressure gradually downwards," said Casitas, a middle-aged woman with wide-set eyes. "I'm very careful. If I apply too much pressure, the patient will experience shock or the woman will get bruises."
Abortion is a crime in the Philippines, unless a board of medical professionals deems it necessary to save the mother's life.
Casitas is a hilot, one of the massage abortionists who perform a large share of the estimated 475,000 illegal abortions in the country every year. Before she gives the aggressive massage, Casitas has her clients take three tablets of Cytotec, an ulcer medication sold on the black market and used to bring on uterine contractions.
Many women seeking abortions go to the area around Quiapo Church, in old downtown, where street vendors sell crucifixes and statues of the Virgin Mary, alongside bitter herbal brews such as "Pampa Regla"  (which means "induce menstruation" in Tagalog) to end pregnancy. Cytotec is on sale, too, but kept out of sight.
"Everyone knows about Quiapo," Casitas said.
Among her clients, she said, are "mothers who have many kids, who can no longer afford to have more children," and mothers with children under a year old who want "birth spacing."
Casitas said she doesn't have a fixed fee. She often asks patients for a $20 donation, less if they are very poor.
"First what I do is to pray to God and ask for forgiveness," said Casitas, a practicing Catholic who wears a small silver crucifix around her neck. "I'm telling God I'm not charging a big amount…. It's just like helping the patient with her problem."
"I think God hears my prayers because so far I haven't had any patient who suffered any hemorrhage and has to be rushed to the hospital."
Casitas said she quizzes clients on why they got pregnant. "I advise the women to use pills, injectables  (hormones) or IUDs."
She knows many will not follow her advice, or cannot afford to. But she said she has a strict rule: "I only allow myself to help a woman twice. So when she comes to me to abort her first pregnancy, I do it. If she comes back to me a second time, I do it. The third time, I refuse."
When illegal abortions go awry, the patients often end up at Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, the largest women's hospital in the Philippines.
On a spring day in one ward, injured women lay on cots, one beside the other. One patient was moaning and barely conscious, her blood splattered at the base of the bed. She'd been rushed there, delirious from fever and infection. Her skin was ashen from losing a third of her blood.
She was 28, an upholsterer's wife with four children. Pregnant again, she was three months along when she tried to abort the fetus by drinking a bitter herbal brew.
Some hospitals in the Philippines refuse treatment in such cases and call the police because staff members see the women as criminals and sinners, according to doctors and nurses at Jose Fabella.
Here, doctors say they ask few questions and treat the injured. Cleaning up botched abortions, however, is the second order of business at Jose Fabella.
No. 1 is childbirth and keeping children alive.
More than 17,000 babies a year are born at the hospital — the nation's busiest — inspiring its nickname, "Baby Factory."
In the delivery room that day, teams of doctors and nurses had their hands full with two births in progress. A half-dozen women in various stages of labor waited on gurneys.
In the hallway, wheels clacked across the white tile floor. A gurney burst into the delivery room led by a nurse holding a newborn in outstretched hands. A coiled umbilical cord connected the blue-tinged baby to a woman lying on her back, hair matted.
She had just arrived by cab. The newborn girl couldn't wait.
Dr. Maria Lu Andal moved in to clear the baby's airways and snip the cord. The baby began to cry, turning bright pink as a crew of assistants swarmed mother and child, swabbing, draping, measuring and tagging.
In a room nearby, newborns lay shoulder to shoulder on tables for nurses to weigh and measure. Oversize recovery rooms contained rows of worn metal beds, each shared by two mothers and their newborns.
In the neonatal unit, 68 babies lay in incubators, many of them dangerously premature. On average, about a third die, doctors said.
Andal, in dark green scrubs, a hairnet and mask, recalled that she once delivered 36 babies in a four-hour shift.
"It's like an assembly line," said Dr. Ruben Flores, who directs the hospital and its 1,200 employees. "It never stops."
This was the quiet season. Only 63 babies were delivered this day, about half the hospital's capacity.
"That's what they say: It's a baby factory," Flores said. "But I say, we didn't produce the babies. We just deliver them. These babies were produced at home."
The Naz family gathers for a meal, in the same room where everyone sleeps. When food is especially scarce, only the children eat. About a third of Manila's residents live in poverty. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times) More photos
Yolanda Naz began to stack up the plastic bowls and plates from the midday meal. Her family had devoured every morsel.
A boy came to the door with an orange garden hose. For a few pesos, Naz can fill a plastic barrel with water for cooking, cleaning and bathing.
Naz picked through the remaining coins from her shampoo sales to see if there was enough for the next meal.
On a good day, her husband, Noel, earned about $5 selling coconut drinks from his cart. That was enough to pay for rice, instant noodles, some eggs, vegetables, even some milk and a diaper for the baby. But Noel is afflicted with a racking cough that often keeps him from working.
Naz sometimes buries her pride and asks neighbors for a loan of 10 cents or a bit of food.
A few years ago, one of her neighbors asked her to join a lawsuit by women's rights groups seeking to overturn Manila's ban on contraceptives at public clinics. She became a plaintiff, along with 19 other poor residents of the capital.
These women and a few of their husbands are asking the court to grant them access to birth control pills, condoms and IUDs, a rare challenge to church authority.
The case has been thrown out twice, once by the Philippine Supreme Court because it lacked a signature from one of the 20 plaintiffs. It was refiled in a lower court, where it has been essentially frozen for three years.
Naz said she'll always be a Catholic. That doesn't mean she agrees with the priests on everything.
"When I go to Mass, I hear the priest give sermons saying that pills are bad," Naz said. "But whenever I hear that, I just say to myself that for me, it's not evil, it's not bad or it's not sinful.
"What is more sinful is to have more children than I can afford to feed."  (Kenneth R. Weiss, Los Angeles Times)

LET’S AVOID MENTAL LAZINESS


LET’S AVOID MENTAL LAZINESS



From the chin down no man is worth much more than a dollar or two a day. Even what we do with our hands depends for its value on the amount of sense we use.
We can train and improve our mind as well as our fingers. Mental laziness is the most common disease.
Put in a certain amount of time every day at making our brain more efficient. Let’s read. Let’s study. Let’s think. Let’s not fritter away all our spare time. It’s all habit. We can get used to hard study as well as to hard work. And it pays. Let’s improve ourselves from the chin up.

THE DEVIL’S OTHER NAME




As a habit and as part of personal hygiene, taking a bath twice a day especially during summer is a must and should be inviolable. To prevent sunburn when collecting recycled wastes, we must protect our skin with lotion (Jergen). A regular perfume (preferably Calvin Klein and Bvlgari) is also necessary.
I believe that cleaning up is more vital than dressing up. The most important thing in the world is to get rid of the waste. The salvation of the office is the waste basket.
The salvation of the home is the scrubbing brush. The salvation of the body is efficient elimination. The salvation of the soul is keeping dirt out of the imagination.
In the house of death there is the smell of cologne, in the hospital there is the odor of disinfectant. Because the cleansing processes of life are secret, private and not to be mentioned or witnessed they are all the more sacredly essential.
The bacilli of Nature are the wrath of God that awaits for the unclean. The devil’s other name is Dirt.

Monday, July 30, 2012

LET’S FACE ADVERSITY WITH A SMILE




LET’S FACE ADVERSITY WITH A SMILE




“Never run from the enemy, tackle them.”VICTORIA ADDINO

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California -- Everywhere in the world today people experience moral, political, financial, and spiritual crisis. Political crisis if we make a mistake of electing clowns and magicians as leaders. Spiritual crisis if we are smitten by false messiahs and businessmen masquerading as Bible preachers.
Financial crisis caused by global recession abetted by manipulative technocrats and oligarchs, unethical executives that stonewall economic growth. Moral crisis due to our weak values and lack of self-discipline; our predilection for escapism and heavy reliance on cyber technology as custodian of virtues and righteousness.


CHIN UP

No matter what happens we should keep our chin up. When we indulge in gloom we are hurting ourselves most of all.
We know there are some feelings that poison us just as certainly as arsenic. They have a direct effect upon the body.
Anger reddens the face, fright makes the hair stand on end, grief destroys the appetite and embarrassment makes the mouth dry. One of the surest mental poisons is despair. It dulls the brain and confuses the hands. 


CHANCE


Why give up? As long as we live we will have some sort of a chance. Nine-tenths of success, after all, is pep. The man that faces misfortune with a smile and a stout heart cannot be beaten.
There is always tomorrow, and what tomorrow has in store for us no man knows. At least we make up our mind to this one thing, no matter what fate may do to us it shall not make us afraid.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

LONDON OLYMPICS: Revenge is so délicieux for French relay




LONDON -- One of the enduring images of the 2008 Beijing Olympics is the primal scream that Michael Phelps uttered on the pool deck when Jason Lezak, seemingly seized by an out-of-body experience, delivered a swim for the ages.
In overtaking France's Alain Bernard, Lezak -- who swam 100 meters in 46.06 seconds -- secured relay gold for the United States and, not so incidentally, kept alive Phelps' historic chase for eight gold medals.
That day in Beijing, Phelps threw his arms up toward the sky as if he were signaling a touchdown by his favorite team, the Baltimore Ravens. Garrett Weber-Gale, who had raced the second leg of that relay, grabbed Phelps from behind as if he were about to body-slam him to the deck, or punch him, or something. The French, just over to the side, looked on in stunned silence.
Revenge, you know, is so délicieux.
Yannick Agnel, who is just 20 years old, gave France its Lezak moment Sunday night at the Olympic pool, not just tracking down Ryan Lochte -- Ryan Lochte! -- but reeling him in and thrashing him by a full second to give France the victory in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay.
The win is France's first in the history of the event. Not only that -- it's France's first relay victory of any kind, men or women, in the history of the Summer Olympics.
The winning time: 3:09.93.
The U.S. took silver, in 3.10:38.
Russia got the bronze, in 3:11.41.
Australia, which had widely been expected to not only contest for a medal but for the win, inexplicably finished fourth.
The silver serves as a marker of sorts for Phelps. It is his 17th Olympic medal. He needs one more to tie Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, two more to become the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time. It is also the first silver medal in his Olympic career; he has 14 gold medals and two bronze.
The 4x100 men's free relay is a key touchstone for the U.S. national program, laden with history and tradition. The swimmers and coaches take it tremendously seriously, and after the Australians thrashed the Americans at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, great care and thought was given to 2012 race plan and strategy.
Last year in Shanghai, the Australians won the relay. France took second, the U.S. third.
The Americans had won the 400 free relay at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 world championships -- Adrian bailing them out in Rome in 2009 with a stirring anchor leg -- and of course in Beijing in 2008.
In recent years, Phelps typically had gone first in the relay. That's the leg he swam in Beijing, for instance.
Here, though, he went second.
The reason: James Magnussen, the Aussie lead-off man, is the open 100 world champ. The Americans countered with Nathan Adrian, the fastest U.S. 100 sprinter.
Magnussen went 48.03 Sunday night. Adrian gave Phelps the lead, with 47.89.
Phelps then ripped off a 47.15, which would prove the fastest U.S. time Sunday evening, and ought to put an unequivocal and immediate stop to the ridiculous talk after the 400 IM about whether he was through.
"I felt a lot better today than I did yesterday. i mean, I was happy," Phelps said, meaning about his swim itself. "I was able to put yesterday behind me and kind of move on t today. hopefully we can just move forward from here and keep heading in the right direction.
Cullen Jones went next. He was on the 2008 relay, too. Here he went 47.6.
When he jumped in, Lochte had a lead of 55-hundredths of a second.
This was not Lochte's only swim Sunday evening. Roughly 85 minutes earlier, he had raced the semifinals of the 200 free, easily qualifying for the final.
At 350 meters, Lochte still had a lead -- but it was down to 30-hundredths of a second.
Over the final 50 meters, it was déjà vu all over again. Just this time, it was a French guy running down an American guy.
And a few seconds later, on the deck, it was a bunch of French guys screaming for their lives.
Lochte swam his 100 in 47.74. There's zero shame in that. Anything under 48 is more than world class.
Agnel just did it in 46.74.
"We knew the Australians would be strong, but they were very nervous, perhaps like us in 2008," Clement Lefert, who swam the third leg for the French, said, according to Associated Press. "We were very relaxed, like the Americans in 2008.
'And four years later, we got our revenge."
Lochte offered no excuses. He said, "I mean, the 100 free, I don't really swim it -- haven't swum it in a long time, so I think I was really excited. I think I over-swam the first 50, which kinda hurt me the last 50."
He also said, "You would think, doing distance events, I wouldn't get tired. But sprinting definitely takes a lot out of you. I made that mistake. We were able to get a medal. I guess that's good."
Just not good enough. nbcolympics

Saturday, July 28, 2012

LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES: Phelps Proves Human After All


Phelps Proves Human After All





The crowd at the Olympic Aquatics Centre arrived late, as if they were trying to stall off the inevitable. Anyone with a prized ticket to the first big showdown of the London Games had to know Michael Phelps was in trouble earlier in the day when he barely qualified for the final of the event he owns two gold medals in.
That was a shocker, but what happened Saturday night in the Olympic pool was simply mystifying. No self-respecting London bookie would have even dared to lay odds that the greatest swimmer in the world - no, make that the greatest swimmer ever - wouldn't even win as much as a bronze medal in his first race in these games.
The great swimming showdown to open the Olympics was a giant bust - unless, of course, your name is Ryan Lochte. The surfer dude from Florida dominated the 400-meter individual medley from the opening stroke, making an early case for himself as the face of swimming in these games while thrashing a guy he never used to be able to beat.
And in the process, Lochte may have shattered the Phelps mystique once and for all.
Untouchable in Beijing. Oh, so human in London.
This wasn't just a loss, it was a blowout. By the time Phelps finally touched the wall in fourth place, Lochte had been resting there for more than 4 seconds - an eternity in swimming.
What followed next was almost as revealing. While Lochte celebrated, Phelps climbed slowly from the pool, like it was a chore just to make it out. He then trudged off to answer a few questions from reporters and try to figure out where it all went wrong.
Worn out already, and six races still to go.
"It was just a crappy race," Phelps said by way of explanation "I felt fine the first 200, then I don't know."
Not surprising, if only because the athlete is always the last one to know. At age 27 Phelps has a lot of mileage under his long arms, a lot of history to have to live up to. He's been swimming for medals since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and seemed almost giddy when he tweeted on Friday that he had finished his last practice as a competitive swimmer.
Maybe he didn't have the fire inside for training. Maybe he's starting to slow just a bit from the wear and tear.
Or maybe he just had what he claims he had - a bad day.
Lochte would be among those interested in finding out. He once lost 17 straight races in the 200-meter individual medley to Phelps, and the two meet Wednesday in that race in their only other confrontation in the games.
"I'll tell you what, it's weird. It's weird not having Michael next to me on the medal stand," Lochte said. "Michael to me is still one of the world's greatest ... and no matter what happens he'll go down as one of the world's greatest."
Phelps was always taking a chance that he might be swimming in one Olympics too many, surely one 400-meter IM too many after declaring four years ago that his win in that event would be his last. The draw of these games was too much, though, with a chance to add to his haul and become the all-time greatest medal winner in Olympic history.
He's got plenty of races left to do that, if things remain according to plan. Six in all, and all he needs is three medals to surpass the record of 18 won by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina. There's a chance he can even add to his total of 14 gold medals, which is five more than the second-best number on the list.
"The biggest thing now is to try to look forward," Phelps said. "I have a bunch of other races, and hopefully we can finish a lot better than how we started."
It's not going to hurt his legacy if he doesn't. That's already encased in gold, the six he won in Athens and the record eight he grabbed in Beijing, when he set Olympic records almost every day. He surpassed Mark Spitz there to claim the title of best swimmer ever, and it's going to be a long time, if ever, before someone takes it from him.
Spitz took his seven medals and retired, content to make a living off his brilliant performance in Munich. Phelps has made a pretty good living himself, despite the fact he's an introvert with little charisma until the moment he gets into the water.
He came back for one last Olympics expecting great things because, well, he's always done great things. Aside from his first Olympics - when he was a 15-year-old qualified in just one event - he won medals in every Olympic race he had ever been in before Saturday night. The total was both staggering and historic - 14 gold and two bronze in 16 races - so much so that he makes the short list of any compilation of greatest Olympians ever.
That's what made it so hard to watch for a crowd that, once it arrived, was pumped for one of the hottest matchups of the games. Phelps didn't exactly flounder in the water, but he fell behind early to Lochte and then was passed by two other swimmers before finally finishing in 4:09.28, well off the world record of 4:03.84 he set in China.
It's too early to declare him finished, too soon to say he's washed up. But there's a crack in the facade, something that should give hope to anyone competing against him over the next week.
"A lot of people say Michael is inhuman, but you know what?" Lochte said. "He's just like all of us."
He wasn't in Beijing, hasn't been for a long time.
All it took was one night at the pool in these Olympics to change that. Copyright Associated Press

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No ‘made in China’ controversy for RP Olympic team uniforms


No ‘made in China’ controversy
for RP Olympic team uniforms



By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – While the US Olympics team uniforms were provoking much amusement, discussion, outrage, and eye-rolling in one of the United States’ largest apparel design and manufacturing hubs here over the fact that outfits were made in China, the small Philippine contingent is set to parade in the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games opening ceremonies on July 27 proudly behind the made in the Philippines Barong Tagalog uniforms.
The Philippine Olympic team composed of track athletes Marestella Torres and Rene Herrera; swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessica Lacuna; boxer Mark Anthony Barriga; BMX rider Daniel Caluag; judo practitioner Tomohiko Hoshina; shooter Brian Rosario; and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, will wear the barong Tagalog designed by one of Manila’s top fashion designers, Rajo. Laurel.
Josephine Cuneta reported in the Wall Street Journal Southeast Asia that Laurel has been chosen by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to design and create clothes for the Filipino athletes during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.
His plan is reportedly a modern-world makeover of the traditional Philippine barong Tagalog which is an embroidered formal shirt, typically worn untucked, and commonly used at Philippine ceremonial events. It is widely seen as one of the more distinctive visual elements of Philippine culture.

TRADITION

Laurel said the typical barong is steeped in tradition dating back to the 1600s. Some say the shirt – which sometimes uses a sheer, see-through fabric made out of pina fabric (a textile derived from pineapple leaves) – was forced upon locals by Spaniards during the colonial era so that any hidden weapons could be kept in plain sight. Others say it stemmed from a desire to have loose, breathable and comfortable garments in the Philippines’ tropical heat, with the fine embroidery coming later.
Laurel invoked “simplicity and elegance” for choosing barong Tagalog, it was reported.
“I want to pay great respect to the tradition of the garment. I’m just going to give it a more tapered fit, a slightly cropped length and small fabrication changes. Headwear (inspired by Filipino tradition also) will feature in the design,” Laurel was quoted in the report.
Cuneta said Laurel, whose work has been worn by American supermodel Tyra Banks, said he’s using black, gold and mocha as primary colors for the stylized barong Tagalog, in a rayon fabric to give it a more modern feel (and to help keep the athletes warm in London’s cooler climate). The embroidery will feature a modern design with dark cobalt and blue threads symbolizing good fortune and luck. The barong Tagalog will be paired with weight wool flat front trousers, he said.

ACCESSORY

The main accessory for the small contingent of nine Philippine athletes and 13 officials will be a salakot – a traditional wide-brimmed hat, often made with rattan or reeds – with gold leaf that  Laurel hopes will catch the light as the Filipino representatives enter the stadium.
Here in Los Angeles, the decision of American sports authorities to have the red, white and blue uniforms manufactured in China has provoked a storm of criticism in Congress, where “made in America” is always a popular election-year theme, according to Los Angeles Times.
“The issue has rippled across the nation with frustration, resignation and understanding as the preppy outfits unveiled this week drew some unexpected attention,” LA Times reported.

COMMIT

In response to the controversy, Ralph Lauren Corp. has announced that it was committed to producing Team USA uniforms for the 2014 Winter Olympics in America.
The company announced: “Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States.”
Saying she was “appalled” that New York-based Ralph Lauren did not manufacture at least a part of the Olympic uniform in America, Galina Sobolev, the designer of high-end Los Angeles clothing line Single, quipped: “It’s unpatriotic, and it really speaks very poorly for what we represent as Americans if we send our Olympic team to London wearing garments made in China.”
She added: “The Italians would never have their uniforms made in China, they would make them in Italy.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

GOODBYE, DOLPHY!







Rodolfo Vera "DOLPHY" Quizon, Sr., OGH, 


(July 25, 1928 – July 10, 2012)




Dolphy, or Rodolfo Quizon Sr., passed away Tuesday at 8:34 p.m., at the Makati Medical Center, thus ending one of the longest and most colorful lives and careers in Philippine show business history. He was 83 and about to turn 84 on July 25. Dolphy starred in over 100 movies, including several reprising his lovable lead character in John en Marsha, a long-running television show. He is survived by 18 children with six different women.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tears from Andy


Tears from Andy




By Alex P. Vidal


LOS ANGELES, California – I thought I would be seeing for the first time a great professional athlete agonizing in defeat and crying without tears.
Tears did not flow from Andy Murray’s eyes until he was able to finally hiss a plethora of “aaaaaah” and “hmmmm” while holding the microphone during the awarding ceremony as crowd that included some of the most prominent figures in London cheered him.
My heart goes out for Murray who finally let loose his tears following his failure to nail this year’s Wimbledon title in Wimbledon, England losing to Roger Federer in a nerve-tingling 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 championship Sunday, July 8.
The championship appearance against the same man who subdued him in three other major titles was too much for the 25-year-old British right-hander as he was under tremendous pressure to conquer the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world as host player.

BURDENED

It was apparent the Scotland-born Andy, who began playing at three, was emotionally burdened when realization that he had been conquered in his own territory beckoned.
As a Briton, he was expected to record history and create a stir in the most prominent grass court in the world especially that the World Summer Olympic Games was scheduled to unwrap weeks later.  A young and charismatic tennis player with 22 singles career titles, what a feting honor for Great Britain had he won this year’s Wimbledon title while the universe awaits the opening of the biggest summer sports conclave weeks later.
Inside the stadium, Prince William's wife, Kate, sat in the Royal Box along with David Beckham, British Prime Minister David Cameron and a slew of former Wimbledon champions.
Many of them left a bit disappointed as well.
With his victory, Federer regained the No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, allowing him to equal Sampras' record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.

DICTATE

At the start of the match, Murray was the one dictating play and winning the tough points. He broke Federer in the first game of the first set, and then broke again late before serving it out. It was the first — and only — set Murray has won in his four major finals.
The second set was much more even, and both had early break points that they couldn't convert. Federer, however, finally got it done in the final game of the set, hitting a backhand drop volley that Murray couldn't get to.
Both held easily to start the third set, but then the rain started abruptly, suspending play for 40 minutes. Shortly after they returned, it turned into a one-man show.
With Federer leading 3-2, they played a 26-point, 20-minute game in which Federer finally converted his sixth break point — after Murray had slipped on the grass three times. Federer lost only five points on his serve in that set.

FAMILY

Murray’s mother, Judy, is a former Scottish national coach and father, William is a retail area manager.  He has one older brother Jamie (born Feb. 13, 1986), who also plays on the ATP circuit. Andy grew up playing soccer and tennis and once was offered to play with Glasgow Rangers. His favorite musician is 50 Cent.
Based in Barcelona since age 15, Andy won US Open junior title (defeating Stakhovsky) and advanced to doubles SF (with brother Jamie) in 2004. He finished No. 10 in world junior rankings in 2004 and won the Canadian Open junior title in 2003. He also finished No. 6 that year.
Andy considers the US Open as best place he has played and was awarded the 2004 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year Award.
Standing six feet and three inches, Andy was twice named LTA’s Young Player of the Year. His favorite surface is hard and he considers his serve as best part of his game. He admits he is a big fan of TV comedy show, "Entourage" and played first full men's singles match with roof closed at Wimbledon on June 29, 2009 vs. Wawrinka. Andy works with fitness trainers Matt Little and Jezz Green, physiotherapist Andy Ireland and is coached by former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl since January 2012.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Female sexual unresponsiveness




“I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.” BETTE DAVIS in The Cabin In The Cotton

By Alex P. Vidal

LOS ANGELES, California – Sex therapist, Helen Singer Kaplan, discloses in the second edition of her popular and widely used authoritative guide to the techniques and exercises for sex therapy, The Illustrated Manual of Sex Therapy, that major cultural changes, new theoretical and scientific concepts, and extensive clinical experience “have had a tremendous impact on the practice of sex therapy” although the basic concepts of sex therapy and techniques describe in her manual have not changed.
Among the developments discussed by Dr. Kaplan are the effects of the AIDS epidemic; treatment of the increasing population of older patients; the new scientific knowledge about disorders of sexual desire and the triphasic concept of the human sexual response; new methods of diagnosing medical sexual problems; and the combined use of anti-panic medications and sex therapy in the treatment of sexual aversion disorders and sexual phobias.
Meanwhile, the unresponsive woman, Dr. Kaplan explains, feels no erotic sensation or sexual pleasure. She does not show the signs of physiological arousal, i.e., she remains relatively dry even though she is stimulated by her partner and has intercourse. Her conscious attitudes vary, adds Dr. Kaplan. She may loathe sexual activity, feel neutral, or even enjoy the physical contact.
“The truly unresponsive woman is rare, and this is fortunate because she is difficult to treat. In our experience general unresponsiveness—particularly when it is primary, i.e., the woman has never been responsive to any man in any situation—has of all the dysfunctions the poorest prognosis with brief sex therapy,” explains Dr. Kaplan. “The prognosis is much better if the woman has been responsive in other situations but is now unresponsive to her husband.”
Even in situational frigidity however, extensive psychotherapy is often necessary before the patient is amenable to sex therapy and before sexual functioning can be obtained, she stresses in the manual’s Erotic Techniques Used for Specific Dysfunctions.

DYSFUNCTION

Nevertheless, even in this difficult dysfunction, which often requires prior solution of tenacious unconscious intrapsychic and marital conflict, the prescribed sexual tasks play an important role in therapy. Sometimes, she says, these are not employed until the patient has resolved basic conflicts by means of psychotherapy. At other times the tasks may be used concurrently with psychotherapy in order to facilitate rapid resolution of obstacles which arise during the course of treatment.
Perhaps one can formulate the basic dynamics of unresponsivity as follows: The woman harbors an unconscious conflict about allowing herself sexual pleasure with a man. There does not seem to be one specific conflict in this disorder. It may involve deep oedipal fears of injury, hostility towards men in general or towards the specific man in questions, fears of rejection if she “lets go,” performance anxiety, erotic guilt, and so forth, explains the therapist.
The defenses against these conflicts specifically prevent the woman from responding, she further explains. She either avoids receiving adequate stimulation, or if she doesn’t actually prevent her lover from stimulating her, she erects perceptual defenses against enjoying this stimulation. She literally does not allow herself any erotic feelings. She unconsciously does not allow herself to respond. She prevents herself from abandoning herself to the sexual experience.

TREATMENT

Dr. Kaplan discloses the basic strategy in therapy which is to attempt to structure the sexual situation so that the woman is able to respond to adequate and heightened sexual stimulation while she is in a relaxed, nonanxious and loving state.
“Under such conditions, she must learn to resensitize herself to the sensations she has defensively suppressed for a long time. Again the creation of a tranquil sexual system between the partners often requires considerable psychotherapeutic intervention but with this in mid, the following is a typical (but not universal) sequence of events which we employ at the Cornell Sex Therapy Clinic to treat the generally unresponsive female. 1. Sensate focus I 2. Sensate focus II 3. Nondemand coitus 4. Coitus to orgasm
Among this group of patients, she reveals, there is a very high prevalence of negative responses to the sensate focus exercises. “These reactions are of course incorporated into the psychotherapeutic process. In addition to the psychotherapeutic explorations, when the history reveals that the woman experienced high levels of arousal in precoital and premarital “petting” situations, we might initially prescribe such activity while the couple is clothed, instead of the traditional nude and more exposed and therefore more threatening, pleasuring,” she explains.



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sexual experimentation makes relationships more exciting




"Sex gets your endorphins flowing, the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Having sex makes you feel good, and increasing your erotic sophistication improves your self-esteem."




By Alex P. Vidal



LOS ANGELES, California – The Kerista Village is a commune in which members are not monogamous. They practice polyfidelity—they have sex with other members of their group, but not with outsiders. In the following viewpoint, Even Eve, a member of the commune since 1971, explains that such sexual experimentation increases creativity and happiness.
There was a period of time when an article in Psychology Today featuring Kerista as a rare unusual example of non-monogamous people who were jealously-free prompted TV talk show producers across the nation to contact them to appear on their shows. They did the Phil Donahue Show, the Today Show and a number of appearances on local (San Francisco Bay Area) programs.
By the eighth or ninth show, they were feeling sort of burned out on describing  their sleeping schedule to middle America and thought it would make a lot of sense to start focusing the discussions more on other elements of their lifestyle, like their plan to create a grassroots philanthropic movement that could solve serious world problems. No go. The dialogue always came back to what Phil Donahue called “the sex part” of the trip and stayed there, regardless of efforts to shoot off in other directions.
“I see this as a plus, really, At least there’s something that gets people’s attention. When I first came into contact with Kerista and Keristans—of whom, at the time, there were only a handful—one of the first things I heard was the maxim, ‘’It all boils down to penises and vaginas,’” Eve is quoted in Sexual Values. “Though I had been moving in hip circles, I was startled by such a blunt reduction of all life’s complicated mysteries. Yet it seemed on reflection, to be fairly accurate, even if hyperbolically stated.”

PREOCCUPATIONS

Eve explains: “My main preoccupations back then was certainly sex-related. What type of relationship, or relationships, did I want? How many? Sex with women and men or men only? And what about all those stereotypical sex roles? How should I get rid of them, and who could I meet that would agree with me about them? Was it true that the vaginal orgasm was a myth? Was there really such a thing as a happy couple? And on and on, ad nauseam at times.”
Like in Kerista clarified the significance of the boiling it all down to genitals homily. It wasn’t that other things weren’t important or wonderful. It was just, very simply, that until a person had sorted all those issues out and gotten her/his intimate life into a satisfactory place, everything else was to some degree put on hold. First things first.
“My guess about most people is that a lot of this sort-and-find stuff related to their sex lives goes on subliminally, without must consciousness, because it’s only very recently that sexual matters have begun coming up to the surface for open thought and discussion. This means that an awful lot of people are going around with a good portion of their total awareness potential buried, as it were, in underground vaults where they can’t do much with it,” Eve adds further. “Just imagine what the world could be like if that locked up potential was liberated for conscious, intelligent use! Despite periodic societal regressions, I think things are going that way.”
The idea of polyfidelity has immense erotic appeal to those of them who have opted for it for reasons beyond the sexual fact of sleeping with a number of wonderful partners. One of the biggest draws is the erotic relationship between the people of the same sex who (in hetero groups such as those existing in Kerista) share the experience of relating sexually to the same opposite sex people.
They call these people “starling” sisters or brothers, and these friendships are unique and delightful. There has been a lively debate going on within the commune for several years now connected to this, having to do with trust and closeness. According to those on one side of the debate, there are two “tiers” of relationships in a B-FIC (Best Friend Identify Cluster), with two different levels of closeness. In the closest tier or ring are the sexual relationships; in the second ring are the starlings. Both are precious, but (according to this perspective) sexual relations have innately more depth of feeling, trust and intimacy than platonics.

DIFFERENCE

On the other side of the debate, Eve emphasizes, is the view that there is no inherent difference in trust and closeness between sexual and platonic B-FIC relationships. “The two types of involvements are different but equal; the determinants of how intimate you are with any of your partners has to do with other factors, such as how long you’ve been together and what sorts of shared experiences you’ve logged in. According to this second theory, in fact, you might feel closer to a same-sex, platonic partner with whom you’ve had a stable friendship for many years than to a sexual partner who has only come into the group recently, and has had a history of being unstable in B-FICs due to unsettled psychological issues.”
According to eve, it’s the kind of dialectical debate that they find enjoyable, and pursue in a relaxed and leisurely fashion as they drift through life with each other, without the expectation that one side will ever convince the other to change their views. Conversations about themes like this presuppose a high degree of erotic sophistication.
“We do not deal with any jealousy whatsoever and never have within the Keristan life-style. But there are things that have taken some working out,” Eve points out. “I can remember the time, about none or ten years ago, that Lee and Judd decided to go out to see a live sex show at one of the adult theaters in San Franciso. This was shortly after we had all decided to let go of most of our former erotic restrictions. They came in late that night, having had a good time, and some of us asked them to describe the show. After hearing a brief description, I made a face and said something like, ‘I don’t know how you could find watching women masturbate entertaining,’ in my snottiest tone of voice. Lee looked at me and said, ‘Well, how long have you been beating your wife?’ At that point I backed out down from my implied superiority position and began to realize that the amount of emotionality I was feeling probably had very little to do with the immediate situation and was something I’d really have to take a good look at.”

RESTRUCTURING

The process of self-examination and sexual attitude restructuring took me and everyone else years—in fact, we’re still in it today. It may seem surprising that people who had already progressed so far from their cultural roots and embraced the ideal of social tolerance so sincerely would be uncovering layers of erotic prejudice in themselves. On the other hand, it only underscores the fact that faulty conditioning and education can and do have a big impact on people’s minds.
Resisting change, Eve confesses: “I used to be very puzzled by my own and others’ initial emotional response to the introduction of new ideas for pushing out our boundaries of erotic exploration. Really, none of the things we’ve examined or tried have been all that far out, compared to other things I’m aware of. According to friends and acquaintances, Keristans are still into what’s known as ‘vanilla sex.’ But we have explored such ideas as setting up a very select club called the ‘Perfect Partners Co-op Cabaret’ which would be a place where exhibitionists within our social circle could perform before a sympathetic audience, and we’ve dabbled in consensual, intellectual erotic games wherein different will take on dominant or submissive roles, and the submissive will carry out instructions given by the dominants.

NON-SEXUAL

“The instructions have actually been non-sexual for the most part, and are designed to help the person playing the submissive role develop her/himself in areas that can use improvement. But back to the puzzlement, I’ve had the sense that there was something more to the nervous of fearful response than simply the echo of juvenile conditioning. What I’ve finally concluded is that it’s basic mental inertia; the resistance of change. This is one of the funnier aspects of human nature, but a real one we have to contend with. I’ve noticed something very interesting about people when they have some kind of new sexual or erotic experience. Almost without exception, it seems to step up their self-confidence by at least a tiny bit, and sometimes by a lot. And sometimes, along with that, there seems to be a little more looseness, a little more creativity.
“I’m not just talking about the fact that getting laid cheers people up. That is something I’ve observed so often that I don’t even question it anymore. To whatever degree I might have doubted it my doubts were finally eradicated when I was in a period of recovering from a long and serious depression. I wasn’t totally depressed anymore, but I still had attacks of it that would sometimes last for days. One time when I was feeling pretty bad I came into the front room of one of our houses, where Jaz and Ram, two men in my B-FIC, were hanging out. Ram, who was filling out his work slips for the day, saw that I was in a low mood…’Why don’t you two go into the Pink Room and have yourselves a freebie! At least one of you’ll enjoy it anyway,’ (he said). So Jaz and I followed his advice. When we started fooling around I was still feeling so bad I was crying a little. Midway through the cunnilingus, before I even came, my mood switched. By the time we finished I was feeling 100% better. This wasn’t the one-time phenomenon—I tested it numerous other times (purely in the interest of scientific research, of course) and found it worked repeatedly. Sex gets your endorphins flowing, the chemicals in your brain that make you feel good.

FEELS GOOD

“Having sex makes you feel good, and increasing your erotic sophistication improves your self-esteem. These aren’t absolutes—sex in a relationship that’s already burned out might not do much for you (although many a burned out relationship will hang together for years based on the sex alone)—but I think these are generalizations that will hold up. Erotic self-development increases self-esteem because it involves the use of the mind; it expands the imagination; it makes you feel modern, up-to-date, gives you a glamorous self-image.
“Because it involves and intellectual workout, you may run into a wall of inertia that wants you to stay put as you are, the same way you may suddenly feel very sedentary when someone invites you to go for a jog. But just as habitual joggers know that on the other side of the inertia are a number of personal rewards, people who choose to see themselves as erotically sophisticated and are willing to look for an engage those new ideas will reap benefits of their own: the benefit of sexual liberation. The two (sexual liberation and erotic sophistication) come together, if you will; they’re a package deal…”