Australian travel advisory

This advice has been reviewed and reissued. It contains new information in the Summary and on Safety and Security: Terrorism (update) and Civil Unrest/Political Tension (lifting of state of emergency). The overall level of the advice has not changed.

Summary

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Return to normalcy?

The lifting of the state of national emergency today signals the country’s return to normalcy and enables government to focus on the economic reform agenda, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo L. Neri.

Neri said that as 2006 will be as challenging as 2005, there is a need to focus on increasing employment, increasing revenue collections, improving infrastructure, and rein in inflation. He said among the challenges are high global oil prices due to tightness between supply and demand, effects of EVAT, large fiscal deficit, and high unemployment and underemployment rates that averaged 7.7 percent and 21.0 percent in 2005.

He noted that the recent experience showed the Philippine economy remains resilient despite the political challenges.

Except for temporary setbacks in reaction to the political unrest, Neri said that in the first quarter of the year, the stock exchange has been enjoying a bull run and business firms surveyed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has been generally upbeat about the economy for the first two quarters of 2006. The international credit rating agencies have also upgraded the country’s rating from negative to stable. The peso is also on a three-and-a-half year high.

The chief economic planner also noted that while political tensions peaked in the third quarter of 2005, gross national product (GNP) still grew by 7.0 percent in the fourth quarter of the same year.

Neri said the resiliency of the economy can be partly explained by its globalization. “The economy is more resilient to political stress because it is becoming more globalized. Foreign investors, for example, look at the fundamentals. What matters to them is profit, not the latest twists of the local political drama,” Neri said.

Neri said net foreign direct investment as of November 2005 amounted to US$ 1.1 billion, or 70 percent more than the same 11-month period in 2004. The same pattern was seen in the stock market. Net foreign portfolio investments in 2005 amounted to US$ 2.1 billion, or more than four times the level seen in 2004.

He explained that the globalized sectors of the economy are in turn feeding booms in other sectors. “Because of massive OFW inflows, banking grew by 21.3 percent in 2005. Because of office space demand by the call centers, real estate grew by 13.5 percent. Because of the rush of investors, mining grew by 9.3 percent, even hitting 24.8 percent in the fourth quarter,” he said.

He pointed out that exports have begun to rebound from\n the 3.9 percent growth in 2005. Last December, merchandise exports rose by 16.8 percent. The outlook for export growth in 2006 is 10 percent, due to upswings in electronics, electrical machinery, furniture, and even garments.

The chief economic planner also noted that while political tensions peaked in the third quarter of 2005, gross national product (GNP) still grew by 7.0 percent in the fourth quarter of the same year.

Neri said the resiliency of the economy can be partly explained by its globalization. “The economy is more resilient to political stress because it is becoming more globalized. Foreign investors, for example, look at the fundamentals. What matters to them is profit, not the latest twists of the local political drama,” Neri said.

Neri said net foreign direct investment as of November 2005 amounted to US$ 1.1 billion, or 70 percent more than the same 11-month period in 2004. The same pattern was seen in the stock market. Net foreign portfolio investments in 2005 amounted to US$ 2.1 billion, or more than four times the level seen in 2004.

He explained that the globalized sectors of the economy are in turn feeding booms in other sectors. “Because of massive OFW inflows, banking grew by 21.3 percent in 2005. Because of office space demand by the call centers, real estate grew by 13.5 percent. Because of the rush of investors, mining grew by 9.3 percent, even hitting 24.8 percent in the fourth quarter,” he said.

He pointed out that exports have begun to rebound from the 3.9 percent growth in 2005. Last December, merchandise exports rose by 16.8 percent. The outlook for export growth in 2006 is 10 percent, due to upswings in electronics, electrical machinery, furniture, and even garments.
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According to Neri, the outsourcing industry, which includes call centers, is also booming. For this year, revenues are seen to rise by 52 percent compared with 2005. There are now 105 call center locators.

Additionally, Neri said that there are sectors that will post robust growth on their own, neither dismayed by politics nor fueled by globalization. “La Niña is far less damaging than last year’s El Niño drought, so agriculture may recover,” he added.

Neri emphasized that public construction will also surge this year. “As seen in the proposed budget for 2006, public spending on infrastructure will rise by at least 28 percent,” he said.

He added that telecommunications will continue to set the pace for services. “Growth in the communications sector was 14.8 percent in 2005 and will expand briskly due to greater competition from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.”

According to Neri, the outsourcing industry, which includes call centers, is also booming. For this year, revenues are seen to rise by 52 percent compared with 2005. There are now 105 call center locators.

Additionally, Neri said that there are sectors that will post robust growth on their own, neither dismayed by politics nor fueled by globalization. “La Niña is far less damaging than last year’s El Niño drought, so agriculture may recover,” he added.

Neri emphasized that public construction will also surge this year. “As seen in the proposed budget for 2006, public spending on infrastructure will rise by at least 28 percent,” he said.

He added that telecommunications will continue to set the pace for services. “Growth in the communications sector was 14.8 percent in 2005 and will expand briskly due to greater competition from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.”

Don’t each too much rice — Yna Cerna

The human body was never meant to consume rice! You
see, our genes have hardly changed in more than 30,000
years. However, our food choices and lifestyle have
changed dramatically. The caveman would hardly
recognize our food or way of life.

Caveman food was never cooked as fire was not yet
tamed. Thus, he ate only those foods that you can eat
without treatment with or by fire. He ate fruits,
vegetables, fish (sushi anyone?), eggs, nuts and meat.
Yes, even meat. You can even eat meat raw if you were
starving in the forest. You have the necessary enzymes
to digest meat.

However, rice, like wheat and corn, cannot be eaten
raw. It must be cooked. Even if you were starving in
the desert, you cannot eat rice in the raw form. This
is because we do not have the system of enzymes to !
break rice down. You were never meant to eat rice. To
make matters worse, you not only eat rice, but also
make it the bulk of your food.

In some parts of Asia , rice forms up to 85% of the
plate. Even if you take rice, keep it to a minimum.
Remember, it is only for your tongue - not your body.
Actually, rice and other grains like wheat and corn
are actually worse than sugar. There are many reasons:

Rice becomes sugar - lots of it
This is a fact that no nutritionist can deny: rice is
chemically no different from sugar. One bowl of cooked
rice is the caloric equal of 10 teaspoons of sugar.
This does not matter whether it is white, brown or
herbal rice. Brown rice is richer in fibre, some B
vitamins and minerals but it is still the caloric
equal of ! 10 teaspoons of sugar. To get the same 10
teaspoons of sugar, you need to consume lots of
kangkong - 10 bowls of it.

Rice is digested to become sugar.
Rice cannot be digested before it is thoroughly
cooked. However, when thoroughly cooked, it becomes
sugar and spikes circulating blood sugar within half
an hour - almost as quickly as it would if you took a
sugar candy. Rice is very low in the "rainbow of
anti-oxidants"

This complete anti-oxidant rainbow is necessary for
the effective and safe utilisation of sugar. Fruits
come with a sugar called fructose. However, they are
not empty calories as the fruit is packed with a whole
host of other nutrients that help its proper
assimilation and digestion.

Rice has no fibre. The fibre of the kangkong fills you
up long before your
blood sugar spikes. This is because the fibre bulks
and fills up your stomach. Since white rice has no
fibre, you end up eating lots of "calorie dense" food
before you get filled up. Brown rice has more fibre
but still the same amount of sugar.

Rice is tasteless - Sugar is sweet. There is only so
much that you can eat at one sitting. How many
teaspoons of sugar can you eat before you feel like
throwing up? Could you imagine eating 10 teaspoons of
sugar in one seating?

Rice is always the main part of the meal - While sugar
may fill your dessert or sweeten your coffee, it will
never be the main part of any meal. You could eat
maybe two to three teaspoons of sugar at one meal.
However, you could easily eat the equal value of two
to three bowls (20 - 30 teaspoons) of sugar in one
meal. ! I am always amused when I see someone eat
sometimes five bowls of rice (equals 50 teaspoons of
sugar) and then asks for tea tarik kurang manis!

There is no real "built in" mechanism for us to
prevent overeating of rice
How much kangkong can you eat? How much fried chicken
can you eat? How much steamed fish can you eat? Think
about that! In one seating, you cannot take lots of
chicken, fish or cucumber, but you can take lots of
rice. Eating rice causes you to eat more salt.

As rice is tasteless, you tend to consume more salt -
another villain when it comes to high blood pressure.
You tend to take more curry that has salt to help
flavor rice. We also tend to consume more ketchup and
soy sauce which are also rich in salt.

Eating rice causes you to drink less water. The more
rice you eat, the less water you will drink a! s there
is no mechanism to prevent the overeating of rice.
Rice, wheat and corn come hidden in our daily food. As
rice is tasteless, it tends to end up in other foods
that substitute rice like rice flour, noodles and
bread. We tend to eat the hidden forms which still get
digested into sugar. Rice, even when cooked, is
difficult to digest

Can't eat raw rice? Try eating rice half cooked.
Contrary to popular belief, rice is very difficult to
digest. It is "heavy stuff". If you have problems with
digestion, try skipping rice for a few days. You will
be amazed at how the problem will just go away.

Rice prevents the absorption of several vitamins and
minerals. Rice when taken in bulk will reduce the
absorption of vital nutrients like zinc, iron and the
B vitamins.
Are you a rice addict? Going rice-less may not be easy
but you can go rice-less. Eating le! ss rice could be
lot easier than you think. Here are some strategies
that you can pursue in your quest to eat less rice:

Eat less rice - Cut your rice by half. Barry Sears,
author of the Zone Diet, advises "eating rice like
spice".

Instead, increase your fruits and vegetables.

Take more lean meats and fish.
You can even take more eggs and nuts.
Have "riceless" meals. Take no rice or wheat at say,
breakfast. Go for eggs instead.

Go on "riceless" days - Go "western" once a week.
Take no rice and breads for one day every week. That
can't be too difficult. Appreciate the richness of
your food. Go for taste, colors and smells. Make
eating a culinary delight. Enjoy your food in the
original flavors.

Avoid the salt shaker or ketchup. You will
automatically eat less rice.

Eat your fruit dessert before (Yes! No printing error)
your meals.
The fibre rich fruits will "bulk up" in your stomach.
Thus, you will eat less rice and more fruits.

From Marciano Caraig

[ateneo70] SLEX-Filinvest WARNING

hi guys....i seldom do this but this is a first-hand
account of my staff, Fer Joson.....just last Thursday,
2 March, at 8:00 in the morning my staff's brother,
Manny Joson, coming from Makati drove out of the
Filinvest exit from SLEX for Alabang....just after the
toll gate, he heard a noise (turned out to be
aluminum-type wires scattered on the road)...thinking
that something got stuck on his tires, Manny parked
his car by the roadside and (luckily with engine
running) got out to look....as soon as he was looking
under his car, he noticed some men coming out of the
"grassy knoll" on the side...Manny rushed back to his
car, got in but a man swung a box-cutter to his
side....Manny was stabbed on his left abdominal
side...but because his engine was running, Manny
managed to speed off directly to Asian
Hospital....luckily again, the stab wound did not hit
any vital organ....just for your information...as
expected, there were other cars driving by (mind you
it was morning) but no one stopped to help....please
pass... eric i

Manila

Following a week-long state of emergency declared by Pres. Arroyo which alarmed the all sectors of society particularly the press, people are wondering the next move of the government. Will the President reimpose the state of emergency? Would the situation really goes to normal.  Will it be business as usual?  Although the Philippine peso has appreciated against the US dollar, there are some doubts on the part of foreign investors on the political stability in Manila.