TIME Philippines

Philippines Confirms First Case of MERS

A customs inspector wearing a face mask gestures as she waits for flight passengers arriving from South Korea at the arrival area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila
Romeo Ranoco—Reuters A customs inspector wearing a face mask gestures as she waits for flight passengers arriving from South Korea at the arrival area of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on June 9, 2015

The patient's home country was not immediately disclosed

(MANILA, Philippines) — Health officials say a 36-year-old foreigner who arrived in the Philippines from the Middle East is under quarantine after testing positive for the MERS virus.

Health Secretary Janette Garin said Monday that several people the foreigner had come in close contact with have been traced. She said one of them, a Filipino woman exhibiting mild symptoms, had been isolated and her test results were being awaited.

The patient’s home country was not immediately disclosed.

Garin said around 200 passengers who were on a flight to Manila that the foreigner took were also being traced. At least seven other people who had close contact with the patient were under home quarantine.

The patient initially arrived in the Philippines from Saudi Arabia but also stayed in Dubai before flying to Manila.

TIME Philippines

36 Dead, 19 Missing After Ferry Capsizes in Philippines

STR—AFP/Getty Images Survivors of a passenger ferry that capsized in rough waters speak to local rescue officers after arriving at the pier in Ormoc City, central Philippines on July 2, 2015

A total of 118 people have been rescued in Ormoc city on central Leyte island

(MANILA, Philippines) — A ferry carrying 173 people capsized Thursday as it left a central Philippine port in choppy waters, leaving at least 36 dead and 19 others missing, coast guard officials said.

They said at least 118 people from the M/B Kim Nirvana were rescued by nearby fishing boats and coast guard personnel or swam to safety off Ormoc city on Leyte Island.

Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the wooden outrigger ferry was leaving Ormoc for the Camotes Islands, about 44 kilometers (27 miles) to the south, when it was lashed by strong waves.

Survivors told The Associated Press by cellphone that the bow of the ferry suddenly rose from the water before the vessel flipped over on one side, turning the vessel upside down and trapping passengers inside.

Mary Jane Drake, who was traveling with her mother and American husband, said the ferry was pulling slowly out of the port when it suddenly flipped to the left in strong waves and overturned, trapping her and other passengers. She, her mother and husband swam to safety from underneath the ferry.

“No one was able to jump out because it overturned very swiftly. There was no time to jump,” she said.

Her husband Lawrence Drake, a 48-year-old retired firefighter from Rochester, New York, said he ran to one side of the boat to try to balance it but it was too late.

“I jumped out of my seat and ran to the front as far as I could, and tried to lean over. I am a big guy, and tried to push the boat back over but it was way too late,” he said.

Within a few seconds, the boat overturned, with many of the passengers screaming in panic, he said.

TIME viral

Watch Two Filipino Divers Spectacularly Mess Up in International Competition

That's two perfect zeroes

A video of two Filipino divers has gone viral after the two athletes botched up their fourth dives in the men’s 3-m springboard event Wednesday at the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.

John Elmerson Fabriga, 21, and John David Pahoyo, 17, both landed awkwardly on their backs after attempting their dives, fails that earned them both a score of zero from the judges, reports the Inquirer.net.

Both men tried to laugh off their blunders after the dive and Pahoyo even commented on the video, which has racked up over 1.6 million views after it was posted to the Facebook page SGAG.

“I even laughed at myself after I did this dive,” he said tagging his teammate Fabriga. “I am still proud because not all of us has the privilege to represent our own country to such a big sporting event like this. And by the way can I ask all of you if you can still smile after getting embarrassed in front of thousands of people?”

But not everybody is laughing, as Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia reportedly said Thursday he wants an explanation from the aquatics chief Mark Joseph.

“I will give the opportunity for the Philippine Swimming Inc. president to explain, because he fought for these divers to come here and compete,” said Garcia.


TIME Philippines

Philippine President Slams Beijing for Acting like Nazis in the South China Sea

Kazuhiro Nogi — AFP/Getty Images Philippine President Benigno Aquino delivers a speech in the Japanese parliament during his visit to Tokyo on June 3, 2015.

This isn't the first time he’s compared the Chinese leadership to the Third Reich

Philippine President Benigno Aquino refused to pull his punches in Tokyo on Wednesday when he compared Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea to Nazi Germany’s demands for Czech territory in the 1930s.

During a speech to business leaders in the Japanese capital, Aquino blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing claim to a majority of the potentially resource-rich waters of the South China Sea.

“I’m an amateur student of history and I’m reminded of… how Germany was testing the waters and what the response was by various other European powers,” said Aquino, in an apparent reference to the Nazis’ territorial conquests in Europe during the run up to World War II, according to Agence France-Presse.

Aquino’s remarks echo similar sentiments made during an interview with the New York Times last year when he also made comparisons between Beijing’s maritime maneuvers now with Nazi Germany’s actions in the late 1930s.

At the time, Chinese state media outlets lambasted the comparison and said the president was an “amateurish politician who was ignorant both of history and reality.”

TIME Military

The Next Step Toward Possible Conflict in the South China Sea

Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3)
Conor Minto / U.S. Navy The littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) sails near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea last month.

U.S. warships likely to challenge expanded Chinese sovereignty

When discussing the growing conflict over China’s dredging new islands to extend its sovereignty 1,000 miles into the resource-rich South China Sea, one phrase frequently pops up from U.S. military officers past and present. “China,” they say, “doesn’t do off-ramps well.” What they mean is that once Beijing has decided on a course of action, it is rarely deterred from pursuing it. Given that—and the U.S. declaration that it will not allow China’s sand grab to stand—what’s next?

The chance of shots being fired now stand at better than 50-50, says Bernard Cole, a retired Navy captain and China expert. But he believes any initial volley would more likely come from the Philippines or Vietnam, who also dispute China’s expanding territorial claims, than Beijing or Washington.

“I see no flexibility in China’s position at all,” says Cole, now a professor at the Pentagon’s National War College in Washington, D.C. “I think China’s plan is just to have a fait accompli, gambling on where the U.S. threshold for reaction is.”

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has made clear in recent days that the U.S. won’t back down, either. “There should be no mistake: the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, as U.S. forces do all over the world,” Carter said Saturday at the Shangri-La defense conference in Singapore. “After all, turning an underwater rock into an airfield simply does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit.”

If the Chinese don’t halt their island-building efforts in the Spratly Islands, new U.S. military hardware will soon be showing up in the region to help them reconsider, Carter warned. He rattled off an incoming roster of weapons, including “the latest Virginia-class submarines, the Navy’s P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft, the newest stealth destroyer, the Zumwalt, and brand-new carrier-based E-2D Hawkeye early-warning-and-control aircraft.”

China didn’t seem to get the hint. “China and the Chinese military have never feared the devil or an evil force,” Admiral Sun Jianguo, deputy chief of staff of the People’s Liberation Army, said at the same gathering Sunday, a day after Carter spoke. “Don’t ever expect us to surrender to devious heresies or a mighty power.” Basically, the two sides spoke past one another at the weekend confab. “China is unlikely to stop its reclamation in the Spratlys,” William Choong, an Asian expert at the session, wrote afterwards. “In fact, the reclamation will continue.”

President Obama on Monday repeated his call for China to halt its island building. “We think that land reclamation, aggressive actions by any party in that area are counterproductive,” he said. “It may be that some of [China’s] claims are legitimate, but they shouldn’t just try to establish that based on throwing elbows and pushing people out of the way.”

U.S. officials say the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea bars what China is doing. “Artificial islands, installations and structures do not possess the status of islands,” the treaty says. “They have no territorial sea of their own, and their presence does not affect the delimitation of the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone or the continental shelf.”

U.S. naval experts say that if the U.S. is going to back it words with actions, the U.S. Navy soon will have to send warships near the growing Chinese-claimed islands to show its territorial claims are worthless. U.S. Navy officials have said planning for such deployments is in the works.

But the South China Sea has a reputation as a ships’ graveyard. It’s shallow enough to sink them, as well as to enable dredging gear to expand existing islands. That limits the U.S. Navy to dispatching one of its new lightly-armed Littoral Combat Ships, or a flat-bottomed Marine amphibious ship, to poke around China’s islands, says retired Navy captain Jerry Hendrix, who spent much of his career in the Pacific.

The USS Fort Worth, a 4,000-ton, 387-foot LCS, recently sailed near the Spratlys, where Chinese vessels kept a close eye on her. “Routine operations like the one Fort Worth just completed in the South China Sea will be the new normal as we welcome four LCSs to the region in the coming years,” Captain Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7, said May 12 after the Fort Worth returned to the Philippines.

A bigger San Antonio or Whidbey Island-class amphibious warship would show the U.S. is serious, says Hendrix, now at the Center for a New American Security. “They’re large vessels with a very shallow draft,” he says, “and they also come with Marines.”

Hendrix believes the Chinese are trying to take advantage of a sense of U.S. wariness of overseas action. Chinese President “Xi Jinping has perceived the U.S. administration to have rolled over on Cuba, on the Iran nuclear deal, on Russia in the Crimea and Ukraine,” he says. The U.S. refusal to budge in the South China Sea may also offend some Chinese sensibilities. “There may be a perception, at least among their military, that there may be a cultural bias here: ‘Wait a minute, you’ll deal with the Persians, with the Latins, and with the Slavs, but you won’t deal with us?’ That could be another source of friction.”

Cole says he’d bet on an LCS deployment. “But if I were still a Navy planner, I wouldn’t send an LCS in there by itself,” he adds. “The LCS almost can’t defend itself. I’d have a couple of DDGs [destroyers] or some airplanes just over the horizon.” Cole doubts either China or the U.S. would fire a first shot. “But suppose the Philippines manages to get one of those two old Coast Guard cutters underway that we gave them and it ends up getting sunk by the Chinese?” he frets. “We have a mutual defense treaty with the Republic of the Philippines that very clearly includes Philippine warships.”

TIME Pop Culture

Watch 100 Years of Filipina Beauty and History in Less Than Two Minutes

The country's rich history has heavily influenced style and beauty trends

The folks over at Cut Video have released the sixth episode of 100 Years of Beauty, taking us not just through a century of beauty in the Philippines, but of Filipino history too.

The video begins with the Spanish-American War at the turn of the century, when indigenous women were adorned with tribal tattoos and shell headpieces.

After U.S. took control of the country, American trends began to heavily influence Filipino beauty. By the 1920s and ’30s, women were inspired by jazz and the silver screen — glamorous updos with heavy makeup became in vogue until Japanese occupation began during World War II.

After the war, the Philippine’s film industry boomed and mestiza (half-Filipino half-Caucasian) actresses set the trend for red lips and rosy cheeks.

America kept influencing beauty trends throughout the ’60s, with big bouffant hair inspired by Jackie O and Imelda Marcos, the wife of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, moving to the hippie style of the ’70s.

By the 2000s people turned to Korean music and television for style and beauty trends and long straight hair became popular. As the video fast-forwards to present day, K-pop and American culture still dominate women’s styles with full wavy hair and dark brows.

TIME apps

Uber Is Now Legal Everywhere in the Philippines

Move follows introduction of world's first legal provisions specifically for ride-hailing apps

The Philippines just rolled out the world’s first framework of regulations for app-based ride-hailing, allowing Uber to legally operate anywhere in the country.

Under the regulations, Uber cars are required to be GPS-equipped sedans, SUVs, vans, or utility vehicles less than seven years old. All Uber drivers will be registered with Philippines transportation authorities.

“We are pleased to have collaborated closely with Uber and other tech companies in crafting regulations for a new class of public utility vehicles,” said Jun Abaya, Secretary of the Philippines Department of Transportation and Communication.

Smooth rides are not guaranteed, however, at least not in the capital. Manila’s traffic is ranked among the top ten worst in the world, according to a 2015 Numbeo traffic index.

TIME Philippines

2 Dead as Typhoon Noul Slams Philippines on Way to Japan

The typhoon is expected to head toward Japan

At least two people were killed and almost 4,000 others were forced to evacuate their homes as Typhoon Noul slammed into the northern Philippines, the national disaster agency said Monday.

By midmorning Monday, Noul — called Typhoon Dodong locally — was maintaining its strength as it moved toward the Batanes Islands, with sustained winds of 100 mph and gusts up to 120 mph, the national weather bureau said. Noul was expected to start heading for southern Japan by Tuesday, according to the weather bureau, known by the acronym PAGASA.

NDRRMC, the national disaster agency, said Noul made a direct hit Sunday with buckets of rain and mammoth waves …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Boxing

Manny Pacquiao’s Hometown Fans Dejected but Still Plan Hero’s Welcome

Rishi Iyengar—TIME People watch Manny Pacquiao's fight against Floyd Mayweather at the Lagao Gymnasium in General Santos City, the Philippines, on May 3, 2015

Pacquiao is expected to return to General Santos City in the southern Philippines on May 8

Like millions of their countrymen, thousands of fans in Manny Pacquiao’s hometown in the southern Philippines were left disheartened and dejected Sunday afternoon, after their hero and champion lost to Floyd Mayweather in the “fight of the century” by unanimous decision.

“It’s not fair,” said 36-year-old Judith Lozano of General Santos City as she reached under her glasses with a handkerchief to wipe tears away. “You could see Manny was hitting him more.”

As Michael Jordan, Beyoncé, Clint Eastwood and other A-listers filed into the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas for the richest fight ever (expected to generate revenues in excess of $300 million), Lozano and over 5,000 other residents of Gen San, as the locals call it, made their way to a public sports facility for a free screening organized by the local government. Tickets for the fight were distributed in all the local barangays (administrative wards) in mid-April on a first-come, first-serve basis.

As with the rest of the Philippines, General Santos comes to a complete standstill whenever Pacquiao fights, and the biggest fight of his career was no exception. People were pouring off the streets and into the three-tier public gymnasium well before the encounter began.

“We are very proud of Manny Pacquiao because he brings honor not only to our country but also to Gen San,” said Karen Cunanan. The 34-year-old got tickets through a friend and was attending with her son and nephew.

Samuel Malinao was not so lucky, having been at work when the tickets were given out in his locality. But the 40-year-old trailer driver joined hundreds of others outside the arena, watching the fight on televisions set up on rickety wooden tables. “I’m excited,” Malinao said. “I feel very proud of him.”

Both of them anticipated a Pacquiao win, naturally, but the universe had other plans.

The massive crowd inside the gymnasium appeared somewhat subdued in the lead-up to the fight, with only a smattering of applause and disjointed cheers whenever the cameras swiveled onto Pacquiao’s face.

As soon as the fight began, however, it became clear the fans had merely been conserving their energy. Every swing at Mayweather elicited tumultuous roars of approval, and punches that landed had them jumping out of their seats. As the 12-round fight wore on and Pacquiao’s American opponent appeared to be gaining the upper hand, there was a palpable dip in the crowd’s boisterousness — but not its confidence.

“I think Pacquiao is dominating the fight,” said 29-year-old Hermie Cadorna during the 10th round, balancing precariously on a ledge to see above the crowd outside the stadium. “He is throwing more punches.”

It was a view Pacquiao himself would go on to express after the loss, saying, “I thought I won the fight, he didn’t do anything.”

But regardless of the outcome, the Filipino icon will receive the same adoring reception he always does when he returns home on May 8.

“Manny’s still our champion,” said General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who was traveling this week but came back especially for the fight. “He deserves a hero’s welcome.”

TIME Boxing

The Philippines Is at Fever Pitch as Manny Pacquiao Prepares to Fight Floyd Mayweather

JOHN GURZINSKI—AFP/Getty Images WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao listens during a news conference at the KA Theatre at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on April 29, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A nation of a 100 million will come to a standstill to support its hero in the "fight of the century"

Shay Malcampo puts on a pair of bright red boxing gloves and gets into the ring at General Santos City’s Pacman Wild Card Gym. Others around the room are hitting punching bags, small sprung “speed bags,” or they’re skipping, or doing sit-ups. All of them are just recreational boxers trying to stay fit, but about twelve thousand miles away the facility’s owner, Manny Pacquiao, is training at the gym he named it after — the fabled Wild Card Boxing Gym in Los Angeles — for the biggest fight of his life.

“I think Manny will win, not only because of his power and speed but because of his personality and confidence,” says Malcampo, a 27-year-old medical representative. She’s planning to watch fight — which takes place on Saturday night in Las Vegas but on Sunday morning Philippines time — at home on pay-per-view. “It doesn’t matter how much it costs, I’m excited to watch it.”

The rest of the gym is filled with dozens of people on treadmills and at weight racks, sweating it out for “Manny Pacquiao’s Biggest Loser Challenge” — a contest he started in September 2014 and conducts every time he fights. The top four winners (or losers) get between $1,000 and $1o,000, and anyone who loses more than 15% of their bodyweight gets the equivalent of $560. These are sums worth sweating for in a country where the average monthly wage is less than $1,000.

The Pacman Wild Card Gym can doubtless afford it. Signs of Pacquiao’s immense wealth and success are everywhere in General Santos, the southernmost city of the Philippines’ and a place where Pacquiao spent his formative years. Besides the gym, he owns a local stadium, a gas station, a printing press, a bottled water company called “PacMan H20” and two large mansions.

As he prepares to take on an undefeated Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas on Saturday night, in what is being hyped as one of boxing’s biggest ever fights, the excitement in the hometown he left at age 13 in search of a better future can be felt everywhere.

“Time practically stops here whenever he fights,” says city administrator Arnel Zapatos, adding that General Santos City’s — already a little sleepy, admittedly — become completely deserted. “Everything stops.”

That isn’t the case only in Gen San, to call the city as the locals do. Whenever the eight-division world champion fights, the whole of the Philippines comes to a near-complete standstill. Even the crime rates plummet — and opposing rebel groups in the nation’s war-torn south suspend their hostilities.

“The bad guys are too busy watching,” Dennis Principe says with a chuckle.

Principe, a journalist and broadcaster who has covered Pacquaio’s career ever since he was fighting his way through the local leagues in Manila, isn’t exaggerating. A survey by Social Weather Stations shows that 69 percent of Filipinos are closely following the long-awaited bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather — a level of engagement surpassed this year only by a clash between two of the Southern rebel groups and Pope Francis’ visit to Manila, both in January.

For the Philippines and its people, there’s very little Manny Pacquiao cannot do (or hasn’t already done). He’s an elected congressman, singer, actor, he’s the player-coach of one professional basketball team and owns another. He may stand for election to the senate soon, and is expected to run for President once he retires from boxing. But above all he’s their fighter, hero and champion, and he exemplifies their spirit and aspirations.

“Most of us Filipinos, we struggle in our daily lives and when we see someone fighting it’s a matter of life and death for them,” Principe says. “Coming from such a poor country, most of the time it’s life and death for most of our countrymen as well.”

Seeing one of their own make it this big on the world stage is meaningful in itself. If Pacquiao does lose to Floyd Mayweather, well, so be it. To many Filipinos, Pacquiao is already a winner.

It feels like a dream for Filipinos to “see someone like Manny getting pictures with Hollywood celebrities,” Principe says. “And it’s actually the celebrities that are asking for his picture.”

Manila’s Own Thrilla

The Araneta Coliseum isn’t really well known outside of the Philippine capital Manila, but its most famous fight — the “Thrilla in Manila,” at which Muhammad Ali dealt Joe Frazier a resounding defeat in their third and final bout bout — is instantly recognizable.

This Sunday’s fight doesn’t have as catchy a sobriquet, but given the national pride at stake this is no time for glib rhymes. “Battle for Greatness” read the posters plastered around the venue and across the city gravely. “Fight of the Century.” Come Sunday, the Coliseum will be packed with over 10,000 Filipinos screaming their lungs out, not at a boxing ring but at a cube of 32-foot screens in its center. Some 70% of the 14,319 seats in the stadium had been sold as of Friday evening, according to Araneta’s VP of Marketing Cecile Marvilla, who anticipates a surge in sales the day before the fight.

“It’s a holiday, and the hype will be at its fullest,” Marvilla said, “This is the most exciting fight being viewed at the Araneta Coliseum since the Thrilla in Manila.”

About 8 kilometers away, the MP Tower in the city’s Sampaloc neighborhood rises above its surroundings. It’s only 7 stories high and rather unremarkable to look at, but amid narrow streets barely wide enough for a car to drive through, and one-room houses, it might as well be the Empire State Building.

In a gym on the second floor, young boxers spar in a ring and throw punches at bags twice their size. Pacquiao was just like them when he practiced here, when it was called the LM Gym and a small, one-story structure just like the houses around it. In 2008, the champion boxer bought those premises, tore them down and built the tower that now bears his name.

Aspiring boxers like Ali Laurel can now train at the second-floor gym free of charge (or, if they can afford it, work with one of the trainers for about $2). The building also has three floors of dormitories for the boxers to stay in — cheap if they can pay, free if they can’t.

“I want to make a name in the world of boxing, I want to be a champion like Manny Pacquiao,” says Laurel, a lanky 23-year-old also from General Santos. “Maybe I won’t be as famous as him,” he adds quickly, “But I want to be a champion.”

Like everyone in the country, he firmly believes that Pacquiao can hand Mayweather his first defeat on Sunday. “But if he loses this time, I don’t think anything will happen.” he adds.

“Of course we would feel bad, just like anyone who suffers a defeat,” says Principe, “but the respect will always be there after what he has done.”

And if he wins? “It will be euphoric. It’ll be like each and every Filipino won the sweepstakes.”

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