US State Secretary Pompeo cites partnership with ASEAN as group marks 53rd anniversary

US State Secretary Michael R. Pompeo. Photo from the Facebook page of the US State Department

US State Secretary Michael R. Pompeo cited the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Aug. 7, Friday, saying the strategic partnership between the US and the group “contributes to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In a message released by the US Embassy in Manila ahead of the ASEAN’s 53rd founding date celebrated annually on Aug. 8, Pompeo said “for decades, ASEAN has fostered a more stable, prosperous, and peaceful region.”

“ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms are at the heart of the U.S. vision for the Indo-Pacific and that of our allies and partners. The strategic partnership between the United States and ASEAN contributes to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Pompeo said.

Acknowledging the “enormous challenge” posed by the Covid19 pandemic, Pompeo said “we are proving the strength of our relationship by leveraging our government, private sector, and charitable partnerships to support our shared health and prosperity.”

The US has pledged nearly $85 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help ASEAN countries battle COVID19.

Pompeo said the US will continue to promote transparent economic growth between our countries during the post-pandemic recovery.

ASEAN was formed on Aug. 8 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand when the group’s “founding fathers” signed the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration).

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand are the group’s original members.

Brunei Darussalam then joined on Jan. 7 1984, Vietnam on July 28, 1995, Laos and Myanmar on July 23, 1997, and Cambodia on April 30 1999.

#ASEAN #USStateDepartment #MichaelRPompeo #Covid19

Instituto Cervantes screens online Maribel Verdú’s La Buena Estrella

La Buena Estrella (Lucky Star), directed by Ricardo Franco in 1997, is this weekend’s feature in the ongoing Instituto Cervantes Manila film series.

La Buena Estrella is an intense drama, which garnered several Goya Awards: Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

It revolves around the toxic relationship among a woman and two opposite men.

La Buena Estrella stands out for the superb interpretation by the actors of their roles, namely Antonio Resines, Jordi Mollá, and Maribel Verdú.

Resines won the Goya Award as best actor for his rendition of a kind man over Jordi Mollá.

The female role in the triangle is played by Verdú, a popular Spanish actress known internationally for the films Amantes (Vicente Aranda, 1991), Y tu Mamá También (Alfonso Cuarón, 2001), and Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006).

La Buena Estrella represents Verdú’s artistic summit. She was nominated for the Goya Awards best actress in this role.

Verdú visited Manila in 2015 to grace the inauguration of Pelicula, the Spanish Film Festival.

La Buena Estrella will only be accessible from the Philippines on July 25 and 26 (Saturday and Sunday), with English subtitles.

To access the film and the password kindly click here:

Alongside with the screenings, Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain have programmed for every Sunday, at 5 pm (Manila time), an online discussion about the film shown during the weekend.

The next videotalk is on La Buena Estrella and is scheduled on Sunday, July 26, at 5 pm (Manila time).

If you wish to attend the online discussion, kindly access this link:

More information about the film is available at this page:

The film is presented by Instituto Cervantes Manila, in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines and the Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain.

Admission is free.

For updates on this film series, please check or Instituto Cervantes’ Facebook page:

Images courtesy of the Instituto Cervantes Manila

#InstitutoCervantesManila #LaEstrellaBuena #Pelicula #GoyaAwards #Cine

Bassoon takes center stage in CCP, PPO program on July 26

The bassoon players of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra (PPO) are the stars of the July 26, 2020 “Instrument Petting Zoo” featuring Adolfo Mendoza and Frenvee Andra.

The live online show is at 4 pm via the PPO Facebook page.

During the show, Mendoza and Andra discuss the bassoon and demonstrate how it is played. They will perform classical pieces suited for the bassoon.

Mendoza finished his Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance at the University of Santo Tomas Conservatory of Music under Prof. Romeo Verayo and Prof. Arnaldo Custodio.

He studied with the NHK principal bassoonist. Prof. Koji Okazaki at the Elizabeth University of Music in Hiroshima, Japan for his master’s degree. He was a full scholar at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing arts under Prof. Kam Sui, principal bassoonist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He finished his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at Texas Tech University in Texas, US in 2016 under Prof. Richard Meek.

Mendoza is the principal bassoonist of the PPO, a faculty member of the Sta. Isabel College of Music, and the conductor of Trinity University of Asia Symphonic Band.

On the other hand, Andra received his Bachelors in Music degree in bassoon performance at the University of Santo Tomas under the tutelage of Prof. Severino Ramirez.

He studied under John Mostard and Adolfo Mendoza. He has a master’s degree from the Elisabeth University of Music in Hiroshima under bassoonist Koji Okazaki, principal bassoon of the NHK Orchestra.

He founded the I-House Woodwind Quintet in Hiroshima. He was also the bassoon principal of the Hiroshima Festival Orchestra in 2001 and instructor of bassoon with the Hiroshima Junior Orchestra.

A former principal bassoon of the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra, he is now a member of the PPO and conductor of Lyceum of the Philippines University Cavite Symphonic Band. He is the Music Director of the Sta. Cecilia Band 89 City of General Trias Cavite.

A project of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the PPO, the instrument petting zoo aims to promote appreciation for musical instruments of the orchestra and its music among children and families.

It is held every Sunday at 4 pm and will run in the coming months.

Catch the Musical Instruments Appreciation Series on the official PPO Facebook page.

#CCP #PPO #Bassoon #ClassicalMusic

BSP cuts reserve requirements of thrift, rural, cooperative banks

Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), announced on Tuesday / July 21, 2020 a 100-basis-point reduction in the reserve requirements of thrift banks (TBs) and rural and cooperative banks (RCBs) effective July 31, 2020.

The reduction is expected to increase lending capacity of these banks to support financing requirements of their micro-, small-, and medium enterprises as well as rural community-based clients, the BSP said.

Reserve requirements are the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve to ensure their capability to meet liabilities.

The reduction will also help lower intermediation costs and ease financial strain faced by these banks’ customers.

With the reduction, the reserve requirements of TBs and RCBs will be three percent and two percent, respectively.

Earlier, the BSP Monetary Board had approved a 200-basis point reduction in the reserve requirements of universal and commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions with quasi-banking functions.

This move was also part of the BSP’s omnibus package of reforms aimed at assisting the banking public with their liquidity requirements during the Covid19 pandemic and supporting the transition toward a sustainable recovery during the post-crisis period.

#BSP #Covid19PH #Banks #BankReserveRequirements

US donates Php14.8 Million in PPE to UP-PGH, other medical facilities

DTRA, USAID donations of PPE / US Embassy Photo

The United States, through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and in coordination with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), is distributing Php14.8 million (US$300,000) worth of regionally-manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE) to the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) and Covid19 treatment centers across the Philippines.

This latest donation brings to nearly Php981 million (US$19.8 million) the overall US government assistance to the Philippines related to the Covid19 response efforts.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said “this delivery of PPE demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the Philippines to stop Covid19.”

“During this month, which began with a commemoration of Philippine-American Friendship Day, we are honored to support our Filipino friends, partners, and allies with the PPE they need to assist communities confronting the pandemic,” the ambassador said.

DTRA and USAID staff, together with PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi during the turnover of the PPE donations / US Embassy Photo

Recipients of this particular donation were determined by a needs assessment based on pandemic infection rates, current PPE supply levels, and projected future needs, the US Embassy said.

The US will continue to support Filipino frontline workers, it added.

Dr. Robert S. Pope, director of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), said “we are proud to support brave Filipino medical workers to ensure they are safe and healthy while providing essential medical care to those affected by this deadly virus.”

“We value our longstanding partnerships in the Philippines. One day, we will look back on these events and know that our partnership helped enable a robust response that saved lives and prevented further contagion in the Philippines and surrounding region,” Pope said.

The Philippine General Hospital and the US Department of Defense have a long history of mutual support dating back to World War II. During the war, Filipino and American medical personnel worked together to treat soldiers and civilians during the Battle of Manila, following the liberation of PGH through joint US-Philippine effort.

The DTRA enables the Department of Defense, the US government, and international partners to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.

#USEmbassyPH #USAID #DTRA #PPE #Covid19PH #PGH

Monetary Board OKs US$6.8 M in Q2 2020 foreign borrowings of PH govt

The Monetary Board (MB) approved the National Government (NG) foreign borrowings in the second quarter of 2020, with a total amount of US$6,840.995 million, higher by US$3,800.493 million (125 percent) from the second quarter 2019 level of US$3,040.502 million.

The foreign borrowings consist of: (a) one bond issuance aggregating to US$2,350.000 million; (b) three project loans amounting to US$340.995 million; and (c) six program loans amounting to US$4,150.000 million.

These borrowings will fund the NG’s: (a) general financing requirements for 2020 (US$2,350.000 million); (b) programs in response to the COVID19 pandemic (US$4,450.000 million); and (c) projects in infrastructure development (US$40.995 million).

Under Section 20, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, prior approval of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), through its MB, is required for all foreign loans to be contracted or guaranteed by the Republic of the Philippines.

Similarly, Letter of Instructions No. 158 dated Jan. 21, 1974 also requires all foreign borrowing proposals by the NG, government agencies and government financial institutions to be submitted for approval-in-principle by the MB before commencement of actual negotiations.

The BSP promotes the judicious use of the resources and ensures that external debt requirements are at manageable levels, to assure external debt sustainability.

@BangkoSentral @GovBenDiokno #BSP #ForeignBorrowings2Q

Instituto Cervantes screens online film classic El Sur on July 18, 19

Instituto Cervantes Manila Image

This weekend, the Instituto Cervantes Manila invites you to watch the Spanish classic El Sur (The South) directed by Víctor Erice in 1983.

El Sur confirmed Erice’s status as an auteur.

Based on a story by Spanish writer Adelaida García Morales, El sur is set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War.

It depicts the childhood and adolescent life of Estrella, a girl fascinated by her father, a brooding doctor haunted by a secret past.

The film will be available with English subtitles.

Please note that it will be accessible from the Philippines only on July 18 and 19 (Saturday and Sunday) only.

To access the film and the password kindly click here:

Alongside with the screenings, Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain have programmed for every Sunday, at 5 pm (Manila time), an online discussion about the film shown during the weekend.

The next videotalk is on, July 19, at 5 pm (Manila time), and will be about El Sur. Filmmakers Baby Ruth Villarama and Sally Gutiérrez and Richard Bolisay will join the discussion.

To attend the online discussion, kindly access this link:

More information on El Sur is available at this page:

The film is presented by Instituto Cervantes in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines and the Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences of Spain.

#ElSur #VictorErice #InstitutoCervantesMLA #BabyRuthVillarama

Missing Wirecard funds did not enter PH banking system, NBI probe ongoing: BSP, AMLC

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) said again on Friday / July 17, 2020 that the missing Wirecard funds did not enter the Philippine banking system.

The two agencies also said that they are working closely with the National Bureau of Investigation.

They added that they are “open to coordination with concerned international authorities to hold unscrupulous individuals accountable.” However, they did not name specific international authorities.

Following is the complete text of the BSP and AMLC statement on Wirecard:

“In response to the Wirecard fraud, all relevant institutions in the Philippines have mobilized to investigate, announce relevant findings, and ensure that clear and credible information is made available to the public.

“The BSP and the AMLC swiftly launched a multi-pronged investigation into the matter to determine if illicit funds entered the country.

“Investigation by the BSP’s Financial Supervision Sector (FSS), which focuses on determining whether any banking regulations were breached, is well underway.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), the Philippines’ financial intelligence unit that is chaired by the BSP Governor, conducted a financial investigation into the matter to determine any violations of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (AMLA), as amended.

“As has been previously stated, current available evidence shows that the money did not enter the Philippine banking system. We have systems in place that send us red flags in case of huge/suspicious transactions.

“Strong financial oversight has always been one of the hallmarks of the Philippines’ economic success.

“Over the years, the BSP has instituted reforms that have promoted good corporate governance and effective risk management systems.

“These include strict regulations on the disqualification and watch-listing of erring bank officers. These regulations prevent individuals found as unfit from becoming officers in all BSP-supervised entities.

“These measures will be used with their full force against any individual found culpable of wrongdoing.

“The AMLC has also issued regulations in relation to the identification of the beneficial owner of accounts, as well as guidelines for designated non-financial businesses and professions, which cover the so-called gatekeepers, such as lawyers and accountants, requiring them to comply with their obligations under the AMLA, as amended, on know-your-customer requirements, recordkeeping, and transaction-reporting.

“We continue to emphasize the importance of well-established risk culture in supervised entities.

“It is because of a sound regulatory environment and proactive industry response that the Philippine banking system has remained strong and stable, playing a significant role in fueling economic growth over the years.

“The BSP and the AMLC are working closely with the National Bureau of Investigation on the matter and is open to coordination with concerned international authorities to hold unscrupulous individuals accountable.

“Committed to full transparency on the matter, the BSP and the AMLC will be sharing updates on the issue as investigations progress.”

#BSP #AMLC #Wirecard #NBI

Young Japanese directors’ films to be shown in Cinemalaya 2020

By Ibarra C. Mateo

The Japan Foundation Manila is screening two films by two award-winning Japanese directors as part of the 2020 Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival which runs on Aug. 7 to 16, 2020.

Hiroaki Uesugi, Japan Foundation Manila director, said Tomoki Misato’s “My Little Goat” and Masanao Kawajiri’s “A Japanese Boy Who Draws” are joining films by Filipino directors at this year’s Cinemalaya.

My Little Goat won in the 2019 Short Shorts Film Festival and in the Asia 2019 Best Short Award (Japan Competition). A Japanese Boy Who Draws also won in the 2019 Short Shorts Film Festival and the Asia 2019 (Japan) Japan Competition Audience Award.

Japan Foundation Manila Director Hiroaki Uesugi

During the press launch of the 2020 Cinemalaya, Uesugi said the Japan Foundation’s participation in Cinemalaya is under their partnership as allied festivals.

Under the Cinemalaya and Japanese Film Festival (Eiga Sai) partnership, Japanese films are given a place of honor by screening them at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Japanese directors, who visit Manila, are also afforded the opportunity to interact directly with the Filipino audience.

However, given the Covid19 pandemic, the Japanese films will be screened online.

Uesugi told the online media event the Cinemalaya and Eiga Sai cooperation aims to increase awareness and understanding of Japanese films among Filipinos and Cinemalaya fans.

“Many Fiiipinos are looking forward to watching Cinemalaya films. Personally, I have been watching Cinemalaya films, which I really enjoyed. It is a pity that there will be no big cinema screening this year,” Uesugi said.

“However, in spite of this difficult situation, I am very happy that Cinemalaya will push through in the form of online film festival,” Uesugi said.

Japanese Director Tomoki Misato / Japan Foundation Manila Image

My Little Goat

My Little Goat is stop-motion animation using imagery to consistently engaged viewers.

The story is about a mother goat rescuing her kids from the belly of a wolf. But her eldest son Toruku is missing.

One day, Toruku returns home and has to confront his own fears as well as the disfigured bodies of his brothers and sisters.

As the wolf once again approaches, secrets of Toruku’s absence come to light as the flock fights for survival.

Japanese Director Masanao Kawajiri / Japan Foundation Manila Image

A Japanese Boy Who Draws 

This film is an experimental animation-documentary depicting the life of a man who dreams to be a comic writer, told alongside the imagery that develops with him.

Japan Foundation Manila Image

The directors

Tomoki Misato was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1992 and graduated from the Musashino Art University, Department of Visual Communication with a degree in design in 2016.

In 2018, Misato received his master’s degree from the Department of Animation of the Tokyo University of the Arts – Graduate School of Film and New Media. In 2019, he became an awardee for Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia 2019 Best Short Award (Japan Competition).

Masanao Kawajiri was born in Kagoshima in 1987. During his studies at the Osaka University of Arts, he was especially inspired by the animator Keiichi Hara, who led him into the world of animation.

After working at an animation studio, he founded his own film production company and had worked on projects such as “Summer of Nipponitesu” and “Stella Women’s Academy, High School Division Class C3.”

Japan Foundation Manila Image

#2020Cinemalaya #EigaSai #CCP #JapanFoundationManila #MyLittle Goat #AJapaneseBoyWhoDraws

Cinemalaya 2020 ‘sails the 7 seas’ of digital world on Aug. 7-16

By Ibarra C. Mateo

The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival sails its maiden voyage to the “seven seas” of the digital world from Aug. 7 to 16, 2020.

Chris B. Millado, vice president of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and Cinemalaya festival director, told an online press conference on Wednesday / July 15, 2020 that the 16th edition of the Cinemalaya will be screened on Vimeo because of the Covid19 pandemic.

Millado said that CCP and Cinemalaya are partnering with and The Filipino Channel for the eventual online screening of the 2020 Cinemalaya films. “This will give the 2020 Cinemalaya a global reach.”

The migration to digital platform also poses challenges, such as possible piracy and violation of intellectual property rights, he said.

Despite the challenges, Millado said the digital platform widens Cinemalaya’s audience reach.

For a bundle ranging from 75 pesos to 300 pesos, Cinemalaya films can be accessed on demand.

This year’s edition of Cinemalaya celebrates the 16th year of the country’s biggest independent film festival.

Co-produced by the CCP and the Cinemalaya Foundation, the 2020 Cinemalaya will focus on short films.

2020 Cinemalaya and Covid19

Director Jose Javier Reyes, chair of the Cinemalaya Competition and Monitoring Committee, said the impact of the Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent months of lockdown, together with the new government protocols on shooting films, became insurmountable problems for directors of the full-length films.

“However, the full-length films in competition supposedly for the 2020 Cinemalaya will join the 10 full-length films that will be showcased in 2021 Cinemalaya,” Reyes said.

Two full-length films in the 2020 Cinemalaya batch will be unable to join the 2021 festival, he said.

“But having 18 full-length films in one Cinemalaya edition is a big deal,” Reyes said.

Laurice Guillen, Cinemalaya Foundation president, said that they hope to see how the current situation will impact on the stories that will be told by Filipino directors in future Cinemalaya festivals.

CCP Cinemalaya File Photo

Films in competition

Out of 244 entries submitted, 10 short films have been selected and are now vying for the Best Film award.

Reyes announced the list of the 2020 Cinemalaya films in competition.

These are: “Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert” (The Broken Vinyl Record) by Janina Gacosta and Cheska Marfori; “Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos” (To Calm the Pig Inside) by Joanna Vasquez Arong; “Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss” by Sonny Calvento; “Fatigued” by James Robin Mayo; “Living Things” by Martika Ramirez Escobar; “Pabasa Kan Pasyon” by Hubert Tibi; “Quing Lalam Ning Aldo” (Under the Sun) by Reeden Fajardo; “The Slums” by Jan Andrei Cobey; “Tokwifi” by Carla Pulido Ocampo; and “Utwas” (Arise) by Richard Salvadico and Arlie Sweet Sumagaysay.

In Ang Gasgas na Plaka ni Lolo Bert, an old vinyl record alters a closeted gay man’s life.  Meanwhile, memories catch up as a girl visits a ravaged port city in Ang Pagpakalma sa Unos.

Excuse Me Miss, Miss, Miss tells the story about a department store sales lady who unearths the ultimate secret to regularization; while Fatigued is about an employee who overslept and must wake-up from a nightmare.

Living Things is about a woman who discovers that her decade-long lover has turned into a cardboard standee. Pabasa kan Pasyon follows a Bicolano family that turns to religion to make both ends meet.

In Quing Lalam Ning Aldo, a transgender sampaguita farmer decides to renovate their neglected kitchen as soon as she hears that her son is going home.

The Slums, on the other hand, follows a documentary team which progressively intervenes and trespasses into the lives of a poor family living in the slums as they try to cope with the loss of their television set.

In Tokwifi, a 1950s mestiza star, trapped inside a television that fell from the sky, dreams up a romantic romp with a Bontok Igorot man who does not know how to kiss.  

Utwas narrates how a young boy discovers the ocean as he tries to learn how to dive and fish.

Aside from the main competition, the Cinemalaya will have a specially-curated Short Films in Exhibition, featuring 20 short films namely: Ang Meron Sa Wala (Beyond Nothing) by Arby and Christine Larano; Ang Nawalang Haligi (Pillar) by Sarah Mya Regacho; Dama De Noche by Lawrence Sibug; Grand Gestures by Cody Abad; Gulis (Lines) by Kyle Jumayne Francisco; Habak by Paolo Matibag and Mia Salisbury; Himagsik ng Hiwaga (Revolt of the Mystic) by Geoffrey Solidum; Igib by Joey Paras; Jepoy by Avid Liongoren; Kung Saan Patag Ang Bundok (Where The Horizon Meets The Mountain) by Dolliete Echon; OctoGod by Shievar Olegario; Paon by Seb Valdez; Pinakanakapagpapabagabag-Damdamin (Most Disturbing Feeling) by Jermaine Tulbo; Si Gloria at Si Juan by Gilliano Salvador; Sumasaiyo, (Yours truly,) by Jermaine Tulbo; Tarang (Life’s Pedal) by Arvin Alindogan Belarmino; and The Rooftop by Avirup Biswas.

Other events

Gawad CCP Para sa Alternatibong Pelikula at Video, the longest-running independent film and video competition in Asia, will also continue its run this year.

Visions of Asia, one of the major components of the film festival, will screen award-winning indie films from Asia.

Cinemalaya will also pay tribute to individuals who have made great contributions to the Philippine film industry, namely director Peque Gallaga and actress Anita Linda. 

Screenwriter Ricky Lee, in partnership with Cinemalaya, will conduct a scriptwriting masterclass. There will also be a virtual reunion of his writing workshop alumni. 

Don’t miss out on other Cinemalaya components such as the Cinemalaya Retrospectives, featuring past Cinemalaya films, and Cinemalaya Campus, among others.

For more updates, please visit the CCP and Cinemalaya websites.  

Follow the official CCP and Cinemalaya social media accounts.

CCP / Cinemalaya Images

#Cinemalaya #CCP #2020Cinemalaya #StreamConsciousness #RickyLee #GawadAlternatibo