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Crack open the fun at Sanrio’s ‘The South Eggventures with Gudetama’ at SM Southmall

Crack open the fun at Sanrio’s ‘The South Eggventures with Gudetama’ at SM Southmall

Gudetama lovers, listen up! Partnering with Sanrio, SM Southmall is throwing an eggstraordinary bash you won’t want to miss this Sept. 1-30. Swing by the Food Street Concourse for a Gudetama-packed party that’s pure excitement!

Eggs-quisite Setup: A first in the Philippines, step into an egg-citing large-scale Gudetama-themed setup that’s bound to whisk you away! Explore a playful ball pit, discover Insta-worthy spots for the perfect selfie, and let the little ones loose in a specially designed kids’ corner.

Gudetama Goodies: If you’re a fan of all things Gudetama, you’re in for a treat! The event will feature an eggs-tensive range of Gudetama merchandise available for purchase at The SM Store. From adorable plushies to quirky accessories, there’s something for every egg-thusiast.

Meet the Laziest Egg: Mark your calendars for a meet-and-greet with the one and only Gudetama Tamago Mascot! Catch this lovably lazy character live on Sept. 1, 15, and 16, 2023, at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Get ready for some egg-ceptional fun and eggs-tra special moments.

Join the Eggventure: Go gather your explorers and #SeeYouDownSouth at The South Eggventures with Gudetama in SM Southmall this September. Whether you’re a dedicated fan or just looking for a dose of egg-ceptional fun, this event is cracking good fun for everyone!


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#Crack #open #fun #Sanrios #South #Eggventures #Gudetama #Southmall

Senate vows to fund South China Sea defenses

Senate vows to fund South China Sea defenses

By John Victor D. Ordoñez and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporters

THE PHILIPPINE Senate expressed support for the country’s defense agencies, along with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), vowing to increase their budgets to sufficiently upgrade maritime security capability amid tensions with China in the South China Sea .

“The Senate is one and united in assisting your budgets and increasing your funds for proper equipment for the West Philippine Sea situation,” Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said at Tuesday’s joint committee hearing on matters of the South China Sea.

Mr. Zubiri gave the Senate’s commitment to back funding requirements for the PCG and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) “whether it be confidential, intelligence funds or funding that will give you proper equipment for your needs in the West Philippine Sea.”

He noted that senators had already planned to transfer the confidential funds of government agencies that do not need them to the National Security Agency and other intelligence-gathering bodies of the state.

Senator Francis T. Tolentino said a newly formed Senate Maritime and Admiralty Zones Committee on Sept. 14 would tackle proposals establishing Philippine maritime zones, archipelagic sea leans, and boosting the country’s archipelagic defense.

Meanwhile, Jay L. Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, told the same hearing that a United States aircraft did not violate international law when it was deployed to monitor a Philippine resupply mission last week.

An international security analyst is urging the Philippine government to replace the BRP Sierra Madre — the rusty World War II-era ship grounded at Second Thomas Shoal (Ayungin Shoal) to serve as a military outpost in the South China Sea (SCS) — with a permanent structure that will be manned by Filipino and American troops.

Blake Herzinger, a research fellow in the Foreign Policy and Defense Program at the United States Studies Center, noted that China might exploit the deteriorating condition of BRP Sierra Madre, which was intentionally run aground in the shoal in 1999.

“The United States and the Philippines should act before being forced to react to deteriorating conditions aboard the ship,” he said in analysis published by Texas National Security Review, noting that failure to do so would create conditions “for loss of Philippine sovereignty, a reenactment of China’s seizure of the Philippines’ Scarborough Shoal in 2012.”

A possible conflict in the shoal in the future could also create a crisis within the bilateral US-Philippine alliance, he added.

“The Philippines should remove the Sierra Madre and replace it with a permanent structure manned by combined rotational forces from both the Philippines and the US Marine Corps,” Mr. Herzinger said, noting that a combined outpost could deter Beijing’s efforts to block resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea.

He said that while a more muscular approach could lead to increased tension “given the Chinese military’s considerable force presence in the area,” “the coercive tactics long employed against littoral states in the region would be less effective against the US Navy, which could dispel the image of Chinese forces enjoying unchallenged dominance in the region.”

Mr. Herzinger said the best structure to replace the World War II-era vessel would be “a repurposed oil platform, oil rig, or accommodation platform.”

“Development of a combined facility would require a ready-made structure able to quickly replace the Sierra Madre immediately following its removal,” he said.

“Or, alternatively, the new facility could be emplaced as an upgraded living structure for the marines living aboard it, with the Sierra Madre to be disassembled after the new outpost is installed,” he added.

Meanwhile, the security expert said Beijing will likely physically challenge the emplacement of a platform with elements from its navy, coast guard, or maritime militia.

But a significant show of US naval and air power during the emplacement of the facility “would force Beijing to shoulder risk and be a step toward reversing years of unimpeded aggression,” Mr. Herzinger said.

#Senate #vows #fund #South #China #Sea #defenses

PEZA sees trade deal helping South Korea climb FDI rankings

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said it expects South Korea to become a top-four source of foreign direct investment (FDI) after the recently signed free trade agreement (FTA).

“If they are currently number five right now, they might be number four,” PEZA Director General Tereso O. Panga said on the sidelines of a Philippine Information Agency briefing on Friday.

“If you look at the numbers, from January to September we saw a strong increase in Korean investment,” he said.

PEZA estimates that South Korean FDI in the January-Sept. 7 period was P1.41 billion.

Japan topped the list with P22.61 billion approved investments, followed by Singapore (P15.4 billion), the Cayman Islands (P11.63 billion) and the UK (P2.75 billion).

Mr. Panga said the FTA with South Korea is expected to drive increased FDI in electronics, agro-processing, renewable energy, automotive, and frontier technology.

Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments managing head Ceferino S. Rodolfo said that the FTA, signed on Thursday, will correct tariff disadvantages hindering major Philippine exports to South Korea.

The Philippines was able to secure tariff elimination on 1,531 lines of agricultural goods, of which 1,417 lines will be removed upon entry into force (EIF) of the bilateral FTA.

Bananas, which are currently charged a 30% tariff, are set to go to zero tariffs over five years, while tariffs on processed pineapples, which are currently charged 36%, will obtain tariff elimination in seven years.

For industrial goods, the FTA led to tariff elimination for 9,909 lines, of which 9,747 lines are set for tariff elimination upon EIF.

Ateneo de Manila economics professor Leonardo A. Lanzona said in an e-mail that the FTA will likely lead to large domestic companies forging tie-ups with their Korean counterparts.

“It is crucial then also that the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are made to link with the domestic companies that are going to be tied to the multinational Korean companies,” Mr. Lanzona said.

“(The Korea FTA) is a welcome development. The more free trade agreements there are, the better,” he said.

“To maximize the benefits from these FTAs, we need to support more MSMEs and upgrade the skills of the workers to give them opportunities to participate in these activities,” he added.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said the FTA will boost trade and FDI in the Philippines.

The Philippines can be positioned as “an alternative manufacturing hub as well as hedge (against disruptions of) the global supply chain for the international operations of South Korean global companies,” he said.

In turn, the FTA could also encourage the hiring of Filipino workers in South Korea, in view of improved economic ties, Mr. Ricafort said.

“Thus, the FTA will boost gross domestic product growth in view of the increase in external trade and investment,” he said.

He added that the agreement may also boost tourism from South Korea, already a leading source of visitors for the Philippines.

However, Ateneo’s Mr. Lanzona cited the need to amend the Constitution with the expansion of FDI to more industries.

“The Constitutional provision that limits foreign ownership of firms to 40% needs to be revised.  Greater flexibility in our trade agreements is needed as long as greater production with more and better jobs are achieved,” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile

#PEZA #sees #trade #deal #helping #South #Korea #climb #FDI #rankings

In cat and mouse game, Philippines resupplies troops in South China Sea atoll

SOUTH CHINA SEA — The Philippines has completed a supply mission for troops stationed in a rusty World War Two-era ship, but not without a usual cat and mouse chase with Chinese vessels in the South China Sea.

Reuters went onboard one of the Philippine Coast Guard’s vessels escorting the mission to the Second Thomas Shoal on Friday and witnessed how the Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels tried to chase and block the Philippine contingent from reaching their destination.

China said the vessels entered the waters without its permission.

During the mission, two Chinese ships blocked two Philippine coast guard vessels. In another instance, a Philippine ship was surrounded by a Chinese coast guard vessel and three maritime militia vessels.

One of the Chinese ships was also seen heading dangerously close to the Philippine vessel which Reuters was onboard, while several Chinese militia vessels tried to block its path.

“We always encounter dangerous manoeuvres, shadowing activities, blocking not only from China coast guard vessels, but also from China militia vessels,” Philippine Coast Guard commanding officer Emmanuel Dangate told reporters after the mission.

“It is imperative that the supplies be delivered to BRP Sierra Madre to support our soldiers stationed there.”

The Philippines intentionally grounded the warship in 1999 as part of its sovereignty claim to the shoal, which is located inside its 200-mile exclusive economic zone.

China’s coast guard said on Friday two Philippine supply boats and two coast guard ships had entered the waters adjacent to the shoal without permission from the Chinese government.

China claims that the Philippines is bringing construction materials that reinforces the rusty warship and violates China’s sovereignty in the shoal. The Philippines says it is taking water and food to its troops.

A U.S. Navy plane was also spotted overhead during Friday’s mission.

In a radio message to its Chinese counterpart, the Philippine coast guard warned that the Chinese actions would affect relations between the two countries.

The actions are “illegal, aggressive and destabilising,” it said.

It was the second successfully completed resupply mission since Aug. 5 when China’s coast guard used a water cannon to deter the Philippine ships.

In 2016, the Philippines won an international arbitration award against China, with the tribunal invalidating Beijing’s sweeping claim to sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines have various claims to certain areas. — Reuters

#cat #mouse #game #Philippines #resupplies #troops #South #China #Sea #atoll

Mosquito-borne dengue grows deadlier in South Asia as planet warms

Mosquito-borne dengue grows deadlier in South Asia as planet warms

 – Mosquito-borne dengue fever is taking a heavy toll on South Asian nations this year as Bangladesh grapples with record deaths and Nepal faces cases in new areas, with disease experts linking worsening outbreaks to the impacts of climate change.

Authorities in the two countries are scrambling to contain and treat the disease – which is also known as “breakbone fever” for the severe muscle and joint pains it induces. Entomologists and epidemiologists say rising temperatures and longer monsoon seasons are providing ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

The threat is not restricted to South Asia as dengue rates are rising globally with 4.2 million cases reported in 2022 – up eight-fold from 2000 – the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Earlier this year, WHO said dengue is the fastest-spreading tropical disease worldwide and represents a “pandemic threat”.

In Bangladesh, at least 691 people have died so far in 2023, and more than 138,000 have been infected, official figures show, making this the deadliest year since the first recorded epidemic in 2000. The previous record toll was 281 deaths last year.

A lack of proper prevention measures has allowed the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito to spread across almost all of Bangladesh, said Kabirul Bashar, an entomologist and zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University in the capital Dhaka.

He said this raised the risk of more infections occurring during September. Dengue is common during the June-to-September monsoon season, when mosquitoes thrive in stagnant water.

“This climate is favorable for the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes,” Bashar said in an interview. “Dengue is not only a problem for Dhaka, it is now a problem for the entire country.”



Meanwhile, Nepal – which first recorded dengue in 2004 – has had at least 13 dengue deaths and more than 21,200 cases so far this year across 75 of its 77 districts, according to officials.

This year could match the 2022 toll of 88 deaths and 54,000 cases, said Uttam Koirala, a senior public health officer at the national epidemiology and disease control division.

Meghnath Dhimal, a senior research officer at the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC), said the incidence and spread of dengue had been rising quickly nationwide in recent years.

Rising temperatures mean cases have started occurring in colder autumn monthswhile Nepal’s higher mountain districts that never before had the disease are now struggling to curb its spread, he said, describing the shifting patterns as “strange”.

For example, the city of Dharan in the mountainous east has been hit particularly hard this year – with dengue cases rising so fast that hospitals and ambulances are overwhelmed by demand, according to Umesh Mehta, the local health division chief.

The city of more than 160,000 people saw the number of dengue cases peak at 1,700 a day as of late August, he said.

Amrit Kumar Thakur, a Dharan resident, was one of four members of his family to contract dengue last month. The 27-year-old said the disease started with a mild body ache and got steadily worse before he was treated at a temporary health centre set up to deal with the fast-growing number of cases.

“Dengue was the worst health experience of my life,” said Mr. Thakur, adding that he and his relatives had fully recovered.



WHO says dengue is rising partly because global warming benefits mosquitoes, along with other factors including movement of people and goods, urbanization and problems with sanitation.

In July, WHO said an unusual episodic amount of rainfall in Bangladesh, together with high temperatures and high humidity, had helped the mosquito population to grow across the nation.

Furthermore, Bangladesh has experienced longer-than-usual monsoon seasons in recent years, with erratic rainfall over the March-to-October period and more breeding grounds popping up for mosquitoes, according to various disease and health experts.

The number of potential breeding sites identified in 2023 is the highest in the last five years, said Nazmul Islam, director of the disease control branch of Bangladesh’s health department.

Fiercer floods fueled by heavy rains and melting glaciers – driven by climate change – are another major factor behind the spread of dengue, said Mohammad Mushtuq Husain, an advisor at the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research.

The Bangladeshi government has also cited climate change as a driver behind the country’s worsening dengue outbreak.

Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change, said last month on the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the nation’s record dengue cases are “a clear instance of (the) climate change health nexus”.

Bangladesh needs to think about a national plan for adapting its health system to prevent diseases like dengue from turning into major disasters, Mr. Chowdhury said in an interview.



As dengue lacks a specific cure, health experts say the disease must be kept at bay through control of mosquito breeding, engaging with the public, and managing symptoms.

In Dhaka, officials are going around the city spraying insecticide to kill mosquitoes and imposing fines on people if breeding sites for the larvae are found.

Atiqul Islam, mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation, said the authorities would have to keep informing residents of the risks, and monitoring the situation, throughout the year.

“It’s not the time for pinning blame, rather everyone should come forward to deal with the dengue situation – for their love of this city where we are born, live and die,” said Islam.

In Nepal, Dhimal from the NHRC said no authority alone could stop dengue as mosquitoes are found everywhere from garages to the corners of houses which are out of reach of the government.

“Everyone should be aware and proactive, and contribute from their side to control the spread of the vector,” he added.

Civil society and development organizations are also helping to tackle the disease.

Sanjeev Kafley, head of the Bangladesh delegation for the International Red Cross, said it was helping to raise public awareness, procuring testing kits, and boosting the availability of platelets used in blood transfusions to treat some patients.

Yet when it comes to treatment broadly, ordinary families face high costs. Researchers from Dhaka University’s Institute of Health Economics have warned that total medical expenses for dengue patients may exceed 10 billion taka ($91 million) this year, up from 4.5 billion taka ($41 million) in 2019.

Dhaka resident Akhtar Hossain spent 60,000 taka ($545) on private hospital care for his daughter, Ayesha Tabassum Taqwa, who ultimately died of dengue last month at the age of 10.

Hossain cried as he spoke of Taqwa’s love of learning.

“Her books, notebooks … are all still on the reading table. (She) will never arrange new books,” he said. “(But) who can we blame and what is the point of talking about it?” – Reuters

#Mosquitoborne #dengue #grows #deadlier #South #Asia #planet #warms

Marcos pushes action vs ‘dangerous use’ of coast guard in South China Sea

Marcos pushes action vs ‘dangerous use’ of coast guard in South China Sea

PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Thursday urged his Southeast Asian counterparts to act on what he described as the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, in a gathering attended by a Chinese official.

“We must oppose the dangerous use of coast guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea,” he said at the 18th East Asia Summit attended by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, repeating what he said at the ASEAN Summit this week.

Mr. Marcos said the Philippines is also concerned “over illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and the militarization of reclaimed features” in the waterway.

“We call on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and our partners to harness our shared interests and rally us into taking joint action, guided by ASEAN centrality and universal multilateralism,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Marcos told his fellow leaders that while the Philippines does not want to be involved in any violent conflict, it would not hesitate to stand up to foreign aggression.

“Let me be clear, we do not seek conflict,” he said at the 43rd ASEAN Summit retreat in Jakarta on Tuesday. “But it is our duty as citizens and as leaders to always rise and meet any challenge to our sovereignty, to our sovereign rights and our maritime jurisdiction in the South China Sea.”

“No country would expect any less. No country would do any less.”

Tensions between the Philippines and China have worsened after the Chinese Coast Guard, backed by its maritime militia and People’s Liberation Army vessels, fired water cannons to block Manila’s delivery of food and other supplies to a grounded ship at Second Thomas Shoal.

The incident has prompted various countries to issue statements of concerns, including the United States, which has increased its presence in the Indo-Pacific region amid China’s increasing assertiveness at sea.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit on Wednesday, Mr. Marcos met with US Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss tensions in the South China Sea and the two countries’ security ties.

“The two leaders discussed the maritime security environment in the South China Sea and reviewed opportunities to enhance bilateral maritime cooperation, including alongside like-minded partners,” the White House said in a statement.

It said the US official also reaffirmed Washington’s “iron-clad alliance commitment” to the Philippines and reiterated the two countries’ role in keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open.

At the ASEAN-US Summit on Wednesday, the Philippine leader said Washington is more than just a “longstanding, close and reliable” ally. “The US is also undeniably ASEAN’s partner in achieving our collective goals and aspirations as nations, both on the domestic and on the international fronts,” he said.

Mr. Marcos also recognized a joint statement among the US, Japan and South Korean that expressed support for a free and open international order based on the rule of law, as well as their opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific waters and the militarization of reclaimed features in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, he said tensions in the South China Sea are not just due to the worsening conflict between the US and China, a view that he said undermines the Philippines’ legitimate claims.

“The Philippines firmly rejects misleading narratives that frame the disputes in the South China Sea solely through the lens of strategic competition between two powerful countries,” he said.

Security in Southeast Asia and the whole Indo-Pacific region has been a major discussion among ASEAN countries, as they deal with the increasing tension between the US and China.

The US and its Asian and European allies have vowed to make the Indo-Pacific region “free and open” amid what they describe as authoritarian threats.

They are worried about China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, which is believed to contain massive oil and gas deposits and through which billions of dollars of trade passes each year.

China claims the South China Sea almost in its entirety based on a 1940s map that a United Nations-backed tribunal said in 2016 was illegal.

China recently released a 2023 version of its standard map, featuring a 10-dash line. The Philippines, Vietnam, India and Taiwan have criticized the map.

The Philippines, which is considered a middle power, has been forging alliances with major Asian and western military powers under the Marcos administration as it tries to deter an increasingly belligerent China. It has also pursued closer ties with Australia, which has backed its 2016 legal victory.

On Friday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will visit the Philippines — the first visit by an Australian prime minister in two decades — to discuss ties in security, development and education, according to the presidential palace.

Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan in a statement accused the Australian official of tying economic cooperation with the broader agenda of drawing the Philippines closer into regional alliances led by the US.

“We are already at high risk due to the double threat of American and Chinese aggression,” it said. “We don’t want cooperation with other countries based on picking sides and bringing us closer to war.”

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch on Sept. 6 said discussions between Mr. Marcos and Mr. Albanese would not be fruitful “without seriously discussing human rights.”

It urged Mr. Albanese to press the Philippine leader to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigation of his predecessor’s war on drugs that has killed thousands.

“The war on drugs that Marcos inherited from his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte continues, with almost 400 killings of suspects since taking office,” it said in a statement. “Widespread impunity for these killings and those under Duterte persists. The lack of domestic accountability has prompted the ICC to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed during the drug war, as well as earlier killings by then Mayor Duterte’s so-called Davao Death Squad.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

#Marcos #pushes #action #dangerous #coast #guard #South #China #Sea

ICTSI’s Baltic port now linked to South Korea, China

ICTSI’s Baltic port now linked to South Korea, China

THE BUSINESS unit of International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) at the Port of Gdynia in Poland is now connected to Chinese and South Korean ports as it received the first direct call of Mediterranean Shipping Co.’s (MSC) SWAN service on Aug. 23.   

In a statement on Monday, ICTSI said its Baltic Container Terminal (BCT) received MSC’s first direct call of the SWAN service marked by the arrival of the 318-meter box ship KURE, which discharged 1,320 containers and will take almost 2,000 containers on the return journey.

The SWAN service, restored by MSC in May, connects ports in Europe and the Far East and offers a direct connection to Chinese and Korean ports.   

According to ICTSI, the recently revised port rotation is Qingdao – Busan – Ningbo – Yantian – Tanjung Pelepas – Antwerp – Gdynia – Gdańsk – Klaipėda – Bremerhaven – King Abdullah Port – Singapore – Qingdao, with the addition of Busan allowing a direct connection between the port of Gdynia and South Korea.   

“Further direct calls to Gdynia, in addition to the already existing connections to North America and India, open up new prospects for the development of container transport for customers in Poland and the extension of the intermodal offer to new markets, including Ukraine and other Central European countries,” BCT Chief Executive Officer Wojciech Szymulewicz said.

Meanwhile, ICTSI said MSC DOMNA X, which is also operating the SWAN service and sailing directly from the Far East, also called on BCT on Aug. 28.   

“I would like to congratulate MSC and the Port of Gdynia, for this historic moment in which we inaugurate the first-ever direct container connection with Chinese and Korean ports. This milestone redefines the status of BCT and the entire Port of Gdynia. We are changing its role from the current feeder port to a full-fledged maritime import and export gateway,” Mr. Szymulewicz said. 

In May 2003, ICTSI was awarded a 20-year concession by the Port Authority of Gydnia for the development, operation, and management of the container terminal in Pomerania, Gydnia in Poland. ICTSI bought Baltycki Terminal Kontenerowy Sp. z.o.o., which had held the lease to the terminal.

Shares of ICTSI at the local bourse closed unchanged on Monday at P206 apiece. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

#ICTSIs #Baltic #port #linked #South #Korea #China