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Jaclyn Jose passed away at 59


THE Philippine entertainment industry lost another renowned actress, Jacklyn Jose, or Mary Jane Santa Ana Guck in real life.

The iconic star, who was born on October 21, 1964 in Angeles, Pampanga was known was her exemplary performance as an actress, a multi-awarded icon of the Filipino movie and television industry was last seen in GMA’s teleserye Bolero.

Jaclyn Jose started her acting career doing movies and working with notable icons in the industry such as Lino Broca and Chito S. Roño, to name a few. She earned recognition from different award-giving bodies and won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in Derek Brilliant Mendoza’s Ma’ Rosa.

No additional info yet on the cause of death of the celebrated veteran actress.|BNN

GSIS opens emergency loan in Agusan del Sur due to flooding


HEEDING the president’s call to provide assistance to victims of calamities, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has opened its emergency loan window until March 15 to aid GSIS members and pensioners adversely affected by the flooding in the province of Agusan del Sur.

A total of 17,079 active members and 2,298 old-age pensioners who are working or residing in the area may apply for the emergency loan. The state pension fund set aside nearly P499 million in loan window.

Active GSIS members living or working in the calamity-hit areas are eligible for the loan. They must have paid their premiums within the last six months prior to application and not be on leave of absence without pay. They should have no pending administrative or criminal case and a have a resulting net take-home pay of at least P5,000 after all the required monthly obligations have been deducted.

Old-age and disability pensioners residing in the calamity areas may also avail of the loan as long as their resulting net monthly pension after loan availment is at least 25% of their basic monthly pension. They must also have no outstanding loan being deducted from their monthly pension except pension loan.

Members with existing emergency loans may borrow up to P40,000 to settle previous loan balances, ensuring a maximum net amount of P20,000. Those without any outstanding emergency loan, including pensioners, may apply for a P20,000 loan.

The loan has a 6% interest rate and a three-year payment term.

Members and pensioners may apply for the loan using the GSIS Touch mobile application, which is available for download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. They may also apply through the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System (GWAPS) kiosks found in all GSIS offices, selected Robinsons and SM supermalls, and large government offices such as the Department of Education.

For inquiries, visit the GSIS website (www.gsis.gov.ph) or Facebook page (@gsis.ph), email gsiscares@gsis.gov.ph, or call the GSIS Contact Center at 8847-4747(if in Metro Manila) or 1-800-8-847-4747(for Globe and TM subscribers) or 1-800-10-847-4747 (for Smart, Sun, and Talk ’N Text subscribers).|-pr

Maxim gets Transport Network Company (TNC) status, now eligible to transport passengers


Maxim, one of the major network companies in the Philippines, has obtained Certificate of Accreditation as Transport Network Company from the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The company is now announcing the launch of its car-hailing service.

The company started operating in the Philippines in 2020. Primarily, its focus was the delivery services. Now the company has the chance to make it easier for the country’s residents to travel around and allow the drivers to make money by becoming its partners.

“I’m sure that Maxim’s TNC status will make both the government and the community trust us more. And by providing our drivers with a thorough training and organizing special workshops and seminars, we’ll be able to ensure safer rides for our clients. We’re planning to expand the range of services we offer and launch Maxim in other Philippine cities,” says Christopher Landong Poliran, head of the Maxim office in Cebu.

  Taxi rides are currently available in six cities: Cebu, Manila, Butuan, Bacolod, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro. The company operates in 18 cities in total. Locals can order shopping and delivery services, transportation services, and express laundry cleaning and drying with further delivery.

“Maxim will operate in the economy segment of the market, offering rides for a competitive price. Our aim is to make our rides available to a wider population and allow our drivers to earn more, thanks to the popularity of the service and the large number of available orders,” says Christopher Landong Poliran, head of the Maxim office in Cebu.

You can place an order in the Maxim app that can be downloaded from App Store, Google Play, AppGallery, Galaxy Store and GetApps or at https://taximaxim.com.

Maxim has started working in the Philippines in 2020, with Cebu being its first city. Now its services are available to residents and guests of 17 more Philippine cities.

Every year, this company develops innovative technology for ordering transport and other services, making it more modern, accessible, and safe. The service has created a system that makes it possible to connect an unlimited number of clients and performers, and process millions of orders. The Maxim app for ordering services and the Taxsee Driver app for working with orders are among the world’s top apps with millions of users.

The goal of the company is to constantly improve its user interaction and help people move towards their goals!

Get ahead of the business game with Bajaj three-wheeler!


ARE you looking for a partner vehicle for your business? Look no more; we have the Bajaj Maxima Cargo to help you be “Ahead of the game” in business! Let’s find out how the Bukid ni Juan, owned by Ferdinand Domingo, became on the lead in the farming business in Zambales:

Lamang sa kita | Unlimited delivery of harvested crops in Zambales! That is the reason why Ferdinand is so amazed with Bajaj Maxima Cargo. Because of its fuel injection system, he can save more on fuel costs. Ferdinand spent almost P 300 before renting a vehicle to transport his goods to the market. Now, he can earn an extra income of P 500 by using his Bajaj Maxima Cargo as a rental vehicle. With its 500kg carrying capacity, he can deliver more and earn more! Indeed, the Bajaj Maxima Cargo is a profitable partner vehicle for your business. “Iyan ang magiging investment plan ko lalo na kung farmer ka” Ferdinand said.

Lamang sa Tibay | Ferdinand sees the Bajaj Maxima Cargo as a “Modern farming workhorse” because of its durability. He uses the unit as a delivery vehicle during weekdays, while a makeshift farm wagon every weekend. With its dual front fork suspension and heavy-duty CV shaft, Ferdinand can do his errands every day on maximum load despite the harsh road condition of the farm. Equipped with a powerful 236.22cc engine, he’s always on top of all the deliveries. “Mapagkakatiwalaan at maasahan talaga itong Bajaj Maxima Cargo pagdating sa pagnenegosyo” as Ferdinand said.

Lamang sa Kumportableng Biyahe | Driving on a daily basis with Bajaj Maxima Cargo is a breeze for Ferdinand due to its ergonomic driver cabin and seats. No more backache and body pain! He was also amazed by the performance and the comfort that the suspension of Bajaj Maxima Cargo gives. He can now continue his operations rain or shine. “Ease of transporting our products to the market” stated by Ferdinand.

Be ahead of the business game with Bajaj Maxima Cargo for as low as P 25,000 downpayment! See dealer stores near you via www.bajaj.com.ph. Click this link: https://bit.ly/inquirebajajthree-wheelernow to apply and inquire. Also, be on the lookout for our Bajaj Dagdag Kabuhayan Raffle promo starting this March 1, 2024, where you can have a chance to win a Bajaj Maxima Cargo!

UP Mathematicians develop algorithm to simulate monkeypox spread and raise awareness


IN a major stride towards enhancing global epidemic preparedness, Drs. Victoria May Mendoza and Renier Mendoza of the UP Diliman College of Science Institute of Mathematics (UPD-CS IM) have provided key findings on the dynamics of monkeypox spread. In collaboration with South Korean researchers, the team developed an innovative algorithm to investigate the pivotal role of self-reporting and contact tracing in the early stages of monkeypox transmission via simulations.

heir findings, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, showcased that the most crucial element affecting the size of an outbreak and its potential duration is the behavior of the primary case—that is, the infected person carrying disease into a community, and whether or not they report their status for medical attention. 

The study followed as a result of a sudden monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries in May of 2022. Although the majority of the infected had had no history of travelling to the endemic areas of central and western Africa, the disease continued to spread, and more and more cases were still being reported worldwide.

In South Korea, however, the first case of an individual diagnosed with monkeypox had immediately self-reported in June 2022. After travelling to Europe and returning in the same month, the primary case informed the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) of his symptoms and contact history. Subsequently, there were no other recorded secondary infections of monkeypox within the country.

To study this scenario and the other factors affecting the potential outbreak of monkeypox in a non-endemic country, the team used a mathematical model based on Gillespie’s stochastic chemical kinetics. 

Stochastic models are quantitative techniques that take into account random variables when predicting possible outcomes. While these have commonly been used to analyze the effects of other infectious diseases, this marked the first time that a stochastic model was used to simulate the spread of monkeypox in a non-endemic country.

In this manner, their algorithm considered random fluctuations in human behavior and subsequent delayed contact tracing. They then set up eight scenarios for their study, running 100,000 simulations in each to better understand the significance and impact of the primary case’s self-reporting or lack thereof.

Through these simulated outbreaks, they projected the average numbers of infected individuals depending on whether the primary case self-reported or not. In the scenario wherein the primary case self-reported, the number of infected individuals only increased by 11%.

But in the scenario wherein the primary case did not self-report, thereby further delaying contact tracing, the number of infected individuals increased by up to 40%.

The large difference in results served as both clear evidence and cautionary tales of the dangers of unreported cases. By understanding the impact of the primary case’s and infectees’ behavior, the study provides a more intuitive analysis that healthcare authorities may use as guiding information in the management and detection of possible monkeypox outbreaks in the future.

However, the researchers believed that one of the many factors dissuading people from seeking medical help—therefore greatly affecting attempts to mitigate disease—was stigma.

“The social media coverage about monkeypox spread directly or indirectly generates racist and homophobic stereotypes that worsen stigma,” they explained in their paper. They emphasized that approaches to encouraging self-reporting should be based on rights and evidence to avoid situations of hidden infected cases.

“(…) healthcare authorities must ensure confidentiality of confirmed cases and individuals under investigation, and access to health services. Moreover, prompt case finding and information campaigns must be conducted,” they urged.

The World Health Organization (WHO) now intends to replace the term “monkeypox” with “mpox” due to the racist and stigmatizing language surrounding the disease online following the 2022 outbreak. The virus itself is transmittable either through animal-to-human or human-to-human contact with bodily fluids or any contaminated material. For the 2022 outbreak, the symptoms were largely flu-like, with rashes that started around the genital area—but unlike the rashes typical to monkeypox, they appeared more similar to measles or other noninfectious conditions.| – Maria Alexandra Marmol

Filipino lion So to lead Lions Clubs International in 2027


CITY OF SAN PABLO, Laguna – FILIPINO lions will take the centerstage of lionism three years from now as the world’s largest service association will be led by a Filipino Lion himself in the person of Past International Director Michael So.

This developed as the 138 voting delegates in the Lions Club International (LCI) – District 301-A2’s 21’st Sub-District Convention held in San Pablo City, Sunday, voted unanimously to indorse Mr. So to be the 3rd International Vice President on the next Lion Year 2024-2025.

To date, no other aspirants from all over the world have signify their interest to challenge PID So in his bid for the 4th highest position in the LCI. The top officials of the LCI include the International President (IP), the Immediate Past International President (IPIP), the First International Vice President (FIVP), the Second International Vice President (SIVP), and the Third International Vice President (TIVP) to which PID So will be running for.

Last November 2023, PID Michael So served as the chairperson of the successful 60th Orient and South East Asia Lions (OSEAL) Forum attended by thousands of Lions Clubs members from the Philippines, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Guam, Malaysia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. The forum was held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. 

PID Michael So (2nd from right) welcomed International President Dr. Patty Hill and other dignitaries to the 60th OSEAL Forum held at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City last November 2023.| Contributed photo

Headed by Lions International President Dr. Patti Hill, the association is made up of 1.4 million members in 49,000 clubs who bring hands and hearts to the communities it serve in nearly every country on earth. The Lions and Leos help hundreds of millions of people every year.

Since its founding in 1917, Lions have been around the world and are rallying around the five global causes of vision, environment, hunger, childhood cancer and diabetes.

As a global organization, Lions International organized member countries into eight constitutional areas worldwide, with the Orient and South East Asia Lions under Area V.  All constitutional areas are represented in the International Board of Directors of the Association.| – Joenald Medina Rayos

LongiviQuest certifies Elizabeth Francis, 114, as oldest living American

[PRESSWIRE] Houston, Texas – 23.02.24 — Elizabeth Francis of Texas, age 114, is now the oldest living person in the United States after the death of 116-year-old Edie Ceccarelli of California. Per the LongeviQuest rankings, Ms. Francis is the fifth-oldest living person in the world at the age of 114 years and 214 days.

Elizabeth Francis of Texas, Age 114, Credits Her Longevity to God

Houston, Texas – Elizabeth Francis of Texas, age 114, is now the oldest living person in the United States after the death of 116-year-old Edie Ceccarelli of California.  Per the LongeviQuest rankings, Ms. Francis is the fifth-oldest living person in the world at the age of 114 years and 214 days.
Elizabeth Francis was born in Louisiana in 1909, 11 years before women had the right to vote in the United States.  Longevity runs in her family; her sister Bertha Johnson lived to the age of 106 before passing away in 2011.  The two sisters are among the sibling pairs with the oldest combined age in world history.  Ms. Francis has always credited her longevity to her faith in God.  When asked for life advice, Ms. Francis offered, “If the Good Lord gave it to you, use it!  Speak your mind, don’t hold your tongue!”
Back in July, Ms. Francis was feted at a celebration held in her honor for her 114th birthday.  The event was held at the house she shares with her 94-year-old daughter Ms. Dorothy Williams.  Ms. Francis is the second-oldest living person in the world who lives at home, made possible by her primary caregiver, her granddaughter Ms. Ethel Harrison.  The ceremony was attended by four succeeding generations of her family members, along with other loved ones, caregivers, fellow church members, politicians, and local and global media.  During the ceremony, Ms. Francis was presented with a Texas-shaped plaque honoring her status as the Oldest Living Texan.  She was active and alert during the entire event, holding court for over four hours and playing host to a wide range of well-wishers. 
LongeviQuest Chief Executive Ben Meyers, who met Ms. Francis in July, states, “Ms. Elizabeth Francis is admired around the world, both for her longevity and her approach to life.  Reaching this milestone was never an aspiration for her, merely a byproduct of how she lived her life every day, doing right by her loved ones and by God.  We can all learn from her example.”
LongeviQuest (LQ) is the global authority on maximum human longevity.  The organization was founded in 2022 as a collaboration between the world’s leading age validation experts, with professional researchers in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Among its notable research achievements, LongeviQuest validated the first recognized supercentenarians in India and the Philippines.  Further information, including the largest database of validated living supercentenarians, can be found at LongeviQuest.com.

JTI awarded Philippine Top Employer for the 3rd consecutive year


Recognition of JTI Philippines’ continued commitment to employees across the country

MANILA -– JTI has been certified Top Employer in the Philippines for the third year in a row. The award acknowledges JTI’s continuing commitment to creating a great place to work for its diverse workforce located across 3 entities in the country.

“The certification by Top Employers Institute cements JTI’s reputation in the Philippines as an employer that puts our people first. It recognizes that our people are at the heart of everything we do and shows the progress we continue to make in improving our work environment, caring about the wellbeing of our employees, as well as our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Being awarded Top Employer three years in a row demonstrates to both our current and future employees that JTI is a great place to work. This certification is a key component in attracting and retaining talent,” said Ari Wisnubroto, People & Culture Director, JTI Philippines.

JTI is one of only 12 companies to be honored with the Top Employer award in the Philippines. JTI ensures that its employees and their families have the best-in-class support thanks to the likes of its progressive family leave policy, enabling eligible employees across the country to benefit from 20 weeks fully paid leave when welcoming a child, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or the way they become parents.

JTI has also implemented flexible working measures as well as providing notable support to various underrepresented groups, including, but not limited to, supporting women in leadership roles and LGBTQ+ communities.

JTI in the Philippines also achieved the highest scores possible for the likes of people strategy, leadership, work environment, purpose and values, ethics and integrity, and sustainability, among others.

“While we are very pleased to have received the Top Employer certification for the third consecutive year, we are even more delighted that the various initiatives we have put in place in the Philippines have helped improve our employees’ wellbeing, job satisfaction and opportunities to continue to develop their careers,” Wisnubroto added.

“In a country where we have grown significantly in recent years, it is crucial that we strive to be the best we can be for our people and continue to nurture our talent at all levels of the organization for sustained business growth.”

For JTI in the Philippines, this Top Employer 2024 certification is just the latest addition to a list of awards recognizing its people practices and commitment to employee wellbeing in the country.

In 2023, for example, JTI received EY’s Global Equality Standard (GES) for equality, diversity and inclusion excellence, and was the first company in the Philippines to receive such an accreditation. ###

For further information, please contact: Dennis A. Gadil +63 9178796924 Dennis.Gadil@jti.com

About JTI in the Philippines: JTI in the Philippines is a global tobacco company with close to 40 branch offices across the country. It is the distributor of international brands Winston, Camel and Mevius, and local brands Mighty and Marvels. New to its Philippine portfolio is its smoke-free, vapor-free nicotine product, Nordic Spirit, which is a leading brand of nicotine pouches. With its market headquarters and a global business services center in Taguig City alongside its manufacturing facility in Malvar, Batangas, the company employs more than 4,500 people and has been awarded Top Employer for the third consecutive year. Furthermore, the company is now in receipt of EY’s Global Equality Standard (GES) certificate for equality, diversity and inclusion excellence. For more information, visit www.jti.com/asia/philippines.

About JTI: JTI is a leading international tobacco and vaping company selling its products in more than 130 countries. It is the global owner of both Winston, the number two cigarette brand in the world, and Camel, outside the USA. Other global brands include MEVIUS and LD. JTI is also a major player in the international vaping market with its heated tobacco brand, Ploom, and e-cigarette brand, Logic. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Company employs about 46,000 people and was awarded Global Top Employer for the tenth consecutive year in 2024. JTI is a member of the JT Group of Companies. For more information, visit www.jti.com. A

bout Top Employers Institute: ​ Top Employers Institute is the global authority on recognising excellence in People Practices. We help accelerate these practices to enrich the world of work. Through the Top Employers Institute Certification Programme, participating companies can be validated, certified, and recognised as an employer of choice. In 2024, Top Employers Institute has certified more than 2,300 organisations in 122 countries/regions. These certified Top Employers positively impact the lives of over 9 million employees globally.

U.S., Philippines inaugurate Training Center for Biological and Chemical Security Threat Response

DTRA Cooperative Threat Reduction Deputy Director Patrick Becker (fourth from right) joins DILG Undersecretary Serafin Barretto Jr. (fourth from left), NICA Director General Ricardo De Leon (third from left), and PPSC President Ferdinando Sevilla (second from left) at the ribbon-cutting of the new National Virtual Training Center in Silang, Cavite on February

MANILA — On February 21, the Philippines and the United States governments inaugurated the National Virtual Training Center (NVTC) in Silang, Cavite that will improve and expand the training of public health personnel, veterinarian health workers, and first responders in addressing biological and chemical threats.

Designed, constructed, and equipped through funding from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) and Chemical Security Elimination (CSE) Program, the NVTC is a multi-million dollar advanced training and practical laboratory facility that will increase the quantity and quality of training programs that cover multiple disciplines of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear security.  Through the NVTC, the Philippines will enhance its capacity to train current and future generations of laboratory specialists and first responders in detecting and preventing threats arising from weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

“This facility will house a lecture hall for classroom-setting trainings, a practical biological diagnostics laboratory classroom for hands-on biosafety and biosecurity trainings, and a virtual reality room equipped with headsets to provide an opportunity to train virtually on a chemical security curriculum,” DTRA Program Manager Corey Erff said.

The inauguration of the NVTC was attended by Philippines Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Serafin Barretto Jr., National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) Director General Ricardo De Leon, Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC) President Ferdinando Sevilla, and representatives from the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Office of the President, and the University of the Philippines.

“The NVTC will be a tool for the country to address emerging threats and provide continuing education to public safety practitioners following international standards,” NICA Director General De Leon said.  “The NVTC will help to achieve the goal of having a peaceful and safe nation, resilient against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) threats and free from WMDs”.

The DILG and PPSC will oversee the operations of the NVTC, which will be open for use by all government departments and academic and industry partners.

DTRA’s BTRP and CSE programs are working with Philippine government agencies to develop an operational framework to ensure the facility promotes long-term, sustainable threat reduction efforts.

“The construction of the NVTC, and any future collaboration, is carried out by the United States government in close collaboration with the Philippine government, ensuring strict adherence to Philippine laws.  By working together, these projects will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipino citizens,” Erff added.|

PTFoMS debunks absence of mechanism to protect media

UNITED Nations Special Rapporteur Irene Khan being welcomed by Executive Secretary Hon. Lucas P. Bersamin on her arrival at the Bonifacio Hall, Malacanan Palace, February 1, 2024, Khan and Bersamin had a frank talk for one hour on the subject of press freedom and freedom of opinion in the country and the government's effort to strengthen the rule of law and human rights under the Marcos administration, as retired ambassador Undersecretary Marciano A. Paynor Jr. listens.

No need to ‘re-invent the wheel’ on media monitoring

MALACAÑAN—THE Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) reminded the public and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that there are already existing and functioning mechanisms to protect the members of the press from any violation of their right to life, liberty, and security.

“May I remind our good partners at the CHR that even UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression (UNSR-FOE) Irene Khan recognized that the PTFoMS created in 2016 thru Administrative Order No. 1 (AO1) is the ‘main mechanism for the safety of journalists’ as stated in her preliminary report after the conclusion of her visit last February 2,” said Usec. Paul M. Gutierrez, AO1 executive director.

“In fact, her opening statement was profuse in thanking the PTFoMS for its valuable assistance that led to the successful conclusion of her visit that include her consultation with the CHR,” Gutierrez added.

The official made the remarks after the CHR over the weekend issued a statement urging the Executive Branch to “provide sufficient mechanisms” to ensure a safer environment for media workers.

“May I also remind the public and our media colleagues that the CHR is, in fact, a member of the PTFoMS under AO1 and has been regularly attending its inter-agency meetings so this statement comes as quite a surprise,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez added that aside from recognizing AO1, Khan made several recommendations to further strengthen its ‘institutional capacity’ that, he said, would be useful in guiding the agency “towards creating a media that is safe and free from fear as envisioned by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in partnership with relevant government agencies including the CHR.

Gutierrez also said the CHR’s plan to create a separate media alert mechanism to be called, ‘Alert system for media human rights violations (ALISTO) as proposed by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), should align with the current alert mechanisms of AO1 and that of AO35 to ensure its effectiveness in quickly addressing and validating all reported cases of alleged attacks against the members of the press.

“Looking back, we note that the NUJP made a presentation as regards ALISTO last October 27, 2023, where two assistant secretaries from the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) and the AO1 staff were unfortunately not allowed to participate in the discussion despite being invited.

“Had this not been the case, the PCO and AO1 could have provided their inputs leading to a synergy of effort towards our common goal of protecting the members of the press,” Gutierrez said.

“There is really no need to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ so to speak. But there is really a need to strengthen further the existing mechanisms that we have,” he added.

“Of course, as a critical and reliable partner, we look forward to strengthening our working relationship with the CHR, relevant government agencies and all the stakeholders in the media profession.

“For the nth time, we again call on the NUJP and other media groups to re-engage with the PTFoMS so we can validate and address all these alleged violations of the rights of the members of the press and the perpetrators unmasked and punished as the case may be,” Gutierrez said.

The NUJP, along with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) decided to leave the PTFoMS in the second quarter of 2019 citing “institutional differences.”|