“Ashes to ashes:” Firefighters tackle fires in devastated Amazon

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019   •   383

(Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

Tree trunk ashes are all that remain in a barren portion of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s state of Rondonia. A dead bird lies next to a lifeless tree, a sombre scene which has angered the international community as a record number of fires in the Amazon rainforest intensified an unfolding environmental crisis.

Amid a global chorus of concern and condemnation, Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro pledged in an address to the nation to mobilize the army to help combat the blazes, while his administration launched a diplomatic charm offensive to try to mend bridges overseas.

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which accounts for more than half of the world’s largest rainforest, have surged in number by 83% this year, according to government data, destroying vast swathes of a vital bulwark against global climate change.

Environmentalists have warned that his controversial plans for more agriculture and mining in the region will speed up deforestation.

The Brazilian space agency INPE has registered 72,843 fires this year, the highest number since records began in 2013. More than 9,500 have been spotted by satellites over the past week.

Although fires are a regular and natural occurrence during the dry season at this time of year, environmentalists blamed the jump on farmers clearing land for pasture.

Farmers may have had at least tacit encouragement from the firebrand right-wing president, who took power in January.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he believes Brazil should open up the Amazon to business interests, allowing mining, agricultural and logging companies to exploit its natural resources. (Reuters)

(Production: Sebastian Rocandio)

PhilHealth to collide with UNTV Cup champion AFP on Sunday

UNTV News   •   September 21, 2019

PhilHealth and Agriculture will be on the same court on Sunday’s (September 22, 2019) UNTV Cup at Pasig City Sports Center but will face different teams.

 Witness three-time runner up Malacañang-PSC Kamao go against two-time champion Judiciary Magis on Sunday (September 22).

PhilHealth Plus will banner its five new players in the 8th season of the league of public servants, UNTV Cup.

According to Coach Delio Aseron, their team had played in various leagues during the off season as part of preparation.

Ang paghahanda na ginawa natin we participated doon sa Government Corporations Athletic Association o GCAA kung saan nag champion po sa open ang PhilHealth for five years na and nanalo po kami sa seniors first time,” Coach Delio Aseron said.

(Part of our preparation was our participation at the GCAA or Government Corporation Athletic Association where PhilHealth was the champion for five years already in the open category and first-time champion in senior’s category.)

PhilHealth’s first game of the season will be against the defending champion, AFP Cavaliers in the second game of the triple-header on Sunday, 3PM at Pasig City Sports Center.

“Expect niyo po PhilHealth lalaban kahit maliit kami… hopefully we utilize our speed para exciting games,” Coach Aseron added.

(Expect PhilHealth to fight despite of our small line up… hopefully we’ll be able to utilize our speed to make the games exciting.)

Meanwhile, three-time runner up Malacañang-PSC Kamao will field two new players in their game against Judiciary Magis for the main game on Sunday, 5PM.

Kamao’s new players are Jeffrey Punzalan, 5’7 and Joseph Antolin Roque, 6’1.

 According to MAL-PSC Coach Raffy Gonzales, they will not be complacent this season because they know that all the teams have upgraded their respective rosters.  They promise to give all their best to repeat a finals appearance.

Coach Raffy Gonzales said, “Maganda naman pagkapasok nila dahil unang-una si Punzalan nag lalaro ng 1 and 2 [positions], yung Roque ganoon din 1,2,3 [positions] nilalaro.”

(Their addition is just fitting to our team, firstly, Jeffrey Punzalan plays position 1 and 2 and Joseph Roque plays 1,2 and 3.)

In the other court, expect a faster Judiciary Magis at UNTV Cup Season 8 according to head coach Joey Yabut following their acquisition of two new players.

“Expect niyo na takbuhan kami ngayon saka siguro gaganda na yung denepsa namin dahil may dalawa kaming player na bago.  Mukhang defensive din hindi lang scorer eh,” Coach Yabut said.

(Expect us to be running this season and also expect us to be more defensive because of our new players.)

Joey Yabut also added that they will fight toe-to-toe despite facing other teams’ big men.

“Naging problema namin yung depensa, yung isa kasi namin bigman makatutulong sya ngayon sa ilalim…pwede rin siyang mabigyan sa ilalim dahil marunon siyang gumalaw. Yung isa naman defensive player. Yun naman yung mukhang kapalit ni John Hall,” Coach Joey Yabut said.

(Defense was our problem before but one of our big men can be a reliable force inside the paint. The other player is a defensive player who can possibly replace the vacuum left by our former player John Hall.)

Prior to these match ups is the opening game at 2pm between the Agriculture Food Masters and Ombudsman Graft Busters. — Bernard Dadis

ASOP Year 8 Grand Finale nears

UNTV News   •   September 21, 2019

The finale is coming!

Last August 25 (Sunday), A Song of Praise Music Festival named its newest grand finalist for Year 8.

With her worship anthem titled “Sagwan” (Paddle), 31-year old school registrar Aiza Narag secured a spot at the eighth edition of one-of-a-kind music revelry celebrating praise music.

Sung by rising belter Louie Anne Culala of The Wishfuls, the praise song paints a picture of a long journey at the heart of the sea while huge waves and fierce winds roar, encouraging us to trust God to be able to make it to the shores of hope.

This year’s grand finals’ entries comprise of the following:

  • NOVEMBER: “O Ama” by Jhoter Jone Villan
  • DECEMBER: “Alay Ko” by Maddonna Rosas and Pau Ortiz
  • JANUARY: “Ikaw ay Ikaw” by Vanduane Badua
  • FEBRUARY: “Don’t Give Up” by Cherry Labating
  • MARCH: “Dios ng Katotohanan” by Darrel Joseph Villanueva
  • APRIL: “Pupurihin Kita” by Chris Givenchi Edejer
  • MAY: “Libo-libong Tala” by Carlo David
  • JUNE: “You are Wonderful” by Franz Loren Bigcas
  • JULY: “God Has His Purpose” by Lambert Reyes Jr. and Roman Cundangan
  • AUGUST: “Sagwan: by Aiza Narag

Two more tracks are set to complete the list of this year’s best praise songs.

Last year, visually-impaired songwriter John Paul Salazar bagged the Song of the Year title with P500,000 cash prize tax-free. 

Performed by OPM trio Bradz, his masterpiece titled “Tugtog”, is an upbeat gospel track about music as the sound of a praiseful heart for God. 

“‘Tugtog’ for me denotes a human heartbeat. One artist I heard said, ‘Music is a part of our lives, and our hearts always plays music.’ I made the song out of that idea and turned it into a song of praise to the Lord. Every time I sing for the Lord, my heart is in sync with the music!” said Salazar.

A first from last year, ASOP launched its Bro. Eli Soriano’s Choice with “Hiling” as the winning song written by Jeffrey Lim, also by a visually-impaired aspiring songwriter.

Conceptualized by Breakthrough and Milestones Productions International (BMPI) Chairman and CEO Kuya Daniel Razon and Filipino televangelist Bro. Eli Soriano, ASOP is set to upgrade its prizes for each year.

As another year-long singing of praises to the Almighty comes to a close, the grand winner will take home P800,000 while the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, will get P500,000, P200,000, and P100,000 cash prizes, respectively. 

Over the years, amateur and professional songwriters have ventured into the heart of crafting songs for the Almighty.

True to its advocacy of bringing back praise music in people’s lives, the first and only praise songwriting tilt in Philippine television continues to inspire talents and celebrate gospel music dedicated all for the glory of God.

Apart from celebrating inspiring talents, ASOP is also set to stage top-notch OPM acts.

Watch out for the grand finals of ASOP Year 8 on November.

For more information about ASOP Music Festival, visit its official website at https://www.asoptv.com. You can follow ASOP on Facebook via facebook.com/asoptv, Twitter at twitter.com/asoptv and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/asoptv/.

Firefighters collapse from exhaustion, animals saved as wildfires rage on in Bolivia

UNTV News   •   September 20, 2019

 Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Bolivia were evacuated to hospitals in Santa Cruz on Thursday (September 19) after they collapsed from exhaustion.

Blazes have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. More than a million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials have said.

The fires have left behind an uncountable death toll of flora and fauna. These animals in this refuge are the lucky ones.

This anteater has its paws bandaged after they were burnt by hot earth.

Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, but one of the richest in biodiversity. Swathes of the country has been left charred, barren from the fires and will be unable to sustain animal life for a while to come.

(Production: Monica Machicao)

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