Rappler Newscast | January 14, 2014

Today on Rappler.

The death toll from floods and landslides caused by a low pressure area in Mindanao rises to 23.
At least 14 people are missing.
The affected areas include the same areas hit by Typhoon Pablo in 2012: Davao Oriental, Dinagat Islands, Compostela Valley, Agusan Del Sur, Zamboanga Del Sur, and Zamboanga Del Norte.
Officials say the Saug River and the Libuganon River dams, both in Davao del Norte, also overflowed.
Flooding damages irrigation dams in Cateel, Davao Oriental.
The low pressure area affected around 40,000 families, forcing thousands to evacuate.
As of Tuesday, 34 roads and 17 bridges are not passable.

The former personal secretary of Imelda Marcos was sentenced to two to six years in prison for conspiring to sell Impressionist masterpieces belonging to the Philippine government that vanished when President Ferdinand Marcos was ousted.
A US judge also orders 75-year-old Vilma Bautista to pay $3.5 million in income taxes for failing to report $28 million from the sale of a famous Claude Monet water lily work to a London gallery, which resold it to a hedge fund manager in Switzerland.
In November, a jury convicted Bautista of conspiracy and tax fraud.
The Monet painting was taken along with three others in late 1995 from the walls of a New York townhouse owned by the Philippine government.
Bautista says she had Mrs. Marcos's written permission to sell the works.
The Philippine government wants to recover them.

With measles cases on the rise in Metro Manila, the Department of Health or DOH is stepping up a campaign to eliminate this infectious viral disease by 2017.
The mass immunization starts September and will target 13 million children nationwide.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona says the goal is to remove measles as a recurring public health concern.

ENRIQUE ONA, HEALTH SECRETARY: The term measles-free may be a sort of a difficult situation to achieve but certainly we would like that the Philippines be able to eliminate measles as a public health problem by 2017. And the reason for that is because we now have vaccines that can protect our children. But making everybody measles-free may be...I would call it an overstatement but that is certainly a target we would like to achieve.

Ona says the DOH is also proposing a devolution of health care.
He says the department is preparing a bill in Congress, recommending the move of provincial and municipal health officers under the DOH to prevent political issues from affecting health services.

ENRIQUE ONA, HEALTH SECRETARY: The devolution of health is such that the responsibility of public health and even hospital care in a particular province is under the responsibility of the governor. And in a particular town it is the responsibility of the mayor. It commonly is a very political issue because the original officer gets salary from the governor and can be changed by the governor every time there's a new government. There is no so-called permanency in their job.

The latest Pulse Asia survey suggests the National Capital Region or NCR trusts the Senate more after the controversy of the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
Hundreds of thousands of people protested what many saw as institutionalized corruption, but Pulse Asia research fellow Ana Tabunda says Metro Manila residents ‘softened’ on the Senate, where 24 members used to enjoy P200 million each of the pork barrel and 3 senators currently face plunder complaints.
The Senate registers nationwide trust ratings of 42% in December, higher than its 35% in September.
NCR records a significant increase of 13 points, from a trust rating of 35% in September to 48% in December.
The Supreme Court, which declared the pork barrel unconstitutional, suffers declines in Luzon excluding Metro Manila and among ABC demographics.
The survey numbers suggest respondents were able to distinguish the Senate as an institution from the individual senators.
Senate President Franklin Drilon’s trust ratings drop 6 percentage points: from 46% in September to 40% in December.

Don Mariano Bus Transit is losing its franchise after an accident last month.
On Tuesday, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board or LTFRB cancels the franchise, nearly a month after a Don Mariano bus plunged off an elevated skyway, killing at least 18 people and injuring 16 others.
A 2011 list by the LTFRB names Don Mariano as the “deadliest” among bus franchises.
The board suspended the bus operator several times before.

The Philippines raises crisis alert level one and warns Filipinos not to travel to Thailand because of political unrest.
For the second day, thousands of protesters try to shut down the capital Bangkok Tuesday in a bid to overthrow Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Bangkok’s security chief says as many as 170,000 people poured into the streets Monday, taking over business and shopping districts and blocking main roads.
On Tuesday, CNN reports the number of protesters went down to about 20,000.
Authorities say 20,000 police and soldiers were deployed across the capital, but they were largely invisible.
Police retreat to barracks or backstreets, while civilian guards take over traffic and crowd control duties.
Throughout the weeks of mass rallies, Yingluck has adopted defensive tactics to prevent violence from spiraling out of control in contrast to a military crackdown on opposition protests under the previous government that left dozens dead in 2010.

At number 4, Taiwan rejects China's new fisheries law but also dismisses Manila's claim over the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea.
The Philippines earlier slammed China’s new policy requiring foreigners to seek China's permission to fish in the disputed sea.
In a statement, Taiwan stood firm in claiming the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Islands, and Pratas Islands.
Taiwan also raises the idea of joint exploration in place of unilateral measures.

At number 5, US President Barack Obama defends his strategy in the Afghan war mission after former Pentagon chief Robert Gates said the president lacked passion for military action.
Gates sparked a Washington firestorm when he suggested in his new memoir that Obama became disillusioned with the troop surge strategy.
But Obama says he --quote-- “continued to have faith” in the US mission in Afghanistan.
Gates says his memoir was hijacked by those pushing a political agenda, adding he “actually agreed with virtually every decision President Obama made.”

And at number 7, A new study says a jolt of caffeine can stir memory, providing a scientific motive for students slurping coffee when cramming for exams.
A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, finds caffeine enhances certain memories for at least a day after they were formed.
Evidence for caffeine as a memory booster has been anecdotal until now.


After 5 years, Cristiano Ronaldo is once again recognized as the best football player in the world.
Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or for the first time after leading Manchester United to Champions League glory in 2008.
But he’s been relegated to second place in three of the last four years.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi won the award for an unprecedented four consecutive times.
Messi struggled with injuries the past year, paving the way for Ronaldo to once again claim football’s highest individual award.

Brooms, wands and green babies – there's more to bringing the mythical land of Oz to life. G Tongi goes behind the curtains to look at the iconic props and elaborate sets that make up Wicked the Musical.

G TONGI, REPORTING: I’m here onstage at the iconic Civic Theater in New Zealand to get to talk to the people behind the magic of Wicked!

The musical comes to Manila after the New Zealand season with the exact re-creation of lighting, spectacular sets, and innovative props that conjure the magic for biggest Broadway show of the last decade.

[Hi Emily. So tell us, what do you do for your job? What are all these monitors about?]

EMILY STURGEON, DEPUTY STAGE MANAGER: So basically, I call the show. I talk to all the departments. The mechanist, the lighting, dome, sound, David Young who’s our musical director. And that’s where it all kicks off. So we have a colored monitor. Our infrared black and white for when we have our blackouts so I can see exactly what’s happening. Here is our musical director, so basically conducting the show. So I can see everything, if he has any problems, he’ll pick up the phone and talk to me. Here we have different angles which is also infrared so I can see what’s happening at any point. But that’s basically it. I also have cue lights pretty much. So along with calling the show, I give them cue lights.
[Yes okay so tell us about this book. This is the show bible.] This is our bible indeed. Here we have the standbys and basically this is what I follow and I follow D.Y. (David Young) so it’s everything.
[So you’re telling me the whole show is this thick?] Yes it is.
[And the running time for everything is? From start to finish?] It’s about 2 hours and 47 minutes. Or so. With an interval. So everything that is written in here pretty much dictates what happens.
[And the entire length of the show is how long?] It’s about 2 hours and 47 minutes including a 20 minute interval.

The props are an integral part of the show.
Assistant stage manager James Cole shows us some iconic pieces!

[So James. We have how many broomsticks in the production of Wicked?]
JAMES COLE, ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: So you’d think there’d be only one broom but actually in fact, there’s 4 which all serve a different purpose.
[I see. So tell us what is the purpose of each broomstick?] We’ve got our fight broom here which is lightweight and can be thrown around by Elphaba of course. And then the levitating broom which Elphaba makes fly. This one here has got a special bit of Velcro  so it moves with the set when it’s placed down. And this is our defying gravity broom. So when Elphaba is flying, that’s the one she’s got.
[Okay and what about Glinda’s wands?] So we’ve got our act 1 wand here which is used when she’s in the bubble and then the wand for act 2 which is a bit more flexible and can be thrown around a little bit.
[So James, tell us about this prop. (green baby) This is an iconic prop yes?] This is one of the first props seen in the show and it's our baby Elphaba. It's made of silicone and it's exactly the same weight as a newborn baby so it's actually quite odd to feel. So here we have our Nickydick cart which is used in act 1. One of our characters' names is actually Nickydick. He’s a professor that comes in to take over one of the teachers for one of Elphaba and Glinda’s classes. So this is also used for a scene with Elphaba and Fiyero so we’ve got our lion cub.
So here we have 2 of the wheelchairs from the show. We’ve actually got 3 but one of them’s currently up in the air. This is our act 1 wheelchair which is used by Nessarose and for our governess’ mansion, we’ve got our second one. Unfortunately the maintenance for this one is quite hard because there’s only one meter left in the weld of the material used for this wheelchair.

Beside the props, the elaborate sets are also the exact replica of the show on Broadway!
Don’t miss an enchanting and spectacular night at the theater for Wicked the musical in Manila! Opens January 22!
G Töngi, Rappler.

– Rappler.com

Newscast Production Staff