Monthly Archives: November 2007

Miss Earth ’07 is Fil-Canadian

by Carmie Carpio/

MANILA — The night of Nov. 11 belonged to Jessica Nicole Trisko of Canada when she bested 87 other candidates for the Miss Earth 2007 crown during the coronation night held at the crowded University of the Philippines Theatre.

Runner-ups Miss India Pooja Chitgopeker (Miss Earth-Air), Miss Venezuela Silvana Santaella Arellano (Miss Earth-Water), and Miss Spain Angela Gomez (Miss Earth-Fire) completed her court.

Special awardees were Miss South Africa Bokang Montjane (Beauty for a Cause), Miss Lebanon Amale Al Khoder (Miss Friendship), Miss Lithuania Monika Baliunaite (Best in Talent), Miss Philippines Jeanne Harn (Miss Photogenic) Miss Thailand Jiraporn Sing-ieam (Best in National Costume), and Miss Venezuela Silvana Santaella Arellano (Best in Long Gown and Best in Swimsuit).

No surprise
Trisko, 22, who’s mother originally hailed from Manila, grew up in Vancouver.  During the pageant, she wowed the audience with her grace, charm and her quick wit in the question and answer portions.

“I’d say the beauty of mother nature smells as sweet as the sweetest rose, that the beauty of mother nature feels as soft as the softest leaf, and the beauty of mother nature sings like the birds on the trees,” she answered on the final question, “How would you describe mother nature to a blind child?”

Later she said that she was surprised that she became the new Miss Earth. The audience chose between her and Miss India during the final moments of the beauty tilt. In the end, Trisko won the votes of the judges. She took over the reign of Miss Earth 2006 Hil Hernandez of Chile.

Trisko is not new in beauty competitions. She joined the Miss Universe-Canada tilt this year and landed in the final 10. She was the only female of Asian descent to be in the roster. She then took the opportunity to join Miss Earth-Canada with the advocacy of promoting environmental education in her home country and abroad.

Unlike former Miss Earth-Canada Riza Santos, who is currently a celebrity housemate in the reality show Pinoy Big Brother, Trisko said she has no plans to join show business in the Philippines.

“I’m so proud of being half-Filipino but my heart is where my home is, Canada,” she said. Right now, she is a political science student taking up her PhD.

Pageant for a cause
Now on its seventh year, the Miss Earth pageant is held every year to select women all over the world who can carry out the mission of promoting a more sustainable environment and to advance its cause of saving and protecting the planet. The winner took home a cash prize of $20,000 among others.

The Miss Earth pageant was done under the production and marketing of Carousel Productions in partnership with ABS-CBN 2. The event was aired live nationwide and globally over The Filipino Channel (TFC) on a delayed telecast basis. MTV VJ Utt, Miss Earth 2004 Priscilla Meirelles of Brazil, and Miss Philippines-Air 2006 Ginger Conejero were the night’s hosts. (


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Asian Contemporary Art Fair Hits New York City: Filipino Painter’s Work Highlighted in Seoul-based Gallery

by Momar Visaya/

NEW YORK — The first-ever Asian Contemporary Art Fair debuted at Pier 92 on the Hudson River from November 8 to 12 and enticed more than 20,000 guests during the four-day affair.

The fair featured 76 exhibitors from 10 different countries and the top galleries from the international art market. Hundreds of artists, both young and old, from different Asian countries such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam participated.

In the midst of them all stood Leslie de Chavez, the lone Filipino painter, represented by Arario, an art gallery based in Seoul.

De Chavez’s work, alongside Korean artist Hyung Koo Kang’s dominated Arario’s booth at the exhibit. Kang’s huge, monochromatic portraits featured fellow artists, such as Auguste Rodin, which was one of the paintings on display. De Chavez’s work, depicting women, shared the limelight.

De Chavez’s paintings focus on “unique Filipino scenes, culture and history,” according to Jeeah Choi, Arario Gallery’s curator.

“His paintings are dark — literally, since he begins each work by painting the canvas black,” Choi explained.

Two of his paintings at the fair are unusual, because, as the New York Sun described it as “mildly — and, no doubt, ironically — pornographic”.

One was called “Lilly”, a schoolgirl, wearing a T-shirt with an image of Andy Warhol’s “Marilyn”. The racy painting had Lilly pulling up her skirt to reveal her lacy underwear.

The other one, called “Asian Wave”, shows a pair of naked women with the words “here 2 stay”.

“Lilly” and “Asian Wave”, both oil on canvas measuring 195 by 150 centimeters, cost $18,000 each (16,000,000 KRW (Korean won) or 774,000 Philippine pesos).

A third one was slightly hidden from view. It is called Unang Dalaw (First Visit) and in the market for $15,000.

De Chavez held a solo exhibit earlier this year in Beijing and Seoul where most of his paintings were sold. Next year, Arario will bring a solo exhibition of his new work to Switzerland. Plans were also being made to bring some of his paintings to the newly opened Arario Gallery, a 20,000-square-foot space on West 25th Street.

De Chavez is currently based in the Philippines. He stayed in Korea for a year as part of the Neo-Emerging Artists residency. He graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.


Six life-size statues of Mao Zedong made of shiny stainless steel by Guangci greet visitors at the exhibition’s entrance. Ken Johnson of the New York Times noted his reappearance in works by some of the artists in the exhibit was noted by.

“The vaguely mocking way he is so frequently represented in contemporary Chinese art hints at a deeper post-traumatic anxiety and, perhaps, an urge to exorcise him,” Johnson said.

Billed as the first international art fair to focus exclusively on contemporary Asian art, the exhibit had collectors, artists, dealers and art-lovers during the four-day affair.

There was also a special 26-artist group exhibition organized by the independent curators Eric C. Shiner and Lilly Wei called Simulasian: Refiguring ‘Asia’ for the 21st Century. It aimed to examine “the ways in which today’s artists are questioning, and enlarging, the definition of ‘Asian-ness.’” (

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LA Auto Show Goes Green

by Joseph Pimentel/

LOS ANGELES —  Fuel efficiency, in-car technology and speed dominate the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show at the Downtown Convention Center. The auto show opens to the public on November 16 to November 25.

Hybrid cars have been in hot-demand in recent years and with the cost of gas nearing $4 a gallon in California, Hybrids will no doubt continue to increase sales over the next year. Los Angeles alone has more hybrid vehicle owners than the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany combined, according to research.


Car manufacturers touted their latest “Green” cars in Los Angeles.

General Motors (GM) unveiled five new fuel-efficient vehicles for 2009. GM introduced the Aveo5, Chevy Silverado Hybrid, Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Tahoe SUV Hybrid, and the Chevy Volt, GM’s latest electric vehicle.

“We are changing the way we power America,” proclaimed GM’s Vice Chairman for Product Development Robert Lutz. “We want to be part of the solution to today’s societies energy issues as a matter of energy efficiency, national security and other environmental responsibilities.”

“People now feel that they have a social responsibility,” Lutz added.

Along with GM, Cadillac’s Escalade Hybrid delivers more than a 50-percent improvement in fuel economy in city driving. Porsche is featuring its popular SUV Cayenne Hybrid with a fuel economy of at least 26 miles-per-gallon.

The Chrysler Group introduced their Hybrid line – the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango.  Ford Motor Co. will have their Hybrid Escape SUV in a new color tone. Nissan, Toyota and Hyundai are other automakers displaying Hybrid vehicles or concept cars.

Honda’s FCX Clarity stole the show. The Clarity runs on Hydrogen Fuel Cell that would get up to 68 miles per gallon with zero emissions and a total range of 270 miles. Honda said the car is due out next year and offers potential buyers a three-year lease plan for $600 a month.

Not enough

However, with all this talk about fuel efficiency, outside of the LA Convention Center members of the Freedom From Oil Campaign plan to protest all week saying that automakers are not doing enough.

“The automakers know how to put on a good show, but when the rubber hits the road, their only real commitment is to keeping the status quo,” said Sarah Connolly of Rainforest Action Network. “With extreme drought and wildfires in California, oil spills fouling the shores of San Francisco and the Black Sea, and oil prices approaching $100 a barrel, it is high time for the automakers to stop saying what they can’t do and start giving American drivers the oil-free, zero-emissions vehicles we want and deserve.”

Lutz on the other hand disagrees. He said there is no silver bullet when it comes to fixing the environment’s problems.

“There is no single solution, or secret solution that will solve all of our energy and environmental problems,” said Lutz. “But we can make a really big difference by working with challenges from many different angles at the same time. Regardless of fuel or technology, our goal remains the same, the best possible fuel economy for whichever type of vehicle our customers choose.”

Voice activation

Meanwhile, on the other side of the convention center, Ford representatives are busy showing members of the press their latest and exclusive in-car entertainment system.

Ford has teamed up with computer software giant Microsoft for a new “Sync” program. Sync is a fully integrated, voice-activated, hands-free, in-car communication and entertainment system for your mobile phone and digital music player.

“You can make a phone call by just saying ‘call [example] Robert,’” said Ford Spokesperson Octavio Navarro. “The system can read your text messages to you and you can respond through a series of already typed out messages.”

Navarro said unlike previous voice recognition system that made errors, Sync features a more highly sophisticated program.

“It’s the next generation of voice activation,” he said.

The Sync operating system will become standard in all new Ford, Mercury and Lincoln cars this fall. The cars will all have Bluetooth capabilities and a USB port for those with a flash drive that contains music.  Most specifically, the Ford Escape will have an AC adapter port for those wanting to connect a laptop computer or other devices.

Navarro added voice-activation makes searching for songs much easier. For those people with hundreds of songs on their iPod, flash drives, or other digital MP3 players, all they have to say is the artists name or title of the song to play it.

“All you have to do is say [voice-command] the title of the song that you want to listen to,” said Navarro. “That way you’re not pressing the buttons to look for a song and not paying attention to the road.”

Navarro also said that the program would have automatic updates just by logging on to a computer through

“This is the future of car technology,” he said.

The need for speed

Of course, it wouldn’t be a car show until you visit the Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Audi and Ferrari side of the convention center.

Lamborghini is showing off only one of 20 Reventon’s worldwide. Inside the sleek charcoal grey aerodynamic lightweight carbon-fiber body panels is a 6.5-liter V12 engine boasting 650 horsepower, and runs a top speed of 211 miles per hour or 0 to 60 miles-per-hour at 3.4 seconds. All 20 cars have already been sold at $1.4 million each.

The Nissan GT-R delivers just as much. The twin-turbocharged GT-R has a 3.8-liter V-6 engine delivering 473 horsepower. The car accelerates 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.

For old school people who remember the very first movie car chase scene, Ford unveiled the Mustang “Bullitt.” Inspired by the 1968 Steve McQueen movie of the same name, the car features a 4.6-liter V-8 engine and delivers 315 horsepower.

Other speedy cars to look for are the Audi A4, Ferrari 430 Scuderia, Maserati Quattroporte Sport GTS, Mercedes Benz C63 AMG, Porsche 911 GT2, Lotus Exige S Club Racer and Bentley Continental GT Speed.

Tickets for the Auto Show are $10 (cash only), children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Seniors (65+) pay $7. Discount coupons will be available at participating LA area new car dealerships and 7-Eleven stores. Hours from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (


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FilAm TV Viewers Tune Out


by Joseph Pimentel/

BURBANK – Filipino-American television viewer Jon Ibay has nothing to do on Wednesday nights now that the creators of his favorite show “Lost” walked out.

Ibay is one of thousands of Filipinos and viewers who have religiously watched ABC’s hit show ‘Lost’ every Wednesday night since it first premiered in 2004.

Like most fans, he’s anxious about the new season and its engaging story lines.

“The time between last year’s season finale to this seasons premiere was already too long,” said Ibay, a 29-year-old LA County Administrator. “Now, the season is already in jeopardy.”

Last November 2, thousands of writers from every major Network and Cable studio across Los Angeles and New York put their pencils down and formed picket lines.

Particularly, the writers of ‘Lost’ joined thousands of their colleagues in one of the largest entertainment industry strike since 1988, jeopardizing viewer ratings and literally ‘lost’ many shows seasons.

More than 60 television shows from daytime Soaps, Late-Night television, to network and cable original series were affected by the strike. Not to mention the millions of viewers at home who had tuned out or settled for re-runs of their favorite shows.

The last time the writers walked out on studios, they demanded better VHS sales. This time around, new media such as DVDs, the Internet, downloads, web streaming and web/ TV phones that have been transforming the entertainment industry became a main focal point of the strike.

“Companies are basically saying that they should not have to pay our members for our material [on the internet],” said David Weiss, the Vice President of the Writers Guild of America, west (WGAw). “TV shows like ‘Lost’ that would have gone to re-runs or syndication that would have generated money for our members are now going to the internet and companies are saying we shouldn’t get paid for that.”

“The reason that’s crucial to us is that those residual payments is the money that keeps food on the table of our members between gigs,” he added.

He said that 45 percent of their members are not working in any given year. The WGA represents more than 12,000 members.
Another hot issue is DVD sales.

“Right now, we receive about 0.3 percent of DVD sales,” said Michael Tabb, a feature film writer carrying a “Writers Guild on Strike” stake. “We’re asking for 0.6 percent. That’s about five cents for every $20 DVD customers buy.”

However, many people think that writers are paid handsomely for the little work they do.

Tabb said that is not the case.

“It takes me as long as two years to finish a script that I’m proud of or as little as three months,” he said. “People don’t understand that [feature] film writers can go months of working on a script then realize it’s wasted time because the script is not working. We try to write three scripts a year and hope that one of them sells.”

Tabb added that even if he did get paid for a script, he would need to pay his manager, agents and government taxes.

“A lot of people throw big numbers out there on how much a screenwriter gets paid for a script but in reality, those are overblown, exaggerated numbers,” he said.

Adam Horowitz, a co-producer and writer for ABC’s hit show “Lost” said he’s striving for a fair deal with the networks.

“We’re here to show our unity and focus to get that deal,” he said standing in front of the Disney Studios in Burbank. “What it boils down to is if they [the studios] get paid, we want to get paid. This is a union town. We’re not only here to fight for ourselves but we are here to fight for all the unions so that we can all be treated fairly.”

Horowitz said he does not know what’s going to happen to the remaining seasons episodes of ‘Lost.’

“Well right now, the studio is filming the seventh episode and production continues even though we will not be doing anymore writing or producing,” he said. “I imagine they’ll [the studios] finish the episodes that were done before the strike but after that no more writing until this is resolved.”

So far talks with the studios have grown stale.

“There are no backdoor negotiations at this time,” said Weiss. “We’re basically waiting for them to respond to our offers.”

Despite the lack of negotiations, the strike is gaining momentum. Most recently, Actor and Writer Steve Carell of NBC’s hit-show ‘The Office’ refused to cross the picket line and joined the protest.

Viewers are also joining the cause. Chris Cheong, a 22-year-old student at UC Irvine, said to give these writers what they are demanding.

“They need to be paid for what they are doing,” he said. “I watch ‘The Office’ all the time. It’s funny and it’s very well written.”

Tabb said he and the rest of the writers are prepared to strike for “however long it takes.”

As for Ibay, he said he probably would not watch ‘Lost’ re-runs.

“Right now, I don’t watch a lot of other shows that is affected too much by the strike. I’ll just watch sporting events.” (

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Gas Prices Soar Nationwide

by Rene Villaroman/


LOS ANGELES — Motorists in Northern California are already paying more than $4 a gallon for gas, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) reported on Tuesday. In Oakland, a Shell station sold premium gas at $4.05 a gallon, and in the State capital of Sacramento, gas prices are $1 higher than they were one year ago.

Analysts predicted that it will only take weeks before nationwide gas prices reach the $4 level. The national average this week for regular gas topped $3 per gallon, and motorists could be paying record prices this holiday season, the analysts added.
“Usually Americans have more money to spend each holiday season because gasoline prices tend to give up 25 per cent of their value after summer,” said Tom Kloza, an analyst with the Oil Price Information Service. “But this year there is a second coming of the gasoline rally that may be the Grinch that stole Christmas.”

Barring some unexpected developments like a big drop in the price of oil, Kloza and other experts said, gas could be headed towards $4 a gallon by spring. Gasoline prices have trailed surging oil prices, but they are starting to catch up as crude oil nears $100 a barrel. Oil settled down slightly on Tuesday, at $96.37 a barrel.

On Wednesday the national average gas price for unleaded regular reached $3.04—an increase of nearly 28 cents in the last month– according to AAA. Average gasoline prices in November had never exceeded $3 a gallon before this year. A year ago, the average price at the pump was $2.20, meaning it costs roughly $12.50 more today to fill a car with a 15-gallon tank.

In some states, like California, for example, the average price motorists are paying is higher. On Wednesday that average was $3.31. In the Northern California city of Stockton, the average price is $3.30 a gallon, and in Modesto, it’s a bit cheaper at $3.28 a gallon for regular gas. This year, the record price for regular gas was $3.43 and it was posted in May, according to AAA.

In Houston, Texas economist Barton Smith said that gas prices could breach the $4 a gallon mark by next summer. He added that despite the spikes, consumers will pay up. If, as a result of spiraling gas prices, Americans are driving less over all, it is not evident in the national statistics. Americans have consumed an average of 9.3 million barrels of gasoline a day so far this year, an increase of 0.6 per cent from last year, says the Energy Department. But there are signs that many Americans are feeling the pinch, and business economists are worried that rising gasoline prices will cut consumer spending this holiday season.

“I actually drive to Tahoe, but I can’t afford to drive right now,” says Diana Quintero, a driver from Houston, Texas. She was forced to change her driving routes and even her car. “I can’t afford $80 a week. I just can’t,” she said. Farhan Muhammed can only put $5 in his tank to make ends meet. “It’s really hurting everybody. It’s really expensive,” he said.

Economist Smith said whether prices go up or down, Americans have not noticeably slowed down in their consumption of gas. “Not only will the spikes hurt at the pump, it would trickle down and affect the day-to-day expenses,” Smith said. “It affects food, clothing, and electronics. You’ll see the effects at the grocery store,” Smith said.

“Generally, I go out less now,” said Janet LaVigne, 51, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. She fills her 1994 Mazda Protégé daily to deliver newspapers in communities outside Cleveland. “I do my job and come home. I used to go out to the movies, sometimes to restaurants, but now I can’t afford the gas.”

Sara Scheerer, a 17-year-old high school senior, said the high cost of fueling her 1999 Ford Explorer to drive to basketball team practices and school had forced her to get a salesclerk job at Walgreens. “I can’t spend as much money on other stuff like clothes,” she added.

Geoff Sundstrom, an AAA spokeman, projected that the average regular gas prices nationwide would be at least $3.20 by Christmas. Amanda Kurzendoerfer, a commodities analyst at Summit Energy Services Inc., predicted a price as high as $3.50 by Christmas—which would be a record for any time of the year.

Kurzendoerfer also predicted that while oil prices could exceed $100 a barrel in the near term, they will average $75 to $80 in 2008. Still, she said gasoline prices would most likely be higher in the spring when oil refineries will have to produce more expensive blends for warmer weather and the heavy summer driving season begins.

In the Los Angeles area, regular gas averages from $3.13 to $3.28 a gallon. At a Unocal station in Beverly Hills, premium gas is pushing the $4 level at $3.99. It could breach that level any day now.

As a consolation, American motorists are still ahead. In the United Kingdom, the price of a gallon of gas has reached the equivalent of $8 on Wednesday. (

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Kid Jeopardy Champ is a FilAm

by  Malou Aguilar/

CONCORD, CA — A proud lola, Mrs. Cely Rayco Millena called last week to share the good news about her granddaughter Rachel Lee A. Millena. At 10 years old, Rachel bested other whiz kids in the game show Kids Jeopardy aired last October 9.

A sixth grader at St. Francis Catholic School in Concord, Rachel was selected among 10,000 registered kids from age 10-12 years old.  The numbers went down to 3,000, then to 200 and finally to 15 contestants.  

Her road to becoming a Kids Jeopardy winner started when she saw the Kids Week registration ad.  Rachel asked her parents for permission to register and take the online test last March, wherein each participant had to answer each of the 30 questions in 10 seconds.  In July, Rachel was informed that she was one of the 200 finalists selected for an audition.

Among 15 contestants, Rachel became the biggest winner of the week.  In her face-off with the two contestants during the final round, she had won $16,000  already.  Faced with the final Jeopardy question, “Name the only US president who never lived in Washington, DC,” Rachel bet $12,000. She answered ‘George Washington’ and walked away with $28,000.

Just another girl

Bubbly, precocious and friendly were the impressions that this reporter had after her phone and e-mail interview with Asian Journal.

“Rachel is just like any 10-year-old girl,” said her father, Engr. Millena. He is a principal train control engineer at BART Systems Engineering. “She loves her American Girl doll, and is an avid reader.”   

Aside from reading, Rachel loves history, plays the piano and is a member of the Walnut Creek Girls Golf Club.  She also acts in her school drama class.  As a sister, she loves playing with her sibling, Rebecca Lee, who is 8.  Although there are times that they disagree with each other, being an older sister, Rachel has learned to be more understanding.  “Rachel loves being a big sister and enjoys sharing the spotlight with her sister,” her father explained.  

There is no doubt that her youth is just one part of her. Her answers showed how smart and intelligent she is.  Engr. Millena said that Rachel likes to take on challenges and gives it her best shot.  

“She, of course, enjoys meeting and overcoming those challenges but more importantly, she learns from her mistakes when she falls short,” her father said proudly.

Everybody’s game

During the interview on the show, Rachel said, “It’s everybody’s game.”  For someone who won over thousands of kids to get to the final round, she was admittedly still nervous being on TV and competing with other kids.  

“You never know what questions will come up,” Rachel shared. “…And there were a lot of smart kids there,” she added.  

She never thought that she would emerge as the Final Jeopardy winner. “I was hoping to just have fun, learn something new and make friends,”  Rachel said.

The Millenas made trips to Los Angeles for the past three months for the audition.  When they received the call late July from the contestant coordinator, they were informed that Rachel was of the 15 kids selected.  She prepared for the competition in Los Angeles by reviewing geography, history, US presidents and literature.

Still a Filipino

Although Rachel and her sister were born in the US, their parents instill in them their Filipino roots.   Rachel’s proud grandparents, arrived here in 1979 as special immigrants granted to her lolo, Rolando Millena. He worked for 21 years at the Ship Repair Facility at the Subic Bay Naval Shipyard in Olongapo City as Chief Metallurgist.  Rachel’s father was only 13 years old when he arrived in the US with his four other siblings.

Engr. Millena believes that it is very important to instill faith and humility in their daughters’ lives.  He and his wife, Lea, a full-time mother and housewife, agree that without their own parents’ diligent efforts and dedication to provide them with the proper moral values and faith in God, there will not a be a moral compass to guide them.  They also immerse their children in the traditions and culture of Filipinos.  Being Bicolanos, they also participate in the Penafrancia Fiesta held in San Leandro every year.

“Of course, the ‘mano po’ blessing we greet our elders is one of the little things we have taught our girls,” said Engr. Millena.

Rachel and her sister visited the Philippines for the first time in July last year.  Engr. Millena believed that it was an eye-opening experience for both.  

“It’s one thing to be able to tell the girls stories from our own experiences when we lived there,” he said . “It is so much more when they actually see, feel, smell and live it there.”  

Both girls enjoyed the experience so much.  Aside from the sights, beautiful beaches, fresh fruits and wildlife, Rachel also had to chance to see her best friend, Gianna, who recently moved back to the Philippines.  

After all the excitement, Rachel is busy with school and her extra curricular activities.  She looks forward to her future — either as a novelist, concert pianist, photojournalist, or reporter.  As for her $28,000 prize, most of it will be saved for her college fund and to buy a new laptop computer — a pink one.  (


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Charity Concert for Bantay Bata


Mark your calendars! Simbang Gabi on December 1, 2007 at the Hyatt Century Hotel in Los Angeles, featuring an evening with Ms. Lea Salonga, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bantay Bata.

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