Daily Archives: March 12, 2008

GABNet LA Leads Coalition to Celebrate Women’s Day

By Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – Militant women’s group, Gabriela Network (GABNet) and the Mariposa Alliance demanded an end to the Iraq War in a peaceful march to commemorate International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8.

“Our main issue is the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, and we are calling to end the war and occupation not just in Iraq but all over the world. The war impacts women and children,” said Prof. Annalisa Enrile, chair of GABNet Los Angeles. “Today’s march is to get a very strong women’s contingent – hopefully – to bring them to the March 15 antiwar rally in Hollywood for the [5th] anniversary of the war in Iraq.”

To dramatize their protest, GABNet continued a yearly tradition of focusing on women’s fashion. Eight GABNet members dressed in the national dress of nine countries currently involved in wars and other forms of military occupations, led some four hundred marchers in the 1.5-mile march.

GABNet and Mariposa Alliance members sported multi-colored butterfly wings on their backs to signify the literal meaning of Mariposa (Spanish for butterfly). The “fashion models” represented wars and conflicts in Asian countries including the Philippines, and in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Mexico, Guatemala, and Muslim women all over the world.

“What’s significant here is that FilAms are the ones at the vanguard of this rally,” declared Alpie Garcia, chair of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV). “America is spending $10 billion a month to fund the war in Iraq, while services for the people — especially for women with families– are being cut by the state of California and the Federal government.”

“The government could pay for the veterans’ benefits for the equivalent of funding 12 hours of war in Iraq,” Garcia said.

JFAV has been asking money for the veterans, not for the war.

“Living in the US, we are trained and encouraged to concentrate on ourselves first and foremost. We are discouraged from considering those across the borders – or in this country – (people) with unwaged and low-waged work provide the lifestyles to which those of us living in the US and other parts of the Global North have been accustomed,” declared Margaret Prescod of the Global Women’s Strike (www.globalwomenstrike. net).

“Capital thinks globally and so must we, and it is about more than solidarity. It is working out how to be accountable to each other, what is the impact of the demands and strategies of those of us in the Global North on those of us in the Global South, or of the South within the North,” Prescod said.

Brenda Baraquil, a FilAm who is originally from Cebu, carried a wooden frame festooned with hundreds of miniature flags of the countries in the world.

“I am a citizen of the world,” she said. “I walk for all the women in the world who are against the wars. We are getting very little money to raise and educate our children and to take care of our environment.”

On March 8, 1913, women led peace rallies Europe to protest the looming threat of World War I. Women in Russia went on strike, calling for “peace and bread,” thereby starting a revolutionary wave that culminated with the 1917 October Revolution. In the US, Ida Wells-Barnett, an African-American journalist, broke the segregation laws by marching with her white colleagues, and called for the women’s right to vote.

“Since then, March 8th has been co-opted and turned into a so-called commemoration of women’s achievements as though there were no more need for further achievements,” said a prepared statement handed to this reporter by Michelle Garcia, GABNet’s media coordinator.

“In the year 2008, we issue the call to all women to transform March 8th into a historic protest against the war in Iraq. Despite the majority approbrium against this war, it continues, sucking up resources needed for education, health and social services,” the statement added.

“We don’t know the status of women in Iraq, in the face of the ongoing war there,” said Rebecca Dean, a member of GABNet. “From a woman’s perspective, I think that the war affects women doubly hard because they are left behind by their husbands who fight in Iraq. When they (husbands) come back, they have this need to rebuild their families.”


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SC Justice Refuses to Inhibit Self from NBN-ZTE Case

by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com

MANILA – Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr. Monday declined calls for him to recuse himself from voting on the petition filed by Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Romulo Neri seeking to enjoin the Senate from compelling him to appear before its investigation into the bribery scandal involving the government’s multi-million dollar national broadband network (NBN) project with China’s ZTE Corporation.

In a statement, Velasco admitted that he had played golf with Neri and NBN star witness Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada at the Wack-Wack Country Club in Mandaluyong City but this happened only once, thus, should not be used as a basis for his inhibition.

Lozada earlier disclosed that Velasco and Neri were golf buddies and that he played one game with them.

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Lozada uses this incident as basis for my inhibition in the NBN-ZTE case initiated by Secretary Neri before the Court. It is unfair to virtually question my objectivity and capacity to render a just and detached judgment in that NBN-ZTE case on account of a single round of golf. Rest assured that I will vote in the NBN-ZTE case fairly as I have done in all previous case,” Velasco said.

Velasco said Lozada’s allegations “devoid of truth since he and Neri were not actually golfmates but just mere acquaintances.

He recounted that he first met Neri sometime last year during one of the oath-taking ceremonies I was invited to in Malacanang.

Velasco said he was introduced to Neri, who was then the director general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), during the said event.

“During our very cordial but brief conversation, the subject of golf which both of us enjoy playing came up. We parted agreeing to play golf should the opportunity present itself,” he said.

A few months after, Velasco said Neri called him up and invited him to play at the Wack-Wack Country Club. He said it was there that Neri introduced him to two other flight mates, including Lozada.

“It was only on that occasion that I played golf with Secretary Neri. Surely that sole encounter at the golf course does not make as golfmates. Complete strangers often see themselves playing on the same flight. So the statement of Mr. Lozada depicting me as Secretary Neri’s golfmate is factually baseless, to say the least,” he said.

SC spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said no formal petition has been filed seeking Velasco’s inhibition from the NBN-ZTE case.

Meanwhile, the court en banc Monday denied the motion filed by Neri’s counsel Antonio Bautista for an extension of at least a week to file their memorandum on the case it filed against the Senate.

The SC, in a resolution last March 7, directed Neri and the Senate to file their respective memoranda within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice.


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1st FilAm Visionary Awards Held at Kodak Theater

by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com

HOLLYWOOD – Coming together in unprecedented camaraderie, high achieving Filipinos and Filipino Americans were given recognition in their respective fields at the First Annual Visionary Awards held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Friday.

The awards show was considered historic and trendsetting. Financially – it cost a reported six figures to rent the Kodak Theater as its venue. NuVision Worldwide Communications went through great lengths to ensure that the production went without a hitch. But Murphy’s Law has proven again that when things could go wrong, they would.


Although, NuVision led by Chairman and CEO Ramil Q. Gonzales, achieved what had been earlier described as a God-ordained mission “to change the way Filipinos and their achievements are viewed throughout the world,” the production, however, was marred by technical flaws. The producers also failed to provide the press with reasonable attention and respect.

“They cheaped out on the media,” commented David Rockello, an Internet radio host and officer of the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council. “The Visionary Awards was a lovely event for the people who were able to actually sit in the seats in the auditorium. But for the press, we were led down into a dungeon – a press dungeon if you will – and we were robbed off our hearing.”

Rockello told Asian Journal that he came to record sound bytes for his Internet radio show at http://www.killradio.org.

“It’s kinda hard to do sound bytes if there is no sound in the video. The little teeny monitor that they have is not large enough for anybody to watch. They did not have food for the press and they did not have water. So, like at the last minute, they brought in one case of water. One case!” Rockello added.

The audio was so inaudible, that this reporter was forced to leave the press room to watch the show in the theater. There were approximately 50 to 60 media members in the press room.


The project was met with a lot of skepticism, deemed ambitious, when it was unveiled at a press briefing in February. Skepticism eased with the helped of generally positive press from the community media.

However, it is still unknown whether NuVision would recoup its investment. Although NuVision managed to fill up approximately 80 percent of the 4,000-seat Kodak Theater, it would be reasonable to assume that ticket sales alone would not be able to cover production cost

Stars-filled night

The luminary achievements of the first Visionary Awards were its effort to sew up an impressive list of honorees from the home country. That list included the Filipino King of Comedy Dolphy, basketball great and former Senator Robert Jaworski, Congressman Luis Villafuerte, Senator Bong Revilla Jr., comedians Tito, Vic and Joey, action star Rudy Fernandez, rapper Francis Magalona, boxing great Manny Pacquiao (who did not receive the award in person) and entertainers Martin Nievera, Jessa Zaragoza and Kuh Ledesma.

The producers also reached out to other ethnic groups, including the African-American and Asian-Pacific Islanders communities. Singer Brian McKnight presented the Entertainer of the Year award to Nievera. Iron Chef’s Mark Dacascos, One Tree Hill’s Michael Copon, Hanna Montana’s Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, and American Idol finalist Jasmine Trias were among the FilAm celebrities that raised the brilliance level of the show.

“I’m incredibly honored because I’m receiving it from my people. My grandparents worked so hard to offer the opportunities that I have today,” said actress/singer and third generation FilAm Nia Peeples. “We as a people have come together to honor each other tonight; let us celebrate our gifts, vision and resources. What a great time to be a Filipino.”

Former Senator and basketball great Robert Jaworski, a Lifetime Achievement honoree, said the secret to his success was hardwork, dedication, respect, resiliency, and faith in God Almighty. “I can never find any country in the world with more kindness than the Philippines,” Jaworski said.

“Public service is the central point of all our endeavors,” said Mitos Santisteban of ABS-CBN Global, which was accorded the Global Media Pioneer Award. Television network GMA-7 was bestowed the Award of Excellence in Television Programming, and Mike Enriquez, who received the Broadcast Journalist of the Year Award, accepted the statuette for his network.

After he was handed the heavy, gold-plated statuette by actress-singer Nora Aunor,Dolphy, looking frail but funny as ever, quipped: “Thank you, Lord. I feel like an Oscar awardee. I will treasure this until my memorial park.”

He continued his acceptance speech in Tagalog. “Tatagalugin ko na. Barya lang ang Ingles ko,” he said with the perfect timing of a seasoned comedian. “Tandaan ninyo, Pilipino tayo. Huwag kayong mahihiya!” Tito, Vic and Joey, the indefatigueable comedic trio that have entertained Filipinos for 32 years, was accorded a standing ovation, similar to that given to Dolphy. “Nakakataba ng puso. Pasensiya ka na Pidol (Dolphy), yung mga kasamahan mo, namamayapa na,” said Joey de Leon. The trio has been a comedic staple for three decades, in three television stations, and five Presidents.

When Dolphy was handed a second statuette for a Lifetime Achievement Award, he said: “Me bonus pa!” He then paid tribute to the memory of his departed peers in the entertainment industry. “Mabuti naman at ibinigay ninyo itong award habang buhay pa ako,” Dolphy said.


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Four SF Shows to Fight Violence Against Women: The Vagina Monologues, other shows, continue the ‘V’ movement

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO — In their continuing global efforts to stop violence against women and girls, the Filipina Women’s Network (FWN), a non-profit association for women of Philippine ancestry, joins V-Day with its production of Eve Ensler’s Obie award-winning The Vagina Monologues (Usaping Puki, Tagalog trans.) in San Francisco and New York.

V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations. V-Day FWN 2008 aims to raise awareness through theatre, popular culture and education of the high incidence of violence in Filipino homes and intimate partner relationships and to help Filipina women in abusive relationships to take action and seek help.

This all-Filipina benefit production directly hits the hearts of many Filipino women who have been silent or ashamed to talk openly and fight back domestic violence. It seeks to find ways to break the cycle of violence.

In a survey done last year, 76 percent of the almost two million Filipinos in the Bay Area and over 500,000 in New York/ New Jersey areas have indicated that they either witnessed violence at home, grew up in abusive homes, are in abusive intimate partner relationships,  ready left abusive relationships or know of someone who has experienced domestic violence. It was also indicated that these victims did not seek help, were ashamed to talk about the violence, and did not know what to do and were not aware of resources available to survivors and victims.

Four benefit shows are scheduled in San Francisco: the screening of Until The Violence Stops, a powerful film about VDay on March 28 at the Academy of Art University, The Vagina Monologues on March 31 with its all-Filipina cast at the Herbst Theatre, while Usaping Puki, the Tagalog version, will be on April 5 at the Academy of Art University; A new play, MMRP: A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, featuring men and supporters of Men Against Violence, will be onstage on April 4 and 5 at the Herbst Theatre.

Shows in NY will be on April 18 and 19, at the Philippine Center New York.

The all-Filipino cast is composed of community leaders, actors, students, professionals, activists and homemakers. The production aims to engage the Filipino community through theatre and hearing the women’s stories in Tagalog (with Usaping Puki) hits home, helping them understand the broader connections of Filipino values such as respect for women, dignity, family, equality and justice to social and economic issues and to class and religion.

Eve Ensler’s Obie award-winning The Vagina Monologues is based on interviews with over 200 women about their memories and experiences of sexuality, giving voice to women’s deepest fears, guaranteeing that no one who watches the show will ever look at a woman’s body or think of sex in quite the same way again. It is a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery. In this stunning phenomenon that has swept the world, Eve Ensler gives us real women’s stories of intimacy, vulnerability and self-discovery.

The Vagina Monologues is headed by executive producer Marily Mondejar, directed by Elena Mangahas and Ken Marquis for the San Francisco production and Christina Baal and Theresa Tantay-Wilson for the New York production. The show is for the benefit of the Filipinas Against Violence, V-Day Spotlight 2008: Katrina Warriors — Women of New Orleans and the Gulf South and Comfort Women Survivors in the Philippines.


(For more information on tickets and show schedules, email V-day@ffwn.org or log on to http://www.ffwn.org.)

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Going Green at the Grassroots: Bay Area community leaders, ethnic media, discuss global warming and green opportunities

By Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/Asianjournal.com

SAN FRANCISCO — Bay Area community leaders, together with Next 10, New America Media and members of the ethnic media, discussed the economic opportunities for going green, along with the continuing fight against global warming.

In a news briefing at the Natural Resources Defense Council last Feb. 21, F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, explained California’s role in “green” innovation and the significant impact it can make on the state’s economic and environmental health. With this, Next 10 launched the California Green Innovation Index to track the state’s green innovation as well as economic and environmental performances within the context of the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 27, 2006. This is to set up the first enforceable state-wide program in the US to cap all greenhouse gas emissions from major industries. It requires the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, roughly a 25 percent reduction under business as usual estimates.

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and various high global warming potential (GWP) gases, including perfluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

“We want to address climate change, and emphasize that there are possibilities except that not many people know where there are,” said Perry. He also added that California has become a world leader in addressing global warming, stressing that the state is more energy-efficient and has lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to other states.

Green collar jobs

Part of the fight against global warming is opening “green” opportunities in terms of employment. Nwamaka Agbo of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a strategy and action center based in Oakland, explained the organization’s “green college jobs campaign” and its goal of not only addressing the issue of unemployment, but to also be part of the environmental movement.

“If we can find an intersection to get everyone involved.But we must also respect issues in addition to climate change,” said Agbo. These issues include the reality that not all people can afford to be part of the movement. She also expressed the need to create green jobs for low-income families in the area.

The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights persuaded the city of Oakland to invest $250,000 in the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, a program that will provide young adults green opportunities out of poverty and build good careers. Aside from the center, the program is supported by IBEW 595 (Electrical Workers Union), The Sierra Club, Workforce Development Collaborative and dozens of other member organizations of the Oakland Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor unions, environmentalists, community-based organizations and green businesses.

The Green Jobs Corps will be able to recruit participants and provide them with ongoing support, teach them skills, give them employment experience on city-funded renewable energy and efficiency projects, as well as help them to move from them from the program into independent employment.

For more information about the Green Jobs Corps and other ways to support the Ella Baker Center, please call (510) 428-3939.

Green restaurants

In the movement to going green and seeing the economic opportunities, Thimmakka, a California-based non-profit organization, and its founder, Ritu Primlani, have been working to institute market solutions as well as implement systemic measures to convert business establishments, like hotels and restaurants, to go green.

“Restaurants consume more energy per square foot than any other retail space,” said Primlani and added, “in California alone, they are responsible for 16% of the solid waste that goes to landfills.”

With this in mind, Thimmakka worked on giving establishments the tools and model to transform their business to a more eco-friendly and money-saving venture. The organization started its Thimmakka Certified Green Business (TCGB) program in 2002 and reaches out to restaurants and other businesses to promote environmentally-friendly practices, especially within hard-to-reach, ethnic communities. Starting with just three green restaurants in 2002, the numbers have now reached to 120 as of 2007, covering the San Francisco Bay Area, Miami and Vancouver.

Also, in the past five years, solid waste was redirected from landfills to recycling and composting, equivalent to 245 Boeing 737 jets, weighing 79 tons each. Water conservation amounting to 59 Olympic-sized swimming pools, plus other environmentally-saving factors like energy savings and CO2 prevention were also among other efforts.

Thimmakka can help make your business turn green with their highly-transferable model, as well as support you in employing and implementing the program to make it economically affordable and viable. For more inquiries or information about Thimmakka and how it can help you and your business, log on to http://www.thimmakka.org.

Cleaning the high tech zone

One of the most controversial yet ignored dangers in the Bay Area is Silicon Valley’s contribution not only in global warming, but to the overall health and safety of the residents. Raj Jayadev, editor of the Silicon Valley De-bug, talked about how the high tech zone has masked itself. “One of the lessons we learned is that what may seem clean and beautiful outside, may be masking itself,” he said and added, “No one saw the uglier side.”

Jayadev related the story of Froilan Chan-Liongco, a Filipino worker for Romic Environmental Technologies, a company in East Palo Alto that specializes in industrial recycling of liquid wastes like solvents, inks, acids and other dangerous chemicals used for producing computer parts. A welder for 16 years, Chan-Liongco received second and third degree burns on the lower part of his body due to an explosion at the facility. Chan-Liongco resigned from Romic because of the way the 7company handled the incident and found himself working with protesters he once ignored.

Residents of East Palo Alto fought with Romic for the past 15 years, claiming that the company has been polluting the community with toxic waste. Romic, on the other hand avoided closure, despite of multiple safety violations, by holding regulatory agencies at bay. The importation of toxic wastes into the community has contributed to a number of health issues, including the increasing risk of cancer and asthma.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), slapped Romic with 28 violations from 1999 to 2004 — everything from mislabeling chemicals to storing them in unauthorized places — resulting in a 2005 settlement of $849,500 in penalties. Also, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CalOSHA), discovered 57 violations at the plant from 1988 to 2004, totaling $163,360 in fines. Romic’s DTSC permit expired in 1991, and despite some extensions, the company has been operation with a provisional permit for the last 11 years. With mounting pressure from the protesters, DTSC is finally investigating whether or not to approve Romic’s operating permit.

Part of Romic’s continued operations is connected to economics, since 97 percent of the community is comprised of people of color, immigrants and/or low-wage workers. “There is no political or economic power to resist,” said Jayadev.

Jayadev also expressed the importance of joining forces in the fight to clean-up the environment, a collective push to bring balance and take precautions as new industries come in. “There are opportunities for change,” he said and added, “We must remember that environmentalism is not a separate movement.”


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RP Among Most Corrupt Economies in Asia – Survey

by Maria Sunantha Quibilan/Asianjournal.com

LOS ANGELES – The Philippines is perceived as having one of the most corrupt economies in Asia, according to a survey conducted by a Hong Kong-based consultancy firm of 1,400 expatriate businessmen last January and February

Results of the latest survey by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) which were released Monday

revealed that the Philippines, along with Thailand, Indonesia and China, as being perceived in the worst light in terms of corruption.

Under the 10-point grading system used by PERC in which zero is the best score and 10 the worst, the Philippines scored 9.0. Thailand ranked second with a score of 8.0, followed by Indonesia and China which both scored 7.98.

Singapore and HongKong remained, as in the previous years, as the countries deemed to have the cleanest economies.

Corruption remains a problem in Asia despite huge economic progress made over the years, with governments generally lacking the political will to tackle the problem, PERC said.

In a summary report made available to Agence France-Press, the firm said that “the Philippines is a sad case when it comes to corruption.”

The country’s situation is “probably no worse than in places like Indonesia and Thailand” but corruption has become politicized and is openly discussed in the media, unlike in authoritarian countries like China and Vietnam.

Malacañang has yet to issue a statement reacting to the PERC survey, according to a report on GMA 7’s 24 Oras.

The survey is conducted annually by PERC and covers only 13 economies in Asia, excluding those countries already notorious for corruption, such as Myanmar and Bangladesh.

According to the PERC website, regional managers of 100 multinational banks and companies, “people who have first hand experience with the problem,” are those who take part in the poll.

The firm conducts such studies in order to provide, according to its website, “strategic business information and analysis for companies doing business in the countries in East and Southeast Asia.”


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Pacquiao-Marquez Rematch All Set: Pinoy boxers take Las Vegas

by Joseph Pimentel/Asianjournal.com

LAS VEGAS, NV – Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao’s rematch with World Boxing Council (WBC) Champion Juan Manuel Marquez at the Mandalay Bay dominates the boxing headlines but there are three, possibly four, other Pinoy fighters who are also making an appearance during the big fight week.

On Thursday, Manny Pacquiao’s younger brother Bobby “The Sniper” Pacquiao (28-13 12 KO’s) will headline a fight against Mexican Urbano Antillon (21-0 14 KO’s) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Bobby Pacquiao is coming from a recent Technical Knockout (TKO) victory against Fernando Trejo last November.

In the same undercard, FilAm female boxer Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton makes her third professional fight appearance against Clara De La Torre of New Mexico. Julaton (2-0) is fresh from her win against Carley Batey during last month’s Fox Sports Net “The Best Damn Championship Women’s Boxing” show. After that win, the WBC ranked Julaton as the third best US women’s Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.) boxer and No. 13 in the world.

Diosdado Gabi of Davao City will make his appearance during the Pacquiao vs. Marquez undercard on Saturday. Gabi known as “The Prince” (30-3-1 23 KO’s) squares off against undefeated Abner Mares (15-0 9 KO’s) of Mexico. Gabi last fought during the Philippine vs. Mexico World Cup of Boxing in Sacramento. He bested Jose Angel Beranza by the judge’s  unanimous decision.

Meanwhile, Filipino featherweight prodigy Michael Farenas (19-2-2 17 KO’s) may make his second US appearance in either fight card. Farenas is in Las Vegas but his opponent has yet to be determined. Farenas made a very impressive US debut last October in the undercard of the Pacquiao vs. Marco Antonio Barrera fight. Farenas defeated Arturo Valenzuela impressively knocking him down twice before the referee stopped the fight in the second round.

All five Pinoy fighters including Pacquiao have been training at the Wildcard Boxing Club in Los Angeles for the past two months preparing for their matches.

Celebrity Sightings

Expect to see a large number of Philippine actors, athletes and politicians during the week to show their support for the Pinoy fighters (mostly for Pacquiao). Former Philippine Senator and PBA star Robert Jaworski, actor Richard Gutierrez, singer Martin Nievera, performer Allen Pineda (Apl.de.Ap) of the Black Eyed Peas, Championship boxers Nonito Donaire, and Gerry Penalosa have confirmed to this reporter their attendance this weekend.

Defending Title

Speaking of Penalosa, the “Fearless” fighter will defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) title against No. 1 contender Ratanachai Sor Vorapin of Thailand at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on April 6. For the past few months, Penalosa has also been training with Freddie Roach at the Wildcard Boxing Club. A win against Vorapin sets up a possible re-match against Mexican Champion Daniel Ponce De Leon later this year. Ponce De Leon and Penalosa last fought exactly a year ago in March. All three judges unanimously scored in favor of Ponce De Leon.


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