No Comments 24 December 2014

By Tim Dahlberg — LAS VEGAS (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. built a career – and made a fortune – by using deception to confuse and outwit his opponents.

Playing the same game outside the ring has also paid off for Money May. Mayweather has, for the most part, been able to fight who he wants, where he wants and when he wants. He sells enough pay-per-views that he has been able to avoid a fight with Manny Pacquiao that should have taken place five years ago.

But the game has gotten old, even if Mayweather’s many yes men haven’t had the courage to let him know. His latest attempt to twist the story line about a possible fight next year with Pacquiao was so dated and absurd that even the sycophants in his sizeable entourage had to be rolling their eyes.

The wizard of defense has finally been boxed into a corner. The charade is over, whether Mayweather realizes it or not.

He must fight Pacquiao next, if his career is to have any legitimacy. And he must to do it on terms that reflect he won’t be the only superstar in the ring.

Mayweather didn’t seem to grasp that last Dec. 13 when he broke his silence and tried to make it seem as if he were challenging Pacquiao to a fight, not the other way around. In an “’interview”’ with the Showtime network that employs him, Mayweather not only declared he wanted Pacquiao, but set a May 2 date for the fight.

Lest long suffering boxing fans get too excited, though, the conditions quickly followed. Mayweather not only wants to pick the date but to set the purse to his liking and have Showtime be the broadcaster. He regurgitated old arguments about blood testing that didn’t make sense five years ago when he first started spouting them and make absolutely no sense now.

Luckily, the interview ringside in San Antonio didn’t last long. If it had, Mayweather might have demanded Pacquiao be allowed to train only one week for the fight, have his blood taken in the locker room just before he goes into the ring and not be able to use his right hand for the first eight rounds.

That may be laughable. But so, too, is this:

“’Manny Pacquiao, (promoter) Bob Arum, you guys have been ducking us for years,’” Mayweather said. ‘”We’re tired of you guys fooling the public, fooling the critics. Before we tried to make the fight happen and you guys didn’t want to take random blood and urine testing. So that’s why the fight didn’t happen. Then I offered you $40 million and you didn’t want to make the fight happen. Then you lost twice and now you’re coming back begging for the same money. That’s not going to happen.’”

Maybe Mayweather doesn’t read the papers. If he had, he would know Pacquiao had no problem with unannounced blood tests for his fight with Chris Algieri last November. He would know that Pacquiao and Arum would almost surely accept a smaller purse as long as the money split wasn’t lopsided.

Now is the time for Mayweather to step up.

Now is the time for Mayweather to step up.

He would know that the free ride is over for the most part and Showtime won’t keep paying him $20 million to $30 million to fight the Marcos Maidanas of the world.

The fact of the matter is pay-per-view buys are slowing for both Pacquiao and Mayweather. Pacquiao’s fight last November with Algieri in Macau wasn’t a big seller, and both of Mayweather’s fights last year with Maidana underperformed. Both HBO and Showtime are charging premium rates, but not showing premium fights.

Put Mayweather and Pacquiao in the ring together and that would change. Though both fighters have slowed some in recent years, the matchup is still one fans desperately want and are willing to pay for. It would be the richest fight in history, and it wouldn’t be close.

Frankly, it’s hard to see why Mayweather hasn’t already signed on the dotted line. He would easily make $100 million, maybe more. Assuming he wins – and Vegas oddsmakers have already put up lines favoring him by as much as 3-1 – he would cement his legacy and bolster his claim to being one of the great fighters of all time.

But if the fight has an expiration date, so do the negotiations. For a fight as big as this, they would likely need to be wrapped up by the end of the year to allow time for the promotion to begin.

It’s taken five years to even get Mayweather to say he wants the fight.

Now it’s time for him to step up and show he really means it.

(Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press.)



Current Affairs


No Comments 24 December 2014

By Lorela U. Sandoval – – SENDING balikbayan boxes to relatives in the Philippines has been a lifelong tradition for Filipinos abroad and a tangible reminder of their love to families and friends back home. It is, however, fraught with problems and risks – ranging from late delivery and damage to the shipment to pilferage and missing or lost cargo.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has received many complaints regarding balikbayan boxes over the years. Based on data provided by Eduardo Quizon of the Philippine Shippers’ Bureau of DTI, the countries with the highest number of balikbayan boxes sent to the Philippines are the Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan, Singapore, Italy, United Kingdom (UK), and Korea.

Latest data from DTI show that the countries with the highest number of cases or complaints were UAE (174 cases) USA (170), KSA (112), Kuwait (46), Singapore (25), UK (21), and Hong Kong (10).

Dubai in UAE has the highest number of recorded cases at 167, prompting the DTI to label it a “hotspot”. In the USA, Chicago is tops at 52, while in KSA, it was Riyadh at 51.

The DTI recorded 73 complaints in 2010, 212 in 2011, 168 in 2012, 173 in 2013, and 45 as of June 2014.

UPDATE January 15, 2015 – The Department of Trade and Industry placed 43 foreign and local sea freight forwarders on its blacklist after shippers and consignees lodged numerous complaints against the firms, mainly the non-delivery of balikbayan boxes.

The complete list of the blacklisted freight forwarders and consolidators, and those that have pending cases are uploaded on the DTI’s website (

What does the agency do to address complaints involving balikbayan boxes? In an interview with Planet Philippines, Quizon explains that the agency follows a standard operating procedure when dealing with the complaints.

“When we receive complaints, we subject them to mediation, but first we need a formal written complaint supported by bill of lading, packing list, waybill, or invoices to validate their complaint,” said Quizon, who is DTI-PSB’s Shipping Operations Specialist II and recently Acting Consumer Adjudication Officer.

He cited an instance wherein two water heaters for a swimming pool were missing in a box that came from the US West Coast. To prove the pilferage complaint, the complainant took pictures of the fist-size gaping hole in the box.

If a freight forwarder is found to be scamming Filipinos overseas of their balikbayan boxes, the Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) may impose monetary fines, suspension or cancellation of accreditation.

“Once we find out they have liability there is a fine of P50,000 for first offense. Second offense, there is a cease and desist order. Third is closure,” said.

If a settlement is reached between the forwarder and the complainant, the forwarder has to pay specific fees to the complainant and to the DTI office as well for culpability.

Quizon said that if the complainant wants to pursue a criminal case against the forwarder, he should file a case before a regular court. The DTI handles only administrative cases.

To lessen cases of Filipinos getting victimized and curb the malfeasance of some freight forwarders, the DTI regularly holds roadshows and information drives abroad to educate overseas Filipinos on how to protect their shipments.

Quizon said the roadshows have been very successful in imparting practical tips and information to overseas Filipinos, particularly the OFWs who are usual victims of unscrupulous forwarders.
Here are some practical tips to protect balikbayan box shipments:
• Book your balikbayan boxes only with cargo consolidator/freight forwarders accredited by the Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau if by sea or the Civil Aeronautics Authority of the Philippines if by air. Senders can check the consolidator/forwarder’s name on under the section of the Consumer Welfare and Business Regulation or through the Philippine Consulate office overseas.
• Monitor regular advisories and alerts at
• Organize your box and declare your shipment by completing a detailed list of the contents and their value. If possible, include the description and brand of each item. Attach one copy of the list outside the box; place another copy of the list inside the box so the recipient can ascertain of any item is missing.
• Secure transport or shipping documents such as official or cargo receipt for fees paid, and a Bill of Lading, which is a document issued by a transportation carrier to the shipper as proof that they received the shipment of goods and placed them on board a particular vessel for delivery to a particular destination.
• Get the complete name and contact details of the forwarder’s agent in the Philippines, and ensure that such information are indicated in the official receipt or transport document.
• Monitor the movement of your cargo from the point of origin to destination to ensure proper shipment and delivery.
• Inform your consignee to check your cargo with the agent in the Philippines even before the cargo arrives.
• For cases of pilferage, lost item, or non-delivery, file an immediate claim or complaint with the customer service of the freight forwarder. You may also file a complaint directly to the Philippine Shippers Bureau at 2nd Floor Department of Trade and Industry Bldg. 361 Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City, or call the DTI-Direct Hotline 02-7513330.


THE Bureau of Customs has launched an online tracking system that will enable recipients of balikbayan boxes to check on the status of their packages.

Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla said on Dec. 2 it was the agency’s “way of helping our kababayans find their balikbayan boxes when they encounter problems.”

“We have received several complaints from families of overseas Filipino workers blaming the bureau for their lost boxes,” he said.

With the tracker, Sevilla said “the public will no longer be given the run-around by people responsible for delivering their balikbayan boxes.”

According to the BOC head, the tracker “contains the list of all balikbayan box shipments lodged by local cargo forwarders with Customs, their countries of origin, ports of entry in the Philippines and their bills of lading with the number of the shipments.”

To access the balikbayan box tracker, go to the Bureau of Customs website ( and click the “Balikbayan Box Tracker” banner. The tracker also contains the name of the foreign forwarder, name of the local forwarder or broker, entry date filed, date cleared, and the current status (of the shipment).

Customs officials inspect balikbayan box shipments.

Customs officials inspect balikbayan box shipments.

“Families expecting balikbayan boxes should know the name of the forwarder and the bill of lading number to be able to track the shipment where the box is included,” Sevilla explained.

Balikbayan boxes sent from abroad are “usually consolidated into batches and placed in one container van aboard a cargo vessel bound for the Philippines.

Each container van has about 400 balikbayan boxes. Shipments from Asia typically arrive here in 15 to 20 days while those from North America or Europe arrive in 55 to 65 days. The local cargo forwarder handles the customs clearance of the entire shipment, as well as the delivery of each box to the intended recipient in the country, the BOC public information and assistance office.

The Department of Trade and Industry expects the online tracking system to “lessen, if not totally eliminate consumer complaints on loss, non-delivery and pilferage of balikbayan boxes.”

“Simultaneously, the tracker can serve as a venue for accredited Philippine sea freight forwarders to police their own ranks and prevent questionable acts and dealings,” said DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba.

To date, the DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau has accredited 654 Philippine sea freight forwarders. An estimated 5.5 million balikbayan boxes are sent to the Philippines each year, about 40 percent of which arrive here from September to December.

About 65 percent of the shipments are received at the Manila International Container Port while the rest are shipped through the Port of Manila, as well as Cebu, Davao and the Subic Freeport in Zambales.





No Comments 07 December 2014

By Ana Villanueva-Lykes — THE most celebrated holiday in the Philippines requires a lot of work and time put into it – three months to be exact – to commemorate the humble birth of a baby in a manger. When the “ber” months roll in, Filipinos everywhere in the world begin the planning and the hard work that will lead to that one festive day. But the whole three months is not just about the preparing and the waiting. The preparation in itself becomes a celebration, for others, a sacred ritual, a tradition.

Countdown begins

You know Christmas has commenced in the Philippines when you start hearing Frank Sinatra jingling his bells in jeepneys even though there is nary a snowflake falling from the smog-filled sky. But the air is thick with anticipation and the joyful preparation ensues. The tradition of decorating and lighting the plastic trees begin. Suddenly, the air seems cooler and the strong desire to spend cannot be ignored. And it’s only September. Before December nears, the entire Christmas bonus – yet to be handed out – has already been spent.

Malls are eager to indulge. Lavish displays of Christmas scenes are already in every corner. Gigantic empty boxes wrapped in glittering paper rests on artificial powdered snow while a red- suited dark-skinned fellow walks around dispensing ho-ho-ho’s.

Concerts are already being planned, constructions are under way, holiday collections have been launched, and the daily practice for the Christmas program starts. Christmas has begun.

Meanwhile in the workshop

This time of the year, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is busier than Santa’s elves as traffic enforcers always anticipate motorist madness with people rushing to get their shopping done and trying to get from one party to the other. Traffic congestion in Manila is expected to increase by at least 20%.

By November, MMDA is already preparing the Christmas lanes (alternate routes) to help ease the heavy traffic on main thoroughfares. In addition, the agency is working with malls to adjust their operating hours so as not to aggravate the rush hours.

Phone companies are also getting ready, expecting the usual data and voice traffic surge during the holidays. The Philippines has been ranked No. 1 for the past few years in highest SMS traffic during the festive season with over 2.3 billion text messages sent.

Christmas display at Greenhills Shopping Center

Christmas display at Greenhills Shopping Center

In our hearts

The pious ones also prepare to make room for the coming of the Savior. Catholic practitioners for instance observe the season of advent, the time of expectant waiting and preparation for the Nativity of Jesus. Devotees flock the church as early as 3 in the morning for Simbang Gabi from December 16 all the way to Christmas Eve. Early risers are rewarded with a steaming hot bibingka enjoyed under the saints and stars overhead, blinking in approval. But really, the reward is a wish granted, a promise of the parol, the Star of Bethlehem.

Simbang gabi

Simbang gabi

Across the seas

While people are stocking up on candy for Halloween and picking pumpkins at the patch in the Western world, Pinoys abroad are also busy getting ready, because the coming of the Savior also means going home. For months they squirrel away their wages for that expensive plane ticket that will reunite them with their family on Christmas Day.

It is not surprising that airfare skyrockets during the holidays. Rates peak after thanksgiving to Christmas, because people are waiting to do away with the festivities and the expenses before they can afford to book.

The smarter ones start saving at the beginning of the year and then shop for tickets by September or even as early as May when the rates are relatively cheaper. But booking is only part of the journey. There’s the coordinating with relatives for reservations, accommodations, transportation, the big homecoming extravaganza, and the of course, the pasalubong.

Inside the box

Perhaps even more anticipated than the long-missed relative is the balikbyan box, the treasure chest filled with bounty, a year’s worth of hard work: slightly used Coach purses, an X-box bought on layaway, bars of Tobleron cherished like gold bullion bars, and Johnny Walker carefully wrapped in thick fluffy towels that smell “stateside”. These are collected in a span of months or a year, products of President’s Day sales, Black Friday sales, garage sales, and big bonuses. By September, the packing begins, and the veteran stuffs everything in a 2 x 3 x3 ft. space, sparing not a single cavity, squeezing socks and candies in Nike Kobes to make the most out of the $99 shipping charge.

Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas

Before end of October, the bulging box is sent off, because it takes about two months for the package to arrive to eagerly waiting relatives. Sometimes the box doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas, so some start the process by August.

Balikbayans bringing the goodies back home with them are mindful of the 23-kg weight limit, again putting to good use the packing skills even with the carry-ons, because not a single relative is to be left out. Everyone gets to partake in the bounty and join the joyous occasion.


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