Diocese of Legazpi limits church activities amid surge of COVID-19 cases


LIGAO CITY — Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi has issued a letter to clergy, religious and parishioners emphasizing the guidelines on church activities in connection with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the province. In his Diocesan Circular No. 2, Series of 2022, issued on Wednesday in line with the national Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) protocols and the recommendations of the Board of Consultors and the Diocesan COVID-19 Committee, all parishes in Albay province must follow the 30 percent church capacity and shall also observe minimal church activities. He said children below 12 years old are not yet permitted inside the…

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Awestruck Rachel Alejandro admits forgetting lines while acting with Jodi Sta. Maria


Seasoned singer-actress Rachel Alejandro admits she was so impressed by the acting of Jodi Sta. Maria in ‘The Broken Marriage Vow” that she found herself awestruck in their scenes together. Alejandro, who plays Nathalia Lucero, recalled her scenes with Sta. Maria during an online press conference for the TV series, Jan. 17. “Si Jodi, si Dr. Jill, alam mo ‘yung natutulala ako sa kanya. Nakakalimutan ko ‘yung mga lines ko sa sobrang kaba. I think talagang […] parang nakabog ako, na-rattle kasi ang galing-galing niya,” Alejandro said. (Jodi as Dr. Jill, you know, I was dazzled by her. I would forgot my lines out of nervousness… I got rattled because she was great.) Alejandro as…

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DOH reports 492 more cases of Omicron variant


MANILA, Philippines — Health authorities have detected another 492 cases of the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus out of 714 sequenced samples. According to the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, 332 of the additional cases were detected locally while 160 were from returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs.) Of the local cases, 227 had addresses in Metro Manila, while 76 were from Calabarzon, 11 from Central Luzon, five from Central Visayas, two each from Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and Cordillera Administrative Region, and one each were from Ilocos Region, Mimaropa, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. “Based on the ca…

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La Union reports 1st patient with Omicron variant


SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union–This province reported its first patient with Omicron variant of coronavirus on Tuesday. The patient, a 37-year-old overseas Filipino worker, returned to Balaoan town on Jan. 5, the Department of Health said. In a statement, Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion said the patient had been vaccinated fully against COVID-19. The patient has no known close contact and is under strict quarantine restrictions, Concepcion added. Before flying back to the country from the United States, the patient had tested negative for COVID-19 via reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on Dec. 16, 2021. The patient arrived on Dec. 18 in the Phil…

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‘We want peace’: Blinken to meet Russian, Ukrainian officials, US says


WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden’s top diplomat will seek to defuse a crisis with Moscow over Ukraine when he meets the Russian foreign minister in Geneva this week following visits with Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv and European officials in Berlin. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel amid concerns voiced by Ukraine and its Western allies over the tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed in and near Ukraine. “The United States does not want conflict. We want peace,” a senior U.S. State Department official said on Tuesday. “(Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin has it in his power to take steps to de-escalate this crisis so the United States and Russia can pur…

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Sweden scraps demand for negative COVID-19 test to enter country


STOCKHOLM — Travelers to Sweden will no longer be required to show a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country, the government said Tuesday. Sweden introduced rules for a recent negative COVID test on December 28, 2021, in a bid to slow the spread of the more contagious Omicron variant. Since then, Sweden has repeatedly set new daily case records with Omicron now the totally dominant variant. “Travelers are no longer considered to pose a particular risk of affecting the spread of Omicron in Sweden,” the government said in a statement. Sweden has recorded more than 20,000 new daily cases over the past few days, roughly double the previous record from earlier waves….

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Ombudsman offices in QC, Davao City to remain closed until Jan. 28


MANILA, Philippines — Ombudsman offices in Quezon City and Davao City will remain closed until Jan. 28 due to the alarming increase in COVID-19 cases. Separate memoranda have been issued by the Office of the Ombudsman for Quezon City and Davao City employees prohibiting entry to their offices “to implement isolation and quarantine protocols order, and to arrest transmission of infection among employees in the office.” All employees in the offices are to continue to work from home “permissible under the civil service rules.” The filing of pleadings, motions, affidavits and other relevant documents before the offices shall be “deemed interrupted,” and the period of filing wi…

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DOTr signs P142 billion railway deal with Chinese group for PNR Bicol project


MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) signed a P142-billion contract with a Chinese group to build the first phase of the 565-kilometer Philippine National Railways (PNR) Bicol project. In a statement on Tuesday, the DOTr said the design-build contract for the China-funded project was sealed with the venture of China Railway Group Ltd., China Railway No. 3 Engineering Group Co. Ltd., and China Railway Engineering Consulting Group Co. Ltd. This will cover the design, construction, and electromechanical works of the first 380-km stretch (Banlic, Calamba to Daraga, Albay) of PNR Bicol, which will link Metro Manila to the southern Luzon provinces of Sorsogon a…

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Proposed Dep’t of Disaster Resilience unlikely to be passed by 18th Congress — Sotto


MANILA, Philippines — The proposed creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR) may not be passed before the 18th Congress adjourns, Senate President Vicente Sotto III. Sotto said that the bill proposing the department’s creation still needs to undergo “heavy interpellation” in the Senate. “Mabigat pa. Mabigat ang interpellation, baka hindi na umabot ‘yun, baka next Congress na nila pi-pick up ‘yun (The interpellation remains intense, it might not make it on time. Maybe it will be picked up in the next Congress),” Sotto told reporters. The House of Representatives approved the proposed DDR in September 2020, which was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority m…

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True crime podcasts are as popular as ever


Crime doesn’t just pay for criminals. It’s also a big hit with podcast creators specializing in true crime cases. These have become particularly popular in recent years, with such shows featuring among the most listened-to podcasts of 2021, according to Pacific Content. The firm analyzed 432 podcasts appearing in the annual rankings published by outlets like Esquire, Vulture and The New York Times in the run-up to the holidays. It turns out that true crime stories account for 17% of the podcasts mentioned in these year-end lists. Only shows belonging to the “Society & Culture” category are more cited (33%). But, as Pacific Content points out, this classification system is b…

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