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The South China Sea conflict

By Noralyn Dudt A Bump here and there can become SERIOUS COLLISIONS. Geographic coordinates 8 38N, 111 55E are the Spratly Islands, roughly midway between the Philippines and South Vietnam. Named after the 19th-century British whaling captain Richard Spratly who sighted the islands in 1843, Spratly is composed of islands,   islets, cays,   and more than a hundred reefs, sometimes grouped in submerged old atolls. While it is largely uninhabited,   it offers rich fishing grounds and may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves which are vital to the countries filing claims in their attempts to establish international boundaries. The Philippines,   Malaysia,   Vietnam,   China, Taiwan and Brunei have all laid claim. Nautical charts bear the notation "dangerous ground" on some areas that are not well sounded in the South China Sea. More recently, a "dangerous ground" designation has risen from the disputes that is becoming an international crisis as China a
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By Noralyn Dudt NOW IN Gaza, 2 million people are jammed into an area about the size of Las Vegas. Medical supplies,   food, water and fuel are dwindling. Israel's continued airstrikes have forced hundreds of thousands of Gazans from their homes deepening the humanitarian crisis there. A blast killed hundreds at a hospital in Gaza. They were civilians who were sheltering there thinking that a hospital would never be hit. The hospital explosion compounded the escalating humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Even before the blast, rescuers were struggling to free more than a thousand people trapped under the rubble, and fights were breaking out over loaves of bread. The situation in Gaza is a disaster in the truest sense of the word: "massacres everywhere,"   said a paramedic with the Palestinian Red Crescent. The streets reek of death. And then...a bomb hit an ancient Christian church where families with young children were taking refuge. The bombing of a church str

Rome wasn't built in a day

By Noralyn Dudt The adage “ROME wasn't built in a day” attests to the need for time, and patience   to create great and impressive things. It's a rather unique expression that functions as an injunction or plea for someone to be patient. Magnificent structures and transformative elements require serious thought and great planning. They can't be built overnight. They can be decades and even centuries in the making. As the capital of the great Roman Empire, Rome was renowned for its architectural beauty, parks, gardens and fountains. Historians, poets, essayists    refer to it as "The Grandeur that was Rome."   Rome had scale and opulence that was unprecedented.   Thus, the proverb,   "Rome...."   is a metaphor for excellence of the highest order.   The English playwright, John Heywood's wrote   that "Rome wasn't built in a day....but they were laying bricks every hour"   is a reminder of the fact that it requires time and patience

Battle on the Bay and the $20 million purchase of a nation

By Noralyn Dudt It was on April 30, 1898 when the verdant coastline of Cape Bolinao came into view for the U.S. Navy Asiatic squadron under the command of Commodore George Dewey. Cruising southward along Cape Bolinao, the ship's doctor wrote, "poet or painter never pictured a lovelier scene" as he watched the 'Edenic' country slip past in the afternoon light. He probably wished that he and his shipmates would stop even just a while to admire such a view after having sailed the 560-mile voyage from Hongkong. But it was not for the views they have been sailing.   It was to reach Manila Bay and locate the Spanish Pacific fleet under the command of Admiral Patricio Montojo y Pasaron. Dewey's line of ships slipped into Manila Bay during the early morning hours of May 1, 1898. As they approached the bay, they found   no sign of the Spanish fleet. However, Dewey had an inkling where they could be. The main ship Olympia turned to her right, paralleling the coastl

Where did the Manongs go?

Imagine a "pabuniag," ( baptism) a "pakasar," (wedding) or a "pamunpon" (funeral) and several Manongs are missing. "Where's Manong Jose, Manong Pedring, Manong Ben, Manong Damian," everyone asks. Who were the Manongs, what were they, and where did they come from? The term "Manong" comes from the Ilokano word for "elder brother" a term so endearing that denotes respect, yet loaded with familial responsibilities. In the old days, the "manongs and the manangs" of the family carried the responsibility of assisting their parents in providing   the needs of their younger siblings even after they got married and had families of their own. It was quite a responsibility in a place called the Ilocos region where arable land was scant, a narrow strip of land wedged between the mountains and the sea. It's a place unlike Central Luzon and the Visayas where large tracts of land called "hacienda" or plantations

Sitting is the new smoking

OUR ADDICTION to our chairs and sofas isn't just hurting us, it's literally killing us. The problem is so profound that it has spawned the meme, "sitting is the new smoking." It's a meme that the National Institutes of Health does not recommend as it promulgates direct comparisons of the health consequences of sitting and smoking. But  the threat of prolonged sitting  to our health and survival does exist and  the more so because it's able to hide in plain sight. Sitting passively on the chair or on the sofa is assumed to be our normal resting position and until results of  these research studies came out, we were in the dark about the harmful health consequences of our "addiction." A great number of research studies by Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health and other prestigious research centers has linked prolonged sitting or other sedentary behavior to diabetes, poor heart health, weight gain, depression, dementia, and multiple cancers. These studies sho

Shakespeare on our humanity and more

By Noralyn Dudt "MUCH ADO about nothing" I can almost hear William Shakespeare uttering the phrase as I attempt to write about him and his plays. But before I go on, let me say a bit about the play   "Much ado about nothing." It's a light-hearted comedy that was probably   written in 1598 and 1599—a smart   guess that was   obtained from written records indicating that the play was premiered in 1600.   The play is laden with humor but   darker themes of dishonor, death and deceit run beneath that humor. The word   "ado" is synonymous to a heightened concern, worry or excitement that is unnecessary or greater than the situation. It's basically fussing about something inconsequential. The following paragraphs however are not about "nothing" at all. There are numerous lessons to be learned from Shakespeare's writings. William Shakespeare known as the 'Bard of Avon' in his lifetime, was a poet, a playwright, and an actor. Alth