The Taiwan earthquake last Saturday toppled entire buildings in the city of Tainan; while hundreds have been rescued, more than a hundred remain missing, trapped within the wreckage. I'm sure it's keeping us Filipinos a bit worried, since quakes have been happening with frightening frequency around us, and, while we've taken our disaster management preparations up a notch, there's still that fear that, when the big one finally decides to hit us, it won't be enough. In the meantime, our prayers go out to those who have been gravely affected by this most recent natural disaster.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram, the terrorist group operating in the country, attacked the village of Dalori, as well as two refugee camps, killing 86 people, including children. Early last year, Boko Haram attacked the town of Baga, killing around 2,000 people. The year before that, in 2014, Boko Haram also made the news as it abducted around 200 girls from a school, and married off a number of them to the group's fighters. It appears that, despite government announcements to the contrary, the group remains a serious threat to Nigerian national security.
In the U.S., the presidential campaign has kicked into gear, with presidential hopefuls talking up a storm in New Hampshire, where the next set of party primaries will be taking place later. In Iowa last week, the caucuses produced some interesting results, with former front leader businessman Donald Trump coming in second to Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the Republican primary, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio coming in a close third. On the Democratic side, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has given former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton a run for her money, coming in at almost a dead-heat finish. The Iowa results have winnowed out the field, with a number of hopefuls suspending their campaigns after a weak showing. The real race for the top dog of the world's only real superpower has not yet begun, but the preliminaries have proven to be riveting.
In the Philippines, the field has been narrowed down to five major contenders for the presidency: Senator Grace Poe, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Already, each candidate's camp has begun the campaign by flooding the media with innumerable ads, thanks in part to the Supreme Court's decision to strike out premature campaigning. It will continue to build up as we approach May 9, Election Day. Hopefully, our countrymen will not be swayed by populist promises and focus more on each candidates' qualifications and accomplishments, as well as their flaws, in order to make an educated decision on that day.
Also, during the break, we've lost a number of important people. Even though I would have liked to have written about their passing in more detail, I've run out of time; where I can, I've linked the names to the news of their passing. Here are some of those we've lost this year:
- Ciriaco "Cacoy" Canete, 96, eskrima supreme grandmaster (Feb. 5)
- Brian Knighton, "Axl Rotten", 44, ECW professional wrestler (Feb. 4)
- Maurice White, 74, musician, co-founder, Earth, Wind, & Fire (Feb. 4)
- Joe Alaskey, 63, voice actor (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck) (Feb. 3)
- Jack Elrod, 91, cartoonist (Mark Trail) (Feb. 3)
- Rogie Maglinas, 19, U.P. football player (Feb. 2)
- Cayetano Paderanga, Jr., 67, Filipino economist (Jan. 29)
- Carlos Loyzaga, 85, Filipino basketball legend (Jan. 27)
And that's the wrap-up of the time that I've been away (again). Hopefully, I'll be able to resume regular writing soon.