Saturday, September 22, 2012

Burmese warlord 'admits murdering sailors' in China

The six men were brought to China in May (Reuters Photo )

A suspected Burmese warlord and five other men have admitted murdering 13 Chinese sailors on the Mekong river at a trial in China, state media report.

Two Chinese cargo ships with 13 dead crew members were discovered on the Thai side of the river in October.

Naw Kham is believed to be one of the most powerful warlords in the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Laos and Burma.

Operating in a lawless region known for drugs and smuggling, he was regarded as untouchable for more than a decade.

However, in April he was captured in Burma and was taken the following month to China along with the five other men on Chinese charges of murder, drug-trafficking, kidnapping and hijacking.

The court in Kunming will announce the sentences against the six at a later date.

Chinese pressure forced the authorities in the other three countries to act, the BBC's South-East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, reports from Bangkok.

However, much about this case is still unclear, our correspondent adds.

Nine Thai soldiers have also been accused of involvement in the killings and their case is still under investigation.-British Broadcasting Corporation (September 22, 2012)

China's Xi seeks to reassure Southeast Asia on sea dispute

China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping sought to reassure Southeast Asian leaders on Friday that his country wanted only peaceful relations with them, following months of growing tensions over the strategically located South China Sea.

Speaking at the opening of a trade fair in southern China for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members, Vice President Xi said China's own prosperity could only be guaranteed by having good relations with its neighbours.

"The more progress China makes in development and the closer its links with the region and the world, the more important it is for the country to have a stable regional environment and a peaceful international environment," Xi said.

"Having gone through numerous vicissitudes in modern times, we are deeply aware of the importance of development and how valuable peace is," he added, according to state media.

Beijing's assertion of sovereignty over a vast stretch of the South China Sea has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to other parts of the region, making it Asia's biggest potential military troublespot.

At stake are potentially massive offshore oil reserves. The seas also lie on key shipping lanes.

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is one of the ASEAN leaders attending the trade fair, held in the city of Nanning.

Xi said China - currently also involved in a dispute with Japan over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea -wanted the peaceful resolution for its diplomatic arguments.

"We are firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity and are committed to resolving differences with neighbours concerning territorial land, territorial sea and maritime rights and interests peacefully through friendly negotiations," he said.

"China's sustained development and prosperity offer an important and lasting window of opportunities to its neighbours, and promise important development opportunities to countries around the world, ASEAN countries included," Xi added.

China has resisted proposals for a multilateral code of conduct for the South China Sea, preferring to try to negotiate disputes with each of the far less powerful individual claimants.

It has also stepped up activity in the region, including establishing a military garrison on one of the disputed islands, and accused Washington of seeking to stir up trouble far from home.

Unprecedented arguments over the sea prevented an ASEAN summit in July from issuing a joint communique, the first time this had happened in the 10-member bloc's 45-year history.-ABS-CBN News (September 09, 22, 2012)

WORLD NEWS: North Korea warns of retaliation after South fires at fishing boats

North Korea on Saturday threatened military retaliation after South Korean navy patrol boats fired warning shots at fishing vessels from the North near their disputed Yellow Sea border.

The North's military command in the southwest said the South's navy vessels on Friday intruded into its territorial waters and "went on a shooting rampage," in a statement carried by Pyongyang's official news agency.

The military has been ordered to turn the Yellow Sea into a trap for "enemies and wage a great war for national reunification if enemies fire even a bullet into the area of the (North Korean) side," it said.

"What remains to be done now is a powerful strike of the (North's) front units which know of no limit."

The South said that warning shots were fired at the North Korean vessels after they crossed the disputed border, the latest in a series of incursions.

None of the North Korean vessels were hit and they swiftly returned to their side of the western sea boundary after the incident, a defense ministry spokesman said.

The incident, which occurred close to Yeonpyeong Island, followed a series of recent border violations by North Korean fishing vessels at the height of a fishing season.

It was the first time for two years that the South has resorted to firing warning shots to push the fishing boats back.

The de-facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas -- the Northern Limit Line -- is not recognized by Pyongyang, which argues it was unilaterally drawn by the US-led United Nations forces after the 1950-53 Korean War.

It was a scene of bloody battles in 1999, 2002 and 2009.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since the Korean conflict was concluded with a truce rather than a peace treaty, and small border incidents in the past have been known to escalate swiftly.-Interaksyon (September 22, 2012 5:50PM)

Malaysia urged to end harassment of activists

Amnesty International has called on Malaysia to stop the harassment of a human rights organization that has accused the government of corruption.

Authorities are investigating the funding of Suaram, an opposition-leaning group that has long campaigned against police brutality and other abuse.

Earlier this year, a French court started hearing a complaint launched by Suaram, accusing Prime Minister Najib Razak and others over a 2002 deal to buy two submarines from France.

Amnesty International urged Malaysia in a statement Friday to "end all forms of harassment and intimidation," saying the recent probe against Suaram appeared "to be a concerted, multi-departmental government campaign."

"Amnesty International is concerned that the recent government actions against Suaram appear to be linked to the organization's legitimate work, in particular a corruption case which it has brought before the French courts," the London-based group said.

A government spokesperson denied Saturday that Suaram had been targeted.

"Malaysia has a free, vibrant and flourishing civil society ... Nevertheless, all organizations in Malaysia must adhere to our laws and regulations, and Suaram is no exception," the official said in an email to AFP.

Suaram has said the probe is proof that the government is determined to silence critical voices after it alleged corruption over the purchase of the two Scorpene submarines while Najib was defense minister.

The allegations have posed a headache for Najib, who must face elections by the middle of next year and has been seeking to gain support by touting a reform agenda, including abolishing and amending strict security laws.

But critics have dismissed this as a ploy to bring back voters, who in the last elections in 2008 dealt Najib's Barisan Nasional coalition its worst ever results, costing it its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.-Interaksyon (September 22, 2012 3:43PM) -Interaksyon (September 22, 2012 3:43PM)

Aung San Suu Kyi visits UN, New York

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has visited the United Nations and received a new award as she paid tribute to unknown fighters for democracy in her country.

"Tonight I must pay tribute to my colleagues whose names are unknown to the world," said Suu Kyi as she received the 2012 Global Citizen Award from the Atlantic Council, a think tank that promotes constructive US leadership and engagement in international affairs.

"Those unknown soldiers are so much bigger than others like me who are known and who had been given so many honors," she added.

The award was presented to her by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, at a dinner at New York's Plaza Hotel.

"I don't get intimidated easily: politics, money, power, economy, crisis," said the IMF chief. "But I tell you something, when it's resilience in the face of adversity, when it's simplicity in the face of success, when it is kindness, when it is spirituality, I get unbelievably intimidated ... I'm intimidated to introduce tonight Aung San Suu Kyi."

Mentioning years spent by Suu Kyi under house arrest and her determination to carry on her fight for Myanmar democracy, Lagarde said that Suu Kyi's life was "our message."

Other award recipients this year included former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, ex-UN high commissioner for refugees Sadako Ogata of Japan, and American musician and humanitarian Quincy Jones.

"By recognizing these individuals with a Global Citizen Award, we were not simply looking to congratulate them, but also to amplify their achievements and inspire others to follow their path," said former US senator and Atlantic Council Chairman Chuck Hagel.

Myanmar was ruled by an iron-fisted junta for decades but, since taking office last year, a reformist government under former general Thein Sein has freed political prisoners and allowed Suu Kyi's party into electoral politics.

Freed in 2010 after 15 years under house arrest, Suu Kyi received a rapturous welcome on her first visit to Washington since her release.

Her visit coincides with a three-day trip by Burmese President Thein Sein to the United Nations, and there have been concerns she will upstage his visit, despite his work pushing through reforms.

Earlier this week, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the top honor bestowed by the legislature, and met at the White House with President Barack Obama.

During her trip to the United States, Suu Kyi endorsed the removal of sanctions on Myanmar, also known as Burma, which were imposed to punish the junta for its formerly oppressive rule in the Southeast Asian country.

Before her awards ceremony at the Atlantic Council, Suu Kyi visited UN headquarters where she met with UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, who recalled that the Myanmar democracy leader worked in New York at the United Nations headquarters from 1969 to 1971.

"I would like to welcome her home," Ban said. "She is now a global symbol of human rights. We have great expectations and hope that she will lead this path of reconciliation and greater participatory democracy and development of her country."

Suu Kyi said that to achieve genuine democracy for Burma, all people "have to learn to work together."

The agenda of Suu Kyi's unprecedented 18-day US tour includes nearly 100 events across the United States. The Myanmar democracy leader will head on September 25 to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to meet the sizable Burmese community that has resettled in the Midwestern city.

Her other stops include Louisville, Kentucky as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The hectic schedule has worried some of Suu Kyi's supporters. The 67-year-old fell ill in June during a punishing tour of Europe.-Interaksyon (September 22, 2012 8:57PM)

No one in Thailand wants to listen to the hard truth

The negative reaction from the Pheu Thai Party and the red shirts to the report by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand (TRCT) is not a big surprise. One may raise eyebrows, though, considering the fact that the report did confirm their camp's consistent assertion that military aggravation and misjudgement on the part of the former Abhisit government contributed to the political bloodshed in 2010.

Neutral readers of the report, however, cannot see any "extreme bias" on the part of the TRCT. Many red-shirt leaders, as well as Thaksin Shinawatra's international publicist Robert Amsterdam, are seeing what many others fail to see - like the alleged attempt by the TRCT to "blame" the people who were killed or wounded.

The resentment is understandable. The confirmation of the existence of the "men in black" weakens the red-shirt leaders' story that their weeks-long protest in Bangkok between March and May 2010 - during which key business districts were under siege - was peaceful. Not only does the TRCT report link the men in black to well-known red-shirt figures, it mentions bomb attacks and a hospital "invasion". The panel insists it was wrong for the Abhisit government to enlist help from the military to deal with the popular uprising, but strongly suggests that anti-government elements were armed and provocative.

Then the commission touches upon another crucial matter, explicitly criticising moves by the Yingluck administration to use its parliamentary power to rush through legal or constitutional changes so as to achieve a questionable "amnesty" programme. The panel warns that "reconciliation" cannot be forced on a divided nation via one side that controls the parliamentary majority. According to the TRCT, trying to implement much-opposed changes "for reconciliation's sake" could backfire badly, meaning Thailand's political strife could worsen.

The panel's report has won acknowledgement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In Thailand, the document, which carries a comprehensive chronology of events, reports and observation by the conventional and social media, and various witnesses' accounts, will most likely end up as expected - as an artefact no one wants to touch. Besides the uproar from Pheu Thai and the red shirts, the Democrats and the military have been less than supportive of the report. Again, the reason is simple: this report blames everyone, and in this political crisis, no one wants to be blamed.

The prevailing apathy that has greeted the report confirms that we are getting nowhere as far as reconciliation is concerned. In fact, the report - the last from the TRCT before it disbands - was never expected to have an impact because the Abhisit government set up the agency. Meanwhile the Yingluck administration seems more interested in another "truth" report, advocated, ironically, by 2006 coup leader Sonthi Boonyaratglin. This latter document, controversially put together - and later almost renounced - by the King Prachadipok Institute, was used by Sonthi to support the Yingluck government's amnesty push.

In Thailand, "reconciliation" and "justice" mean different things to different people. If a "truth" report that seeks to heal and calls for forgiveness and chronicles what happened in 2010 without political bias is torn to pieces like this, there isn't much hope for Thailand in the near future.

The TRCT and its reports will now most likely fade to oblivion, as was widely expected. New truth finders will be commissioned, either by the Yingluck government or its successor. New fact-finding reports will come along. It's likely that some findings might please the ruling party, Robert Amsterdam and the red shirts. But the point is that, if the TRCT report can foster no change, then no report can. This is sad, but it's as simple as that.-Asia News Network (September 22, 2012)

China to make joint effort with Vietnam to advance bilateral relations: FM

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (2nd R) meets with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem (2nd L) in Bali, Indonesia, July 21, 2011. (Xinhua/Chen Duo)

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Bali Thursday that China hopes to make joint effort with Vietnam to advance the bilateral relations on the right track.

China and Vietnam have established a comprehensive strategic partnership, which is worth cherishing, said Yang during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Gia Khiem on the sideline of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

He said China attaches great importance to its relations with Vietnam and proposed the two countries maintain high-level exchanges, conduct frank exchange of views, and jointly boost China-ASEAN strategic relationship to a new height.

As to the South China Sea issue, Yang said the two sides should properly address maritime dispute through negotiations from the perspective of bilateral relations and regional stability.

He said the two countries should also actively seek solutions to avoid internationalizing and complicating the South China Sea issue.

Yang said he appreciated the agreement reached at the China- ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting on the guidelines of implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea ( DOC), adding that he hopes all the parties can take practical actions to promote pragmatic maritime cooperation.

The Vietnamese foreign minister said the bilateral relations have maintained positive development in recent years and the Vietnamese side will further enhance high-level exchanges and cooperation with China.

He appreciated the help and support that China had provided and cherished the traditional relationship between Vietnam and China.

Vietnam will properly settle maritime problems with China through peaceful negotiations and strive to reach consensus with China as soon as possible, he said.

Vietnam welcomes the agreement on the guidelines of implementing the DOC, added the foreign minister.-People's Daily Online (September 22, 2012)

Malaysia hopeless claim in Palawan Spratlys boost ties with China

The Territory of the Sultanate of Sulu, Philippines
Malaysia's claim in the West Philippine islands in Spratlys are based on their recent control in the North Borneo as a state of Malaysia but still not recognized by the Sultanate of Sulu which is now under the Philippine Territory.

North Borneo was once a State of the Sultanate of Sulu but illegally turnover by the British company to Malaysia.

Sultanate State of Sulu is still hoping to regain its control over the North Borneo to be part of the State of Sulu - the Philippines when the 12 State Philippines Charter Change will happen.

Kuala lumpur government's claim in some islands of Spratlys are weak and might only fall back to the Philippines if the Sultanate of Sulu will regain its control over the North Borneo.

Malaysia Hopeless over Spratlys Boost ties to China

Malaysia, China boost ties, overlapping claims in West Philippine Sea not a factor

Malaysia and China continue to strengthen the existing bilateral ties without letting the overlapping claims in the Spratlys Island hamper the efforts.

The bilateral ties between Malaysia and China were taken to greater heights during the half-hour meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping, who had shown a very keen interest in Malaysia.

Muhyiddin said Xi probably could not forget the facts that Malaysia was the first among Asean member countries to establish diplomatic ties with China in 1974, besides being the first country to invite the republic to join Asean+1 and to host the Asean-China Summit.

"He (Xi) really appreciates the supports given by Malaysia," he told the Malaysian press covering his visit to China here today.

On the overlapping claims in the South China Sea, Muhyiddin said he had made it clear to Xi that the issues should not affect the long existing economic ties between Malaysia and China.

"Although the issues have yet be resolved, all trades and investments should go on and remain unaffected," he said.

The deputy prime minister said Malaysia believed that the overlapping claims should be resolved peacefully through dialogues and negotiations between the countries involved, without involving military powers and intimidation, and that it should also be based on international law and not history.

He said the implementation of the South China Sea Code of Conduct (CoC) and the ongoing efforts to ensure its success were essential to resolve the issues.

"These issues shouldn't affect the existing ties between China and other countries too," he said.

For the record, several countries, namely Malaysia, Philippine, Brunei, Vietnam, China and Taiwan, have made overlapping claims over waters and islands in the South China Sea.

The meeting also discussed the development of Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park and Qinzhou Industrial Park which would symbolise the strong ties between the two countries.

Muhyiddin said Xi had also expressed his intention to boost Asean-China trade in four major areas, namely in strengthening China-Asean Free Trade Area (FTA) involving private and government-to-government programmes; the importance of bilateral investment to boost China-Asean relations; improving connectivity in various fields and emphasizing on people-to-people relations, especially among youths and students.

As such, Muhyiddin said Xi also proposed the setting of an exchange programme involving 100,000 Chinese students and 100,000 other from Asean member countries.

At the end of the meeting, Muhyiddin also thanked the Chinese government on the loan of a pair of Chinese giant pandas, which were scheduled to arrive in Malaysia in 2014.

"Xi has described the loan as a symbol of Malaysia-China diplomatic relations. China doesn't give pandas just to anybody," he said, adding that the facilities for the pandas were being prepared at the Wetland Park in Putrajaya.-Rebuilding for the Better Philippines (September 22, 2012)

Phl and Indo hotel makes list of World’s Top 10 Over The Top Hotels

Here are the Top Ten OTT Hotels as listed by

Daddy Long Legs 3*
Capetown, South Africa (Agoda link)

Situated on Long Street in the heart of town, this three-star property sports 13 unique rooms, each designed by a different local artist. Inhabiting a restored Victorian era building, this whimsical establishment includes a ‘Please Do Not Disturb’ room complete with karaoke set up and Astroturf carpeting, a monochromatic ‘Protea’ room, and the crimson hospital-themed ‘Emergency Room’, with flecked vinyl floor and x-ray lightbox. Rooms are free of TVs to encourage guests to feel inspired by their artistic surrounds, but there’s a TV in the communal bar and lounge—a good excuse for guests to mingle. The property’s big sister, the Grand Daddy, ups the ante with a rooftop ‘trailer park’ where rooms are redecorated vintage Airstream caravans.

Most OTT design: There’s a lot of OTT-ness here, but a white ceiling sculpture that juts down over the bed like falling crystal shards in the ‘Being Mak1′ room is a contender.

What guests are saying: “Hotel rooms are very quirky. Relax and have a burger – the RCaffe has really good food and coffees.” —Paul W., United Kingdom

HOMA Chateau Hotel 5*
Guilin, China (Agoda link)

The otherworldly terrain of Guilin has been immortalized in silk paintings and Chinese poetry time and again. Eccentric founder Rhy Chang Tsao sought to complement the area’s unique geology with a museum hotel, HOMA – the Hotel Of Modern Art. On the hotel’s lush grounds the ‘Art Park’ features abstract sculptures that cast angular silhouettes against Guilin’s jagged limestone formations; guests can explore these surrounds by bicycle or hone their own artistic talents in a pottery or Chinese calligraphy class. Rooms and suites are reposeful and sophisticated, filled with works by local artisans and bespoke furniture. All rooms feature ‘organic architecture’ with natural materials and tones throughout.

Most OTT design: HOMA’s main building—a concrete and glass pyramid-like structure with grass covered walls and triangular façade.

What guests are saying: “It’s a hotel like nothing you could see before – it’s a place full of art, peace and beauty. The service is great and the food excellent. It’s worth it to spend two hours to walk around the hotel yard and check all art sculptures.” —Alfonso B., Mexico

Hotel Silken Puerta America 5*
Madrid, Spain (Agoda link)

Art is central to this luxurious design property in the Charmatín area of Madrid. Each floor – there are 14 all up, 12 dedicated to guest rooms—was decorated by a different artist and is wildly distinct from the rest. Some of the most fantastical room designs include the fluid sci-fi décor of Zaha Hadid’s Space Club, the sleek utilitarian suites by Mark Newson and the angular glass installations created by Plasma Studio. The “attic” sky bar provides a sleek venue for evening cocktails (which continue to morning, in Madrid), and a heated indoor pool and fitness center offer panoramic views. It’s possible to stay at the Puerta America multiple times and have a unique hotel experience each time. Guests are welcome to check out all the floors of the hotel so they know which one to try next time.

Most OTT aspect: The general super futuristic style of the hotel, and the fact that each floor transports guests into a completely different environment.

What guests are saying: “The hotel gives a tour of every floor and room every day but you have to book it in advance. The coolest rooms was floor 12, the Presidential Suite! It was really modern and massive.” —Mimi H., United Kingdom

Modern Classic Hotel 5*
Shenzhen, China (Agoda link)

Mainstream Chinese décor can never be accused of subtlety. Lucky colors are red and gold, so it follows that most establishments take this color scheme to the extreme, which doesn’t always have aesthetically pleasing results. The Modern Classic Hotel manages to be OTT with appropriate aplomb; spaces are bombastic, ceilings soar, and practically all surfaces shine, but themed guest rooms remain tasteful, modern and comfortable. There are five different looks here, but the most fun is the Digital Technology style, with UV tube lighting and huge circular tub, closely followed by the plush Mystic Middle East suites. At four stars, the Hermés and Rancé products are an unexpected treat.

Most OTT aspect: The Middle Eastern rooms, which have a private Turkish bath-style area and the octopus-shaped “chandelier” in the lobby.

What guests are saying: “Overall fantastic hotel for the money. Big clean rooms with great modern decor. On-demand movies for free was an excellent benefit as well as the free WiFi. I will be staying there again very soon. Amazing shopping mall opposite also so location is perfect for most needs.” – Lee T., Hong Kong

Stevie 6 Hotel 3*
Bandung, Indonesia (Agoda link)

Few football players can say they have a hotel named after them, making Steven Gerrard as unique as this trendy boutique hotel in Bandung. Inspired by the Liverpool player, this 24-room property pays tribute with a ‘This Is Anfield’ room, with one wall depicting Anfield stadium and one covered with images of various Liverpool players in action. Each room here is unique, so there are plenty of other looks to choose from – Tropical, Bohemian, Modern – with suites and family rooms for travelers wanting extra space. West-facing rooms feature views of Kampung Gajah, while a rooftop bar offers Bandung city views and live music.

Most OTT aspect: The life-sized sheep sculptures in the lobby and in the zoo themed room.

What guests are saying: “It’s a clean and chic hotel with unique room decoration. If you get rooms at west side you’ll get nice view to Kampung Gajah and the small valley. The air is cool so you’ll seldom need air conditioner. You’d better reserve the room you want a couple weeks before you check in so you’ll get the room you want.” —Lolita S., Indonesia

Palais de Chine Hotel 5*
Taipei, Taiwan (Agoda link)

Completely disregarding the “less is more” adage, this Taipei boutique hotel spoils its guest with plush over-the-top décor and furnishings. The theme of western elegance harks back to a more decadent time, with a collection of art and antiques strewn through common areas, imported European furniture, and three Grand Halls inspired by the Opéra de Paris, complete with chandeliers and copper draped ceiling. Guest rooms are bare by comparison. Clean modern lines, neutral tones and timber balconies create fuss-free living spaces, with subtle references to Art Nouveau in cast-iron mirrors and imported French objets d’art.

Most OTT feature: The Edwardian-style butler uniforms of the staff and various antiquities: for instance, a floor-to-ceiling wall tapestry life-sized horse statue.

What guests are saying: “The outlook and architecture of the lobby, reception, corridors are simply unbelievable, gorgeous. Wonderful and comfy bed. Really glad we chose this hotel.” – Tran M, Singapore.

Hotel Particulier Montmartre 4*
Paris, France (Agoda link)

This exclusive five-suite property is secreted away in a leafy corner of Montmarte, converted from a private 19th century home. Set in gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Louis Benech and with interior decoration by Morgane Rousseau, every aspect of this luxury hotel was meticulously planned. Rousseau’s vision depicts an extravagant time in Parisian history, reflected in rich fabrics, opulent drapes and a collection of antique French artworks. A pétanque court, chess and backgammon boards, candelabra and classic toile prints perfect the turn-of-the century feel. Suites, by contrast, are contemporary in style with bespoke wallpaper and works by various local artists. Here, modern furnishings and fixtures juxtapose classic OTT materials such as mahogany, velvet, marble, Japanese silk and gold leaf.

Most OTT aspect: The full marble bathhouse in the “Vitrine” Suite and the microphone installed behind the wall of the “Trees With Ears” suite push the boundaries of extravagance.

Hotel Pelirocco 4*
Brighton, United Kingdom (Agoda link)

Hip hotels sometimes overdo minimalism to the point of sterility – not the Hotel Pelirocco. A kaleidoscopic mix of candy-colored rooms, guests can select from music motifs, quirky designs or the property’s flagship room, the Playroom – a cheeky bordello-styled room complete with round bed, ceiling mirror and dancer’s pole. With no claims of subtlety or elegance, all rooms are OTT with brightly-hued walls, kitsch décor and odd art installations, such as a knitted seagulls and Fatboy Slim mirrors. More than just a hotel, the Pelirocco hosts regular art exhibitions and live bands, and offers guests a glamour photo package with hair and make-up artist and professional photographer. They also have their own radio show.
Most OTT aspect: The fuchsia pink Hawaiian-style room, with mirrorballs and palm-tree wallpaper feature.

Angeles Beach Club Hotel 4*
Angeles City, Philippines (Agoda link)

This swish hotel in the Angeles entertainment district sports some serious OTT design throughout the entire property. Never shying away from a tufted velveteen sofa or oversized headboard and employing the liberal use of brass lamps and gold mirror frames, the two main design themes are Moulin Rouge Charm and New Millennium Experience. The styles aren’t dramatically divergent, though the latter features mood-lighting, 40″ LCD TVs, powerful sound systems and circular tub. A ‘party option’ Fiesta Suite features an illuminated bar and dancer’s pole, while the opulently decorated New Millennium Penthouse Suite features a circular bed, eight-seater skybar and five-person Jacuzzi with LCD monitor.

Most OTT aspect: The four-bedroom penthouse with terrace, two sky bars and 4 Jacuzzis.

What guests are saying: “The suite was amazing and everything about the hotel is just ‘wow’. The best thing I liked is their free shuttle service to anywhere in Angeles City, both pick up and drop off!”
—Nabeel H. Saudi Arabia

Conrad Rangali Island Resort 5*
Maldives (Agoda link)

The Maldives are an inherently OTT destination with all that perfect water and white sand. The Conrad capitalizes on the islands’ natural beauty with luxurious beach houses and overwater villas, plus a wide array of water-based activities. Overwater villas make the most of their location with infinity pools, whirlpool baths, wet bar, and portions of floor that are glass, providing a window to the water underneath. The beach villas are just as lavish, offering up to 300 square meters of space, with outdoor bathing pavilion, private garden with fountain, floor-to-ceiling windows and private pool, plus direct beach access.

Most OTT aspect: The undersea Ithaa restaurant, which was recently temporarily converted into a guest room to celebrate the property’s anniversary. The six-table restaurant is 16 feet below sea level and provides 180-degree views of sting rays and other tropical marine life.

What guests are saying: “The best vacation place we’ve ever been to! We stayed at the spa water villa and enjoyed every minute of our time. The sunset view at the sunset restaurant is breathtaking.”

-Agoda. com

Friday, September 21, 2012

China, neighbors launch fresh Mekong River patrols

China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand began a new round of joint patrols on the Mekong River in the Golden Triangle Region on Friday, to secure transportation and target cross-border crimes, according to Chinese police authorities.

The six-day police patrols, the sixth round of their kind since last December, coincided with the ongoing trial in Southwest China's Yunnan province of six suspects who were allegedly involved in an attack last year on the southeast Asian watercourse that left 13 Chinese sailors dead.

The patrol fleet of China and Laos will sail along a Laos-managed section of the Mekong River to check ships, said a police officer in charge of China's Yunnan Provincial Border Control Corps.

Police officers will also check key sections on the bank of the river in Laos, added the source, who declined to be named.

Chinese shipping on the river was seriously affected after two Chinese ships were attacked and hijacked in October last year. The joint patrols, considered a safeguard against crimes on the river, have seen more ships resume operation.

Statistics showed that only 10 Chinese ships were shipping on the river when the first four-country joint patrol was launched in December last year. That number increased to 59 when the fifth patrol was conducted in August.-China Economic Net (September 21, 2012 14:32)

Exclusive - Japan, Thailand race to rescue of Myanmar's struggling Dawei

A small port is built for temporary use at a site for a billion dollar industrial estate in Dawei district in Myanmar May10 , 2012. REUTERS/Khettiya Jittapong
A small port is built for temporary use
at a site for a billion dollar industrial
estate in Dawei district in
Myanmar May10 , 2012. REUTERS/Khettiya Jittapong

After months of negotiations and failed promises, a proposed multi-billion dollar Myanmar port and special economic zone that could transform Southeast Asian trade appears back on track.

Thai banks aim to keep the project afloat with short-term loans until an expected Japanese loan of up to $3.2 billion (1.9 billion pounds) can be secured, officials and sources familiar with negotiations told Reuters.

Thailand's largest construction firm, Italian-Thai Development Pcl, signed a deal in 2010 to build a deep-sea port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Myanmar's coastal Dawei into Southeast Asia's largest industrial complex.

But the project foundered, as the Thai builder failed to secure $8.5 billion to finance construction of its first phase -- roads, utilities and a port.

Underlining Dawei's strategic importance, Japan and Thailand have since intervened to rescue the project.

"Italian-Thai has had difficulty in mobilizing the funding. So now the Thai government has effectively taken over the project," Thaung Lwin, chairman of the Dawei SEZ told Reuters. "The next step is to invite Japan", which he said is committed to seeing the project succeed.

Since the Thai and Myanmar governments agreed on July 23 to connect Dawei to the Thai port of Laem Chabang, 100 km southeast of Bangkok, Thai banks led by Bangkok Bank and Siam Commercial Bank have arranged a 10 billion baht ($325 million) bridge loan to sustain it for another 8-10 months, Somjet Thinaphong, managing director of the Dawei Development Co, an Ital-Thai unit, told Reuters in an interview.

That loan would be followed by a soft loan from the state-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation to finance the basic port and road infrastructure needed to push the project forward, he added. A source involved in the negotiations said the soft loan could total $3.2 billion. Thaung Lwin of the Dawei SEZ said he expected Japan to emerge as the project's biggest shareholder.

As the former British colony embarks on its most dramatic changes since a 1962 military coup in what was then Burma, mega-projects like the $50 billion 250 sq km (155 sq mile) Dawei SEZ hint at what lies ahead. Super-highways, steel mills, power plants, shipyards, refineries, pulp and paper mills and a petrochemical complex are part of it, as are two golf courses and a holiday resort.

Road and rail routes could link Dawei to neighbours China, India and other parts of Southeast Asia, allowing cargo to bypass the narrow and congested Strait of Malacca to forge shorter trade routes from the Middle East and Africa to China and Japan. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a grouping of 10 countries, hopes Dawei will play an important role in its ambitions for a common market in 2015.

For Japan, a better-connected Southeast Asia makes it easier to sell their products and knit together a vast network of suppliers to Japanese-owned factories and manufacturing plants, which include autos and electronic goods.

"Before the yearend, we will have major progress," Pisanu Suvanajata, Thailand's ambassador to Myanmar, said in an interview with Reuters.


Just months ago, the project was nearly left for dead, a casualty of simmering local resentment and fragile financial backing. About 30,000 people, mostly impoverished rice, cashew and rubber farmers living in thatch-roof huts, are slated to be moved during 10 years of planned construction.

In the Dawei region, many worry about the potential environmental toll and health risks from a project that would be four times bigger than Thailand's largest industrial estate, Map Ta Phut, where pollution between 1996 and 2009 may have contributed to at least 2,000 cancer-related deaths, according to environmental activists who sought legal action to halt the estate in 2009.

Emboldened by the government's surprise suspension of the $3.6 billion, Chinese-led Myitsone dam project last year after weeks of public outcry, residents have pushed hard against Dawei. In response, the government scrapped plans for a 4,000 megawatt coal plant. That's been replaced by plans for a "clean coal" plant that can generate 400 megawatts, said Thaung Lwin of the Dawei SEZ. So-called clean-coal technology involves capturing carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions, and either storing them deep underground or piping them to oil and gas fields.

"If it is clean coal technology, then we will allow it," he added. "Our president visited Japan and saw the clean coal technology at J-Power Group."

But that may not be enough to pacify local residents. Activists who have organised protests against Dawei say it is unclear what types of companies will set up there. Thaung Lwin said he expected Nippon Steel and petrochemical makers to build factories in Dawei.

Local activists raised a banner this week along a recently built highway from Dawei to Thailand that says: "Stop Building Another Map Ta Phut" in Dawei.

"I wish for the project to continue only if the local people agree to it," said Saw Khu, chairman of a 12-village committee formed to study the project's impact on the area. He says Italian-Thai has not done enough to explain the potential pollution risks from the proposed industrial zone.

His and other villages have poured over maps that show where a proposed oil refinery and petrochemical factory will replace rice fields, cashew and rubber trees and jungle.


Once infrastructure is in place, Italian-Thai plans to allocate 17 percent of the complex to heavy industries including steel, petrochemicals and oil. It expects construction of the 400 megawatt plant to take at least four years to set up. Gas and hydropower plant are expected to follow.

The project received a much-needed boost on July 23 when Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein pledged to open three additional border crossings along the Thai-Myanmar frontier to help with security and logistics. Next month, Yingluck and Thein Sein will meet again to discuss further support for Dawei.

Pisanu, the Thai ambassador, said Thailand has served as a go-between for Italian-Thai and the Myanmar government as they renegotiate the 60-year concession signed by Italian-Thai in November 2010 to develop Dawei. Under that deal, Italian-Thai had a controlling 51 percent stake in Dawei Development Corp. Max Myanmar Group, owned by Burmese tycoon Zaw Zaw, had 25 percent. The Myanmar government had the rest.

Italian-Thai said it would remain the biggest shareholder in the first phase of the project, but a new consortium is expected to emerge, with shares held by the Thai, Japanese and Myanmar governments along with some private companies.

"In the consortium, the Japanese government will take some share. For the Myanmar government, the share will be given to Japan," said Thaung Lwin, chairman of the SEZ. "The Japanese government will help get the private sector involved."

Somjet said he expected the share of Zaw Zaw's powerful Max Myanmar to be diluted, but that the full terms are likely to be discussed at the next meeting between the Thai and Myanmar governments, tentatively scheduled for early October.

"Both the Thai and Myanmar governments would heavily get involved in the road-link and port simply because those are public projects and not totally commercial," said Somjet, head of the Dawei Development Co.

"Financially, if governments get involved, they have to help make it a success."-The Star (September 21, 2012)

Vietnam soldier’s war diary returned to family

iol pic wld Vu Dinh Doan
A diary, bank notes, a souvenir photo and an I.D. 

card that belonged to Vietnamese soldier 
Vu Dinh Doan, which were originally taken from 
Doan's body by US Marine Robert Frazure following 
Operation Indiana in 1966, rest on a table during a 
handover ceremony at his home in Cay village.

A battered diary retrieved from the body of a Vietnamese soldier by an American serviceman in 1966 was returned to the author's family on Friday in an emotional ceremony.

The diary, an identity card, old bank notes and a small photograph, were discovered by the American soldier who found the body of Vu Dinh Doan slumped in a machine-gun pit after a battle in central Quang Nai province.

“I never knew my father but I have always dreamed of him - and now I have a chance to know more, to understand more about him,” the fallen soldier's eldest son Vu Dinh Son said, fighting back tears as he accepted the mementos.

US defence secretary Leon Panetta returned the belongings to Hanoi earlier this year in an exchange of war-time belongings with the Vietnamese - a symbol of healing of wounds caused by the bloody conflict, which ended in 1975.

As incense burned in front of a photo of Doan, who was 31 when he was killed in action, an army official handed the small maroon diary and other papers to his son, who was a toddler when his father left for war.

“The return of the diary and papers is a noble thing. I believe there will be a message inside from my father, something he wanted to tell us,” Son added, as his sister wept loudly over the diary and a small photograph found inside.

The US soldier kept the fragile, crumbling papers for 46 years until recently deciding they should be returned to the family and contacting an American media organisation for help.

US officials became aware of the existence of the papers, and during a visit in June this year, Panetta and his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh exchanged artifacts, including Doan's diary.

The Vietnamese handed over a collection of letters from US army servicemen, included correspondence from Sergeant Steve Flaherty, whose letters home fed wartime propaganda broadcasts.

US officials hailed the exchange as the first of its kind.

“The return of these mementos has both a political and a human meaning,” said Colonel Nguyen Xuan Nang on Friday as he handed over Doan's diary to his family, carefully laid out on a red silk pillow.

“He was a true patriot who fought for his country,” he said.

Doan's wife died earlier this year, but before her death had expressed joy that the mementos would be coming back, Son said at the ceremony.

“What (the American soldier) did has proved that he is a man of good morals - what he has done, although late, has made us feel very happy,” he said.-iolNews (September 21, 2012 01:21PM)

Five killed by Thailand car bomb

Thai police examine the wreckage of a pickup truck after a bomb hidden in it exploded killing five people (AP)
Thai police examine the wreckage
of a pickup truck after a 

bomb hidden in it exploded 
killing five people (AP) 
Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand's violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.

Police said suspected militants opened fire today on a gold shop in Pattani province's Sai Buri district. No one was hurt and the militants fled the scene.

When security forces arrived at the scene, two improvised bombs hidden in gas canisters in a nearby pickup truck went off.

An administrative official and five civilians were killed, while several policemen were wounded.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in Thailand's three Muslim-dominated southernmost provinces since an Islamist insurgency erupted in 2004.-Independent (September 21, 2012)

ASEAN chief wants Canada to step up as peacemaker in Asia disputes

Calling the current tension between China and Japan "worrisome," the head of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations wants Canada to become more of a peacemaker in Asia.

Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, told The Canadian Press in an exclusive interview Thursday that as Canada pursues deeper ties with Asia, it has to focus on more than just trade and investment, and should take a more active role in security issues.

Canada should leverage its good reputation as a "soft power" to help mediate some of the intermittent disputes that flare up in the region, perhaps emulating Norway, he said. Norway has been an active mediator in the Middle East, the Balkans and Sri Lanka.

"What Canada can do is to transform its expertise in those areas of peacekeeping, peace-building into a more mediating role. A country like Norway has been very active and engaged. Canada has been less than Norway, maybe by choice," Surin said in Ottawa, where he was meeting several Conservative cabinet ministers.

"It has to be a package, an integrated approach."

Surin would also like to see Canadian troops taking part in military training manoeuvres in the region, such as Cobra Gold, in which 10,000 troops from the United States and several South Asian countries took part in simulated amphibious beach assaults and disaster relief earlier this year.

"Canada knows that it has been rather absent from the region," he said.

"Maybe Canada should be more present at these kinds of region activities, for peace, for reconciliation, for security, for mutual confidence."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made forging deeper economic links with Asia a priority for his government.

Boosting trade and investment with ASEAN — a group that does not include China, India, Japan or South Korea — represents one way of broader engagement with the region.

Surin said ASEAN's 10 member countries are anxious to deepen trade and investment, as well looking for new opportunities in education, health and technology.

"We are able to be on the supply lines of every factory in India and China. In that sense ASEAN is in the middle of the growth centre," he said.

But the broader region is also the scene of simmering tensions, including the current territorial dispute between China and Japan over an island chain in the South China Sea.

Surin called the situation "worrisome because they are our major partners," adding: "We certainly would like them to be able to get along."

Because of Asia's rising influence, unresolved disputes could effect growth across the globe, including the recovery from the current economic crisis, he said.

That's why steps have to be taken in various regional forums to find diplomatic solutions.

It's up to Canada, he said, to gauge how big a player it wants to be.

"The decision will have to made here in how much Canada wants to be part of the process to contribute to confidence building, reconciliation in the region, and trying to restrain all parties and not allow the situation into open conflict," said Surin.

"Because it's going to affect the rest of the word."

In the case of the China-Japan dispute, Surin said he has no illusions about Canada being able to make a difference.

"It would be a rather difficult issue between China and Japan. Territorial disputes, historic mistrust, lack of mutual confidence. It's rather deep," he said.

But everyone has to find ways to deal with the continuing rise of China.

"There used to be a notion of peaceful rise of China. But apparently what we are seeing is, is not very restrained," he said.

"What we are seeing is (China) rather actively engaged in activities projecting its own presence, its own power, its own influence over the environment and the landscape that it perceives to belong to its own sphere of influence."

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird noted Thursday that Canada has had a "strong and vibrant dialogue" with ASEAN in 35 years of relations. He pointed to a Canada-ASEAN joint declaration on trade and investment, the recent creation of the Canada-ASEAN Business Council as well as a $10-million commitment to fund "co-operative activities" in the next three years.

Surin said the co-operation has the potential to run much deeper.

"Canada has decided, I think, a long time ago that soft power — before the word soft power came into being, into vogue — should be its approach to the global community. It has been very much welcomed on the issue of human rights, on the issue of democracy, on the issue of open society, the issue of gender equality," he said.

"You can play a backroom role or a subtle mediating role with less direct involvement or interest in the region like other countries. There is that credibility. There is that room, that space."-The Province (September 20, 2012)

Experts paint gloomy picture on South China Sea conflict

As China's military power grows, the potential for conflicts between members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) may increase, and finding solutions within the grouping could become more difficult, experts have said.

Andi Widjajanto, a defence expert at the University of Indonesia, said that as China grew to become more assertive, some Asean members would predictably lean toward the United States, while others would align themselves with the Asian superpower.

He said for Asean countries there would be no escaping China's shifting military strategy from defence to offence.

"The increase in China's military power will affect Asean unity, as the member states will be divided between the two main powers due to their different interests," Widjajanto said during an international seminar on security in the South China Sea.

Widjajanto said that besides its growing military power, China's economic power could lure countries in the region to come under its sphere of influence.

"For non-claimant countries, such as Cambodia, the interest does not lie in the South China Sea. They are more interested in what they can get from China's economic power," he said.

Amid the stand-off, Indonesia can play a significant role by becoming a go-between, offering diplomatic initiatives to prevent future tensions in the region.

Indonesia's influence was, however, limited, Widjajanto said.

"It is not possible to persuade China to withdraw its claim over the South China Sea and the role we can play would not produce a solution as such. But we could delay, and perhaps prevent, a conflict from occurring," he added.

Jose Tavares, director of Asean political and security cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, concurred with this view, saying that international and regional organisations could play a mediating role, but they were not best placed to find a permanent solution to the territorial dispute.

"They are not in themselves avenues for a definitive resolution of territorial disputes," Tavarez said.

During the past two years, tensions have heightened over the South China Sea issue.

In 2010, Vietnam accused China of cutting their exploration cables on one of its oil survey ships.

Tensions worsened when the Philippines announced their new exploration licenses for petroleum blocks off the country's Palawan Island in February 2012.

The exploration sparked protests from China.

In March 2012, the standoff escalated when 23 Vietnamese fishermen were arrested by Chinese officials for illegal fishing and poaching near the Paracel islands.

The most serious incident, however, occurred in April 2012, when several Chinese fishing vessels anchored at the Scarborough Shoal, followed by attempted arrests by the Philippines' Navy seals.

Ralf Emmers from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies said the South China Sea standoff was worrying not only because it involved areas rich in natural resources but also due to its strategic value for international maritime trade.

Emmers said the conflict was sparked by US interest in preserving the principle of the freedom of navigation on the high seas, in light of China’s rising naval capabilities and renewed assertiveness.

He said increasing Chinese naval power could be used to back up its territorial claims.

"The United States could go to war in the Asia Pacific over the freedom of navigation principle. This freedom is a key principle over which the US will not allow any concessions," Emmers said.

While the US wanted this point to be highlighted at Asean forums, it remained highly problematic for China as they were concerned about the attempt at internationalising the South China Sea, preferring instead to discuss these matters bilaterally with smaller Southeast Asian claimants, Emmers added.-Asia News Network (September 21, 2012)

US missions in Indonesia closed on today

The United States is closing all its diplomatic missions in Indonesia today, citing security reasons, ahead of demonstrations over a controversial film that might be held in front of US facilities.

The missions are located in several cities around the country: the US Embassy in Jakarta, the US Consulate General in Surabaya, the American Presence Post in Medan, the US Consular Agency in Bali and the US Mission to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), also in Jakarta.

In a statement sent to The Jakarta Post yesterday, it cited "... the potential for significant demonstrations that might be held in front of these facilities".

The US has also urged its citizens to avoid large crowds and other gatherings that may turn violent. US citizens living and travelling in Indonesia have been encouraged to enrol in the Smart Traveller Enrolment Programme and to update their contact information with either the US Embassy in Jakarta or any of the US consulates — in Bali, Medan or Surabaya — as mentioned above.-Asia News Network (September 21, 2012)

Asia’s Oldest treasure most advanced tomb discovered in the Philippines-1,000 years

In this March 1, 2011 photo released by the Philippine National Museum, Filipino archeologists measure the dimensions of a limestone coffin at Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, eastern Philippines. Archeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Philippine National Museum)
Archaeologists have unearthed remnants of what they believe is a 1,000-year-old village on a jungle-covered mountaintop in the Philippines with limestone coffins of a type never before found in this Southeast Asian nation, officials said Thursday.

National Museum official Eusebio Dizon said the village on Mount Kamhantik, near Mulanay town in Quezon province, could be at least 1,000 years old based on U.S. carbon dating tests done on a human tooth found in one of 15 limestone graves he and other archaeologists have dug out since last year.

The discovery of the rectangular tombs, which were carved into limestone outcrops jutting from the forest ground, is important because it is the first indication that Filipinos at that time practiced a more advanced burial ritual than previously thought and that they used metal tools to carve the coffins.

Past archaeological discoveries have shown Filipinos of that era used wooden coffins in the country's mountainous north and earthen coffins and jars elsewhere, according to Dizon, who has done extensive archaeological work and studies in the Philippines and 27 other countries over the past 35 years.

Aside from the tombs, archaeologists have found thousands of shards of earthen jars, metal objects and bone fragments of humans, monkeys, wild pigs and other animals in the tombs. The limestone outcrops had round holes where wooden posts of houses or sheds may have once stood, Dizon told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview.

The tombs were similar to ancient sarcophagus, which have become popular tourist attractions in Egypt and Europe, although the ones found in Mulanay were simple box-like limestone coffins without mythological or elaborate human images on the tops and sides.

Archaeologists have only worked on a small portion of a five-hectare (12-acre) forest area, where Mulanay officials said more artifacts and limestone coffins could be buried.

A preliminary National Museum report said its top archaeologists found ''a complex archaeological site with both habitation and burial remains from the period of approximately 10th to the 14th century ... the first of its kind in the Philippines having carved limestone tombs.''

The discovery has been welcomed with excitement in Mulanay, a sleepy coastal town of 50,000 people in an impoverished mountainous region that until recently was best known as a major battleground between army troops and Marxist rebels.

''Before, if you mention this region, people will say 'Oh, that's NPA country,''' Mulanay Mayor Joselito Ojeda said, referring to the New People's Army rebels. ''But that era is past and now we can erase that image and this archaeological site will be a big help.''

Mulanay tourism officer Sanny Cortez said that after archaeologists have finished their work in a few years, his town plans to turn Mount Kamhantik's peak into an archaeological and ecotourism park. A museum would also be built nearby.

Despite the loss of thick tree covers in the 1,300-foot (396-meter) mountain's foothills as villagers clear the jungle for homes and farms, the forested mountain still harbors a rich wildlife, including rare hornbills, wild cats and huge numbers of cave bats, including a white one recently seen by environmental officials. The mountaintop offers a scenic view of Tayabas Bay and the peak of Mayon volcano, famous for its near-perfect cone, Ojeda said.

The archaeological site is part of 280 hectares (692 acres) of forest land that was declared a government-protected area in 1998 to keep away treasure hunters and slash-and-burn farmers. Treasure hunters looking for gold exposed some of the limestone tombs years ago, but it was only last year that Manila-based archaeologists started to unearth the graves and artifacts and realize the significance of the find.

Treasure hunting has damaged many archaeological sites in the country. In the early 1990s, Filipino archaeologists led by Dizon discovered that 2,000-year-old burial jars with unique human face designs had been destroyed by treasure hunters in a cave in Maitum town in southern Sarangani province.

Archaeologists worked for a few years to glue the sack loads of clay shards piece by piece and restored more than 150 ancient burial jars to shape. Some of the Maitum jars are displayed at the National Museum in Manila with a plan to exhibit them in France next year, Dizon said.-Rebuilding for the Better Philippines (Setember 20, 2012)