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FACES OF THE NEWS: April 21, 2019

/ 07:04 AM April 21, 2019

Armand Salvador Mijares

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University of the Philippines archaeology professor Armand Salvador Mijares felt something different in 2007 when he decided, despite the slim odds, to “dig deeper” during his four-year excavation at Callao Cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan province.

His instincts would be proven right, and his gamble would pay off 12 years later when the 13 pieces of feet and hand bones and teeth he and his team have collected over the years from the Callao site would be proven to have belonged to ancient humans believed to have roamed the Earth about 67,000 years ago, a species never before known to mankind.

Scientists would name it Homo luzonensis, after the country’s biggest island where the fossils were unearthed.

Experts agree Mijares’ discovery rewrites human history, and affirms the Philippines’ “significant” role as a setting of evolution.

As a National Geographic Magazine story on the find suggests: “One thing remains clear: Southeast Asia probably was home to more hominin species than current fossils let on.”

For his part, Mijares is continuing to look for other signs of H. luzonensis, including a current search at Biak na Bato National Park in San Miguel, Bulacan.

Vico Sotto

Pasig City Councilor Vico Sotto, 29, couldn’t recall a time when the city didn’t have a Eusebio at the helm of local government.

Growing up, he said, he watched Pasig’s commercial center flourish even as the income and opportunities of those in surrounding communities atrophied.

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This disparity, he said, compelled him to take on one of the Metro’s most entrenched dynasties, mounting an almost quixotic bid against incumbent Mayor Robert Eusebio anchored on the promise of “new politics” in City Hall.

“Our weapon is the message,” said Sotto, a political science graduate of Ateneo de Manila University.

Informed by previous work at a government watchdog group, his policy proposals range from mandating that civil society groups monitor all bidding, to the full implementation of a freedom of information bill that he himself crafted.

Sotto, an independent, is the only member of the City Council who hasn’t joined Eusebio’s party.

“The mayor doesn’t like me,” he said.

And while he knows he can’t match the powerful family’s machinery, he is betting on the ability of a call for change to fill the gap.

“If we keep building momentum, it’s going to be very difficult to stop that ball from rolling,” Sotto said.

The Night King

Fantasy series “Game of Thrones” has begun its eighth and final season, its remaining players poised to figure in a much-anticipated fight to the finish.

The respective storylines of its hesitant heroes, intrepid exiles and power-mad villains have been sewn into a massive tapestry of betrayal and death.

Shaped by embattled parents and complicated enmities, some of these characters initially vied for the coveted Iron Throne of Westeros.

The bastard outcast Jon Snow, the dragon-riding Daenerys and the treacherous queen Cersei were forged by ordeal and strife, but separately ascended to power.

It is, however, now a fight for survival, as a formidable threat — the merciless Night King — intends to destroy everything in his path with formidable columns of zombie-like White Walkers.

After years of magic, woman power, clan wars and “twincest,” the game is — slowly but surely — moving to its epic, unpredictable end.

How to tie the loose ends—tantalizingly dangled by the three-eyed crow that the crippled Bran chronically takes over — how to reconcile conflicting goals, errant dreams and noble intentions, that is what the Game is all about.

So who wins the Throne?

Watch the Game and find out.

Emmanuel Macron

Nearly $1 billion in donations have poured in for the vast restoration of the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral but France’s President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to rebuild the church in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics raised the eyebrows of officials and experts alike.

France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe acknowledged that it would be “an immense challenge” though legislation could be passed to ease bureaucratic and legal obstacles that usually delay construction projects.

Conservation architect Pierluigi Pericolo, who worked on the restoration of the 19th century Saint-Donatien basilica in Nantes, said the “colossal task” would take no less than 15 years.

Even Notre Dame’s rector said he would close the cathedral for up to “five to six years” because part of the nearly 900-year-old edifice may be gravely weakened.

Despite Macron’s swagger, contributions came from near and far, rich and poor — from Apple and magnates who own L’Oreal, Chanel and Dior, to Catholic parishioners and others from small towns and cities around France and the world.

Experts said the amount was more realistic because the cost would likely run into hundreds of millions though it is too early to tell.

Joko Widodo

Did he or didn’t he? Win the Indonesian presidency, that is.  Joko Widodo has announced his reelection, claiming he has received an estimated 54 percent of the vote based on the quick counts of a sample of polling stations by a dozen reputable survey organizations.

“From the country’s experiences of past elections the accuracy is 99.9 percent, almost the same as real count results,” Widodo said, adding that so far, the leaders of Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey and other countries had already congratulated him on securing a second term.

But Widodo’s rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, made the same victory announcement in last Wednesday’s elections, repeating a similar claim when he lost to Widodo in 2014.

The strident nationalist also claimed widespread cheating. Warned of potential violence over election disputes, the country’s security minister and its military and police chiefs said on Thursday they would crack down on any attempts to disrupt public order.

Official election results are expected to be released by May 22.

Subianto had run a fear-based campaign, highlighting what he sees as weaknesses in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Tiger Woods

The roar. The fist pump. The victory that took 11 agonizing years to seal.

Tiger Woods made it all happen again with a throwback performance to his field-shredding days as golf’s No. 1.

His Masters victory put him back in relevance after personal issues and injuries derailed what was a steamrolling career.

Tigermania is not done yet, not when people outside your sport talk about you in glowing words.

Basketball icon Michael Jordan described Tiger Woods’ Masters comeback as the “greatest ever.”

“He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable,” Jordan said.

Tennis star Rafael Nadal chimed in: “It was amazing. I’m a big fan of him.”

Woods ended an 11-year drought in the majors and, at 43, resumes his chase of Jack Nicklaus’ benchmark of 18 major championships. Woods has 15.

“I thought for a long time that he was going to win again. The next two majors are at Bethpage, where he has won, and at Pebble Beach, where he has won,” Nicklaus said, before adding in jest: “So, he has got me shaking in my boots, guys.”

Woods jumped back into the top 10 for the first time since 2014 after his Masters win. He climbed six spots to sixth.

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TAGS: Armand Salvador Mijares, Emmanuel Macron, Faces of the News, Joko Widodo, The Night King, Tiger Woods, Vico Sotto
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