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Top Global Nation Stories 2011

/ 03:56 AM December 30, 2011


Janela Arcos Lelis, 12, wades through floodwater as she tightly holds the Philippine flag in a heroic act to save the national symbol from being swept away by the raging water on that stormy day on July 26. Albay resident Frank Lurzano captured the scene on film.

Editor’s Note: 2011 was a year of triumphs and tragedies for Filipino overseas workers. The news of execution of three compatriots in China over drugs in March revealed the ugly face of diaspora, when Filipinos dangerously explored forbidden territories in the pursuit of money. But it was also a year that Filipinos showed the world how passionately they would rise to defend civil liberties. A maid in Hong Kong and four Filipino nurses in the US separately won landmark lawsuits against racial discrimination. Meanwhile, this Filipino nurse’s dedication to work and friendship paid off as she inherited $33 million from her ward – an American heiress.

1.Schoolgirl, 12, honored for saving Philippine flag

By Jocelyn R. Uy

Philippine Daily Inquirer


MANILA, Philippines–No one would have thought that the shy 12-year-old girl in red sneakers had achieved a feat one would normally associate with soldiers on a battlefield: Save the country’s flag. For her deed, a little Philippine flag was pinned on Thursday on the left collar of Janela Arcos Lelis to remind all that this was the sixth grader who saved the flag from raging floodwaters when Typhoon “Juaning” slammed her hometown Malinao, Albay in July.

2. Underground river among new 7 wonders

Agence France-Presse

GENEVA—The Philippines’ Puerto Princesa Underground River, the Amazon rainforest, Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Argentina’s Iguazu Falls were named among the world’s new seven wonders of nature. The other three crowned the world’s natural wonders are South Korea’s Jeju Island, Indonesia’s Komodo and South Africa’s Table Mountain, said the New7Wonders foundation, citing provisional results.

3. Filipino maid wins Hong Kong landmark case
Philippine Daily Inquirer

HONG KONG—Filipino maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos won the opening legal battle in her fight for permanent residency after a court here ruled on Friday that an immigration provision excluding hundreds of thousands of foreign maids was unconstitutional. Residents fear the verdict would open the floodgate to about 292,000 foreign maids, most of whom are from the Philippines or Indonesia, to also claim the right of abode. But Justice Johnson Lam, ruling in the Court of First Instance, said the immigration provision denying the maids the right to gain permanent residency after seven years—as other foreign residents can—was inconsistent with Hong Kong’s Basic Law.

4. Fil-Ams win US racial suit

By Nimfa U. Rueda

Philippine Daily Inquirer

LOS ANGELES—Four Filipino-American health workers, who were fired for speaking Tagalog in the workplace, have won the discrimination lawsuit they filed against the Bon Secours Health System, a hospital based in Baltimore, Maryland. The ruling was “a big win for diversity and an important victory for Filipinos in America.” In a ruling dated August 16, there was reasonable cause that the health workers were subjected to “unequal terms and conditions of employment, a hostile work environment, disciplinary action and discharge because of their national origin in violation of (the Civil Rights Act of 1964).”

5. Filipino Pulitzer-winning reporter reveals he’s in US illegally

Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON—Jose Antonio Vargas, a former reporter for The Washington Post who shared a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre, has written another extraordinary story: his own. Vargas, 30, revealed in a 4,300-word article published in The New York Times magazine that he is an illegal immigrant and has been hiding it for nearly 20 years.

6. Filipina nurse inherits $33M from American heiress

By Frances Mangosing

Filipina nurse Hadassah Peri inherited $33 million from mysterious American heiress Huguette Clark. Peri also earlier received $2 million from Clark to buy properties, which include a $700,000 house in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and a $500,000 home in a golf course in the Jersey Shore. “I was her private duty nurse, but also her close friend,” said Peri, 60, an immigrant of the Philippines and a married mother of three. “I am profoundly sad at her passing, awed at the generosity she has shown me and my family.”

7. 3 Filipino drug mules executed in China

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press,

Three Filipinos convicted of drug smuggling were executed in China, triggering condemnation in the Catholic Philippines and despair for family members who shared their final moments. “It is a sad day for all of us,” Vice President Jejomar Binay said as he confirmed that the three were put to death by lethal injection. Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32, and Ramon Credo, 42, met their families for the last time early Wednesday before they were executed in Xiamen. Elizabeth Batain, 38, was allowed to meet with her relatives hours ahead of her execution in Shenzhen.

8. ‘Blasphemous’ Philippine art riles Catholics

Agence France-Presse

MANILA, Philippines—An art exhibit featuring a Jesus Christ poster with a wooden penis glued to His face has sparked protests in the mainly Catholic Philippines. The artwork, a collage by local artist Mideo Cruz, is part of an exhibit showcasing works by alumni from a church-run university aiming to challenge people’s perceptions of figures they idolize. But bishops and lay groups have demanded the state-run Cultural Center of the Philippines close the exhibit on grounds it is blasphemous, immoral, illegal and offends the country’s Catholic majority.

9. Aquino stars in New York

By Christine O. Avendaño

Philippine Daily Inquirer

President Benigno Aquino III took center stage at a new multilateral initiative by eight countries aimed at ensuring transparency in government and the empowerment of citizens in fighting corruption. Saying the Philippines “is not only excited about but also derives strength” from working together with other members of the new initiative, the President joined 45 other world leaders in launching the Open Government Partnership (OGP) at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

10. Naia 1 is rated ‘world’s worst airport’

By Tina G. Santos

Philippine Daily Inquirer

It just gets worse and worse. Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), particularly Terminal 1, now ranks No. 1 among the “Worst Airports in the World,” said “The Guide to Sleeping in Airports,” an interactive website that gathers reports from various reviewers. The ranking of Manila’s international airport was based on reviews of travelers who complained, among other things, of “safety concerns, lack of comfortable seating, rude staff, hostile security, poor facilities, no (or few) services to pass the time, bribery, being kicked out and general hassles of being in the airport.”

For the Top Global Nation Stories of 2011, go to

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