The Philippine military is confident of the eventual collapse of the communist insurgency in the country, citing its membersâ€™ loss of confidence, fatigue and lack of financial support from its erstwhile backers.
This was reported during the round table discussion on the state of the Maoist armed movement in the Philippines held at the headquarters of the Armed Forces â€“ Camp Aguinaldo.
According to Brig. Gen. Francisco Cruz, chief of the AFP’s Civil Relations Service said the NPA, its umbrella organization the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front continue to lose members because of the effort of the national government to weaken its support particularly in the countryside.
He said the NPAâ€™s tag as a terrorist organization is also wreaking damage on the organization as the public continues to lose faith in the armed struggle.
Cruz, however, said the CPP-NPA may resort to more dangerous mutations such as becoming a full-fledged terrorist organization targeting civilians and soft targets as well as becoming a criminal organization to raise money and survive as a group.
Better options are for members of the armed movement of the communist party to lay down their arms and surrender, to take advantage of the governmentâ€™s various amnesty and livelihood programs or join the political arena to push their legitimate causes.
Other speakers during the event were Miriam Coronel Ferrer, a professor of the University of the Philippines professor and lead convenor of Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Sulong CARHRIHL) and Executive Director Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) to give a political and social perspective on the matter.
The event was organized by the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR). More than 100 guests from the government, private sector, diplomatic corps, academe, private security management sector, business sector, media and other civic entities joined the affair.
Meanwhile, Ferrer said that the communists’ growing practical pragmatism is making it survive. She said there is a trend for CPP/NPA/NDF political officers to join the political arena, joining political parties and running for office. Some even join the ranks of politicians which Maoists once opposed violently.
Casiple said the communist part and its armed wing, the NPA is now on a crossroad â€“ whether to become a viable movement, a political movement or an irrelevant movement. He said the communists can either drop their firearms and join politics to push their political agenda or continue an armed revolution in the rural areas.
All of the provinces and cities of the Philippines are now preparing for the coming election this May 10, 2010. People are now thinking who to vote, especially for our president. Have you already, decided who to vote?
We have 9 presidential candidates for the 2010 election that in which the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has accepted. They are:
- Senator Benigno â€œNoynoyâ€ Aquino III in Liberal Party – He is Â correlated with the Â group of the Liberal Part which he goes up against the Â administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, mentioning the â€œhuman rights violationsâ€.
- Former President Joseph â€œErapâ€ Estrada para sa Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino – Â is associated itself with other political parties to create Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino or LAMMP (Struggle of the Patriotic Filipino Masses)
- Senator Manuel â€œMannyâ€ Villar for Nacionalista Party â€“ With his well-liked campaign line “Sipag at Tyaga” which means Hardwork and Patience. Villarâ€™s operation program includes opposing poverty and corruption, the two foremost problems between which he supposes has a strong linkage.
- Senator Richard â€œDickâ€ Gordon for Bagumbayan â€“ As for him our nation needs a leader and not just for political character. Our nation needs a leader with a vision, competence and track record in order to have a peace and good and one nation. We need leaders to know what our country needs right now and must know how to prioritize among those needs and must know how every essential need should be concentrated on.
- Senator Jamby Madrigal â€“ Independent – She wants to keep a record into the areas of education and learning, gender quality, authorization, anti-trafficking and anti-pornography. She has also authored bills on the security and protection of the native people with their ancestral territory and as well as the safety and preservation of the environment and situation.
- Former DND Secretary Gilbert â€œGiboâ€ Teodoro para sa Lakas-Kampi-CMD - Working and functioning together and has a good participation Â suggests it to be the best chance of helping and making it better for our country and this would be a good start of our country and to the people as well.
- Eddie Villanueva of Jesus Is Lord Movement for Bangon Pilipinas – He is the presidential candidate that hasnâ€™t spent much of his campaigns as it was really donated by his followers and friends. He has a different leadership, and, according to him, he called his leadership to be righteous leadership and this is certainly based on a biblical passage, â€œrighteousness exalts nationâ€ and he wants the Philippines to be the third largest Roman Catholic nation in the world.
- John Carlos de los Reyes para sa Ang Kapatiran – He is presently prioritizing the institutionalization of the Barangay Human Rights Action Centers, the office mandated by law for the protection and prevention of human rights violations in the barangay.
- Nicanor “Nick” Perlas – Independent â€“ He proposed a program that would focus on effective or efficient tax collection with no corruption, and he would also like to state and to have e a double counting in order that people would see and believe that there would be no corruption.
So, who do you think is the best leader for our country? Your vote will be a change. Vote wisely.
The local Villalon family bought out the stake of its partner, real estate giant Landco Pacific Corp., in the 210-hectare Monterazzas de Cebu high-end mountain resort community project paving the way for an all Cebuano development and management team for the property.
The president and chairman of the family holding company Genvi Development Corp., renowned architect Augusto Villalon, said they decided to take over the project as they felt an all Cebuano team can manage the project better because they can understand market and deliver commitments faster.
â€œWe believe that a project of this scale should be and can be done by Cebuanoâ€™s,â€ Villalon said. â€œAt last and finally the project is a 100-percent Cebuano endeavor.â€
He maintained the takeover was a mutual decision and the terms were amicably settled.
The erstwhile joint-venture involved a 60-40 stake between property owners Genvi and developer Landco. The subdivisionâ€™s 72-hectare phase 1 had been pre-selling since 2007 and has since raised close to P1 billion in sales, almost half of it from 2009. Its north ridge phase has already been sold out.
The project covers several majestic peaks in barangay Guadalupe with the best commanding view overlooking Cebu City.
Villalon said Genvi compensated Landco for its expenses but refused to reveal the amount as it is prohibited in their agreement. Landco will also stay as project consultants for an indefinite period of time. However, several of Landcoâ€™s personnel including sales, marketing and technical officers in Cebu have transferred to Genvi.
The agreement signed between Villalon and Landco chief executive officer Alfred Xerez-Burgos was filed before the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board on Februrary 12. The takeover was formally announced to sellers and brokers this week.
Although not a rookie in the real estate business, this is the first time Genvi will venture into a large scale project development. Villalon said, however, that they will keep the concept and standards Landco has set on the project. He also promised that the company will hire the best people to man the development work.
â€œWe will try to make this the greenest subdivision in the country,â€ he said.
The company is set to roll a P300 million development plan for the next 30 months to be funded by capital from the family and from several financing institutions.
Genvi vice president Marga Villalon said they understand the marketâ€™s apprehension on the capability of the company.
â€œThe proof is in the delivery of the things we promise we will do. It now lies within us to show we are able and capable to deliver to the standards that are expected of us,â€ she said.
The law which was enacted by president Arroyo last March 23 clarifies intellectual property (IP) procedures that used to weigh down the commercialization of technologies in the country. It also defines the framework and support system for the ownership, management, use, and commercialization of IP derived from government-funded research and development (R&D), a long-time clamor of scientists who feared their discoveries will be pried away from their hands by unscrupulous market players.
Intellectual property (IP), as defined by the new law, refers to the â€œtangible assets resulting from the creative work of an individual or an organization,â€ including creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.
The new law essentially spells out guiding principles on several issues that used to hamper the commercialization of technology, such as ownership, sharing, and use of revenue, among others.
â€œThe law facilitates and systematizes the transfer of technology or knowledge from the laboratory to market,â€ says Dr. Albert Aquino, head of the Tech-Transfer Technical Working Committee of the Department of Science and Technology.
Previously, research outputs take a long time before reaching the public as a tangible product because of policy gaps. For example, ownership of a research output then, was a big issue between researchers involved, research institution where the research was done, funding agency, and all other bodies that supported the research in various ways.
The absence of standard procedures compelled concerned individuals and institutions to enter an agreement that spelled out percentage of ownership of everyone involved, as well as royalty fees.
Just like the preparation of any other legal documents, finalizing of agreements was quite complicated and took much time and effort. Such condition slowed down the transfer of knowledge or developed technologies to technology adaptors or venture capitalists and, subsequently, to end users.
RA 10055 puts an end to ownership questions by investing the IP ownership to the research and developments institution (RDI) that performed the research. According to the Act, RDIs are in a better position to identify the potential for economic use of IPs and IP rights as they have the â€œright skills and management capability.â€Â The Act, however, exempts RDIs with previously written agreements on the sharing, limiting, waiving, and assigning of IP and IP rights ownership.
Likewise, the Act defines the rights and responsibilities of government funding agencies and RDIs, management of IPs, revenue sharing, commercialization and establishment of spin-off firms, use and compulsory licensing of technologies, use of income, establishment of mechanisms, and others.
To prevent further conflict between opposing parties and to ensure long lasting peace in Mindanao, the signing of the peace agreement between the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines ((GRP) should be put on hold first. This was the claim of Cotabato Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, who stated his foresights on the possible chaos that might result from the signing of the peace pact wherein such may also adversely affect on the holding of peaceful elections in Mindanao this coming May 10 election. According to Bishop Colin, details in the peace agreement might spark again controversies and erring views especially among those who are against the creation of the Bangsamoro.
Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary and GRP Representative to the GRP-MILF Peace Process Rafael Seguis said that the newly revised proposal of the GRP to the peace process can be easily understood and showed equal advantages for both parties involved. With this, a positive output from this peace agreement can be expected.
Meanwhile, many Filipinos are hoping that a genuine peace agreement will be forged the soonest between GRP and MILF as this will help resolve the centuriesâ€™ old conflict in Mindanao, which has been primarily dominated on the desire of most Muslims in the area to create a separate.
The GRP-MILF Peace Process
It has been almost eight years now that the peace process between GRP and MILF has been laid out on a table. In this timeframe, there have been lots of incidents that tested the strength and the sustainability of the peace process.
As a back grounder, it was in 1997 that the peace process between MILF and GRP started â€“ a leap in policymaking that gave light to the seemingly never-ending conflicts in Mindanao. It was in 1999 that the rules and procedures of the peace process were finalized by both parties. In 2000, the peace talk was at a halt due to an all-out war against the MILF. In 2001, both parties agreed for the resumption of the peace talk. In 2003, the GRP canceled the process upon knowing that the MILF was the one to be blamed on two bombing incidents in Davao City during that year. The same year, MILF Chief Commander Hashim Salamat died due to heart attack. In 2003, the peace talk again resume in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. During this time, the peace talk went smoothly until the issue of ancestral domain was mostly debated upon in 2007. In 2008, a Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) was signed.
The Issue on Ancestral Domain
Although one can say that the GRP-MILF Peace Talks had withstood all the low points of the peace process due to emerging armed conflicts in between, the incident in 2008 was probably the lowest and most controversial for the GRP-MILF Peace Talks. The said MOA-AD was junked by the Supreme Court, declaring the agreement as unconstitutional. Such attention given by Supreme Court on the MOA-AD was prompted by the series of oppositions from both the government and private sectors that mainly cited on the unconstitutionality in having a separate Bangsamoro state. The MILF, on the other hand, agreed with the MOA-AD.
Because of the injunction of the Supreme Court on the MOA-AD as null due to its unconstitutionality, some MILF base commanders were outraged to the point of conducting inhumane killings of innocent civilians and indiscriminate burning of houses in Lanao Del Norte. MILF rogue base commander Umbra Kato and Bravo were said to be the main perpetrators of these crimes. Such incident led to the all-out war against these MILF commanders as it also sparked as well animosities among Christians in Mindanao against the Muslims.
Long Lasting Peace in Mindanao
Despite the many setbacks and _ bloodshed brought upon by the GRP-MILF Peace Talks, the peace process was resumed and has been going on until to this date.Â With the upcoming May 10 elections, however, it was suggested by many that the planned signing of a peace agreement should be put on hold for the meantime as the results of which might spark anew enormous oppositions, which can adversely affect on the holding of honest and orderly elections. Also, with the poor popularity rating of President Gloria Macapagal â€“ Arroyo, some political experts said that it is best that the signing of the peace agreement will be handled by the new upcoming president.
Meanwhile, it can be surmised that the conflict in Mindanao has go beyond the political strata as such has been there already for a long time, a so-called fixation.Â It can be said that the social problems that beset the area, poverty for one, are the forefronts why there is no lasting peace in the area. Also, the division between Muslims and Christians in Mindanao can be traced back to history. This will be a challenge for the next president of the country â€“ to iron out old traditions that create divisions among two great religions in the area, and unite it with modern yet equal perspectives.
On the presence of secessionists such as MILF, it can be solved if they have sustainable livelihoods where they can focus their attention with.
The Philippines is a country rich in many natural resources. It consists of more than seven thousand islands and is surrounded by vast waters with many aquatic animals and plants that become good sources of food and other basic necessities. Other countries are not as lucky as we are when it comes to these resources but the present condition of the Filipino people contradicts these facts. Instead of moving forward towards prosperity and advancement, our country is stuck in a condition that is slowly affecting every Filipinoâ€™s lives. Other countries in the world that were at the same level with the Philippines in the last decades have already reached peaks of economic growth and improvement leaving the country behind usually placing it at the bottom part of the list.
There are a lot of reasons why people in our country live in poverty despite the abundant resources present. The most common reason is the attitude of the people towards the environment and the lack of knowledge regarding the proper care for these resources. Many people usually fail to see beforehand the long term effects of present actions and this poses a threat to our supposed riches. Dynamite fishing and quarrying are some of the common activities here in the Philippines and these greatly diminish the assets that we could use in order to save ourselves from the difficulties brought about by poverty. These resources might not be enough to supplement and benefit each Filipino, but it will greatly help in our survival. Our resources are important aspects of our existence, and if we maximize these resources it might just save us from poverty.
According to statistics, many Filipinos are unemployed and underemployed and this is one of the major reasons why there are more people in the Philippines living in poverty. Poverty is a major problem in the country that is very difficult to resolve due to a lot of circumstances. Every year, families that characterized themselves as poor greatly increase in number. These people state that they are not earning enough for their family and their salary is not sufficient to support themselves and pay for their basic necessities. Prices of basic goods and other commodities have greatly climbed as compared in the previous decades but the distressing part is that the salary of an ordinary worker in the Philippines remained stationary despite the abrupt increase. Because of this, the number of families living in poverty has also increased but many Filipinos find ways to help themselves and free them from the wrath of poverty. More and more Filipinos leave the country of hopes of having brighter opportunities in other countries. They embark on a journey that involves a lot of risks and with no assurance of a better life abroad. They endure the pain of leaving their loved ones and deal with the loneliness just to earn more for their families. If some are lucky enough to find fine jobs with good pay abroad, there are still many families in the country that are unable to buy their own meals and greatly rely on alms giving and programs of the government and NGOâ€™s. These people usually are left with no option but to do things that are prohibited by the law. Most criminals that rob banks and snatch items from people usually have one reason of doing so, poverty. They do these things just to have something in their dining table and satisfy their craving for food that they cannot afford to buy.
Education is usually a key in achieving our goals as individuals and this is our passport to a better life ahead. This equips us with the things that we should acquire in order to become a successful individual in the near future but many are not privileged to enjoy and experience the excitement of going to school and learning new things. There are many children who spend long hours in the streets working and trying to earn money instead of reading books and going to school. This is an effect of poverty in our country. These children are dying to experience going to school but because of their situation, they are forced to work to help their parents despite laws forbidding children to do so. The government may have programs that offer free education to these poor angels but many parents living in poverty would opt not to send their children to school because of many other expenses for school supplies like notebook and pencils. Oftentimes, achievers from different fields are from poverty, and they strived hard to achieve their dreams no matter what. Those who cannot afford become scholars because of good grades and eventually graduate and find a well-off job. This is a good example that every individual should remember and follow. Despite the unending poverty that many Filipinos experience, there is still hope for change and improvement.
Get yourself ready for this coming fight of Manny Pacman Pacquiao and joshua “the Grandmaster” Clottey this coming March 13, 2010 at Dallas Cowboy Stadium, Arlington Texas, USA. This fight will surely be great. However the question is, who will win this fight? Will pacquiao be finally defeated by Clottey? To answer these questions, we need to get to know first who Joshua Clottey is.
Name: Joshua Clottey
Alias: The Grandmaster, The Hitter
Birth Date: March 16, 1977
Birth Place: Accra, Ghana
Residence: Bronx, New york, USA
Height: 5′ 9″
Stance or Style: Orthodox
Weight category: Welterweight
Trained by: Kwame Asante
Global ID: 9300
US ID: 040806
- Has an aggressive style
- good skills and movement
- has good punching power
- He is big and strong at 147 pounds
- he pressures his opponents and wears them down…
- tough and determined
- experienced against top opposition
Regional and World Titles
* International Boxing Federation Welterweight Title (2008-09)
* IBF Intercontinental Welterweight Title (2006)
* WBC Continental Americas Light Middleweight Title (2005)
* NABC Welterweight Title (2004)
* African Boxing Union Welterweight Title (2001)
* Ghanaian Light Welterweight Title (1995)
Amateur and Personal Background:
Clottey was born in Accra. He has three brothers and two sisters. He is the junior brother of Emmanuel Clottey. His father is working on the highway. He makes road and worked in construction. He was a soccer player and pushed all his sons into boxing. They started in Bukom. It’s the place in Accra where the fighters train. Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey, also started in Bukom.
Joshua Cottley started boxing when he was six years old. He was also a soccer player before he became a boxer.
Clottey said “I had 49 amateur fights, with four losses. I reached the quarter-finals in the Commonwealth Games.”
He is single, but has one daughter. She is nine years old and lives in Ghana. Clottey is a Muslim, so he gave her daughter a Muslim name, Zeenat Clottey.
Joshua is a member of Ghana’s “Ga” tribe, which includes Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey, Ben “Wonder” Tackie, and many of Ghana’s other top boxers…
Boxing News editor Claude Abrams visited Accra several years ago and reported: “Imagine an uneven, open concrete yard about 20 feet square, the floor crumbling in parts and enclosed on three sides, one by the outer wall of a house, the other two by a patched-together fence made of wood and corrugated iron sheets.
“When bare, there’s scant evidence that this is or has been the playground to generations of fighting men. There’s no roof to keep out the rain or hold back the sun, but how it comes alive when the warriors arrive. The floor becomes cluttered as boxers clamor for room, elbowing each other to throw their blows while children clamber onto the frail walls and perch wide-eyed, like pigeons on a rooftop. There are benches neatly arranged at the entrance, which are quickly filled to capacity. The village has arrived!
“This is Bukom, probably no greater than the area of three football pitches, situated a short drive from the Ghanian capital Accra, where the average life expectancy is around 50, the streets do not have names and the red and dusty roads are so uneven that car passengers would be advised to wear crash hats.
“Scores of young boys and girls in bare feet scramble and fill the dried, earthy streets. They, too, know how to shadow box, how to hold their hands high and to throw punches.
“Ike Quartey was once one of these smiling youngsters – skinny and half-clothed – before he became “The Bazooka”… [He was born] in a rickety structure of little consequence or value which hovers like a tree-house above a pathway on the way to the gym, but now it’s a landmark, a must for those perusing the “where to go and visit” guide of Bukom.
“This is a village so immersed in boxing that at any given time during the day there will be a fighter in training and the square will, for most ofthe year, be occupied by a ring.
“Ghanian fighters…essentially fight in the same patient, methodical manner, knowing when and how to strike. Emotionally, when competing, they appear cold, their eyes focused, their concentration unwavering, though their characters can be warm and almost gentle.
“It is a paradox of almost schizophrenic proportions, though Ghanians are, by nature, proud and polite and perform their tasks neatly, down to the woman in the street who will walk with perfect precision balancing a car battery on her head.
“Here lies an untapped fountain of boys and men who have declared a willingness to fight for survival…”
“Now you be the judge to who’s going to win this coming March 13, 2010. Better not miss the chance to watch them fight.”
Manny Pacquiao is aiming of winning this fight and become the first boxer to become a champion in seven different divisions.
He’s training very hard for this fight, considering the fact that Miguel Cotto is a very strong and fast fighter.
On the other hand, Miguel Cotto’s training was said to be relaxed and a lot says that Miguel Cotto has a lot of bad habbits during training. But this don’t make Miguel Cotto a weak fighter.
Miguel Cotto has put-up a big name on his fighting division winning battles against strong and fast fighters like Mosley.
But Cotto has a disadvantage in this upcoming fight. He will need to trim down his weight to as low as 143lbs from his normal 150+lbs weight. This will surely drain out a lot of energies from Cotto but could as well make him move much faster than ever.
Manny is a very good fighter now and his right hand is now as good as his left hand. This will be Manny’s best weapon for this fight if he could go near Cotto and beat him up with very strong punches. Cotto is a very strong fighter though and could tolerate a lot of hits. Cotto is also much taller than Pacquiao which makes him much harder to take down.
Pacquiao needs to work his way for this fight and for sure, Freddie Roach has a good strategy for this fight.
Even journalists and boxing experts can’t say who will win this fight.
But considering Pacquiao’s speed and new boxing skills, Miguel Cotto will surely be in a very tight position and easy winning for both players won’t be possible.
Manny Pacquiao (PACMAN)
Height: 5″ 6.5′
Record: 49 wins – 3 Losses – 2 Draws
Miguel Cotto (JUNITO)
Country: Puerto Rico
Height: 5″ 7′
Record: 34 Wins – 1 Loss – 0 Draws
Madame Cory Aquino died at the age of 76Â last August 1, 2009 at exactly 3:18A.M.Â at the Makati Medical Center due to complications of colon cancer which led to cardiopulmonary arrest.
Filipinos trembled and cried for the loss of their democracy hero. She has been denoted as the mother of democracy by many Filipinos. She fought the Marcos dictatorial way of running the government in her own peaceful way and brought back to the Filipinos the democratic government it deserved.
She was diagnosed with colon cancer last March 24, 2008 and undergone Chemotherapy. Doctors said that her body responded positively to the treatment on May 13, 2008 according to the blood test they performed. However, to no avail, on July 2008 Cory Aquino was reported to be in a very serious condition and was confined in the Makati Medical Center because she lost her appetite.Â She stayed in Makati Medical Center until the day of her death.
Prior to her burial, Madame Cory’s body was laid in the St. Benilde Gymnasium of La Salle Green Hills located in Mandaluyong for public wake and was then transferred last August 3rd to the Manila Cathedral. She was the first Catholic that is not a member of the clergy to have been permitted to have her wake at the cathedral. She was a very devoted Catholic and prayer was her ultimate weapon when she fought for our democracy.
She was buried in the Manila Memorial Park in Sucat, ParaÃ±aque. Her final mass was celebrated by Bishop Socrates Villegas at the cathedral. The blessing of the coffin was administered by Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. During the funeral procession, hundreds of thousands of mourners attended, which was composed of several supporters, ordinary citizens, relatives, political alliance and even political enemies.
Filipinos around the globe watching her burial ceremonies even shed tears for her loss. She was indeed a lost treasure of the Filipino people.
Corazon Aquino was the 11th president and was the first female president of the Philippines. She’s one of the few presidents of the Philippines that was never accused of corruption during her term as a President of the Philippines.
May you rest in Peace and Glory with the Lord in heaven Madame Cory! We love you so much!
The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century shed its shadow over western India Wednesday July 22, 2009 and headed for China on a path that was dropping hundreds of millions of people into temporary darkness.
Ancient superstition and modern commerce came together in a â€œonce in a lifetimeâ€ opportunity which could end up being the most watched eclipse in history, due to its path over Earth’s most densely inhabited areas.
After forming over the sea west of India, the lunar shadow or “umbra” made landfall in India’s Gujarat state shortly before 6:30 am (0100 GMT) and quickly swallowed the city of Surat, the country’s diamond polishing centre.
By eclipse standards, this is “a monster,” NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak and University of Manitoba meteorologist Jay Anderson wrote in the US magazine Sky & Telescope. After an eight-minute journey across central India, it was to squeeze between northern Bangladesh and the eastern tip of Nepal and then slice through some of China’s biggest cities, including Chengdu, Chongqing and Wuhan, before arriving at Shanghai, a city of 20 million souls. The umbra then flits across the islands of southern Japan and goes around into the western Pacific, where at one point the length of totality — when the solar disc is completely covered will be six minutes, 39 seconds. If the clouds hold back, it could be the most watched eclipse in history, and we will have to wait until year 2132 before the totality duration is beaten.
The total journey will unclear the sun by 50 percent or more for an estimated two billion people, from the salt flat farmers of Gujarat to herdsmen in the foothills of the Tibetan Himalayas. Superstition has always haunted the moment when Earth, Moon and Sun are perfectly aligned. The daytime destruction of the Sun, the source of all life, is associated with war, famine, flood and the death or birth of rulers.
For further explanation, the ancient Chinese blamed a Sun-eating dragon. In Hindu mythology, the two demons Rahu and Ketu are said to “swallow” the sun during eclipses, snuffing out its light and causing food to become poisonous and water undrinkable. Ahead of Wednesday’s eclipse, some Indian astrologers had issued predictions loaded with gloom and apprehension, while superstition dictated that pregnant women should stay indoors to prevent their babies developing birth defects. A gynecologist at a Delhi hospital said many expectant mothers scheduled for July 22 caesarian deliveries insisted on changing the date.
For others it was a promising date, with more than one million Hindu pilgrims gathering at the holy site of Kurukshetra in northern India, where bathing in the waters during a solar eclipse is believed to further the attainment of spiritual freedom. Those who could afford it grabbed seats on planes chartered by specialist travel agencies that promised extended views of the eclipse as they chased the shadow eastwards. Travel firm Cox and Kings charged 79,000 rupees (1,600 dollars) for a “sun-side” seat on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft before dawn from New Delhi for a three-hour flight.
Meteorologists said that thick cloud and heavy rain were likely to ruin the party for millions of people hoping to watch the solar blackout in Shanghai and other parts of eastern China. But the Hyatt hotel on Shanghai’s waterfront Bund said its eclipse breakfast event remained fully booked out regardless of the weather concerns. “People are just looking for a reason to get together,” hotel spokeswoman Meg Zhang said. “You can tell your boss: ‘It’s only once in 300 years’.”
The next total solar eclipse will be on July 11 2010, but will occur almost entirely over the South Pacific, where Easter Island, home of the legendary moai giant statues, will be one of the few landfalls.