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Philippines Sends Newest Warship to Disputed Waters

The Philippines launched its newest warship on Wednesday, a former U.S. coast guard cutter that President Benigno Aquino said would be deployed to waters at the heart of a territorial dispute with China.

Aquino said the 115-meter Gregorio del Pilar would lead patrols in the parts of the South China Sea that the Philippines claims exclusively as its own and where exploration for potentially lucrative gas fields is underway.

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Dancing Santa Lifts Mood in Philippine Traffic Jams

Thousands of traffic enforcers struggle grimly to keep the Philippine capital's notoriously gridlocked roads moving every day, but Ramiro Hinojas does it with a smile and a little help from Michael Jackson.

Rain or shine, seven days a week, the diminutive 55-year-old stands in the middle of one of Manila's major intersections, and to the cacophony of roaring engines, puts on an elaborate dance show as he deftly guides traffic flow.

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Small Plane Crashes into Philippine School, 13 Killed

A light airplane crashed into a school building Saturday near the Philippine capital after its pilot requested an emergency landing shortly after takeoff, killing at least 13 people, including two children.

The plane burst into flames after hitting the school, said Mayor Florencio Bernabe of suburban Paranaque city.

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3 Killed in Philippines Hotel Bomb

Suspected Islamic militants detonated a powerful bomb that killed at least three people and wounded 27 others in a budget hotel packed with wedding guests in the southern Philippines, officials said Monday.

Investigators believe the blast and ensuing fire that gutted the two-story Atilano Pension House in downtown Zamboanga City late Sunday was a terrorist strike and that it was not linked to the wedding, city police director Edwin de Ocampo said.

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Giraffes in the Philippines a Dictator's Legacy

With a taste for tropical fruit and a reputation as thieves, a herd of giraffes on a remote Philippine island is one of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos's most intriguing legacies.

The 20 giraffes, along with dozens of zebra and antelope, are descendants of a boatload of animals imported from Africa in the 1970s -- supposedly in a Noah's Ark-style effort to save them from extinction.

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U.S. Surgeons Separate Filipino Conjoined Twins

Twin 2-year-old girls who were joined at the chest and abdomen were separated Tuesday during a lengthy, complex procedure at Stanford University's children's hospital.

The operation that gave Philippines-born sisters Angelina and Angelica Sabuco their independence took more than nine hours and a team of more than 40 people.

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Cheers, Fears as World Welcomes 7 Billionth Baby

The world welcomed its symbolic seven billionth baby Monday amid a stark warning from U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon of the need to tackle inequality on a planet where almost a billion people go hungry.

"Our world is one of terrible contradictions," Ban told a press conference to mark the U.N. declaration that the world population has reached seven billion.

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10,000 Flee Fighting in Southern Philippines

About 10,000 people have fled their homes amid fighting between Muslim rebels and government forces in the southern Philippines, a civil defense official said Tuesday.

The displaced accounts for about one in seven residents of the towns of Payao, Alicia and Talusan on Mindanao Island, home of a decades-old Muslim insurgency, said provincial disaster monitoring Chief Adriano Fuego.

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Philippines Launches Air Strikes on Rebels after Death of 35 People

The Philippines on Monday launched its first air strikes in three years against Muslim separatist rebels in the restless south, after a series of attacks that left 35 people dead, the military said.

Two OV-10 attack planes bombed a remote village on the edge of Payao town on Mindanao island, where Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels have been entrenched since last week, army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said.

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Gold Prices Feed Fever on Philippine Mountain

As grime-covered men emerge from deep shafts on the Philippines' "golden mountain", Norie Palma eagerly prepares to haggle for her share of ore from the weary miners.

The former laundrywoman turned gold buyer directs the procession to her small milling shack amid grunts from the miners whose backs are stooped under the weight of their hauls from the dangerous honeycomb tunnels of Mount Diwata.

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