1. DOH: Hospital and medicine bills will be free for poor Pinoys next year This was the announcement made by Department of Health (DOH) secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial last Saturday during her visit to the Integrated Provincial Hospital Office (IPHO) in Maguindanao. In a report by the International Business Times (IBT), DOH will cover the "hospitalization expenses of the poor, jobless and elderly seeking medical assistance" by 2017, even without a PhilHealth card as long as one provides proof of Philippine citizenship. DOH will now be able to offer free hospitalization and medicines (there are still no details of who qualifies, what the free hospitalization includes or the medicines covered under this health program) because of an increase of funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), which also paid the "arrears of P32 billion from the P43 billion deficits of PhilHealth." According IBT, Sec. Ubial said the accumulated arrears were the collected contribution from government employees that were not paid to PhilHealth in the past five years. IBT also quoted Ubial as saying that some senators (not named in the report) will provide additional medicine subsidy of "one billion to two billion pesos," and "President Rodrigo Duterte included another five billion pesos collected from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to cover additional maintenance drugs for poor patients." Ubial stated that she was acting upon the orders of Duterte who she quoted as telling her, “Just take care of the poor, I’ll take care where to find the money.” (ibtimes.ph)
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2. Anne Curtis and Erwan Heussaff are engaged!
The weekend's biggest news actually happened last November! The couple flew to New York last November 7 for a road trip that saw Anne ran her first ever full marathon in New York City. The couple documented the trip, which ended in Steep Rock Preserve, Washington Depot, Connecticut, where Erwan asked for the 31-year-old Kapamilya star's hand in marriage (watch towards the end of the video for the proposal). Many have been hoping that Anne and Erwan, who have been together for five years, would be next after friends like Georgina Wilson, Solenn Heussaff (Erwan's sister), and Isabelle Daza have tied the knot. Congratulations! (pep.ph)
3. Cai Cortez continues to promote film even if she is due to give birth any day now
As of this writing, the sexy comedienne is already past her due date (December 15), but she's still promoting her film Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2: #Forever is Not Enough, an official entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival this year. "I can give birth any day now. Pero okey pa rin ako. Mabuti raw sa tulad ko na naglalakad-lakad. Kaya habang wala pa at nasa tiyan pa siya, promote lang tayo dahil ang ganda ng movie namin at ayokong hindi ako makasama sa pag-promote nito," Cai told Pep.ph. She's still not sure how long she'll be taking a break when she and her husband Wissam Rkhami finally welcome their first child, a baby boy. Her latest post on Instagram is a selfie while lying on a hospital bed, but she clarified in the comments section that she only did some tests and is not yet giving birth. (pep.ph)
4. Robin Padilla posts first "family photo"
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While the actor waits for his U.S. visa, he is settling for the power of technology. "Mukha naman natuwa si Maria Isabella sa first family picture namin. Nothing is impossible with the creator! Thank you my only God for the blessing of technology," Robin wrote as caption on their first "family photo" he posted on Instagram. Mariel gave birth in the U.S. last November 14. To mark Maria Isabella's one-month milestone, Mariel posted on Instagram, "My angel is now 21 inches, 7.5lbs and a month old!!!! I love you so much Isabella." (pep.ph)
5. In photos: Ara Mina's daughter Mandy's 2nd birthday!
Ara Mina and Patrick Meneses celebrated the second birthday of their daughter Amanda Gabrielle, aka Baby Mandy, last December 17, at the Andrea North Tower Clubhouse in One Balete Drive, Quezon City. The Little Mermaid-themed party was evident in the under-the-sea decor at the venue. Some of the celebrities who attended the party were Ara's sisters Heidi and daughter Alison, Cristine Reyes with husband Ali Khatibi and daughter Amarah, LJ Moreno and kids, Patricia Javier with husband and kids, Rochelle Barrameda with her baby, Say Alonzo with husband Ryan Tordesillas and son Asher, and more. Mandy sure looks like she had fun at her party! Happy birthday! (pep.ph)