What if boat people were white?

Forget racism.

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This has got nothing to do with the colour of people’s skin. I am sick of talking about racism.  Let’s talk about gardening.  No one gets angry about gardening.

Let’s talk about spades.

Imagine a lot of white people holding spades. Millions of them. They are driven away by other people holding guns. Some kind of super-sized Zimbabwe. Desperate families trying to escape a war zone. White mothers trying to save their white kids from being killed. White fathers wanting to escape to a better life.

If boat people were white people, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being divisive. Our refugee policy has got nothing to do with race. I am accusing the government of racism. I am indulging in reverse racism. Our refugee policy is supported by people from all backgrounds. No one should be labelled a racist for doing their job.

If boat people had long blonde hair, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being provocative. I am advocating open borders. A flood of refugees will enter our country. Our way of life will be destroyed. People will die. Our current policy is saving lives. We have to be tough to be kind. We are already being kind.

If boat people had gorgeous blue eyes, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am playing the race card. I am introducing race into a debate that is really about law and politics and economics. This is not about the colour of refugees’ skin. Boat people are illegal. The law applies to all, regardless of religion, race or country of origin.

If boat people were white and Christian, we’d still lock them up. Right?

I am being emotional. My arguments are thin, I am dealing in hyperbole. The law is there for a reason. We must deter people from making dangerous journeys to enter our country illegally. We have the right to decide who comes into this country. We have a right to enforce our laws.

We really should talk about gardening. No one gets angry about gardening.

Imagine white men and women sewing up their lips. Blonde teenagers searching for sheets and rope. Pretty blue-eyed kids staring out from behind wire fences. Lots of would-be Australians who look exactly like most other lucky-to-born-here Australians.

I am stirring the pot. The law is the law. I am encouraging people to play the victim. I am over-simplifying. I have an agenda. I am playing the race card. People are always playing the race card.

If boat people were white people, we’d still lock them up. Right.

This is just my point of view. I am an armchair critic. This just another opinion piece that will never make any difference. I am not making a difference. You are not making a difference.

Let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about gardening.

A spade is a spade is a spade. You and I are both holding a spade and we are all digging this hole together. Let’s just not call it a spade, or a hole. Let’s not have the courage to call it anything.

Let’s just keep digging.

Shourov Bhattacharya is a technologist, writer and singer-composer with The Bombay Royale.

‘Naughty’ Hemsworth opens about childhood

Liam Hemsworth has revealed that he was a naughty kid who got thrown out of class in school.

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The Australian hunk has become one of the hottest names in Hollywood thanks to roles in big budget movies such as The Hunger Games franchise and The Expendables 2.

He’s also had a high-profile engagement to and subsequent split from pop tearaway Miley Cyrus.

Hemsworth says life now is a far a cry from his childhood growing up with brothers, and fellow actors, Chris and Luke in Melbourne, Australia.

“I was a naughty kid,” he tells British magazine Now.

Before making it big in Hollywood a 17-year-old Liam landed a role in the popular soap Neighbours, which also launched the careers of Guy Pearce, Kylie Minogue and Margot Robbie.

But his teenage fame was short lived and he ended up sanding floors before his Hollywood break came about.

“When I came back to school after Neighbours I just didn’t want to be there anymore. My head wasn’t in the same place and I knew I had to get out.

“I was the troublemaker in school, I got kicked out of class loads of times. So I left school and went on laying floors while I auditioned for parts,” he says.

It was 24-year-old Hemsworth’s older brother Chris who made it big in tinseltown first, which Liam says left him feeling deflated until he landed a role in 2010’s The Last Song.

“I was sitting in my manager’s house with Chris. He’d booked Thor and we were so happy for him. But at the same time I realised I’d probably have to go back home. I was devastated and I felt like an idiot for leaving Australia,” Hemsworth reminisces.

Freightways lifts profit in both units

Freightways says profit has grown three per cent in the first half with New Zealand’s largest listed courier and data management company lifting earnings in both its business units.

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Net profit was $NZ21.7 million ($A20.23 million) in the six months ended December 31, a record first-half result, from $NZ21m for the same period a year earlier, which included a one-time $NZ1m gain, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Sales grew six per cent to $NZ218m, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was up six per cent to $NZ42m.

The Auckland-based company, whose businesses include New Zealand Couriers, Post Haste Couriers and Fieldair, has been expanding its information management interests.

Last year, it acquired New Zealand document shredding companies Docushred and Document Destruction Services, as well as Advance Security Destruction Services and Document & Data Storage Management in Australia.

“Four acquisitions were completed during the latter stages of the half year that add scale to our existing operations and significantly expand our customer base,” Freightways said in a statement.

“All these acquisitions have migrated successfully and are, at this early stage, performing to expectations.”

In guidance given for the year ahead, the company reiterated that growth will continue but gave no specific detail other than the expectation that capital expenditure will be about $NZ16m to support that growth.

First-half capex was $NZ9m.

Data management services operating revenue grew three per cent to $NZ51m in the first half, with 13 per cent growth in New Zealand and three per cent in Australia. EBITDA climbed five per cent to $NZ12m.

The express package and business mail unit’s operating revenue was up seven per cent to $NZ168m, with EBITDA up six per cent to $NZ31m.

Freightways will pay an interim dividend of 10 NZ cents a share, up from nine NZ cents a year earlier.

‘Dons boss regrets self-reporting to AFL

Essendon chairman Paul Little has suggested the club got it wrong by self-reporting their supplements crisis to the AFL.

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As ASADA continue their investigation of the Bombers’ 2011-12 supplements program, Little said the club gave away too much control of how the process unfolded.

The scandal went public in February last year, when then Essendon chairman David Evans, chief executive Ian Robson and coach James Hird fronted the media.

They announced the AFL and ASADA would start a joint investigation of the supplements program.

The AFL hit the club with massive penalties last August, but the ASADA probe is ongoing.

“I have this view that maybe self-reporting didn’t work all that well for us,” Little told Triple M on Friday.

“We gave away all of our leverage.

“We gave away all of our own rights to control a situation.”

Little acknowledged that self-reporting meant various authorities had unfettered access to people within the club.

“(But) I just think it perhaps could have overly-complicated a process that didn’t need to be quite that complicated,” he said.

Little took over as chairman in August last year after Evans’ sudden resignation because of health problems.

Robson resigned over the scandal and Hird is serving a 12-month suspension as part of the AFL penalties.

Little said the Bombers accepted the AFL punishment, where the club was kicked out of last year’s finals.

“We accept we were guilty of some of the lesser charges … and we’ve copped that penalty,” he said.

“But in any situation, you’ve got to retain some sort of control over your own destiny.”

Little also said the Bombers are hopeful interim coach Mark Thompson will stay once Hird returns at the end of this season.

He said the decision is entirely Thompson’s and they will discuss it when the time is right.

Essendon also hope to announce their new permanent chief executive by June 30.

Little said interim chief operating officer Xavier Campbell would be a very strong candidate for the job.

Ryan set for return against Penrith

Sidelined throughout Cronulla’s disastrous start to the season, Beau Ryan is set to finally make his 2014 debut in Saturday’s clash with Penrith at Remondis Stadium.

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The 28-year-old winger hasn’t played this season due to a neck injury, but is poised to be rushed back into a Sharks side that sits at the bottom of the NRL ladder, with just one win from seven games.

Ryan was named on an extended bench by interim coach Peter Sharp, but if cleared will come into the starting side at the expense of Jonathan Wright, who has struggled on the flank this year.

Winger Sosaia Feki and centre Ricky Leutele will continue to combine on the Sharks’ left side.

Ryan’s inclusion will add some spice to what is sure to be a desperate battle, after Panthers playmaker Jamie Soward took umbrage at the part-time comedian’s depiction of him on Channel Nine’s Footy Show earlier this month.

Ryan has since apologised for the skit and has stopped airing it.

Meanwhile, Panthers prop Tim Grant says he is keen to put his contract dramas behind him and put in a big performance up front for Penrith.

Grant last week signed a four-year deal with South Sydney starting in 2015, but is keen to make an impact in his final season with his junior club.

“I have a lot of unfinished business here at Penrith,” Grant said.

“For me I’m really excited about moving onto South Sydney.

“(But) that contract is in the filing cabinet. I still feel lucky to be coming to training every day and to be pulling on a Panthers jersey.

“I’m just enjoying being here playing footy and looking to finish off with a big year here, starting with the Sharks this weekend.”

Prop Sam McKendry (ankle) remains sidelined with Grant to start in the front-row alongside Brent Kite, with Jeremy Latimore and Nigel Plum on the bench.

Cambridges join Aussies at dawn services

Australians and New Zealanders have shown they will not forget the Anzacs.

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One year out from the centenary of the Gallipoli landings, at least 150,000 attended dawn services in Australian capital cities, with thousands more at services in suburbs and towns and in New Zealand.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an unexpected appearance at the national dawn service at the Australian War Memorial and appeared touched by the Anzac tradition.

“I said to them it means a great deal to our nation that you should honour us by attending the dawn service,” AWM director Brendan Nelson told Sky News.

” … without hesitation they had an immense sense of pride in actually being here.

“But in the end … it’s not about the royals, it’s not about the governor-general … it’s about the men and women we honour.”

Prince William and Kate, who will return to the war memorial to attend the national service, were among the more than 35,000 who heard Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith urge Australians to remember those who have fought for their country.

“We are Australians, we are born of the Anzacs. We are the custodians and stewards of their spirit now and into the future. We must take good care of them,” Cpl Roberts-Smith said.”

Dr Nelson said it was a remarkable dawn service with an estimated 37,000 visitors.

“I am delighted with the number of people who came to the service. Anzac Day is Australia’s most significant national occasion, marking the 99th anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli,” he told reporters.

Dr Nelson said he would expect even more would attend the dawn service and national ceremony for next year’s 100th anniversary.

In Melbourne, an estimated 60,000 people gathered at the Shrine of Remembrance for the city’s dawn service.

Louise Percival went to the service for the first time wearing medals in honour of her grandfather, Gallipoli veteran Donald McKenzie.

“(It was) a very beautiful service,” she told AAP.

In Sydney, thousands of people crammed into Martin Place at dawn, with NSW Governor Marie Bashir pronouncing the Anzac Day Dedication.

In his address, retired lieutenant-general Ken Gillespie said the sacrifices made by diggers “will continue to influence our society and give us great courage for the future”.

At Adelaide’s war memorial, RSL spokesman Bill Denny told a crowd of more than 5000 that Anzac Day was about commemoration, not celebration.

“We must be very careful not to allow the oft-implied romance of war to overshadow the brutal reality, pain and loss that war delivers,” Mr Denny said.

In Brisbane, many in the crowd at Anzac Square attended for the first time, spurred by the coming 2015 centenary of the landing at Anzac Cove.

At Hobart’s dawn service, 6000 people were told Australia’s servicemen and women remained the heroes of a new generation.

“They provide today’s generation of people with heroes to look up to and inspire us to be selfless, honourable and to draw upon reserves of courage we never knew we had,” school student Jonah Lilley told the service.

Later on Friday, thousands more Australians and New Zealanders will attend the dawn service at Gallipoli, a prelude to major commemorations for next year’s centenary.

Smaller crowd falls silent at Gallipoli

This year’s Anzac Day at Gallipoli was billed as a dress rehearsal for the 2015 centenary, but a smaller-than-expected turnout made it a very intimate affair.

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Some 4400 mostly Australian and New Zealand pilgrims attended the North Beach dawn service 12 months out from the 100th anniversary when 10,500 people will be crammed on to the site.

The crowd on Friday was reminded that reverential silence on the often eerily quiet Turkish peninsula is a tribute to the diggers who died in 1915.

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson said the soldiers who landed at Anzac Cove 99 years ago were, by their own admission, ordinary men.

“They did not seek glory, nor did they want their actions to be glorified – for it was they who quickly came to know the true horror of war,” the minister said as the sun rose over the Gallipoli cliffs.

“That these ordinary men, however, did extraordinary things is beyond doubt.”

Senator Ronaldson said the Anzacs left a vanquished fighting force but “were victorious in helping forge the identity of our two new nations”.

“As the dawn of this new day breaks over the peninsula our tribute to the spirit of Anzac is a reverential silence,” he said.

Some 8700 Australians died during the eight-month campaign alongside 2700 New Zealanders.

It’s estimated up to 87,000 Turks lost their lives.

Young Australian Erinn Cooper camped out overnight to represent her father and grandfather at the dawn service.

The 22-year-old comes from a military family – her father served in East Timor and Iraq while her grandfather fought in World War II.

“It’s really mind-blowing to be here,” she said.

“Anzac Day is our biggest day of the year. It’s a really big thing in our family.”

Ms Cooper considered applying to attend in 2015 but decided the ballot process was too risky.

“Coming this year was something we could actually make happen.”

After the joint Australian and New Zealand dawn service Aussie pilgrims climbed up to the Lone Pine cemetery and memorial where in August 1915 Australia suffered its greatest casualties.

At the start of the service students read out epitaphs from some of the nearby headstones.

“How much of love and life and joy is buried with our darling boy,” one reads.

Another states: “Could I clasp your hand once more just to say well done.”

Senator Ronaldson noted that Australians and Turks at Lone Pine “battled just metres from one another in a desperate bid to take and hold this high ground”.

Organisers saw this year’s Anzac Day as a dry run for 2015 – hence an additional 3000 grandstand seats installed at Lone Pine went unused.

While the crowd will be much bigger next year it’s possible it will actually be more manageable as the event is ticketed.

Further, the pilgrims will be older on average because 1600 passes were set aside for direct descendants and veterans.

Australian authorities think it’s likely Prince Charles will attend the centenary service in Gallipoli although his spokeswoman has told AAP it is “too early to say”.

Anzacs remembered fondly in France

Anzac Day pilgrims have again turned out in force in northern France in a further sign of the growing understanding and appreciation of Australia’s contribution on the Western Front.

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Australians young and old stood side-by-side with French locals on Friday at a moving dawn service at the Australian National Memorial on the outskirts of Villers-Bretonneux.

Villers-Bretonneux is the site of one of Australia’s great victories of World War I, but the nation suffered heavy losses on the Western Front, with 46,000 of the 295,000 who served there never making it home.

The battle of Villers-Bretonneux marked a key turning point in the war when the Australians stopped the German forces advancing toward Paris.

But their success came at a heavy cost. More than 1,500 were killed or wounded in the battle, which began on the night of April 24, 1918, and ended on Anzac Day.

Many of those who died fighting on the Western Front have never been found and 10,764 names are etched on the Australian memorial’s stone walls honouring the lost.

Angie and Stephen Connelly, from Lennox Head in NSW, went to the service because Angie’s great uncle, Hubert O’Neill, is one of those listed.

“There was a fair investment here (the Western Front) in terms of lives it’s great that so many people are coming here to have a look and remember,” Mr Connelly said.

Katrina Moane’s grandfather, Frederick Marks, survived three years at Flanders in Belgium and at the Somme during World War II.

Along with her husband, Stuart, she was attending her first dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux. The Newcastle couple have visited many Western Front battlefields.

“That’s one of the major reasons we’re here, plus we go to an Anzac Day ceremony every year,” Mr Moane said.

The event has grown steadily in popularity since it was first held in 2008, with officials saying 4500 people attended this year’s service – believed to be a record turnout.

The head of the Villers-Bretonneux ceremony, Major-General David Chalmers, predicted earlier this week it would become Australia’s most significant national service beyond next year’s centenary commemorations in Gallipoli.

As dawn broke on Friday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told those gathered the brave efforts of diggers on the Western Front helped make the country what it is today.

“The war was no less than the crucible that forged modern Australia,” she said.

Ms Bishop said the turnout in the remote French location showed a broadening of Australia’s WWI focus, particularly among young people.

“The crowds here today are clearly conscious of the sacrifices that were made here at Villers-Bretonneux and other places on the Western Front,” Ms Bishop said.

“It’s become somewhat of a pilgrimage for young people to go to Gallipoli but I think Villers-Bretonneux, Bullecourt and other places on the Western Front might likewise become those sacred places that attract young Australians.”

Watson’s two-iron comes out of the locker

It will get an outing this week though as the twice Masters champion prepares to use every tool at his disposal to solve the riddles of links golf that have so far proved beyond his skills.

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With it’s undulating fairways, deep fairway bunkers, sculking hollows and fresh sea breezes, the Royal Liverpool course could not be more different to the manicured Augusta layout the big-hitting Watson conquered again this year.

Low ball flight and imagination will be key factors around the 7,300 yard layout alongside the Dee estuary, which is why Watson has added an otherwise redundant club to his bag.

“I’ve played the last couple of days with it and I’ve hit it pretty decent,” left-hander Watson, whose best finish at the British Open was 23rd in 2012, told reporters.

“Now, on the pressure of the tournament, it might not feel the same. I haven’t used it all year until this week. But it feels good right now.”

Despite struggling to adapt his game to the British links course, fan favourite Watson, who launches balls with mind-boggling power with his trademark pink-shafted driver, is a keen student and says watching compatriot Phil Mickelson storm to victory at Muirfield last year was a motivation.

“Watching Phil win for the first time, seeing Rickie Fowler play pretty good the last couple of years, it’s inspiring,” Watson, who is an 80-1 shot with some bookmakers, said.

“But because I’m inspired doesn’t mean I’m going to hit good shots. But I’m going to give it my best shot.

“I love the creativity this kind of golf provides,” he added. “I haven’t been successful at it yet, but hopefully over the next few years I can get better at it.”

Watson will be in good company if he wants to pick up some tricks on Thursday and Friday after being paired with Mickelson and another former winner, South Africa’s Ernie Els.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Google agrees contact lens deal

A smart contact lens that can monitor the glucose levels in the eye is a step closer to reality as Google has announced a partnership with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to develop it.

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The technology giant first unveiled the concept in January, which works using tiny sensors and microchips fitted into contact lenses that can then measure and read the amount of glucose in tears, before sending the information to a mobile device so diabetics can manage their condition.

“Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturisation of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said.

“We are very excited to work with Novartis to make this dream come true.”

The move will see Novartis’ eye care division, Alcon, which develops contact lenses, work with Google on making the technology commercially available in the future.

The announcement is the latest in a string of futuristic projects that Google has undertaken over the last year. The company has launched Google Glass, its wearable headset that has its own range of apps that work within the wearer’s field of vision, and has also begun trialling driverless cars on the streets close to Google headquarters in California.

All of these projects come from the Google X lab, the company’s infamous creative space where staff are encouraged to come up with “moonshot” ideas for new ventures.

“We are looking forward to working with Google to bring together their advanced technology and our extensive knowledge of biology to meet unmet medical needs,” Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez said.

“This is a key step for us to go beyond the confines of traditional disease management, starting with the eye.”

In a statement, the Swiss company said their focus would be on two areas of the technology, to help diabetic patients manage their condition, but also to offer some vision correction to those who are short-sighted.

“For people living with presbyopia who can no longer read without glasses, the “smart lens” has the potential to provide accommodative vision correction to help restore the eye’s natural autofocus on near objects in the form of an accommodative contact lens or intraocular lens as part of the refractive cataract treatment,” said a Novartis spokesman.

Neither company has placed a time frame on the development of the lenses, with Novartis stressing that there were no guarantees a commercial product would ever be launched, and that more development was needed on both sides.

JPMorgan’s second-quarter net income falls

JPMorgan Chase, the US’ largest bank by assets, says its second-quarter earnings fell 9 per cent as revenue at its investment banking and mortgage businesses dropped.

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The bank’s net income totalled $US5.6 billion ($A6 billion) in the quarter after payments to preferred shareholders. That was down from net income of $US6.1 billion in the same period last year.

Earnings amounted to $US1.46 per share, compared with $US1.60 a year earlier.

The bank beat the forecasts of analysts polled by FactSet, who predicted earnings of $US1.29 a share.

Revenue in the quarter fell 3 per cent to $US24.5 billion, which analysts had forecast $US23.7 billion for the period.

The earnings are the first since JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon disclosed at the start of this month that he was battling throat cancer.

Dimon, 58, said he plans to remain on the job and be actively involved in key decisions while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Dimon told reporters on a conference call that JPMorgan’s board would be continually briefed on his condition and would make any announcements if there were any material changes.

“I’m hoping the next time I talk about this at all, it will be in about eight weeks and I’ll tell you (the treatment) is complete and the prognosis is still very good,” Dimon said.

The bank’s fixed income and stock trading revenue fell 14 per cent to $US4.65 billion from $US5.37 billion in the same period a year ago.

While that was a big drop, the bank said in a regulatory statement May 2 that it was expecting trading revenue to decline by about 20 per cent in the period.

Dimon said that the bank saw “encouraging signs” of a pick-up in business across some of its units, including the markets division of investment banking.

JPMorgan’s stock rose $US2.09, or 3.7 per cent, to $US58.40.

Like Chicago and Sinatra, Hoylake’s McDowell’s kind of town

The biggest tournaments these days often play into the hands of the long hitters but the Royal Liverpool Golf Club is an exception, as evidenced in 2006 when Tiger Woods shunned his driver on the way to a two-stroke victory.

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“I’m one of the short knockers here,” McDowell told reporters at Hoylake on Tuesday. “But is distance going to be an advantage around this golf course? I don’t think so, no.

“Certainly my game plan is…to place the ball in those kind of areas where the course forces you.

“I don’t walk on to this course and kind of sigh and say, ‘Here we go again, this is 330-yard distance, paradise’,” said McDowell who won this month’s French Open in Versailles.

“Look at the way Tiger won here in 2006. He can dominate with length but he didn’t have to. It asks you to play a game of chess more than anything – this is my kind of golf course.”

McDowell’s 2010 U.S. Open victory catapulted him up the world rankings and his recent Ryder Cup performances have rubber-stamped his status as one of the most reliable players in the modern era.

The British Open, though, is the one major championship he is itching to win.

“I feel like I’m ready to kick on to the next chapter in my career and compete and win more major championships,” said the world number 17.

“I certainly don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. The green jacket is probably neck and neck with the Claret Jug but this is the one where I feel like I have the game to win as opposed to the U.S. Masters.

“The Open championship is a special one. Augusta has that same kind of mystique and tradition as well because of the venue and what it creates,” added the 34-year-old Northern Irishman.

“But the Open seems to maintain that mystique as it goes around to various courses. I’d give my left arm for the Claret Jug – that would be the end of my career but it would be a nice way to go.”

(Editing by Tony Goodson)

Typhoon pounds Philippines; three missing

Tens of thousands of people in the Philippines have hunkered down in evacuation centres while three people have been reported missing as a typhoon pounds its eastern coast amid warnings of giant storm surges and heavy floods.

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The eye of Typhoon Rammasun struck Legazpi city in the eastern Bicol region in the early evening of Tuesday, with Manila and other heavily populated regions expecting to be hit on Wednesday afternoon, the state weather service said.

“Roofing sheets are flying off the tops of houses here… the wind is whistling,” Joey Salceda, the governor of Albay province in Bicol said over ABS-CBN television.

He said there had been no reports of deaths while damage to the region – an impoverished farming and fishing region of 5.4 million people – was expected to be “moderate”.

However, Bicol police said three local men were listed as missing off the island of Catanduanes on Tuesday, a day after they pushed out to sea to fish and failed to return.

The Philippines is hit by about 20 major storms a year, many of them deadly. The Southeast Asian archipelago is often the first major landmass to be struck after storm build above the warm Pacific Ocean waters.

In November Super Typhoon Haiyan unleashed giant seven-metre high storm surges that devastated the coasts of the eastern islands of Samar and Leyte, killing up to 7300 people in one of the nation’s worst-ever natural disasters.

More than 96,000 families were moved to evacuation centres Tuesday as a precaution, Social Welfare Minister Corazon Soliman said.

The government declared a school holiday for areas in the typhoon’s path, while ferry services were also shut down and dozens of flights cancelled.