Thursday, August 17, 2017

Diamonds are forever?

"There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self."
--Benjamin Franklin

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Before my father died in 1976, he brought me to a popular moviehouse on J.M. Basa St. in Iloilo City, Philippines to watch "Diamonds Are Forever", a James Bond film starring Sean Connery.
The film was about the disappearance of large shipments of uncut diamonds during transit which failed to reappear on the international market.
The suspicious British Government dispatched James Bond to investigate the mystery, but the talented and good-looking agent codenamed 007 was reluctant to do the task  thinking it was a simple case of smuggling.
When a lead pointed to the involvement of 007's arch nemesis, Blofeld, Bond became desperate to uncover his plans and to avenge the death of his wife, Tracy.
I fully understood the story some 20 years later when I repeatedly watched the film again on VCD as adult.
As a kid, I didn't know what was a diamond and why it's the most expensive jewel in the universe; why it's the most popular stone for an engagement ring.


Diamond's sparkle was supposed to have originated in the "fires of love," so wearing this gem meant love and faithfulness, according to Scholastic writers Julie Forsyth Batchelor and Claudia De Lys.
Diamonds were reportedly first known in the Far East.
During the Middle Ages pretty women wore the jewel about their faces, for it was believed this would divert the Evil Eye from their beauty.
The diamond was sometimes imbedded in one nostril or ear lobe. Or a woman might reportedly wear this "third eye" dangling over her forehead from strings attached to her hair.
A superstition began that very large stones brought bad luck while diamons were generally considered good luck.
The world's most famous diamonds reportedly have had a long history of theft, intrigue, loss of life and other disasters.
"The facts strengthened the belief in the minds of the superstitious that large diamonds bring misfortune to their owners," according to De Lys and Batchelor in Superstitious? Here's Why.


An interesting notion, popular during the Middle Ages, was that two diamonds can produce a third. It reportedly became the custom to set two stones in a ring with the hope that they would bring forth another.
The diamond engagement ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand nowadays.
This custom reportedly came from two popular superstitions. The ancient believed the heart to be the center of emotions, especially love, and that it was on the left side of the body.
The fourth finger of the left hand was thought was thought by the Egyptians to have a vein running directly to the heart.
Many people feel nowadays that a diamond can never wear out. Yet stones used to make fine glass engravings are worn out in six or eight weeks.
It is the truth though, and not a superstition, that "only a diamond can cut a diamond."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Opinion)

The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours.

Opinions don't necessarily translate into problems as long as we don't suppress them and let them flow freely in a democratic platform. Negative or positive, opinions are healthy and will make us strong especially if we are open-minded and aren't onion-skinned.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why they jump ship

"Honor is not the exclusive property of any political party."
--Herbert Hoover

By Alex P. Vidal

-- When Marcos fell in 1986, many Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) stalwarts jumped ship and were "rescued" by the late former Vice President Doy Laurel's United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO).
Some opted to stay behind the "defrocked" party particularly the "Marcos loyalists" hoping for the strongman's political resurrection which fizzled out with his death in 1989.
When Mrs. Aquino took over and became estranged with Laurel, many of them abandoned UNIDO and embraced PDP-Laban, Tita Cory's official party until 2009.
When FVR reigned supreme in 1992, these unprincipled minions hastily formed a beeline to the new ruling Lakas-NUCD party.


Then came Erap. From KBL, UNIDO, and PDP-Laban, these political grutnols and druggles "fled" like refugees to Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Everyone knows what happened next when Ate Gloria took over: the balimbings, bereft of principle, were again in mad scramble to take oath this time as KAMPI members.
When P-Noy became president, the political pendulum abruptly tilted to the Liberal Party (LP)'s favor in a mass exodus that could dwarf the myth of Israel.
Under the new dispensation, some LP members did not only forsake the party that helped enrich many of them through "pork barrel", they also burned their bridges swearing allegiance not only to President Duterte's PDP-Laban, but to many of the hard-hitting former mayor of Davao City's programs that didn't sit well with their previous political party.
The mass exodus from LP to PDP-Laban appears to be "only the beginning."
Duterte's political party is expected to make a major sweep of the remnants of LP and other coalition parties once his pet program, federalism, takes the center stage.
What does the changing of political bandwagon from one disintegrating political party to another ruling party indicate?


It's neither a sign of renaissance nor headway. It's pure and simple opportunism.
Philippine politicians fight for survival and can't afford to stay away from the political party of those in power like President Duterte.
Many of these politicians have pending graft and corruption cases in courts. Some of them are engaged in protection racket.
Illegal loggers, smugglers, gambling and drug lords financed some of these politicians during elections. If the sitting president will lower the boom, they will find their way to the doldrums like tottering fools.
If they are "outside the kulambo", so to speak, when the new administration beckons, there are strong chances that their slumbering cases will be expedited; and they might end up snoring in the calaboose.
We will wait when Mr. Duterte makes an exit from the Malacanang and another president will occupy the presidency.
We will surely see the same political merry-go-round similar to what we are seeing today. That's the reality of politics--only in the Philippines.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


By Alex P. Vidal

1.  The Philippines won its first Olympic Games gold medal in which year and city?

a. 1992, Barcelona
b. 1928, Amsterdam
c. 1988, Seoul
d. None of the above

2.  Friday Camaclang is a member of which Philippine sports team?

a. Dragon Boat Race Team
b. Fencing Team
c. Soccer Team
d. Chess Team

3. In 2012, former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Hall of Famer Billy Ray Bates of Crispa Redmanizer was arrested in Quezon City for what offense?

a. Non-payment of taxes
b. Throwing a rock at a Mercedez Benz
c. Punching a prostitute in a Pasig motel
d. Drunk driving

4. He is considered as one of the most famous Filipino golfers of all time and has been awarded the Philippine Athlete of the Year twice. He has played constantly on the Asian tour for many seasons, winning a number of titles and has also played at the British Open and the U.S. PGA Tour.

a. Ramon Brobio
b. Franki Minoza
c. Ben Arda
d. Gerard Cantada

5. Who was the first Filipino professional boxer to fight in the United States?

a. Elino Flores
b. Pancho Villa
c. Small Montana
d. Little Dado

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Ilonggos in Guam unfazed by Nokor threat

"America must be a light to the world, not just a missile."
--Nancy Pelosi

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Families of Ilonggos living in Guam have expressed serious concern after it was reported that North Korea has threatened to launch missles in that US territory located roughly 2,500 kilometers from Manila, Philippines.
"I worry a lot for my uncles, my sisters and their families," remarked Lourdes Saloma-Buck of Bridgeport, Connecticut. "Where will they seek refuge just in case North Korea attacks Guam?"
Saloma-Buck, 57, grew up in Iloilo City, Philippines. She has relatives in Guam's major cities of Dededo, Agana Heights, Talofofo, Yona, and Agat.
She said some of them also fear for their safety but are adamant to leave Guam, with a population of a little more than 162,000 "unless extremely necessary."
She has been in constant contact with relatives ever since news broke out that Pyongyang has threatened to attack Guam, a Pacific island, as it is at loggerheads with the US over Nokor's nuclear missile programs.
Cynthia Jaen of Brooklyn said her relatives in Santa Rita, Guam are unfazed.


Jaen, who grew up in Buntatala, Leganes, Iloilo and had also stayed for several years in Guam, said "Ilonggos in Santa Rita are confident President Donald Trump won't allow any untoward incident to occur in Guam where the president has large followers."
"It's normal to fear for their safety but they aren't panicky," Jaen explained. "They continue to monitor the developments on TV and internet and are confident Washington will be able to handle the situation properly."
Ilonggos from Iloilo City in the Philippines comprise the largest community in Guam, according to lawyer Pascual "Junie" Espinosa, Jr.
Espinosa's late father, Rep. Pascual "Pat" Sr., was chiefly responsible for bringing the first batches of Ilonggo workers to Guam, destined to become the largest US military base west of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii after World War II.
A years after V-J Day, a number of significant changes occurred to the war-torn.
The highest priority was to reconstruct Guam as a strategic forward base to monitor Asian decolonization. In February 1946, the Construction Contracts Marianas, a military office designated to construct all military facilities in the Marianas, was created as a joint venture with civilian construction companies, according Guampedia's "Filipino Migration to Guam 1945--1975".


It added: "In addition to constructing the Apra Harbor breakwater, their task was reportedly to provide engineering services for basic infrastructure needs (water, power, road systems, and healthcare) and to rebuild the island’s capital.
"To resolve what the military believed to be a chronic shortage of labor, the US Embassy in Manila and the newly independent government of the Republic of the Philippines in May 1947 negotiated an agreement for “the recruitment and employment of Philippine citizens by the US military forces and its contractors in the Pacific, including Guam.”
"Following the 1947 agreement, Brown-Pacific-Maxon Construction Company (BPM) and Luzon Stevedoring Corporation (Luzdelco) were authorized to import Filipino labor from Manila and its surrounding provinces to provide support construction services for Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam.
"The Guam Naval Supply Depot permitted the Marianas Stevedoring and Development Company (Masdelco) to contract employment from Iloilo and other Visayan islands of the central Philippines.
"Masdelco was a subsidiary of Luzdelco and based in the Agat-Santa Rita area of southern Guam. The initial bulk of Filipino laborers were recruited from Iloilo.
"All had to undergo rigorous clearance and background checks by the US Navy and Federal Bureau of Investigation before being admitted to Guam on a one-year labor contract subject to renewal for up to three years."

Let the soul of NIR go

"There's a victory in letting go of your expectations."
--Mike White
By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- At the Diagnostic Clinic of the Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens on August 9, I declined the request of Dr. June Chatterjee for me to undergo HIV testing.
At first, I did not object thinking it was part of the clinic's random examination.
The medical staff showed to me Dr. Chatterjee's referral letter with a note, "Patient advised HIV testing to be done and did not object: Yes".
She did not complain when I invoked my right not to undergo such examination.
My appointment in the hospital was for laboratory examination arranged by Dr. Selina Zaman two weeks ago.
Two of the four other patients Dr. Chatterjee had examined before me probably came in the clinic for HIV testing. She must've thought I also came for that purpose.


The Negros Island Region (NIR) in the Philippine is now a thing of the past.
There's nothing dyed-in-the-wool proponents can do now to bring it back to life.
There's no use crying over a spilled milk. Life must go on for the living. Let go of the NIR's soul.
It was President Noynoy's E.O. that created it, and Pres. Digong's E.O. that killed it. A tit for a tat.
Since Congress was not involved in NIR's inception in the previous administration, there was no knee-jerk furor when the present administration banished it.
Palace had been firm in its decision to reject NIR: it's "too costly" and "unnecessary" especially when the proposed federalism would be in full swing.
The projected P19-billion that would have been wasted to sustain NIR could now be used to finance some of the administration's projects in social, health, infrastructure, and education sectors.
Whether Negros is divided into two provinces doesn't bother some ordinary Negrenses, at all.
"New technology," according to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, will enable the speedy provision of government services to these provinces.
The people's primary concern is to eke out a decent living, bring home food on the table and make sure their families won't starve.


Mayor Geffrey Alonsabe of Alimodian, Iloilo told Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol during a recent press conference in Iloilo City that he did not know that the persons using the name of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and who approached him and "sold" farm-to-market roads (FMR) were scammers.
According to Alonsabe, "without his knowledge", the scammers arranged the contractors. He reportedly learned lately that the scammers demanded 10 percent of P100-million project.
"Nag-initial sila ng one million, then, lately gusto nila pa-dungangan sang five percent kay i-release na kuno ang pondo,” The Daily Guardian reporter Maricyn A. De Los Santos quoted Alonsabe as saying.
Pinol surmised Alonsabe and other mayors who may have fallen prey to the anomaly had been duped.
But how come Alonsabe failed to identify anyone of the alleged FMR scammers?
Can a municipal mayor start to discuss projects worth millions of pesos to a person or group of persons he doesn't know from Adam?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

When infidelity rocks the boat

"It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."
--Thomas Paine

By Alex P. Vidal

-- A woman politician in Iloilo in the Philippines once threatened to sue her philandering husband, also a prominent politician, after she discovered he emptied one of their joint bank accounts to support his younger inamorata.
She even "shamed" the husband in a speech attended by prominent national officials in a convention hosted by her municipality.
Luckily, the husband was not around; but the rather corrosive speech, thunderously delivered in a blind item to intentionally whack him, was understood by almost everyone present, including their politician children who were also present.
The court battle did not materialize when cooler heads warned the woman politician of the legal tiff's possible ugly consequences to their careers as politicians.
The male politician "survived" the wife's foiled vendetta but their children have refused to support the male politician's bid for a political comeback.
The inamorata, who lives in a town near Iloilo City and who used to stay in a budget city hotel to avoid the wife's wrath, now owns a house--and a "fat" bank account, sources said.


What happened to the estranged Bautista couple in Manila has also happened--and is happening--to other couples.
The only difference is the estranged husband holds a very sensitive government position, thus the estranged wife's allegations become an earthshaking event.
If she can prove in a competent court that her estranged husband is corrupt and concealing ill-gotten wealth, by all means the husband has to relinquish his post and face charges.
If she can't produce a paper trail or at least a morsel of evidence to back her allegations, people will think that the estranged husband's claim of extortion is true.
It will boil down to battle of evidence.
All other side issues related to the un-couple's spat will become immaterial in as far as public interest is concerned.


Another prominent husband was in danger of falling in public disgrace after his extra-marital affair with a vice mayor was unearthed in one town in the fourth district of Iloilo; but his wife, also a politician, stood by her man instead of washing his dirty linens in public.
As a result of her "act of martyrdom", people in their town gifted her with an overwhelming win in a mayoral contest. She went on to win a seat in the provincial level and completed her term with flying colors.
Her philandering husband never won back the top position in their municipality. She accepted him back in their marital domain and let bygones be bygones for the sake of the husband's illegitimate child.