Monday, February 19, 2018

Ordinance ‘prohibits’ demolition of Iloilo Freedom Grandstand

“Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.”
 --Niccolo Machiavelli

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- Is it lawful to demolish the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand?
What if there is an existing ordinance that “protects” it from destruction?
Can a superior law or executive fiat supersede an existing regulation ordinance?
Under Section 5 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Iloilo City Downtown Central Business District (CBD) Heritage Zone, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is listed as among the nine plazas/monuments.
The eight others are: Plaza Libertad, Maria Clara, Plazoleta Gay, Molo, Arevalo, Jaro, La Paz, and Mandurriao.
Chapter II Section 8 on the General Prohibitions and Standards, states that demolition, repair, renovation, restoration, construction of any building or structure or without prior consultation, clearance, and approval of Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council (ICCHCC) “shall not in any circumstances, be allowed within the Downtown Heritage Zone.”
The Implementing Rules and Regulations Section 5 also identified J.M. Basa St. and Iznart St. as the heritage zone’s “major streets” and Aldeguer St., Arsenal St., Guanco St., Plaza Libertad, Rizal St., Arroyo St., and Mapa St. as “minor streets.”
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand currently stands on J.M. Basa Street.

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The implementing rules and regulations is contained in Regulation Ordinance No. 00-054, as amended, otherwise known as the “Local Cultural Heritage Conservation Ordinance of Iloilo City” passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod “in order to conserve cultural heritage and legacy buildings in the City of Iloilo through the creation of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council.”
On October 21, 2009, then Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Trenas signed the Executive Order no. 46 series of 2009 “directing the implementation of Regulation Ordinance No. 00-054, as amended, and its implementing rules and regulations.”
Everything, including the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, which is part of our tangible past, remains to be an asset until we prove it otherwise.

Friday, February 16, 2018

‘Sexiest primate alive’

"At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty a nothing at all."
--BALTASAR GRACIAN

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- It is the book that makes some of us feel embarrassed about our animal selves.
When Bolivian guerrilla leader Che Guevara was captured and when The Beatles released the album "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band", it rolled off the press.
Desmond Morris' sensational worldwide bestseller, The Naked Ape, has been described by Saturday Review as "a startlingly novel idea, brilliantly executed."
Formerly the Curator of mammals at London Zoo, Morris admitted that in dealing with the fundamental problems of the naked ape, he ran the risk of offending a number of people.
"There are some who will prefer not to contemplate their animal selves. They may consider that I have degraded our species by discussing it in crude animal terms," wrote Morris.
"I can only assure them that this is not my intention. There are others who will resent any zoological invasion of their specialist arena. But I believe that this approach can be of great value and that, whatever its shortcomings, it will throw now (and in some ways unexpected) light on the complex nature if our extraordinary species."

SCIENCE

Morris explained that his book was intended to popularize and demystify science.
"There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes," Morris alleged. "One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. The unusual and highly successful species spends a great deal of time examining his higher motives and an equal amount of time studiously ignoring his fundamental ones. He is proud that he has the biggest brain of all the primates, but attempts to conceal the fact that he also has the biggest penis, preferring to accord this honor falsely to the mighty gorilla. He is an intensely vocal, acutely exploratory, over-crowded ape, and it is high time we examined his basic behavior."
"To read Desmond Morris on the sex habits of the naked ape is disconcerting, to say the least" observed the Saturday Review. "Here the detail is specific and clinical...and the naked ape comes out of it looking very animal indeed...you read on with the mixture of discovery and embarrassment...an enlightening, entertaining, disturbing, discomforting, ego-shrinking experience."

CREATURE

The book tells about man as "a creature who can write immortal poetry, raise giant cities, aim for the stars, build an atomic bomb--but he is also an animal, a relative of the apes--a naked ape, in fact."
The Naked Ape, serialized in the Daily Mirror newspaper and has been translated into 23 languages, depicts human behavior as largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer (see nature versus nurture). The book was so named because out of 193 species of monkeys and apes only man is not covered in hair.
Morris made a number of claims in the book naming man as "the sexiest primate alive".
He further claimed that our fleshy ear-lobes, which are unique to humans, are erogenous zones, the stimulation of which can cause orgasm in both males and females.
Morris further stated that the more rounded shape of human female breasts means they are mainly a sexual signaling device rather than simply for providing milk for infants.

EVOLUTION

He also attempted to frame human behavior in the context of evolution, but his explanations failed to convince academics because they were based on a teleological (goal-oriented) understanding of evolution.
For example, Morris wrote that the intense human pair bond evolved so that men who were out hunting could trust that their mates back home were not having sex with other men, and that sparse body hair evolved because the "nakedness" helped intensify pair bonding by increasing tactile pleasure.
Morris criticized some psychiatrists and psycho-analysts that "have stayed nearer home and have concentrated on clinical studies of mainstream specimens. Much of their earlier material, although not suffering from the weakness of the anthropological information, also has an unfortunate bias."
Sexually the naked ape finds himself today in a somewhat confusing situation, Morris explained. 
He stressed: "As a primate he is pulled one way, as a carnivore by adoption he is pulled another, and as a member of an elaborate civilized community he is pulled yet another."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Is ‘Bugok’ coming back?

“To admit you want to have a comeback means you have to admit you weren't what you were supposed to be. You dropped below your own standard.”
-- Marilyn Manson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- If luck would have it, 74-year-old Vicente “Bugok” Ramirez, former mayor of Lambunao, Iloilo in the Philippines, might recapture the municipal hall in 2019.
In the first two months of 2018, Ramirez’s political camp has scored a mind-blowing “triple whammy” against the formidable Gonzales political hierarchy.
In January, the Ombudsman suspended Vice Mayor Cesar Gonzales and fined former mayor Reynor Gonzales for receiving transportation allowance despite using government vehicles.
Both Gonzaleses were Ramirez’s tormentors: Cesar beat him for vice mayor in 2016 and Reynor whipped him for mayor in the previous elections.
In February, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division disqualified Mayor Jason Gonzales for failing to meet the one-year residency requirement.
The ousted mayor is former mayor Reynor’s son.

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Before the Gonzaleses reigned supreme in Lambunao politics, Ramirez was the town’s sensational and veritable political kingpin.
In fact, he was Lambunao’s longest-serving chief executive until Reynor, a former police general, defrocked him and ended the myth Ramirez had established for a long period of time.
Ramirez’s political supremacy was never the same again after the Reynor Gonzales debacle.
In the succeeding elections thereafter, he could not win anymore against any Gonzales in a one-on-one duel.
Ramirez went back to farming when he sensed politics could no longer put him back in the totem pole of political demigods.
Mayor Jason Gonzales has appealed the Comelec verdict, but the issue has put a dent on their family’s political invincibility in one way or the other.
Even if Mayor Gonzales can win his appeal, the specter of disqualification case will continue to haunt him for the rest of his incumbency.
The recent turn of events has sparked renewed interests among Ramirez’s followers to toy with the idea of reviving his mothballed political career suspecting that the Gonzaleses are now limping.

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SOME jaded politicians who are using the social media to hit back at their critics are wasting their time and are only doing themselves more harm as a result.
When they panic and rant in social media when their attention is being called over a certain subject matter with social relevance and public interest, they expose themselves as cry babies and not worthy of the position they hold.
When they are being criticized they must welcome it and even thank their critics; that means they are doing their job.
If nobody has noticed them that means they are useless and non-performers; if nobody has criticized them that means they have not made an impact on the community that they serve.
Only immature and onion-skinned public officials cannot appreciate the wisdom of constructive criticism.

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I empathize with Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, son of the late Sen. Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon, one of the original pillars of the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
He appeared to be the lone voice in the wilderness as he sobbed in their regular session a week ago while appealing to delay the grandstand’s demolition until its new location has been constructed.
Vice Mayor Ganzon probably did not want even King Kong and Godzilla to touch the grandstand with a ten-foot pole if only to preserve the memory of his illustrious father.
Even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has noted that the cultural heritage and the natural heritage are increasingly threatened with destruction not only by the traditional causes of decay, but also by changing social and economic conditions which aggravate the situation even more.   

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sleeping cops shouldn’t be shamed

“Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.”
--Stephen Covey

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- I agree that some cops in the Philippines caught sleeping while on duty be meted with disciplinary action, but I don’t agree that they should be berated like kids in front of a national TV.
Sleeping while on duty is indeed a serious offense amid threats from the communist rebels to attack police stations anywhere in the country.
It constitutes negligence and lack of discipline especially if those caught dozing off were not in proper uniform and in terrible shape physically.
They could be disarmed by bad elements and even killed while in dreamland.  They can’t also respond to calls for police assistance from victims of crimes at night time.
Sleeping precinct commanders should be sacked and replaced with those energetic and strong enough to withstand drowsiness on the night shift.

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I have misgivings though with some police officials who give their junior officers the dressing down in front of TV cameras.
Not all the sleeping beauties are useless or bad cops.
Sleeping is a human foible. Even Hercules and Don Juan fall asleep.
Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson had also been caught sleeping in cowboy and crime movies, but they always emerged as outstanding lawmen and ten feet taller than the bad guys they had killed.
Police officials can always conduct a surprise visit in various precincts even without the media coverage and fanfare.
They can always throw the books on erring subordinates without the need to insult and embarrass them in media.
While most of these police officials are motivated by call for duty, protocol and professionalism and their wrath seems to be valid, some of them have hidden agenda.
When they retire several months or years later, they don’t only become civilians, they become candidates in elections for a public office.
If they can shame subordinates for the sin of sleeping, they must, first and foremost, do the same to the rogue cops, the real bad eggs in uniform notoriously engaged in illegal drugs and illegal gambling.

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When Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) committed crimes, some of them were sentenced to death in foreign courts even if their guilt wasn’t established beyond reasonable doubt.
In most cases, the Philippine government wasn’t able to save wrongly convicted OFWs from the death row.
Either news of the sentencing in court reached late in Malacanang, or there was lack of coordination and miscommunication among labor attaches and other concerned officials.
If the OFWs are the victims of crimes perpetrated by their employers, the chances that they can get support from Malacanang through our embassy are also sometimes nil.
Especially if embassy officials face a blank wall like in the case of 29-yar-old Joanna Demafiles of Sara, Iloilo whose body was found inside a freezer in a Kuwait apartment recently.
As of this writing, efforts by Lebanese authorities have been undertaken to capture the suspects, a couple and Demafiles’ former employers, who fled to Lebanon after abandoning the apartment in 2016.
Demafiles had been identified through her fingerprints, according to RP officials in Kuwait. Her family is demanding justice. They wanted her body back in Sara, Iloilo.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What has the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand done to deserve death?

“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave behind.”
--Branch Rickey

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- What have I done to deserve death? 
Did I humiliate the Ilonggos?
Did I commit a heinous crime against humanity?
Did I play host to scandalous and violent activities?
Did I pose a threat to national security?
Did I obstruct traffic and the pedestrians’ right of way?
Did I pillage the environment and natural resources?
These would have been the valid laments of the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand in Iloilo City in the Philippines if it could only speak and protest its imminent extermination.
Instead of being “rewarded” for bringing pride and honor to the Ilonggos since it was built some 60 years ago, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand faces demolition in the modern era when men are equipped with scientific knowledge and expertise to build and renovate.
Instead of being preserved and restored to its old glory for helping showcase and sustain the Ilonggos’ spirit, aesthetic and ingenuity in the global village, the grandstand will be blown to bits in the age of technology when innovation and state-of-the-art infrastructure are at fever-pitch.

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been known to be the Ilonggos’ version of Munich’s Allianz Arena, Rome’s The Colosseum, Milan’s San Siro, Barcelona’s Camp Nuo, Portland’s Providence Park, New Zealand’s Forsyth Barr, Poland’s Stadion Energa, Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, Boston’s Fenway Park, and Hungary’s Pancho Arena.
It is a source of their hope and pride, not shame and scandal.
Where is our gratitude?
But, wait a minute.
Proponents of the move to dismantle the grandstand and transfer it to Muelle Loney facing the Iloilo River, will argue that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand will not be actually wiped off the face of the earth.
It will only be transferred to pave the way for expansion and improvement of the Sunburst Park, where the present Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street stands.
From its present location where it faces the giant eagle in a building across the street, pedestrians, and passing vehicles to Muelle Loney, where it will face the river, the boats, and the fishes.
In simple explanation, it will be “demoted demographically.”

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The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand is a legitimate asset. Demolishing it doesn’t make sense.
Preserving it is one aspect of paying homage to our heritage with which we can interact and adapt.
The grandstand, which has survived the test of time, has specific historic context.
It should have been meticulously and exactly preserved.
Since it has become part of our character and identity over the years, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand must be lived in, interacted with and maintained by the public.
The outdoor structure, conceptualized after the Ilonggos’ right to elect their local officials commenced in 1950, has changed with us, thus recording a piece of each generation’s story from circa fifties to Internet Age.
Ilonggos are morally and patriotically obliged to respect this community resource and preserve it for future generations.
Owing to its colorful history, the preservation of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand can help strengthen the community’s future.
The Iloilo Freedom Grandstand’s imposing presence in a piece of property of the former Customs House Plaza, would have helped create vibrant, cultural downtowns that will further draw art, festival, tourism, and other activities which in turn draw investment, revenue, and economic growth for Iloilo City aside from solidifying a community’s past.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Iloilo Freedom Grandstand perfect!

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
--Michelangelo

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- The present location of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on J.M. Basa Street in downtown Iloilo City in the Philippines is perfect.
Some Ilonggos may find it difficult how to locate the Hoskyn’s Compound, the Iloilo Sports Complex, the Plaza Libertad, the Fort San Pedro, the Nelly’s Garden, the Jaro Belfry, the Rotary Ampitheater, the Camp Martin Delgado, among other major destinations in the “City of Love”, but they know how fast to reach the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.   
It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines known for its easy access to the regional government offices, universities, parks, landmarks, churches, seaports and arrastre services, a shopping center, media institutions, a business center, a police camp, and the Filipino-Chinese community.
It is the only public grandstand in the Philippines where all types of vehicles and other modes of transportation, except airplane, can enter and park (the archaic Panay Railways used to operate in the back).
When Ilonggos seek redress of their grievances, they march to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
There, they easily attract public and media attention.
The issues they bring before the bar of public opinion reverberate all over the metropolis and are easily circulated.

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When Ilonggos hold ungated mammoth cultural, political, sports and religious programs they easily attract national and international attention when they hold them at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand like the Dinagyang Festival, which recently commemorated its 50th year, miting de avance of political parties, and evangelical fellowship prayers of various religious denominations.
Red cross volunteers, social and health workers find the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand as the perfect venue to distribute truckloads of goods, medicines and other donations that need to be expedited for victims of typhoons, fire, and other natural calamities.
Because of its location, the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been considered as the epitome of public service, the vanguard of freedom of expression, the sanctuary of the voiceless and oppressed, the mecca of tourism, the show window of the Ilonggos’ character and cultural heritage.
Bonifacio Drive is not a Bonifacio Drive without the Iloilo Museo and the Iloilo Capitol, in the same manner that Calle Real is not a Calle Real without the Iloilo Ampitheater and the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand.
The J.M. Basa-Mapa-Aduana-Ortiz-Guanco rectangle would be arid and lifeless if not for the presence of the majestic Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, the pride of all Ilonggos.

Monday, February 5, 2018

We hope there will be no regrets

“When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.”
--Maurice Maeterlinck

By Alex P. Vidal

NEWARK, New Jersey -- If Iloilo City in the Philippines is a human face, the condemned Iloilo Freedom Grandstand sitting on the area of the 600-square meter Sunburst Park, serves as the face’s mouth.
It has been one of Iloilo City’s most prominent landmarks facing the “eagle” building on J.M. Basa Street for more than 50 years now.
In the name of development, it will soon disappear and relocated to Muelle Loney, adjacent to the waterfront area of Customs House Plaza, Sunburst Park’s old name.
Because of its intrinsic value, many Ilonggos have considered it as part of the metropolis’ tangible past.
Owing to its cultural and practical values and especially that it’s not an eyesore, some Ilonggos are sad that after the face of
“The Most Loyal and Noble City” or “La Muy Leal Y Noble Ciudad de Iloilo” has undergone a major surgery this year, its mouth, a reminder of the metropolis’ culture and complexity, will no longer be found under the nose.
In one of his “farewell” visits in various places in the Philippines, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, accompanied by President Carlos Garcia, set foot at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand on July 10, 1961 and delivered a nostalgic speech.
This event will forever be etched in the memory of the Ilonggos.

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We just hope that there will be no regrets after the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has been demolished.
It can’t be denied that the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, renovated by the late Rep. Raul Gonzalez Sr. several years back, has brought character and certain charm to the neighborhood that Ilonggos had lived in ever since the late political maverick former Senator Rodolfo Ganzon gave it a sparkling name nearly 60 years ago.
Once it’s gone, there is no more chance to restore or save one of Iloilo City’s most memorable historic sites.
Once a major bureaucratic decision has been made with finality, no one can be certain what will be valued in the future.
Once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever like a member of the family who passed away.
The memory of the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand has taught us about the history that happened before we were born; its imposing image has promoted the respect for those who lived in different times and different political and social climates not only in the city and province of Iloilo but also in the entire region.
It has cultivated pride of our past and heritage making the Ilonggos unique in the world.