Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pray for Jing-Jing and Dabing

“Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.”
--Steven Wright

By Alex P. Vidal

-- The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) in the Philippines can’t blame the family and constituents of Monica-Blumentritt, Iloilo City Proper village chief Keith “Dabing” Espinosa and her husband, Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr., if they blame the police if something bad will happen to the Espinosa couple.
Chief Supt. John Bulalaco, the PRO-6 director, has been telegraphing their punches these past weeks.
First, Director Bulalacao has announced he would never meet with Dabing as long as her name is on the list of suspected drug lords.
Dabing, who is reportedly in hiding, had been wanting to see Director Bulalaco to clear her name but the top cop was quoted in media reports as saying, “I have no time for her.”
It’s understandable.
A Dirty Harry film once explicitly proclaimed that authorities aren’t supposed to compromise with the underworld.


Second, Director Bulalaco has revealed that Jing-Jing, now detained at the Iloilo Provincial Jail in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo for frustrated murder, continued to engage in selling of illegal drugs and is using his family members, including Dabing, as fronts.
Director Bulalacao’s revelation on Jing-Jing’s jail activities was a palpable sign that the police could be wittingly or unwittingly trying to condition the public mind that the Espinosa couple has become incorrigible, ergo…
If we deeply analyze these two damning pronouncements coming from Western Visayas’ highest police official, it seems they are harrowing indications of the portent of things to come.
God forbid.
Friends and family members should start praying for the couple’s safety.


We only wish that if the police have enough evidence against Jing-Jing and Dabing in their alleged continued involvement in illegal drug trade, proper charges should be immediately filed against them in court.
If there are pending cases in court against them, let the litigation continue and grind to its full conclusion.
At least that’s how the justice system in the Philippines works.
Let the judicial truth come out during the trial.
We can’t subject the controversial couple into an endless trial by publicity.

We can’t convict them through allegations, tough words and a public rebuke.
Even if they are known to be the “soldiers of the darkness”, suspects in the Philippines still have to avail of their rights under the Constitution to be heard in a competent court.
They are still innocent until proven otherwise.
Efforts must be pursued to secure them first before being brought to a fair trial.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Do city mayors need to travel abroad?

“No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.”
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Critics ribbed the late former Iloilo City mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon and former mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor for being “barriotic mayors” because they never attended a single international conference for city mayors during their administrations in the 90s.
Ganzon, of course, traveled a lot outside the Philippines when he was a senator from 1963 to 1969 as part of his legislative mandate.
Being “barriotic mayors”, as we very well know, did not diminish their effectiveness as public servants.
Even without any junket abroad, both Ganzon and Malabor were hands-on leaders who never had any deficiency in the services they rendered for Iloilo City.
Ganzon and Malabor may not have yielded to the increasing and growing demands of the climate of global synergy during their terms, but they were holed up in giving priority and attention to the more practical and immediate social concerns of their constituents in the barangays.
Iloilo City mayors started to expand their political, cultural and economic horizons internationally starting when Jerry P. Treñas served as the city mayor for three consecutive terms from 2001 to 2010.


As the national president of League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) during the term of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Treñas became a globetrotter.
He racked up more than a dozen foreign trips, all in relation to his mandate as the local chief executive of Iloilo City and as the LCP boss.
When Jed Patrick Mabilog took over as city mayor in 2011, he also circumnavigated the globe in relation to his job as a father of Iloilo City like Treñas; Mabilog even landed as the No. 5 in World Mayor 2014.
Following their footsteps today is incumbent Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, who have already gone to the United States for the Iloilo Trade Mission in June and in Singapore for the World Cities Summit in July this year in only nine months since he became the city mayor.
Mayor Joe III is expected to crisscross the sky some more for the future international conferences before and after the 2019 elections, if he wins.


As part of the global village in this age of social media, cyberspace and globalization, our mayors or other local officials for that matter, should travel or accept invitations to go abroad, once in a while, and connect with the rest of the world or be left behind.
Interacting with foreign counterparts and actively participating in floor discussions and policy making deliberations in the summits is tantamount to upgrading their leadership skills and solidifying the selling points of the city that they represent.
There are major conferences calendared annually that seriously tackle bilateral modernization plans, trade packages, exchange programs, long-term infrastructure grants; paradigm shifts in environment, health, economic, tourism, education, culture, and related concerns that need the physical attendance of city mayors and not necessarily the attendance of heads of state or presidents.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Manny Pacquiao next Philippine president?

“Somebody asked me about the current choice we're being given in the presidential election. I said, Well, it's like two of the scariest movies I can imagine.”
--Dean Koontz

By Alex P. Vidal

- Don't be scared.
The hoi polloi in the Philippines failed to send action star Fernando “Da King” Poe Jr. to Malacanang in 2004 partly because of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
Come 2022 presidential election, will they try again and succeed when boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao becomes a candidate?
Like “Da King”, Pacquaio is identified with the masa, the “mamang sorbetero”, “isang kahig, isang tuka” and the bakya crowd.
When Poe was "killed" in the film, some of his fans ran amuck literally (this happened somewhere in Mindanao when Poe was not yet a presidential candidate, according to some reports).
When Pacquiao lost a fight, some of his irate fans cried “we wuz robbed” and were determined to lynch sportswriters like me who explained why he was defeated.
Candidates like Pacquiao, Mocha Uson, Dolphy, Poe, Erap could easily hit paydirt in the Philippines.
Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that no person may be elected President unless he or she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years.
Pacquiao, who will turn 40 on December 17, 2018, will be qualified to run in 2022 under the Philippine charter.


At least two prominent leaders known all over the world have predicted Pacquiao’s ascension to Malacanang in the near future.
They were Top Rank promoter Bob Arum in sports and President Rodrigo R. Duterte in government.
I personally heard Arum predict and endorse newly crowned WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao during his conquest of Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in 2008.
“Because of his popularity and the tremendous pride and glory that he gave the Philippines, Manny (Pacquiao) will definitely be the next president of the Philippines,” Arum, a lawyer, told us during the pre-fight press conference 10 years ago.
During Pacquiao’s 38th birthday in 2016, Duterte, who asked Pacquiao to retire after demolishing Lucas Martin Mathysse in Kuala Lumpur on July 15, 2018, told the crowd in the young senator’s party that “with your own style, alam ko na magiging presidente ka rin. Ipagpatuloy mo ang ginagawa mo (I know that you will also someday become the president. Just continue what you are doing). ”
Pacquiao’s popularity among the same quality and bracket of voters that gave Poe, former president and now Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, former senators Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Sr., Bong Revilla and President Duterte overwhelming votes, has snowballed now that he has bagged the WBA 147-lb diadem and he is expected to provide the fans with more excitement and entertainment when he defends his title.


Now that Pacquiao has revealed he isn’t yet quitting as a prizefighter at 39 and he will be promoted by his own MP Promotions without the need for any imprimatur from Arum and without any curfew from Freddie Roach, this would give him the leverage to solidify his political wherewithal and pile up more millions of dollars for his campaign kitty.
Fans have almost forgotten and have even forgiven Pacquiao for his lackluster performance against Jeff Horn and for hiding a shoulder injury in losing by unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. that cost those who placed bets for him millions of pesos.
The way his seventh round KO victory over the Argentine dynamo was received by adoring fans in the Philippines could be a tell tale sign and a curt message for other presidential candidates with doctorate and Harvard degrees to begin shaking in their boots.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Viva France! A salute to Croatia

"The beauty of the World Cup is that while thirty-two countries get to cheer for their respective teams, the event also affirms a global pluralism - it is as much a festival of cultural multiplicity as it is a competition featuring some of the best athletes in the world." 
--Clint Smith

-- First of all, let us salute the brave and marvelous Croatians.
The gods were definitely loving and enjoying the match.
Like ordinary mortals, they “watched” the beautiful game’s finale, a fantastic championship match for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between France and Croatia in Moscow July 15 that had soccer fans in the entire planet on the edge of their seats for 95 minutes.

The Frenchmen were crowned world champions after clobbering an underdog Croatian team, 4-2, and capturing its second World Cup title and its first since it hosted the 1998 tournament 20 years ago.
Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus manager, jittery with five minutes left before the end of the match, was the captain in 1998 when his team toppled Brazil in Paris, and on Sunday he became the third to ever win the World Cup as a player and coach.
Jason Burt saw it the other way around. Writing for The Telegraph, Burt surmised that “maybe even the Gods were angry. Or maybe they just did not want this glorious World Cup to end. France are champions, and deservedly so as they were the best team and the most efficient team at what was probably the best ever World Cup, but this was a final marked by controversy, firsts, brilliant interventions and blunders as the incredible resilience and belief of Croatia was finally defeated.”
There was thunder and lightning with heavy clouds ringing the Luzhniki Stadium here in Moscow as France scored from a free-kick that they should not have earned and a penalty for handball that was evidently not a clear and obvious error to give them a half-time advantage that was a travesty.
Not that they will care.
They have won the World Cup for the second time, and the first time for 20 years, with coach Didier Deschamps becoming only the third man ever to take the trophy as a player and a coach after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.
And that is exalted company while Deschamps will feel utterly vindicated in overhauling his squad after the disappointing of losing the Euro 2016 final and also determinedly going for a more pragmatic style which demanded greater discipline from the likes of Paul Pogba and compromising some of France’s attacking flair. That debate does not matter amid the celebrations.

Even so for almost an hour Croatia were the better team, by far the better team, before first Pogba - thereby becoming the first Manchester United player to score in a World Cup Final - and then Kylian Mbappe scored.
Mbappe, at 19, became the first teenager since Pele to strike in a World Cup Final. The scoreline then was 5-2 and this was the joint highest score since - aided by a terrible goalkeeping mistake by Hugo Lloris who gifted Croatia their second goal as he attempted to play the ball around the relentless Mario Mandzukic who stuck out a leg and diverted it into the net.
That gave Croatia hope when it seemed hope had gone and surely the tiredness and pain of going to extra-time, and twice to penalties, in all three of their previous knock-out ties at this World Cup would finally catch up on them.
But they never, ever gave up in what was their first final and one that they can look back upon with remarkable pride at the achievement.
Antoine Griezmann had been involved in both of France’s first-half goals as he cheaply won the free-kick - it appeared like a dive and Marcelo Brozovic was furious - which he swung in.
The ball skimmed off the head off Mandzukic and flew beyond goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Even then there was drama as it appeared Pogba had been in an offside position as he challenged Mandzukic who scored the first ever own goal in a World Cup Final.
That was as nothing to the controversy with France’s second goal which came from a hotly-disputed, VAR encouraged penalty.
It came from a near post Griezmann corner which flew over Blaise Matuidi and struck the left hand of his marker Ivan Perisic who was close behind him. Referee Nestor Pitana bizarrely gave a goal-kick but the French players, led by Lucas Hernandez and Olivier Giroud, angrily demanded a penalty.
Pitana was eventually told by the VAR, Italian Massimiliano Irrati, to review it and ran over to the touchline.
It seemed an eternity but he finally returned, pointing to the spot with Griezmann calmly stroking the ball home. It seemed harsh - Perisic did not attempt to move his hand, could not see the ball - but Croatia were behind again.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

WBA king Pacquiao is an ‘eyesore’

“Once you stop benefiting their interest, you become an eyesore.”
--Chayan Tain

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Of the four reigning world welterweight champions in the four world governing bodies today, newly crowned World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Manny Pacquiao is the most divergent if not antipodal.

At 39 and toting a ledger of 60 wins (39 KOs), seven losses, and two draws, Pacquiao can also be considered as the weight category’s “eyesore.”
His ascension as the WBA champion after knocking out in the 7th stanza defending titlist Lucas Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) on Saturday (July 15) night at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was sort of a mockery of Sweet Science although he richly deserved the accolades for becoming a world champion once more.
We won’t deny Pacquiao the splendor of his latest victory as he really was impressive in putting away the defrocked Argentine, but of the four concurrent welterweight galaxies, the hard-hitting Filipino champion miserably pales in comparison.
If paraded with his counterparts in the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organization (WBO), and International Boxing Federation (IBF), the striking difference is easily exposed.


WBC champion Keith Thurman is 30 years old and undefeated with 28 wins and 22 knockouts; IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. is 28 years old and unbeaten with 24 wins and 21 knockouts; and WBO champion Terence Crawford also 30 years old and also unscathed with 33 wins and 24 stoppages.
Crawford took the WBO crown with a violent 9th round knockout win over Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn on June 6, 2018.

Any attempt for a unification would be absurd.
For bringing home the WBA belt, Pacquiao was condemned to be exposed as a carpetbagger champion.
For the first defense of his WBA diadem, Pacquiao will definitely avoid the top three contenders: No. 1 Jessie Vargas; No. 2 Jamal James; and No. 3 Jose Luis Benavidez as they are all Americans.
Pacquiao will never defend his crown in the American rings owing to his tax woes with the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and especially now that he is estranged to Freddie Roach and former promoter Bob Arum.
If the WBA orders him to face No. 4 contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania, Pacquiao will most likely risk fighting a potential Jeff Horn as Kavaliauska is 30 years old and also undefeated in 20 wins and 16 knockouts.


The newly crowned Filipino senator will most likely settle for the “less dangerous” No. 5 contender Amir Khan of Great Britain, 31, and has impaired to 32 wins, four losses with 20 knockouts.
After fighting Horn in Australia and Mathysse in Malaysia, Pacquiao might fight next in London or even Lithuania.
No more glitzy MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas and panoramically enthralling Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Now that Pacquiao is “his own man”, is no longer beholden to Bob Arum’s Top Rank, and is not anymore under the tutelage of Roach, he can dictate his own terms and continue to ignore calls for him to retire.
The win against Mathysee didn’t mean though he should stay in the fistic business if he cares for his safety (he is turning 40 on December 17, 2018), but it did help to boost his ego and regain his confidence to continue racking up oodles of dollars for his presidential ambition.
He may have won the battle in wrecking Mathysee, but, man, he is a lonely king in the WBA throne; he is a strange bedfellow and an “eyesore” in the welterweight kingdom.

Move away Serena Williams; hooray Angelique Kerber

"The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall."
--Mitch Hedberg

Even stars like Manny Pacquiao in boxing, Brazil and Argentina in FIFA World Cup could fall with a big thud sometimes.
Serena Williams' effort to capture her first major title since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., only 10 months ago came up short as Angelique Kerber scored a 6-3, 6-3 upset victory over the celebrated American tennis star July 14 to pocket the 2018 Wimbledoo women’s singles title at the All England Club in London.

Williams remains one Grand Slam title behind Margaret Court's all-time tennis record of 24, as a result.
Kerber, who is now a three-time major champion, who won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016, is a French Open championship away from the career Grand Slam.
Tim Daniels reported that “it didn't take long to see the match wouldn't be another quick Serena coronation.”
Kerber, who defeated Williams to win her first major at the 2016 Aussie Open, secured a break in the powerful server's first game to make an immediate statement, Daniels added.
He further reported: Although Williams eventually fought back to win three straight games in the middle of the set, her German counterpart's trademark defense forced her to hit a lot of shots almost every game, and she wasn't up to the challenge. She committed 14 unforced errors in the first set.
The second set was pretty much a carbon copy of the first.
Williams never found a rhythm, racking up 10 more unforced errors, while Kerber continued to play a sound, steady brand of tennis with five winners and only two errors to slowly pull away.
This result doesn't take away from Williams' outstanding run at Wimbledon. She's less than a year removed from a life-threatening experience that began with a pulmonary embolism following her daughter's birth that ultimately forced her to spend six weeks on bed rest during her recovery.
"First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism," she wrote for CNN, adding she "almost died."
"I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs."
While she didn't capture her eighth Wimbledon title, she's on the way to establishing herself as the sport's dominant figure once again. She'll likely be the favorite when the U.S. Open gets underway in August.
Kerber deserves full credit for the win. She realized Williams wasn't in top form early on and used her defensive skill set to force her opponent to run a lot and hit shots from tough angles. The ensuing errors were the difference in the match.
Whenever Kerber enters retirement, the fact she beat Serena in two Grand Slam finals will be a hallmark of what could end up being a Hall of Fame career.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

‘Friends cursed me for marrying a poor and sickly US citizen’

“Friends come and go, like the waves of the ocean, but the true ones stay like an octopus on your face.”

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Since “running away” from her Arab boss who brought her in the United States from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2001, Rosita “Rose” Junatas, a domestic helper, has not seen her family in Tarlac, in the Philippines.
“I hope to reunite with them soon,” Rose, 61, wished in an interview with this writer July 9.

She plans to go back to Ramos, Tarlac, where she finished sixth grade in 1969 at Ramos Central Elementary School, as soon as the remaining documents for her green card, being processed through the help of Falls Church-based preacher Mariano C. Evangelista Jr. and his wife Armida, will arrive.
The Evangelista couple “adopted” Rose and allowed her to stay in their church at Christian Evangelization Ministry in the City of Falls Church.
Rose lost her American husband, Michael “Mike” Bradley, 68, to a lung cancer on June 4, 2018.
She lived with the Evangelista couple after Mike’s cremation on June 19.
Rose and Mike didn’t have their own children.

Rose and Mike, a printing press employee, had been living together as husband and wife in McLean, Virginia since 2001; she decided to process the important details in her green card only when Mike was already dying in the hospital.


Rose, then 45, said she met Mike, then 52, on Good Friday in 2001 through a co-worker, Elsie Ribao. She went to live with Mike in an apartment in McLean on Labor Day of the same year.
The romance kicked off through a series of phone calls where they professed their love for each other and willingness to live together, Rose said.
They got married at the back of a house on September 27, 2001 in a civil ceremony.

Rose wasn’t able to obtain the complete details of her green card because of “complications” in Mike’s previous marriage.
Mike’s former wife, Marilou, also a Filipina, divorced him after living together for five years. Before meeting Marilou, Mike had been married to a fellow American with whom he had a 40-year-old son.
Rose was Mike’s third wife.
Rose’s first husband, Leopoldo Gicete, a mining engineer from Samar, Leyte, died of asthma in 1982.
After Leopoldo’s death, Rose worked as domestic helper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 18 years and raised alone their two children--Rosenda and Leopoldo Jr.
Rosenda now resides in Aklan with her own family and a fishery business, while Leopoldo Jr. is now a seaman.
They talked regularly through the Facebook Messenger.


In Virginia, Rose’s former boss, an Arab national, resented her decision to “run away” and live with Mike.
The boss paid for Rose’s air fare from Jeddah to Virginia and was hoping Rose would stay with the Arab boss’ family while in the United States.
It was Mike who helped Rose transfer her personal belongings from the house of her Arab boss to Mike’s apartment.
“Sa galit ng amo ko sa ginawa namin, hindi niya ibinigay ang mga natira ko pang suweldo (my boss was so enraged that he didn’t give me my remaining salary),” Rose recalled.

Since Mike didn’t have enough money, Rose said she did some housekeeping job in the houses of Mike’s friends to help buttress the couple’s income.
Rose said Filipina friends who visited her in their apartment frequently always engaged Mike in a verbal tussle when Mike ribbed them for not washing their dishes and for leaving all the chores to Rose alone.
“I told them to ignore Mike and not to engage him in a quarrel because he was sickly, but they refused to listen,” Rose narrated.


The same set of friends also gossiped behind her back and “belittled me when I was down and feeling hopeless at the time when I needed them most,” Rose added.
“When Mike was in the hospital, nobody cared for us. When Mike died, none of them visited us. One of them even told our friends buti nga (good riddance),” lamented Rose.
When Mike was gone, her friends “totally abandoned me and even cursed me for marrying a poor and sickly American citizen,” she sobbed.
She said she didn’t inherit any property from Mike, who was penniless before his death.
While in the custody of the Evangelista couple, Rose said she does not anymore entertain calls and inquiries from friends “who will only open up a conversation and pretend they care only to get some information about my present situation, share it to others, and add insult to my injury.”
“I will just keep quite and maintain my peace here (Christian Evangelical Ministry) and wait for my complete papers in the green card. I know I am in good hands. No more friends. I don’t want to be hurt anymore,” Rose concluded.