Saturday, April 23, 2011

AFTER ‘AZKALS’, WE NOW HAVE ‘RAZCALS’; SHALL WE HAVE ‘BUTAKALS’ NEXT?


By ALEX P. VIDAL





If they did not swallow whole Vietnam, 2-0, in a startling upset and salvaging draws against Myanmar and Palestine in the AFF Suzuki Cup last year and changing their moniker from mere RP XI to “Azkals”, their conquests would have remained buried deep in the inside pages of the tabloids’ sports section.


A perennial whipping boy in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, the Philippine booters have instantly captured the national imagination because, aside from their tall and good-looking British and Spanish mestizo members and foreign coaches, they are now known as “Azkals” which means “wild dogs” if translated in local dialect.


And they won the recent AFC Challenge Cup by blanking Bangladesh, 3-0, in the group stages.






FOOTBALL TO BASEBALL






While all eyes and ears are on the Azkals, the Philippine boys’ baseball team now nicknamed the “Little Razcals” won the recent Asia Pacific Zone Pony Mustang Baseball Championship in Vietnam which was a qualifier to the World Series.


Their come-from behind win over Singapore, 14-6, earned them a slot to represent the Asia Pacific region to the Pony Mustang Baseball World Series in Burleson, Texas on August 3-6, 2011.


The Little Razcals started their campaign with a 13-3 rout of Singapore, waylaid host Vietnam, 26-3, and outclassed Indonesia, 21-16, to sweep the eliminations and go into the finale spotless.


Young baseball players also easily grabbed the spotlight because aside from marching to the higher league where they will be pitted against heavier and more experienced rivals from all over the world including the US and Caribbean countries, they are now known as “Little Razcals” which is equivalent to infamy when the letter z is changed to s in the spelling.


The Little Razcals is composed of Javier Jesus Sale, Marty Alonso Ranada, Vincent Joshua Noprado, John Fritz Natanauan, Lorenzo Montemayor, Efril Ian Mercado, Robert Emmanuel Manaig, Jose Marie Javier Limpo, Daniel Isaac Fabella, Zian Javiel Eleria, Lloyd Christian Cinco, Charles Joshua Castillo, Carl Christopher Castaneda, Nathan Joseph Carpio, and Ezequiel Cyros Agojo.


According to team manager Rodolfo Tingzon, Jr., the Razscals will participate in a series of local tournaments to build up for the World Series.


“It is our first time to join in the 10 years old and under category at nag champion pa tayo sa Asia Pacific. From the start, I never expected the team to win because the opponents were a lot bigger than our players. That’s why we thought we had nothing to lose,” team coach Eric Gesmundo, former member of the RP team told campus writer Jaser Marasigan in a recent interview.


“But I saw how our boys really wanted to make it to the World Series. I told them, minsan lang ito kaya huwag niyong sayangin. Kaya mas lalo silang motivated ngayon.”


Because of the fad nowadays to glamorize the moniker of our national teams possibly to whip up their fighting mood, we won’t be surprised if our rowing teams in outdoor event will soon be named as “Butakals” which has more horrendous and repulsive English translation.

Why I am against censorship

Censorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody reads.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

23ACensorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody readsGEORGE BERNARD SHAWBy ALEX P. VIDALCensorship ends in logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that nobody readsGEORGE BERNARD SHAW
By Alex P. Vidal
As a community journalist, my orientation is anti-censorship.
Because I was blessed with editors during the Tita Cory post EDSA revolution era whose dyed-in-the-wool adherence to freedom of the press and expression was at fever-pitch, I could not countenance censorship when it was my turn to rock the chair as editor-in-chief of two daily newspapers – Sun Star Iloilo and Daily Informer – during the Erap and Gloria administrations.
Even if some of their motives and principles were suspect, I could never in heaven’s name mangle or touch with a ten-foot pole the write-ups of our columnists — the opinion makers and the so-called “catalysts” of change.
They were an eager beaver but wet-behind-ears radioman who wanted to dabble in print media, a vegetarian but malnourished pen pusher who belonged to the Dinosaur Age, a male celibate university professor hiding in a female moniker, a dentist who loved to lecture about sex education.
LAW PARTNER
A frustrated politician who wanted to write a column so he could expose the inanities of a former law firm partner, an ex-convict who wrote poetry inside the jail, an ex-Maoist Lothario who permanently turned his back from the movement after a “rest and recreation”, a debonair but Quijotic brain doctor who wanted to preserve our native dialects. 
You name ‘em, we had ‘em.
I am a firm of believer of John Stuart Mill who said that “Even when the opinion is wrong, discussion should not be suppressed. Without such challenge and discussion, the true opinion would become nothing more than dogma – something believed on mere faith.”
Because of this personal principle, I even nixed suggestions to delete horny and irrational Facebook friends because I believe they too have the right to exist and express their opinions however weird and downright corny and illogical their ideas may be.
One of the best stories I read about the subject matter was the opinion made by Dr. Alejandro Roces. 
It was actually Hilarion Henares who started the series by stating that censorship originally started not to exorcise sex and violence, but to control religious and political views.
PROHIBITED BOOKS
The initial and most powerful censorship board in all history was the Catholic Church’s Index of Prohibited Books that started in 1557 about a century after Gutenberg’s movable type made books available to the public. 
The books condemned then are now popular classics – the novels of such authors Victor Hugo, Balzac, Dumas and Flaubert.
They were not considered pornographic. They just did not meet the political norms of the period.
Authors were often forced to change the identity of the characters in their books. Boccacio’s The Decameron was banned because the characters involved in illicit sex were priests and nuns. When he changed it to plain ladies and gentlemen, his books were removed from the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
The very first film movie board censor was the British Board of Film Censors established in 1913 but still in operation to the day. In the United States, censorship was a state matter, but the Catholic Legion of Decency operated nationally.
OBSCENITY ISSUES
Actually, the courts were deciding obscenity issues long before censorship came. As far back as 1868, Chief Justice Cockburn in a judgment in Regina vs. Hickins, said:
“The test of obscenity is this: whether the tendency of the matter charged as obscenity is to deprave and corrupt those whose minds are open to such immoral influences, and into whose hands a publication of this sort may fall.”
Pope Leo XIII in General Decrees Concerning the Prohibition and Censorship of Books, decreed: “Books which professedly treat of, narrate, or teach lewd or obscene subjects are prohibited. Care must be taken not only of faith but also of morals, which are easily corrupted by the reading of such books.”
And on March 31, 1930, the Code to Govern the Making of Motion and Talking Pictures by the Motion Picture Producers and Distribution of America, Inc. declared, “Obscenity in word, gesture, reference, song, joke, or by suggestion is forbidden.”
This is the question that has become a major issue in our times. Where does artistic liberty end and where does obscenity begin?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR I.D.

"If you talk to God, you are praying. If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia."

Thomas Szas

By Alex P. Vidal



Can a doctor be stricken with schizophrenia? Possible.

Can a doctor be a schizophrenic but refuses to acknowledge it or doesn’t know he is a patient? Possible.

And Doctor I.D. could be a case.

Never been a fan of spectator sports in his whole life, Doctor I.D. one afternoon found himself inside a wrestling arena gyrating and cheering his lungs out for Pera O. Bayong, a Filipino UFC heartthrob duking it out against a tough Nicaraguan hombre.

He didn’t know the Filipino jawbreaker from Adam he saw only for the first time; he had no idea how brutal the show was except that he was there after accepting the complimentary ticket handed him in the eleventh hour by his brother, the real fan, who could not make it that afternoon due to pressing commitments.

Pera O. Bayong, a young wrestler, became overnight sensation with a spectacular win against the matinee idol-looking icon from Managua.

Beguiled and mesmerized by Pera O. Bayong’s prowess and agility, Doctor I.D., a married man, felt he was at the right place at the right time.

And instant fan, Doctor I.D. had been transformed – a fan of the winner, not the bloody sport.


SOUVENIR PHOTO


Doctor I.D. had been forced to shell out US$100 for a souvenir photo with the conqueror. The unauthorized loot went straight to the pocket of a hooligan acting as Pera O. Bayong’s bodyguard.

“I knew I was doing (paying for the photo-op) it wrong,” Doctor I.D. confessed to me during one of his “lowest” moments (every time he was feeling “low” he would start a conversation relating incidents in the past that would make his face squirm in regrets). “But I didn’t want that rare opportunity to slip away.”

Since then, Doctor I.D. never missed a single fight of Pera O. Bayong. He never missed dispensing dole outs in exchange for…

“But there was another guy who demanded from me $200 for a chance to get nearer Pera O. Bayong for a longer time,” Doctor I.D. sobbed. “Two individuals from Pera O. Bayong’s entourage have made me their favorite milking cow.”

Determined to stop acting like ATM machine for the extortionists, Doctor I.D. sought my help: “get me an I.D. – accreditation card – so that I can freely move around during Pera O. Bayong’s show and avoid those vultures and their minions.”


MULCTERS STOPPED


As soon as Doctor I.D. got his first I.D. and using it to buttress his physical proximity with Pera O. Bayong, mulcters have stopped pestering him.

But they and their subalterns also have stopped giving him attention thus even if he could penetrate Pera O. Bayong’s inner purlieus Doctor I.D. was relegated in the “among others” circle.

After a series of back-door schemes and spine-chilling maneuvers, Doctor I.D.’s hard work finally paid off. Pera O. Bayong could now recite his title but not his name.

“Dok,” Pera O. Bayong once addressed him in a crowd. “Hello, Dok.”

The greeting was music to Doctor I.D.’s ears. It was enough for the overjoyed fan to celebrate and callously wear his I.D. everywhere he went – believe it or not -- inside the movie houses, church, plane, hospitals, shopping malls!

The peculiar mannerism has alarmed family members who suspect Doctor I.D. had become a fanatic.

“But even fanaticism has its limit,” quipped a teary eyed family member who strongly resented Doctor I.D.’s strange devotion to the plastic-encased card. “His actuations are really alarming.”

Doctor I.D. would rage enormously and spew out expletives like a politician denied of his “pork barrel” allocation if his attention was called over the disturbing actuations.

To him, wearing the I.D. most of the time was normal. Those who begrudge it are abnormal or “are not supporting me.”

According to my Facebook friend, Dr. Philip Quitco, a psychiatrist now assigned in Dipolog City in Mindanao, schizophrenia is a very common disorder affecting one person in 100 around the world.

Nobody has confirmed if Doctor I.D. is schizophrenic but the disease affects people from all walks of life and usually strikes young people (both men and women almost equally) between the ages of 15 and 30. Although an exact definition evades researchers, the evidence points more and more conclusively to a severe disturbance of the brain’s functioning.

It has however been described as a malfunctioning of the brain’s neurochemical, neuroelectrical and neuroanatomic circuits.


JUMBLED THINKING


Symptoms of schizophrenia include disordered or jumbled thinking, false beliefs that cannot be shaken, hallucinations, social withdrawal, changes in emotions, loss of purpose, altered sense of self and depression.

Schizophrenia and depression are disorders that often manifest symptoms of psychosis.

Psychosis is described as being out of touch with reality, or totally involved in a reality that is entirely one’s own.

The burdens of mental illnesses, such as depression, alcohol dependence and schizophrenia, have been seriously underestimated by traditional approaches that take account only of deaths and not disability.

While psychiatric conditions are responsible for little more than one percent of deaths, they account for almost 11 percent of disease burden worldwide.


UNDERESTIMATED


Most significant, studies show that the burden of psychiatric conditions has been heavily underestimated. Of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide in 1990, measured in years lived with a disability, five were psychiatric conditions.

Several years back, the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders has identified the Philippines as one of the areas where support groups would have to be established.

It didn’t say why, but apparently cases of depression-induced schizophrenia have become alarming even in a country notorious for joking about its problems.

And Doctor I.D.’s strange case is no joke.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why serial relationships are bad for women’s mental health

“At times it is folly to hasten at other times, to delay. The wise do everything in its proper time” -- OVID


By Alex P. Vidal


While men, strangely, fare better in a recent study, women have been cautioned to avoid getting involved in serial relationships after emerging from a bad marriage or long-term relationship to prevent a severe break down and depression.

Other findings in the report confirm previous research that women who remain single throughout their lives do much better, in terms of mental health, than steadfast bachelors.

The research was an analysis of a data mine called the British Household Panel Survey that started in 1991 and includes information supplied annually from 10,000 British adults.

It includes a 12-item questionnaire designed to assess levels of psychological distress, depression and anxiety.

The study analyzed the returns for the year 2000 from 4,430 people. Of that number, nine percent had remained single throughout their lives and over half had been in a stable marriage or cohabitation during their lifetime. Of the remainder, 35 percent had experienced one partnership bustup during the lifetime.

Monday, April 18, 2011

TRAGIC LOVE TRIANGLE

Ella’s eerie love affairs with

Fr. Benigno and Jejomar


By Alex P. Vidal


Ella (not her real name) of Alimodian, Iloilo was 16 years old in 1995 when her 48-year-old mother, a fish vendor, entrusted her daughter’s “spiritual needs” to Benigno (not his real name), a 27-year-old Tagalong-speaking priest now assigned somewhere in Northern Luzon.

Wallowing in abject poverty, mother gave Benigno tacit “blanket of authority” to help shore up her daughter’s moral and spiritual values as she needed a “father figure” in her adolescence having lost (cause of “disappearance” unknown) her biological father when the daughter was infant.

Year 2001 when 22-year-old Ella, now a computer engineering graduate, confessed to Jejomar (not his real name), her 36-year-old balikbayan suitor, she and her chapel-based guardian had been secretly locked in a romantic liaison since she was teenager.

For the credulous Ella, a look-a-like of Burmese political icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the relationship seemed to be “made in heaven” albeit smeared by mysteries and Benigno’s uncanny behavior in public while they were together.

The sweethearts’ sexual tryst began when, as a minor, Ella accompanied her foster parent cum lover in out-of-town “meetings” that mostly concluded with side trips and rendezvous in motels and resorts.


GOSSIPS


Whispers from worried but excited enterprising neighborhood lips buzzed about mama’s myopia and incredible innocence of the torrid bacchanalia.

Ella’s confession initially didn’t sit well with Jejomar, who felt his manhood had been breached even as he realized he was “morally obliged” to settle the score in favor of the “damsel in distress”.

Alas, Ella’s story was only the tip of the iceberg. The bizarre romance that blossomed when a parent goofed and forfeited her fundamental role and obligation to a child in favor of ecclesiastical interference had bore a skeleton in the closet.

Ella had abortion when she was 17 – performed by a quack doctor in Cebu.

To compound the matter, Ella and Benigno, now 43, had been communicating with each other from time to time. The love birds’ private “extra-curricular activities” seemed to have remained alive and active all throughout the years.

Ella’s confession finale was a slammer. But Jejomar, smitten by Ella’s warmth and candidness, was determined to snatch the equally love-struck Ella from the jaws of defeat.


RELIABLE, LOVABLE


Ella has found the older but effervescent Jejomar to be more reliable and lovable thus she decided to junk the pulpit’s mysterious sermon giver who she felt couldn’t give her the kind of future she had dreamed of since child.

Benigno, however, refused to call it a day. He wouldn’t yield even an inch of the primary source of his private “joy and happiness” and openly resisted Ella’s demand for autonomy with clinched fists.

Ella and Benigno, talking over the phone like one of them is about to be executed by lethal injection for treason in a Chinese detention cell, agreed to iron out whatever kinks that threaten to severe their union’s umbilical cord, which for several years, appeared to be indestructible.

An emergency “peace process” had been set in a hotel room in Iloilo City. At the back of Benigno’s mind, Ella would capitulate from his charm and palabra de amor as he did in the past.

At the back of Ella’s mind was blood compact and total declaration of independence -- and a scenario seen only in Tagalog action movies starring Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) and Lito Lapid.


TROJAN HORSE


Unknown to Bengino, who entered the hotel room 15 minutes earlier, Ella adopted Homer’s Trojan Horse-like invasion tactic in the Iliad and Odyssey: as she entered the room, she left the door knob unlocked thus allowing Jejomar, who impersonated Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) and Lito Lapid, to follow suit.

Shaken and rattled, Benigno was caught by the blitzkrieg literally with his pants down as pandemonium broke loose.

While FPJ was busy doing his script and swarming into Benigno like a harpooned baracuda, Ella screamed and scampered away like a peacock. She couldn’t restrain King Kong from wrecking havoc on the human punching bag.

When the smoke was cleared, crestfallen Benigno borrowed Antonio Margarito’s face: reduced to a crimson mask after being zapped by Manny Pacquiao’s sledgehammer-like fists.

Turncoat Ella, apparently feeling a tremendous remorse and embarrassment for aping Japanese Imperial Army thug Makapili, disappeared from the ambush scene like a highway thief.

After tasting Jejomar’s ferocious assault, Benigno accepted his fate: there was no love lost between him and Ella anymore and that there was nothing he could do about it. Benigno didn’t file a police report; he didn’t press charges against his tormentors.

Bruised and broken-hearted, Benigno hurriedly left the scene and boarded the plane back to Luzon.

Ella and Jejomar lived happily ever after, or so it seemed!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pacquiao: Multi-millionaire boxer who wouldn’t quit

By Alex P. Vidal


Amid calls for his retirement, Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), at 32 and a multi-millionaire to boot, continues to bedazzle the boxing world with his impressive winning streak and unrestrained collection of world crowns in different weight divisions.

With his vast wealth and reputation, Pacquiao, a father of four and a sports celebrity, could enjoy the so-called “fruits of his labor” by retiring comfortably and preserving his legacy as the greatest and most popular prizefighter in his generation.

But he wouldn’t. He couldn’t.

As long as Bob Arum wants him to fight, it doesn’t matter whether he is 18 or 64 years old. It doesn’t matter whether the opponent is Jack The Ripper or Hercules. Beholden to the Top Rank, Pacquiao is.

Their “marriage of convenience” is a source of envy and speculations in the world of sports and entertainment in glittering Las Vegas.

For Arum, dear is boxing but dearer is Manny Pacquiao whom he calls “the greatest fighter ever”.


TANDEM


Even his mother, Dionisia, a laundry woman-turn-actress, couldn’t stop the son-promoter tandem from further engaging in brutal but sanctioned dogfights against multi-national foes Pacquiao met only for the first time in his life.

'Dili nako! Dili na gyud ko! Tama na! “Dili na(I can’t bear it anymore! That’s enough),” Dionisia, who once “fainted” at ringside while watching her son either pummeling an opponent into submission or was the one being bamboozled from pillar to post, would always bewail.

Pacquiao’s temerity to flirt with disaster and ignore a motherly concern is elaborate.

“My job is to train and fight whoever my promoter picks to fight against me,” the five feet and six inches southpaw has repeatedly declared.

Seventy nine-year-old Arum is the top guy in the Las Vegas-based Top Rank, which charted the Filipino’s fistic career into amazing heights ever since he left the Oriental Pacific region after losing his WBC 112-lb jewels on a shock 3rd round TKO loss to an unheralded Medgoen 3-K Battery in Pakpanag Metropolitan Stadium, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand on Sept. 19, 1999, to invade the Land of Opportunity.


MARKET VALUE


After grabbing the fighter’s management rights from the Golden Boy in a legal tug-of-war, Arum now holds the imprimatur for both of Pacquiao’s title defenses and non-title engagements in the United States.

Because of his marketing value and confidence in Arum, the scuttlebutt is that Pacquiao is willing to face even a wrestler armed with a revolver in a no-holds barred rumble.

And when it rains, it pours.

After fighting the aging but still dangerous Sugar Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) on May 7 in Las Vegas, Arum, et al (the wily old man’s associates that include TV behemoth HBO of the “pay-per-view” fame) will continue to negotiate and pit the battle-scarred Filipino congressman cum fighter against potentially destructive opponents that include Floyd Mayweather Jr. and possibly Juan Manuel Marquez and Andre Berto.

With his propensity to break records and establish mind-boggling precedents, Pacquiao could end up fighting a middleweight ribcracker and risk his life and limbs.


BARNEY ROSS


Pacquiao’s situation reminds us of Barney Ross, a former world lightweight champion who was known in the 1930’s as “the fighter who wouldn’t quit”.

As a world champion in 1932, Ross (72-4-3, 22 KOs) won fight after fight. “The money rolled in and Ross spent it as fast it came,” recalled historian Ken Lane in “Champions All”.

Then in 1934, Ross decided to fight welterweight terror Jimmy McLarnin (Filipino flyweight champion Pancho Villa’s conqueror).

McLarnin (54-11-3, 21 KOs) weighed 20 pounds more than Ross, but Ross beat him anyway. He became the first professional fighter to hold two championship titles at the same time.

Still unbeaten in 1938, Ross challenged the younger Henry Armstrong (149- 21-10, 101 KOs), who was faster and stronger. By the 10th round, Ross was losing. The referee and Ross’ manager wanted to stop the fight. But Ross refused. He wanted to lose like a champion. It was the worst beating he had ever taken.

It was after his humiliation from Armstrong when he decided to quit as prizefighter and go into business.

Pacquiao could avert experiencing a worst beating in his life by hanging up his gloves – win or lose against Mosley—and focus on his job as lawmaker or engage into business like Ross.

Whether Bob Arum and the boxer’s bloodthirsty fans like it or don’t, preserving Pacquiao’s main faculties and enjoying the millions of dollars he earned in the ring with his family is the call of Pacquiao alone.

After all, something brilliant could come out from his brains as lawmaker if they were not permanently damaged.