Monday, September 30, 2013


Clowns in Aksyonradyo-SWAT 
House committee hearing

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it."   Mahatma Gandhi 

By Alex P. Vidal

It was not only the cops with lower ranks who bungled in some of their testimonies during last Monday's (September 30) House committee on public order and safety hearing on the assault by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) on Aksyonradyo Iloilo last August 25.
Some of the panelist members of the House of Representatives were equally erratic if not mediocre in their performance, especially in the way they asked questions.
Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia, for instance, was ignorant about SWAT being a special unit under the Philippine National Police (PNP). 
She insisted that if ICPO director, Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro was speaking for the police, someone should also speak for the SWAT.  Somebody should have whispered to her that SWAT men are also cops and are all under Floro, before she shot herself in the foot.


Capiz 2nd district Rep. Fredenil Castro also chided Aksyonradyo Iloilo station manager John Paul Tia "not to speculate" when Tia revealed that the video taken from the cellular phone of their chief technician had been erased. If they will review the tape of the hearing, Tia never accused anyone of intentionally deleting the video. He merely mentioned that the video was gone. 
Castro also erroneously used the word "edited" in referring to the CCTV footage Aksyonradyo had submitted as evidence. He wanted the entire footage taken for the month of August and not just the "edited" one that showed the SWAT raid. Castro eventually changed his motion for Aksyonradyo to submit only the video taken on the day of the incident.
If Aksyonradyo lawyers were present, we were surprised why they did not coach Tia to correct Castro's use of the word "edited" which is now part of the record in the hearing.
There's a whale of difference between the word "edited" and "spliced" which was what Aksyonradyo did, so as not to obviously overburden the viewers. "Edited" means deleting and changing something on the film. "Spliced" means joining two or more pieces of the film at the ends. 


Rep. Luis “Jon-Jon” Ferrer IV also wanted to sound cute when he castigated the cops for their "wrong choice of words" saying they are putting the name of entire PNP organization on spot when a SWAT member used the word "nagtatago" (hiding) instead of "nagco-cover" or (covering) in describing the scene where three responding Mandurriao cops led by Insp. Solien Domingo allegedly engaged one security guard in the third floor of Uy bldg (where Aksyonradyo is located) armed with a shotgun. 
Ferrer was strict about semantics thinking probably the cops were Harvard scholars who could perfectly inveigle accurate words in a tension-filled hearing. 
"Is this part of the SOP (standard operating procedure) that three cops will hide when they encounter a lone security guard?" boomed the over-acting Rep. Castro, who dominated the noise in the hearing with his lousy soliloquy.
Negros Occidental 4th district Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer, chair of the committee,  also ribbed Tia earlier that "(your statements in this hearing) are only your allegations." No angels will swear that the testimonies of all invited guests are the gospel truth, of course, Mr. Chairman.


Finally, it's a consolation that the hearing was spearheaded by some former high-ranking Philippine National Police (PNP) officials who are now members of the House of Representatives. 
Since the issue was about police matters, the presence of congressmen Samuel Pagdilao Jr. (Party-list, ACT-CIS ), Leopoldo Bataoil (2nd district, Pangasinan),  Rep. Romeo Acop (Antipolo City), Gary Alejano (Partylist, Magdalo) was both needed and necessary. The hearing came to a smooth ending when Region 6 PNP director, Chie Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr. picked up the cudgels for his nervous and tormented subordinates who became Rep. Castro's punching bags since the hearing started in the morning. 
God only knows what would have happened if the panelists in the hearing were Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, and Manny Pacquiao. 


It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.

We need education to be accepted in mainstream of society. We need common sense to assimilate and live harmoniously in society.


"Music in the soul can be heard by the universe."
-- LAO TZU :

Goodbye, September 2013 where I became...


House committee hearing on 
Aksyonradyo Iloilo-SWAT furor

"Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe."
Theodore Roosevelt 

By Alex P. Vidal

It was only when Capiz second district Rep. Fredenil Castro stopped talking in the afternoon of September 30 that the hearing conducted by the House committee on public order and safety on the assault by the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) on Aksyonradyo Iloilo last August 25, became smooth and civil, to say the least. 
Castro, author of House Resolution No. 237 that sought to investigate the incident, wasted several hours of the hearing at the session hall of the Iloilo provincial capitol with his empty rhetoric, acerbic attitude, and hostile remarks toward some of the invited guests.
He came to castigate and humiliate the cops, not to ferret out the truth. We all know that lapses appeared to be present in the SWAT raid which was widely condemned by media organizations, but Castro wanted those uniformed men involved in the fracas to look pathetic and cowards. His joke that a SWAT member could be attracted to the station's lady employee was also corny.
When the microphone was given to congressmen, who were formerly high-ranking officials of the PNP, and were therefore more knowledgeable about police matters, salient points were addressed and questions that needed to be asked earlier were given utmost importance.


We expect reforms in the implementation of police operational procedures as a result of the House committee investigation which adjourned at around 2:30 pm September 30.
Lapses have been noted in the employment and deployment of SWAT team, a special unit of the Philippine National Police, which did not have guidelines to regulate its operations as observed by Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, a former police general.
Iloilo third district Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr. wanted the PNP to identify which part of the manual of police operational procedure was applicable in the incident that needs review. Pangasinan second district Rep.  Leopoldo Bataoil wanted relationships between the PNP and media "brought back to its original level."
The congressional investigation, which will continue this month of October or November, is not done to crucify and punish some invited guests or to send the guilty parties in jail. It is in aid of legislation, to determine what law to be passed or amended, in order to institute certain reforms and to prevent a similar problem to occur in the future.


The court will determine who is the guilty party in the Aksyonradyo Iloilo-SWAT imbroglio, not Congress. There will be a different hearing to be conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman to determine the administrative and criminal culpability of the SWAT team headed by its supervisor at the time of the incident, Senior Insp. Joel Bulfa, and Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) director, Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro.
We admire the professionalism shown by both parties, especially by Aksyonradyo Iloilo headed by station manager John Paul Tia, who was able to show his solid leadership by presenting the facts of the case in a very calm and clear manner. We also doff our hats off Region 6 PNP director, Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr., who rescued his trembling and erratic underlings from disastrous testimonies with his tact and straightforward answers to all the sharp questions thrown at the police organization. Before Chief Supt. Cruz took the microphone, Supt. Floro and other lowly cops interrogated by hot-tempered Rep. Castro were a bizarre caricature in the hearing.


True love is selfless. It is prepared to sacrifice.
Fake love is selfishness. It is not only prepared to hit and run, it is also ready to destroy. 


Love songs don't leave you but lovers often do.
-- BONNIE TYLER in "If I Sing You A Love Song" :

Humans are capable of making drastic decisions in life especially if it involves affairs of the heart. Love songs wash away from the soul the dust of pain wrought by a tragic romance.


Envy is like a virus-infected sim card that erases and damages our data bank. The quickest way to stop dishonoring ourselves is to remove and throw away sim cards that clog our hearts and impair our ability to think logically.


No searchlight can locate or restore a lost character. Character is our destiny. We must vigorously guard it and prevent Mr. Bad Manners and Ms. Arrogance from abducting it.


Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they've got nothing to lose.

That ugly person has nothing to gain either. A win can't give him a cute face. A loss will only worsen his ugliness. Better not to fight with anyone -- ugly or not. 


I'm scared to death of being poor. It's like a fat girl who loses 500 pounds but is always fat inside. I grew up poor and will always feel poor inside. It's my pet paranoia.
-- CHER :

We don't need to be poor to get scared. It's our paranoia that is scary. Being poor is a social issue. Paranoia is not only a mental issue, it's a personal problem.


Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.

Patriarchal society has placed woman in a subordinate role. Once empowered, a woman is able to dislodge man especially if he puts a ceiling on learning and becomes complacent, while she accelerates her progress and liberates her mind from bondage of ignorance.


Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.

Giving or sharing isn't a problem only if we have extra to give and share. We can't give much if we don't even have little. Nemo dat quod non habet or no one can give what one doesn't have.


'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.

Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings. Thank you for the gift of life and love. Thank you for the quality friends and relatives. Thank you for the good health, wisdom, intelligence, values. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much!


The most important thing in the world is family and love.

Let's not abandon our family no matter what happens. Love strengthens the family's spinal column. Man's role in both family and love manifests his greatness.


Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.

It is greatness -- and may not be necessarily happiness -- to respect the rights and moral and religious precepts of others; to ferret out the truth amid web of lies; to fight for justice and uphold decency in both our public and private life.


A retentive memory may be a good thing, but the ability to forget is the true token of greatness.

WHAT TO FORGET: 1. That our detractors, out of sheer jealousy and envy, once called as apes and hippopotamuses. 2. That some of our "friends" (in and outside Facebook) mangled our dignity with unfounded gossips and intrigues. WHAT TO REMEMBER: 1. To forgive them. 2. Their names, of course. 


Man's greatness lies in his power of thought.

The same power that made him great will give him imminent destruction if he pollutes his thought with wanton savagery and bestiality. 


Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.

Respect and fear are incompatible, in the first place. Respect walks in north pole while fear goes to south pole. Respect is a state of mind, fear is a state of emotion.


Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.

The more brilliancy that goes to our head, the less arrogance and conceit we should possess in our heart; and the more we should give respect even to those who belong in the lowest strata of society.


The family is the first essential cell of human society.

A human society suffers from logjam of decays and mortification if families under it can't fork out a chunk of sacrifice that would fast track their search for spirituality and enlightenment.


It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.

Doing the right thing and acting naturally won't transform us into angels, but this good behavior is enough to prevent the devils from tarrying in our surrounding. 


After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.

I love MUSIC like I love LIFE. "I admit it I'm really a dreamer..."


Educators take something simple and make it complicated. Communicators take something complicated and make it simple.

We communicate in order to educate not to complicate. If we complicate when we communicate, we don't educate but we prevaricate.


In the end, people are persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand.

We convince and influence people by the substance of our words and our integrity as speakers, not by quality of our voice alone.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Why 'pork' imbroglio inspires Alim 

"You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think." MILTON BERLE

By Alex P. Vidal

While some guilty characters in government squirm in shame and embarrassment, city council majority floorleader Joshua Alim doesn't hide his excitement each time the "pork barrel" scandal is tackled in media. Everywhere he goes, Alim's face glitters with joy and excitement as if he just won a duchess' heart.
"Now that it (the pork anomaly investigation) is happening, the playing field will now be leveled in 2016," Alim intoned.
What was in the mind of the alderman from Cotabato City who now resides in Jaro, Iloilo City, is that once "pork barrel" fund has been expurgated or bleeped out from the national budget, most reelectionists in the congressional contest will be crippled financially.
The discovery of scandalous "pork" insertions in the budget of legislators has spawned suspicions that corrupt congressmen and senators set aside a big chunk of their kickbacks from ghost projects through bogus NGOs run by the likes of Janet Napoles in preparation for reelection, aside from their insatiable greed for money and predilection for instant wealth. 


Those who pocket their "pork" allocations are usually assured of reelection as their rich war chest will give them overwhelming edge to make a mincemeat of their rivals--unless these challengers are billionaires like Lucio Tan and Henry Sy.
Without the backup of "pork barrel" fund otherwise known as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or Countrywide Development Fund (CDF) during the time of the late Pres. Cory Aquino and Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, a congressional or senatorial candidate doesn't have a morsel of chance to win unless he comes from a super rich clan.   
Going back to Alim, the guy's definitely salivating for a congresssional showdown against reelectionist Rep. Jerry P. Trenas, his partymate and conqueror in the 2007 mayoral election. It's too early to talk about politics, but among the present crop of congressional wanna-bes in the city council, Alim is the one ripe for the 2016 battle royal, aside from fellow lawyer Eduardo Penaredondo.


The Youth for A. L. I. M. Movement (Y4A), Inc. has been given the certificate of incorporation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and appears all-set to help buttress Alim's bid for higher office in the future. 
"I am sharing my life story to inspire the young people that even an ordinary and average poor young man can become a leader..and that poverty is not a hindrance to success if we only Dream, and Strive hard with faith and strong determination in ourselves and strong faith to God...keep up the good works guys and just keep the spirit alive...i am always hre as ur big brother..God bless our dreams for the young people..God bless Y4A...Aim high Less-privileged Ilonggo Masses (A.L.I.M.)," Alim wrote in his Facebook account as response to the SEC recognition. 
If Trenas seeks reelection and stays with Liberal Party, Alim will have no choice but leave the ruling party and seek refuge in the company of Vice President Jojo Binay and Manila Mayor Erap. After all, Alim was once an ally of the deposed President under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).  
In his recent trip to Baltimore, USA to represent Iloilo City in a water summit, Alim posted a Facebook photo of him together with fellow members of RP contingent with a caption that screams "future members of Congress."

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Mabilog loses brilliant legal adviser

"Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life." DONALD RUMSFELD 

By Alex P. Vidal

Whatever his critics say about him, outgoing City Legal Officer Jose Junio Jacela will be a big loss in the administration of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Jacela will bow out as chief of the legal department effective September 30 after Mabilog accepted his resignation and designated Atty. Daniel Dinopol as his successor. 
Jacela tendered his resignation after the city council rejected in a 14-1 vote his reappointment by Mabilog in July this year.
A former law professor and city prosecutor, Jacela has been chief legal officer since July 2010. When he was city councilor during the administration of Mayor Mansueto Malabor, Jacela helped save Malabor from various legal disasters (except in the P130-M Pavia housing scam where he and the former mayor were among the respondents) by just "being there when Pare Mansing needed him most."


The late former city treasurer Romeo Manikan Sr. considered Jacela as "Pare Mansing's saving grace" because Jacela knew how to guide Malabor, a fellow lawyer, wiggle out from risky deals that would give then fire-spewing opposition sentinel, city councilor Inday Pearl Zulueta, reason to haul Malabor in the Ombudsman.
Jacela made the right decision to resign after Mabilog failed to convince city councilors to reconsider their nay vote. Life is happier and livelier outside public office. City hall is a gossip mill anyway. Despite his seniority and professional standing, Jacela has not been spared by intrigues fomented by some of his peers in the city mayor's office.  There were those who gave him Mona Lisa smile when he was facing, and buried molotovs in his back when he was turning his back or when he was not around.


Being identified with the past administration is one of Jacela's mortal sins. From day one of his appointment, there were some Mabilog minions who didn't like his presence in the city legal office. 
No one is exactly sure if his relationship with former vice mayor and now Mabilog adviser Victor Facultad has improved, but reports said it's hard to convince Facultad to smile each time Mabilog mentioned some of Jacela's magnificent contributions in his administration. Facultad, however, has been very efficient in his public relations job and has earned some pogi points for the Mabilog administration in his own herculean effort. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Syjuco's plunder case vs Drilon 

"When I saw corruption, I was forced to find truth on my own. I couldn't swallow the hypocrisy." BARRY WHITE 


By Alex P. Vidal

The next story we expect to read in the newspapers would be Senate President Frank Drilon suing former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) chief Augusto "Boboy" Syjuco for libel. A tit for a tat.
At least that was what the big man of the Philippine senate had promised after he became a recipient of his first-ever plunder case filed by Syjuco in relation to the 1991 construction of the Hall of Justice building in Iloilo City, Drilon's second graft case in less than a month.
The building, Drilon's project when he was cabinet official under Pres. Cory Aquino, has been vacated by court employees and judges alarmed by cracks on the walls and floors days after the earthquake in February 2012. It is currently undergoing repair after experts declared it structurally unsound and ordered occupants to abandon the building.
In a Daily Guardian report by Tara Yap dated September 25, 2013, Syjuco alleged sub-standard materials were used in the P100-million building aside from lack of competitive bidding, among other anomalies.


Syjuco alleged further that Drilon plundered some P75 million from the building's retrofitting when it was damaged by earthquake.
"Our investigation shows about 75 million pesos was lost during these two transactions. First transaction, 200 million pesos plundered by Drilon. Second, 50 million from PDAF (priority development assistance fund) for the retrofitting of the building. Retrofitting is very controversial kasi ayaw ng mga tao na nag-occupy the building. They don't want to return to this building. Lahat ng galing sa building ayaw na bumalik. Kasi ang sabi ng Department of Public Works and Highways the building should be demolished completely. Pero si Drilon ayaw ipa-demolish, kasi dito makikita lahat ng baho, lahat ng tinago nila na substandard," report quoted Syjuco as saying.
At first glance, some people will suspect that Syjuco, smarting from the May 13 congressional poll defeat to Drilon's former lackey, Arcadio Gorriceta, in Iloilo's second district, has a beef against Drilon and filed the suit as act of vendetta. They could be right. Syjuco suffered double blackeyes after the recent elections. Hardly had the wounds of his election loss were healed, President Noynoy Aquino humiliated Syjuco, who is himself facing graft charges filed by TESDA employees, in the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA). Syjuco blamed Drilon for his defeat to Gorriceta and the SONA embarrassment was too much to bear.


On the other hand, Syjuco's plunder case against Drilon shouldn't be sardonically viewed with absolute skepticism by anti-Syjuco forces; it should be analyzed based on merits and evidence. The Office of the Ombudsman will look into the allegations of fraud based on weight of evidence, paper trail and possible patterns of corruption. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales won't give a hoot about the political and personal feuds of protagonists involved in the case. She is mandated by law to resolve the case with utmost objectivity and fairness.
Drilon cannot entirely claim that the graft and plunder cases filed against him are a form of "political harassment" since he is the one now in power while his accusers -- Syjuco in plunder case, and Manuel "Boy M" Mejorada in the P15-million graft case in relation to the Iloilo Esplanade project-- are no longer connected in government. Did he or did he not steal the taxpayers' money? 
Times are changing. Sometimes we're up, sometimes down. The wind of political change will not tilt on our favor permanently. Once upon a time Drilon thought he was indestructible, a demigod beyond reproach and a mythical figure in the country's political landscape. Not anymore today, sir. Time to face the music and read the handwriting on the wall. 

Monday, September 23, 2013


We need water and we need it quick

"My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them." MITCH HEDBERG 

By Alex P. Vidal

The real problem we are facing today is water crisis, not whether we have the best board of directors in the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD). Even the best water czars are useless if the faucets are empty.
The role of appointing the new set of MIWD board members is ministerial on the part of Iloilo Governor Art Defensor, who has agreed to "share" (via consultation) his authority to select the new water bosses with Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Even if Gov. Defensor and Mayor Mabilog will appoint Vid-ava, a water deity, to the MIWD board, whoever is in charge of the water management will most likely face the same problem tackled by the past board of directors. Water problem has been there since time immemorial. 
Water scarcity affects not only Ilonggos but also Cebuanos, Warays, Ilocanos, especially in far flung areas in Mindanao. It is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. It is the result of myriad environmental, political, economic, and social forces. Metro Manila has the worst water crisis. People kill each other because of dispute in water supply or the lack of it.


There were times when Ilonggos were up in arms against the MIWD in particular, and the  Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) in general for their failure to provide adequate water supply in areas covered by their jurisdiction. When faucets of residential areas in municipalities of Oton, Maasin, San Miguel, Pavia, Sta. Barbara, Cabatuan, and Leganes dried up, there was domino effect in the entire metropolis. Just like electricity, water crisis victimizes both the rich and poor.
Ilonggos criticized MIWD officials not really because some of them were corrupt, but because they needed water in their faucets -- and there was none. And they wanted it quick. They wanted it soon. Water is life of everyone.
Vigilance and empowerment on the part of residents is needed to explore the local stories and global trends defining the world's water crisis. We must learn and study where freshwater resources exist; how they are used; and how climate, technology, policy, and people play a role in both creating obstacles and finding solutions.


In the global water summit attended by Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim in Baltimore, USA recently, people were exhorted to make a research and peruse important reading materials, so we can learn how to make a difference by reducing our water footprint and getting involved with local and global water conservation and advocacy efforts.
The United Nations has informed us that water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.
Wherever we are, we need water to survive. Not only is our body 60 percent water, the resource is reportedly also essential for producing food, clothing, and computers, moving our waste stream, and keeping us and the environment healthy.
Experts say humans have proved to be inefficient water users. Report said the average hamburger takes 2,400 liters, or 630 gallons, of water to produce, and many water-intensive crops, such as cotton, are grown in arid regions.


Here are some of the facts that manifest imminent water crisis in the global scale as reported in the National Geographic: Freshwater makes up a very small fraction of all water on the planet. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of it is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just one percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields. In essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet's water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people.
Due to geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, some regions seem relatively flush with freshwater, while others face drought and debilitating pollution. In much of the developing world, clean water is either hard to come by or a commodity that requires laborious work or significant currency to obtain.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Despite 'pork' scam, Iloilo
farmers get DA support

"Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own." Samuel Johnson

By Alex P. Vidal

Even before the "pork barrel" scandal erupted with catatonic intensity this year, former Ilonggo sectoral Rep. Salvador Cabaluna and former TESDA Director General, both losing candidates in the May 13 congressional and local elections, were already tearing each other apart over Cabaluna's alleged misuse of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" fund.
The country's agricultural sector, which employs an estimated 12 million people and making up 33 percent of the national labor force, according to the 2012 Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, in fact, became the favorite "whipping boy" of corrupt congressmen and senators who connived with Janet Napoles, the alleged mastermind behind fake NGOs that "implemented" the projects.
These hooligans in Barong Tagalog probably thought it's easy to fool the farmers and fishermen who comprise 70 percent of the rural poor and whose average level of education is elementary.


This is the sector that contributes about 11 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with US$14.7 billion, although government investment in the sector was only 4 percent of the national budget in 2011.
The average daily wage of a farmer is $6, versus the national average of $10, it was learned. A major typhoon can easily wipe out earnings, small-scale farmers have learned. Ranked as one of the most disaster prone countries in the world, the archipelago experiences an average of 20 typhoons annually.
Meanwhile, despite the "pork" hullabaloo, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, undaunted by the "pork" issue, acted as Santa Claus to a group of Iloilo farmers last September 17.
Alcala turned over certificate for the P6-million Rice Processing Complex I and P1 million-worth four-wheel tractor to the PALACATI-AN Irrigator’s Association in Iloilo headed by Eduardo Alcasaren in a ceremony held at Brgy. Tigum, Pavia, Iloilo.


Lilibeth French of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-6 reported that the association has 452 registered members from Barangays Pagsanga-an, Cabugao Norte, Tigum and Anilao in Pavia, and Lapayon in Leganes. It has a total service area of 810 hectares with 100 percent cropping intensity.
French wrote that Alcasaren thanked Alcala for the multi-million-peso equipment and facility saying, “We are very grateful for these support - the Rice Complex and the tractor because we see that these will add or improve our productivity as well as the quality of our life especially of our children.” The association also receives incentives from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) for its good performance in Irrigation Service Fee Collection, French revealed.
French further wrote that Alcala, for his part, lauded the farmers’ group for their good performance and said the support is just the first step to attain the Aquino Administration’s thrust of “inclusive growth”. “From time to time naririnig po natin ang inclusive growth, kung ano po ito dapat iisa ang ibig sabihin – pag nagsimula ang tulong sa ibaba hanggang sa itaas kasa-kasama at dapat magsimula po sa inyo ang pagtulong,” said Alcala.


The PIA report said Alcala stressed before the farmers the government’s farm mechanization program, demonstrating the use of Rice Combine Harvester and Reaper. He also met with more than 800 farmer-members of different Irrigator’s Associations in the province during the Farmers’ Forum held at Western Visayas Agriculture Research Center at Brgy. Hamungaya, Jaro.
The turn-over ceremony, Field Day and Farmers’ Forum were part of the “Rice Harvest Festival” organized by NIA and DA, said the PIA report.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


She looks like Serena Williams 
and promises not to forget me

"Tennis is just a game, family is forever." 


By Alex P. Vidal

Paris Reese was 12 years old when her look-alike, Serena Williams, collected her third US Open title in 2008 in women singles by whipping Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 7-5 in the hard court.
This was when her father, Jack, invited me to watch Paris perform superbly in Las Vegas where she ran away with the 2008 DTC Santa Clause Classic Tennis championship.
Reese, a Coronado mainstay and the Cougar's dominant figure in Sunrise Region at Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas, loves the Williams sisters -- Serena and Venus -- so much.
"Oh, one day I want to be like them; I want to be like Serena. She's my role model," Paris told this writer. "I also like the way Serena smiles especially when she raises her trophy."


"Someday you will also earn millions of dollars like them, and I hope you won't forget me," I replied to Paris in jest. She retorted, "You will write about me in the future. How can I forget you?"
We also watched Serena's masterful conquest of Russian Dinara Safina, 6-0, 6-3, in the 2009 Australian Open for Serena's unprecedented fourth Aussie crown.
"I will always support Paris in her favorite sport. I know she will be a great tennis player someday," Jack told this writer. 
Paris almost resembles Serena's physique. Like the world No. 1 tennis player from Michigan, Paris also loves to curl her hair and feels comfortable whacking the ball with both legs in spread position.  "She is still growing," Jack quipped. "She will be taller and heavier when she reaches 18."


Since putting away Jankovic and Safina, Serena yielded only one of her eight trips to the final in the Wimbledon Open, French Open, and US Open. Serena lost a gut-wrenching match to Australia's Samantha Stosur, 2-6, 3-6 in the 2011 US Open. 
Serena blasted her sister Venus, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 in the 2009 Wimbledon final in the grass court; trounced Justine Henin, 6-4, 3-6, 62 in the 2010 Australian Open for his fifth title; clobbered Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 for her fifth title in the 2012 Wimbledon Open; subdued Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5; and walloped Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-4, in the 2013 French Open clay court.
Serena made headlines once more recently when she smashed Azarenka again, 7–5, 6–7(6–8), 6–1, for her fifth US Open title.
Serena, 31 (she turns 32 on September 26), has a boyfriend, Patrick Mouratoglou, 12 years her senior. "Strictly no boyfriend for Paris yet. No way," vowed Jack, the "stage father."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ex-boxer killed by live wire laid to rest  

"The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time."

PEDERISO (standing 2nd from right) 
By Alex P. Vidal

The 28-year-old former boxer from Iloilo City killed by a high-tension wire in Laguna, was laid to rest at the Holy Gardens Memorial Park in Oton, Iloilo last September 14.
Dominic Pederiso's dream was simple: "I want to be a member of the Philippine team," he told teammates Ronnie Cuambot and Loubert Plomes in the ill-fated Iloilo Amateur Boxing Development (IABDI) team that competed in the 2002 National Youth Amateur Boxing Tournament on June 24-29 in Cebu City.
Pederiso, 42 kg., was 17 when he made it to the national tournament that would select the country's members of the training pool for the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. Pederiso and Plomes were foiled via RSC (referee stop the contest) in the elimination stage by their rivals from Cebu. Cuambot was disqualified.

Annaren Biron, Pederiso's girlfriend

Plomes quit boxing and became a dance instructor. Cuambot and Pederiso continued fighting in inter municipality tournaments.


Pederiso decided to relaunch his young fistic career and went to Manila. In order to fight as a four-rounder in the professional rank, he needed to secure a license from the Games and Amusement Board (GAB). Unable to find a manager that would guide him, Pederiso decided to work as electrician.
While fixing electricity in the third floor of his uncle's house in Calamba, Laguna together with younger brother, Doniel, last August 30, Pederiso touched a live wire and was thrown to the ground.
His mother, Elisa, 53, said her son was still alive when brought to the hospital. Half of his body suffered serious burns, from stomach to feet. He died September 2.  "He was almost cut into half," Elisa said. His remains were brought to their residence in Timawa, Molo, Iloilo City.


Pederiso left behind girlfriend Annaren Biron, 25, a clerk in Panasonic Calamba branch. Biron, a Bicolana, said she and Pedersio had planned to get married next year.
His brothers Donald, Domer, Doniel; sisters Donalisa and Dona May and their father Domiciano, 58, together with friends and relatives, brought him to his resting place.


Did Vishy learn to say 
'checkmate' in Manila?

"A woman can beat any man; it's difficult to imagine another kind of sport where a woman can beat a man. That's why I like chess."  ALEXANDRA KOSTENIUK 

By Alex P. Vidal

Jim Slater (not the ice hockey player) sent me the link of Deccan Chronicle with a story that happened 19 years ago about Soviet-born American chess grandmaster Gata Kamsky "saying sorry" after eliminating Indian grandmaster Viswanathan "Vishy" Anand, 6-4, in the FIDE (Federation internationale des echecs) or World Chess Federation quarterfinal held at Sanghi Nagar, Hyderabad, India in 1994.
Slater is an Australian sports scribe I met outside the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) sometime in June 1992, during the 30th World Chess Olympiad. His namesake, Jim Slatter (last name with double letter "t") is also an Australian and my esteemed colleague and friend in the original World Boxing Federation (WBF).
Slater was asking if I know that Anand, 43, learned the rudiments of chess in the Philippines when his family moved here in the early 70s. He wanted to know more about the Anand family's stint in the Philippines. Did Vishy really learn and sharpen his chess skills in Manila? Was he trained by a Pinoy? I told him the truth: I don't know. I have no idea.


I play chess and cover chess tournaments as a sports writer, but I didn't know that Anand, the current world chess champion, was a one-time "resident" of the Philippines. Interestingly, Anand won the world junior chess championship in Baguio City in 1987 at 17, the second time for the gigantic event to be held in the Philippines since 1974 where Britain's future super-GM Anthony Miles emerged as world champion. A year after winning the Baguio world junior crown, Anand became India's first grandmaster.
"I am sorry," the Deccan Chronicle story quoted Kamsky, now 39, as saying after ousting Anand. The report cited international master P. D. S. Girinath's analysis that Anand was the hot favorite going into the quarterfinal and the result was unpalatable for his fans. “Everyone thought Anand would win convincingly, especially after he led by two points midway through the match. The eventual result upset everyone at the tournament hall and Kamsky’s gesture was appreciated.”


Garinath added, “In the match against Kamsky, Anand drew the first two games and won the third and fourth. Fifth was a draw and then came his downfall, when he lost two games. In the final game, he drew to enter the rapid fire round. Despite holding a better position with black, Anand lost the first rapid game. He tried very hard to make it even with white pieces in the second game, but failed." Garinath further said: “Kamsky and his father had got their return tickets booked even before the end of the match, as they had expected Anand to win easily. The organizers -- Sanghi Industries -- had already agreed to hold the semifinals in the same venue anticipating Anand’s participation."
The match was conducted well, according to chess coach and international arbiter V. Kameswaran. Fans reportedly proved to be a distraction for Anand. Kameswaran said playing at home might have taken a toll on his performance towards the end of the match.


Kameswaran pointed out that the Indian champion did not wait long to take his revenge. He defeated Kamsky 6.54.5 in a 12-game final qualification match in the Professional Chess Association (PCA) world championship cycle in 1995.
The story said the win helped Anand challenge world champion Garry Kasparov for the title. Meanwhile, Kamsky defeated Valery Salov of Russia in the semifinals at Sanghi Nagar in 1995 before losing to Anatoly Karpov of Russia in the world championship match in 1996. “Since world champion Karpov was playing in India, there was a buzz among chess players during the semifinals. However, the absence of Anand was obviously felt,” Girinath said.
When Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship for the first time in 2000 at Tehran, Iran,  writer Arunabha Sengupta, narrated in a September 12, 2013 article posted on "Anand overcame a flight delay due to the erupting volcano Eyjafjallajokull, and underwent a harrowing 40-hour road journey before defeating Veselin Topalov to secure the World Championship. In the sixth game he made 13 consecutive moves with the knights, leading commentators to wonder whether he was trying to solve the Knight’s Tour Problem."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hohmann breaks our hearts

Hohmann breaks our hearts

"It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf." H. L. Mencken 

By Alex P. Vidal

While some of us were monitoring the violence in Zamboanga last Friday (September 13) midnight, I was glued to my netbook--my thoughts in faraway Doha.
Qatar's largest city and economic center has played host to the last four editions of the World Pool-Billiard Associations (WPA) World Nine-ball Championships, where the world's best pool players compete. Last Friday's championship was very significant for sports historians in the Philippines. 
It was the seventh time since the tournament romped off in 1990 in Bergheim, Germany that a Pinoy cue artist made it to the final round. Germany's Thorsten Hohmann broke the heart of not only Antonio "Gaga" Gabica, the fourth Filipino in history who failed to nail the big victory in the championship, but also of millions of Filipino fans monitoring the event "live" that night. 


Most of us thought Gabica already had the trophy in the first half when he zoomed ahead, 6-4. Moments later, Hohmann, who also repulsed Filipino-Canadian finalist Alex Pagulayan for the world title in 2003 in Cardiff, made Gabica, a former Asian Games gold medalist, eat the dust to register a 13-6 victory.
It was in the inaugural staging of the world 9-ball fracas in Doha on June 29-July 4, 2010 where Francisco "Django" Bustamante became the third Filipino to become a world champion when he bested Taiwan's Kuo Po-cheng, 13-7.
Efren "Bata" Reyes and Renato Alcano were the two other Pinoys who won billiards' most prestigious world crown -- Reyes subduing Taiwan's Chang Hao-ping in Cardiff, Wales in 1991 and Alcano upending Germany's Ralf Soquet in Manila in 2006.
Hohmann’s second World 9-ball Championship comes exactly 10 years after he burst on to the international scene with a powerful run through a stacked  field in Cardiff, Wales in 2003, according to WPA press officer Ted Lerner.  "In the intervening years Hohmann has firmly established himself as one of the greats of this era, consistently winning events big and small all over the globe.  He excels at various other pool disciplines as well, especially straight pool, for which he is arguably the best in the world," he reported.


Lerner further observed that while the last 10 years have placed the 34-year old Hohmann in pool’s elite, his performance in Doha has surely brought his stature into rarefied air. 
Along the way to the title he defeated a who’s who of pool strong men, among them the defending world champion Darren Appleton, and five, yes five, top Filipino players, including four in a row down the homestretch.   
"And don’t forget to throw in the fact that Hohmann did all this in front of what was essentially a highly partisan home crowd of mostly Filipinos who cheered wildly for their boys.  Looked at in total, that’s a masterpiece by anyone’s standards," Lerner added. 


It was my first "live" monitoring of the World 9-ball Championship since 2007 when Britain's Daryl Peach demolished another Pinoy finalist Roberto Gomez in Manila. Due to recession, organizers canceled the event in 2008 and 2009. When it was revived the following year, it was Bustamante's time to shine.
The loss to Hohmann ended what had become one of the great Cinderella stories pool had seen in years for Gabica. Lerner said the 41-year-old Filipino had always been known to pool fans as a superbly gifted player, but one who, except for a few occasions, would collapse under the pressure of big time matches. That's how Thorsten Hohmann broke our hearts one Friday midnight.


'We are not gods'

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." Winston Churchill 


By Alex P. Vidal

We always consider it a blessing for freedom of the press and expression each time we hear a public official telling all and sundry that he isn't onion-skinned, and egging media to "criticize us if we err but also praise us or acknowledge the good things that we do."  
Such was the meat of the matter of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog's speech during the induction of the new officers of the Iloilo Press Club led by Daily Guardian editor-in-chief Francis Allan Angelo September 14 at Hotel del Rio.
"We are not gods. You were the ones who elected us and placed us in our positions (as public servants)," Mabilog, the inducting officer, declared in his "inspirational" speech.


"Ladies and gentlemen, an independent and responsible Iloilo press is an excellent instrument for development and for strengthening democracy.  Besides providing people all over the region access to news, information and debate that are the cornerstones of freedom, an independent and responsible press could build bridges, not barriers, between people separated by varied political suasions, beliefs, religion, and geography," he added (Here's the complete speech:
Mabilog, who was ripped apart by mediamen identified with his former rival in the mayoral race in the recent elections, was in reconcilatory mood as he spoke about press freedom and responsibility that goes with it. The city mayor said he has forgiven his media tormentors. 
Mabilog has always been a friend of the press. Contrary to what his critics have been saying about him, I've known him to be a cool person even before he was first elected as city councilor and later vice mayor during the term of then mayor and now Rep. Jerry Trenas. Mabilog is aware that as a politician, he must be immune to insults, thus he is not vindictive and he easily forgives.


When he saw one of his sharpest critics, Berd Vargas, during the IPC affair, he tapped Berd's shoulder and quipped in a soft voice, "Kumusta ka na? OK ka na?"
Unlike other politicians who befriend only the editors, publishers and station managers, Mabilog considers other employees in newspapers, radio and TV stations as friends, as well. He mingles and chats with them like an ordinary person. He doesn't choose his crowd. Mabilog's political rise was meteoric. As founder and chairman of the HALIGI Foundation, he became extremely popular that during the last months of Mayor Mansueto Malabor in 2001, he sent fears in the heart of then Councilor Eduardo Laczi, a veteran politician and consistent No. 1 in the city council, who threatened to run for vice mayor if Mabilog would run for the same position. Mabilog became vice mayor for nine years while Laczi became a respondent in a graft case (for his alleged involvement in the P130-million Pavia housing scam).  
When Mabilog decided to run for city mayor against then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. and former LWUA Administrator Larry Jamora in 2011, I was one of the few journalist friends he consulted in early part of 2010 (I was in the United States and we chatted via Facebook, in his first and original account). Information chief Amante "Boy" Espejo was one of the only few city hall department heads who believed that Mabilog was ripe for the position of city mayor. In one of our internet chats, Espejo expressed disgust that most of those implicated in the Pavia housing scam were city hall bigwigs. "It's time for Vice Mayor Jed (Patrick Mabilog) to take over and redeem the name of Ilonggos," Espejo stressed. "I believe he can make it."  


He scored a major upset and earned the reputation as "giant killer" by trouncing Gonzalez and Jamora, two of former President Gloria Arroyo's most trusted cabinet officials. 
I didn't meet Mabilog when I went back to the Philippines briefly in 2011. I never set foot again in city hall, my beat as a reporter for 12 years since the time of the late Mayor Roding Ganzon (1988-1991) and Malabor (1991-2001), where I became one of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps founding presidents. 
I only met Mabilog in my second homecoming during the cable talk show program hosted by Danny "Baby" Foz Jr. two days before the May 13 elections, and for the second time during the IPC induction ceremony last September 14. 
Now that Mabilog and the IPC have "reunited," we expect the press club building to be finally given permit under the presidency of Francis Allan Angelo.