Thursday, March 27, 2014

Work and woman don't mix

"It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness." 
--E. M. Forster

By Alex P. Vidal

The engineer who lost his job in a construction company tasked to repaint the Iloilo Capitol after admitting he ordered the vandalism on the building's dome, will only have himself to blame.
Engr. Jose Maria Cesar Uychocde, representative of contractor V.N. Grande Builders and Supply that bagged the repainting job, reportedly wanted to impress a certain "Adele", who works in a restaurant in front of the capitol, thus he ordered the painting of “Hello, Adele” graffiti on the capitol dome.
The imposing scribble has nothing to do with the contractor's job order and can be seen and read by pedestrians and passersby downstairs especially in adjacent buildings. 


The vandalism angered Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. who ordered the temporary stoppage of the firm's P3.2-million contract unless somebody admitted the misdemeanor.
After several finger-pointing and dilly-dallying, Uychocde finally owned up the wrongdoing in front of Defensor last Thursday. He then resigned from the company. As of press time, the governor has ordered the resumption of the repainting works.
It was not immediately known if Uychocde, who is probably in his 60s, was married or not, but the moral of the story is: work and woman (we refuse to use the term "womanizing" because we don't have any evidence that the engineer pursued Adele lecherously) don't mix.


It is none of our business if Uychocde is enamored with Adele (whoever she is) or not, but the story clearly illustrated the risk and consequences a naughty laborer has to endure if he mixes his job with women.
If Uychocde manifested his interest on Adele privately, there would have been no vandalism; no temporary suspension of repainting job, no media ruckus, no scandal, no resignation and embarrassment. 
There would have been no fuss if government property was not involved in his attempt to flatter Adele. The "Hello, Adele" has now become a "Goodbye, Adele!"

'Porno' theater destroys city's wholesome image

'Porno' theater destroys 
city's wholesome image

"I want one place I can go that is not going to be lewd, and I'm not sure there is anything left."
Matt Drudge 

REGENT THEATER before World War II

By Alex P. Vidal

Giant malls are now equipped with state-of-the-art digital theaters and 3D cinemas, virtually erasing from the map dilapidated and archaic downtown movie houses in major cities all over the country.
In Iloilo City, the only remaining downtown theater that operates outside three gigantic malls, is located right at the heart of where cultural and religious festivals are held regularly.
Interestingly, Regent Theater (formerly Cine Palace or Palace Theater) is housed in a building on J.M. Basa Street downtown, City Proper with a neo-classical facade, and is believed to be the oldest existing movie house in the Philippines built in 1928.
During the Dinagyang festival held every third week of January in honor of Senor Santo Nino at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, (if the camera is facing from the grandstand side) the most visible and conspicuous edifice aside from the adjacent Cine Eagle building is Regent Theater.


But instead of providing additional glory and prestige to the city that has garnered national and international recognition due to its rich heritage, architectural building designs, cultural and religious treasures, Regent Theater has deteriorated into a symbol of shame and scandal for Ilonggos.
The theater, classical in character and it’s detailed facade of Corinthian capitals on fluted columns form the portico, continues to operate normally and provides entertainment to adult patrons. 
Films being shown in public, however, don't have redeeming values and were mostly pornographic by nature--or lewd old Tagalog films containing materials that disturb sensibilities and scandalize women. Ironically, the theater's pediment is adorned with symmetrically arranged ornamentation of female figures, putti and floral flourishes.


Dingy and squalid, the place is reportedly being frequented by sexual predators, prostituted women, call boys, and sometimes teenagers who cut classes. 
City hall and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) should do something to repair the moral decay wrought by this theater in the populace, restore the building's old glory and save its tattered reputation. Health authorities must also get involve in order to arrest the possible spread of communicable sex-related diseases.
City officials squabble for pedestrianization of Calle Real, but ignore this alarming moral eyesore right in the front door of the metropolis. Beautification should not be limited only in the facade of the city but in the citizens' moral fiber, as well. A citizenry with a healthy mind makes a healthy city or nation.
Mystics say super-typhoon "Yolanda" spared Iloilo City because Ilonggos are "deeply religious" and devotees of almost all patron saints in the Roman Catholic church. The "City of Love" is also home to "born again" Christian sects and other Bible-toting religious cults and organizations.


Dyed-in-the-wool preachers and doyens of morality build small "churches" and organize fellowship prayers in the metropolis because they find the Ilonggos "pure" and "spiritually inclined."
"Earthquakes and super-typhoons avoid Iloilo City because we are near heaven," volunteered Alberto Lopez (not the former congressman of Iloilo's second district), a self-proclaimed messiah, who preaches the Bible but cavorts with his neighbor's wife.
Let's help cleanse the Augean Stables and eliminate from our system remnants of indecent shows and lurid films in burlesk screens. Let's speak, write, think good and be wholesome. Let's think God. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SMC should include Iloilo, other airports in alternative project

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."
Albert Einstein

By Alex P. Vidal

The $10-billion proposed alternative international airport project being dangled by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) to the government should not be limited to serving Metro Manila alone. There are many airports of international standards outside Metro Manila and are better equipped and ready for whatever expansion or development programs in the future.
Although Manila is the seat of national government, massive economic activities and developments have also been felt in various regions outside Luzon these past years; and modern airports in Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, among other major cities in the Visayas and Mindanao, are among the busiest. Imperial Manila should not devour the entire cake. 
When investors and tourists fly to other cities in Visayas and Mindanao, they will realize there is more than meets the eye when it comes to tourism and investment opportunities normally advertised in the internet and other media to be happening only in Metro Manila areas. Industrialization and economic growth should be a national phenomenon. 


If airports in other regions are developed and upgraded, more economic zones will germinate nationwide. Economic zones help small scale businesses and exporters in the countryside. The playing field is leveled. And this is the essence of globalization.  
Tiny cities in neighboring Asian countries have become economic tigers because both the government and private sector spread the sunshine nationwide in terms of public works and infrastructure development. Airports in these bustling cities have become sophisticated and upgraded to international standards, thus attracting tourists and investors from America, Australia, Africa and Europe.
If the capital city improves by leaps and bounds, the rest of the cities all over the country should also improve by leaps and bounds. Everybody happy. The wonders of this egalitarian-type approach in nationwide expansion and development have been experienced in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia. 


In a recent report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer,  SMC was set to submit to President Aquino in April this year its own proposal for a $10-billion alternative international airport serving Metro Manila "even as the government separately pursues a similar project, likely at a former US naval base in Sangley Point, Cavite."
The report mentioned SMC president Ramon S. Ang confirming reports that the airport project would cover around 800 hectares and would be located at an unspecified area in Metro Manila.
"SMC, a diversified conglomerate and owner of a minority stake in flag carrier Philippine Airlines, has long sought to build its own air gateway but uncertainty over the government’s stance on the matter prompted it to shelve the plan last year," said the PDI report.


The proposal still faces other challenges, the report further said, given the current administration’s bias against unsolicited projects.
"Moreover, the Department of Transportation and Communications is looking at its own international airport project, to either operate alongside or as a replacement to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s busiest air gateway," it added.
"The three terminals at Naia handled about 32 million passengers last year, above its intended capacity of 30 million. Nevertheless, Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said Tuesday that they were open to considering SMC’s proposal, once it is submitted."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We solicit newspaper ads; are we also unethical?

We solicit newspaper ads; 
are we also unethical?

"Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper."  Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

Even if we were not good in marketing, we have been soliciting newspaper advertisements since we began writing for a community newspaper in late 80's.
The job of employees in editorial department is different from the job of those in the newspaper's marketing department, but we were required by the publisher to solicit advertisements especially during special issues like anniversary and Christmas.
Advertisements are the life-blood of any newspaper. Without them, publishers are hard-pressed to sustain a regular payroll, much less defray the expenses for production or printing costs. For special issues like anniversary, even editors, lay-out artists and delivery boys are dispatched to look for money. Everyone must chip in; everyone must eat and bring foods on the table. 
Newspapers outside Metro Manila don't pay well because they don't really earn much revenue. Community journalists are among the lowest paid professionals in the Philippines. This was the response I made to the consul in the US Embassy who asked if I have much money after he found out that aside from being a newspaperman, I also dabbled in professional boxing as ring official where I was paid in dollars. "Community-based journalists live below the poverty level," I told the consul. "I don't even have money in the bank."


There is a gray area in the journalists' code of ethics when members of the editorial board -- editors, staff writers and reporters -- are seen soliciting ads in private companies, offices of politicians and government establishments. The dual tasks will definitely compromise the journalist's job to write objectively. There will always be conflict of interests. A journalist's credibility will be put to acid test. 
But this has become a traditional and long-accepted practice among provincial-based journalists. Otherwise we starve. Publishers--and even some network owners--are forced to treat journalism heavily from the commercial point of view in order to survive. Many newspapers have closed shop because they could not sustain the spiraling printing costs and other related expenses. It's not a walk in the park for publishers to maintain a daily newspaper in areas with limited advertisers. When business in certain city or province is good, it doesn't guarantee that business in newspaper is also good. Many business establishments don't place advertisements in the newspapers--except if they are under fire for labor violations, among other infractions. They put advertisements only to cushion the impact of negative publicity. In other words, they are not there for keeps.

This brought to our attention the case of Manila broadcasters Erwin Tulfo and Carmelo del Prado Magdurulang who are recently in the headlines after their names were implicated in the "pork barrel" controversy after receiving payments from the National Agribusiness Corp. (Nabcor), an agency under the Department of Agriculture that was used as conduit for the release of Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) money that went into ghost projects.
Tulfo claimed the transaction with Nabcor was legitimate as it was a payment for a radio blocktime advertisement. Nabcor issued him a check in the amount of P245,535 drawn from the agency’s account at United Coconut Planters’ Bank (UCPB), Tektite Branch PSE Center, Ortigas, Pasig City on March 10, 2009. 
Magdurulang known as Melo del Prado, who hosts a radio show in GMA7’s DZBB, got three checks issued dated April 27, May 14, and July 6 totaling P245,535. 
"Is it ethical for a journalist to also solicit ads?"asked Manila-based columnist Ellen Tordesillas who hails from Antique.


Tordesillas wrote in her blog: "I’m more concerned about the ethical aspect of the what it seems has become a standard media practice: journalists doubling as advertising solicitors. Erwin said there’s even one broadcast practice called AOB (Air on Board) , where anchors read the press release of advertisers for a fee. He said he does not do that.
"It is a fact that advertisements are the lifeblood of media. But the advertising department is separate from the editorial department.
"Independence is a basic journalism value. For journalists to be credible and effective in their role of society’s watchdog, they have to be independent and that includes from the influence of the publication or network’s advertisers. A journalist reports something he discovered that would be of interest to and benefit the people and not because someone paid him to do it or it’s a requirement from advertisers."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Did Narcom commit a mea culpa in Concepcion, Iloilo 'coca' plant?

Did Narcom commit a mea culpa 
in Concepcion, Iloilo 'coca' plant?

“Cocaine is God's way of saying you're making too much money.”

By Alex P. Vidal

Twenty five years ago, the regional Narcotics Command (Narcom) headed by Capt. Eduardo Bianzon uprooted and burned what they believed to be some 1,000 coca plants in Agho island, located off the coasts of Concepcion, Iloilo and allegedly broke open the mini-laboratory reportedly owned by Australian couple Tom and Terry Kurt.
Bianzon described the mini-laboratory as "a complete factory for cocaine" after the raid on August 25, 1988.
According to a report by then Daily Times editor Manuel P. Mejorada, the Kurt couple "have been gone for almost two years now. Perhaps they were alarmed when the operations of the monkey farm  in San Rafael, Iloilo owned by Jack Vacek was busted and packed their things for other destinations."
Mejorada was one of the only two Iloilo journalists allowed by the Narcom (now Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency) to board one of the choppers that flew to Agho island from the Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district on August 19, 1988. The other one was Bombo Radyo's Rodel Fullon Agado, who is now Iloilo City councilor.


Mejorada described the island as "one of those tropical hideaways which provide an ideal retreat for the busy city dweller. Wedged between two bigger islands, Agho is a tiny dot from the air, surrounded by blue, pristine waters. The place is perfect for a weekend of swimming, snorkeling, sailing and other water sports."
To recap the event that transpired in Agho island, this was how Mejorada narrated the story in the August 20, 1988 issue of the Daily Times: "That--the picture of sea-loving tourists here to enjoy the country's scenic spots--appears to be the cover conceived by the couple Tom and Terry Kurt when they first came to the island way back in 1981.
"The Kurts told the local folk they were looking for a place where they could commune with nature, to be far away from the hectic life in the cities.
"Thus, nobody suspected that the couple were up to something when they began building a cottage on a hill which offered a vantage point over the entire area. They hired local laborer and paid well. Leonard Villaris, 55, told the Daily Times that he worked on the island for three months. 'I helped Kurt build his cottage,' he said.


"Fishermen from neighboring islands were also free to cast their nets in the waters surrounding the island. Restituto Ciriaco, 34, recalls that he supplied the couple with a daily supply of shrimps and fish. 'They were kind to me,' he said. 'In fact, Mrs. Kurt even volunteered to teach the women in the nearby islands special skills like embroidery.'
"Things started to change, however, just when Kurt finished the construction of a small building and landed laboratory equipment in 1981. He had already installed a generator to provide electricity for the cottage and the other buildings. Soon a 'no trespassing' sign was put up. Doberman guard dogs suddenly turned up at the island to discourage unwanted visitors from straying into the area. To enforce this warning, an armed guard kept a sharp eye for intruders on a 24-hour basis. Visitors had to ring a bell at the dock area and wait for the 'household' to allow them into the island.
"'I became suspicious at once,' Barangay Captain Magno Bordan said. 'The hospitable Kurts suddenly declared the island off-limits for no apparent reason.' Bordan said that even fishermen who tried to fish in the waters near the island were shooed away. 'Nobody really knew what was going on in the island from that time on,' Bordan said.
"Unknown to the native islanders, Kurt had found that the soil conditions on the island was ideal for growing the coca plant. He brought in coca seedlings and planted these on a hilly portion of the island just below the cottage. To camouflage the coca plants, he inter-planted them with a local plant which is very similar in appearance.


"'Absolutely nobody from the neighboring islands were allowed to work there anymore,' Bordan said. 'The laborers came all the way from Cebu.' Apparently, Kurt didn't want the local residents to poke their nose around and stumble into his illicit operations. By keeping them out, he was assured that nobody was going to disturb him for a while.
"That continued for the next five years. The people from the neighboring islands were kept in the dark as to what was going on during all that time. It was only last week when agents from the Narcotics Command stormed the island armed with a search warrant, that they came to know about the tale of the intrigue and mystery that filled the island's recent history.
"'It's amazing how they were able to escape notice this long,' Bianzon said, who credits the vigilance of local officials like Concepcion mayor Betsie Salcedo, Governor Simplicio Grino and the provincial commander, Lt. Col. Jesus Almaden Jr. for the successful operation. Bianzon found evidence that the Agho plantation is linked to the San Rafael monkey farm; the guard on the island is the same person who worked as security man for Vacek when his farm was raided two years ago."


A week after the raid, however, Mayor Salcedo belied the claims of the Narcom. The Philippine News Agency (PNA) quoted Salcedo as saying that "there was no official confirmation of reports that the wild plants discovered in Agho island are really coca plants."
The plants uprooted and burned by Bianzon and his men were the "opathalo" plants  which are used as firewood by island residents.
Salcedo's view was shared by then US Consul Franklin Huddle Jr. who said that there was really no laboratory test on the wild plants taken from the small island to confirm if it is really the coca plants, reported the PNA.
Huddle reportedly based his observation "on media reports" about the discovery. Bianzon earlier reported that the raid on Agho island was conducted after a laboratory test made on samples taken from the place positively confirmed that these were wild coca plants.


A similar raid conducted on another farm in San Rafael a few days after the Agho island discovery also resulted in the seizure of several coca plants which Australian and U.S. drug agents confirmed to be the "real" thing, according to Bianzon.
The PNA said Salcedo herself was present when Brig. Gen. Pantaleon Dumlao and other military officials visited the island to destroy the wild coca plants uprooted there.
The PNA reported that "Bianzon was not immediately available to comment on these contradictory observations aired by Mayor Salcedo and the American diplomat."

Thursday, March 13, 2014

In my heart Jack Rennie is still alive

In my heart Jack Rennie is still alive

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal."



The man who gave me a break to officiate as judge and referee in world boxing championship fights died on March 14, 2013. It's the first death anniversary of Jack Rennie, who passed away in a Melbourne nursing home at 82.
I officiated world title fights under Rennie's supervision when he was supervisor for Asia Pacific Rim and later vice president of the World Boxing Federation (WBF) mostly in the 90s.
Although he was known to a lot of boxing personalities and impresarios in the Philippines, I can say without hesitation that I was one of Rennie's most favorite Filipino ring officials even if I was not one of the best in my country.
"He may not be one of the best but he is someone who I can trust most," Rennie told then American WBF president Ron Scalf, who joined Rennie at ringside when I officiated the 12-round world super-bantamweight championship fight between Thailand's Samson Elite Gym or Dutchboygym versus Mexico's Genaro "Poblanito" Garcia in Chonburi on February 17, 1996.
I can't forget Rennie's words to Scalf until today. He was saying many good things about me to Scalf, other promoters and fellow ring officials. After dinner, he and Scalf summoned me inside their hotel room while we were in Bangkok prior to the Dutchboygym vs. Garcia fisticuffs.


"Alex, can you list down all the names of referees in your country and rank them according to their ability and experience? Please don't forget to include your name," sighed Rennie.
I listed 14 names. I placed Carlos "Sonny" Padilla, Jr., father of actress Zsa Zsa, at No. 1 and my friend Bruce McTavish, at No. 2. I listed my name at No. 14.  Rennie showed the list to Scalf. They looked at each other without saying any word and asked me to go back to my room.
The following morning while on our way to Chonburi, Scalf gave me a WBF wrist watch. "Alex, not all WBF referees can have this watch," Scalf whispered. "Take this as a souvenir." More assignments abroad followed suit.
In 2004 when Rennie retired, newly-installed president Mick Croucher arrived in Manila to hand over my appointment papers as Philippine supervisor. Croucher said I was endorsed by Rennie.  Also present in a meeting at the Manila Pavilion Hotel on August 1, 2004 were Chinese promoter Cao Kun, Australia/China advisor Yuickor Yick, and Filipino promoter Gabriel (Bebot) Elorde, Jr.  


Croucher, 66, said he was now "100 percent owner" of the WBF which was duly registered at the Consumer Affairs in Victoria, Australia with business number B1722046D pursuant to Business Name Act 1962 on November 7, 2003.
It was Croucher who informed me of Rennie's death last year. Australian National Boxing Federation (ANBF) president John McDougall, 82, said Rennie "was known throughout the boxing world as a man whose word was his bond."
McDougall said, "Jack trained the great Lionel Rose to the world bantamweight title and had Lionel defend against high ranked opposition so different to many of the titleholders today. He secured a world title fight for Lionel for the junior lightweight world title and was like a second father to Lionel."
Rennie trained many other Australian boxers including Paul Ferrari, Jimmy Thunder, Atila Fogas, Graham Brook and many others, according to mcDougall. "He took Graham to the Commonwealth title and Paul to world bantamweight title shot against one of the all-time greats, Carlos Zarate and Paul pushed him close," he added.
McDougall further said:  "Jack in his early days always felt that Boxers deserved better conditions than were on offer out here and was instrumental in forming the ANBF. It was he who paid his own fares and expenses to go to an OBF conference and was successfull in having that body, then the only one in SE Asia admit the ANBF to membership and had the name changed to OPBF to include Australia, NZ and other Pacific Countries.


"The following year he led, as president of the ANBF, a delegation to the OPBF and WBC Conventions to Seoul, South Korea where we cemented our place in the OPBF and with it the WBC. This opened the door for our boxers and also our ring officials. At the same conference we met with the Commonwealth Championships Committee and were able to reach an agreement to make some alterations to our office bearers and we would be admitted to full membership and with the right to vote, which we never previously enjoyed. This required Jack, the President and Len Swettenham, the secretary to step down and pass office to members, who were not trainers, and to the credit of both of these fine men they gladly stepped aside to allow Australia to be recognized and admitted to full membership."
"Boxing in Australia today and the success of many boxers such as Jeff Fenech, Jeff Harding and many others is the direct legacy of the work initiated by Jack Rennie. Jack's devotion and work for his sport saw him granted the Order of Australia and Life membership to the ANBF and the Australian Boxing Hall of Fame."
"He later was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also received many Victorian Trainer of the year awards. Jack spent many years working as Vice President of the original WBF and at one time had TV bouts for that organisation on air almost every week somewhere in SE Asia. I had the honour of being a close friend of Jack and his family and we traveled overseas together on numerous occasions.
It was an eye opener to see the respect and fondness for him expressed wherever in the world we went. In later years we took our wives with us on some of these trips and for many years we stayed at each other’s homes whenever we visited the other's State."


"My own family regarded him as Uncle Jack and were quite upset when I broke the news of his passing to them. Jack was devout Catholic and his generosity to his Church and indeed to many, many people was legendary. Jack's only vice that I ever knew him to have was a liking for food, which he enjoyed almost to the last.
One had to almost fight him to pick up a restaurant bill such was his generous spirit. Jack's health declined in recent years and even walking became impossible but when we would visit he was again the ever smiling great guy that we knew.'
"I know that he will be missed by his wife, Nita and his sons and family. So to will he be missed by so many others who have benefited from just knowing him. I regarded Jack as a very close and special mate and I believe that he returned this to me. I shall miss him as will we all . However let us all offer up a prayer for Jack if that is your belief and certainly Boxing in Australia will keep him it's heart forever. RIP old mate."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pinoy US airline employee Chito Ilonggo's work ethic

Pinoy US airline employee 
Chito Ilonggo's work ethic  

"Any job very well done that has been carried out by a person who is fully dedicated is always a source of inspiration."

CHITO ILONGGO (right) and ALEX P. VIDAL in Chicago, Illinois 

By Alex P. Vidal

We won't be surprised if US-based Ilonggo folk singer Luisito "Chito Ilonggo" Villaruel Macatual Jr. will be awarded with a brand new 2014 Ford vehicle by his employer, the United Airlines, for being a "committed" employee.
Chito Ilonggo is among the few United Airlines employees with perfect attendance and who report for work on time, thus making him a shoo-in for a vehicle raffle contest aside from certificate of recognition for being a model employee.
Chito Ilonggo's work ethic is something that will inspire other Filipinos working abroad.
"Regardless of weather condition, I woke up early in the morning, prepare my own foods and drive to my workplace at dawn. I see to it that I'm always ahead of time," said Chito Ilonggo, Customer Service Rep. ground steward in the United Airlines at the O'hare International Airport in Chicago.


Now based in Niles, Illinois (an hour drive away from Chicago), Chito Ilonggo is formerly a folk singer and recording artist in Iloilo City, Philippines. His masterpiece, "Dugo Sang Isa Ka Ilonggo (Blood of an Ilonggo)" recorded in 1992 before he left to work as OFW in Libya, was a hit even among Pinoy diaspora in Europe, Asia and America.
When the United Airlines retrenched employees during the financial crisis in the United States in 2008, Chito Ilonggo survived. 
"I consider it as a blessing," he remarked. "It was a massive retrenchment and some of the casualties were fellow Fil-Ams who had been employed in the airlines ahead of me."
During spare time, Chito Ilonggo dabbles in his favorite past time: singing and recording. He plays the electric guitar while son Aybil, also a musician, plays the drums in the basement of their house where they maintain a band station cum music lounge equipped with state-of-the-art sounds instruments. Wife Jocelyn Soltis-Macatual, a nurse, and Yvette, Aybil's girlfriend, act as regular audience.


Chito Ilonggo considers his family as "my top priority. Buday (Jocelyn) and Aybil are my best friends," he said. "They are the true sources of my inspiration in life."
According to Luke Punzenberger of the United Hemispheres Magazine, dependable employees at United Airlines who never miss a day of work can earn a certificate as well, with one big difference: "This certificate is the title to a new Ford vehicle."
"In school, devoted students who never miss a day of class may be recognized with a certificate of achievement," Punzenberger explained.
He said since 1996, United Airlines have awarded new cars to nearly 200 employees for their stellar workplace attendance. 
"Through United’s Perfect Attendance program, nearly all full- and part-time employees who show up for work on time every day during a set six-month period may enter their names in a drawing for a new Ford Escape, Explorer, Focus or Mustang," he disclosed.
Last year, the magazine revealed, 11 drawing winners each received the keys to a new Ford from Jeff Smisek, United chairman, president and CEO.


Why such a generous gift? Because perfect attendance is tough! “Coming to work on time day after day is no easy task,” the article quoted Donna Towle, vice president for employee relations at United. 
“But that’s the level of dedication it takes to deliver a reliable, flyer-friendly experience for our customers. Fortunately, we have some of the best employees in the business, and this program is one way we recognize their commitment.”
"This month, several new 2014 Fords are on display at United hubs across the country. But don’t get too attached to those sleek curves and that new car smell. These perfect-looking Fords are waiting for a few lucky United employees with perfect attendance," the article added.
Chito Ilonggo visited his roots in Iloilo City on invitation of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in January 2013 as guest in the Dinagyang Festival where he held a concert together with local artist and friend, PG "Boyet" Zoluaga.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father." Pope John XXIII

By Alex P. Vidal

KATHERINE "Kathy" Patalinhug-Eberlein's search for her biological father began when she was eight years old.

"That was the age when my life started to become hell," hissed Kathy, who turned 61 last October 27.
Kathy was eight when her mother, Margarita Factor, married Rodrigo Continente in Dumalag, Capiz.
"I rebelled," Kathy enthused. "I could not accept it. To add insult, they slaughtered the pig that served as my only playmate during their wedding. I ran amuck and secretly poured rice on all the foods prepared during the party. No effect though. The guests still managed to empty the plates, including my best friend pig. I cried and was unstoppable."
That was when Kathy realized she was longing for a real father. "I started to bombard my mother with questions (about my biological father). I started to wallow in self pity and self doubt. When they started to have children, my insecurity even grew higher," narrated Kathy, who now lives with her American partner, Robert Francis Barker, at Glenville Subdivision in Leganes, Iloilo.


Margarita, now 83, and Rodrigo, 81, were blessed with seven children -- two males and five females.

"All that my mother could tell me was that my real father worked in the military camp (Camp Macario Peralta Jr., the country's third largest military camp in Dumalag hills) where she once worked also as a part-time tailor," Kathy disclosed. "He was Cebuano-speaking or Waray and could be a soldier."
Kathy said she learned later that her real surname is Tampus, the family name carried by her father. "My number one priority once Bob (Mr. Barker) is no longer around is to continue with my search for my roots in Leyte. Meeting my real father is a dream," she remarked.
Kathy met Barker, now 91, in 1984 in her workplace in the cafeteria of the United Nations in Vienna, Austria, three years after the death of her husband, Leopold Eberlein, whom she met through a "mail order bride" arrangement. 
After a courtship that started with a "high and hello", Kathy and Barker decided to live together. Barker, who was legally separated with his American wife, spent $20,000 to file for a divorce in the United States to be with Kathy. In 1996, they decided to settle permanently in the Philippines where they built a house in Leganes, Iloilo.


Barker, a nuclear scientist and formerly with the Vienna-based Atomic Energy Commission, is stricken with Alzheimer's disease, a dementia with memory loss symptoms. They have no children. Barker has three children in the previous marriage. Kathy and Barker never got married. She holds a dual citizenship while Barker is an American citizen.

"I toured the world because of Bob. When he was not yet sick, we traveled together. He wanted to make me happy and to enjoy my life. I found true happiness with Bob," Kathy sighed.
Her marriage with Leopold lasted only for 16 months. Kathy and Leopold never had a child. While working as a food attendant in Manila in the late 70s, a female friend introduced her to a "pen-pal" type relationship arrangement. 
Kathy's trip to Vienna--with stopovers in Bangkok via Cathay Pacific, Bombay and Cairo via Egypt Air, and Moscow via Aeroflot, in 1979--was her first international trip. She never had any idea how Leopold looked like in person except that he was 47 and she was 27. He left Manila at 3:40 pm carrying only in her luggage cloths and Filipino comics on June 3 and arrived in Vienna at 11:10 am on June 5.


"I was only instructed to look for a man wearing a particular shirt," Kathy recalled. "Upon arriving in Vienna, I went outside and left behind my bag in the arrival baggage claim area to look for that person. Then I saw a man and greeted him, 'good morning, sir. Are you Mr. Leopold Eberlein?' He just answered me, 'beautiful' without saying my name."

When Leopold, an automobile mechanic, died of stroke in 1981, he left behind a bookstore. "I was stunned. I didn't know what to do. It was my first serious relationship and I was in a foreign land with no relatives there," Kathy stressed. 
Now an Austrian citizen, Kathy went back to the Philippines and brought to Vienna in May 1981 her half sister, Josephine, 18, who became a Mrs. Hofbauer, and still lives in Vienna until today.
In 1987, Kathy also brought to Vienna for vacation her mother, who went home after 14 months. In 1989, Kathy's other half sister, Marilou, followed suit and cavorted with Kathy's new boyfriend, Gerhard Harwarth.
Kathy and Gerhard had lived together for four years and a half. "I was older than Gerhard for five years and I noticed he had special interest on younger ladies. In other words, Gerhard fell in love with my sister, so I let him go. My own definition of love is, if you love someone set him free. His happiness should also be your own happiness," Kathy waxed poetic.


Marilou and Gerhard got married in Vienna but their liaison was short-lived. She never loved him from the start, and Marilou confessed she had a boyfriend, Peter Aricaya, in the Philippines--and she still loved him.

Gerhard was devastated. Kathy's poetic justice. Now living with another Vienna man, Kathy prevailed over Gerhard to let go of Marilou or "live in misery with a wife who has no feelings for you." 
Gerhard and Marilou parted ways amicably and peacefully in Kathy's presence.
Now an Austrian citizen herself, Marilou brought Peter to Vienna to live as husband and wife. Their union produced two male twins. Peter was forced to go back to the Philippines because of Austrian laws on foreign couple. Gerhard, still very much in love with Marilou, helped Marilou take care of the twin kids, who are now 17.
Depressed and feeling lonely after he wasn't able to join Marilou and their twin kids in Vienna again, Peter committed suicide on January 2, 2014.
Kathy described her relationship with stepfather as "stormy." As a young girl, while sleeping on the bamboo floor of their house, drunk stepfather allegedly kicked her on the buttocks because her body was blocking his way. "Until now, the pain is still there. I consulted a doctor in Vienna who told me that because of my age, it's impossible to repair the damage in my bone inflicted by that kicking incident," Kathy said.


At 16, Kathy left Dumalag in 1969 to work as babysitter and housemaid in Manila, earning P60 a month. She remitted P50 for financial support and education of her half sisters and half brothers in Dumalag and retained P10 for her personal needs.

Kathy learned that her mother and siblings suffered from her stepfather's mismanagement of family funds. She further learned the stepfather wasted money on gambling and other vices.
She surreptitiously went home to Dumalag and chased with a bolo her stepfather, who escaped unscathed after being roused from sleep when Kathy's sister shouted and alerted him.
"Because of hostile environment and the worsening relationship between me and my stepfather, my grandfather convinced me to leave and go back to Manila. He told me either I will go to jail if I kill my stepfather or I will be the one who will die," Kathy explained.
She resumed working as babysitter, housemaid, food attendant serving different employers for 10 years in Manila and Makati before flying to Vienna in 1979.
"My good experiences were all in Vienna. I was able to adopt to the European culture. All my unforgettable experiences in life happened in Vienna," misty-eyed Kathy recalled.


When Barker's health deteriorated, Kathy said she started to experience insecurities in life. "That's normal because I'm used to enjoying my life with Bob for 26 years. Sometimes I feel alone but I need to be stronger now. The best therapy for my loneliness is cooking -- and smiling a lot," she averred.

Despite her financial security, Kathy avoids social life. "I devote my time only to Bob and my family in Dumalag. It's hard to trust people nowadays. I only have limited friends in Bingo games, because friends tend to always take advantage of us although there are true and sincere friends like (retired Iloilo National High School principal) Dr. Riza Amaguin," Kathy added.
Despite a not-so-pleasant relationship with her stepfather, Kathy sponsored his trip to Vienna for a vacation in December 1992. Estranged daughter and stepfather spent Christmas together until March 1993 when he went home.
"Time heals the wound. But I still need to see my real father," Kathy, who reached only second year high school, concluded. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IVQ to Doyle: Don’t be emotional, stick to issue

IVQ to Doyle: Don’t be 
emotional, stick to issue

"Conflict cannot survive without your participation."

By Alex P. Vidal

Instead of being mad at IVQ Landholdings, Inc., Thomas “Tom” Patrick Joseph Doyle should be thankful that the realty company did not forfeit his downpayment for the purchase of a subdivision lot in Arevalo district, Iloilo City when he failed to settle his monthly amortization on time. 
This was the contention made by IVQ Landholdings, Inc. president Ian Eric Pama in an exclusive interview at the Promenade of Days Hotel March 6.
“Under the Maceda Law,” Pama pointed out, “we have the option of full forfeiture of Mr. Doyle’s money after he failed to honor his obligation to pay the monthly amortization as stipulated in the contract.”
Mr. Doyle had been remiss on his monthly payment obligations, asserted Pama, who was accompanied by his vice president Joel Nermal, lawyer GV Eutiquio Cunada, and three female sales executives.


“But instead of forfeiting his downpayment, we did not touch him for one year. We even assisted him in finding a buyer for the lot when he could no longer sustain the monthly payment,” added Pama, who is also president of Valiant Bank, sister company of the IVQ Landholdings, Inc.
Nermal, who admitted meeting Doyle only once, confirmed that “Doyle was already due for forfeiture but we gave him a chance after he came to us and made an appeal.”
Nermal denied Doyle’s accusation that they swindled him. Doyle had claimed that his application for a loan to pay the remaining balance of P1,7393,140 at Valiant Bank was denied because he is 76 years old and an alien. Doyle and wife Mesalie had paid a total downpayment of P348,285 for the subdivision lot worth P1,741,425 on Princedale Residences at Yulo St., Arevalo district.


Had he known that his application for a loan would be rejected, Doyle said he would not have bought the property. 
But Nermal said it was Doyle himself who informed them he was able to secure a loan from Wealthbank on Ledesma St. after he presented a collateral to the bank.
“We learned that his application was approved but only for a short term,” disclosed Nermal. 
Nermal also denied giving Dolye a run around every time the Australian national went to their office on Mabini St. “We are not shrugging him away. The problem is every time Mr. Doyle arrived, he was already agitated to the point that it’s impossible to deal with him civilly.”
“If he will only approach us professionally and refrain from his armed force-style demands out of logical reason, we are always willing to sit down and come up with a solution,” explained Nermal.


Nermal said they continued to accommodate Doyle despite his “abrasive” behavior “for humanitarian reason considering that he is already old and a foreigner.”
Cunada described Doyle’s case as “fund-management” problem.
“Mr. Doyle is actually changing his tune. He wants us to dance on his own tempo. First he insisted before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) that he wanted to go on with the deal based on his own terms. Then he wanted a refund,” the lawyer observed.
“The IVQ Landholdings can’t control his own finances. He has to honor his obligations in the contract to sell.”
IVQ Landholdings denied there is another contract to sell aside from the one signed by the Doyle couple, Pama, and witnesses Winie Gopio and Beverly Vargas dated Nov. 27, 2012 and notarized by lawyer Mary Milagros Hechanova.


The other paper, a “reservation agreement” bearing the signatures of the Doyle couple dated October 10, 2011, is not a contract because only the couple signed it, Cunada insisted.
“Anybody can use a Microsoft word and type a contract,” Cunada said.
Cunada showed a copy of Mesalie’s hand-written note to IVQ Landholdings, Inc. dated November 23, 2012 where she appealed that they be allowed to “start paying our bridge financing start (sic) on January 28, 2013.” 
Cunada said the act of Doyle in claiming that he was a victim of fraud is not fair. “He is appealing on emotion and using the culture of Filipinos,” he said.
Cunada added: “Doyle can’t claim a full refund (of the amount he paid for downpayment) because IVQ is not at fault.”


Pama said they are willing to abide by the HLURB order to refund Doyle “but we have to deduct some expenses including administrative costs.”
“The HLURB decision is not yet final so we cannot reveal the other details of the case for fear of subjudice,” Cunada contended.  
Doyle said he sacked his lawyer Rey Candido “for not following what I want.” He wanted a refund of the total amount he paid for downpayment “plus interest of 18 percent per annum.”
Pama said “it is beneficial on our part if we refund Mr. Doyle so we can resell the property which has gone up from its original price since 2011.”
Pama said they have no problem disposing off the property because their subdivision lots are sold out. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alexander the Great and Vladimir Putin

Alexander the Great and Vladimir Putin

"I will seize fate by the throat; it shall certainly never wholly overcome me."  LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

By Alex P. Vidal

Vladimir Putin's occupation of Crimea reminded us of the Gordian knot cut by Alexander the Great on his way to Asia Minor.
It is told that the people of Phrygia, an ancient country of Asia Minor, were advised by the gods to choose as king the first man they met on the way to Jupiter's temple.
The peasant Gordius passed by, driving a wagon, and hailed as king to his great amazement, he consecrated his wagon to the god Jupiter.
Now Gordius is remembered for the knot by which he fixed his wagon to the temple. So cleverly was it tied that no end could be perceived in the cord, and it came to be predicted that whoever could untie the Gordian knot would win the whole empire of Asia.


Alexander the Great happened to pass that way in his conquering sweep across Asia Minor. He tried to undo the knot, but was unable to solve the puzzle. Impatiently he drew his sword and slashed the knot in two. 
This daring act impressed his soldiers, who already considered Alexander as the future conqueror of Asia. We now speak of any complex problem that can be solved only in a drastic way as a Gordian knot.
Putin's daring capture of Crimea was a classic act and can be compared only to Alexander's conquest of Asia Minor some 350 years before Jesus Christ was born.

IVQ Landholdings: We offered to return Mr. Doyle's money last year

IVQ Landholdings: We offered to 
return Mr. Doyle's money last year

"Our settlement of land is without regard to the best use of land." ARTHUR ERICKSON

By Alex P. Vidal

The president of the beleaguered IVQ Landholdings, Inc. has denied the allegations of client, Thomas "Tom" Patrick Joseph Doyle, that they committed fraud when both parties entered into a contract to sell for Doyle's purchase of a subdivision lot in Arevalo district in Iloilo City in 2011.
Ian Eric Pama, who is also president of Valiant Bank, IVQ Landholdings, Inc. sister company, said they even wanted to refund the P348,285 as downpayment paid by Doyle and his wife Mesalie for the lot known as Block 4, Lot 7 of Princedale Residences located at Yulo Street since last year.
"But it was Mr. Doyle who wanted to proceed with the deal and was insisting on a 10-year payment period without interest," Pama told this writer over the phone yesterday (March 5) morning. "We would lose if we agree on that scheme."
Pama promised to present their own documents this morning (March 6) "to show who is telling the truth."
Pama's statement came about three weeks after the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board (HLURB) regional office ordered his company engaged in the development and sales of subdivision lots to refund the Doyle couple "within 30 days from receipt hereof, the amount of P348,285.00 without interest."


HLURB also cancelled or rescinded the contract to sell dated November 27, 2012.
The lot's purchase prize was P1,741,425 as contained in the contract to sell dated Nov. 27, 2012 signed by Pama, Doyle, Mesalie, witnesses Winie Gopio and Beverly Vargas and notarized by Atty. Mary Milagros Hechanova.
"Even in the HLURB, Mr. Doyle was insisting on his own scheme supposedly contained in the contract to sell signed only by Mr. Doyle and his wife," Pama explained. "We have our own documents to present and we will prove Mr. Doyle wrong."
The contract referred to by the Doyle couple was not signed by Pama and not notarized, observed Pama's counsel, Atty. GV Eutiquio Cunada, in a letter dated June 18, 2013 to Doyle's former counsel, Atty. Rey Canindo.


Cunada called the Doyle couple's own version of contract to sell supposedly executed on October 10, 2011 as "misleading" and their contentions as "premature."
Doyle has refused to acknowledge the contract to sell referred to by Pama and which was ordered cancelled or rescinded by HLURB. He stuck to the October 10, 2011 version of the contract to sell.
Ironically, the Australian national of Irish descent, who now lives with his Filipino wife and daughter in Calumpang, Molo district, chided HLURB arbiter, Atty. Melchor M. Calopez, for cancelling or rescinding the November 27, 2012 contract saying "the HLURB should have penalized IVQ Landholdings, Inc for committing a fraud under the Housing and Condominium Act."
"HLURB only ordered the IVQ Landholdings to refund my downpayment but did not penalize the land developer to pay interest for my money," Doyle insisted.
The Doyle couple filed the complaint at the HLURB versus the IVQ Landholdings, Inc. represented by Pama and vice president Joel M. Nermal, to compel the land developer to honor the October 10, 2011 contract to sell and to accept the couple's monthly amortization of P11,000 for 120 months without interest. They also demanded moral damages of P200,00 from Pama's company.


The complaint came after IVQ Landholdings, Inc. refused to honor the P11,000 check paid by the Doyle couple as initial monthly amortization for the lot last December 5, 2012 and sent the couple a demand letter dated January 17, 2013 reminding them to settle their account within one week. 
In their defense, the land developer called as "admission against self-interest of the complainants themselves" the Doyle couple's willingness to avail of the in-house/bridge financing arrangement with IVQ Landholdings, Inc. and sister company, Valiant Bank, and their willingness to pay a monthly installment of P50,365.35 within three years.
Doyle claimed he agreed to enter into contract to sell agreement after being assured by the company's salespersons that he could avail of a loan from Valiant Bank to finance his monthly amortization.
His loan applications were denied by Valiant Bank as well as other commercial banks because he was already 76 years old and an alien. His wife did not have a steady income and lacked the capacity to pay.
Unable to find sufficient sources from other financial institutions to sustain the monthly amortization, they asked for a refund which the HLURB granted.
"The order to refund is for our advantage because in real property business, the longer that the lot is not used the more that we are in the losing end," Pama concluded.

Monday, March 3, 2014

We can't do to Sabah what Vladimir Putin did to Crimea

We can't do to Sabah what 
Vladimir Putin did to Crimea 

"If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it." JULIUS CAESAR

By Alex P. Vidal

We own Sabah, there's no doubt about that. But we have no jurisdiction over this large territory located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo. Malaysia controls it. 
Efforts to convince Malaysia to give Sabah back to Filipinos invoking an age-old edict proved futile. Lives have lost in daring attempts to recapture "The Land Below The Wind". 
Past Philippine presidents, including current Pres. Noynoy Aquino, blinked at Malaysia's superior military power. 
KGB-turned-Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with a splendid and bloodless blitzkrieg that had the entire world on its feet.
Sochi Winter Games placed Russia on the map for two weeks. Putin sustained the global attention with a swift and unparalleled annexation of Crimea.  


Putin's act has been widely condemned by the United States, Canada, Britain and other allied countries even as they stepped up pressures on Putin to withdraw the Russian forces now mushrooming in the peninsula located on the northern coast of the Black Sea. No signs for gutsy Putin to backtrack as of press time. 
U.S., et al ribbed Putin's military intervention on ground that the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is an autonomous parliamentary republic within Ukraine and is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine, not of Russia.
Russian-speaking Crimea was ruled by the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries and is the only remaining bastion of Russia in the unitary Ukraine state.


Philippine leaders can't emulate Putin's act. Demographically, it's impossible for the Filipinos to marshal their forces on the mountainous Malaysian state, which shares a border with the province of North Kalimantan of Indonesia in the south. 
We pale in comparison to Malaysia numerically and logistically and our military forces are David to Malaysia's Goliath. Invasion by sea and air would be a neurotic idea unless the purpose is hara kiri.
With weakling leaders and a government not inclined to wage war beyond diplomatic means, the Philippines is the one being slowly sliced down and reduced to smithereens by bullies like China and Malaysia. If we can't protect our own islets and territorial waters from Chinese invaders, we can't reclaim our vast islands now in the stronghold of our hooligan neighbors in Asia.
Ukraine is Russia's border to the east and rolling down to Crimea Putin's deadliest weaponry that included the world's strongest nuclear bomb was a relative ease. 


In the blink of an eye, Russia captured Crimea without any bloodshed. No single life was wasted in the grand attack. A walk in the park, to say the least. 
Never mind that in the eyes of the world, Putin is rascal. Russia has shown that its leader is hell-bent to protect Russian interests and citizens as the primary reason why it invaded Ukraine.
As long as Sabah is under Malaysia, we can't throw the books on Malaysian thugs who exploit, abuse and harass our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kota Kinabalu and its environs. We watch helplessly as Malaysian authorities round up and deport overstaying Filipinos who are stripped of basic rights and subjected to indignities in the land that actually belong to them.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

MIWD tension over?

MIWD tension over?

"Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two."

By Alex P. Vidal

Will peace and tranquility among Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) officials finally reign now that hitherto general manager Le Jayme Jalbuena has been given the door? 
Because of the manner he was ousted, Jalbuena might not yet about to raise the white flag.
Jalbuena will reportedly challenge the decision of the board of directors which passed a resolution last month to dismiss him for lack of confidence.
If he won't resist and decides to relinquish his controversial portfolio peacefully and recognizes the authority and power of the board, tension and internal wrangling is expected to simmer down in the water district office on Bonifacio Drive, City Proper district.


Jalbuena has been at loggerheads with the board since 2010 when he defied a suspension order and for issuing a memorandum circular urging employees to disobey the board also in that year.
And as confirmed by Atty. Hans Sayno, MIWD corporate secretary, in an interview with The Daily Guardian on Air over Aksyon Radyo last Saturday, Jalbuena refused to sign the board resolution Sayno presented him Friday last week.
The dismissal came even before he could complete the 90-day suspension order handed by the MIWD board headed by Dr. Danilo Encarnacion in January.


"The general-manager already smelled the double whammy when the board resumed office last January 6," observed a female lawyer who refused to be named. "Mr. Jalbuena was already consulting his legal advisers."
According to a report by Iloilo Press Club president and The Guardian editor Francis Allan Angelo yesterday, Sayno named the MIWD directors who voted to sack Jalbuena as: Dr. Encarnacion, Dr Sergio Gonzales, Engr. Adrian Moncada and Bernadette Castellano. Atty. Josephine Beata Abad-Caram reportedly abstained because she was not yet a member of the board when the furor about Jalbuena’s case erupted.
The board immediately installed Josephine Amaryllis Castro, finance and administrative departments chief, as officer-in-charge. She will help the MIWD Human Resource Office facilitate the process for the search for a new general manager.