Sunday, December 31, 2017

"ANDRES BONIFACIO DAY" in Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada Acting Mayor Heather Deal presents to Alex P. Vidal, then editor of the Philippine Asian News based in Surrey, British Columbia, the Official (Original Copy with Seal) Proclamation signed by City Mayor Greg Robertson declaring 30th of November each year as "Andres Bonifacio Day" in The City of Vancouver during a Filipino-Canadian New Era Society event in Vancouver.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Hate, Forget)

If you want to forget something or someone, never hate it, or never hate him/her. Everything and everyone that you hate is engraved upon your heart; if you want to let go of something, if you want to forget, you cannot hate.

The more we hate, the more we retain some of our egregious memories. The salient portions of our past could be blessings in disguise and should be dispatched with utmost reverence and gratitude. The more we forget, the fastest the emotional attachment will simmer down. And we begin to move on and reinvent ourselves.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Bad Company, Alone)

It is far better to be alone, than to be in bad company.

By all means, we must avoid and detest a bad company in order to preserve our inner peace and protect our soul from distraction and vexation. If it would mean isolation from the madding crowd, no regrets.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Friendship)

Few friendships would survive if each one knew what his friend says of him behind his back.

We think only enemies are capable of stabbing us while we aren't looking and listening? Blows from known enemies come in the front; blows from some of our "good" and "best" friends are delivered in the back.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Ugly, Ignorance, Character)

It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly.

It is better to be ugly than to be ignorant. But to be ignorant is better than to have ugly character.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Food)

If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him. The people who give you their food give you their heart.

Let's not hesitate to share our food. In these hard times, not everyone have access to the kitchen. A simple act of sharing may save a life even without our knowledge.

Fil-Am soldier Adarlo shines in Mansion chess blitz

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Not even a five-month hiatus from the chess board could prevent Michael "Mykey Adarlov" Adarlo from demolishing his seasoned rivals during a two-week Christmas break chess blitz clashes at the Queen's Mansion on Britton Street.

ADARLO (right) ponders his move before pulling the trigger of the chess cylinder versus USCF NM Umayan. Looking are chess analysts Leo Buencocillo and Demetrio Lopez
Adarlo, 32, a Specialist in the United States Army 2nd Infantry Division Striker Unit, emerged almost unscathed in his epic matches against Filipino National Master Mario Rebano, 11th Fairfield County Open (Under 1400) champion Benchly Buccat, United States Chess Federation (USCF) National Master Vincent Umayan, candidate masters Gilbert Gonzalez, Manuel Jurado, and Gerson Caballero, among other cracked woodpushers in the Filipino community in a series of blitz matches from December 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, and 29, 2017.
Adarlo's familiarity with Scandinavian Defense, Rossolimo Attack, Giuoco Piano, Falkbeer Counter Gambit, Catalan Defense, and Chigorin Defense, among other complicated chess openings, defenses, and attacks, rendered his rivals almost dazed and immobile.
Adarlo manhandled his former protege and 27th North American Open Las Vegas-bound Buccat, and edged 2017 Chess-in-the-Park Under 2100 king Rebano in contrasting fashions during their one-on-one friendly duels.


"He is still sharp, quick, and his talent remains intact," commented chess coach Rainier Labay, Mansion caretaker and host, who expressed willingness to take the tab for the diminutive but sturdy chesser in any down-the-wire matchup.
Labay said Adarlo is an asset for the Team United States in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Chess Championship organized by the International Military Chess Committe.
"Against players from Denmark, Germany, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Adarlo, with his talent, can lift the United States to a major victory," observed Labay.
NATO Chess Tournaments had been held unofficially in Denmark every year since 1978.
They were upgraded to an official NATO Championship, for countries and individuals, when the tournament was held in Hammelburg, Germany in 1989.
Adarlo, originally a Mansion mainstay, temporarily left the chess world to focus on his training as a soldier where he pushed grills and iron bars instead of wooden bishops, pawns, knights, and rooks.
He returned to New York for the holiday break before flying to Alaska to join his fellow soldiers for deployment.
He tots a FIDE rating of 2230 (rapid) and 2097 (blitz).

Apelo gifts self with Empire City chess crown

By Alex P. Vidal

-- When David Asuncion Apelo copped the 31st Empire City Open (Under 2200) in 2012, the Filipino chesser shared the title with two others.
In the 36th edition held on December 28-30, 2017 at the Hotel Pennsylvania, Asuncion, 59, made sure he was the lone captain in the Empire City Open (Under 2100) ship as he romped off with the championship with 5.5 points in the six-round Swiss System event arranged by the Continental Chess Association.
Apelo (2059), who finished third in the 35th edition in 2016, won $1,000.

He logged five straight wins and drew with second placer Yassamin Leili Ehsani (1986) in the last round.
Apelo, Ehsani, and another Filipino, National Master Mario Rebano, were the only unbeaten players in the tournament.
Top-seeded Rebano (2094), 54, who drew his last match against Anthony Levin (2077), shared third place with Levin and five others with 4.5 points (three wins, three draws).
"I missed the title because of successive draws in the early rounds," quipped Rebano, an engineer, who won two major titles in New York and Connecticut in 2017.
The category attracted 74 players.
Apelo, a former army in the Philippines and champion of the 48th Annual Atlantic Open (Under 2100) title held from August 26-28, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia, thus became the winningest Filipino chess campaigner in the United States in 2017.
Grand Masters (GM) Sergei Azarov (2646) and Alexander Fishbein (2548) shared the title in the major section with 5 points apiece.
The major section had 56 entries that included six GMs, five international masters (IM), and two FIDE masters.

What is man's future?

"Men can not afford to be a naturalist, to look at Nature directly, but only with the side of his eye. He must look through and beyond her."

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Imaginative naturalist, Dr. Loren Eiseley admits in The Immense Journey there were days when she finds herself "unduly pessimistic" about the man's future.
"Indeed, I will confess that there have been occasions when I swore I would never again make the study of time a profession," she explains. "My walls are lined with books expounding its mysteries, my hands have been split and raw with grubbing into the quicklime of its waste bins and hidden crevices. I have stared so much at death that I can recognize the lingering personalities in the faces of skulls and feel accompanying affinities and repulsions."
She says one such skull lies in the lockers of a great metropolitan museum. It is labeled simply: Strandlooper, South Africa.


"I have never looked longer into any human face than I have upon the features of that skull. I come there often, drawn in spite of myself. It is a face that would lend reality to the fantastic tale of our childhood," Eiseley adds. "There is a hint of Well's Time Machine folk in it--those pathetic, childlike people whom Wells pictures as haunting earth's autumnal cities in the far future of the dying planet."
Yet the skull has not been spirited back to us through future eras by a time machine, according to her describing it as "a thing, instead of the millennial past. It is a caricature of modern man, not by reason of its primitiveness but, startlingly, because of a modernity outreaching his own. It constitutes, in fact, a mysterious prophecy and warning."
For the very moment in which students of humanity have been sketching their concept of the man of the future, that being has already come, and lived, and passed away, explains Eiseley.


"We men of today are insatiably curious about ourselves and desperately in need of reassurance. Beneath our boisterous self-confidence is fear--a growing fear of the future we are in the process of creating," she explains. "In such a mood we turn the pages of our favorite magazine and, like as not, come straight upon a description of the man of the future."
She suggests that the descriptions are not pessimistic; they always, with sublime confidence, involve just one variety of mankind--our own--and they are always subtly flattering.
"In fact, a distinguished colleague of mine who was adept at this kind of prophecy once allowed a somewhat etherealized version of his own lofty brow to be used as an illustration of what the man of the future was to look like. Even the bald spot didn't matter--all the men of the future were so bald, anyway," Eiseley writes.


In the minds of many scholars, she points out, a process of "foetalization" is one of the chief mechanisms by which man of today has sloughed off his ferocious appearance of a million years ago, prolonged his childhood, and increased the size of his brain. "Foetalization" or "pedomorphism," as it is termed, means simply the retention, into adult life, of bodily characters which at some earlier stage of evolutionary history were actually only infantile. Such traits were rapidly lost as the animal attained maturity, she observes.
"If we examine the life history of one of the existing great apes and compare its development with that of man," Eiseley explains, "we observe that the infantile stage of both man and ape are far more similar than the two will be in maturity."
At birth, according to her, we have seen, the brain of the gorilla is close to the size of that of the human infant. Both newborn gorilla and human child are much more alike, facially, than they will  ever be in adult life because the gorilla infant will, in the course of time, develop an enormously powerful and protrusive muzzle. She says the sutures of his skull will close early; his brain will grow very little more.


By contrast, she adds, human brain growth will first spurt and then grow steadily over an extended youth. Cranial sutures will remain open into adult life. Teeth will be later in their eruption. Furthermore, she elaborates, the great armored skull and the fighting characters of the anthropoid male will be held in abeyance.
Eiseley says modern man retains something of his youthful gaiety and nimble mental habits far into adult life. The great male anthropoids, by contrast, lose the playful friendliness of youth. In the end the massive skull houses a small, savage, and often morose brain.
"It is doubtful whether our thick-skulled forerunners viewed life very pleasantly in their advancing years," she observes.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mayor Joe III can't interfere in daughter's happiness

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
-John Wooden

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- A father can't interfere in his daughter's love affair.
He can only give advice and suggestions, but a father can't control or halt a daughter's heartbeat.
He can't prevent her either from marrying the love of her life--unless it's a shotgun marriage; unless the marriage is fraught with fraud and impropriety.
Such was the case when the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) defied Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa and proceeded with the issuance of notice of award to the MetroPac Water Investments Corp (MWIC) for their P12.349-billion joint venture December 21.


MIWD showed Mayor Joe III that its love affair with the MWIC is "none of his business" to say the least; that the deal underwent transparent process, legitimate and aboveboard.
Therefore, the city mayor has no right to halt the MIWD-MWIC romance.
As a father, Mayor Joe III can't stand in between his daughter and her happiness.
As long as they are both happy and satisfied, their understanding is mutual; and the marriage doesn't have any legal impediment, couple MIWD and MWIC can live happily ever after.
Mayor Joe III can always run to the court if he still wishes to uncouple the lovers.


News is when a man bites a dog. Dog biting a man isn't news.
News is when a cabbie or a driver of any public or private vehicle fatally attacks a pedestrian or a fellow driver in a traffic altercation.
They call it "road rage."
A mere exchange of heated words isn't news. A road scene where an angry motorist flashes "F" sign to another motorist or a pedestrian vice versa, isn't even earthshaking.
When irate drivers and passengers tangle in chaotic traffic snarl during rush hours, it's not a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Just like when we see beggars wearing rugged cloths in the sidewalks or a cop placing cuffs on a thief.

They are normal events.


But when a sweet-looking young lady, who seems can not hurt a fly, punches an elderly driver in broad daylight over a traffic snafu and the victim reels away like a groggy pugilist about to hit the canvas, it's not only news, it's viral especially when the tumult is caught on video.
In our culture, elderly persons are treasured, loved, and respected regardless of status in life.
Even if they commit slight trespasses or simple misdemeanor, we don't lay our hand on them.
If they misbehave or commit unpleasant acts sometimes due to dementia and other age-related ailments, we can chide them surreptitiously but not harm them physically.
We don't assault our own parents.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MIWD directors: Damn if you do, damn if you don't

"Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma."
--Hendrik Willem Van Loon

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- We can't blame the members of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) board if they continued to ignore the order of Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III to vacate their posts.
They are in a "damn-if-you-do, damn-if-you-don't" situation.
If they vacate, they can be charged with abandonment. After all, they assumed their posts through a proper process and procedure.
And they are all qualified for the job.
If they continue to stay, the city mayor will invoke strong legal arguments to justify their removal. They will be forcefully hounded by a city hall demand to resign.
They will be caught between the devil and the deep blue see, so to speak.
Mayor Joe III insisted that the appointments of Dr. Juanito Acanto, Atty. Josephine Caram, Dr. Jessica Salas, Dr. Teodoro Robles, and businessman Ramon Cua-Locsin by Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. are "void ab initio" based on the SC decision.
Mayor Joe III invoked as the basis for his order a recent Supreme Court (SC) en banc ruling on a case in Cebu City, which, if applied in Iloilo City, will give the city mayor the power to appoint the MIWD directors.
The city mayor has issued a Cautionary/Cease and Desist Order against the MIWD directors. He wants to appoint the new directors.
The MIWD directors, however, have defied Mayor Joe III even as their lawyers led by MIWD legal counsel Roy Villa have asked the city mayor to go to court.
Mayor Joe III can't appoint the new MIWD directors because there are no vacant seats, the lawyers have argued.
If he goes to court and begin the legal debate in the proper forum, Mayor Joe III, a lawyer, will have the upper hand if he believes he is right.
If he won't and will continue his saber-rattling only in the media, he can't physically remove the MIWD directors who are also invoking their own legal standpoint and rights to justify their stay.


Grandstanding Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zuburi has decried the "horrendous" airfare ticket prices in a recent Senate hearing on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), but did not name which airline and how much were the ticket prices involved.
His sweeping accusation could hurt the airline industry unless he will provide details of his allegation.
It's easy to read between the lines.
Some people suspect that Zubiri only wanted to disclose  that some Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) resource persons had approached him to solicit for their airfares.
In other words, he wanted to embarrass those resource persons in a subtle manner.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Be kind to a kind husband

"A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father."
-- Frank Abagnale

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- I thought it's happening only in the movies.
Or in squatter colonies of Third World countries.
To my horror and shock, it happened right here in the freest and safest country in the world.
Miratsu is a brutal wife.
She physically assaulted Samoht in public--in front of Samoht's friends and admirers in a Queens public park.
Miratsu used her physical advantage as a light-heavyweight bully to inflict harm on lightweight Samoht.
Based on my personal knowledge and on eyewitnesses' account, Miratsu mauled her husband four times in as many surprised "attacks" in the same park.


One time at around 7:45 o'clock in the morning while Samoht and I were playing chess in the park, Miratsu arrived unannounced and unnoticed.
Like a drooling mad dog, she came not only to beat up Samoht anew, but also to verbally abuse him.
Samoht only noticed the presence of the lady version of Mike Tyson when she was already a spit away from him.
Miratsu quickly performed sadistic rituals, rolling over the unprepared and terrified Samoht like a Samoan wrestler and whacked both his ears with ala Fernando Poe Jr. combination.
Early morning joggers, park habitues, some of Samoht's friends saw cruelty unfold but couldn't stop the beast thinking it's only the spill over of a domestic rift.
The Punch and Judy Show scene occurred two more times in another time and day on the same spot.
1. Why was Miratsu so cruel? Miratsu was mad at Samoht for repeated curfew violations. Samoht had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was under strict medication.
He wasn't supposed to stay longer outdoor playing chess in the park. He was supposed to quit smoking, too.


Samoht did not only extend his exposure outside their house, he also spent overnight in the park playing chess. And he smoked non-stop like a chimney.
But, did his "sins" justify the mauling in public? Did it merit a public scandal?
2. Why did Samoht allow or tolerate Miratsu's violence? Because Samoht was a good husband; a martyr. He was  soft-spoken and a peace advocate, a church deacon, a non-violent and very humble person who didn't say bad words; a true friend rolled into one.
When he passed away on December 15, Miratsu regretted what she did to Samoht. She lost a good partner in life. And she had no more punching bag.
"At 61, he was not supposed to die early. Because he was a good person and a peaceful man, he was supposed to live longer, right?" Miratsu told me in a funeral home on Sunday night (December 16, 2017).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Three in one

"Juvenile crime is not naturally born in the boy, but is largely due either to the spirit of adventure that is in him, to his own stupidity, or to his lack of discipline, according to the nature of the individual."
--Robert Baden-Powell

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- By issuing an executive order directing the mandatory closure of nightclubs and establishments selling liquors by two o'clock in the morning, Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III delivered a knockout blow on three wicked activities: drunkenness, prostitution, drug addiction.
It's a three-in-one juggernaut for city hall.
It's during night time or bar hours where these three main producers of criminal and immoral activities flourish.
Joe III's Executive Order (EO) No 146 dated Dec 14, 2017 will not only prevent gangs, ruffians, and drug addicts from straying in the streets like serpents, it will also discourage or minimize prostitution in the city's prominent watering holes.
When bars and establishments selling liquors are closed, these misguided elements will have no place to use as tambayan.
Crimes will be minimized if not totally prevented.
Peace and order will improve.

In trying to link Iloilo 1st District Rep. Oscar "Richard" Garin Jr. to the Dengvaxia imbroglio and connecting the controversial vaccination program to her rejection by the House Commission on Appointments (CA), former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial sounded like a sore loser and a cry baby.
It's obvious from the start of the Senate hearing on the ill-fated P3.5 anti-dengue vaccination program that Ubial only wanted to pin down her predecessor, Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin.
Ubial, who was appointed as DOH chief by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, probably wasn't happy as Loreto-Garin's undersecretary during the administration of President NoyNoy Aquino, thus her umbrage and abhorrence toward the Garin couple.
Her sadness probably worsened after she was repulsed in the CA hearings.
If it is true that Rep. Garin "pressured" her to "order" more Dengvaxia for implementation in the congressman's district as well as in the districts of solons who were CA members, how would these solons influence the purchase of the hated P3.5 billion vaccine which was already consummated?


The "noise" created by the recent Supreme Court decison on the Metropolitan Cebu Water District furor in Cebu City was what prompted Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III and the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) Board of Directors to scuffle.
Joe III, a lawyer, based his decison to terminate the five MIWD directors appointed by Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. on the SC en banc verdict.
Joe III believes, based on the SC ruling, that he has the authority to appoint the MIWD directors.
MIWD General Manager Imelda Magsuci appears to be cool and isn't bent to engage city hall in a legal collision course.
If they all base their arguments and discussions on legality and reason, confusion and further debate will be avoided.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Don't die in a New York City subway

"Terrorism has no nationality or religion."
--Vladimir Putin

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- I may sound corny to some people, but every morning before I take the subway train to Manhattan, I pray.
A short prayer is good like, "Lord, please take care of me and my loved ones today, and guide me until I reach my destination."
I am a regular subway train commuter.
Every Monday, I load $32 in my (Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) MetroCard for a seven-day unlimited ride.
This budget load can bring me to the Big Apple's 472 stations in five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island anytime without limit for seven days. (Because it lacks a rail link with the subway system, the Staten Island Railway, by the way, is not officially considered part of the subway. Passengers traveling to another borough can take a ferry or bus; however, free transfers are allowed to the New York City Subway and the MTA's bus system.)
I am aware that the New York City Subway, being the largest rapid transit system in the world, has always been a potential target of terrorist attacks.


Which exactly what happened at past seven o'clock in the morning on December 11, 2017 when 27-year-old Bangladesh immigrant, Akayed Ullah, detonated a homemade pipe bomb strapped to his body in a crowded subway passage between Times Square station and Port Authority in Manhattan.
Anybody in the wrong place at the wrong time could die when the likes of Ullah strike unnoticed.
The incident disturbed me a lot and made my mind juggle the words "what if."
What if I was one of those walking alongside or near Ullah?
What if Ullah had detonated or "accidentally" detonated the bomb while he was sitting or standing beside me inside the running train?
Without knowing it, I could have sat or stood beside the likes of Ullah inside the train in the past. I hope and pray there will be no more Ullahs taking the subway train in the future.


Like other anxious passengers, I also worry a lot because when I take the subway train, I always fall asleep if I get lucky to sit down during a long trip.
I can't count how many times I disembarked on the wrong station, mostly way past the station I was supposed to arrive because I slept with my earphones on to boot.
I could die if the likes of Ullah attacked while I was in dreamland.
The only consolation is that if I could fight off drowsiness inside the train, I looked around and observed every passenger's demeanor and body movement. The devil doesn't choose the place where to inflict a mayhem.
I realized, however, that just the same: if a neurotic or a determined terrorist happened to be in the running train, he could send everyone to the Kingdom Come if he suddenly unleashed an explosive device or any deadly instrument.
In a subway train, no one is safe. In terrorism, the damage is always intended "to whom it may concern." Help us God.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Why husband Richard is silent

"A good wife always forgives her husband when she's wrong."
-- Milton Berle

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Before the formal investigation in congress on the Dengvaxia tragedy started, the name of Dr. Janette Loreto-Garin was already in tatters.
Angry parents, politicians, health workers, opinion writers tore to shreds the former Philippines Department of Health (DOH) secretary and blamed her for the titanic vaccination disaster that reportedly put at risk thousands of lives of Filipino schoolchildren.
If she were Japanese, Loreto-Garin, 45, would have committed suicide due to large-scale damage on her name and intensity of condemnation from an irate public.
But Loreto-Garin isn't yet finished.
She didn't fly the coop.
She failed to immediately address the issue because she was mourning the recent death of her father, Jose, in Baybay, Leyte.
She has expressed willingness to face any investigation in the proper forum and time.


We expect Iloilo 1st district Rep. Oscar "Richard" Garin Jr., husband of Dr. Loreto-Garin, to defend his wife amid the worsening storm of public denunciation.
Rep. Garin, himself probably shocked by the wave of public outcry for his wife's blood, hasn't issued any public statement in defense of his physician wife.
But in his Facebook account, Rep. Garin posted on December 10, 2017 a NEWS ABS-CBN.COM article entitled: "Garin tags ex-health chief Ona in dengue vaccine decision."
Earlier on December 8, 2017, Rep. Garin also posted a NEWSINFO INQUIRER.NET opinion article entitled: "In defense of Garin" written by Ramon Tulfo.
No husband will sit down and keep quite while his wife is being sliced to pieces by vitriol and vilification coming from all angles.
No husband will not feel sad after seeing on national TV and reading in the newspapers and the social media bundles of unsavory words being thrown at his wife.
But unlike other husbands or wives of embattled public officials who immediately join the fray and lash at critics of their loved ones when push comes to shove, Rep. Garin did not want to throw caution to the wind and will probably wait for the right time to open his mouth.


Owners of restaurants and pubs selling liquors in Iloilo City in the Philippines are aghast by the city dads' proposal to limit the serving or selling of alcoholic drinks at 1 o'clock in the morning.
They fear loss of income.
Many of these establishments operate only at night and cater to drinking customers and tourists who come home late or at around 3 to 4 o'clock in the morning.
The proposal came after a shooting incident killed a promising medical worker at Smallville two weeks ago.
Probers attributed the violence to a dispute between two groups of young men intoxicated by liquor.
They theorized that if they were not drunk, the protagonists wouldn't have resorted to violence and a life would've been spared.
But what about illegal drugs? Where authorities able to determine with finality that liquor had caused the fracas?
But in any decision that redounds to the benefit of society, the public officials have the final say after a public hearing has been conducted.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Stone we throw at Janette Loreto-Garin

"Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way."
 -- Swami Vivekananda

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Let's not be quick to throw stone at former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin.
Like any accused, she deserves her day in court.
There's no concrete proof yet that the lady physician benefitted financially from the controversial purchase by the DOH during the Aquino administration of the P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccine.
Everything is mere speculation. The human mind is always critical and suspicious.
There's no clear evidence yet that she acted alone and was solely responsible for the hated deal.
No one can tell that the former Iloilo board member had committed glaring or malicious intentions to inflect harm on anybody and pocket multi-million kickbacks.
As the DOH's highest official when the program was conceptualized, we aren't surprised that Loreto-Garin, 45, is now being crucified and condemned like a heretic.
When lawmakers, broadcasters, and parents mentioned Loreto-Garin's name, it's like they were describing Medusa, a Gorgon and winged female monster in the Greek mythology.


We can't imagine the distress and sadness Loreto-Garin and her family have been going through ever since the brouhaha exploded on national and international media a few days ago.
We can't also imagine the horror and panic the report has caused thousands of Filipino parents whose children were among those vaccinated by the now infamous DOH program.
What we learned from reports was that the implementation of the program for school children in the Philippines has been halted after Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine Dengvaxia manufacturer, ruled that the vaccine is unsafe for use of those who have not been infected with dengue.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to probe the alleged fiasco effective December 4, 2017.
Since the NBI investigation is still on infant stage, we can't yet pinpoint the gun and pull the trigger on any Tom, Dick, and Harry mentioned and blamed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) in the deal.
Loreto-Garin herself has signified her willingness to cooperate with the investigators "in due time" and "in the proper forum" because she was reportedly still busy attending to her ailing father.


Before he said yes to the invitation of Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III to grace the 2018 Dinagyang Festival, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had been invited through social media by Marivic Mabilog, wife of "dismissed" Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, to drop by the controversial "mansion" located near the Iloilo River so he would see that it is not really expensive as what critics of Mayor Mabilog have been declaring.
When the presidential entourage goes to the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand from the Iloilo International Airport for the big event in the third week of January 2018, it will pass by the magnificent Iloilo River.
From a distance, President Duterte would be able to see the controversial Mabilog house.
It's important that he could see it by himself and not just rely on whispers from merchants of political intrigues.


Will the Panay Electric Company (PECO) obtain an extension of its franchise for another 25 years now that the ball is on the court of the House of Representatives?
We will know when Iloilo reporters ask President Duterte when visits the Dinagyang Festival next month.
Mr. Duterte's body language and words about the issue will give answers to all our doubts and worries.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A test of Loreto-Garin's integrity

"One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised."
-- Chinua Achebe

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Ilonggos will be watching with bated breath as former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin defends the controversial purchase during the term of former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the controversial P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccination, which is now the subject of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe.
Since Loreto-Garin, 45, is a former Iloilo provincial board member and the wife of Iloilo 1st District Rep. Oscar "Richard" Garin Jr., the Ilonggos are worried that her name might be dragged in the controversy, which has the potential to explode as a tidal wave.
Since it involves billions of pesos and tagged as "danger to public health" (about 10 percent of the estimated 700,000 children vaccinated prior to dengue infection are reportedly at risk), the story has sent shockwaves all over the world.
So far, no Ilonggo public servant who served in the national government has been implicated in a scandal of horrific proportion in recent memory.
We are confident that, without prejudice to the ongoing NBI probe as ordered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) effective December 4, 2017, Loreto-Garin will not besmirch the reputation of the Ilonggos and she can wiggle out from the difficult dilemma.


Loreto-Garin, one of the richest cabinet officials who served under the Aquino administration, has no derogatory record in as far as public service is concerned.
That's why her relatives in Leyte and in-laws in Iloilo as well as their political supporters, are not worried that the controversy might cause dishonor to her name and jeopardize the political future of the Garins once the NBI has conducted its full blown investigation.
Loreto-Garin's innocence in the anti-vaccine tumult is vital as the Philippines prepares for the next congressional elections, which is about 15 months away.
Most of her in-laws in Iloilo are gunning for important elective seats, and they can't afford to carry a heavy baggage like the controversy Loreto-Garin is in today during the campaign period.
If the NBI investigation will find Loreto-Garin among those liable in the alleged anomalous DOH-Sanofi Pasteur P3.5 billion Dengvaxia deal, her husband and in-laws could suffer the domino effects in the 2019 elections.
The entire Garin clan's political luck rests on Loreto-Garin's exoneration.


SOME Iloilo City hall "job hires" assigned in the Esplanade for the city government's cleanliness program are reportedly being required to report morning and afternoon to work as sweepers without day off effective December 2017.
To compound the matter, they can hardly make both ends meet because aside from their low salary, they are also allegedly being paid late.
If true, let's hope that City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief, Engr. Noel Hechanova, can help them.


With or without peace talks with the communist and the seccesionist rebels, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should always be on the watch for possible ambush and raid in their precincts and detachments.
They aren't supposed to let their guards down and complain of harassment ad "treachery" when they are killed in "surprised" attacks.
Soldiers should always be on alert because they have been sworn to protect the republic from those who intend to topple the government; and that's why they are hailed as heroes.
Being killed in action or in "surprised" attacks is part of the risk they face every day.

Can we survive Christmas without chocolates?

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
-- Charles M. Schulz

By Alex P. Vidal

IS too much chocolate-eating dangerous to our health?
Can it cause diabetes and obesity as feared?
Over-eating of chocolate can be tantamount to slow motion suicide, although it contains health benefits if we eat moderately.
Some of the health benefits of chocolate are:
--Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. However, chocolate with high sugar content will negate this benefit, according to Cocosymposium. Dark chocolate contains significantly higher amounts of cacao and lower amounts of sugar than white chocolate, making it more healthful.
--The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.
--Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator.
--The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which can raise good cholesterol.
--Men who eat chocolate regularly live on average one year longer than those who don’t.
--The flavanoids in chocolate help keep blood vessels elastic.
--Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
--The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being.
The health risks of chocolate are:
--Chocolate may contribute to lower bone density.
--Chocolate can trigger headaches in migraine sufferers.
--Milk chocolate is high in calories, saturated fat and sugar.
--Chocolate is a danger to pets (chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which animals are unable to digest).


Christmas is a time for eating chocolate.
Consumption has come a long way since the first “eating” chocolate was introduced in England by the Bristol firm of Fry and Sons in 1847.
Much debate and mythology surround people’s craving for this confection, which has been blamed on depression, the menstrual cycle, sensory gratification, or some of the 300 plus chemicals that it contains.
The sensuous properties of chocolate depend on the fat it contains.
Roger Highfield explains in The Physics of Christmas that
Cocoa butter can solidify in half a dozen different forms, each of which has a different effect on “mouthfeel” and palatability.
Form V predominates in the best chocolate, making it glossy and melt in the mouth.
Unlike other plant edible fats, which are usually oils, Highfiled explains that cocoa butter is enriched in saturated fatty acids so that it is solid under normal conditions and has a sharp melting point of around 34C, just below the temperature.
Heat is absorbed when this occurs, giving a sensation of coolness on the tongue.
“Another reason we like chocolate is the stimulatory effects of caffeine and related chemicals. Every 100 grams of chocolates contain 5 milligrams of methylxanthine and 160 milligrams of theobromine (named after the cocoa tree, whose botanical name, Theobroma cocoa, means “food of the gods”). Both are caffeinelike substances,” Highfield points out.
Originally, chocolate was a stimulating drink. The name is derived from the Aztec word xocalatl, meaning “bitter water.”


In the 17th century a physician from Peru wrote how it is “good for soldiers who are on guard.”
Highfield stresses that indeed, some people have suggested that it was Casanova’s favorite bedtime drink—to give him a boost when he needed it.
Medical textbooks do note, however, that when taken in large quantities, these stimulants can induce nausea and vomiting.
This effect can also be observed in children (and others) who of overindulge on Christmas Day.
He cites that every 100 grams of chocolate also contains 660 milligrams of phenylethylamine, a chemical relative of amphetamines, which has been shown to produce a feeling of well-being and alertness.
“This may be why some people binge on the stuff after an upsetting experience—or perhaps to cope with the stress of Christmas shopping,” Highfield theorizes.
He also observes the following:
-Phenylethylamine may trigger the release of dopamine, a messenger chemical in the brain that plays a role in the “reward pathway” that governs our urge to eat or have sex.
-Phenylethylamine raises blood pressure and heart rate, and heightens sensation and blood glucose levels, leading to the suggestion that chocoholics “self-medicate” because they have a faulty mechanism for controlling the body’s level of the substance.
However, if a person consumes too much phenylethylamine or has an inability to remove it due to the lack of a key enzyme (monoamine oxidase), blood vessels in the brain constrict, causing a migraine, according to Highfield.


More recently, it has been found that chocolate also contains substances that can act like cannabis on the brain, intensifying its other pleasurable effects.
Highfield says three substances from the N-acylethanolamine group of chemicals can mimic the euphoric effects of cannabis, according to a study by Daniele Piomelli, Emmanuelle di Tomaso, and Massimiliano Beltramo of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego.
Their works date back in 1990, when scientists found a site in the brain that responds to cannabinoids, the class of compounds that include the active ingredient in cannabis.
Recently they have discovered the specific substances in the brain that bind to this site. One is a fatty molecule dubbed anandamide after the Sanskrit word for “bliss.”
Piomelli investigated chocolate, which is rich in fat, because he correctly suspected that it might contain lipids related to anandamide.
Piomelli was first inspired to look into the mood-altering effects of chocolate when he became addicted to the stuff one gray winter in Paris.Now that he has moved to California, which is as sunny as his homeland of Italy, he is no longer a chocoholic.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Umayan kids pocket golds in ASEAN Age Group chess tilt

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The talented Umayan kids of Davao City, Philippines--Gabriel John and Samantha--won gold medals and certificates in the boys and girls divisions, respectively, in the 18th Asean Age Group Team Standard Under-12 Chess Championships held at the Hotel Grand Darulmakmur in Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia on November 24-December 5, 2017.
VICTORIOUS FAMILY (Samantha, mother Merlinda, Gabriel John)
Gabriel "Gab" John Umayan, 12, teamed up with Gabriel Concio Jr. and Mark Jay Bacojo to propel Team Philippines on top (champion) with 112.5 total tie-break points edging Malaysia (second) with 106.5 total tie-break points, and Singapore (third) with 96 total tie-break points.
Gabriel John

Younger sister Samantha "Sam" Babol Umayan, 11, and teammates Jerlyn Mae San Diego and Krisen Yochabel Marie Sanchez submitted 121 total tie-break points to give Team Philippines another championsip in the distaff side over Malaysia 1 (second) with 107 points, and Malaysia 2 (third) with 104 points.


Samantha also scored 5.5 points to grab the bronze medal in the girls Under-12 individual.
Gabriel John and Samantha are children of United States Chess Federation (USCF) National Master Vincent Umayan and Merlinda.
"All our sacrifices have paid off," beamed the father Umayan, 42, who won a grandmaster-laden blitz tournament in Long Island City in New York on November 12, 2017.
Father and mother supervised the kids' Spartan-like training and preparations with daily prayers and giving of words of encouragement and motivation.
"Strictly no computer games, no playing around, no quarrel. We asked them to focus, focus, and focus because they were representing the Philippines and they were trying to give glory to the country," Vincent said.


New York-based Vincent honed the kids' skills and guided them by reviewing the games of world champions and playing blitz matches with them on-line every night, while Merlinda accompanied the kids in their first international stint.
"I always goaded them to finish what we have started. I wanted to instill in them the values of sacrifice, hard work, and humility," Vincent stressed.
When they return to the Philippines, Vincent exhorted the kids to start training again. They next target the world junior championship.
A hero's welcome waited the kids in Davao City.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Did Fr. Boy Celis err? 

"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."
--Saint Augustine

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Was the move of Fr. Espiridion “Boy” Celis Jr., parish priest of Saint Anne's Parish in Molo, Iloilo City in the Philippines, of calling for a press conference to voice out his rancor with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, correct?
The press conference at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) on November 28, 2017 came days after Bishop Lagdameo supposedly rejected Fr. Celis' appeal to postpone his transfer to Saint Anthony's Parish in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo effective December 3, 2017.
Fr. Celis lamented that his appeal during their private meeting "fell on deaf ears."
Since the issue Fr. Celis raised against Bishop Lagdameo was intra-congregation, we suspect the move to call for a press conference was not only incorrect, but also a bad move.
We suspect Fr. Celis erred when he decided to bring the matter to the media instead of waiting for the result of his petition before the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, Italy.
We respect though Fr. Celis' right to seek redress of his grievances in the "proper forum."


Still, media can't coax Bishop Lagdameo to change his heart. The glitzy publicity can't swivel the bishop's mind.
The public can't help either. After monitoring the press conference, it can't hold a "people power" to compel the bishop to favor Fr. Celis.
Any press conference of that nature, in fact, could produce a surfeit of billigerent scenarios, thus it would only exacerbate Fr. Celis' enmity with the Jaro archbishop instead of appeasing the church bigwig.
The issue was about an edict for reshuffling of priests, which falls under the Roman Catholic Church authority.
In the church's hierarchy and chain of command, Bishop Lagdameo is mandated to dispense the clergy's reassignment.
Shall a professional police officer denounce his superior officer and get sympathy from the press for transferring him from one police precinct to another? If the police officer can't stand the heat, he can always run to the kitchen's nearest exit.


Fr. Celis was quoted in the report as saying that “I presented the case as plainly, as lovingly, as quietly as possible, and it was just explaining to him (Lagdameo) why it was important to let me stay with my parishioners (in Molo) for a while. But, unfortunately, (his) ears were closed."
Fr. Celis added that he was prompted to bring the matter to the church's higher authorities in Rome after he was allegedly "dared" by the archbishop to do it.
He also compared his predicament to the historical Jesus Christ, maltreated by his fellow Jews despite his goodness, according to report.
From the way Fr. Celis expressed his sentiments, it appeared he was already exasperated. After being spurned by Bishop Lagdameo in what could have been his last-ditch effort to save his present post, he probably became distraught and must've thought that, by bringing the matter to the media, it would, at least, mollify his pain and frustration.
Our heart goes out for the good priest who is arguably one of the most respected and highly admired church authorities in Western Visayas today.
Ignosce mihi, pater, quia peccavi or forgive me Father for I have sinned.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Beware of snakes and parasites, 'Mrs. Joe III'

"Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver."

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Now that her husband, Atty. Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III, has been installed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as the new Iloilo City mayor, Mrs. Gina Sarabia Espinosa or "Mrs. Joe III" should be wary of snakes and political parasites.
They are just waiting for the "grand welcome" in the city hall--or may have already started their initial serenade.
Some of them were the same characters who bombarded Mrs. Marivic Mabilog with "beso-beso" and "pa-sweet feeling" treatment when Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog ascended to power as chief executive after the May 10, 2010 elections.
They wormed their way into the corridors of power by splendidly heaping Mrs. Mabilog with verbal and actual blandishments, among other flowery compliments in a hope to gain favors and special attention for them, their relatives and cronies.
They were the ones who quickly clapped their hands and loudly chanted hooray to "recognize" whatever little accomplishment made by the first lady or done by someone else on her behalf.
Trademark of genuine "sip-sips."


Once they were "in", they behaved like indispensable wiseacres; they arrogantly built images of invincibility; and hubristically stomped their feet on the pedestal of authority.
Many of these octagon-jawed opportunists did gain favors, in one way or the other, for their relatives and cronies and for their own whims and caprices, of course.
In politics, there's a conventional wisdom that says if you don't have a direct access to the chief executive, take the "short route": go to the wife.
We are not saying though that Mayor Mabilog had tolerated and opted to keep a blind eye on their perceived haughtiness and shenanigans.
Mrs. Mabilog may have been smitten by their lullabies and cajolery in the beginning, but not lock, stock, and barrel.
In fact, she never flexed her muscles in the city hall. She stayed out of her husband's shadow and disabused the people's minds that they could get what they wanted from the mayor if they would befriend the wife.


When Mayor Mabilog was on top of the world, some of these carpetbaggers and remnants of "chewing gum gang" were on top of the universe.
When Mayor Mabilog was in trouble after being falsely tagged as a "narco-politician" by the misinformed President Duterte, most of them were nowhere to be found; they suddenly became deaf, mute, and blind.
The dyed-in-the-wool allegiance to Mabilog nosedived.
Then came Mayor Joe III. Came also the new white lady, the bejeweled daughter of the famed Sarabia Jewelry, First Lady Gina Sarabia Espinosa.
She must learn from history; she must study the predicament of past first ladies. Since there is a possibility that Mayor Joe III's tenure might go beyond 2019, there is also a strong possbility she will meet more flatterers and false admirers like those who praised the Emperor's robe.
In the Divine Comedy, Dante depicts flatterers wading in human excrement, stating that their words were the equivalent of excrement, in the 8th Circle of Hell
Minna Antrim once warned us that "Between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Envy)

Envy is an insult to oneself.

When we feel uncomfortable, bitter and restless over the gains and success of others, it's plain and simple envy. As a result, we can't sleep; we aren't happy and always irritated. Our self-esteem deteriorates; we hardly smile and we become ugly. We don't only inflict harm o torture our own selves, we humiliate and poison our souls.

Duterte, Joe III 'hit it off' during courtesy call

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way."
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte had in mind the late former Iloilo second district Rep. Pascual "Pascualing" or "Pat" Espinosa when he received Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-installed Iloilo City Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa in Malacanang on November 22.
The President was reportedly curious if Joe III was related to Muelle (pronounced as Mool-ye) Loney's famous hero,  Rep. Espinosa, known in history as the "Father of the Magna Carta Law of Labor."
Duterte later learned that Mayor Joe III, a lawyer like him, was Rep. Espinosa's nephew.
The Iloilo City mayor, installed on October 30 when Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was haphazardly ordered dismissed by the Ombudsman, is the son of Jose Jr. or "Moor," Rep. Espinosa's younger brother.
Rep. Espinosa's son is Sigma Rhoan and lawyer Pascual "Juni" Espinosa, Jr., now helping in the campaign President Duterte's federalism movement in Iloilo City.


Mayor Joe III has invited the President to grace the Dinagayang Festival in January 2018.
Mayor Joe III did not tell the President that many Ilonggos were hurt when he tagged Iloilo City as "the most shabulized" and falsely accused Mayor Mabilog as a "narco-politician" in his various speeches, but assured the President of the "warm" welcome and support from the Ilonggo constituents during his visit two months from now.
"They (Duterte and Joe III) seemed to have hit it off and their body language showed their feelings were mutual," reported a sports executive, who refused to be named as he was not allowed to speak on behalf of the city mayor.
The Duterte-Joe III Malacanang meeting received mixed reactions from both their political allies and enemies.
Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Trenas, who abandoned the Liberal Party (LP) and brought Mayor Joe III and several city councilors to the ruling PDP-Laban, reportedly helped arrange Mayor Joe III's Malacanang visit.


Iloilo City politics used to be dominated by the Trenas-Mabilog-Joe III triumvirate.
Mayor Mabilog, the triumvirate's missing link, became Duterte's arch enemy, while Rep. Trenas and Mayor Joe III, et al are now "sleeping with the enemy."
Although some of those identified with the Duterte administration and former political enemies of Rep. Trenas and Mayor Joe III in Iloilo City were reportedly nervous when they learned about the Duterte-Joe III meeting, they realized that they needed to maintain an open mind and were not supposed to show signs of insecurity.
They feared that if the relationship between President Duterte and Mayor Joe III would blossom, the President might endorse Mayor Joe III when he runs for city mayor in 2019 under the principle of "equity of the incumbent."
Supporters of former Zambales Rep. Pacita Gonzalez, Iloilo City PDP Laban chair, and Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Mr. Duterte's "point man" in Iloilo City, were still hoping, of course, that the President would narrow down his choices only between Gonzalez and Ganzon, and no one else.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Watch your words against 'PECO 7'

"There are groups of haters who always try to malign my image. They question my character and make all kinds of false announcements. It hurts because they assume things and without any proof in hand."
-- Divyanka Tripathi

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The Panay Electric Company (PECO) issue has not only divided the city officials, it has also caused animosity among some of them.
And if they are not careful, some city councilors will end up at loggerheads even before congress can make a decision on PECO's fate.
Emotions are now running high after seven members of the Iloilo City Council submitted a position paper to the House Committee on Legislative Franchises November 22 "earnestly" requesting "to resolve the issues balanced, fairly and squarely, for the best interest of everybody."
Councilors Eduardo Penaredondo, Lady Julie Grace Baronda, Ely Estante Jr., Reyland Hervias, Mandrie Malabor, Leizel Zulueta Salazar, and Jose Efrain TreƱas were referring to the alleged overbilling and poor customer service issues against PECO.
Except for Penaredondo, the six councilors had earlier voted in favor of a resolution "vehemently opposing" PECO's application for extension of its franchise which will expire in 2019.
The seven may have been wheedled by the joint statement of the Iloilo Business Club, Inc., (IBC), Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Panay, Inc. (FFCCCP), and Ilonggo Producers Association (IPA) seeking for an "unbiased independent assessment" from the City Government in order to eke out an "informed decision on the options that are available."


Their position paper implied that they were now apparently giving PECO a new lease of life in as far as the electric utility's appeal for renewal of franchise for another 25 years is concerned.
This did not sit well with hardline anti-PECO city councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava, both #NoToPECO25 movement convenors.
Alim, who made a power point presentation against PECO during the House committee hearing on November 22, has vowed to "bring up" the matter during their next regular session on November 28.
The problem is neither Alim's forthcoming polemic against the position paper of his seven colleagues nor the seven city councilors' seeming "change of heart".
It's the ugly speculations from hard-boiled anti-PECO protesters that the seven may have been bribed.
In fact, some of these angry and unyielding anti-PECO hooters have started lambasting the so-called "PECO 7" in the social media with nary a shred of evidence.


This type of reaction is dangerous, and could trigger a melee that would only make matters worse for the crusade to protect the interests of the more than 50,000 power consumers in the metropolis.
While we support the move to compel PECO to improve its services and fulfill with all honesty and candor its commitment to the consumers and relinquish its role to distribute electricity to the Ilonggos if it is unable to do so, we don't agree that the issue would be pelted with unsavory accusations against some members of the city council, notably the "PECO 7" based on hearsay and emotions.
On the other hand, PECO must yield if it can not sustain the legitimate demands of the consumers after its 94 years of dominance.
It should refrain from forcing its existence to the throats of the unforgiving consumers that have suffered tremendously from apathy and lack of transparency by asking for another 25 years of service if it thinks it has ceased to provide quality life to the Ilonggos.
There are many options available and they should all be ferreted out and considered without fear and favor before 2019 so the public may know.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

We can win vs Lucifer, but not against PECO

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
-- Francis of Assisi

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Based on recent developments, some Ilonggos have this bizarre hunch that Panay Electric Company (PECO) might still be able to extend its franchise for another 25 years.
Since our city officials aren't united, it will now be easier for PECO to mount an offensive, grab the yellow jersey, and weather the storm.
The Ilonggo consumers thought they had scored a checkmate when the city council recently passed a resolution "vehemently opposing" PECO's application for extension of its franchise that will expire a few months from now or almost a year away
It turned out "victory" wasn't yet crystal clear--and might even slip away if miracles will not come from heaven.
The telltale signs were written on the wall when one councilor, Eduardo Penaredondo, did not vote yes.
Not only that.
Penaredondo had also boldly criticized the resolution penned by Councilor Joshua Alim hinting that it was done haphazardly.
No matter how unpopular may be his stand, Penaredondo came out flailing and swinging like a pugilist.
When a senior member of the local legislature sneezes, the entire House chokes.


Penaredondo was vocal member of the 1993 city council that allowed PECO, then wobbling on both knees from incessant and bone-jarring protests from the consumers, led by lawyer Romeo Gerochi and the late Councilor German Gonzales, to snatch away victory from the jaws of defeat.
As if the uppercut was not enough, Mayor Jose Espinosa III, of all people, emerged in the scene singing a different tune that could stymie the city council's musical show.
And, just in case some of us have forgotten, lone district Rep. Jerry Trenas was only waiting a few blocks away to possibly pull the plug for the crusaders and change the entire program.
Trenas, Espinosa, and Penaredondo (TEP) are three of the most senior city officials who apparently aren't keen on severing city hall's ties with the private electric company owned by the Cacho family.


When they (TEP) flex their muscles in this maelstrom, all the cookies will crumble.
The Iloilo Business Club will always side with the status quo for obvious reasons.
After everything has been said and done, it will still be PECO that will have the last laugh no matter how passionate and protracted may be the fracas.
The procession will go back to the church no matter how long may be the route.
The fight against Goliath has always been catatonic for the hapless power consumers.
Since time immemorial, PECO has stood ten feet tall even after the fat lady has rendered an award-winning performance on stage.
We can always defeat Lucifer in a no-holds-barred combat, but it's always impossible to notch a victory against PECO.
An exasperated Roman poet Juvenal once raised a protest, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" or Who will guard the guards?

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love)

Love has no age, no limit; and no death.

Age doesn't make love "old"; death doesn't bury or cremate love. It's the only gift from God that transcends beyond the portals of eternity.


Leyte typhoon victim conquers Connecticut Chess Open

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Two months after winning the 17th Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on September 16, Filipino National Master (NM) Mario Lawsin Rebano brought home another chess title by topping the 11th Annual Fairfield County Open (U2200 division) in Norwalk, Connecticut November 18.
The 52-year-old Rebano (2094), a victim of super typhoon "Yolanda" in the Philippines in 2013, bounced back with four successive victories in the nine-round Swiss System tournament.
He absorbed two successive opening game defeats to three-time US Open champion, Grand Master Joel Benjamin and FIDE-rated Uri Moon-Rosha.

REBANO versus GM Benjamin in Round 1 (Photo by Rainer M. Labay)
After yielding another match to GM Alex Fishbein (2555) in Round 7, Rebano, a civil engineer, won his last two matches to finish with six points.
"NM Rebano was really determined to win," reported chess coach Rainier M. Labay, who acted as non-playing team captain of the Filipino contingent. "He worked hard for the victory."
"Una sa lahat, nagpapasalamat ako kay Lord. He really gave this tournament to me. Pangalawa, kay Dr. Gil Asoy, my adviser and chief supporter sa walang sawa na moral support even when I was still pursuing my national master norm in the Philippines," said the New Jersey-based Rebano, who worked in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 10 years.
Rebano said he wanted to share the honor to Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez and husband, former Mayor Alfred Romualdez, his family and all the victims of typhoon "Yolanda" in Leyte.
Rebano recalled that he nearly died in the typhoon that destroyed his property and nearly ripped apart his life.
"If not for chess, I couldn't have made it to the United States," he added. "I have been a player in the Open section. I only learned about categories in the US."
Rebano, who has been campaigning in the US since 2014, targets next the Millionaire Chess Open in New Jersey and World Open in Philadelphia next year.
Rebano's compatriot Benchly Buccat (986) topped the Under1400 division with 4.5 points. Robert Chen won the Under1600 division with 4.5 points
The Open section was won by GM Aleksander Lenderman (2667) with 8 points. GM Maxim Dlugy (2618) and FIDE Master Hans Niemann (2395) tied for second with 7.5 points. Third was Benjamin with six points.
Filipino GM Mark Paragua (2622) notched 5.5 and wound up tied in fourth with GM Alex Fishbein (2555).
Other Filipinos in the five-hour speed chess (10 minutes per game) tournament organized by the Chess Club of Fairfield County were: FIDE Master Rico Salimbagat (2327) and United States Chess Federation (USCF) National Master Vincent Umayan (2303) who both scored five points.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Now is the right time

"Never give up, and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds."

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The right time to compel Panay Electric Company (PECO) to seriously address the major concerns and problems the Ilonggo consumers have been grappling everyday, is now.
It's now or never, in fact.
If PECO can get away with murder and manages to secure another 25 years of extension of its franchise without being obliged to fulfill its duties and obligations, the more than 50,000 power consumers in Iloilo City will have to agonize for another 25 years.
PECO apparently did not satisfy most of the metropolis' electric consumers as manifested by their strong stand against its application for renewal of franchise.
If they fought tooth and nail to oppose PECO's canticle, the city council, led by Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, probably wholeheartedly believed in the sentiments of the consumers.
After all, most of them are consumers themselves.
The city aldermen must have realized that PECO has reneged on its promise to do its best and serve the consumers better if its application for extension of franchise in 1993 was approved.


It turned out that the same problems that cropped up during the public hearings for PECO's extension of franchise in 1993 in the Sangguniang Panlungsod, were almost the same after 25 years.
PECO's franchise will expire in 2019, thus it is asking congress to renew it for another 25 years.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod, however, had passed a resolution "vehemently opposing" the application.
The local legislature wanted the public hearing set on November 22 in the House of Representatives to be held in Iloilo City so that more stakeholders can be given the chance to attend and air their suggestions and grievances.
But even if the city council had already made a "solid" stand on the issue, Mayor Jose Espinosa III is adamant to support it.
He raised serious concerns of services vaccum, among other possible "interruptions" should PECO fails to get another chance to serve the consumers in the next 25 years.
If the house is divided, it can't stand on solid ground.
It appears that the city council did not have the last say on this very passionate and urgent subject matter.
There is still the city mayor and, perhaps, Rep. Jerry Trenas, who might give PECO a standing eight count, or eleventh hour miracle, whatever it may be, when push comes to shove.
Both Espinosa and Trenas have expressed sentiments that they would respect the city council's stand, but most Ilonggos can now read between the lines: both the city mayor and the congressman don't share the same boat with the city councilors in as far as the PECO imbroglio is concerned.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Education)

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.

Education gives us a peripheral edge to adapt in a hostile environment and co-exist or make proper modification and balance with illiterate and uncivilized.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bravest ever city council

"Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be."
--Og Mandino

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The Iloilo City Council in the Philippines led by Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon will go down in history as the bravest and the most audacious of all the past city councils.
When they passed a resolution during their regular session on November 14 “vehemently opposing the renewal of Panay Electric Company’s (PECO) franchise”, members of the Iloilo City Council made history and defied tremendous odds.
Their bold move restored the Ilonggo consumers' faith and confidence on our city officials.

It largely helped assuage frazzled emotions of tormented consumers wallowing in distress brought by PECO's appalling services and nonchalance.
It may be recalled that their counterparts in 1993, or 25 years ago, led by Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana, endorsed PECO's application for a 25-year extension after a series of public hearings in the old Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) building.


The "joy ride" in the local legislature enabled PECO to smoothly secure the extension of its franchise in the House of Representatives thereafter.
Interestingly, Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo, the only alderman who did not support the resolution penned by Councilor Joshua Alim on November 14, was part of the 1993 City Council that handed PECO the grand prize.
PECO, the sole power distributor in Iloilo City's more than 50,000 consumers, must've underestimated the City Council after it secured the November 22, 2017 date for the hearing of its application for franchise extension before the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises.
PECO's franchise will expire in 2019.
Because of the City Council's recalcitrance, PECO is now expected to have a rough ride when the hearing in the House of Representatives unfolds on November 22. It's like going to war bringing only high powered machine guns but without bullets.
We don't believe that Alim, Councilor R Leone Gerochi and their ilk are motivated by "political ambitions" when they spearheaded the titanic war versus the giant electric firm.


Even before Alim became a city councilor, he was already helping the late former Councilor German Gonzales and Gerochi's father. Atty. Romeo Gerochi, in the battle to free the Ilonggo consumers from the harrowing clutches of PECO's atrocious generation and distribution charges in the early 90s.
Alim hasn't forgotten that the anti-PECO crusade did not, in any way, help Gonzales when he ran and lost for vice mayor in 1995.
If Alim intends to run for city mayor or congressman in 2019, he will have to think twice before using the PECO brouhaha as a stepping stone.
If Alim is in the forefront in the war against PECO's shortcomings, it's probably because he wants to champion the cause of the hoi polloi, not because he wants their votes in the next elections.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I believe Vitaliano

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- If not for an invitation for me to participate in a blitz chess tournament in the Long Island on November 12, I would have forgotten that tournament host and organizer Vitaliano "Nonoy" V. Rafael, an industrial engineer and realtor, was outgoing board member of the fractious Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI).
PIDCI, umbrella organization of Filipino-American associations based on the East Coast, was the subject of my scathing articles after its tumultuous election on October 7 won by Antero "Ner" Martinez.
When they could not agree on who should be allowed and not allowed to vote in that election, tension erupted especially when membership chair Ronie Mataquel had been removed from the polling venue on orders of Comelec chair Raul Estrellado.


At this juncture, a losing candidate for the board (not Vitaliano) called 911. The police, naturally, arrived. And the rest is history.
In the organization's 27 years of existence, it was the first time that its election was interrupted by a 911 emergency call. Pathetic.
In my first article on October 11, 2017, I quoted an observer who lambasted the feuding officials for "acting like kids."
In a follow up article on October 12, 2017, I scored the act of calling the 911 for a simple case of mismanagement by poll organizers as it transformed the election "like a carnival of thugs."
I wanted to emphasize that if they weren't sure about the final list of voters, they shouldn't have proceeded with the election to avoid that embarrassing and scandalous incident.
Some PIDCI bigwigs reportedly felt slighted as they weren't used to being castigated in the press. If they behaved properly, the press would have nothing to report but their good behavior--and the election results.
The truth is, some of them really behaved like kids and their actuations were uncalled for and unprofessional.


Back to Engr. Rafael. As soon as he saw me enter the tournament premesis, he acknowledged my presence and was very cordial and professional.
He did mention that they (meaning the PIDCI officials) monitored my write-ups and analyzed their contents.
He could not speak on behalf of his peers, but told me he never felt alluded to in my articles saying he understood why I wrote about that ugly episode; he stressed that the gist of my stories "was about only the 911 call although you weren't there."
I retorted that I am mandated to write only the truth and nothing but the truth; and that I believe him when he said he held no grudge against me for criticizing the PIDCI.

: I thank Engr. Nonoy Rafael and Atty. Gerry Albano for allowing me to participate in the 9-round double elimination blitz chess tournament even if I was the only player who did not have any title or rating in the Philippines and in the United States. As a result, I was able to play officially in a formal tournament against Grand Masters Oliver Barbosa and Mark Paragua, as well as FIDE Master Rico Salimbagat, United States Chess Federation (USCF) National Master Albano, and 2010 World Open Chess Championships Under1200 champion Mary Christine Joyce Dacayo-Paragua. Nonoy Rafael himself was the 1989 World Open Chess Championship (expert division) and 1988 New York Chess Open champion.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Umayan clinches Long Island blitz chessfest

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Davao City pride Vincent Umayan dominated the Team Albano I Victory Party chess tournament in Long Island November 12 edging two Filipino grand masters by half point to clinch the title. 
"This victory is for my kids (Gabriel John and Samantha)," declared the 41-year-old Umayan, most valuable player (MVP) of the Commercial Chess League of New York.
Umayan scored 7.5 points in a 9-round double elimination tournament sponsored by lawyer-philanthropist Gerry Albano held at the residence of Vitaliano "Nonoy" Rafael, an industrial engineer and community leader.
Filipino Grand Masters Mark Paragua and Oliver Barbosa and FIDE Master Rico Salimbagat finished tie for second with 7 points.
Umayan, a chess instructor, received $100 (P5,100) in the tournament held to celebrate the dominance of Team Albano I in the Commercial Chess League of New York.
GM Barbosa versus GM Paragua
He upset Paragua in the fourth round but drew with Paragua's wife, Mary Christine Joyce Dacayo-Paragua, Barbosa and Salimbagat.
Rafael, 1989 World Open Chess Championship (expert division) champion, finished third with 5 points followed by Albano, a United States Chess Federation (USCF) national master, with 3.5 points. Non-master Alex P. Vidal wound up fifth with 2.5 points. 

US National Master Albano
"May pambaon na ang mga anak ko (my kids will now have a pocket money)," Umayan hissed.
Gabriel John, 12,  and Samantha, 11, are the Philippines' official representatives in the 18th Asean Age-Group Open Chess Championship 2017 in Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia from November 25 to December 4.
Umayan helped train the kids on-line everyday. Wife Merlinda monitored their regular training.