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.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

I love you, New York City Marathon

"The marathon can humble you."
--Bill Rodgers

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- My coverage of the 47th New York City Marathon on November 5 was the most thrilling.
I became a sports journalist and spectator rolled into one.
As soon as I saw Shalane Flanagan emerge in the lead pack escorted by two motorcycles and a Ford vehicle carrying a flashing time (2:20:34) in the Central Park's Fifth Avenue,  I yelled.
The itch to cheer the runners as they were about to complete the 42.195-kilometer race was irresistible for someone who witnessed the tight race as it happened. 

KAMWOROR being chased by Kipsang.
Seeing the runners being egged and cheered by the crowd evoked past memories when I myself was running in the Nike and Milo Marathons in the Philippines in the 80's.
I chose that area, some 800 meters away from the finish line, because it's a picture-perfect camera ambush, and  because only a handful of fans were comfortable or brave enough to wait in that isolated route.


I was surprised to see a Caucasian leading the women's race alone. In the past when I covered the same event on the same spot, I saw African runners dominate the distaff side.
The white lady turned out to be Flanagan, who became the first American to win the race at 2:26:53 since Miki Gorman accomplished the feat in 1977.
Flanagan bested three-time champion and recent London Marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya by a minute (2:27:54). 
Using a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge cellphone camera, I captured Flanagan, Keitany, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska (2:28:08) as they struggled and barreled their way to the final 800 meters of the biggest and most prestigious marathon on earth. 
What made the race so special was Flanagan, who crossed the finish line crying and yelling, ended United States' drought in the New York City Marathon.
Rounding out the women's top 10 were: Edna Kiplagat (2:29:36), Allie Kieffer (2:29:39), Sara Dossena (2:29:39), Eva Vrabcova (2:29:41), Kellyn Taylor (2:29:56), Diane Nukuri (2:31:21) and Stephanie Bruce (2:31:44).


Flanagan's victory was big. She foiled Keitany's attempt to equal the record of Grete Waitz to become the second woman to win the New York City Marathon four times.
It came five days after the bike path terror attack in Lower Manhattan killed eight and raised questions about security for Sunday's event.
That hit home for Flanagan, a Massachusetts native who completed the 2013 Boston Marathon shortly before a bomb went off at the finish line, killing three and wounding more than 260 others.
The men's category also pulled a lot of drama. When the lead pack arrived on the area where I positioned myself, Kenya's Geoffrey Kamworor was in front being chased by countryman Wilson Kipsang.
In a mad dash to the finish, Kamworor held off Kipsang by three seconds. He logged 2:10:53 against Kipsang's 2:10:56. Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa finished third at 2:11:32.
Rounnding out the men's top 10 were: Lemi Berhanu (2:11:52), Tadesse Abraham (2:12:01), Michel Butter (2:12:39), Abdi Abdirahman (2:12:48), Koen Naert (2:13:21), Fikadu Girma Teferi (2:13:58) and Shadrack Biwott (2:14:57)
It was one of the smallest margins in the New York City Marathon's history, it was learned.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My opinion is not for sale

"I love argument, I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that's not their job."
-- Margaret Thatcher

By Alex P. Vidal

-- If Atty. Leopoldo "Pol" de Junco can't prove that I have been paid to defend "dismissed" Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog from false allegations that the mayor is a narco-politician, and the mayor enriched himself by stealing the taxpayers' money, he will be in trouble legally.
Not only that.
I can also challenge Atty. De Junco to a public debate at the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand or in any public place of his choice on his fallacy about me as a journalist.
If he can't produce any documentary, circumstancial, or even testimonial evidence to back his fantabulous lies, that's his big problem.
As an independent journalist, my views and ideas are not for sale. My opinion is not biased. They are based on truth, justice, and strong convictions.
I am not beholden to any interest. This explains why I can criticize any public official constructively and look at them straight in the eyes.
We may also resolve during the debate that Mabilog, who was recently ousted (the decision is under appeal) by the Ombudsman, is a corrupt public official as what his detractors are trying to portray him.
Mabilog did not enrich himself by stealing the taxpayers' money. The Ombudsman's decision was based on Mabilog's Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth (SALN), not because he benefitted from ghost projects or rigged public biddings.
He and wife, Marivic, were already millionaires even before Mabilog was elected first in 2004 as city councilor. Marivic lived a simple life like an ordinary housewife thus no one would notice that she's moneyed. She never bragged about their family's wealth.
Freeman Ganzon, one of the sons of the late Sentor Rodolfo "Roding" Ganzon that I respect most, once told me that when Mabilog was planning to run for city mayor in 2010, "he had US$2 million in the war chest," whatever that means.
Nobody confirmed Mr. Ganzon's statement, but I always believed in the integrity of this man, one of the most controversial characters during the reign of Senator Ganzon as city mayor in thr early 90's.
Freeman Ganzon, a very approachable and amiable man, is the brother of Iloilo City Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon. 
Accept this challenge, Atty. Junco, and I won't call you a joker and coward; I won't call you a "shame in the law profession" (for being a liar).


By the time this article comes out, I may have completed my coverage of the 47th New York Marathon on November 5, 2017.
I am one of those who pledged to unite with those involved in the most prestigious and biggest 42.195-kilometer race in the universe.
The more than 50,000 runners who kicked off their 26.2-mile journey through the Big Apple's five boroughs have vowed to show a united act of defiance, strength, and unity after the recent terror attack that killed eight people in the Lower Manhattan.
The marathon was witnessed by 2.5 million spectators even as security was increased beyond the already-high levels typical for these types of mammoth events.
More sand trucks and block vehicles were added along the course.
Additional counter sniper teams, heavy weapos teams, aviation units helped scanned the rooftops, while plaincloths officers mixed in with the cheering crowd.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

8 killed in Manhattan terror attack


NEW YORK CITY -- Police said people were killed while dozens were injured when a lone suspect mowed down bikers and pedestrians Tuesday (October 31, 2017) afternoon.

The driver shouted “God is great” in Arabic when he got out of his truck and was confronted by police, a law-enforcement official said.

Officials called it a “cowardly act of terror,” the deadliest attack in New York City since Sept. 11, 2001.