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.