Tuesday, July 31, 2018

‘I believe in the power of prayers’

“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt

By Alex P. Vidal

I have asked the Bank of America to investigate the mysterious activity in my ATM account I discovered in the month of July 2018.
If I wasn’t quick to call their attention, I would have been perpetually charged with “overdraft item fee” worth $35 each day for transactions I didn’t make.
The “damage” was already horrific when I accidentally discovered it Sunday midnight after arriving from Ledyard, Connecticut.
When I checked my balance in the ATM machine of the bank’s Flushing branch, I found out everything had been wiped out.
Penniless and confused, I panicked.
The bank’s Delaware office assured me July 31 they would do something to give justice to my account which has been victimized by unauthorized “transactions” since 2016.
I was assured by “Marvin” they would restore the missing amount once they finished their investigation soon.
For the meantime, they decided to freeze my account (this is the third time in three years) pending their investigation. No more ATM. Gee whiz.


In my recent visit to Virginia and Marlyland, I met and was able to talk to retired US Air Force pilot, Col. Lester Marlon Romine, 90, contemporary of Arizona Senator John McCain.
He confirmed the colorful military exploits of the one-time Republican presidential candidate who lost to President Barack Obama in 2008.
Romine narrated that McCain was indeed captured and imprisoned on October 26, 1967 after his A-4E Skyhawk was shot down by a missile in Hanoi.
McCain, Romine said, was flying his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam.
The now Arizona senator fractured both arms and a leg when he ejected from the aircraft, and nearly drowned after he parachuted into Truc Bạch Lake. Some North Vietnamese pulled him ashore, then others crushed his shoulder with a rifle butt and bayoneted him.
McCain was then transported to Hanoi's main Hoa Lo Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton".
Romine, meanwhile, warned that North Korea and China are now “flexing their muscles” exhorting the Americans and people all over the world “to stay at peace and continued to be guided by the Holy Scriptures.”


“I believe in the power of prayers,” chortled Romine, who had 150 combat missions during the Vietnam War and in his entire 27 years of service.
Romine disclosed that he was able to read the Bible “cover to cover” 12 times in three years.
He believed that “faith in God and His words in the Holy Bible” will help save the world from any danger of a possible eruption of World War III
Romine was commissioned as a US Air Force officer in 1951.
As a boy growing up on an Alabama cotton farm, Romine dreamed of flying--a goal that seemed impossible in the midst of the Great Depression.
Ye there he was, learning first to fly propeller planes and then jets--and enduring survival training in Alaska.
He said the price of flight was service, and Romine paid without complaint.
His career took him across the world, from the deserts of Saudi Arabia to combat missions over the rice paddies and jungle of Vietnam.
Through it all, Romine’s faith and moral compass--forged during the poverty of his youth--provided guidance and strength.
“Come back and stay in my rest house for another round of interview,” concluded the retired colonel.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Who has the ‘right’ to be the next mayor?

“Leadership is a choice, not a position.”
--Stephen Covey

By Alex P. Vidal

- The most senior member of the Iloilo City Council, Atty. Eduardo “Ed” Peñaredondo, should have all the right to run for city mayor in May 2019.
Peñaredondo is even more senior than the feuding Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and lone district Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, although they are both his long-time buddies in the City Council.
Some Ilonggos believe that if the relationship between Espinosa and Treñas will remain frosty before Christmas, it’s better to pick another guy and abscond the two leading bets.
The problem is Peñaredondo, a very credible and highly competent leader, has not shown any interest for the top city hall job.
And even if he is interested, nobody from among his peers in the City Council is apparently ready to take him seriously as a potential mayoral contender, at least not yet.


We believe though that most of his peers would be willing to endorse him if they weren’t ashamed to both Espinosa and Treñas.
And if they will rally behind Peñaredondo in unison, both Espinosa and Treñas will understand and won’t take it personally against them.
They city mayor and the congressman are not stony and insensitive.
They are aware that because of their unnecessary and useless altercation, their buddies in the City Council are awfully confused, affected and hurting.
Members of the City Council, including Peñaredondo, are actually in a quandary ever since the relationship between Espinosa and Treñas deteriorated and eventually nosedived.
They are torn between two lovers.
They have no reason to eschew neither Espinosa nor Treñas who have been and are still part of their political lives.


Both gentlemen are actually special to them as they used to belong in one political family.
Their predicament is similar to children watching their parents argue but they can’t take sides because both father and mother are dear to them.
As a result of the misunderstanding between the city’s two highest officials, the city councilors are adamant to say or do something in as far as political issues in the city are concerned for fear they will be misinterpreted by both camps.
Even the department heads and some village officials--punong barangay and their councilors--are in the same dilemma.
They both love Espinosa and Treñas (in the first place, they weren’t enemies but allies aside from being mag bilas from the start of their political careers) but they need to choose and elect only one city mayor.

Some people have this naughty suspicion that because Iloilo first district Rep. Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr. has declared that the Garin clan “is still not committed” in the gubernatorial contest in May 2019, the unpredictable family is “cooking up something.”
They theorize that one of the Garins “might also be interested to run” or the family is only trying to make pakipot and will continue to keep its cards hidden in its sleeves until the eleventh hour.
They also misinterpreted Rep. Garin’s actuation after seeing him on several occasions worming his way closer to President Rodrigo R. Duterte every time there was an opportunity.
Like in the recent SONA where Rep. Garin was caught in the camera smiling from ear to ear as he slowly approached and slightly tried to touch the president as the latter was shaking the hands of legislators while moving outside the Batasang Pambansa.
These doubting Thomases have probably forgotten that Rep. Garin’s wife, former health secretary Janette, is now in trouble because of the Dengvaxia mess.
Which is more important? To secure the graces of the president in order to win an important elective post in 2019, or to see your wife completely unburdened from any criminal liability? Think.

After Iloilo’s hablon, Kalibo’s piña-seda invades New York

“Biennial culture is already almost irrelevant, because so many more people are providing so many better opportunities for artists to exhibit their work.”
--Jerry Saltz

By Alex P. Vidal

- More than a month after Iloilo exhibitors introduced hablon, the weaving of fabric using locally made fibers such as piña, abaca and cotton in an exhibit at the Philippine Center here, weavers from Kalibo, Aklan and embroiderers from Lumban Laguna introduced piña-seda (pineapple and silk cloths from the tropics) or Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Traveling Exhibition in the same venue.

The exhibition, jointly spearheaded by the National Museum of the Philippines (Pambansang Museo) and the Office of Senator Loren Legarda, started on July 24 until September 7, 2018.
Dr. Ana Maria Theresa Labrador, National Museum of the Philippines assistant director, said they launched the US exhibition in Washington D.C. from June 11 until July 16, 2018.
The piña-seda exhibition will continue at the Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii’s Manoa in Honolulu on September 17 until November 17, 2018.
“Our primary goal is to promote common fibers handwoven and turn into textiles like bark, bast, cotton, abaca, and pineapple,” Labrador explained ina speech July 24.
They are also studying looms and weaving technologies, added Labrador stressing that they do weaving demonstrations and embroidery workshops during the exhibition period at the same time.
Rose Arances, Legarda’s chief political affairs and project officer, emphasized that “traditional textiles are ties that bind. It links the past to the present and brings together cultures, which, no matter how diverse, has a commonality.”
Reading Legarda’s speech, Arances said, “traditional textiles bring together industries, communities, and people. A fabric or a garment is a synergy among workers and artisans. It is a product of diligence, hard work, and passion.”


Several hands are needed to make one fabric alone.
For piña, if the farmer is also the reaper, and the weaver is also the warper and loom dresser, it will take at least 4 people, including the designer and sewer, to bring piña to fabric, Arances stressed.
For the silk, at least 8-9 people are needed from farmer to fabric, if all are within the same general location.
For piña-seda, that would be 12 people to produce the fabric, plus 3 for embroidery including transport, and 2 for designer and sewer. This means that a handwoven piña-seda blouse with embroidery would entail at least 17 people to complete.
According to the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), there are currently 1,277 weavers in the Philippines and 494 groups involved in the handweaving sector.
Arances added: “Imagine how many more families and communities we can support if we continue to promote traditional textiles.”
Pineapple fiber is considered to be more delicate in texture than any other vegetable fiber. It is extracted from the leaves of the pineapple plant, particularly the Red Spanish variety, which has leaves that yield excellent fibers for handweaving.
The pineapple plant is not indigenous to the Philippines. It is believed that the Spaniards brought the plant to our shores. 
The beginning of pineapple cultivation in the Philippines also marked the start of the craft of piña cloth weaving in the country.
Handwoven piña cloth with intricate embroidery was greatly prized then. In the 1860s, many European royalties received gifts of piña cloth originating from the Philippines from loyal subjects to commemorate momentous occasions.
However, the eventual influx of cheaper and imported machine-woven fabrics and the foreign influence on Philippine fashion resulted in the decline of the piña cloth production, which is a laborious and time-consuming method.


In a bid to revive the industry, government and private sectors implemented the Pilot Production of Piña Fiber and Cloth in the Province of Aklan in 1989.
Aklan has been known as the center of piña fiber and cloth production since the Red Spanish variety is mainly found in the Panay Island. But there were also efforts to propagate piña fiber and cloth production in other provinces such as in Antique, Guimaras, Capiz, Palawan, Negros Oriental and La Union.
However, production in Capiz, Negros Oriental and La Union ceased for various reasons. But it has made considerable progress in Palawan.
In terms of decorticated piña fiber, production is mainly in Camarines Norte and very limited quantities in Cavite and Rizal.
Based on 2014 statistics, there are 2,086 hectares of pineapple farms in Camarines Norte, 67 hectares in Palawan, 21 hectares in Aklan and 3 hectares in Antique, which are sources of piña fiber. These farms employ 1,370 farmers.
When piña-seda weaving was introduced in Aklan in 1998, customers reportedly preferred this over pure piña since piña-seda is cheaper but its beauty and texture is also at par with pure piña.
The shift to piña-seda from pure piña was reportedly caused by difficulties in the supply of Red Spanish pineapple leaves, likely due to the shortage of knotters.
Piña-seda or pineapple-silk is a handwoven fabric made from hand-scraped piña fiber blended with silk to produce different texture and design.
Aside from being lightweight, the combined property of pineapple and silk makes the fabric not too stiff compared to pure pineapple, and has more body compared to pure silk. It is stronger than pure pineapple but three times cheaper; and easier to weave due to the strength of silk.


In terms of silk production, the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA) spearheads the development of the silk industry, with the joint cooperation of the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI), the Sericulture Research and Development Institute (SRDI) of the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), the University of the Philippines at Los Ban~os (UPLB) and other state universities and colleges (SUCs).
The silk industry is characterized by various activities such as silkworm egg production, cocoon production, reeling operation, weaving and made-up goods manufacturing.
Mulberry farming is important to silk production because silkworms feed solely on mulberry leaves.
Majority of these farms are located in Western Visayas, particularly in Negros Occidental. Meanwhile, cocoon-producing provinces are Negros Occidental, La Union, Benguet, Ilocos Sur and Abra.
This industry could actually provide livelihood to many communities, but there has been a noted decrease in silk production in the Philippines.
Production of dried cocoons went down from 9,000 kilos in 2003 to 3,000 kilos in 2012; there were only 150 hectares of mulberry plantation areas in 2014, compared to 300 hectares in 2005; and production of raw silk went down from 1,500 kilos in 2005 to 800 kilos in 2014.
In the past decade, the Philippines has been exporting an average of 25,000 square meters of silk fabric. But the last time it exported raw silk was in 2013-10 kilograms of raw silk to Luxembourg.
There is reportedly a huge gap between demand and production of raw silk in the country. The PhilFIDA estimates about 10 metric tons demand for raw silk in the country annually against production in 2015 at 0.425 metric tons. Which is why we have to import an average of 13,227 kilograms of raw silk, 12,300 kilograms of silk yarn and 1.119 million square meters of silk fabrics annually.
Due to the limited supply of raw silk, supply of piña-seda fabric also went down in the past decade from 57,804 meters in 2007 to 17,690 meters in 2016.

Among the challenges in the production of piña-seda textiles are the limited supply of silk as well as supply or manufacturer of knotted pineapple fiber, and less number of weavers.
In particular for silk production, the PTRI notes that there is low confidence in the profitability of sericulture and the lack of integration of the supply and value chain. Another concern is the lack of water during extreme heat or periods of drought.
In terms of piña fiber, the tedious process of hand-scraping the fiber has led to limited production. The irregular demand for piña cloth products due to its being a high-priced fabric, is also a challenge in promoting its use. 
Lack of capital to purchase raw materials, looms, and other tools and lack of training on weaving and product development are the other constraints.
But the local textile industry is continuously evolving and these challenges only encourage innovativeness among industry stakeholders.
The Sericulture Research and Development Institute in Bacnotan, La Union has established 44 sericulture technology-demonstration (techno-demo) farms in eight provinces-La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Abra, Rizal, Zambales, Bulacan, Tanay and Batangas. A component of the program is the Mulberry Research and Development, which has helped boost the production of heavy leaf-yielding mulberry trees.


For piña fiber, there was a decline by 27.1% in production in 2016. From 7.95 metric tons in 2015, piña fiber production in 2016 was at 5.79 metric tons.
In a bid to increase production of pineapple fiber, the Department of Agriculture (DA) through PhilFIDA has provided agricultural machineries to farmer cooperatives from different regions in the country that maintain large areas of pineapple plantation, especially in Mindanao.
The machineries include multi-fiber decorticating machines with safety mechanism which are used to extract fibers from waste pineapples leaves left in the field after harvest; mechanical drier to dry the fibers during rainy season; and baling machine to prepare clean, inspected and graded pineapple fibers ready to be traded to intended buyers.
To ensure the sustainability of the local textile industry, there is a need for convergence among the agencies of government involved-from the production of raw materials, to trainings and workshops, provision of equipment and materials, product development and promotion program, and a systematic marketing system.
The PhilFIDA has programs for the development and adoption of technologies on the utilization of plant fibers and improvement of postharvest technologies on fiber extraction. It also establishes processing facilities and conducts product development.
The PTRI provides technical training to weaving associations, particularly on basic and advanced handloom weaving, natural dyeing, provision of weave designs and response to technical services and short-term contract researches. It has also identified areas in the Philippines as natural dye production hubs and natural dye satellite centers to be able to respond to the immediate needs of the weaving communities.
The DA can help in propagating pineapple and mulberry plantations to ensure steady supply of piña and silk fibers. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) can help promote these local fabrics through trade fairs to showcase our products both locally and abroad.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) can conduct skills training for weavers and embroiderers. Local government units must also support in creating a nurturing environment where the traditional textile industry can flourish.
As chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, which reviews the Philippine government's proposed national budget, Legarda ensures that these programs are funded, Arances said.


The Hibla Travelling Exhibition is one way of showcasing these traditional textiles in the hope of further promoting the industry. The National Museum of the Philippines has always been a staunch partner in this endeavor, emphasized Arances.
The two main agencies that support our weavers and textile industry-PhilFIDA and PTRI have budgets worth P358.457 million and P79.820 million, respectively. For 2018, which is still under review, PhilFIDA has a proposed budget of P431.490 million; while PTRI's proposed budget is P83.237.
Legarda plans to reassess these funds and see if there are areas that still need to be covered, such as support for the pineapple and mulberry farms, according to Arances.
Over the years, Arances said Legarda’s office has provided support for programs that will help farmers, weavers and local textile manufacturers through additional funding in the national budget-such as the development of silk at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University in Bacnotan, La Union; establishment of weaving and processing centers through PhilFIDA; provision of technical assistance for the textile industry, the establishment of natural dye centers, and the conduct of natural dye and weaving seminars and workshops; production support services including cotton development and establishment of cotton processing center, among many others.
Arances continued: “Under the PTRI, there is a Textile Science and Technology Services Program for the testing of raw materials and allied products and the provision of technical assistance to the textile, garments, and allied industries on textile processing and machinery utilization; as well as a Textile Technology Transfer Program for the dissemination of textile information and provision of documentation of services to textile millers and allied industries.”
“Under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), we provide assistance to artisans, including weavers, through the provision of looms, threads, and other materials for weaving,” she added.
The Philippine Tropical Fabrics Law, which Legarda authored during her first term as senator, reportedly intends to promote Philippine natural fabrics through the use of such materials for the official uniforms of government officials and employees, and in the process, support the local fiber industry.
It stipulates the wearing of Philippine Tropical Fabrics with 5 percent fiber content of abaca, banana, pineapple and 15 percent silk.
Arances said, “the strengthening of the local tropical fabrics industry is attuned to our advocacy of promoting sustainable development and preserving our rich heritage. It will also provide jobs especially for those in the countryside. Furthermore, it unlocks the creativity of Filipinos, which is overflowing.”
The Philippine piña-seda textile has great potential in the world market, according to Arances saying Legarda plans to “make it prized items even here in the United States as it has been in the past centuries because the quality of our handwoven fabrics with intricate embroidery is truly world-class.”
Through the Hibla Travelling Exhibition, they reportedly aim to do just that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ilonggo politicians: Playboy Bebot who?

“People from the past, have a tendency to walk back into the present, and run over the future.”
-- Anthony Liccione

By Alex P. Vidal

- Only most recently, some Ilonggo politicians--congressmen and women, governors, mayors--elbowed each other for attention of ousted House speaker, Pantaleon “Playboy Bebot” Alvarez, who was a frequent visitor in Iloilo and Negros.
Many of these Ilonggo politicians were willing to genuflect with Alvarez as long as they got what they wanted: endorsement for certain elective positions for themselves or for their chosen bets in the May 2019 elections.
They thought Alvarez was the Philippine version of Rasputin--indispensable, someone who holds the president in the testicles, imperishable and unsinkable as the fourth highest official of the land.
They played blind, deaf and mute to Alvarez’s moral and political transgressions and tolerated his hubris.
Alvarez got a mind-boggling VIP treatment from these eager-beaver local politicians as if he could bring back to life Lazarus of Bethany.


In many “mass” oath-taking ceremonies of newly recruited PDP-Laban members, Alvarez was treated like Nebuchadnezzar, eldest son and successor of Nabopolassar, an Assyrian official who rebelled and established himself as king of Babylon in 620 BC.
When Alvarez was trounced by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the speakership in a turbulent mutiny hours before President Rodrigo Duterte’s state of the nation address (SONA) on July 23, most ofthese Ilonggo politicians who used to lionize Alvarez were now saying they junked Alvarez in favor of Arroyo.
From hallelujah to good riddance.
All of a sudden, most of these Ilonggo politicians disowned the Davao del Norte representative like a leper and are now queuing to ingratiate themselves with the controversial former president.
They gave credence to the age-old adages that “nobody loves a loser” and “victory has many fathers while defeat is an orphan.”


We thank Joji Jalandoni, former president of the New York City-based Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) for inviting us to grace the Piña-Seda (pineapple and silk cloths from the tropics) Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Traveling Exhibition lecture series, weaving demonstrations and embroidery workshops at the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan on July 24.
The exhibit featured Kalibo, Aklan Piña-Seda weavers and Lumbao, Laguna Piña-Seda embroiderers.
Piña (Spanish for pineapple) cloth is considered the finest and the queen of Philippine textiles.
Seda (Spanish for silk) cloth is undeniably the smoothest woven fabric in the world.
Combined with seda, piña exudes elegance as fined and delicate as pineapple and as smooth and luxurious as silk.
The exhibit, which started on July 24 and will be concluded on September 7, 2018, is being spearheaded by the National Museum (Pambansang Museo) and Office of Senator Loren Legarda.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Playboy Bebot to Ate Glo: From ‘worse to bad’

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”
--Henry Kissinger

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Nobody has bellyached now that Playboy Bebot was booted out in a “mutiny” in the House of Representatives.
No Mark Antony-like soliloquy.
No loyal subaltern threatening to commit a hara kiri.
No post mortem protest from PDP-Laban figureheads except for softy Koko Pimental’s tantrums.
Since the ouster supposedly had the fingerprints of the First Daughter, it had been received with a grain of salt by pro-and anti-Playboy Bebot politicians.
The message was clear: Playboy Bebot deserved to be given the door, his comeuppance for picking an unnecessary fight with the First Daughter; and for poking a nose into the latter’s infant political party.
Meanwhile, she was supposed to be in jail for plunder, but by a stroke luck, Ate Glo was released from being under house arrest when the Angry Man, her political benefactor, was catapulted into power in 2016.
Her pivotal rise from the rumps of political death signaled her stunning resurrection from the nadir.


Ate Glo had inherited her son’s position in congress, thus her political rehabilitation came to a zenith when she was installed as the new House speaker hours before the Angry Man’s state of the nation address on July 23, 2018.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, there’s no more turning back.
She could become the first prime minister if the sinister plot to hijack our constitution and shift the system of government into federal from unitary will come into fruition.
Between Playboy Bebot and Ate Glo, lawmakers opted for the lesser evil.
Thus the leadership change can be considered to be a transfer of power from “worse to bad.”
For being morally unfit and a bad influence, Playboy Bebot was a worse speaker.
For being mentally dishonest (“Hello Garci” tumult) and having been tainted with a whiff of graft and corruption, Ate Glo is a bad choice for Playboy Bebot’s replacement.


I was again misinterpreted for exhorting the relatives and friends of Monica-Blumentritt, Iloilo City Proper village chief Keith “Dabing” Espinosa and her jailed husband, Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr. to “pray for them” in my previous article.
It’s a common knowledge in Western Visayas or in Iloilo City, in particular, that the couple has been receiving threats owing to their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Although Jing-Jing is now detained at the Iloilo Provincial Jail in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo for frustrated murder, he continued to engage in selling of illegal drugs using Dabing and his family remembers, according to Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) director, Chief Supt. John Bulalacao.


When I used “Pray for Jing-Jing and Dabing” as the title of my article, it did not mean I believed they were immaculate and shouldn’t be indicted in court.
They should be brought before the bar of justice unscathed.
As Christians, we are advocating for any suspected criminal to be given the due process and treated humanely.
This goes not only for Dabing and Jing-Jing but for all “notorious” characters out there who are still enjoying their freedom and are not yet locked behind bars.
We air this utmost concern amid the culture of impunity, the series of summary executions that pervade our society under the present administration, which apparently has showed callous disregard for the human life based on numerous anti-illegal drugs police operations.
We believe that any person, whose guilt has not yet been proven beyond reasonable doubt, should be entitled to his or her right to life.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

I prefer hell over Federalism

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
--Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

- We salute the 67 percent of the Filipinos who rejected the proposed shift from the unitary to federal form of government in the Philippines surveyed recently by the Social Weather Station (SWS).
At least the Filipinos are now starting to wake up and think logically.
Filipinos are now aware; they have become vigilant and dead set to torpedo any sinister attempt to take them for a nightmarish ride to an ambiguous territory.
Not only that.
In rejecting federalism, we also expect the thinking Filipinos to oppose at all cost any move to cannibalize and distort the Philippine Constitution by changing it without any justifiable reason.
A big no to “cha-cha.”
Some of those agitating to rearrange the fundamental law of the land are incumbent legislators who come from political dynasties and those with vested self, political and business interests determined to protect, sustain, and serve their own whims and caprices.
There is no need to change the Charter actually.


Our democracy has survived since it was drafted and approved in 1987; and because of this holistic Constitution, Filipinos were able to prevent a totalitarian leadership, a mob rule, invasion by numerically superior forces on our sovereign seas and other territories, and a full-scale Martial Law.
Our present Constitution has effectively served as the watchdog of our democratic institutions and the vanguard of our basic rights and freedom.
It’s the best Constitution in the world, according to former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr.
It’s pro-poor, pro-women, pro-family, pro-life, swore the retired magistrate, who helped draft the Charter.
The reason Filipinos are afraid of federalism is because they don’t want to experiment with this monster which will only further bloat the bureaucracy through the creation of 18 federated regions and impoverish the people by the imposition of double or even triple taxes on the poor, according to experts.


In the first place, there was lack of information campaign on the part of the proponents, who only wanted to push the untested federalism into our throats even if there was no urgency and emergency to justify the jump from unitary to federalism.
Simply put, we are not prepared for federalism and we don’t need it now.
We prefer a unitary system of government run like hell by leaders elected directly by the people in a democratic election, than a federal system of government run like heaven by a dictator and his lapdogs in the parliament.
I prefer hell than the risky, divisive and suicidal federalism.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Pray for Jing-Jing and Dabing

“Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.”
--Steven Wright

By Alex P. Vidal

-- The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) in the Philippines can’t blame the family and constituents of Monica-Blumentritt, Iloilo City Proper village chief Keith “Dabing” Espinosa and her husband, Jesus “Jing-Jing” Espinosa Jr., if they blame the police if something bad will happen to the Espinosa couple.
Chief Supt. John Bulalaco, the PRO-6 director, has been telegraphing their punches these past weeks.
First, Director Bulalacao has announced he would never meet with Dabing as long as her name is on the list of suspected drug lords.
Dabing, who is reportedly in hiding, had been wanting to see Director Bulalaco to clear her name but the top cop was quoted in media reports as saying, “I have no time for her.”
It’s understandable.
A Dirty Harry film once explicitly proclaimed that authorities aren’t supposed to compromise with the underworld.


Second, Director Bulalaco has revealed that Jing-Jing, now detained at the Iloilo Provincial Jail in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo for frustrated murder, continued to engage in selling of illegal drugs and is using his family members, including Dabing, as fronts.
Director Bulalacao’s revelation on Jing-Jing’s jail activities was a palpable sign that the police could be wittingly or unwittingly trying to condition the public mind that the Espinosa couple has become incorrigible, ergo…
If we deeply analyze these two damning pronouncements coming from Western Visayas’ highest ranking police official, it seems they are harrowing indications of the portent of things to come.
God forbid.
Friends and family members should start praying for the couple’s safety.


We only wish that if the police have enough evidence against Jing-Jing and Dabing in their alleged continued involvement in illegal drug trade, proper charges should be immediately filed against them in court.
If there are pending cases in court against them, let the litigation continue and grind to its full conclusion.
At least that’s how the justice system in the Philippines works.
Let the judicial truth come out during the trial.
We can’t subject the controversial couple into an endless trial by publicity.

We can’t convict them through allegations, tough words and a public rebuke.
Even if they are known to be the “soldiers of the darkness”, suspects in the Philippines still have to avail of their rights under the Constitution to be heard in a competent court.
They are still innocent until proven otherwise.
Efforts must be pursued to secure them first before being brought to a fair trial.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Do city mayors need to travel abroad?

“No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there.”
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Critics ribbed the late former Iloilo City mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon and former mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor for being “barriotic mayors” because they never attended a single international conference for city mayors during their administrations in the 90s.
Ganzon, of course, traveled a lot outside the Philippines when he was a senator from 1963 to 1969 as part of his legislative mandate.
Being “barriotic mayors”, as we very well know, did not diminish their effectiveness as public servants.
Even without any junket abroad, both Ganzon and Malabor were hands-on leaders who never had any deficiency in the services they rendered for Iloilo City.
Ganzon and Malabor may not have yielded to the increasing and growing demands of the climate of global synergy during their terms, but they were holed up in giving priority and attention to the more practical and immediate social concerns of their constituents in the barangays.
Iloilo City mayors started to expand their political, cultural and economic horizons internationally starting when Jerry P. Treñas served as the city mayor for three consecutive terms from 2001 to 2010.


As the national president of League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) during the term of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Treñas became a globetrotter.
He racked up more than a dozen foreign trips, all in relation to his mandate as the local chief executive of Iloilo City and as the LCP boss.
When Jed Patrick Mabilog took over as city mayor in 2011, he also circumnavigated the globe in relation to his job as a father of Iloilo City like Treñas; Mabilog even landed as the No. 5 in World Mayor 2014.
Following their footsteps today is incumbent Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, who have already gone to the United States for the Iloilo Trade Mission in June and in Singapore for the World Cities Summit in July this year in only nine months since he became the city mayor.
Mayor Joe III is expected to crisscross the sky some more for the future international conferences before and after the 2019 elections, if he wins.


As part of the global village in this age of social media, cyberspace and globalization, our mayors or other local officials for that matter, should travel or accept invitations to go abroad, once in a while, and connect with the rest of the world or be left behind.
Interacting with foreign counterparts and actively participating in floor discussions and policy making deliberations in the summits is tantamount to upgrading their leadership skills and solidifying the selling points of the city that they represent.
There are major conferences calendared annually that seriously tackle bilateral modernization plans, trade packages, exchange programs, long-term infrastructure grants; paradigm shifts in environment, health, economic, tourism, education, culture, and related concerns that need the physical attendance of city mayors and not necessarily the attendance of heads of state or presidents.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Manny Pacquiao next Philippine president?

“Somebody asked me about the current choice we're being given in the presidential election. I said, Well, it's like two of the scariest movies I can imagine.”
--Dean Koontz

By Alex P. Vidal

- Don't be scared.
The hoi polloi in the Philippines failed to send action star Fernando “Da King” Poe Jr. to Malacanang in 2004 partly because of the “Hello Garci” scandal.
Come 2022 presidential election, will they try again and succeed when boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao becomes a candidate?
Like “Da King”, Pacquaio is identified with the masa, the “mamang sorbetero”, “isang kahig, isang tuka” and the bakya crowd.
When Poe was "killed" in the film, some of his fans ran amuck literally (this happened somewhere in Mindanao when Poe was not yet a presidential candidate, according to some reports).
When Pacquiao lost a fight, some of his irate fans cried “we wuz robbed” and were determined to lynch sportswriters like me who explained why he was defeated.
Candidates like Pacquiao, Mocha Uson, Dolphy, Poe, Erap could easily hit paydirt in the Philippines.
Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution provides that no person may be elected President unless he or she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years.
Pacquiao, who will turn 40 on December 17, 2018, will be qualified to run in 2022 under the Philippine charter.


At least two prominent leaders known all over the world have predicted Pacquiao’s ascension to Malacanang in the near future.
They were Top Rank promoter Bob Arum in sports and President Rodrigo R. Duterte in government.
I personally heard Arum predict and endorse newly crowned WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao during his conquest of Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in 2008.
“Because of his popularity and the tremendous pride and glory that he gave the Philippines, Manny (Pacquiao) will definitely be the next president of the Philippines,” Arum, a lawyer, told us during the pre-fight press conference 10 years ago.
During Pacquiao’s 38th birthday in 2016, Duterte, who asked Pacquiao to retire after demolishing Lucas Martin Mathysse in Kuala Lumpur on July 15, 2018, told the crowd in the young senator’s party that “with your own style, alam ko na magiging presidente ka rin. Ipagpatuloy mo ang ginagawa mo (I know that you will also someday become the president. Just continue what you are doing). ”
Pacquiao’s popularity among the same quality and bracket of voters that gave Poe, former president and now Manila mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, former senators Lito Lapid, Ramon Revilla Sr., Bong Revilla and President Duterte overwhelming votes, has snowballed now that he has bagged the WBA 147-lb diadem and he is expected to provide the fans with more excitement and entertainment when he defends his title.


Now that Pacquiao has revealed he isn’t yet quitting as a prizefighter at 39 and he will be promoted by his own MP Promotions without the need for any imprimatur from Arum and without any curfew from Freddie Roach, this would give him the leverage to solidify his political wherewithal and pile up more millions of dollars for his campaign kitty.
Fans have almost forgotten and have even forgiven Pacquiao for his lackluster performance against Jeff Horn and for hiding a shoulder injury in losing by unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. that cost those who placed bets for him millions of pesos.
The way his seventh round KO victory over the Argentine dynamo was received by adoring fans in the Philippines could be a tell tale sign and a curt message for other presidential candidates with doctorate and Harvard degrees to begin shaking in their boots.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Viva France! A salute to Croatia

"The beauty of the World Cup is that while thirty-two countries get to cheer for their respective teams, the event also affirms a global pluralism - it is as much a festival of cultural multiplicity as it is a competition featuring some of the best athletes in the world." 
--Clint Smith

-- First of all, let us salute the brave and marvelous Croatians.
The gods were definitely loving and enjoying the match.
Like ordinary mortals, they “watched” the beautiful game’s finale, a fantastic championship match for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia between France and Croatia in Moscow July 15 that had soccer fans in the entire planet on the edge of their seats for 95 minutes.

The Frenchmen were crowned world champions after clobbering an underdog Croatian team, 4-2, and capturing its second World Cup title and its first since it hosted the 1998 tournament 20 years ago.
Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus manager, jittery with five minutes left before the end of the match, was the captain in 1998 when his team toppled Brazil in Paris, and on Sunday he became the third to ever win the World Cup as a player and coach.
Jason Burt saw it the other way around. Writing for The Telegraph, Burt surmised that “maybe even the Gods were angry. Or maybe they just did not want this glorious World Cup to end. France are champions, and deservedly so as they were the best team and the most efficient team at what was probably the best ever World Cup, but this was a final marked by controversy, firsts, brilliant interventions and blunders as the incredible resilience and belief of Croatia was finally defeated.”
There was thunder and lightning with heavy clouds ringing the Luzhniki Stadium here in Moscow as France scored from a free-kick that they should not have earned and a penalty for handball that was evidently not a clear and obvious error to give them a half-time advantage that was a travesty.
Not that they will care.
They have won the World Cup for the second time, and the first time for 20 years, with coach Didier Deschamps becoming only the third man ever to take the trophy as a player and a coach after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.
And that is exalted company while Deschamps will feel utterly vindicated in overhauling his squad after the disappointing of losing the Euro 2016 final and also determinedly going for a more pragmatic style which demanded greater discipline from the likes of Paul Pogba and compromising some of France’s attacking flair. That debate does not matter amid the celebrations.

Even so for almost an hour Croatia were the better team, by far the better team, before first Pogba - thereby becoming the first Manchester United player to score in a World Cup Final - and then Kylian Mbappe scored.
Mbappe, at 19, became the first teenager since Pele to strike in a World Cup Final. The scoreline then was 5-2 and this was the joint highest score since - aided by a terrible goalkeeping mistake by Hugo Lloris who gifted Croatia their second goal as he attempted to play the ball around the relentless Mario Mandzukic who stuck out a leg and diverted it into the net.
That gave Croatia hope when it seemed hope had gone and surely the tiredness and pain of going to extra-time, and twice to penalties, in all three of their previous knock-out ties at this World Cup would finally catch up on them.
But they never, ever gave up in what was their first final and one that they can look back upon with remarkable pride at the achievement.
Antoine Griezmann had been involved in both of France’s first-half goals as he cheaply won the free-kick - it appeared like a dive and Marcelo Brozovic was furious - which he swung in.
The ball skimmed off the head off Mandzukic and flew beyond goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. Even then there was drama as it appeared Pogba had been in an offside position as he challenged Mandzukic who scored the first ever own goal in a World Cup Final.
That was as nothing to the controversy with France’s second goal which came from a hotly-disputed, VAR encouraged penalty.
It came from a near post Griezmann corner which flew over Blaise Matuidi and struck the left hand of his marker Ivan Perisic who was close behind him. Referee Nestor Pitana bizarrely gave a goal-kick but the French players, led by Lucas Hernandez and Olivier Giroud, angrily demanded a penalty.
Pitana was eventually told by the VAR, Italian Massimiliano Irrati, to review it and ran over to the touchline.
It seemed an eternity but he finally returned, pointing to the spot with Griezmann calmly stroking the ball home. It seemed harsh - Perisic did not attempt to move his hand, could not see the ball - but Croatia were behind again.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

WBA king Pacquiao is an ‘eyesore’

“Once you stop benefiting their interest, you become an eyesore.”
--Chayan Tain

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Of the four reigning world welterweight champions in the four world governing bodies today, newly crowned World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Manny Pacquiao is the most divergent if not antipodal.

At 39 and toting a ledger of 60 wins (39 KOs), seven losses, and two draws, Pacquiao can also be considered as the weight category’s “eyesore.”
His ascension as the WBA champion after knocking out in the 7th stanza defending titlist Lucas Matthysse (39-5, 36 KOs) on Saturday (July 15) night at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was sort of a mockery of Sweet Science although he richly deserved the accolades for becoming a world champion once more.
We won’t deny Pacquiao the splendor of his latest victory as he really was impressive in putting away the defrocked Argentine, but of the four concurrent welterweight galaxies, the hard-hitting Filipino champion miserably pales in comparison.
If paraded with his counterparts in the World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Organization (WBO), and International Boxing Federation (IBF), the striking difference is easily exposed.


WBC champion Keith Thurman is 30 years old and undefeated with 28 wins and 22 knockouts; IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. is 28 years old and unbeaten with 24 wins and 21 knockouts; and WBO champion Terence Crawford also 30 years old and also unscathed with 33 wins and 24 stoppages.
Crawford took the WBO crown with a violent 9th round knockout win over Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn on June 6, 2018.

Any attempt for a unification would be absurd.
For bringing home the WBA belt, Pacquiao was condemned to be exposed as a carpetbagger champion.
For the first defense of his WBA diadem, Pacquiao will definitely avoid the top three contenders: No. 1 Jessie Vargas; No. 2 Jamal James; and No. 3 Jose Luis Benavidez as they are all Americans.
Pacquiao will never defend his crown in the American rings owing to his tax woes with the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and especially now that he is estranged to Freddie Roach and former promoter Bob Arum.
If the WBA orders him to face No. 4 contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas of Lithuania, Pacquiao will most likely risk fighting a potential Jeff Horn as Kavaliauska is 30 years old and also undefeated in 20 wins and 16 knockouts.


The newly crowned Filipino senator will most likely settle for the “less dangerous” No. 5 contender Amir Khan of Great Britain, 31, and has impaired to 32 wins, four losses with 20 knockouts.
After fighting Horn in Australia and Mathysse in Malaysia, Pacquiao might fight next in London or even Lithuania.
No more glitzy MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas and panoramically enthralling Cowboys Stadium in Texas.
Now that Pacquiao is “his own man”, is no longer beholden to Bob Arum’s Top Rank, and is not anymore under the tutelage of Roach, he can dictate his own terms and continue to ignore calls for him to retire.
The win against Mathysee didn’t mean though he should stay in the fistic business if he cares for his safety (he is turning 40 on December 17, 2018), but it did help to boost his ego and regain his confidence to continue racking up oodles of dollars for his presidential ambition.
He may have won the battle in wrecking Mathysee, but, man, he is a lonely king in the WBA throne; he is a strange bedfellow and an “eyesore” in the welterweight kingdom.

Move away Serena Williams; hooray Angelique Kerber

"The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as a wall."
--Mitch Hedberg

Even stars like Manny Pacquiao in boxing, Brazil and Argentina in FIFA World Cup could fall with a big thud sometimes.
Serena Williams' effort to capture her first major title since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., only 10 months ago came up short as Angelique Kerber scored a 6-3, 6-3 upset victory over the celebrated American tennis star July 14 to pocket the 2018 Wimbledoo women’s singles title at the All England Club in London.

Williams remains one Grand Slam title behind Margaret Court's all-time tennis record of 24, as a result.
Kerber, who is now a three-time major champion, who won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016, is a French Open championship away from the career Grand Slam.
Tim Daniels reported that “it didn't take long to see the match wouldn't be another quick Serena coronation.”
Kerber, who defeated Williams to win her first major at the 2016 Aussie Open, secured a break in the powerful server's first game to make an immediate statement, Daniels added.
He further reported: Although Williams eventually fought back to win three straight games in the middle of the set, her German counterpart's trademark defense forced her to hit a lot of shots almost every game, and she wasn't up to the challenge. She committed 14 unforced errors in the first set.
The second set was pretty much a carbon copy of the first.
Williams never found a rhythm, racking up 10 more unforced errors, while Kerber continued to play a sound, steady brand of tennis with five winners and only two errors to slowly pull away.
This result doesn't take away from Williams' outstanding run at Wimbledon. She's less than a year removed from a life-threatening experience that began with a pulmonary embolism following her daughter's birth that ultimately forced her to spend six weeks on bed rest during her recovery.
"First my C-section wound popped open due to the intense coughing I endured as a result of the embolism," she wrote for CNN, adding she "almost died."
"I returned to surgery, where the doctors found a large hematoma, a swelling of clotted blood, in my abdomen. And then I returned to the operating room for a procedure that prevents clots from traveling to my lungs."
While she didn't capture her eighth Wimbledon title, she's on the way to establishing herself as the sport's dominant figure once again. She'll likely be the favorite when the U.S. Open gets underway in August.
Kerber deserves full credit for the win. She realized Williams wasn't in top form early on and used her defensive skill set to force her opponent to run a lot and hit shots from tough angles. The ensuing errors were the difference in the match.
Whenever Kerber enters retirement, the fact she beat Serena in two Grand Slam finals will be a hallmark of what could end up being a Hall of Fame career.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

‘Friends cursed me for marrying a poor and sickly US citizen’

“Friends come and go, like the waves of the ocean, but the true ones stay like an octopus on your face.”

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Since “running away” from her Arab boss who brought her in the United States from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2001, Rosita “Rose” Junatas, a domestic helper, has not seen her family in Tarlac, in the Philippines.
“I hope to reunite with them soon,” Rose, 61, wished in an interview with this writer July 9.

She plans to go back to Ramos, Tarlac, where she finished sixth grade in 1969 at Ramos Central Elementary School, as soon as the remaining documents for her green card, being processed through the help of Falls Church-based preacher Mariano C. Evangelista Jr. and his wife Armida, will arrive.
The Evangelista couple “adopted” Rose and allowed her to stay in their church at Christian Evangelization Ministry in the City of Falls Church.
Rose lost her American husband, Michael “Mike” Bradley, 68, to a lung cancer on June 4, 2018.
She lived with the Evangelista couple after Mike’s cremation on June 19.
Rose and Mike didn’t have their own children.

Rose and Mike, a printing press employee, had been living together as husband and wife in McLean, Virginia since 2001; she decided to process the important details in her green card only when Mike was already dying in the hospital.


Rose, then 45, said she met Mike, then 52, on Good Friday in 2001 through a co-worker, Elsie Ribao. She went to live with Mike in an apartment in McLean on Labor Day of the same year.
The romance kicked off through a series of phone calls where they professed their love for each other and willingness to live together, Rose said.
They got married at the back of a house on September 27, 2001 in a civil ceremony.

Rose wasn’t able to obtain the complete details of her green card because of “complications” in Mike’s previous marriage.
Mike’s former wife, Marilou, also a Filipina, divorced him after living together for five years. Before meeting Marilou, Mike had been married to a fellow American with whom he had a 40-year-old son.
Rose was Mike’s third wife.
Rose’s first husband, Leopoldo Gicete, a mining engineer from Samar, Leyte, died of asthma in 1982.
After Leopoldo’s death, Rose worked as domestic helper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 18 years and raised alone their two children--Rosenda and Leopoldo Jr.
Rosenda now resides in Aklan with her own family and a fishery business, while Leopoldo Jr. is now a seaman.
They talked regularly through the Facebook Messenger.


In Virginia, Rose’s former boss, an Arab national, resented her decision to “run away” and live with Mike.
The boss paid for Rose’s air fare from Jeddah to Virginia and was hoping Rose would stay with the Arab boss’ family while in the United States.
It was Mike who helped Rose transfer her personal belongings from the house of her Arab boss to Mike’s apartment.
“Sa galit ng amo ko sa ginawa namin, hindi niya ibinigay ang mga natira ko pang suweldo (my boss was so enraged that he didn’t give me my remaining salary),” Rose recalled.

Since Mike didn’t have enough money, Rose said she did some housekeeping job in the houses of Mike’s friends to help buttress the couple’s income.
Rose said Filipina friends who visited her in their apartment frequently always engaged Mike in a verbal tussle when Mike ribbed them for not washing their dishes and for leaving all the chores to Rose alone.
“I told them to ignore Mike and not to engage him in a quarrel because he was sickly, but they refused to listen,” Rose narrated.


The same set of friends also gossiped behind her back and “belittled me when I was down and feeling hopeless at the time when I needed them most,” Rose added.
“When Mike was in the hospital, nobody cared for us. When Mike died, none of them visited us. One of them even told our friends buti nga (good riddance),” lamented Rose.
When Mike was gone, her friends “totally abandoned me and even cursed me for marrying a poor and sickly American citizen,” she sobbed.
She said she didn’t inherit any property from Mike, who was penniless before his death.
While in the custody of the Evangelista couple, Rose said she does not anymore entertain calls and inquiries from friends “who will only open up a conversation and pretend they care only to get some information about my present situation, share it to others, and add insult to my injury.”
“I will just keep quite and maintain my peace here (Christian Evangelical Ministry) and wait for my complete papers in the green card. I know I am in good hands. No more friends. I don’t want to be hurt anymore,” Rose concluded.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Manny Pacquiao is our World Cup

“The only thing I focus on is just winning. Once we win, everyone remembers a winner. That's what I'm focused on.” --Kristaps Porzingis

By Alex P. Vidal

-- The only source of our pride in sports has been Manny Pacquiao.
The 39-year-old senator and part-time pugilist is our own version of World Cup.
Everywhere he fights, Pacquiao brings with him our dignity and pride, just like the soccer players worshiped like demigods in FIFA football fields from Milan to Guadalajara and Moscow.
During his prime, Pacquiao disposed of rivals from Mexico, Colombia, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Russia, Australia, England, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, and Africa with supreme dominance.
If he topples Lucas Martin Matthysse, 35, on Saturday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Pacquiao will add Argentina on the list of those countries.
Filipinos pin their hopes on Pacquiao as a one-man wrecking crew against any boxer from superpower countries.
Only in boxing can we have an opportunity to gain the respect and attention from countries that have qualified and even won the FIFA World Cup since the pre-war era.


Pacquiao is so immensely popular that his former promoter Bob Arum considered him as “the next president of the Philippines” just like how Brazil immortalized Pele and Argentina hailed Diego Maradona.
We cheer for either France or Croatia, finalists in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, but whoever wins on Sunday in Moscow will not have a direct impact on our pride and glory as a nation.
Both Croatia and France have big followers in every Filipino community worldwide.
On the other hand, if Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) will hurt and out-duke Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) for the 12-round WBA welterweight title, it’s like losing a World Cup final anew.
Pacquiao also blew away another “World Cup final” when he bowed to Jeff Horn via 12-round unanimous decision for WBO 147-lb title in Sydney, Australia on July 2, 2017.
Once is enough. Twice is a humiliation.


We won’t get tired though of reminding boxing fans in the Philippines that Pacquiao has not won a knockout since 2009.
Some Pacquiao fans think the boxer is a Superman.
They complained and cried “we wuz robbed” each time someone who is younger defeated him.
Pacquiao weighed 144 lbs when he scored a technical knockout (TKO) against Miguel Angel Cotto, 145 lbs, at 0:55 in the final stanza of the 12-round WBO welterweight war at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 14, 2009.
Since beating Cotto, Pinoy boxing fans were hoping that Pacquiao would again pulverize his opponents.
There was a stoppage in his sixth fight since blasting to bits Cotto, but it was Pacquiao who got knocked out cold at 2:59 in the sixth round by Juan Manuel Marquez.
In Pacquiao’s last seven fights after the Marquez debacle, he won five and lost two times (to Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Horn).
Pacquiao won all his five bouts on points.
He struggled against a patsy Horn.
What are his chances against Matthysse who arguably is better than Horn?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What does FIFA World Cup mean to us Filipinos?

“Knowing what to say, in the right way - at the perfect moment - can mean the difference between a world-class life and an average one.”
--Robin S. Sharma

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Filipinos are not part of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in terms of actual participation, but we are very much involved in many practical and historical reasons and circumstances.
By virtue of our being part of the global sports fraternity; in terms of the spirit of Olympism; and because we have been inflicted, in one way or the other, with a soccer mania since time immemorial, we are within the parameters of the World Cup village.
What does it mean to be part of the World Cup?

It means we need to further improve our sports program, not just in soccer but also in other events with global impact--Olympic events that will bring us in the threshold of world class competition.


We must show that we belong not only in words but also in drawing inspiration from extra-ordinary performances of these incredible players and their teams and use this inspiration to improve our own standards even in regional competitions like the Southeast (SEA) Games and Asian Games.
We breath, cheer, discuss, argue, monitor, broadcast and write about World Cup but we don’t and can’t have a team in the elite competition.
We root for certain teams like Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, final qualifier France, but we aren’t there physically to savor the prestige and actual excitement felt by competitors watched and cheered by billions of fans all over the planet.
We need to review and upgrade our sports facilities, as well, and send our athletes in tough competitions abroad.
We can’t afford to be obscured in the doldrums or be lagged behind and remain as kibitzers for life just because we are a Third World country.
Supremacy in sports translates into supremacy in economy, but we can always pull the rug from under and walk extra mile to show the world that the Filipinos can also become world class athletes even if we are a struggling economy.


France has booked the first slot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia finals by virture of its 1-0 conquest of stubborn Belgium in one of the all-European semifinals.
The descendants of Voltaire, King Louis, Marat and other precursors of the French Revolution will wait for the result of the other semifinal shootout between Croatia and England.
England is near the hearts of many Filipino soccer fans but we love to see Croatia reaching in the championship level for the very first time and win this year’s World Cup.
The world has always been crazy if it’s a World Cup and is getting crazier as the showdown for the finals approaches this Sunday.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Evil, Apathy)

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

If we can’t do anything to stop evil or people who are evil for fear of reprisal and fear of isolation from the mainstream, at least we should have the moral courage and tenacity to express our revulsion and antipathy when they breath evil, preach evil, shout evil, promote evil, and personify the Devil.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

‘Do we have a Pinoy team in the World Cup?’

“The World Cup experience is more than just the game of soccer. It's an event. And it will fly by faster than you think. It will end and you'll be saying, 'Wow, it's over already?' You have to remember to take it all in and enjoy it.”
--Cobi Jones

By Alex P. Vidal

- A lot of Filipinos not necessarily soccer fans have been asking me in person and through the Facebook messenger these past two weeks: “Do we have a team in the World Cup?”
We all know, of course, that we don’t have.
We never had a chance.
We have the Azkals (Street Dogs), our national football team that regularly competes in international football, but it did not--and could not--play in the World Cup.
Not even in 2022 Qatar, with due respect to our national players and the coaching staff.
The reason is because the Philippines has never qualified for the World Cup.
The farthest that the RP national football team has achieved, so far, was having been qualified in the AFC Asian Cup in 2019.
Its best trophy in a major tournament was second place to Palestine at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
The Filipinos can’t even dominate its rivals in the Southeast Asian (SEA Games) and Asian Games.
There’s a drought of gold medal for the Philippine football team even in the regional invitational games.


Without the Filipino-European and Filipino-American booters in Azkals, we can hardly beat Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia.
It was not too long ago when we were once the veritable “whipping boy” in the region.
Not anymore when the Azkals, now coached by Terry Butcher, was formed.
Even if we don’t play in the World Cup, our football has developed by leaps and bounds and our team is no longer a pushover.
Even before Uruguay became the first country in history to win the FIFA World Cup in 1930, the Philippines was already playing at the international level in 1913.
After 78 years, only seven countries, the so-called “Elite Seven”, have won the World Cup in 18 stagings: Brazil (five times); Italy (four times); Germany (three times); Uruguay (two times); Argentina (two times); England (once); and France (once).


In the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, two of the four semifinalists (France, England, Croatia, Belgium) could join the Elite Seven.
If Belgium will beat France on July 10 and Croatia will defeat England on July 11, it will be a Belgium versus Croatia match in the championship.
Either Belgium or Croatia could become the eight country in history to bring home the World Cup.
But first they must hurdle their semifinal assignments.
If France and England will clash in the finals, one of them could win the World Cup only for the second time in history.
As we have been saying in the past weeks, the world is going crazy now that the final two teams are about to be unveiled this week.

Friday, July 6, 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup: Goodbye, Brazil!

By Alex P. Vidal
Belgium bombed out Brazil in the quaterfinals, 2-1, at Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia Friday to barge into the seminfinals versus France, which ousted Uruguay, 2-0, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
“There were incredible hearts out there. Sometimes you have to accept that Brazil have so much finesse and quality that they’re going to break you down. But we didn’t accept it. Not for one minute did they give up,”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.
“This was something special. These boys deserve to be very special people back in Belgium. I hope everybody back in Belgium is very proud. The execution of the tactics was magnificent.”
Martinez added: “In two days they changed their tactical disposition, I couldn’t be prouder. We cannot let people down. We need to enjoy beating Brazil in the knockout phase, treasure it, and pass it down the generations. But we need more energy for the next game. We will be as good as we can be in the semi-final.”

Brazil advanced to the quarterfinals after beating Mexico in the Round of 16, while Belgium advanced to the quarterfinals after ousting Japan in an exciting Round of 16 game.
The highest scoring side at the 2018 World Cup, Belgium seemed to come out of the blocks slower than Brazil who created a flurry of chances but failed to convert any of them early on. 
Soon enough Belgium grew into the game with power, pace and exquisite passing which caught Brazil napping. The Belgians went onto register an emphatic 2-1 win to set-up a semi-final clash against France.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Secure Iloilo mayors Centena, Malones, Betita

“The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
--Sun Tzu

By Alex P. Vidal

-- We join our fellow “concerned” Ilonggos in the Philippines and abroad in the call for the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Iloilo Chapter to use all its resources to secure Mayors Alex Centena of Calinog, Mariano Malones of Maasin, and Siegfredo Betita of Carles.
The three are among the local chief executives in the Philippines linked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in illegal drugs.
As among the country’s most outstanding mayors, they don’t deserve to die violently based on wrong information and accusation.
Even if they have repeatedly and emotionally denied their involvement in narcotics, their names have remained dangling in the controversial list.
It’s better to praise 40 thieves and pagans than to condemn and put to risk the life of an innocent person.


Some of the mayors included in the bloody list are now dead; killed violently by unidentified assailants in separate attacks even before they could clear their names.
There has been no assurance from the Philippine National Police (PNP) or even the President himself that the killings of “narco politicians’” will end soon.
In fact, the President himself has offered rewards for law enforcers who can kill drug traffickers.
President Duterte goaded and “inspired” uniformed personnel sworn to protect the civilians to commit a criminal act against both the drug addicts and drug traffickers.
He even sided with police officials and ordinary cops implicated in extra-judicial killings (EJK) involving suspected drug traffickers--civilians or government officials and rogue cops.
We are not saying that the President and the PNP are behind the murderous binge, but the words and body languages of some PNP generals, especially President Duterte himself, suggest that they don’t condemn and discourage the bloody murders.
As feared by many human rights watchdogs, “they may have even abetted it.”


There have been no solid pieces of evidence, of course, that would link President Duterte and the PNP, but the culture of impunity in the Philippines has been overwhelmingly associated with the administration’s “all out” campaign against illegal drugs.
Now that election season is fast approaching, some politicians and disgruntled syndicate leaders might take advantage of President Duterte’s controversial “narco list” and order the assassination of their opponents in the May 2019 elections who are on the list, to make it appear they were waylaid for their “involvement” in narcotics business.
Whether they are up for reelection, Mayors Centena, Malones, and Betita undoubtedly have been exposed to danger--including members of their family just like other mayors, governors and other elected public officials maligned by the feeble “narco list.”


We don’t point an accusing finger to the President and make conclusions with absolute certainty that he might order the murder of the three Ilonggo mayors, but according to his bombastic speeches in the past, he “will definitely kill” former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog whom he accused of being a “narco politician” and “the cousin” of murdered Western Visayas drug lord Boyet Odicta.
In linking the mayors and other local government chief executives in illegal drugs, an outraged President Duterte said he based it on “intelligence reports” which could also be false or “doctored.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

‘Right move for Mabilog’

“Can you really send back people to where they are fleeing from?”
--Peter Maurer

By Alex P. Vidal

-- Correct decision and right move.
These would have been the rapturous words of former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog’s supporters if they got the chance to meet after the assassination most recently of two Philippine mayors which happened one day apart.
First to fall was Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas, who was shot dead by a sniper while attending the flag ceremony rites in front of the City Hall on July 3.
The next was Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tenio, Nueva Ecija, who was killed by assassin’s bullets while being driven out of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) compound in Cabanatuan City on July 4.


Halili had been included in President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “narco list” and subsequently stripped of bodyguards and power over the police like Mabilog.
Although he was not included in Mr. Duterte’s deadly list, supporters have linked Bote’s murder to that of Halili.
Halili, who insisted he was never involved in illegal drugs, had feared for his life after Mr. Duterte reportedly believed in the “wrong” intelligence report that Halili was a “narco politician.”
The president has threatened “to kill” Mabilog several times in his speeches since last year, insisting that the Ilonggo mayor “is the cousin of slain drug lord Boyet Odicta.”
Based on our own recollection, the president has issued the threats to kill Mabilog seven times in different occasions and places.
His latest tirade against Mabilog was in front of Philippine councilors in Iloilo City two weeks ago.


Like Halili, Mabilog, a Liberal Party (LP) member, repeatedly insisted he was never engaged in illegal drugs and he isn’t related to Odicta.
Mabilog is the second cousin of opposition Senator Franklin Drilon.
The president refused to listen.
He nixed any possible meeting with Mabilog
He did not believe Mabilog and continued to tarnish the mayor’s name in various gatherings where he was invited as the speaker.
Before he was ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2017 for “unexplained wealth”, Mabilog had already decided not to return in the Philippines after attending a series of conferences in Japan and Malaysia.
His wife, Marivic, and their two children, citing security concerns, left the country and joined him in an undisclosed location.
Aside from Halili and Bote, three mayors linked to illegal drugs have been killed under the Duterte administration.
They were: Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Mindanao; Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte in the Visayas; and Reynaldo Parohinog of Ozamiz City in Mindanao.
Their deaths were all links to the Duterte administration’s “all-out” war against illegal drugs.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Iloilo’s ‘Claudio Teehankee Jr.’ kills a boy

“Even in killing men, observe the rules of propriety.”

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The manner the senseless crime was executed, the attacker’s behavior, and the circumstances before it happened can be compared to the celebrated Hultman–Chapman murder case, which occurred in Makati City in the Philippines 27 years ago.
But in the shooting incident that killed a 15-year-old male member of the Jalandoni family in Laguda Subdivision in Brgy. Magsaysay, La Paz, Iloilo City on June 28, 2018, all the victims belong in one family.
Victim Jezreel Jalandoni, a Grade 10 student at Alphacrest Academy, suffered gunshot wounds on his head, neck and nose. He died while being treated at Medicus Medical Center in Mandurriao.
His mother, Marites, who was driving their vehicle, and brother, Jedidiah, 18, also incurred multiple wounds but survived.
The actuation of suspected triggerman, Teopisto “Totong” Castroverde Sebanta, 47, was similar in many ways to that of Claudio Teehankee Jr., lone gunman in the unprovoked killings of Roland John Chapman and Maureen Hultman inside the Dasmariñas Village, Makati City on July 13, 1991.
Either they were “psycho killers” or trigger-happy maniacs under the influence of illegal substance or liquor. Or both.


Both Teehankee Jr. and Sebanta approached their victims’ vehicles and started shooting them at close range.
Teehankee Jr., son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Sr., first stopped Hultman’s group and asked for their companion, Jussi Olavi Leino’s identification card. When Chapman intervened, Teehankee shot him dead.
He then shot Hultman, who died in the hospital after several weeks. Leino, who was also shot, survived.
Like the victims in Makati City, the victims in Iloilo City were also unarmed and just came from a dinner.
Sebanta did not say any word and started peppering the victims’ vehicle with bullets when he saw it.
Both the attacks happened at night; Teehankee Jr. and Sebanta “shot” the victims several times even if they could not defend themselves as they were unarmed and not prepared to engage the shooters in a deadly altercation.
The only difference is Teehankee Jr. was arrested and convicted in the trial court.
His conviction was sustained by the Supreme Court, while Sabanta remained at large as of this writing.


I was the lone Filipino in a jampacked Colombian resto on corner 82nd and Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York City July 3 afternoon when Colombia battled England in one of the last and most exciting Round 16 matches.
There, I witnessed how the Colombians heartily cheered their soccer players in the giant screen and how they noisily exploded when Colombia leveled the score at 1-1 just when the match was about to end in the last five minutes.
After failing to score in a five-minute extension, both England and Colombia tore each other apart in the tortuous penalty shootout.
England snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a decisive 4-3 to book a quarterfinal slot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
The Englishmen broke the Colombian fans’ hearts, including the sympathetic Latino crowd in Moscow and in the Colombian resto here in Queens.
I saw tears in their eyes as they all disappeared one by one, while I stayed behind for another couple of minutes to finish my smoothie.

Monday, July 2, 2018

If Marivic isn’t qualified, who will the Mabilogs endorse?

“When politics is no longer a mission but a profession, politicians become more self-serving than public servants.”
--Emmanuel Macron

By Alex P. Vidal

-- The first thing enemies of former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog will agitate is that “Victoria 'Marivic' Griengo Mabilog is a Canadian citizen, thus she is not qualified to run for any public office in 2019.”
This argument is presumably being prepared by Mabilog’s critics amid reports that the former first lady of Iloilo City, who is now out of the Philippines, is being pushed by some Ilonggos to run for city mayor in May 2019.
Only the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can tell if Mrs. Mabilog is qualified or not.
Mrs. Mabilog has not made any official announcement regarding the report.
If Mrs. Mabilog is qualified under the law and decides to throw her hat in the mayoralty race, she will be squaring off with two of her husband’s former chief political allies -- Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” P. Treñas and Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III.


If the law will allow Mrs. Mabilog to run for mayor, she will certainly give the warring gentlemen a titanic headache as she is going to collect all the “wasted” votes when the combined empires of Treñas and Joe III collapse owing to their imminent disintegration.
If Mrs. Mabilog will nix politics, on the other hand, there is no assurance, that the Mabilog couple will take sides in the full-blown political Armageddon between Treñas and Joe III.
Since most of former Mayor Mabilog’s key acolytes are now working with Mayor Espinosa, many City Hall occupants believe the Mabilogs will throw their support behind the incumbent mayor who was Mabilog’s running mate in the 2016 elections.


But a reliable source informed this writer that the Mabilogs “might endorse no candidate for Iloilo City mayor.”
The Mabilogs are still reportedly “hurting” after nobody from the city government--meaning former Mayor Mabilog’s political allies in the city council, including then vice mayor Joe III and Rep. Treñas themselves--stood up to defend the embattled Mayor Mabilog from President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s relentless threats and attacks; and his false accusations that Mayor Mabilog was a “narco politician.”
Even Mayor Mabilog’s second cousin, Senator Franklin Drilon, did nothing to at least cushion the impact of the president’s lethal blows against the hapless Mabilog south of the border.
Whether the Mabilogs also have hard feelings toward their second cousin is something they alone know.
This revelation of a possible “non-support” from the Mabilog family must be painful to both (Treñas and Joe III) parties.
Those who cast doubts and question the motives of this disclosure can always verify the story from “authorized” people-or from the Mabilog husband and wife themselves for more precise and accurate information.