Thursday, May 30, 2019

Why Iloilo should be proud of its past leaders

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

By Alex P. Vidal

-- THIS is a tribute to the late Ilonggo philosopher-lawyer Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, 86, popularly known as “the Socrates of Iloilo”, a dyed-in-the-wool follower of Ayn Rand’s “Objectivist” philosophy and was a one-time a deist like his most favorite philosopher, Voltaire.
If it were Salvador “Doy” Laurel, instead of Mrs. Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who became president via EDSA Revolution in 1986, Ilonggo lawyer Ernesto “Ernie” Justiniani Dayot would have been appointed as chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP).
“Or, panyero Ernie would have been given an ambassadorial position,” the late lawyer Joselito “JT” Barrera once told a group of journalists, while hosting then visiting senatorial candidate Frank Chavez.
Barrera was one of the few Ilonggos privy to Dayot’s closeness with the late former Vice President Laurel, the fifth Prime Minister of the Philippines until his position was abolished.
Barrera said Laurel was most impressed with Dayot in one of the Nacionalista Party (NP) events they both had attended because of the latter’s intellect and photographic memory especially when narrating historical events.
When Laurel was secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs from March 1986 to February 1987, he would invite Dayot and other Ilonggo NP leaders to a private dinner.
“Politics was mentioned occasionally during the private dinner, but we talked mostly about our girlfriends,” lawyer Pascual Espinosa Jr., founder of the Save Our Nation Movement, said in jest.
Dayot always believed in the power of the Ilonggos to excel in arts, science, academics, sports and politics.


“The Ilonggos have always strove to regain their economic supremacy like in the past when the port of Iloilo was at its busiest and that time Iloilo City was dubbed the ‘Queen City of the South,’” Dayot averred.
Dayot, a native of Dingle, Iloilo but resided in Brgy. Nanga, Guimbal, Iloilo until his death, had identified “a major stumbling block” in the Filipino politicians’ propensity to engage in patronage politics.
Delays in implementation of big projects were blamed for the snail pace of Iloilo’s development in the past.
“Delayed construction of the infrastructure like roads and bridges has taken a heavy toll with the viability of other economic projects government or private that could set high the gear of production for the ultimate progress of Iloilo,” he lamented.
Because of this, Dayot stressed that the economic growth of the province and city had to depend on the management of the powers-that-be.
He pointed out that there is the linkage of the economic growth and the political power, a kind of partnership most common and prevalent in developing countries.
“Like horse and carriage, they are complimentary,” Dayot said.
Like many Ilonggos, Dayot believes that there are more positive and great things to be proud of in the city and province of Iloilo, which boast of intellectual and political landmarks.


He cited the following achievements of Ilonggos:
-Molo was called “the Athens of the Philippines” as it produced senators and jurists in the land and abroad;
-Chief Justices Victoriano Mapa and Ramon Avancena graced the Supreme Court of the Philippines;
-Raymundo Melliza sat in the Cuban court;
-Delfin Jaranilla was appointed after the war in the international tribunal that tried war criminals;
-the three senators produced by Molo district, Iloilo City were Rodolfo Ganzon, Esteban de La Rama, Jose C. Zulueta;
-other Ilonggo senators were Fernando Lopez, who became vice president; Oscar Ledesma, Ruperto Montinola, Tomas Confesor, who became a famous guerrilla fighter as governor of Panay and Romblon in the darkest hours of the occupation;
-Governor Confesor’s letter of reply for an offer of surrender to the Japanese Imperial Army was a classic defiance of the might of the enemy, and a great display of valor that reverberated in the Halls of the U.S. Congress;
-in the revolution against Spain in 1896, the patriotic fervor of the Ilonggos was never wanting as it was tried and tested in the battlefields;
-the Ilonggo resistance was led by Gen. Martin Delgado of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo and ably assisted by Gen. Adriano Dayot Hernandez of Dingle, Iloilo and hosts of other generals and officers in command;


-in World War I, Sergeant Ramon Sobejano of New Lucena, Iloilo was a recipient of the most decorated soldier fighting in Europe;
-in World War II, Captain Jose Calugas of Leon, Iloilo received the most coveted and highest medal of honor in the U.S. Army, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“As ideas make history,” sighed Dayot, “Iloilo had its height of intellectual activities; it was a beehive of several local and national daily newspapers that projected the burning issues of the day.”
Dayot said from the rank and file editors and writers, came the names of Flavio Zarragoza Cano, the “Ilonggo Cervantes” whom Senator Claro M. Recto had the profound admiration and respect.
He also cited Ezequil Villalobos of Manila Bulletin; Rex Drilon, a political scientist and writer and the first Filipino president of the Central Philippine University (CPU); Stevan Javellana, whose book, “Without Seeing the Dawn,” was translated to several languages. It’s about a story of the Japanese Occupation in the country.
“The Ilonggos today, wherever we are, can look back with great pride of our legacy of greatness,” concluded Dayot.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Atty. Dayot ‘wasn’t scared’ of death

“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

By Alex P. Vidal

ONE of the most important messages the late lawyer-philosopher Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, 86, had reiterated after his wife died in 2013 was, “death doesn’t scare me, at all!”
“When we have accepted that there is a higher God, nothing can scare us–not even death; we will soon realize nothing is permanent here on earth,” Dayot waxed poetic during our luncheon philosophical binge that year when I was in the Philippines.
He, too, believed that what makes us all human is not entirely our intellect or our brain.
Although he was an avid objectivist, he agreed that there are things that have no relation with the physical brain or man’s intelligence.
They are an expression of the spirit inside us, he explained.
Dayot believed that humanity lies in our power to experience many different facets of life, for example our sense of justice, our ability to love, our ability to understand free will and the responsibility that comes with it, to appreciate beauty, and to develop art and culture.
If we are convinced we will live beyond death, we will be much more aware of the responsibility that we bear both for ourselves and towards others within creation, Dayot whose body was cremated on May 22, 2019 and was brought to his hometown in Dingle, Iloilo.


We understand that our present life and the way we live it is closely connected with our continued existence after passing over, then we will have reason to fear the consequences of every single wrong and harmful deed we had committed.
We are still likely to suffer the consequences even if we no longer live on earth.
What Friedrich Nietzsche meant when he wrote that “God is dead” was not literally the physical death of God, Dayot reiterated.
Shakespeare did not say “To be, or not to be.” He wrote it, but Hamlet says it. Neither did Nietzsche say “God is dead”; a “madman” does. While it is true that Nietzsche himself went mad at 45, there is still a difference between life and literature, even when the latter is called philosophy, according to biographer Mike Macrone.
Not that there are “unbelievers” in the world, for that was always true; nor simply that God does not exist. For is “God is dead,” then He must have once been alive; but this is paradoxical, since if God were ever alive, He, being eternal, could never die.
The madman speaks not of the believer’s God, who always was and always will be, but rather of what God represented and meant to his culture.This God was a “shared belief” in God, and it is such belief that was expiring in 19th century Europe.


“Where once God stood–at the center of knowledge and meaning–there is now a void. Science and philosophy alike treat God as irrelevant, and once again man has become the measure of all things,”according to Macrone.
Westerners have “killed” the God of their ancestors in turning over more toward nature and away from the supernatural. The believers in Nietzsche’s tale think seeking God is rather funny; only the madman realizes the terrible gravity of God’s death.
“Not that he laments it; in fact, he calls it a ‘great deed,’ but a deed likely too great for us, the murderers, to bear,” added Macrone.
A religion such as Christianity, despite the teachings of Jesus, perpetuates intolerance and conformity, which Nietzsche found especially repugnant. Whatever is old, habitual, normative, or dogmatic, he thought, is contrary to life and to dignity; it manifests what he called a “slave mentality.” In a sense, for a man and a woman to live, he or she must “kill” God–must overcome dogma, conformity, superstition, and fear.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Money talks

“The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
--Billy Graham

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- WE learned an eye-popping lesson in the recent midterm elections that money really talked--and had “spoken” heavily.
Many competent and really deserving aspirants for a public office fell by the wayside or were badly clobbered by second-rate and amateurish rivals who brandished cash left and right like they won as grand champions in a multi-million cock derby.
Some of these lousy but moneyed candidates also got more attention from the press, while their more deserving rivals had to forage for recognition in order to be given a gargantuan space in the media.
Most of these good-for-nothing candidates also were recipients of fantabulous praises from paid media advertisements, newspaper columns, and blocktime radio programs.
Their poor rivals got nothing except being mentioned only in the news, yes, for being candidates in the elections. No mention of how good or great they are in certain fields, or how effective they would be if elected.


Qualifications had no match against the full force of money.
Doctorate degrees were waylaid by inferior and unremarkable reputations.

Even ex-convicts, ruffians, rapists, grafters, magicians, circus players awash with cash steamrolled those with outstanding and distinctive reputations in community but didn’t have enough moolah to match their rivals’ ferocious expenditures.
The power of money and how to make the impossible become possible; how to turn black into white vice versa; how to make people turn deaf, mute, and blind, is awesome.
No one should underestimate the capacity of money to turn a normal situation upside down; to buy loyalties; to create and propagate a bundle of lies; as payoff to mercinaries and hooligans; to sponsor a mayhem; as a bribe; to harass; to kill; and, yes, to buy votes.


We made a great deal of research on when did money start making the world go round.
In 101 Things You Need To Know…And Some You Don’t Know, Richard Horne and Tracy Turner give an explanation:
“Say you had twelve goats and needed a sack of grain and a pair of shoes. Before money was invented, you might offer one of your goats to a local farmer in exchange for the grain, and another goat to a cobbler in return for shoes. Hang on! A whole goat seems a lot for a pair of shoes. Oh, and the cobbler doesn’t need any goats. The farmer’s up for the deal if you can give him a cow. So you then have to find someone with a spare cow who wants goats? And how many coats make a camel!?”
Using money is a lot less complicated than this tricky bartering system, they explain.
No one knows who exactly came up with the idea, but they reportedly lived in China.
--It’s thought that cowry shells were used as the first ever money in China around 1200 BC. The first metal money appeared there 200 years later.
--Native American Indians also used shells as money. This is first recorded in the 16th century, but they were probably used long before that.
--The first coins were made out of silver. Unlike today’s coins, which are symbols of value, these silver coins were valuable in themselves because they were made from a precious metal.
--To avoid carting around heavy coins, the Chinese introduced paper money and used it from about the 9th to the 15th century (when they stopped the practice because of high inflation). Elsewhere in the world paper money wasn’t used for centuries.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, May 27, 2019

Ganzon, Treñas, Baronda: clans to watch in next 10 years

"In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia."
--George Orwell

By Alex P. Vidal

BASED on the recent election results in Iloilo City, three political clans have clinched major portfolios in the city government; and their sensational victories have given the Ilonggos the bird's eye view on which family will dominate Iloilo City's politics in the next 10 years.
They are: the Ganzons, the Treñases, and the Barondas.
The descendants of the late former Senator Rodolfo "Roding" Ganzon became the head turners since the wheels of fortune appear to be tilting on their side.
Aside from Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon (119, 123 votes), who cemented his hold in the city's second highest post with an overwhelming victory over Councilors Plaridel Nava (61,973 votes) and R Leonie Gerochi (22,774 votes), the late senator's grandson and the vice mayor's son, Rudolf, garnered 102,201 votes to land third in the 12-seat city council.


Another Ganzon scion, Gerald, Rudolf's younger brother, is expected to join the bandwagon and run in the 2022 elections.
If Gerald wins, there will be three elected Ganzon formidable warm bodies to serve in the city government.
Treñas doesn't have children now actively participating in the city politics. He is currently being buttressed by his nephew, Councilor Jay, who collected 99,656 votes for fourth place.
The Ganzons' real threats for supremacy in the next 10 to 20 years come from the Baronda sisters: Congresswoman-elect Julienne "Jam-Jam" (115,148 votes) and No.1 reelected Councilor Love-Love (131,226 votes).
The first woman representative in Iloilo City, young and energetic at 40, can still run for another term and may become the next city mayor after graduating from the House of Representatives.
Love-Love, the No. 1 city councilor, can be a future candidate for vice mayor and higher.


We foresee a fierce political rivalry between the Ganzons and the Barondas in the near future.
The feisty Gonzalez family was supposed to be the one dominating Iloilo City's political landscape, but after the death of former congressman and justice secretary Raul M. Gonzalez on September 7, 2014, nobody from the talent-laden family was able to duplicate the late old man's political genius and supremacy.
Gonzalez's son Raul Jr., daughter Dr. Gold, and wife Dr. Pacita, suffered heart-rending setbacks one after another in the local elections.
Dr. Pacita's latest defeat for city mayor to Treñas has virtually made their gallant stand to revive the patriarch's past political glory almost improbable.


Former city councilor and National Youth Commission (NYC) executive director, Dr. Nielex "Lex" Tupas is currently "out of kulambo" after opting not to run against Baronda in the recent congressional elections, but their family is being carried by Dra. Candice, who landed fifth in the race for city council with 98,457 votes.
The Tupases, a maverick political clan in Iloilo Province, also would've been in a strong contention for political dominance in the city in the next 10 to 20 years like the Barondas and the Ganzons, but Dr. Lex Tupas chose to "preserve" his good relationship with the Barondas in exchange for what could have been another political conquest in the recent May 13, 2019 midterm polls.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

No Iloilo Dinagyang delegation in 2019 New York parade

“If you're not in the parade, you watch the parade. That's life.”
--Mike Ditka

By Alex P. Vidal

The 21st Philippine Independence Commemoration Parade (29th Annual Parade, New York City) on June 2, 2019 will miss the presence of the delegations from the Dinagyang Festival and the Iloilo Trade Mission.
The Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), the parade organizer in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate General in New York, has not confirmed the participation of the Ilonggo groups this year.
Both the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo City and the Manggahan Festival of Guimaras Province and city officials from the first-ever private-initiated Iloilo City Trade Mission and Investment Forum Ilonggo Fashion and Jewelry Show in the East Coast held on June 4-10, 2018, took part in the biggest parade for the Philippine Independence Day in the East Coast on June 3, 2018.
Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa, who spearheaded the Iloilo Trade Mission, was joined last year by his wife, Gina Sarabia-Espinosa.
Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation boss Ramon Cua Locsin led the Dinagyang Festival delegation.


The team, led by Dr. Emily Noserale Hagad, president and project coordinator of Philcoman Research Institute, Inc. in the private sector, was composed of Councilor Plaridel Nava, Commercial Diplomat for Trade Relations of the City Rex Aguado, City Local Economic Enterprise Officer Jose Ariel Castañeda, City Planning Coordinator Jose Roni Peñalosa, Western Visayas State University College of Communication Dean, Dr. Carmencita "Menchie" Robles, University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV) Vice Chancellor Mary Ann Gumban, Iloilo Business Park-Megaworld Sales Director Carla Margarita Perez, Eon Group of Companies founder and CEO Felicito Tiu, StackTreck Enterprises CEO Billy Shung Hei Yuen, City Mayor’s Office staff Rosita Celiz, and journalists Florence Hibionada (Secretariat Chief), Tara Yap (Manila Bulletin) and Herbert Vego (Panay News), who also did Herculean efforts to promote Iloilo City as an ideal and perfect hub for business, tourism, education and investment.


Alma May Tayo, chair of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Iloilo Chapter Exhibitors’ Committee, also actively joined the trade mission in New York, Virginia and Washington D.C. and the New York City Independence Day parade.
City Tourism Operations Officer Florence King Haro Erlano and Iloilo City Tourism and Development Office staff Sheena Julienne Galon did amazing reinforcement tasks during the parade and the trade mission and investment forum.
Executive Assistant Jojo Castro, “Iloilo City’s Bong Go”, was with City Engineer Bobby Divinagracia, and Iloilo City National High School principal and Tribu Panayanon tribe manager, Dr. Blesilda V. Floro.
It was not immediately known if Mayor Joe III’s defeat to Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Trenas in the May 13, 2019 elections had affected the reported plans earlier to duplicate the Iloilo Trade Mission, which became the talk of the town among members of the Filipino community in the East Coast when it was held for the first time last year.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Bacolod set to upstage Iloilo as WV’s ‘mall capital’

“Doing a mall is not only construction of the physical place: what is important is the merchandising mix. We strive to serve the convenience of the public. We want shopping at our malls to be a unique and an enjoyable experience.”
--Henry Sy

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY --WHEN the SM City Prime Holdings, owned by the late Henry Sy Sr., opened its 8th SM
Supermall in Iloilo City on June 11, 1999, Iloilo City earned the reputation as the “Mall Capital of Western Visayas”.
No present-day mall in Western Visayas has eclipsed SM City Iloilo’s vast size, a four-level complex composed of lower ground floor, upper ground floor, second floor with a total retail floor area of 181,657 sq.m. located at Mandurriao district.
Even if all the malls in Iloilo, Bacolod, Roxas City, San Jose de Buenavista, Kalibo would be joined under one roof, none could match SM City Iloilo’s imposing physical structure that features eight cinemas, food hall, food court and a cyberzone; the SM Foodcourt on the Lower Ground Level of the Main Building, SM Cyberzone at the Third Level of the Northpoint, SM Foodhall at the 2nd Floor of the Northpoint.
Only SM City Bacolod (divided into two buildings called the "North Wing" and the "South Wing" connected by two bridge ways that allow patrons to walk between the two structures), which opened on March 1, 2007, could come near SM City Iloilo’s magnificence in size and value.


Robinsons Mall also sprouted in Western Visayas’ two major cities, but Iloilo City still retained the kingship in as far as the title of “Mall Capital” in the region is concerned.
But this title may soon be taken away by Bacolod City.
Arra B. Francia reported in the BusinessWorld that Megaworld Corp. is investing P1.2 billion to develop a three-storey mall inside its 34-hectare Upper East township in Bacolod City.
Quoting a statement Megaworld Corp issued on May 24, 2019, the report said the Upper East Mall will cover 24,200 square meters in gross floor area and will have restaurants, four cinemas, an open-air food hall, and an indoor garden.
The Upper East Mall will also reportedly feature a 48-meter clock tower, seen to serve as a landmark for the township’s six-lane main avenue spanning from Lopez Jaena Street to Circumferential Road.
Megaworld Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Andrew L. Tan said in a statement: “We are curating an architectural masterpiece that depicts the cosmopolitan vibe of our Bacolod township. This is just the first mall that we are building in this township because there is still more room for future expansion.”
Megaworld will reportedly use a solar panel roofing for the mall, as well as other energy efficiency features including perceived airconditioning cooling design, escalators with crawling features, rainwater harvesting system that will use the collected water for plants, and gray water recycling system.
Francia reported further that “a gray water recycling system means that water discharged from the sewage treatment plant will be used for secondary flushing of the mall’s toilets and urinals.”
Megaworld expects to complete the mall by 2021.


Francia reported that “it will be then be directly connected to the transport hub that the company is building across the township’s central park, which in turn faces two residential towers called One Regis and Two Regis.”
Upper East Mall forms part of the company’s P28-billion investment to develop the Upper East in a span of 10 years.
“In the next three to five years, we will see the residential towers, office towers, commercial buildings, hotel, church, parks, and this new lifestyle mall rising. We will also be opening the Upper East Avenue to the public in two years,” Mr. Tan said.
Aside from the Upper East, Megaworld is also developing a 54-hectare township called Northill Gateway along the Bacolod-Silay Airport Access Road. The estate will have its own lifestyle mall and residential villages--Forbes Hill and Fountain Grove.
Megaworld’s net income attributable to the parent grew by 16% to P3.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019, after consolidated revenues surged 15% to P14.9 billion.
The BusinessWorld report also said shares in Megaworld dropped 0.91% or five centavos to close at P5.44 each at the stock exchange on Friday.
The beauty of modern capitalism is it brings unlimited economic progress to cities.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

How I remember 'Bombo Armand Parcon'

"Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
--Richard Bach

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- ILOILO City Councilor Armand Parcon was my first buddy from the broadcast media along with Francis Hinayhinay (Pare Armand's colleague in the defunct dyRP Radyo Tagring), when I started writing for the fledgling New Express in 1988.
When they left dyRP, they became "Bombo Armand" and "Bombo Francis."
When I was assigned in the Capitol beat during the administration of Iloilo Governor Simplicio "Sim" Grino from 1989 to 1991, fellow Capitol beat reporter Bombo Armand and I were almost inseparable, while Bombo Francis "retired" and dabbled into buy-and-sell business.
In 1991, Bombo Armand and I contemplated on changing our profession. 

We both took an examination for employment in foreign service supervised by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which was planning to open a regional office in Iloilo. We both didn't make it.


Back in our Capitol beat, in most of our out-of-town sojourns to gather reports, another former dyRP mainstay Arsenio "Kamlon" Ang, who was then reporting for the now defunct dyXX, joined us regularly.
Soon our number (the working press) in the Capitol beat grew. There were Jojie Tiongco and Nereo Lujan of Panay News, Gemma Villanueva and the late Erla Ojana of IBC-12, Fernando "Nanding" Madero of dyRI Radyo Agong, the late Tony Laniog and Ibrahim Calanao of dyBQ Radyo Budyong, the late Rene Porras of dyRP, Romela Arieta-Sanggalan and the late Joe Sepulvida of Radyo Ng Bayan, Romy Belisario of dyXX.
When we weren't gathering reports, Bombo Armand, businessman Francis, and I were at the 
batchoyan kiosk of manang Marlyn inside the Iloilo  Central Market and at the Sariling Sikap restaurant on J.M Basa Street, City Proper. 


When I was assigned in the City Hall beat after the 1992 elections, it was Bombo Armand's turn to be assigned in the same beat replacing Bombo Abe Beatingo during the administration of Mayor Mansueto "Mansing" Malabor.
Together with Lemuel Fernandez (Panay News) Wenceslao Mateo (Panay News), Gemma Villanueva and Stanley Palisda (ABS-CBN), Lynon Cortez (dyOK), Art Calsas (dyBQ Radyo Budyong), Joy de Leon (News Express), Jun Lojero, Fernando "Kapid" Gabio, Roger Tamon and Jun Intrepido (dyRI Radyo Agong), we organized the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps.
When it was my time to become president in 1998, Bombo Armand was our treasurer.
He was aware that the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps under my presidency "owed" me P5,000, the amount I forked from my own pocket when we ran out of funds during our induction ceremony held at a restaurant in front of the Iloilo Hall of Justice.
We didn't have enough funds because I was the only president who didn't allow our members to solicit for our induction ceremony.
In his last message to me on Facebook, Bombo Armand said he was looking forward to join me and Francis Hinayhinay when I go back there in our former favorite "watering hole" in the early 90's: in the batchoysan inside the Iloilo Central Market where we regularly discussed so many things about life and our profession and where we solidified our friendship.
Councilor "Bombo Armand" Parcon, my kumpare and buddy during his glory days in the broadcast media, left us on Thursday night after more than a week of confinement at the West Visayas State University Medical Center, according to my kumare Veronica.
He reportedly succumbed to pneumonia complications.
Rest in peace, Pare Armand.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Drilon delivers KO blow on Joe III

"It's always hard to deal with injuries mentally, but I like to think about it as a new beginning. I can't change what happened, so the focus needs to go toward healing and coming back stronger than before."
--Carli Lloyd

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- MANY Ilonggo wisecracks were saying that the eleventh hour endorsement by Senator Frank Drilon of Rep. Geronimo "Jerry" Trenas was what broke the back of the camel for Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III's dramatic demise in the recent May 13 elections.
Drilon's surprise entry crippled Mayor Joe III, who had no giant political padrino of his own to show off and match Drilon's invincibility.
Former mayor Mansueto "Mansing" Malabor, whose son, reelectionist councilor Mandrie ran under Mayor Joe III's ticket, was too feeble to go all-out to campaign for the Espinosa clan's last great hope.
The major players in the past local elections also were no longer around to add spice to the classic duel: Roding Ganzon, Raul Gonzalez, Sr.
To his last blood, orphaned Mayor Joe III had to rely on his own diminishing political stock and personal charisma in a desperate bid to avert a catastrophic ending to no avail.


HEALING politics is the antithesis of destructive politics.
While destructive politics seeks to oppose, confuse, divide, destroy, conquer and rule, healing politics seeks to forgive and forget, unite for a common cause, educate, promote, mobilize, restructure, create, inspire, build, and cooperate.
Destructive politics specializes in a plethora of dirty tricks, sinister and below-the-belt onslaught, mudslinging without any regard to subtlety and decorum.
Healing politics, on the other hand, expedites the shutting down of "black holes" and animosity whipped up by a murky and intense political rivalry to pave the way for a new beginning and for both parties to move on to the next level.
We have seen destructive politics in its ugliest face and deadliest form, and the mayhem it has caused on certain politicians and their families in the most recent elections in the Philippines.


It is the kind of politics waged by voodoo and traditional politicians; sometimes they are those who are already in power but want to cling to power like leeches and will resort to all kinds of dirty tricks to stymie and put away their rivals.
Some of them are those who want to ascend to power with a crystal-clear intent of building a political dynasty and, once already there, shore up and expand the dynasty so that they will never be toppled from the totem pole while transforming the public office as their private fiefdom.
Political power or the search for political power stimulates chaos.
From the chaos rises a dynasty that will perpetuate the divisiveness and bedlam and so on and so forth..
What we would like to happen and see is the dawn of healing politics so that the political units (city, province, congressional districts) ruined by so much political antagonism and hatred can scale up to a higher dimension and wash away the debris of destructive and toxic politics.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Our Pavlovian Response

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

By Alex P. Vidal

-- The name Pavlov may make us want to cry “Dogs!” 
We would call this a Pavlovian response, but that would be oversimplifying the point made by the phrase’s namesake, the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), stressed Dr. Michael Macrone in Eureka!
Chiefly to blame is the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, which in coining “Pavlovian response” in 1974 (phrases such as “Pavlovian conditioning” and “Pavlovian system” are older), used it merely as the equivalent of “predictable reaction.”
Macrone said Pavlov himself was actually more interested in unexpected or counterinstinctive behavior than in the predictable. He first made his mark–and won a Nobel Prize in 1994–with some glamourless but crucial work on the secretion of gastric juices.
Pavlov discovered that while, predictably, the pancreas goes to work whenever we start chowing down a hamburger, it can also be set off just by thinking about a hamburger, or even by seeing a plastic model. He identified these curious latter instances as cases of “psychic secretion,” laying the groundwork for his more famous later theories.


In a series of experiments that would appall contemporary animal-rights activists, Pavlov rigged up a few dogs to measure their secretion of saliva in response to various stimuli. Predictably enough (as per Pavlov’s earlier research), the sight of raw burger set their mouths a-water, confirmed Macrone.
Pavlov then discovered that the dogs could also be made to salivate in response to any arbitrary stimulus–say a sound or a kick–that they came to associate with the imminent introduction of dog chow. He called such arbitrary stimuli “conditioned” and the dogs’ reaction a “conditioned reflex”–that is, artificially induced by training or habit. (The term first appeared in English in 1906 in the journal Nature, according to Macrone)
Not knowing when to leave well enough alone, Pavlov went on to extrapolate from these and other, more complicated observations a sort of grand psychological theory, attempting to explain almost all behavior, normal and deviant, in terms of acquired reflexes and their various interactions.


After a brief vogue in the West, Macrone explained further, many of Pavlov’s more grandiose claims were tossed overboard, but they were warmly embraced by the Soviets. Though not a Marxist himself, Pavlov’s theories were virtually tailor-made to suit the Marxist view that human behavior arises out of the material conditions and patterns of life.
“If people are habituated to servitude by oppression, they can be molded anew once liberate,” wrote Macrone. “In other words, the Soviets system could condition a Soviet citizen. The results of this theory can be found in your newspaper.”

Saturday, May 18, 2019

When a mayor reports for work on bicycle

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
--Albert Einstein

By Alex P. Vidal

-- I HAVE covered the Vancouver city hall beat, among other offices and cities in the British Columbia for a Filipino community newspaper, Philippine Asian News Today, where I briefly served as editor in 2012.
It was in this world’s most livable city where I saw Mayor Gregor Robertson report for work on a bicycle. He went to city hall riding on a two-wheel bike like an ordinary cyclist without any bodyguard.
After parking his bicycle, he changed cloths right there in the parking area from jersey to office attire before proceeding to the mayor’s office on 453 West 12th Avenue. Only tourists could not recognize that the cyclist changing cloths in the parking space was the chief executive of the City of Vancouver.
Because he loves cycling, his proposal to create more cycling lanes in the streets snowballed. It was not hard for Robertson to get the support of the Vancouver city council which had voted unanimously to spend Canadian $25 million to create and improve bike lanes throughout the city, re-writing the city’s map on how people get around.


The money would be spent building about 55 kilometers of new bike lanes and construction is on-going. It was expected to also enhance and improve connections from south Vancouver to the Canada Line Bridge.
Other notable changes expected in the project included extending separated bike lanes along Burrard Street and the Dunsmuir Viaduct, a pedestrian cycling greenway along Helmcken Street and an east-west bike route along 45th Avenue.
On March 10, 2010, we witnessed the smiling Robertson, an avid cyclist, open the Dunsmuir Viaduct bike lane. People in Vancouver have high regards for cyclists, who are treated with utmost respect in the roads because of the mayor’s influence and advocacy for this mode of transportation.
The last time I was with Robertson was when we watched the 2010 World Cup finals between Spain and The Netherlands on Dunsmuir. I sat beside him on the pavement together with hundreds of soccer fans. “Where’s your bike, mayor?” I asked him while he was about to leave after the Spaniards bundled out the Dutchmen, 2-0. “I parked it at city hall,” he retorted with a smile.


I recalled the biking event last April 1, 2014 when I witnessed the 1st Iloilo Bike Festival with routes passing the Lizares Mansion, Casa Mariquit, Jaro plaza, cathedral and belfry, Sanson-Montinola house, Nelly Garden, Museo Iloilo, the old provincial capitol and Arroyo Fountain, Calle Real, Fort San Pedro, Plaza Libertad, City Hall, San Jose Church and Sto. Rosario heritage houses, Customs House, Molo Church and Iloilo River Esplanade.
More than a hundred cycling enthusiasts joined the fun ride and helped promote the “Share the Road” movement.
Then Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who joined the cyclists, led the ceremonial countdown together with then Iloilo City Rep. and now mayor-elect Jerry Treñas and other city councilors and city hall officials.
“All of us are concerned in making our respective communities a better place to live in,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said in a speech and called the activity as timely amid the growing concern about the environment.
We’ve noticed that bike lanes were being built in some highways in the city especially in the Diversion Road. 
Mabilog, incidentally, is a friend of an Ilonggo cycling association that spearheaded the bike fest.
Are we seeing Iloilo City as the next Vancouver when it comes to recognizing the rights of cycling enthusiasts to have separate bike lanes in major roads?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, May 17, 2019

Depression after election defeat

 “People who have never dealt with depression think it's just being sad or being in a bad mood. That's not what depression is for me; it's falling into a state of grayness and numbness.” 
--Dan Reynolds

By Alex P. Vidal

-- A politician who recently lost in his bid for congress has blamed God “for allowing the glitter of money to prevail over my sincere intention to serve the people.”
The politician claimed he lost “because I didn’t have the money to buy votes” and that “I already made a lot of sacrifices and I could feel that I was the people’s choice from the very beginning, but money prevailed and I can’t understand why God has allowed it.”
We suspect the politician is depressed.
Because he could not accept defeat, he found it hard to move on.
What is eating him up is a clear and simple depression, one of the most common human emotional disorders.
Depression may be manifested in varying degrees: from feelings of slight sadness to utter misery and dejection, according to H.K. Bakhru, a member of the Nature Cure Practitioners’ Guild in Mumbai.


Depression is a very unpleasant malady and is far more difficult to cope with than a physical ailment, he said.
The growing complexities of modern life and its resultant crises, as well as the mental stress and strain of day-to-day life, usually leads to the disorder, Bakhru stressed.
The most striking symptoms of depression, Bakhru explained, are an acute sense of loss, inexplicable sadness, loss of energy, lack of interest in the world around, and fatigue.
We further learned from Bakhru that a disturbed sleep is a frequent occurrence.
Other symptoms of depression are loss of appetite, giddiness, itching, nausea, agitation, irritability, impotence or frigidity, constipation, aches and pains all over the body, lack of concentration, and indecisiveness.
Bakhru pointed out that cases of severe depression may be characterized by low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes, and shivering.
Prolong periods of anxiety and tension, he said, can cause mental depression.
He recommended the following for remedies: apple, cashewnut, asparagus, cardamom, lemon balm, rose, vitamin B, dietary consideration.


A person suffering from depression can overcome it by being more active, turning away from himself, and diverting his attention towards other people and things, according Bakhru.
The pleasure of achieving something overcomes distress or misery, he added.
Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. He said it not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit, but also provides recreation and mental relaxation.
“It is nature’s best tranquilizer. Exercise also tones up the body, provides a feeling of accomplishment, and reduces the sense of helplessness,” Bakhru wrote in Natural Home Remedies.
He added: “The patient must also learn the art of relaxation and meditation which will go a long way in curing depression. He must gain control over his nervous system and channelize his mental and emotional energies into restful activities.”
Bakhru said this can be achieved by ensuring sufficient rest and sleep under quiet conditions.
“Meditations will help create a balance in the nervous system,” he explained. “This will enable the hormonal glands to return to a correct state of hormonal balance and thereby overcome the feeling of depression,” he concluded.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

We shouldn’t embarrass a friend

“I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.” 
--Mark Twain

By Alex P. Vidal

-- WE have probably met some people with a skill for keeping a discussion going on at our expense.
If we have a friend who finds it entertaining to bring up personal stories about us, making us feel uncomfortable, he may not be aware of our unease.
We may say, “Can we save this story for another time?”
If we want to make our message stronger, let’s say, “Wait! That’s embarrassing to me, you’ll have to keep it to yourself.”
If our companion makes loud comments about the people seated at the next table, we may say, “Can you please keep your voice down? I’m sure those people can probably hear you. I don’t think we should be talking about them.”
For the incident where a friend tells an anecdote of questionable taste, possibly while riding in an elevator or on line at a movie, we may say, “Can we save this story for another time?” When we’re not in public.”

Charlotee Ford and Jacqueline deMontravel, in the 21st Century Etiquette, said asking someone about her income, relationships, or how old is she is naturally impolite--yet people still seem to ask questions of a personal nature.
As rules in manners become more lenient, they said this one has not slackened.
“For those bold enough to impose an improper question, a little wit can gently put offenders in their place,” they suggested.
Ford narrates that when her six-year-old granddaughter asked a family friend why he had gotten so fat, she was instructed on why such presumptuous behavior is impolite.
When an acquaintance asked her who her therapist was, she told her: “I don’t have one, but who is yours?”


Ford suggests a partial answer to potentially embarrassing questions asked out of ignorance.
For instance, a friend who had just seen her lawyer about a separation agreement was confronted at a cocktail party by a well-meaning acquaintance who asked about how her husband was.
She replied, “He’s been extremely busy at work.”
Her answer satisfied the questioner without giving away any personal particulars, Ford points out.
If a question offends us, such as “How much did your CD player cost?,” there’s no need to be indignant, Fords explains.
She says an evasive but polite answer is the best reply, such as “I don’t remember” or “It was a gift.”
When people ask tactless or antagonistic questions meant to put us on the defensive, we can do what certain politicians do so well--evade the question entirely, says Ford.
For example. “How come you aren’t married yet?”--a question often put to single people by a smug newlywed--may be countered with, “Are you about to propose?” Or, less coyly, “I’m flattered by your interest in my personal affairs but I’m baffled as to why you’re so curious.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Purging is a sad political reality

"If a superior give any order to one who is under him which is against that man's conscience, although he do not obey it yet he shall not be dismissed."
--Francis of Assisi

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- WHEN a new administration takes over, the "purging" of the roster of employees and department heads usually takes effect along with the edict to refurbish the executive office and its environs.
Those who have been identified with the losing bets (who are the incumbents) in the just-concluded elections--or those who had openly helped campaign for the losers--would be in danger of being awarded the chopping block's priority seats.
Partisan career employees and department chiefs, however, would have the civil service law on their side to protect and "rescue" them; their "punishment" would most likely be only a reassignment and demotion, to some extent, once the major reshuffling's sharp blade rolled down.
Casual and co-terminus employees, on the other hand, would have nothing to lean on; they would have no legal shields from the incoming administration's "washing machine" which would soon flush them down and out of employment.
The house-cleaning is normally done to pave the way for fresh appointments of staff and co-terminus consultants who will serve at the pleasure of the newly-elected governor or mayor.
Vindictive politicians will always justify the carnage or the "changing of the guards" as a normal episode in a transition of power in any administration--local and national.


Since Iloilo Governor Arthur "Art" Defensor Sr. will only turn over the key of power to his son, outgoing Iloilo third district Rep. Arthur "Toto" Defensor Jr., capitol workers--casual and permanent--can heave a sigh of relief when Governor Toto assumes office in June.
There may have been a very few who committed a "treachery", in one way or the other, during the recent election campaign period, but in the spirit of magnanimity and compassion, Governor Toto will just probably shrug off any immediate suggestion or move for a "disciplinary action", at least for the time being.
Many of those who had risked their civil service career and future during the arduous campaign period would probably be rehired, promoted, and given permanent positions.
To the victor belongs the spoils.


We're worried most for those who have been identified with outgoing Iloilo City mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III.
Many of them are still very much active, productive, and effective in their city hall jobs.
In his statement on radio immediately after being confirmed as the winner over Mayor Joe III, incoming mayor Geronimo "Jerry" Trenas emotionally lashed at "some (city hall) department heads and employees" who had been allegedly "used" or "allowed themselves to be used" openly to campaign for the incumbent mayor and to purportedly villify Trenas.
Many of those city hall subalterns and partisan department chiefs referred to by Trenas can always claim they were "only forced by the circumstance" or "caught in the crossfire" and their actions and activities during the elections weren't necessarily meant to willfully and intentionally hurt Trenas.
But politics is cruel.
It's either you belong on the white side or on the black side, not whether you intend to inflict injury to the opposing candidates.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Trenas' tears better than a repeat of Burr vs Hamilton duel

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
--Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

-- THERE have been bitter political rivalries in the past like the Trenas-Joe III rift that worsened and turned violent. Ilonggos were glad the outgoing congressman managed to shed only tears after his conquest of the sitting city mayor and no bloodshed attended one of Iloilo City's most divisive and mucky political conflicts in recent memory.
In fact, one of the reasons why the political feud between former US vice president Aaron Burr and US founding father Alexander Hamilton ended in a duel that killed Hamilton in 1804, was vicious politics.
It was actually the irate Burr, running mate of 1796 presidential election candidate Thomas Jefferson, who challenged the brilliant Hamilton.
Hamilton, who campaigned for John Adams of the Federalist Party, had been exposed as the author of a "black propaganda" article that appeared in the Gazette against Jefferson of the Republican Party.


The article was written by Phocion, a pseudo name who turned out to be Hamilton, one of the era's most respected and brilliant federalist leaders.
It exposed Jefferson as allegedly having an affair with one of his female slaves. Phocion also accused Jefferson of running away from British troops during the Revolution.
Not to be outwitted, Jefferson's folks also had been using their own strong campaign tactics against Adams, who was accused of being overweight and given the nickname "His Rotundity."
Adams had been called also as a "hermaphrodite"; Jefferson, on the other hand, had been accused of wanting to promote prostitution, incest and adultery.
Jefferson's defeat to Adams didn't sit well with Burr.
And the rest was history.

Iloilo City mayor-elect Geronimo "Jerry" Trenas pointed to "viciousness" apparently as the reason why he wasn't yet ready to extend a hand of reconciliation to his rivals, Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III and Dr. Pacita Gonzalez.
The tearful Trenas considered the May 13, 2019 elections to be "the most vicious" in all his past electoral combats.
The attacks against him, including his family, were allegedly "vicious and personal" capped by name-calling and insults.
One of his family members had been allegedly called as "agi" (homosexual).
In his rage, Trenas never mentioned Mayor Joe III and Dr. Gonzalez, his two closest rivals whom he routed by as much as 60,000 votes, but Trenas was obviously more resentful at his brother-in-law, Mayor Joe III.


Ilonggos knew how they and their supporters tore each other apart during the campaign period; how some family ties had been ruptured; and how much hurt and how deep was the animosity each side had to absorb and endure these past six weeks.
But nobody expected Trenas to eke out a big margin and to lead his Team Uswag in hammering out a swashbuckling sweep in the races for the city's lone congressional district (won by former city councilor Julienne "Jam-Jam" Baronda), vice mayor (won by the incumbent Jeffrey Ganzon), including the majority seats in the city council.
Some Ilonggos are saying reconciliation may not be coming any day from now, but if both camps will allow the healing process to take its course, "time will definitely heal the wounds."
After all they all come from one family.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

'We feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble'

"The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
-- Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal

-- William James was one of the two famous American pragmatists along with C.S. Peirce, who promoted pragmatism that says, "knowledge is a guide for action, not a search for abstract truth."
James' philosophy is simple: to fully understand something we must understand all its consequences; true beliefs will lead to positive consequences.
But it is not about James' philosophy and pragmatism per se why his name is mentioned here today. 

It's about his comments on emotion published in An Insight Book by Van Nostrand in 1962 that I would like to share.
Although James wrote with clarity and depth on a large number of topics of psychological interest, his comments on emotion resulted in a theory of emotion which bears his name.
The following selection idea is taken from James' chapter on emotion in Principles of Pyschology (Vol. II, New York: Holt and Company, 1890). 

The selection is taken from the middle of the chapter. Prior to the place where this selection begins, James has discussed the work of the Danish psychologist, Carl Lange.


Although there are differences between James' theory and that of Lange, the general theory that emotion is the product of physiological changes, rather than the reverse, is commonly called the James-Lange theory, according to the Van Nostrand Insight Book edited by Douglas K. Candland.
"Our natural way of thinking about these coarser emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called the emotion and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression," James clarified his viewpoint in a paper which appeared in Psychol. Rev., 1894,1, 516-529.
"My theory, on the contrary, is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion. Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike.
"The hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence in incorrect, that the one mental state is not immediately induced by the other, that the bodily manifestations must first be interposed between, and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be."


James added: "Without the bodily states following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form, pale, colorless, destitute of emotional warmth. We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry."
The James–Lange theory refers to a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions and is one of the earliest theories of emotion within modern psychology. The basic premise of the theory is that physiological arousal instigates the experience of a specific emotion. Instead of feeling an emotion and subsequent physiological (bodily) response, the theory proposes that the physiological change is primary, and emotion is then experienced when the brain reacts to the information received via the body's nervous system.
The theory has been criticized and modified over the course of time, as one of several competing theories. In 2002 a research paper on the autonomous nervous system stated that the theory has been "hard to disprove."
The theory states that all emotion is derived from the presence of a stimulus, which evokes a physiological response, such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of mouth. This physical arousal makes a person feel a specific emotion.


Emotion is a secondary feeling, indirectly caused by the primary feeling, which is the physiological response caused by the presence of a stimulus, according to the theory. The specific pathway involved in the experience of emotion was also described by James. He stated that an object has an effect on a sense organ, which relays the information it is receiving to the cortex. The brain then sends this information to the muscles and viscera, which causes them to respond. Finally, impulses from the muscles and viscera are sent back to the cortex, transforming the object from an "object-simply apprehended" to an "object-emotionally felt."
James explained that his theory went against common sense. For example, while most would think the order of emotional experience would be that a person sees a bear, becomes afraid, and runs away, James thought that first the person has a physiological response to the bear, such as trembling, and then becomes afraid and runs. James said, the physiological response comes first, and it is followed by an emotion and a reaction. James believed that these responses were "reflex type" reactions which are built in: "Instinctive reactions and emotional expressions shade imperceptibly into each other. Every object that excites an instinct excites an emotion as well."

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Root of all evil

“All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy.”
--Scott Alexander

By Alex P. Vidal

- TELLING the voters to “just accept” the money being offered by politicians during the elections but to “vote according to your conscience”, is like warning smokers and alcoholics of the dangers of smoking and drinking but allowing tobacco and booze manufacturers to openly sell their products in public.
What we are saying is if we want to prohibit something that is harmful to our morals and health we might as well altogether prohibit the act, its genesis, its roots, its base or destroy its major capillaries.
Goading the voters “to accept” the cash in exchange for an unlawful favor, which is tantamount to vote-buying or an act of bribery or prostitution for poor women engaged in flesh trade, is like tolerating evil; it’s like justifying the means for an end, the principle that a good outcome excuses any wrongs committed.
Resistance from corruption or evil starts from refusal to accept the bait.
If we want to totally eradicate vote-buying (which is impossible given our present electoral system and squalid attitude), we have to totally eliminate the root or roots of all evil.


In October 1521, five years before Martin Luther was to begin to shake the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, the great Renaissance painter and humanist Michelangelo had just finished decorating one of its ceilings.
“And what a ceiling it was!” exclaims Portland-based Ronald B. Allen, professor of Old Testament and Exegesis in The Majesty of Man. The Sistine Chapel in Rome, named for Pope Sixtus IV who had begun its construction in 1473, has a ceiling that measures approximately 133 feet by 43 feet, with the crown of the vault some 70 feet above the pavement.
In conditions of terrible discomfort, Allen points out, the great artist Michelangelo spent nearly four years painting in the fresh plaster on the ceiling. “He lay on hard scaffolding board, breathing intolerable air and having eyes and skin constantly inflamed with plaster dust. All the while, the impatient Pope Julius II would periodically climb the scaffolding and threaten to toss the master to the ground if he did not finish his work more quickly,” narrates Allen.
The formal unveiling took place on October 31, 1512. What an event in the history of man this unveiling was—one of the finest artistic achievements of the Renaissance. Here Christian theology and humanism learned to hold hands. In his recital of the significance of this event, Charles H. Morgan says that Michelangelo “had joined two powerful philosophies, the Christian ethic and the perfect human, at the moment of their most sympathetic coexistence.”


This blending of the Christian and the human strains was perhaps nowhere more evidence than in Michelangelo’s portrayal of the Creation of Man. One of the most famous panels of the masterpiece is the scene of Adam reclining inertly on a brown field, his left arms stretched out languidly over his upraised left knee. Rushing toward him is God, surrounded by storm and cloud, attended by cherubim, and stretching out his hand in a dynamic gesture to the extended finger of Adam. Our attention is drawn to the rushing power of the finger of God and the small space left between God’s finger and that of man.
“In this painting,” suggests Allen, “we are there a microsecond before the giving of life!”
What are we to make of this imagery? Morgan sees in it the notion that the church had given nourishment to humanism, and that in this painting they both meet on an equal scale. Despite the tranquility of the scene, Morgan senses the irony in the painting, for a struggle was about to burst out between the church and humanism in which the power of God would be challenged by man whom heaven had empowered.
Allen says another view of the significance of the Creation of Man fresco is presented by the renowned American biblical theologian Samuel Terrien of Union Seminary, New York.
“Dr. Terrien, in a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco several years ago, observed that there is another figure in the painting in addition to God, Adam, and the cherubim,” Allen observes. “This other figure is a beautiful woman whose head is nestled in the left arm of God, and who looks with anxious interest on man whom God was enlivening.”


We almost miss this woman because of our interest in the latent energy in the space between the finger of Adam and the finger of God. “But there she is!” Allan stresses. “And her presence causes us to ask, Who is she? Is she the as yet unformed Eve, awaiting the awakening of need for her in her mate?” Is she, as some Catholics have imagined, the Blessed Virgin Mary, anticipating a significant day long in the future when God would have a ministry of mystery for her? Terrien brushes away these and other conceptions with his great discovery: This woman is wisdom. It was with his arm around wisdom that God created man, his finest creature.”
Allen observes further: “I suspect that Morgan’s point of view more accurately represents art history. But I am convinced that the viewpoint of Terrien is the one who need in order to understand theology rightly. For this painting points us to one of the most significant elements in our understanding of what it means to be truly human: We were created by God to be wise.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, May 10, 2019

‘Thy will be done’

Gigi Gumban bats for her brother, Raymund “Mon” Gumban, to be the next mayor of Pavia, Iloilo.

FOR New York City-based Gigi Gumban, the victory of her brother, Raymund “Mon” Gumban, in the mayoral race in the Municipality of Pavia in Iloilo Province on May 13, 2019, will be the symbol of their family’s "sterling" legacy in public service.
PAVIA Vice Mayor Mon Gumban and his very supportive sister, Gigi Gumban
“The people of Pavia know what kind of public servant is Raymund. They know the background of our family when it comes to public service. We have served the people in the past and Raymund wishes to continue serving the people. We will do our best and leave everything to God. Thy will be done,” enthused Gigi, who went home to the Philippines May 3 to be with his brother during the latter’s historic quest for the municipality’s top position.
Mon Gumban, Pavia’s incumbent vice mayor, belongs to a family of public servants that dates back in the earky 1950s when his grandfather, Atty. Luzon Gumban, became Iloilo’s deputy governor from 1951 until 1952, the same years when he served as the municipal mayor of Pavia.
This was followed by Mon Gumban’s charismatic father, the late Nelson Gerardino Gumban, who was the town’s municipal mayor from 1972 until 1986 after the EDSA Revolution.


“Ang amon amay, former Mayor Nelson Gumban, nag serbisyo sa banwa sang Pavia halin 1972 asta 1986. Wala bugal, indi madumot. During his time, he was credited with the construction of the Tigum Bridge and river dike, as well as the town electrification program,” Gigi Gumban said.
“The construction of elementary and secondary school buildings. His undying love to the people of Pavia was unquestionable. He always reminded us, to love one another, and even if the people you love will betray you, will turn their back on you - just be Kind to them. A man with a good character.”
A graduate of AB Economics from the University of Santo Thomas, Mon Gumban had served as vice president of the Philippine Councilors League-Iloilo Chapter from 2001 to 2007.
This was followed by becoming the provincial president of the National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL) from 2004- until 2007.
He is also the regional chairperson of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines in Western Visayas, a position he held since 2013 until the present.


Gigi Gumban further appealed: “My Brothers and Sisters in Pavia, let’s choose a leader who can speak the truth in front of you. A leader who can speak from his heart. And to all the haters, before you judge or accuse Mon Gumban of anything, contemplate on yourself first. Our life is an open book.No one is perfect but we choose to spread love and not hatred or bitterness. Pavia Ang banwa naton.”
Gigi Gumban said, “Come May 13th, we should vote wisely. Let’s choose a leader who has the determination, who can endure life’s adversity. A leader who choose to RISE from all the pains and challenges in life. A leader who can stand the test of time. MON GUMBAN - Ikaw Na! Pavia Ang banwa naton. Salamat gid sa Inyo nga gugma.”

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Elections are like chess and marathon

"The one sure way of participating in the process of nation-building is to vote on the election day."
--Mohit Chauhan

By Alex P. Vidal

-- PHILIPPINE elections can be compared to the games of chess and marathon.
At least a week earlier, some candidates, more or less, may have already known if they had chances of winning or their defeat was imminent.
Some of these clues were in the reported endorsement of prominent and dominant religious groups that specialize in block voting, which is usually being disclosed days earlier; cash shortfall that rendered the last-hour full-blown media blitzkrieg incapacitated, cold response and gloomy reactions from barangay leaders familiar with the ground operations, sudden collapse or shifting of support of previously secured voters based, credible eleventh hour surveys, among other telltale signs of doom.


If a chess player is down by a piece--a knight, a bishop, a rook, or a pawn--and his remaining pieces are exposed to ambuscade in a dizzying variation, he knows that he has two options left: to resign or wait to be mated.
A marathon runner expecting to arrive in the finish line in the last two miles knows that the runners in front of him in the final five miles earlier who disappeared from his sight like comets may have already sprinted and crossed the finish line.
In elections there are no lucky punches like in boxing; no last two-minute Hail Mary goals like in hockey; no three-point miracle shots like in basketball; no hat-trick goals like in soccer.


Our choices of the candidates running for various local and congressional positions reflect our character and values as voters.
The senate race is very important.
Some senatorial candidates maintain a myopic mindset insisting we need to elect them because once they become senators "they plan to continue in helping provide more food and medical assistance to the poor."
Some of them claim to be "very sincere to serve the poor" and their sincerity can be allegedly best confirmed "even if you open our hearts with a knife."
A senate job is about legislation, not about distribution of relief assistance to the poor.
We have the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), an office under the executive branch that will perform and is already performing the obligation.
A senator creates and introduces a bill that would become the law of the land after being approved by the president.
Thus what we need are quality legislators; we need to elect quality, competent, and the right candidates suited for the right job.
We don't send a carpenter to extract a tooth or a truck driver to perform a surgery.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Elections' weird realities

"The political process does not end on Election Day. Young people need to stay involved in the process by continuing to pay attention to the conversation and holding their leaders accountable for the decisions they make."
--Patrick Murphy

By Alex P. Vidal

-- LIKE many Ilonggos who have doggedly followed the political events in Iloilo City and Western Visayas for that matter for the past 30 years, we now have an inkling of events that will unfurl in the next three to four days or several hours before and after the May 13, 2019 elections.
We noticed that the styles and methods employed by most aspirants for public office while wooing the voters didn't have a paradigm shift; they still used the traditional and decrepit approaches, tottering to appeal to emotions.
They still pin their hopes on the strength of the much-abused "masa" or the hoi polloi; and in order to get their attention, most of them had to resort to a spellbinding and hyperbolical "I feel what you feel"; "I am one of you", "I know what's wrong with our society and I am here to help solve the poverty", blah blah blah.
The only difference was the entry of the social media. Numerous fake accounts have been expedited, many of them sardonically made their way to the mainstream, buttressing the spread of voluminous but rancid information mostly not to build but destroy the reputation of rival candidates.
Our crystal ball, which has shunned relying on implausible surveys, has started to flicker and its scientific forecast may give some prominent political personalities a hypertension, especially those who have no plan whatsoever--and probably acceptance--for possible defeat.


Meanwhile, in our many years of covering the Philippine elections as newsmen since democracy was restored in the 1986 EDSA Revolution, here are some of the damning realities that we have learned and discovered:
--we have one of the most expensive electoral exercises in the world; candidates and their political parties are forced or obliged to spend millions of pesos during the campaign period. These expenses include the budget for "blocktime" media programs (to promote the candidates' "good" image and their platform of government, and to destroy their rivals), "payola" or "retainers" for village officials and leaders, media personalities and cops; campaign materials, and, let's not be hypocrites, to buy votes;
--popularity alone isn't enough to win in any contested position;
--money--oodles upon oodles of it--remains to be the key factor, the major player, or the game changer in any neck and neck rivalry;
--some candidates still use hyperbole and empty promises in order to attract and tantalize a horde of followers during the campaign rallies; but, unfortunately, they can't convert the "huge" attendance into instant votes;
-- loyalty among partymates is a sham; only fools among the candidates in one political party believe that they will help pull each other up when push comes to shove, through thick and thin, from start to end. The truth is, weeks or days before the election day, some candidates already adopt a "kanya kanya" system or "mansig salbaranay na ta" (save your own ass and I'll save mine) system;
-- treachery occurs in the eleventh hour. There are horse-trading, changing and dropping, party line crossing and swapping, solo flight, Judas handshakes and kisses, devil's pact, and even cheating (the act of refusing to spend the party money intended for the poll watchers and leaders and for the "buying of votes", and keeping it surreptitiously so that when the candidate loses in the elections, his pocket "wins");
--some members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)--both the officials and their underlings--engage in political partisanship and allow their sworn duties and obligations to maintain peace and order and neutrality to be compromised by the glitter of money. Sacks of cash intended to buy votes slip through the checkpoints manned by corrupt men in uniform;
--Some teachers assigned to facilitate the elections and poll officials are in cahoots with candidates who willfully and intentionally cheat regardless of their standing in the surveys;
--some barangay leaders pocket the money set aside to buy votes. These leaders collect all the lists containing the names of all voting family members in exchange of P500 to P1,000 cash for each name on the list, but some families don't receive their money. There are cases when five members of one voting family promised with P500 each or P2,500 for the entire family, get only P200 each or P1,000 for the whole family. Even in vote-buying, fraud and cheating are rampant during the elections.
--"winning" candidates or those who have consistently topped the surveys who lose because they don't engage in the "dirty" vote-buying or they don't believe in the magnificence and power of money during the elections, are the first to make a noise the morning after that they are victims of a "massive fraud" and that they lost "because our opponent or opponents engaged in vote buying."
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, May 6, 2019

We owe it to the Bard

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” 
-- William Shakespeare

By Alex P. Vidal

— We should credit the unscrupulous publishers who published the 18 unauthorized versions of William Shakespeare’s plays, made some money perhaps, and managed to get away with their shenanigans.
We understand there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era, thus his plays were reportedly published in quarto editions.
Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived, it was learned.
According to, a collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of William’s plays in the First Folio.
Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print, it was learned further.


Writer Guy Wright believes Shakespeare is the most quotable playwright and poet in the world until this generation.
“I doubt that there’s anyone reading this who goes through a normal day’s conversation without quoting Shakespeare,” Wright writes in Word Power.
“Once in a while we realize we are doing this,” he adds, “but most of the time we lift his lines to season our speech and sharpen our opinions without the slightest thought of the source.”
Wright cited the examples below:
When you call a man a “rotten apple,” a “blinking idiot” or a “popinjay”…When you say he “bears a charmed life” or is “hoist with his own petard”…When you proclaim him “a man of few words”…


When you speak of “old comfort,” “grim necessity,” “bag and baggage,” the “mind’s eye,” “holding your tongue,” “suiting the action to the words”…
When you refer to your “salad days” or “heart of hearts”…
When you deplore “the beginning of the end,” “life’s uncertain voyage” or “the unkindest cut of all”…
“By golly, you’re quoting Shakespeare,” hisses Wright.
Here are more:
When you use such expressions as “poor but honest,” “one fell swoop,” “as luck would have it,” “the short and the long of it,” “neither here nor there,” “what’s done is done”…
When you say something “smells to heaven” or is “Greek to me,” or it’s a “mad world” or “not in my book”…


When you complain that you “haven’t slept a wink” or that your family is “eating you out of house and home,” or you’ve “seen better days”…
When you speak of a coward “showing his heels” or having “no stomach for a fight”…
When you nod wisely and say, “Love is blind”…or “Truth will come to light”…or “The world is my oyster”…
“You are borrowing your bon mot from the Bard. Shakespeare was the greatest cliché inventor of all time,” Wright explains. “Without him to put the words in our mouths, we would be virtually tongue-tied, and the English language would have a lean and hungry look.”

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Don't use the word ‘news’ if information isn’t true

“If you can manipulate news, a judge can manipulate the law. A smart lawyer can keep a killer out of jail, a smart accountant can keep a thief from paying taxes, a smart reporter could ruin your reputation- unfairly.”
--Mario Cuomo

By Alex P. Vidal

-- INSTEAD of saying “it’s a fake information”, those who don’t believe that a certain information isn’t true are incorrectly saying “it’s a fake news.”
It’s a wrong choice of words. It’s a wrong syntax.
An information does not automatically translate into a news.
Raw information, in order to become a news, should have the basic facts and the following elements: what, when, where, who, why, how.
A mere information, on the other hand, has been defined by Mirriam-Webster as “the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence” or “a knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction.”
By telling Iloilo City reporters recently that the alleged assassination plot against the Garin father and son (Guimbal Mayor Oscar Sr. or “Oca” and Iloilo 1st District Rep. Oscar Jr or “Richard”) is “fake news”, what Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde actually meant was “the information about the purported assassination plot had not been validated and could not be true.”


If Albayalde got the story directly from the media, he can’t even call it as “fake” unless he wants to undermine the credibility of reporters and the authority of editors.
If the story had been disclosed by the media and picked by Albayalde, it becomes a news. It’s Albayalde’s call whether to confirm or deny it.
The least that Albayalde can do, actually, if the alleged assassination plot story came from the media (newspapers, radio, TV, Internet) is to tell the public that “the PNP will verify or investigate it”; or just directly, “we (in the PNP) don’t believe it.”
If it came from “sources within the PNP intelligence” it’s only an information, not news.
If Albayalde did not trust the information, or if he did not believe in the veracity of the PNP’s sources, he could now call it as a “fake information.”
But not as “fake news.”


I also would have wanted to call the attention of a high-ranking official in Negros Occidental who recently called a Facebook post by a critic about the capitol’s alleged “ghost” projects also as “fake news”.
He also lambasted the critic on the Facebook wall where the critic made the allegation.
Again, a Facebook post or comment is not a news. It’s only a piece of “information” in the user’s “status update” and is verifiable.
It’s always a waste of time and counter-productive to engage any critic in a ghoulish word war in the social media.
Unless the critic made the same allegations when interviewed by reporters; or, unless the critic filed an official complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman.
The high-ranking capitol official, or any concerned public official for that matter, will now have to explain whether he likes it or don’t.


MEET THE 10 NEW SUPERFOODS. The superstars -- blueberries, almonds, tomatoes, flaxseeds, broccoli, red wine, salmon, olive oil, edamme, brown rice. The understudy -- strawberries, peanuts, white button mushrooms, beer, sunflower seeds, cauliflower, trout, safflower oil, black beans, barley. Source: Sally Kuzemchak, R.D., Fitness: Mind, Body + Spirit…OUTSMARTING A SNACK ATTACK. Eating two small snacks a day can help us lose weight. Trouble is, research shows that we're munching more than ever before--choosing foods that are high in calories and fat--and packing on the pounds as a result. "Often we're not even hungry, but because we're surrounded by food, we're tempted to eat anyway," says Kerry Neville, Ph.D. of American Dietetic Assn…LET US STAND UP BEFORE TOUCHING THE TOILET HANDLE. One in three people flush while sitting down. If we are one of them, let us consider this: When we flush, droplets of water spray in the air. That means we can be exposed to bacteria, which increases our risk of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI). Source: Soap and Water & Common Sense.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)