Sunday, June 30, 2019

Ilonggo village entrepreneurs must learn how economy works

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
--Bill Gates

By Alex P. Vidal

NOW that the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) “Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay” program has started to revolutionize Iloilo Province, local entrepreneurs must understand and educate themselves how the market economy works, in a tacit if not intuitive sense, to avoid many of the mistakes that entrepreneurs tend to make.
“Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay” is a nation-wide program currently making waves in 87 villages from Iloilo Province’s 17 fourth to fifth class municipalities.
Through information dissemination, DTI Assistant Regional Director Ermelinda P. Pollentes announced recently that “entrepreneurial revolution” can be instituted by opening the eyes and minds of the project recipients on starting a business.
According to Pollentes, who is also concurrently DTI Iloilo director, they targeted the villages “because we want them to become entrepreneurs. We want to create entrepreneurial revolution because that’s the only way we can compete with our neighboring countries in the context of Asean economy.”
Pollentes’ insights and rationale on the “entrepreneurial revolution” was right.


In order to compete, it is also important that participants must learn to understand people so that they will avoid putting together a dysfunctional team and they can orchestrate success.
Here’s a guide and suggestions from an expert, Per Bylund, assistant professor of Entrepreneurship and Records-Johnston Professor of Free Enterprise in the School of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University:
You’ll avoid misinterpreting and misunderstanding your customers and minimize the risk that there is no market for your product.
If you understand how the economy works, and how your business fits the overall market process, you can position your product and production to make the largest contribution to society.
This means you’ll avoid risky, short-sighted decisions and destructive strategies. And you can prioritize accurately. The best part? Even if you lack either or both kinds of knowledge, you’re not doomed. Both of them can be learned.


Understanding people is tricky, but straightforward. It is not simply about reading up on psychology, even though that probably helps.
More important is to have a deep sense of what makes people do what they do, including what to expect given their backgrounds, attitudes and abilities.
It’s partly about getting along with people and developing trust relationships and mutual respect. But it is also about being able place yourself in other people’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from and where they’re headed.
Understanding people helps all aspects of your business. It is about putting together a great team with the right attitudes, avoiding conflict and, where that is not possible, finding respectful solutions. It’s about being tough when you need to be, and to be a reliable friend when things get tough.
Within your business, understanding people is as much about leadership as it is about friendship. It is also about understanding who your customer is, on a personal level, and what that type of person is thinking, feeling and dreaming of.
The only way of offering a product or service that is of real value to that person is to understand what kind of person he or she is. If you do, then you can make sure your offering fits in and improves that person’s life--assuming you know how to communicate the benefit.
Understanding people is as important within the business as it is outside. There are people everywhere, and people always matter. Entrepreneurship is always social, so if you figure out what people are about, then you’re already ahead.


Understanding the economy is not about financing or accounting or cutting costs.
Good entrepreneurs understand their startup as a business. They understand that the business exists in an economic context, that there are mechanisms and processes innate to a market economy that makes it function in a certain way.
They understand that there are trends, but that those trends can be disrupted; they understand that things change, but that this change is often predictable; they understand that prices are information and that competitors, suppliers, and partners all aim for the same thing: they stand and fall with providing consumer value.
Economic understanding is far removed from the mathematical models taught in intermediate and advanced economics courses in universities, and is more akin to the economic reasoning taught in the principles courses--and in entrepreneurship. There is an order to the apparent chaos that is an economy. The market is best understood as a persistent process of production and change, directed by entrepreneurs’ anticipations of that consumers want.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Gov. Toto Defensor’s ‘social justice’

“There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”
--Fidel Castro

By Alex P. Vidal

THE presence of billionaire industrialist Enrique Razon during the oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected officials in Iloilo Province at the Iloilo capitol lobby June 28, was timely and expedient.
In the world of philanthropy where Mr. Razon belongs, the phrase “social justice” is very relevant and is heard a lot.
Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. vowed to serve the province of Iloilo based on “social justice” in a speech during the oath-taking ceremony administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza.
Social justice is originally a Catholic term, first used about 1840 for a new kind of virtue (or habit) necessary for post-agrarian societies.
The term has been bent by secular "progressive" thinkers to mean uniform state distribution of society's advantages and disadvantages. It is really the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community.
If people are to live free of state control, they must possess this new virtue of cooperation and association.
This is one of the great skills of Americans and, ultimately, the best defense against statism, according to Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy.


According to the United Nations, “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.”
Social justice refers to a concept in which equity or justice is achieved in every aspect of society rather than in only some aspects or for some people.
A world organized around social justice principles affords individuals and groups fair treatment as well as an impartial share or distribution of the advantages and disadvantages within a society.
Formal definitions for social justice vary in wording, but there are commonalities among them. 1. Equal rights 2. Equal opportunity and 3. Equal treatment
Although he admitted that “I can not do it alone,” the new governor appealed to all: “Please join us in implementing programs that uplift lives such as those of our farmers and fisherfolk. Please join us in improving the barangays, in sharing the wealth and resources of the province. There can be no justice without peace, so please continue to help us.”


Social justice includes a vision of a society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. (Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell, Griffin, 2nd ed., Routledge 2007)
The absence of social justice results in social oppression.
Racism, sexism, ageism, classism, ableism, and heterosexism are some forms of social oppression in society.
Societies and individuals form hierarchies of oppression in which certain types of oppression are addressed and others are not.
Oppression of certain groups or individuals can result in social or legal exclusion, discrimination, inequitable distribution of resources, and emotional and physical consequences.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Theory of the Four Humors

"I think there's a general misconception that anything written quickly lacks quality, and I don't believe that." 
-- Michael Connelly

By Alex P. Vidal

The celebrated Greek doctor Hippocrates postulated that all human emotions flowed from four bodily fluids, or humors: blood (which makes us cheerful and passionate), yellow bile (which makes us hot-tempered), black bile (which makes us depressed), and phlegm (which makes us sluggish or stoic).
Though the good doctor's humors have given behavioral scientists a nice structure for examining personality types (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic), the idea that our bodily fluids makes us angry, depressed, or elated died out in the 1800s.


According to The Fascinating Book of History, the withering of the Hippocratic belief in humors proved to be good news for patients who were not thrilled with the practice of bloodletting, a process of opening a patient's veins to lower blood levels in an attempt to bring the humors into balance and cure all manner of mental and physical ills.
Bloodletting, with a knife or with leeches, was an accepted medical practice from the times of the Greeks, Mayans, and Mesopotamians.
It was going strong at the end of the 18th century, when George Washington had almost two liters of blood let out to cure a throat infection. He died shortly afterward.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ilonggo ‘soldiers’ recruited for ‘Maharlika Tribes’ force

"The way that people dress makes them part of an army, dressed in their own uniform, determined to do something." 
--Suzy Menkes

By Alex P. Vidal

BEFORE Chief Supt. John Bulalacao leaves the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6), he should enlighten the Ilonggos if the recent alleged “massive” recruitment of Ilonggos in Calinog, Iloilo supposedly for enlistment in the armed forces of the “Royal Maharlika Tribes 1-Nation” was legal and authorized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army.
Sources said the the group has been recruiting “soldiers” from Mindanao and in some parts of the Visayas; and, recently, it recruited several Ilonggos in Calinog, Iloilo.
The recruits filled up an application form with a sub-title of “Panay Tribal Governance for Self-Determination and Empowerment” and “Rajahnate of Panay.”
Are we being governed by another sovereign state right in our own independent civilian republic?
Are the police and military authorities keeping a blind eye on this supposed enlistment in a private army?


The recruited soldiers supposedly will serve for the Royal Maharlika Federal Force with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Registration No. CN201730139 and Tax Identification Number (TIN) 009-809-228.
Sources also obtained a document showing the group’s main headquarters is in Country Homes Ayala Subdivision, Zamboanga City and is headed by Bae Putri Princess Fatimah Hassah Dominguez, Princess Rajanahnate of Panai.
If the Royal Maharlika Tribes 1-Nation is legal, is the recruitment of soldiers for its “federal force” also legal and authorized?
Is the Royal Maharlika Federal Force authorized under the Philippine law to arm its recruits?
If not, then why was the group allowed to recruit in Iloilo without any supervision from the PNP and Philippine Army?
Or why they weren’t subdued and arrested?


It’s over.
As expected, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. (IDFI) headed by Ramon Cua Locsin, will be phased out in favor of the Iloilo City Festivals Foundation Inc. (ICFF), which will be created under the new administration of Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas.
Aside from Treñas’ spat with resigned IDFI vice president Marissa Segovia when the incoming city mayor complained in January this year that he was not invited in the annula festival, it’s a common knowledge that Locsin openly campaigned for Treñas’s rival, his own bilas, Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa in the recent midterm elections.
Locsin, for his part, gambled not only his friendship with Treñas, but also IDFI’s “lucrative” enterprise when he opted to support Espinosa.
It would have been “happy days are still with us” had Espinosa won.
New York Senator William L. Marcy once declared, “To the victor belongs the spoils,” referring to the victory of Andrew Jackson in the US election of 1828.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, June 24, 2019

IT ecozone is pride of Ilonggos

"Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other."
--Bill Gates

By Alex P. Vidal

IF there is one thing Ilonggos should be proud of when President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed a proclamation creating an Information Technology Center Special Economic Zone in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, is it's a first in the Philippines.
Special economic zones (SEZ), or the ECOZONES, are defined in the Republic Act No. 7916 or The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 as "selected areas with highly developed or which have the potential to be developed into agro-industrial, industrial tourist/recreational, commercial, banking, investment and financial centers."
Information Technology (IT), which probably still did not have a special appeal from SEZ framers when the law was enacted, is now making a debut; and it's happening in Iloilo City.
An ECOZONE may contain any or all of the following: industrial estates (IEs), export processing zones (EPZs), free trade zones, and tourist/recreational centers.
When the law was enacted, Iloilo was not even included as among the cities and provinces in the Philippines identified as ECOZONES in a system of prioritization for viability and geographic dispersal.


In order to be established as an ECOZONE, an area must be subjected to the evaluation and recommendation of the PEZA, based on a detailed feasibility and engineering study which must conform to several criteria.
Those included, among other cities, municipalities, and provinces were "portions" of Morong, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Orani, Samal, and Abucay in the Province of Bataan; municipalities of Ibaan, Rosario, Taysan, San Jose, San Juan, and cities of Lipa and Batangas; City of Cagayan de Oro in the Province of Misamis Oriental; City of Iligan in the Province of Lanao del Norte; Province of Saranggani; City of Laoag in the Province of Ilocos Norte.
Also, Davao City and Samal Island in the Province of Ilocos Norte; Oroquieta City in the Province of Misamis Occidental; Tubalan Cove, Malita in the Province of Davao del Sur; portion of Baler, Dinalungan and Casiguran including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs in the Province of Aurora.
The portions of cities of Naga and Iriga in the Province of Camarines Sur, Legaspi and Tabaco in the Province of Albay, and Sorsogon in the Province of Sorsogon; Bataan Island in the province of Batanes; Lapu-lapu in the Island of Mactan, and the municipalities of Balamban and Pinamungahan and the cities of Cebu and Toledo and the Province of Cebu, including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs.


Also, Tacloban City; Municipality of Barugo in the Province of Leyte; Municipality of Buenavista in the Province of Guimaras; municipalities of San Jose de Buenavista, Hamtic, Sibalom, and Culasi in the Province of Antique; municipalities of Catarman, Bobon and San Jose in the Province of Northern Samar, the Island of Samar.
Municipality of Ternate and its immediate environs in the Province of Cavite; Polloc, Parang in the Province of Maguindanao; Municipality of Boac in the Province of Marinduque; Municipality of Pitogo in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur; Dipolog City-Manukan Corridor in the Province of Zamboanga del Norte; Mambajao, Camiguin Province; Infanta, Real, Polillo, Alabat, Atimonan, Mauban, Tiaong, Pagbilao, Mulanay, Tagkawayan, and Dingalan Bay in the Province of Quezon.
Butuan City and the Province of Agusan del Norte, including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs; Roxas City including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs in the Province of Capiz.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, June 22, 2019

City hall’s wheel of fortune

“There's still is a status-quo group at City Hall who likes things done the old way, behind closed doors.”
--Laura Miller

By Alex P. Vidal

THE wheels of political fortune will always favor those who are allied with the winners.
Did we say nobody loves a loser?
In a sudden twist of fate, one of the executive assistants asked by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa, through his right hand, Rommel “Jojo” Castro, to resign in March 2018, will take back his portfolio as city administrator when Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas assumes as the new city mayor on July 1, 2019.
Melchor Tan, who served as city administrator when Treñas was mayor in 2001 until 2010, will replace lawyer Hernando Galvez, city administrator since the term of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Tan and five other Treñas acolytes-- Abel Alejano, Boyet Rico, Irene Ong, Mitch Antiqueña and Roy Firmeza--quit during the Espinosa administration after Castro asked them to resign “if they couldn’t prioritize their City Hall tasks over their other concerns outside City Hall.”
They quit, disappeared from public scene for a while, planned their resurrection, and resurfaced when the Bastille has been recaptured.


The city administrator is the most powerful person in the city mayor’s office.
He is in charge of all the appointing papers of casual employees and reviews the executive orders, among his other major functions.
Will it be Tan’s turn to ask Castro and other city hall big guns who feverishly campaigned openly for Mayor Joe III in the recent elections to resign?
Castro, city engineer Bobby Divinagracia, Vincent Dela Cruz were among those who are reportedly “heading for the chopping block” when the Treñas administration takes over next month.
If they are protected by the civil service law, the least that Administrator Tan can do is to reassign them, a euphemism for demotion.
It would be a violation of their rights if they’re dismissed mainly because they were identified with the Team Joe III in the recent polls.


Castro, et al may have already known their fate and are not expecting a walk in the rose garden starting next month even if they can still retain their jobs.
For being loyal to his boss and for “only doing his job,” Castro became the incoming administration’s most favorite punching bag and has been placed in the center of storm in city hall’s forthcoming “house cleansing.”
Many casual workers who lost their jobs during Mayor Joe III’s brief reign are also sharpening their knives against Castro.
But Castro, in fairness to the man, was only doing what his boss Mayor Joe III was asking him to do.
Castro, a sports buff, shouldn’t be singled out during the Joe III administration’s “Reign of Terror” that resulted in the casuals’ “mass slaughter” as his role was only to implement or facilitate the orders from the big boss.
For his part, Mayor Joe III shouldn’t abandon his wounded soldiers.
Although it is not anymore his responsibility to feed and clothe the adults after they have been vanquished, Mayor Joe III, at least, still have the moral obligation to make sure Castro, et al won’t be stripped of their dignities and livelihood.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Dinagyang, Manggahan NYC parade facilitator is Fil-Am mag’s cover story

“In a magazine, one can get - from cover to cover - 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it.” 
--Maya Angelou

By Alex P. Vidal

NEGROS-born Josephine “Joji” Jalandoni, main facilitator in the participation of Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival and Guimaras’ Manggahan Festival in the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City in 2018, is the cover story of The Fil-Am’s June 2019 (Issue 16).
JOJI JUELE JALANDONI during the 2018 Parade
The Fil-Am, founded by Cristina DC Pastor and published by A & V media, is a popular newsmagazine serving Filipino Americans in New York.
“When we think of the 55,000 Filipinos in New York City and the nearly 300,000 who live in the Tri-State of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut, we think of all the stories just waiting to be written. A wedding at St. Patrick’s, a cousin’s graduation at NYU, or just playing tourist guide to folks back home who insist on lining up for Letterman,” screams the magazine’s on-line information.
The article, found on page 6 and 7, was written by the magazine’s founding editor Cristina DC Pastor, with a title: “How Joji Jalandoni brought Visayan street kids to NYC”.
Here’s the entire article:
Josephine ‘Joji’ Jalandoni grew up in Victorias Milling Company (VMC) in Negros Occidental--known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines”--where the landed families derived their affluence from sugar plantations. Sugar was one of the country’s top agricultural exports up until the 1980s, and the sugar cane farming families at the time were flush with cash.
Her father, Jose Jimenez Juele, a mechanical engineer known as Triple J, was one of the executives of VMC and Victorias International lnc. Her mother, Estrella Ebro Juele, was a high school teacher.
“Those were happy days growing up in Victorias Milling Company, the biggest refinery sugar central in the country. I grew up thinking sugar is free, that is, until I got to college,” reminisced Joji, a slight smile forming.

The sweet life

“Life in VMC was ideal we grew up feeling we were all part of one big happy family. My siblings and I, we are what we are because of the family values our parents instilled in us,” she said.
Her two sons -- Jose Carlos and Jose Inigo -- grew up nurtured in a loving home by an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles.
“They were raised instilled with the same core values espousing the importance of integrity, excellence and love of family,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Joji, the second of five siblings attended St. Theresita’s Academy in Silay City, a school that produced good Catholic Ilonggas. She went to Silliman University in Dumaguete City for college, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
In New York, where the wings of fate had flown her, Joji found work in hospitals, gained experience and worked her way up through the ranks. She earned a master’s degree in Hospital Administration/Nurse Executive Program from Teachers College Columbia University. In the health facility where she now works, she holds the position of Infection Control and Prevention Associate Director, where her positive attitude, creative problem solving and professional skills make her highly effective in her role.
She became active in the Filipino community of New York despite the long hours she devoted to her work. She is a core member of the Philippine Nurses Association-NY from 2003 up to the present, and was president of the Silliman University Alumni Association from 2007-2009. With every organization she joined, she made sure she contributed to the goals of growing the membership, fundraising, developing young leaders, whatever the organization’s needs were.
The desire to “preserve and share” the rich Philippine traditions brought Joji to PIDCI or the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.
“Through the 28 years of celebrating the commemoration, the New York festival has gained many reputations, foremost of which is it is the largest celebration of Philippine Independence in the world, larger even than that held annually in the Philippines,” she said. “It takes almost a year to organize.”
She remembered how, in the beginning of her involvement with PIDCI, she rode the Nursing Float. “We won Best Float. The next thing I knew I was one of the volunteers, became one of the Board Directors, vice president, and acting president in the latter half of 2009.”

PIDCI president

In 2011, she was elected PIDCI president and served for a year. It presented, for Joji, a platform to bring the Dinagyang of Iloilo and the Manggahan of Guimaras to perform at the Independence Day parade. She first invited the Dinagyang in 2011 and for three more years after that. In 2018, the Dinagyang and Manggahan dance troupes joined forces to bring color and cadence to Madison Avenue. About 70 young Filipinos dressed in the costumes of their regions danced to Ati-Atihan beat, energizing the parade as FilAms, watching on the streets, cheered and rocked to the beat. Clearly, a day bursting with ethnic pride.
While it was Joji who facilitated the kids’ travel to the U.S., there would be additional responsibilities, such as finding homes that would welcome them and sponsors who would provide meals and sightseeing trips.
“The Ilonggo community rose to the challenge,” she said. “From chaperoning these kids to providing them with hot meals and their favorite chocolates, these generous patrons made sure that these young kids’ dream of seeing New York City becomes a reality even for just a moment in time.”
Through the “gargantuan feat,” Joji was recognized by The Outstanding Filipinos in America as a 2018 honoree in the field of Arts & Culture.

How did she do it?

With a lot of faith in her network of friends, family, community leaders, and some government and local officials.
Asked why and Joji looks back to a time when she was a young student in the province, and life was rich with promising opportunities.
“The street kids and students of Dinagyang and Manggahan are kids of farmers,” she mused. “Yes, they will be all professionals of their chosen careers, and one day as parents, grandparents, titos and titas will have stories to share about how once upon a time they had visited Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and watched Broadway shows like ‘Peter Pan, Finding Neverland.’ These adventures opened their eyes that there is a big world out there full of possibilities and opportunities.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Don’t punish pedestrians for Diversion Road tragedy

“If a neighbor is killed in a car accident, do you sell your car and stop driving?”
--Mario Andretti

By Alex P. Vidal

WE join the Department of Education (DepEd) community in Iloilo City in mourning the macabre deaths of couple Joe Marie Osano and his wife Alnie Dinah, who were hit by a speeding white Mazda MX5 sports car driven by 32-year-old balikbayan, June Paul Valencia, while crossing the pedestrian lane along Diversion Road in Mandurriao district at around six o'clock in the morning on June 15.
Freak accidents like what happened in the Diversion Road normally happen if:
-the driver is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance;
-there is zero visibility caused by a bad weather;
-the car is overspeeding and tries to beat the red light;
-the speeding car loses its brake;
-the speeding car’s driver is inexperienced;
-the pedestrians, in this case the victims, commit a jaywaking or run across the highway without noticing an onrushing wayward vehicle;
-both the pedestrians and speeding vehicle are caught in an awkward circumstance and get waylaid by an emergency firetruck, patrol car, or ambulance.


Based on eyewitness accounts and initial police investigations, the bloody mishap occurred after Valenica’s car overtook a pick-up truck driven by Allan Calunsod.
Osano, 45, principal of La Paz II Elementary School, was dragged by the killer car several meters from the pedestrian lane, while Dinah, 36, a teacher at Ticud (La Paz) Elementary School, was flown away.
They both suffered serious body and head injuries and were declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Valencia, who surrendered after the mishap, was able to post a bail of P60,000 for his temporary freedom.
Police charged him with reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and double homicide.


Grief and sorrows almost became endless in the educational and sports institutions where the couple belonged.
Social media were immediately flooded with stories that chronicled the kind of life they lived and how they were hailed by their co-workers, students, and their community.
Truly, based on how their colleagues and loved ones lament their “untimely” loss, they have left a vacuum no one among their ilk can fill in immediately.
They were “too young to die,” their co-teachers sobbed.
“They were active sports enthusiasts and role models in physical education,” bemoaned city officials led by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa and congresswoman-elect Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda, who had a chance to work with the couple in various community-based projects.
The shocking accident prompted city officials to call for reforms in the traffic system and to hack out “long-term solutions” and safety measures in order to avert a similar mishap in the future.


Among those being proposed by incoming mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas in a recent meeting with officials of the city’s Public Safety and Transportation and Management Office (PSTMO) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Iloilo City District Engineering Office, were: closing of the U-turn where the mishap happened; and putting up of grills from the area where the accident occurred up to SM City Iloilo to prevent pedestrians from crossing the avenue.
They are also eyeing the placing of rumble strips a few meters before and after pedestrian lanes.
Also, all traffic aides will be asked to do the following: guide joggers at the Iloilo Esplanade; report for work at five o’clock in the morning instead of the current eight o’clock in the morning; assist all pedestrian lanes on the avenue.
City Hall is also calling for strict enforcement of the 60 kph speed limit; violators will be arrested and penalized; and jaywalkers will be apprehended and fined.
We only hope that all these “reforms”, reinforcement and revitalization of old traffic ordinances and guidelines won’t end up as a ningas cogon and forgotten after several months.
The pedestrians, on the other hand, must not be punished as a result of one bloody mishap no one had wanted to happen.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Gloria giving Ilonggos false hopes on airport ‘expansion’

“Everything is possible, from angels to demons to economists and politicians.”
--Paulo Coelho

By Alex P. Vidal

WHEN politicians like Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talk, we should always remember not believe everything hook, line, and sinker.
Look what they did to the proposed Iloilo-Guimars-Negros bridge.
They allowed politicians to announce it in public and created a stir by “confirming” that the bridge’s construction would start in 2018.
We are now in the second quarter of 2019 and the last time we heard about the multi-billion project was “its feasibility study is ongoing.”
Going back to the proposed Iloilo Airport expansion as announced two weeks ago by Speaker Arroyo, who was in Iloilo for the blessing and inauguration of a new hotel.
If you listen to the former president, the Iloilo Airport expansion project, which would cost about P700 million, will start soon.
What and when is soon?
2019? 2020?
Or after the expiration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term in 2022?


Politicians, in order to score pogi points, always conveniently hide in the comfort of the word “soon” in order to be safe just in case there will be delays, or whatever circumstance that might befall the projects they were trying to advertise ahead.
Mrs. Arroyo said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has already secured a signature from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to proceed with the needed expansion of the Iloilo International Airport, which opened its doors to commercial traffic on June 14, 2007 after a decade of planning and construction.
“With the signing of the CAAP Board Resolution granting the Original Proponent Status to the unsolicited proponent for the expansion of the Iloilo airport, the CAAP may now proceed subject the proposal to a Swiss Challenge,” she declared in an interview with Iloilo reporters.
“It is one step closer to bringing comfort, safety and convenience to one of the busiest airports in the country. Again my congratulations to CAAP.”


Okay. Securing a signature from the DILG could be a “crucial step” for the proposal to be forwarded to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), but if the project is not yet in NEDA’s radar and does not have funds as certified by the Department of Budget, and no concurrence from the Department of Transportation, it can never commence “soon.”
It will be another hope against hopes until delayed and eventually forgotten.
Mrs. Arroyo added: “The Iloilo Airport was built during my time as President in 2007 with a capacity of 1.2 million passengers a year. Now it is operating for 2.4 million passengers. Indeed an expansion is much needed.”
Arroyo made sure her name wouldn’t be forgotten when she disclosed she had conducted an oversight hearing at the Lower House on the Iloilo airport to determine the status of its expansion projects.
Her efforts reportedly “paved the way for the fast-tracking of the signing of the board resolution to start the process of approving its expansion.”
Pave the way, the magic sentence.
Nice, Madame Speaker.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


I Don't Know Why You Love Me


Thursday, June 13, 2019

A short-lived election victory

“In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
--Tom Bodett

By Alex P. Vidal

WHEN come-backing Janiuay, Iloilo mayor Frankie Locsin decided to run again in the recent May elections, he probably had no idea his appeal in his February 2015 Sandiganbayan conviction for graft would be denied by the Supreme Court.
Thus he suffered hypertension when National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents arrested him on June 3, 2019 and was rushed to the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district in Iloilo City.
No one from among Locsin’s family and political team had expected the arrest to happen three weeks after he won back the mayoral post in the midterm elections.
Locsin, who had been semi-retired from politics, probably was prompted to run again when he had an inkling the Supreme Court wouldn’t give him a favorable verdict; or, he must’ve thought it was the best “remedy” for the time being.
Sadly, even his becoming mayor again didn’t save him from the higher court’s guillotine.


In a graft case that stemmed from medicine purchases of the local government of Janiuay using P15 million from Sen. Vicente Sotto’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) way back in 2001, Locsin and five others were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic.
A supplier whose accreditation had been suspended by the Department of Health (DOH) and wasn’t supposed to be qualified in the bidding, cornered the multi-million medical supply contract.
The Sandiganbayan First Division also convicted Locsin’s co-accused Accountant Carlos Moreno Jr., Budget Officer Ramon Tirador, Treasurer Luzviminda Figueroa, Ricardo Minurtio, and businessman Rodrigo Villanueva.
They were sentenced to a jail term of from six to 10 years and perpetual disqualification from public office.
The Sandiganbayan had ordered arresting officers to bring Locsin to the anti-graft court based in Quezon City “as soon as possible, to be dealt with as the law and Rules of Court direct.”


There were three participants – AM Europharma Corp., Mallix Drug Center and Philpharmawealth Corp.--when a bidding was held on January 15, 2001.
Philpharmawealth, however, denied participating in such a bidding.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which investigated the transaction, noticed the apparent haste in the process when the P1.7-million purchase contract was awarded to Mallix Drug Center.
AM Europharma was awarded with a P13.1-million contract approved by Locsin. The medicines were immediately delivered the next day, Jan. 16, 2001.
Supply Officer II Gabriel Billena inspected the purchases which were fully paid on January 17, 2001.
The Ombudsman raised the red flag on the deal’s propriety after fing out that the heads of the AM Europharma Corp. and Mallix Drug Center were one and the same – Rod D. Villanueva.
Ombudsman noted that Villanueva was the sole proprietor of Mallix Drug Center and also the general manager and president of AM-Europharma.
“The Court finds…conspiracy between accused public officials (and) members of the municipal Committee on Awards of Janiuay…as shown by their respective signatures in the Minutes of Meetings which awarded the subject procurement of medicines in favor of AM Europharma and Mallix Drug which gave undue advantage to accused Rodrigo Villanueva, owner and proprietor of said companies,” part of the anti-graft court’s decision read.
The 34-page Sandiganbayan decision dated Feb. 23, 2015 was penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada and concurred by First Division Chairman Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.
The Sandiganbayan stated that “there was unanimity of purpose and intent on the part of said accused officials to consummate the said procurement in favor of accused Rodrigo Villanueva as shown by the undue haste that attended the delivery of the medicines and the speed with which the payments for the said medicines were made…and even without the latter or his companies posting the required 10 percent performance bond, knowing fully well that there was a failed bidding because of AM Europharma’s DOH suspended supplier’s accreditation, that the government was not able to secure the lowest possible price for the said bidders…”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Ilonggos don't love the underdogs?

"I like being the underdog so they don't expect what's going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and do the things I'm not doing better."
--Kawhi Leonard

By Alex P. Vidal

-- THERE are probably more Ilonggos living in Oakland, California than in Toronto, Ontario, thus the Golden State Warriors apparently have more fans among the Ilonggo populace in both the United States and Canada compared to the Toronto Raptors.
We are supposed to be "lovers of the underdogs", but we've noticed the Ilonggos are more agog over the Warriors, the defending champions, even if the Western Conference kings have already won the NBA Finals for several times in a row and the Raptors, the Eastern Conference heroes, are chasing history and currently the darling of the basketball world.
Even in the social media, the Warriors are very much hailed and cheered especially when they averted annihilation in Game 5 on June 10 with a nerve-tingling 106-105 win.
Many Filipinos fans rooting for both teams from the US and Canada are workers in the health industry--nurses, caregivers, doctors, physical therapists--or Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians who have been following the NBA games with passion and style for several years now. How exciting to read their debates and fierce discussions in the social media and in other communication platforms.
Basketball old-timers in Western Visayas, as a whole, also appear to be Warriors fans, including some politicians, local sports analysts, ordinary folks, and anchormen in leading radio stations chronicling the exciting best-of-seven finals.
May the best team win in Game 6 or Game 7, if necessary.


The original "Ilonggo Bikoy" was reportedly spotted again in Iloilo City weeks after his politician boss lost in the mayoral elections in Metro Manila.
The "Ilonggo Bikoy" is a well-connected mystery man. He has spilled the beans on so many high-profile personalities involved in illegal drugs.
Many of these high-profile personalities linked by this original "Ilonggo Bikoy" in illegal drugs are now either have been buried six feet below the ground, or have left Western Visayas and are now hiding in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
He is a friend of a balikbayan who recently lost in a local election in Iloilo City.
He is an admirer of former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel "Boy" Mejorada, who recently hogged headlines after being arrested for cyberlibel filed by Iloilo Governor Arthur "Art" Defensor Sr.
The "Ilonggo Bikoy" is being suspected as one of those who spread the canard that former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was involved in illegal drugs.
Former Western Visayas narcotics chief Genodepa of Guimbal, Iloilo knows this "Ilonggo Bikoy" very well.
I know him, too--also very well.


According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of the causes of Ernest Hemingway's "deepest depression" was due to "Writer's Block" which could happen to any writer.
When asked to write a speech for the inaugural of President JFK, Hemingway, America's all-time best Nobel Prize in Literature winner, suffered a "Writer's Block" and could not start a sentence.
Several days later, he shot himself to death with a shotgun!
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Not yet time

"I just try to play every game like it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals."
--Kawhi Leonard

By Alex P. Vidal

THERE are two big events outside the country that can make us all forget our worries temporarily: the fights of Senator Manny Pacquiao and the NBA Finals.
Miss Universe comes next--only if we feel that our candidate has a strong chance of bagging the crown.
During the Toronto Raptors' failed bid to capture its first NBA crown on Monday (June 10) in Toronto with a hairline defeat to the Golden State Warriors, 105-106, we were all again glued to our TV screens.
We forgot the traffic woes, dengue fever, water crisis, peso-US dollar exchange rate, post-election controversies, same-sex marriage and abortion debates, rebel returnees, anti-drug raids, etcetera.


After the Warriors closed the best-of-seven series gap at 3-2, we're back to reality. It's not yet time.
If the Raptors can finish the job in Game 6, no one can tell. If the Warriors can extend their agony and capitulate in Game 7, it will be anybody's guess. If the Warriors can retain the crown, it remains to be seen. For the meantime, life must go on for Filipino fans.
Whether it is Warriors or Raptors, the result will have no direct economic or political impact in our life as a basketball-crazy country.
But the NBA Finals, like when we watch Pacquaio dismantle his Mexican and American opponents in the ring, have the capacity to make us all happy and united.


We should not feel bad that New York City accommodated the 62nd Puerto Rico National Day Parade on Fifth Avenue on June 10, 2019 but continued to "separate" the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade in the Madison Avenue.
We should be happy that, at least, we are allowed to use one of Manhattan's most popular and historic avenues for our Independence Day parade consistently for several years now.
Not all countries affiliated with the United Nations (UN) are given the golden opportunity to showcase their cultural and religious wealth and potentials before an American audience on an American land.
We are not the only country assigned in the spacious Madison Avenue. The Greek Independence Day Parade in March, the Persian Parade in April, and the India Parade in August, among other cultural and national parades, also saunter in the Madison Avenue which is only a block away from the more preferred and most favorite Fifth Avenue.
Assigned for their parades on Fifth Avenue are: Celebrate Israel Parade in May, St. Patrick's Day Parade in March, German-American Steuben Parade in September, Columbus Day Parade in October, and Korean Day Parade in October.


I've noticed that media practitioners in Iloilo were divided on their opinion about the recent arrest of former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel "Boy" Mejorada for five counts of cyber libel filed by Iloilo Governor Arthur "Art" Defensor Sr.
Not all of Mejorada's colleagues came out in the open to defend him or lash at the manner of his arrest. Some of them probably expressed their "concerns" through text and private messages.
But there were some of Mejorada's former media colleagues who hailed his arrest and congratulated the arresting police team led by Major Jonathan Pinuela.
In the social media, meanwhile, netizens mostly sympathetic to Mejorada's adversaries like Senator Franklin Drilon and Defensor, ripped apart Mejorada like he was a despicable person.
After securing a temporary freedom from the court, Mejorada refused to lick his wounds in silence. He used his social media accounts to lambast all those responsible for what happened to him on Friday (June 7).
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Don't discriminate the fat

"People will make mean comments. People are going to say that you're fat, that you're this, that you're that. You just have to be comfortable in your own skin."
-- Ashley Benson

By Alex P. Vidal

NO one who is overweight or fat should be discriminated, ridiculed, and treated shabbily in whatever circumstance.
But there are jeepney and taxi drivers in the Philippines who refuse to take passengers that "occupy two seats" per body because of their "over" weight or "big" size.
We have actually existing laws against discrimination and our friends in this subject matter should be equally covered and protected by these laws.
The old expression "Laugh and grow fat" leads many to believe that fat people are always happy.
One reason for this saying may be that the extra fatty tissue under their skin makes their frowns and worry lines less noticeable.


But psychologists claim that overweight people are usually far from happy. 
So let us not add to their "burden" by being truculent toward their "extra baggage."
Experts are saying that sometimes the glands or chemical make-up of the body need medical attention. 
Or, excess weight may be due to upset emotions caused by a lack of love, a feeling of not being wanted, or some frustration.
Another popular (or unpopular?) saying is, "Fat people are lazy."
But we know now that laziness affects fat and thin alike. 
A fleshy person appears lazy because his movements are slowed up by the weight he carries.


Hundreds of seemingly lazy people, both thin and fat, have been cured when fitted with the proper eye-glasses, it was learned.
Others have gained energy after they have had medical care like someone I know who frequently plays chess in New York City' Elmhurst Park.
A third fallacy in regard to fat people is that there are more fat boys than girls. 
Statistics, however, show the number is about equal.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, June 7, 2019

Libel doesn’t scare us; it’s being nabbed on a Friday

“If you call your opponent a politician, it's grounds for libel.”
--Mark Russell

By Alex P. Vidal

I HAVE been charged with libel and ordered arrested in the past, but, luckily, I wasn’t home when the arresting officers came to “fetch” me.
Since libel is a criminal case in the Philippines, it’s a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the cops to put a cuff on the accused while he is being brought behind bars.
Thank God I missed the metal bracelets in all the warrants of arrest issued for the 38 counts of libel filed by the plaintiff, “The People of the Philippines,” against me, our late former Sun.Star Iloilo Daily publisher, Marcos “Mark” Villalon, and columnist Wenceslao “Mat” Mateo way back in 1999, or 20 years ago.
If my memory serves me right, when I learned that the first warrant of arrest had been issued by the RTC Branch 25 on a Friday, my sore eyes infection was starting to develop, thus I decided to quitely spend a night at Bahay Kubo, a rented hut in Calumpang, Molo, Iloilo City.
A police mugshot of yours truly would have yielded two awful but “beautiful red eyes.”
We beat to the draw all the impending warrants of arrest by immediately posting a bail after being tipped off by the Good Samaritans inside the Hall of Justice.


What happened to former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada last Friday (June 7) evening should serve as a warning to all those charged with a criminal case: avoid being arrested on a Friday.
If an accused is arrested end of the regular week after office hours, he has no more chance to post a bail in court for his temporary freedom.
He will have to spend at least three nights and two days in jail while waiting for Monday during office hours.
In 1993, veteran Panay News columnists Herbert Vego and the late Teddy Sumaray chose to spend overnight “as a matter of principle” inside the Iloilo City Police Office detention cell rather than posting a bail of P10,000 each for the libel case filed by the late lawyer Fraulin Penasales. Friends and the late PN publisher Danny Fajardo helped “avert” another harrowing night in the calaboose for the two bespectacled senior editors.
In libel cases, the showdown vis-a-vis the prosecution panel during the actual trial of the case doesn’t scare us practicing journalists; it even excites us, modesty aside, like nominees in the Oscar Awards.
We believe that libel--the crime of destroying a person’s reputation by publicity--is hard to prove under the Philippine laws because it requires the presence of all four elements: malice, publication, defamation, and identification.
What’s unsettling if we get caught by arresting police on Friday is the prospect of being harassed and bullied, and having to sleep beside the hardened criminals and notorious fiends inside a crowded detention cell.
Mejorada, for his part, had high blood pressure during the arrest thus he was brought to the St. Paul’s Hospital instead of being detained in the police station.


Had Mejorada known Police Major Jonathan Pinuela of the Provincial Special Operations Group (PSOG) and his team were on their way to serve the warrant of arrest against him in his residence at Parc Regency Subdivision in Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo at 6:20 in the evening, he would have probably spent overnight in another place to avoid being cornered.
The warrant of arrest was for the five counts of violation of Republic Act 10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 issued by Judge Victorino Maniba Jr. Of the RTC branch 39 dated June 4, 2019.
The trial court ordered the arrest after Prosecutor II Ma. Nazelle A. Biliran-Infante found probable cause in the complaint filed by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr.
If Mejorada was able to elude the arresting team that Friday evening, the police would be compelled to come back on Monday and turn him over to the court that issued the warrant of arrest if they got lucky to get him. 

I am not privy to the cases Governor Defensor filed against Mejorada.  


I have covered the governor in the past--when he nearly became senator in 1987 landing 26th with 7,865,702 votes or 99,000 votes shy of 24th placer Juan Ponce Enrile's 7,964,966 votes; when he first became governor in 1992 defeating Perla Zulueta overwhelmingly; and when he nipped fellow former Assemblyman Niel Tupas Sr. by more or less 10,000 votes in the 1998 gubernatorial elections. 
This is the first time I heard he filed a case against a member of the press; in this case against a former editor who became active in helping some candidates in the recent and past elections.
I must admit Governor Defensor is one of the only few public officials in the province I personally admire (along with the late Governor Tupas, former Vice Governor Roberto "Obet" Armada, board member Demy Sonza, and the late former board member Vicente "Bugoy" Molejona) even when he was assemblyman in the 1984 Batasang Pambansa.
He reads both the national and local papers, including the opinion page. If he sensed a certain inaccuracy in the opinion article, he would personally call an opinion writer to correct it.  
As a journalist, my heart, at the same time, goes out to Mejorada, a former editor like me in the defunct Sun.Star Iloilo Daily and former president of the Iloilo Press and Radio Club (IPRC) in 1990, where I had the privilege to also serve as director.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love Thyself)

Don't forget to love yourself.

Loving our enemies makes us true Christians; loving our friends makes us pure; loving our family makes us whole; loving our environment and animals makes us heroes; loving learning and wisdom makes us enlightened. But loving ourselves makes us healthy and worthy to implement all the love we give the aforementioned.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The only Joshua who falls in disgrace

“If you want street fight, let's go. If you want boxing, I show you. But people think I am, like, gangster. No. Ring is different world. Very dangerous.”
--Gennady Golovkin

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- IF not for the ongoing NBA Finals, sports fans would have discussed lengthily or devoted most of the commentaries on Anthony Joshua’s shocking TKO (technical knockout) loss to unheralded substitute Andy Ruiz Jr. June 1 at the Madison Square Garden.
But the showdown between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors would be until June 16 (Game 7, if necessary) while Joshua’s embarrassing defeat lasted only for seven rounds in the 12-round unified W.B.A., I.B.F., W.B.O. and I.B.O. heavyweight championship.
The name Joshua is always associated with courage, brilliancy, heroism.
Unlike the biblical Joshua who vanquished 31 kings and conquered their lands, boxing’s Joshua couldn’t put away Ruiz Jr for good after sending the challenger butt-first in the canvas with a quick knockdown early in the third round.
Anthony Joshua is the only Joshua who fell in disgrace. The biblical Joshua, successor of Moses, was a brilliant military leader who fought in the Walls of Jericho, was hailed as a hero who led the Israelites into the Promised Land.
“Who is Andy Ruiz Jr.?” asked Victor Mather of New York Times. Actually, he’s the heavyweight champion of the world. Uh, really?”
Ruiz knocked down Joshua in the seventh round with a flurry of punches. Another knockdown followed, and the fight was stopped as the crowd looked on in amazement. Ruiz is now the W.B.A., I.B.F., W.B.O. and I.B.O. heavyweight champion.
Joshua was 22-0 with 21 knockouts and had amassed an alphabet soup of world titles. His victims included the longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko.


Mather pointed out that Ruiz was a substitute, added to the bout in April after the previously scheduled opponent, Jarrell Miller, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was not ranked among the world’s 10 best heavyweights by The Ring Magazine.
Joshua was 22-0 with 21 knockouts and had amassed an alphabet soup of world titles. His victims included the longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Ruiz was a substitute, added to the bout in April after the previously scheduled opponent, Jarrell Miller, tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He was not ranked among the world’s 10 best heavyweights by The Ring Magazine.
Though Ruiz was 32-1, the fighters he had beaten were not world class, and his chances were widely dismissed. It was not hard to find odds of 15-1 or more for him to defeat Joshua.
The new champ, Mather explained, is 29 years old, born in California near the Mexico border. He fought for Mexico in qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics. (He didn’t make it.)
Here’s how Mather described the new champ: Ruiz is the first fighter of Mexican descent to win the heavyweight title. Mexican fans follow boxing avidly, but have mostly paid attention to the lower weight classes, and boxers like Julio Cesar Chavez, Canelo Alvarez and Juan Manuel Marquez. Ruiz’s success could change that.
“I wanted to prove everybody wrong, all the doubters thinking I was going to lose. I can’t believe I just made my dreams come true,” Ruiz declared after the fight.


Frankly, he doesn’t look that fit. I know what you mean. Joshua is an imposing physical presence at 6 feet 6 inches, 247 pounds. Ruiz is 6-foot-2 and -- yikes! -- 268. He also has, let’s say, something less than a six-pack in the gut. Still, he was fit enough to knock down Joshua four times and complete the amazing upset.
Am I hearing that Drake was involved in the fight in some way?
Kind of. On social media, the rapper has been called a curse for athletes. Drake’s support for the Maple Leafs, Alabama football and Conor McGregor over the years has been said to have somehow caused them to lose.
Drake and Joshua poked fun at the supposed “curse” last March by posting a picture on Twitter with the caption “Bout to break the curse.” Maybe next time.
What’s next? A rematch. There was a clause in the contract-- not one that was expected to be activated--that gives Joshua the right to a rematch in case of a loss. Joshua is already being installed as the favorite for that bout, although at odds of only about 3-1 this time.
Where does this leave Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury? The two other top heavyweights must wait for their chance. Wilder and Joshua have been dancing around the possibility of a fight for some time, leading many fans to wonder if it ever was going to happen.


Wilder is next expected to fight Luiz Ortiz, whom he already knocked out last year. Fury will fight Tom Schwarz of Germany in two weeks. Then there could be a Wilder-Fury rematch; the two men fought to a draw in December. But the Ruiz upset will delay the fight fans have most wanted to see: Joshua-Wilder.
For his part, Wilder stuck the knife in Joshua after his loss: “He wasn’t a true champion,” he wrote on Twitter. “His whole career was consisted of lies, contradictions and gifts.”
Wilder is next expected to fight Luiz Ortiz, whom he already knocked out last year. Fury will fight Tom Schwarz of Germany in two weeks. Then there could be a Wilder-Fury rematch; the two men fought to a draw in December. But the Ruiz upset will delay the fight fans have most wanted to see: Joshua-Wilder.
For his part, Wilder stuck the knife in Joshua after his loss: “He wasn’t a true champion,” he wrote on Twitter. “His whole career was consisted of lies, contradictions and gifts.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Innocence, Guilt)

The innocent is the person who explains nothing.

The more we loudly profess and frenziedly insist on our innocence even without being forcibly pricked, the more people will suspect we are lying through our teeth.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Drilon's help needed to expedite Treñas’ PWD bill

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”
--Stephen Hawking

By Alex P. Vidal

WE hope that before the Philippine Congress adjourns sine die on Friday, June 7, Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon will help expedite the passage of the senate version of the House Bill 9106 that seeks to grant additional privileges to persons with disabilities (PWDs) and will amend provisions of the Magna Carta for PWDs (Republic Act 7277), such as mandatory employment in government offices and corporations, including the private sector.
There are senators, aside from Drilon, who can help prioritize the passage of the bill within three to four days now, but the senior lawmaker from Molo district may hold the golden key since he is more closer to the heart of the bill’s chief sponsor.
The bill, authored by Iloilo City Representative and Mayor-elect Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas, was recently approved in the third the final reading in the Lower House (House of Representatives).


If the counterpart bill in the Upper House (Senate) is approved before June 7, it becomes a law once President Rodrigo Duterte has signed it.
“The House has already approved this new PWD bill and it’s now up to the Senate to do the same. I’m not losing hope that we can still pass this into law,” Treñas recently said.
Republic Act 7277, or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, defined PWDs as "those suffering from restriction of different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being."
All government agencies, offices or government corporations are mandated to fill at least two percent of all positions for qualified PWDs, under the measure.
Under Treñas bill, private corporations with more than 1,000 employees will be required to allot at least two percent of all positions for PWDS and one percent for those with less than 1,000 employees.

Private firms that employ PWDs who meet the required skills or qualifications as apprentices or learners in return “shall be entitled to an additional deduction, from their gross income, equivalent to 25 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages to PWDs.”
On the other hand, “private entities that employ PWDs as regular employees shall be entitled to an additional deduction from their gross income, equivalent to 50 percent of the total amount paid as salaries and wages for the PWDs.”
Treñas’ measure also mandates the provision of free assistive technology services including designing, customizing, maintaining, repairing or replacing assistive technology devices to enhance the functional capacity of PWDs.
Also provided on the proposed law as additional privileges for PWDs are as follows:
Monthly stipend amounting to P500 for marginalized PWDs to augment their daily subsistence, medical and other needs.


Exemption from passport processing fees, as well as travel taxes, terminal fees, other fees and charges levied on airports, ports, or other terminals by the government, any of its agencies or instrumentalities, or by government-owned or controlled corporations.
There is also the lifetime validity of PWD identification cards.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is also mandated to monitor compliance on the provisions of the proposed law and ensure the privileges provided are not abused by its beneficiaries.
Based on the 2010 Census, there are 1,443,000 PWDs comprising 1.57% of the total population, in the country. In the 2013 elections, there were around 365,000 registered PWD voters.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

‘Sinulog’ fills ‘Dinagyang’s’ vacuum in New York parade

“I tell you, if you're in the front row of the parade and you stop walking, pretty soon you're back in the tuba section. And if you want to lead the parade you've got to keep moving.”
--Phil McGraw

By Alex P. Vidal

-- IN absence of perennial Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City participant, Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival, Cebu City’s Sinulog Festival was center of attraction during the 121st Philippine Independence Anniversary Commemoration parade June 2 in New York City.
Aside from Dinagyang Festival, also missed by the crowd in this year’s parade along Madison Avenue in the Manhattan borough, was Guimaras’ Manggahan Festival, which debuted in the 120th edition last year.
The double Western Visayas participation was led last year by Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation boss Ramon Cua Locsin for the Dinagyang Festival and Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin and the provincial officials of Guimaras for the Manggahan Festival.
Also a repeat parade participant was Bacolod City’s Masskara Festival performed by US-based Bacolodnons.
Like other religious and cultural festivals in the Philippines that honor the miraculous image of Santo Niño, Sinulog is a dance ritual that moves to the sound of the drums and this resembles the current (Sulog) of what was then known as Cebu's Pahina River.
They say it's Sinulog in Cebuano. More than just the meaning of the word is the dance’s significance.


The Sinulog Festival is a traditional celebration in Cebu City held every third Sunday of January to honor the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) for 32 years now. The festival is basically done by a dance ritual, in which it tells the story of the Filipino people's pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity.
The annual New York City parade, supervised by the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. with the cooperation of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, aimed to create awareness of Philippine culture and to raise funds for charity projects in the Philippines and the United States.
The Philippine Independence Day celebration in the northeastern United States includes not only New York but also the 12 states under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in New York, namely, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Depending on the theme each year, the overall chairperson may expand and invite other areas to participate in PIDC's many activities.


Traditionally held along Madison Avenue from 37th to 25th Streets in Manhattan, the climax of the preparation, the Philippine Independence Day Parade, Street Fair and Cultural Show, held on the first Sunday in June each year is the biggest celebration of Philippine Independence outside the Philippines.
The Street Fair and Cultural Show take place on the east side of Madison Square Park. The festivities include a beauty, brains and talent contest that concludes in the Diwa ng Kalayaan (Spirit of Independence) Selection and Coronation Pageant and Gala, Philippine Independence Ball (the culminating festivity of the annual commemoration held on the Saturday after the first Sunday in June), An Evening with the Consul General, the Grand Marshal Gala, other fund raising activities, special cultural presentations and other events that may be initiated by the overall chairperson.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Spectator James

“It's hard to say if the NBA is hurt by the influx of younger players, but it's definitely impacted the league.”
--Michael Jordan

By Alex P. Vidal

IT was like watching John and Marsha on TV without the late legendary Dolphy.
Or waiting for a bombshell speech in the Senate floor without the late maverick Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Most LeBron James fans weren’t prepared to watch the NBA Finals without the superstar from the league’s marquee event for the first time in almost a decade.
Fans easily noticed James’ absence as they used to seeing him play in the finals, when Game 1 of the NBA Finals tipped off in Toronto Thursday, May 30.
Although James' absence may have gone unnoticed in Scotiabank Arena as the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors fired off the Game 1, probably not in the big screen and the ball club’s executive offices.
After appearing in eight consecutive Finals since 2010, James became a spectator for the first time; he missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
The door in the Eastern Conference opened for a different team to advance starting when James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers last summer. The Raptors capitalized it, earning their first trip to the Finals in their 24-year existence.


Josh Peter and Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY observed that Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry couldn’t even say James’ name during Tuesday's NBA Finals media day.
“I've run into one guy for a while. We were given the opportunity--he left--and we beat a really good team in Milwaukee.”
The Warriors faced James four consecutive times in the Finals, losing to the Cavaliers in 2016.
“It’s weird not playing against him,” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said. “For so long, he was the hurdle we had to get over. It’s weird being somewhere else other than Cleveland in the Finals.”
It's a good bet the NBA is trying to assess how James' absence will impact TV ratings --which have dipped during this year's playoffs--and how his potentially extended absence from the Finals has reshaped the narrative.
Peter and Zillgitt observed that fans have watched as other players have made headlines.
“I haven’t thought about it at all to be honest with you,” Charles Barkley, an analyst for TNT, told USA TODAY Sports before Game 1. “No disrespect to LeBron. Everybody knows he’s a great player.
"(But) Kawhi Leonard and Steph Curry, their emergence, that to me says it all. Go back to the beginning of the playoffs. It started with Giannis (Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks), the second round had Kawhi and then you thought Portland had a chance to get to the Finals when Kevin Durant gets hurt. Steph goes crazy.
"There have been some amazing story lines, and that’s all I’ve been thinking about.”


It was learned that viewership was down for playoffs.
The NBA is reportedly armed with data showing the hockey-mad country actually also cares about basketball.
According to Canada TV ratings supplied by Numeris:
--More than one-third of TV viewers in Canada watched Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Raptors and Bucks.
--The 2018-19 NBA season was the most-watched NBA regular season in Canada, with viewership up 29% year-over-year across Sportsnet and TSN.
--Game 1 of the NBA Finals was the most-watched NBA game ever in Canada with a total audience of 3.5 million viewers across three networks, the NBA announced Friday evening.
It was learned further that Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors delivered a combined average audience of 3.5 million viewers across simulcast coverage on Sportsnet National+, SportsnetOne+ and RDS+, making it the most-watched NBA game ever in Canada.
But the TV audience so far in the playoffs on ESPN, TNT and NBA TV has averaged 3.95 million viewers, a 16% dip from 2018 over the same period, according to Nielsen.
Thursday’s Game 1 had an overnight rating of 10.1, making it the lowest-rated Finals opener since 2009 and down 18% from the first game of last year’s final. The average audience estimate for the broadcast on ABC is expected to be released later Friday.
The drop, however, can’t all be attributed to James. The conference finals had other factors.
--The Raptors’ home market isn’t counted since the viewership totals don’t include Canada. Toronto’s opponent, the Bucks, are based in the 36th-largest media market, according to Nielsen.
The 2018 Eastern Conference finals featured Boston (No. 9 media market) and James-led Cleveland (No. 19), a series that averaged 8.4 million viewers on ESPN. TNT--which broadcast this year’s Eastern Conference finals and had the highest-rated night on cable 19 times since the start of the playoffs--averaged 5.7 million viewers.
--The Western Conference finals between the Warriors and Trail Blazers was a sweep, so hardly the compelling seven-game series of 2018 between the Warriors and Rockets. Last year’s finals averaged 9.4 million viewers on TNT compared to an average of 7.7 million viewers on ESPN this year.
“We’re very happy with where we are,’’ NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told WFAN radio host Mike Francesa this week. “We miss LeBron. The good news is he’s not gone. He had an (groin) injury, the team struggled and my sense is he’ll be back in top form next season.’’
That may be true, according to Peter and Zillgitt, but there’s no evidence LeBron and the Lakers will reach the Finals anytime soon.
And so the NBA is waiting to measure the impact of a new and indefinite reality--the Finals without LeBron.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)