Wednesday, July 31, 2019

No Ilonggo lawmaker is ‘pipitsugin’

"As lawmakers, our job is to listen to our constituents. If our phones are ringing off the hook with people demanding to know where we stand on an issue, we pay attention.”
--Chris Murphy

By Alex P. Vidal


NO historian will write about an Ilonggo lawmaker who is “NPA” or “non-performing asset” in both the Lower and Upper chambers of Philippine Congress.
No chronicler of the past will claim that legislators from the south are “no talk and, therefore, no utok (to borrow the late Senator Roding Ganzon’s bombshells).”
Almost all senators and representatives with Ilonggo blood running in their veins have given the country tremendous glory and prestige since the pre-war era, and the list of these outstanding lawmakers from the Western Visayas is expanding every election year.
When they are in the rostrum, Ilonggo lawmakers will make sure the words that come out from their mouths aren’t non-sense or will become the sources of humiliation for their heritage and culture.
This could only mean one thing: we have quality leaders and quality voters to boot.
One of the remaining few titanic voices in the Senate today is Senator Franklin Drilon from Molo, Iloilo City.

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The former Senate President made many Ilonggos proud of him when he recently schooled on the basics of parliamentary interpellation neophyte but aggressive Senator Francis Tolentino of Cavite, who probably wanted to impress the nation when he introduced some “novel legal theories” in his recent inaugural privilege speech.
Tolentino, a lawyer like Drilon, must’ve underestimated his colleagues’ capacity to think when he asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte’s oral agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping, allowing China to fish in Philippine waters, was valid and legally binding.
“There is no restriction on either the form or substance of international agreements,” Tolentino.
Drilon thundered: “Many of these I have heard for the first time. These theories, however, in our view, are not settled.”
The Ilonggo Senate Minority Leader, who believes that the best avenue to test the validity of such “novel theories” is through a committee hearing and not on the floor, added: “I am prepared to debate on the propositions here and now, but we do not claim to have a monopoly of legal knowledge. That’s why we qualify and deny the attribution that we are a legal luminary.”

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We saw how greenhorn Tolentino capitulated after Drilon’s barrage of snipes when Tolentino asserted: “There is no restriction on either the form or substance of international agreements.”
Drilon parried Tolentino’s theory: “Following this proposition, can the President of the Republic enter into an oral or even a written agreement ceding the island of Panay, even if it is contrary to Article I of our Constitution on national territory?”
Drilon pumped more bullets: “If there is no restriction as to form, can multilateral agreements be in the form of an oral agreement? I cannot imagine the difficulty of enforcing a verbal multilateral agreement. Can we enter into an agreement that is in conflict with the Constitution, despite the latter being an internal law of fundamental importance if we say there’s no restriction as to the substance of the verbal agreement?”

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Drilon showed all and sundry you don’t parade a shallow intellectual stunt in the presence of sharp-witted and sagacious legislators especially if you are beginning to make a name for yourself before a “live” session aired worldwide.
It was fine if Tolentino’s interpellators were, with due respect, the honorable Senators Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, Bong Revilla, Bong Go, and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
Not Drilon. Not Sen. Ralph Recto and other remaining sensible senators today. 
And certainly not another Ilonggo intellectual behemoth, the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
We missed the best woman President the Philippines never had, especially when she unmasked the charlatans, head-butt the idiots, and clobbered the ninny lobcocks in a tension-filled privilege speech and nerve-biting but hilarious Senate committee hearings.
Tolentino and the pack of intellectual peacocks and rattlesnakes now occupying the Senate are lucky Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a true-blue Ilongga darling of the masa and a fire-spewing legal and constitutional authority, was no longer around.
Erap once quipped: “Pupulutin kayo sa kangkongan.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Morally sick

"Gambling can turn into a dangerous two-way street when you least expect it. Weird things happen suddenly, and your life can go all to pieces."
--Hunter S. Thompson

By Alex P. Vidal


NONE of our Ilonggo legislators were among the contenders for major posts when the administration lap puppies led by recently installed House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano divided the "kingdoms" of the House of Representatives the way the generals of Alexander the Great divided his kingdoms after his death.
Even in the scandalous "term-sharing" agreement, Cayetano and his fellow eager-beaver solons who desire power and positions in the Lower House like David desired Uriah's wife, Bathsheba, limited the choices for themselves alone.
Because they eat alone, time will come they will also fight alone.
For the meantime, even if they don't hold key positions in the hierarchy of the House of Representatives, the Ilonggo congresspeople, all age below 50, will see to it that they will abscond or avoid any membership in the committee on silence.
Let's watch them as they trail-blaze their way to quality legislation.

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If the gaming operations of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) weren't ordered temporarily suspended (only lotto has been restored as of this writing) recently, many of us wouldn't have been exposed as morally sick.
The suspension was treated by most gambling-crazed Filipinos as like a national tragedy; like they lost a prime property to a hurricane; or they weren't able to withdraw a single centavo before the rural bank, where they saved all their money, declared bankruptcy.
For some it was like a matter of life and death.
Give us gambling or give us death.
It exposed a grim reality that without organized gambling, many Filipinos can't go on with a normal life; they can't function effectively as normal social beings.
For some whose main livelihood and day-to-day existence are 100 percent reliant to the PCSO gaming schemes, it was like a sudden death from a thousand cuts.

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It demonstrated the fact that many Filipinos exist on a game of chance; that if the government or any higher authority will permanently clamp down on both legal and illegal gambling in the country, life will also abruptly end for many gamblers and gambling operators.
We teach our children the basic Christian virtues and the values of hard work, sacrifice, fair play, simple living; yet, many of us openly pay homage to gambling and treat it as a be-all and end-all of how to survive and exist in this world.
The situation becomes more alarming when public officials like Health Secretary Francisco Duque III go on a rampage if gambling operations are stopped.
“They have to be imaginative on where to get the funds. The PCSO funding is huge and can render anemic the capacity of the Malasakit centers to be able to maximize support to poor patients,” Duque said. “The shortfall must be filled.”
The likes of Duque believe that gambling, as the chief source of funds to help defray the expenses for social assistance, is omnipotent.

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We are glad that the name of the new Iloilo City grandstand now located in Muelle Loney, City Proper is now back as "Iloilo City Freedom Grandstand" by virtue of an executive order issued by Mayor Geronimo "Jerry" Treñas.
Many Ilonggos sobbed when Mayor Jose "Joe III" Espinosa III renamed it to "Iloilo City Dinagyang Grandstand" last year.
It added insult to the grandstand's injury after it was demolished and uprooted from its original territory on J.M. Basa Street in Aduana last year and transferred to its new location.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Monday, July 29, 2019

We can live without ‘lotto’ but not without gambling

“The world is like a reverse casino. In a casino, if you gamble long enough, you're certainly going to lose. But in the real world, where the only thing you're gambling is, say, your time or your embarrassment, then the more stuff you do, the more you give luck a chance to find you.”
--Scott Adams

By Alex P. Vidal


ONE of the most famous gambling icons in the Philippines is an Ilonggo businessman who owns several businesses in Iloilo, Negros, and Cebu.
Even before the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) was institutionalized, Filipinos were already agog over different types gambling, he once insisted.
“Gambling can become a form of genuine entertainment if professionalized and regulated,” quipped the Ilonggo businessmen, who helped build one of the most modern cockpit stadiums in Asia.
He will probably agree with us that with or without the gaming operations of the PCSO, Filipinos will continue to engage in gambling--in whatever means.
In fact, we can live without PCSO and “lotto”, but we can’t live without gambling, which has become one of our most favorite past times and vices since time immemorial.
PCSO operations, which have been ordered suspended by President Duterte, are limited to numbers game.
There are certain gambling activities in the Philippines that are more popular or “addictive” than others which even the broad social and economic theories failed to explain why.
Filipinos engage in gambling primarily for economic reasons.

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Most Pinoy gambling addicts always want a quick-fix solution to poverty; they believe that if they get luckier their basic economic needs will be answered; their financial woes will be given immediate solution.
From sabung or cockfighting, to card games and jueteng, Filipino gamblers don’t have holidays.
If they don’t have cash for gambling, they borrow and steal, if necessary.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was only stating the obvious when he declared recently that he saw a possible resurgence of jueteng and other illegal numbers games now that the PCSO gaming operations have been halted.
Several surveys of gambling have shown that there are a broad range motivational factors that are central to gambling, and that attitudes towards gambling are positively related to availability and cultural acceptability.
Dr. Mark D. Griffiths of Psychology Today says variations in gambling preferences are thought to result from both differences in accessibility and motivation. Older people tend to choose activities that minimize the need for complex decision-making or concentration (e.g., bingo, slot machines), whereas gender differences have been attributed to a number of factors, including variations in sex-role socialization, cultural differences and theories of motivation.
Variations in motivation are also frequently observed among people who participate in the same gambling activity.
For example, Griffiths explains, slot machine players may gamble to win money, for enjoyment and excitement, to socialize and to escape negative feelings. Some people gamble for one reason only, whereas others gamble for a variety of reasons. A further complexity is that people's motivations for gambling have a strong temporal dimension; that is, they do not remain stable over time.

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As people progress from social to regular and finally to excessive gambling, there are often significant changes in their reasons for gambling.
Whereas a person might have initially gambled to obtain enjoyment, excitement and socialisation, the progression to problem gambling is almost always accompanied by an increased preoccupation with winning money and chasing losses, adds Griffiths.
“Gambling is clearly a multifaceted rather than unitary phenomenon. Consequently, many factors may come into play in various ways and at different levels of analysis (e.g., biological, social or psychological),” he emphasizes.
"Theories may be complementary rather than mutually exclusive, which suggests that limitations of individual theories might be overcome through the combination of ideas from different perspectives.
“This has often been discussed before in terms of recommendations for an eclectic approach to gambling or a distinction between proximal and distal influences upon gambling.
“However, for the most part, such discussions have been descriptive rather than analytical, and so far, few attempts have been made to explain why an adherence to singular perspectives is untenable.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo).

Thursday, July 25, 2019

A hellish Big Apple train ride

"I was the conductor of the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."
--Harriet Tubman

By Alex P. Vidal


SINCE it has affected so many cities and provinces in the Visayas, particularly in Western Visayas, the dengue outbreak is definitely part of the "state of our nation".
President Duterte apparently wasn't properly briefed by his health officials and his advisers on the extent of damage wrought by the dreaded disease from a mosquito bite to hundreds of children.
Although Health Secretary Franciso Duque III has expressed alarm and has been telling parents and health workers to be "proactive" in their attitude toward the epidemic, his power in as far as helping contain the spread of the disease is only limited.
Since it was Duque himself who admitted that "the worst is yet to come," the problem now demands an immediate intervention from the highest official of the land.
Dengue is not the only concern of the Department of Health (DoH), although it is the main priority in the list of urgent matters that the department must resolve.
If the President is the one who spearheads the no non-sense campaign against dengue, all the woes and confusion over the lack of hospital beds and facilities, shortage of medicine and equipment, among other problems, will be minimized and addressed properly.
Budget won't be a problem if the President is "on top of the situation."

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I was one of the hundreds of passengers affected by the breakdowns that caused the recent nights of hellish commute in New York City.
Traveling from Manhattan to Brooklyn July 24 night, the Q train stopped at Manhattan Bridge before 7 o'clock in the evening. After nearly 30 minutes, it resumed running but stopped again in the tunnel near the DeKalb Avenue.
I can bear the train getting stranded in an open area like the spacious Manhattan Bridge, but not in the dark and creepy tunnel. It lasted for 10 horrifying minutes.
From the tunnel of the DeKalb Avenue, the train proceeded to the Atlantic Avenue/Barclay Center station. Some horrified passengers disembarked to transfer to the "faster" B train.
I patiently stayed inside the Q train, which resumed after another delay in the Atlantic Avenue/Barclay Center station. But when it reached the Prospect Avenue station, it halted again.

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The delays had scooped off my time travel for more than an hour and I was terribly late for my work, thus I decided to jump out and transferred to the "express" right lane.
When I reached my destination (I had to spend additional 15 to 20 minutes for a bus ride), I was 15 minutes late. In America, it's already a hell if you have somebody waiting-- an appointment or an employer/client.
Delays and service changes were reported on at least 12 subway lines since Tuesday morning (July 23) as the system was plagued by signal problems, train breakdowns and repairs to track infrastructure, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
The main culprit of the transit nightmare that started Monday (July 22), a broken switch at the Franklin Avenue stop in Brooklyn, wasn't reportedly fully repaired until after 7:30 a.m. After the repairs were done, 2, 3, 4 and 5 train service resumed with delays, but the transit authority was warning passengers to "expect long waits" as trains resume a normal schedule. The switch malfunction at Franklin Avenue was first reported around 1 p.m. Monday.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, July 22, 2019

What I know about Pacquiao's eyes

"Boxing is a sport. We allow each other to hit each other, but I'm not treating my opponent like my enemy. We're doing a job to entertain people."
-Manny Pacquiao

By Alex P. Vidal


WE have no idea if the wishes of Iloilo Governor Arthur "Toto" Defensor Jr. that the proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project be specifically mentioned by President Duterte during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 was fulfilled.
If the president did mention it, then it will be materialized as what Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar had been promising the Ilonggso even before Ferdinand Magellan was killed by Lapu Lapu.
If President Duterte did not mention it, Ilonggos will continue to pin their hopes on the press releases and, again, on the promises of politicians like Villar and other talkative minions in the Department of Budget and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Ilonggo governors and mayors in the provinces and cities that are part and parcel of the mega-million project are hopeful that the bridge's construction will begin before the Star Wars and total eclipse, or before the Return of the Jedi.

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Cleaning up the streets with garbage should not be done only to destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes that carry dengue virus.
It should be carried on a regular basis as part of the overall cleanliness program, not only because we are being attacked by a deadly virus and our kids are being decimated.
If cleanliness is next to orderliness, an once of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.
We are always good in cure instead of prevention.
We react and implement drastic actions only after the crisis has rolled on, not before the crisis; never when everything seemed normal and nobody was rushed to the hospital and dying of certain diseases.
Even in elementary and high schools, we are trained to preserve and protect the natural resources and all the living things, clean our surroundings, and value our health and total well-being.
These education, training and discipline help prepare us to co-exist with the environment and promote the preservation of life.

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EXCLUSIVE:
WBA welterweight champion Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao's eyes bothered him so much after he scored a 12-round split decision win against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on March 15, 2008.
It was their rematch after their first duel ended in a split draw after 12 rounds also in Las Vegas on May 8, 2004.
Immediately after the fight, Pacquiao was whisked away from the dressing room and brought to his hotel room.
I was one of the more or less 10 people present inside the champion's suite at the Mandalay Bay.
I was with the two doctors: Nasser Cruz of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and Allan Recto, a Texas-based Ilonggo pediatrician, who left his iPhone (I picked it up and turned it over to Dr. Recto in Los Angeles a week later).
I saw Pacquiao vomit. He was in pain.
They rushed him to a hospital that night, but this detail was never reported in the media.
The following morning at 6 o'clock, I and three other Manila-based sportswriters from the Manila Bulletin, The Philippine Star, and the Philippine Daily Inquier, visited Pacquiao in his room. His face was a crimson.
Because of his condition, he was not allowed to fly to Manila where he was scheduled to be given a hero's welcome by DENR Secretary and now partylist Rep. Joselito "Lito" Atienza until a week later.
I suspect he didn't look good again hours after whipping Keith Thurman; his eyes must have bothered him so much the reason why doctors didn't allow him to fly on a private jet to Manila for President Duterte's SONA on Monday.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sweeter than a KO victory

“In sport, you only see the fighter, but it's teamwork. Without a good team, you will never be the best. In boxing, you have to work with the best coach, the best lawyer, the best manager, the best doctor. Exactly the same principle applies in politics.” 
-Vitali Klitschko

By Alex P. Vidal


SENATOR Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao's (62-7-2, 39 KOs) 12-round split decision win over hitherto WBA welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) on July 20 in Las Vegas was considered to be more glorious and exciting compared to his victories over Lucas Martin Matthysse (TKO7) and Adrien Broner (UD12) combined.
In fact, it was sweeter than a knockout (KO) victory because of the quality of action and because it was the only split decision in his ring ledger that was not protested.
And his duel against Thurman was action-packed, toe-to-toe, brutal, and had the making of the “Fight of the Year.”
Pacquiao’s only other split decision victory was against his former conqueror Juan Manuel Marquez in their rematch on March 15, 2008.
And it was smeared by a terrible protest and condemnation from the Team Marquez that insisted the dynamite-fisted Mexican clearly out-shuttled and out-punched the then 29-year-old ring icon from Gen. Santos City claiming Pacquiao “looked more like the real loser” between the two after 12 rounds in a duel for Marquez’s WBC super featherweight title.

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Like in Pacquiao’s fight against Thurman, the Filipino southpaw also scored a flash knockdown in the third round.
Marquez, a durable warrior, quickly rebounded and won the Rounds 5, 6, 8, 11, and 12. Marquez also won the Round 2. Pacquiao won the Rounds 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10 plus the knockdown.
Because of Team Marquez’s insistence and persistence, Marquez was awarded two more multi-million fights against Pacquiao-- losing the third by 12-round majority decision and winning the fourth by 6th round KO.
The other split decision topic in Pacquiao’s record was as controversial as his split decision win over Marquez: a 12-round loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. for WBO welterweight diadem on June 9, 2012.
In that highly disputed split decision defeat of Pacquiao, nobody believed Bradley Jr. had won except Bradely Jr. himself, who entered the post-fight press conference on a wheelchair, and his handlers.
Pacquiao settled the issue with a sensational 12-round unanimous decision win in their rematch on April 9, 2016.

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Pacquiao’s 12-round split decision win against Thurman was as explosive and bloody as his 12-round split decision win against Marquez, but Thurman and his team did not question the verdict.
Team Thurman did not denounce the two judges who awarded Pacquiao the identical 115-112 scores.
The former champion from Clearwater, Florida showed tremendous sportsmanship and professionalism in accepting the split decision defeat; he even acknowledged Pacquiao’s ferocity and talent.
“I felt I tested him and myself. The judges saw it their way and now Manny Pacquiao is the champion,” Thurman stated. “It just hit me in the right spot and had me bleeding. It didn’t bother me too much. I was focused on putting pressure but he was quite conservative. I really thought I was putting pressure on him but my numbers were not up to par.
“There was so much going on and in that moment I knew it would be difficult to get the judges on my side. I was obviously hurt in that fight. That’s boxing and, obviously, he was well prepared.
“He started with the knockdown in the first and then the body shot in the end was enough to convince the judges. I thought I would be able to do some countering and pressure him. Some of the things I wanted to do I did. Put I came up short in the numbers game.
“It was a blessing and a lesson to have a tremendous fight. Me showing my grit. Of course, I wanted to win the fight and I fell short. I do know that I’m a true champion. I will be back to the top in the sport of boxing. Keith Thurman brings out the best in the welterweight division,” Thurman concluded.
That made Thurman’s split decision loss so unique from Pacquiao’s split decision affairs with Marquez and Bradley Jr., thus Thurman earned the respect of the pundits and the boxing fans.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Thurman hits like Thomas Hearns who flattened Roberto Duran

“We all think we've got one more boxing match in us, and that, probably, will be the downfall of Floyd Mayweather, George Foreman, Manny Pacquiao. We'll overstay our welcome.”
--George Foreman

By Alex P. Vidal


AT five feet and seven inches, Keith “One Time” Thurman Jr. stands only an inch taller than Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, but he looks menacing when he is in front of an opponent while ready to unload his vicious signature hooks.
He reminds of the legendary Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns (61-5, 48 KOs), a ring monster who reigned terror in the 80’s and who owned one of boxing’s most scary knockout wins: a second round demolition of the feared Roberto “Manos De Piedra” Duran (103-16, 70 KOs) at the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on June 15, 1984.
Hearns was only 25 when he shot the daylights out of the Panamian phenom, considered at that time as already “past his peak and something less than highly motivated” at 33.
Thurman is 30 while Pacquiao is 40.
In that battle for the WBC super-welterweight title, “The Hitman” took control, backing the smaller Duran up with aggressive footwork and a hard left jab, making excellent use of his 12 inch reach advantage.
Generally a slow starter, Duran, who lost to Marvelous Marvin Hagler by 12-round unanimous decision on the same arena months earlier, looked to take his time and find his rhythm.
The taller, stronger, more assertive Hearns, however, never gave him a chance.
Hearns’ annihilation of Duran was viewed as one of the single most devastating right hand missiles ever thrown by “The Motor City Cobra.”
It crashed on the side of Duran’s jaw and the triple-crown champion who had never come close to being stopped in his entire career, instantly went limp and collapsed face first to the canvas.
Referee Carlos Padilla didn’t bother to count.

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Like Duran, Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) is highly-touted, revered as a dangerous ring warrior who doesn’t backpedal against taller opponents.
Technically at 40, Pacquiao is also considered already as past his prime; meaning, fans expected him to retire even before he became 35 or five years ago.
I interviewed Duran in Las Vegas in 2015 and he told me he admired Pacquiao a lot. The feeling between him and the senator from Gen. Santos City was mutual.
Pacquiao idolized Duran, who amazingly fought in five decades: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and in his last fight in 2001 where he lost by a unanimous decision to the late Hector “Macho” Camacho in Denver.
Like Duran, Pacquiao was sometimes careless during mega fights and got walloped by Juan Manuel Marquez’s wicked short right in one of Pacquiao’s most brutal KO defeat in 2012.
The similarity didn’t end there. Both Pacquiao and Duran are hailed in their respected countries as folk heroes; they are so popular and loved by fans that they could win the presidency of their countries.
And when they unexpectedly lost important world title bouts that they should have won, fans easily forgave them and gave them a second chance to redeem themselves (Duran to Sugar Ray Leonard in the infamous “No mas, no mas” on Nov. 25, 1980 and Pacquiao to Erik Morales on March 19, 2005).

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Going back to Thurman.
Aside from Julio Diaz, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia, those on the list of his victims were like passengers in a roller coaster rides in the Coney Island.
But they all gave Thurman heckuva and Youtube-quality fights for all the world to see and compare vis-a-vis Pacquiao’s recent jousts versus Adrien Broner, Lucas Martin Matthysse, Jef Horn, and Jessie Vargas.
Thurman is a confident fighter like Hearns.
During fierce exchanges, Thurman’s punches usually come from outside and are delivered mostly as counters. And they pack wallops.
Pacquiao’s camp might not force the issue in the first three rounds and will wait for Thurman to fade away in the middle rounds like what happened when Thurman won by decision against Josesito Lopez in January 2019.
We don’t expect a knock out either from both camps to come early or even in the later rounds. But we won’t be shocked if the more veteran fighter quits out of fatigue or after being bamboozled by Thurman’s dizzying hooks.
If underdog Thurman knows how to use science to tire out an older man, he might cruise to a unanimous decision win.
In retrospect, what transpired on that Duran versus Hearns WBC fight night in Las Vegas isn’t so shocking.
As famed writer Michael Calbert had described it: “But at the time, it was, for one simple fact: no one, not even a deadly puncher like ‘The Hit Man,’ knocks out Roberto Duran. It had never happened before; no one expected it to happen now.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, July 15, 2019

We are all guilty

"In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so."
--Immanuel Kant

By Alex P. Vidal


TRAINER and recently elected vice mayor in Polangui, Albay Buboy Fernandez has confirmed that Sen. Emmanuel "Many" Pacquiao is eyeing the presidency of the Philippines.
Pacquiao's presidential plans had been disclosed eight years earlier, and it was Bob Arum who floated the idea during our press conference at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before Pacquiao's TKO win over Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008.
The big boss of Top Rank would introduce the popular Filipino boxer as "the next president of the Philippines" and the crowd seemed to be taking Arum's words seriously.
Before the 2022 presidential elections (assuming he can't wait until 2028), Pacquiao is expected to log two more fights regardless of the result of his WBA duel versus Keith Thurman on July 20 in Las Vegas.
After Thurman, two more licensed maulers will inflict harm on 40-year-old Pacquiao's head.
Let's hope he is mentally intact during the presidential elections.

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THE terrible dengue outbreak that prompted the Department of Health (DoH) to declare a national alert July 15 after the death of 450 people nationwide, would have been avoided if not for our apathy and negligence.
"Alert" is different from "epidemic" in as far as the national declaration is concerned.
It's appalling that the entire nation was caught unprepared as dead bodies of dengue victims piled up.
Dengue outbreak was like a tsunami that lashed at the Philippines just when newly elected officials were starting to warm up in their seats.
Had we prioritized the steps on how to minimize if not prevent its shocking impact, lives would have been spared and logistical, as well as medical preparations, would have been assembled much earlier.

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If we see the statistics, nobody can't escape the blame.
Health issues are always everyone else's issue.
From January 1 to June 29, this year, the DoH record showed 106,630 dengue cases have been reported.
There's no room for passing the buck and finger-pointing now.
Where are we during those period?
What were we doing?
While infants were dying from the horrific virus caused by a mosquito bite, our attention was somewhere else: in the mid-term elections.
Nobody was paying attention to the deadly virus, which causes a high fever from a mosquito-borne single positive-stranded RNA virus of the family Flaviviridae; genus Flavivirus.

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During that period, we were busy watching politicians debate in the campaign for the May 13 elections; and became more busy tallying the results and listening to post-election speeches and other controversies.
We didn't notice that many regions all over the country have already exceeded the epidemic threshold.
Death toll rose in alarming and scary rate.
It took incoming administrations to make the initiative to declare a state of calamity in order to create serious public awareness and tap government resources for a full-blown battle to arrest the outbreak.
All of a sudden, dengue fever jolted the entire nation like there was a cometary impact.
If we did not hold the midterm elections in May, our major focus would have been on how to knock out the mosquito-borne disease in whatever means with the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO). 

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

How I ‘escaped’ New York City’s power outage

“If it weren't for electricity, we'd all be watching television by candlelight.”
--George Gobel

By Alex P. Vidal


I WAS inside the Manhattan-bound Q train from Brooklyn at past 7 o’clock in the evening July 13 unaware that New York City’s worst power blackout since 1977 occurred in the midtown Manhattan and parts of the Upper West Side.
The subway train, one of the world’s oldest and most efficient public transit systems, halted operations momentarily within these areas.
The train moved again after about 30 minutes, and I immediately transferred to N train upon reaching the Union Square station (instead of the Times Square station on 42nd Street which I normally do everyday).
N train brought me straight to the Queensboro Plaza station, a plaza overlapped by elevated subway tracks and straddling the western end of Queens Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens, between 21st Street and Jackson Avenue/Northern Boulevard.
The train was full and it was a Sunday.
That’s when I learned that a five-hour power blackout had hit the heart of “the city the never sleeps.”
Broadway shows were cancelled, including Jennifer Lopez’s concert at the Madison Square Garden.
In the Philippines, power blackout is a normal event.
In America, it’s a matter of life and death for many residents as they rely heavily on electronic life; they can’t probably exist and survive without electricity.

-o0o-

New Yorkers in midtown Manhattan were confused and inconvenienced. Some stranded train commuters took the cabs on their way home.
Since it happened in the Big Apple, it’s a major event.
It became a headline story in the US and other parts of the globe.
New York Governor Andrew Coumo expressed outrage and called the blackout “unacceptable.”
“You just can’t have a power outage of this magnitude in this city,” Coumo boomed. “It is too dangerous, the potential for public safety rick and chaos is too high, we just can’t have a system that does that, it’s that simple at the end of the day.”
The governor expressed relief nobody was harmed or killed unlike in 1977 when pandemonium broke loose and stores were looted after New York City experienced a blackout that lasted for 25 hours.

-o0o-

New York City mayor Bill De Blasio, who was chided by Coumo for being absent in New York City during the blackout (the mayor, a 2020 presidential candidate, was on his way from Iowa where he campaigned) said federal authorities had confirmed "there was no evidence whatsoever of any nefarious activity in this situation."
Earlier, Con Edison CEO John McAvoy assured that all customers should have their power restored by midnight.
A flash of lights came on, and people in the street cheered as he spoke in midtown.
The outage started about 6:47 p.m. with an "event" that will be the subject of investigation, according to McAvoy, who claimed that summer warmth, which can overload power grids with energy demand, was not the source.
"It does not appear related to excessive load," he said, quoted by NBC New.
The outage disrupted life for thousands in the Big Apple.
The city's transit authority tweeted that multiple stations were not operational and were being bypassed.
It came on the anniversary of the citywide blackout of 1977, which led to rioting and looting. That outage started July 13 and ended the next day.
A senior city official with direct knowledge of the matter said it appeared that the outage was caused by a transformer fire. The New York City Fire Department tweeted it was at the scene of a transformer fire on West 64th Street.
(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 (Life)

Never regret anything that has happened in your life, it cannot be changed, undone or forgotten so take it as a lesson learned and move on.
-- UNKNOWN :

Some events in our life--good or bad--are not only necessary but mandatory. Heartache, joy, frustration, failure, defeat, victory. They need to happen. We need to experience them. They are part of our being humans. What matters most is our mental attitude and character. What has been done can not be undone. It can only be remedied. Amid life's imbroglio and intricacies, it must go on.
--ALEX P. VIDAL

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Pacquiao should listen to the wind of change

“Listening to your instincts, while being the easiest, can also be the hardest thing to do.”
-Tena Desae

By Alex P. Vidal


THE biggest stumbling block in Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao’s presidential ambition is not Davao City mayor Sara Duterte for they both belong in Mindanao.
It’s the “rock star”, Manila City mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagos.
And the biggest obstacle in Pacquiao’s political career is Keith Thurman Jr. (29-0, 22 KOs).
If the menacing five feet and seven inches-tall American reigning WBA super welterweight champion scores a fatal win against the 40-year-old lawmaker from Gen. Santos City at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on July 20, the hard-hitting Filipino superstar might have to again neglect his senate obligations to focus in a rematch even if the “wind of change” has long ago swept away his invincibility.
Win or lose, Pacquiao (61-7, 39 KOs) will never retire.
The prospect of losing doesn’t scare him as long as he is able to thrill and entertain his fans.
Pacquiao doesn't believe in defeat and retirement.
He is a ring warrior who forgets his age--and how far can an average athlete’s main faculties sustain a rigid physical activity beyond the limit.
The Filipino ring heartthrob will continue to fight as he probably needs to raise more money for his presidential dream--at the expense of his “tired and weary” bones.
His presence in the ring on July 20 to attempt to snatch 30-year-old Thurman’s belt actually defies the logic.
His handlers, if he still listens to them, share the guilt.

-o0o-

As an 8-time world boxing champion, Pacquiao has nothing to prove anymore.
He doesn’t need a fame; he had abundance of it since he began fighting for money as a scrawny miniflyweight curtain raiser with a decision win against Edmund Enting Ignacio on January 22, 1995.
He should have retired a long time ago; in fact, immediately after losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. In 2015 in a boring fight hyped as the richest in history of prizefighting in terms of purse and shares in pay-per-view awarded to both boxers.
The combined paychecks he got in his next five fights (winning four and losing one) after the Mayweather Jr. debacle were enough to last a lifetime on top of the reported $100 million he bankrolled from a shoulder injury-laden rumble with Mayweather Jr.
Is the bulk of that gargantuan amount still intact?

-o0o-

Why continue to risk incurring a life-threatening injury by fighting the undefeated Thurman in the heavier weight (147 pounds and up to 154 pounds or 66.7–69.9 kg) when Pacquiao can very well live a comfortable and privileged life as a senator with his mind-blowing ring earnings that have breached the billion mark in Philippine currency?
Every fight for an aging boxer is always literally a fight of his life.
History is replete with horrifying tales of famous Marquee names who ended up in the wheelchair for good after they refused to quit and defied father time.
A pugilist engaged in a sustained brutal physical assault for many years (Pacquiao started receiving punishment on the head in the ring at 17 as a licensee in the Games and Amusement Board) can risk a brain injury especially if the boxer is already in a precarious level of “my spirit is still willing but my body cannot” but still decides to go up the ring.
What the body can’t absorb the spirit must obey for it’s the body that gets the pounding and blasting, not the spirit.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Let's unite to defeat the virus

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?"
-Henry David Thoreau

By Alex P. Vidal


ANYTHING that destroys and kills should alarm us and impel us to be united to stop it.
Whether it's a poisonous food and drink, virus, act of terrorism, bad weather, war, animal attack, epidemic, it must be given major emphasis, importance, priority, and full attention.
The bottom line is to halt its destruction, minimize the death toll, and altogether save and preserve the human life.
In the arena of death and mayhem these past weeks, dengue fever has been the "star of the show."
Luckily, we've seen how the government, media, non-government organizations (NGOs), civic organizations, individual Good Samaritans, military, Philippine National Police (PNP) have combined their talents and resources to fight dengue fever, which has reached red alert level in Western Visayas, particularly in the city and province of Iloilo.

-o0o-

In times like this, we can't afford to entrust everything to the Department of Health (DoH) and relegate ourselves in the role of kibitzers.
Dengue is not the only problem that bedevils the undermanned DoH.
Although it won't scream for help, DoH definitely needs both moral, financial, personnel, and logistical support from concerned agencies and private groups in the battle against dengue.
If help will continue to come from a myriad of sources outside the DoH, there is no reason why we can't help trounce the dreaded virus that have killed many Ilonggo kids and adults.
The signs that many Ilonggo leaders, organizations, and private individuals are determined to help avert a terrible dengue outbreak have been felt this past week when businessman Johnny Que and the Philippine National Red Cross donated folding beds for Iloilo hospitals inundated by dengue patients.

-o0o-

We are saddened that another media colleague, Eduardo Dizon of the Cotabato-based Brigada News, became the latest murder victim in the country ruled by an iron-fisted president who once threatened to kill "all corrupt journalists."
Under the Duterte administration, Dizon was the 13th casualty from the Fourth Estate.
We have no idea about the issues Dizon had tackled before he was shot to death by two motorcycle gunmen while travelling in a car on his way home in Makilala town on July 11.
Initial reports said his murder was job-related as he received threats during his radio program prior to the ambush.
Journalists in the Philippines are like sitting ducks.
Every now and then we hear reports of radioman or newspaperman being murdered in cold blood.
And we seldom hear that the cases are being pursued seriously by authorities; or, if the culprits have identified, they are brought behind bars and convicted,

-o0o-

We hate to again mention that the culture of impunity in the Philippines must have emboldened enemies of press freedom to silence Dizon, who was partly a politician.
The danger that crusading journalists face in the Philippines can be compared to the danger combatants in actual armed combat are facing in the battlefield: no one knows who will fall next.
Authorities must exert strong efforts to arrest Dizon killers soon so that the international community will not accuse the government of "abetting" the murder and connect it to the drastic campaign against illegal drugs now that the Philippines is under scrutiny and being monitored by the United Nations for its horrible record in human rights.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bus venture’s snafu is everybody’s business

“Since most corporate competitors have the same problems with sustainability and social reputation, it's worth trying to solve them together.”
--Simon Mainwaring

By Alex P. Vidal


WE don’t agree that the corporate feud among the siblings that operate the Philippines’ biggest bus venture “is none of the people’s business.”
It may be true in as far as the corporate territory is concerned, but not in as far as public interest is concerned.
The Yanson family-controlled Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI), Bachelor Express Inc., Rural Transit Mindanao Inc., Sugbo Transit Express Inc. and Mindanao Star Business Transit Inc. may be a private enterprise, but their clients, the customers are the riding public.
The nature of the transportation business can not detach the company from its inherent social responsibility and accountability.
Since the aforementioned bus companies operate through a franchise issued by the government to serve the public commuters, public interest is very much involved, vital and necessary.
So much so that if the bus operations will be hampered and cause prejudice to the riding public as a result of any mismanagement or internal wrangling in the venture, the government is empowered by law to take over the company’s operations.

-o0o-

Thus the people have the right to know what’s going on and how are the corporate board and officers handle and resolve the snafu.
Lawyer Sheila Sison, who represents Roy Yanson’s group (that wrested control of the company from Roy’s younger brother Leo Rey after a boardroom mutiny on July 7, 2019), meanwhile, has assured the public: “Despite this revamp, the board assures the public, its employees, and all its stakeholders that the company remains committed to serve the riding public. Company policies and programs will remain the same, and its transport services will continue to be fully operational.”
Leo Rey, on the other hand, has “condemned the act of the de facto President, Roy Yanson in bringing in armed men inside company premises, sowing unnecessary fear amongst the employees. The act of the de facto President will surely hamper the operations of the company and spread confusion among the employee.”
Based on these contrasting pronouncements, the tumult may still be far from over.
In the name of public interest, we shall continue to monitor whether the contending parties can hack out a win-win solution or one party will decide to throw the white flag in favor of the other party.

-o0o-

According to spiritual book author Max Lucado, worry happens when we keep our problems to ourselves or present our problems to the puny deities of money, muscle, or humankind.
“The act of prayers moves us from a spirit of concern to a spirit of gratitude,” he explains. “Even before our prayers are answered, our hearts begin to change.”
Lucado suggests that we take these steps:
-take your worries to God;
-find a promise to much your problem; and
-pray specifically.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Admin cases? Shrug them off

"Life is about having a good time, and it was a good time. We did some things well and some things poorly, but that was always the case."
--Norman Lear

By Alex P. Vidal


PARENTS of children who live in the cities and provinces in Western Visayas with high percentage of dengue fever cases, based on the statistics of the Department of Health (DoH), are still restless and getting paranoid.
They fear that even a simple insect bite on their kids' skin will land them in the hospital.
Most of these worried parents, who can hardly make both ends meet, think they will face a terrible financial meltdown once their kids undergo medical proceedings for a mere insect bite.
Even if a red mark on their children's skin was caused only by a bite of an ant or any insect that doesn't carry a life-threatening virus, the parents panicked and feared for the worst.
This explains why government district hospitals in Iloilo have been inundated with patients mostly children with high fever and other signs of dengue infection.
Unless the dengue scare has been nipped in the bud, hospitals would continue to swell; this would justify the declaration of the state of calamity by the local governments.

-o0o-

Much has been written on how to prevent or fight dengue fever, but the ones suggested by Dr. Janice Litza, a Board Certified Family Medicine Physician based in Wisconsin, on May 12, 2019, are probably the most practical and logical. Dr. Litza suggested the following:
1. Stay indoors or under a mosquito net during peak mosquito times. The dengue mosquito has two peak periods of biting activity: in the morning for several hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon for several hours before dark. Nevertheless, the mosquito may feed at any time during the day, especially indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast.
2. Use insect repellent when outdoors. It is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites when you will be spending time outdoors in mosquito infested areas. Apply insect repellent to all exposed areas of your skin before heading outside
3. Cover your skin. You can reduce your chances of being bitten if you cover up as much of your skin as possible. Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and long pants when you will be traveling to mosquito infested areas
4. Get rid of standing water in your area. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Mosquito breeding sites include artificial water containers such as discarded tires, uncovered water storage barrels, buckets, flower vases or pots, cans, and cisterns. Help to reduce the mosquito population in your area by getting rid of any standing water that has collected around your house or campsite

-o0o-

ALLIES of Mayor Geronimo "Jerry" Treñas in the Iloilo City Council should not worry about the administrative cases for dereliction of duty as public officials filed against them by their former colleagues, lawyers Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava.
Better still, they shouldn't overreact.
In fact, they should expect more cases in the future (if they misbehave) now that the two firebrands are "outside the kulambo," so to speak.
Administrative cases are normal for government officials. The least they can get if found guilty is a rap in the knuckles.
No one will go to jail. No one will lose a "lucrative" committee chairmanship. No one will be subjected to humiliation like in a criminal case where an accused public official can lose both his reputation and position if convicted for stealing the people's money.
Cases like the ones these Treñas allies are facing is an indication that democracy is alive and kicking in Iloilo City.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Insatiable and a spoiled brat

"Man is insatiable for power; he is infantile in his desires and, always discontented with what he has, loves only what he has not. People complain of the despotism of princes; they ought to complain of the despotism of man."
--Joseph de Maistre

By Alex P. Vidal


ARE the ongoing woes being experienced by at least 12 government hospitals in Iloilo a result of the late reaction to seriously address the dengue cases?
Was the May midterm elections the culprit?
If the elections weren't held two months ago, health and local government officials probably would have given full attention to the deadly virus and ample preparations would have been sufficiently made earlier.
The reported spill over of dengue patients in these hospitals that resulted in shortages of beds means the government was caught unprepared when dengue was wreaking havoc.
As early as in September 2018, the Bacolod City Health Office already reported seven deaths mostly children aged 3 to 11; one was 23 years old.

-o0o-


Also in February 2019, the Department of Health in Central Visayas reported that 28 have died of complications arising from the dengue fever virus since January 1, 2019.
The regional epidemiology and surveillance unit of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7) reported that from January 1 to February 16, 2019, they have recorded 3,681 dengue cases, which represents a 233 percent increase when compared to the 1,105 cases recorded over the same period in 2018.
Meanwhile, all the 12 Iloilo government district hospitals are facing a crisis after 1,984 dengue-related patients have been admitted as of July 9, 2019.
The number swelled only about three days after Gov. Arthur "Toto" Defensor Jr. signed an executive order on July 5, 2019 declaring a dengue outbreak.

-o0o-

The last time I interviewed Alan Peter Cayetano was in June 2015 at the Philippine Consulate in New York City.
He was then a senator and trying to coax would-be presidential candidate Rodrigo R. Duterte to be the former Davao City mayor's runningmate.
He got what he wanted from "Tatay Digong."
Cayetano wanted to become vice president but was badly clobbered by now Vice President Leni Robredo and second placer Bongbong Marcos.
The son of the late Sen. Rene Cayetano had also wanted to become a senate president but fellow senator Koko Pimentel dashed his dreams to pieces.
But when he wished to become the foreign affairs secretary, this time Alan Peter Cayetano got what he wanted from "Tatay Digong."

-o0o-

When Alan Peter Cayetano left the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-with a not-so-impressive performance--he ran and won as representative in Taguig-Pateros in the recent elections.
Now an elected congressman, insatiable Alan Peter Cayetano wanted to become the House speaker.
After so much jostling and cajoling, the spoiled brat of Philippine politics again got what he wanted from "Tatay Digong"--albeit a term-sharing deal with Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Alan Peter Cayetano is perhaps the only Filipino politician who thinks a public office is a Ferris wheel or a tour bus.
He is both insatiable and a spoiled brat under the Duterte administration; and this made so many people suspect that he is not really sincere in public service and only wanted to establish a record in government service for himself.
We won't be surprised if, after they have mangled the constitution and change the system of government on the behest of President Duterte, Alan Peter Cayetano will next aim to become a prime minister.
(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 (Character)

Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as think.
--RALPH WALDO EMERSON :


We need intellect to properly guide us on crucial matters especially in decision-making involving moral issues. But character is non-negotiable. Character mirrors our past, present and future. Character is the benchmark of our history and destiny.
-- ALEX P. VIDAL

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Man is a political animal

“The human being is in the most literal sense a political animal, not merely a gregarious animal, but an animal which can individuate itself only in the midst of society.”
--Karl Marx

By Alex P. Vidal


ALMOST all provincial governments in Western Visayas have belatedly taken Dengue seriously and were starting to declare a state of calamity one after the other.
They started to pull the plug, so to speak, after Dengue fever has rapidly spread and killed some people.
Well, it’s better late than never.
Meanwhile, if we live anywhere in the Philippines and we are experiencing a severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, exhaustion, and rash, we need to immediately go to the hospital.
They are symptoms of Dengue, a mosquito-borne viral disease that has rapidly spread in all regions of World Health Organization (WHO) in recent years.
Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, Ae. albopictus.

-o0o-

This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infection. Dengue is widespread throughout the tropics, with local variations in risk influenced by rainfall, temperature and unplanned rapid urbanization.
According to the WHO, severe dengue was first recognized in the 1950s during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand.
Today, severe dengue affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children and adults in these regions.
WHO added that Dengue is caused by a virus of the Flaviviridae family and there are 4 distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4).
Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that particular serotype. However, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only partial and temporary. Subsequent infections (secondary infection) by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue.

-o0o-

With power of speech and moral reasoning, man is a social creature, according to Aristotle.
Aristotle’s Politics, a work of anthropology as much as of science based on the famous idea that “man is by nature a political animal,” can be taken in a number of ways.
One reading is to say that man is naturally sociable (the Pufendorf-Grotius line) and that they are naturally drawn to various political associations in order to satisfy their social needs.
Another reading, which sees the word “political” in a less charitable light, might state that, since politics is based upon violence and threats of violence, the phrase emphasizes the “animal” side of human nature rather than its rational and cooperative side.
Those who turn their back on the violence inherent in politics, in Aristotle’s view, according to the Library of Liberty, also turn their back on society-they declare themselves to be outlaws, without a “tribe”, and without a heart.
His likening them to a “bird which flies alone” reminds of the Rudyard Kipling story in The Just So Stories (1902) about “The Cat who walked by Himself”, because he of all the wild animals refused to be domesticated by human beings.


-o0o-

Meanwhile, he doesn’t mean that we naturally crave to attend party conventions, but rather that we naturally tend to organize and ultimately to associate politically under the auspices of a state, according to Michael Macrone in It’s Greek To Me.
He explains that the building block of the state is the patriarchal household, which serves the family’s basic needs and provides protection.
Households naturally band together into villages, which are capable of satisfying a broader range of needs and of achieving a great good.
Finally, villages naturally tend to unite themselves “in a single complete community” which is relatively self-sufficient.
As the ultimate expression of human nature, the state is Aristotle’s idea of the greatest good, and man is thus by definition a political animal.
Needless to say, Macrone emphasizes, not everyone has shared the philosopher’s admiration. In its advanced form, as expressed in the modern political party and the negative campaign ad, state politics impresses few.
Man seems to have fallen from a political animal to a political beast.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Don't complain, just work

"Passion helps you in protecting the community, and public service will follow it. That has been my career. It is the passion that drives me to do what I do every day."
--Catherine Cortez-Masto

By Alex P. Vidal


WE admire local legislators who don't raise a whimper even if they don't have a committee chairmanship.
While a chairmanship in any committee will help expand the horizons of their legislative works and responsibilities, their performances won't be measured by how many committee chairmanships they have cornered, but rather by how they perform; or how many resolutions and ordinances are they going to deliver.
Some legislators with hidden agenda use their chairmanships in the committees they are assigned to grandstand and "earn extra income" (Having covered the legislative beat extensively, I know how they do the "monkey business" there).
These are the types of public servants we should dump and sneer at.
Those who don't salivate for committee chairmanship normally are legislators that are "team players."
If no committee chairmanship is assigned to them because of political reasons or otherwise, they don't harbor hard feelings; and they don't give a damn.
They are motivated by passion to serve and just want to be part of the team; they want the team to succeed even if they don't get any reward and credit.
These are the types of public servants we should encourage to join the government and elect every election day.

-o0o-

Some of the best national high schools in Iloilo are in the municipalities of Pavia, Oton, Sta. Barbara, Guimbal, Barotac Nuevo, Zarraga.
But they weren't among those awarded with "Seal of Good Education Governance" by the Synergeia Foundation.
Those awarded were the municipalities of Alimodian, Mina, Cabatuan, Concepcion, and Lambunao.
They recently got the seals and educational package worth P1.5 million and P100,000 worth of gasoline for the mobility of their respective local school boards and educational training, through their mayors.
The Synergeia Foundation and USAID, in partnership with PLDT and Smart, award the Seal of Good Education Governance to a new batch of cities and municipalities in the Philippines that have exerted outstanding efforts to deliver basic education to their constituents every year.
Local governments are reportedly rarely featured prominently in the news.
"These rare times are on abuse of their power and inefficiencies. But there is another side to their stories. These are their stories of excellence and outstanding performance," according to the program's history. "These are sources of hope and inspiration--rare commodities during times of turbulence and uncertainties."

-o0o-

"Midnight" deals tainted by anomalies entered into by past administrations should not only be rescinded by present administrations.
They should be thoroughly reviewed if they violated the bidding and procurement procedures so that appropriate cases can be filed in the Sandiganbayan.
Under the law, the Sandiganbayan tries and decides criminal and civil cases against government officials and employees accused of graft and corruption and similar other offenses.
Anomalous transactions that have been "aborted" by the change of administration (meaning the current administrations that have stumbled into these shady deals are no longer interested to pursue and implement the deals) do not die a natural death mainly because they have been rescinded.
The deals' original authors should still be prosecuted on the premise that if they won in the recent midterm elections, the anomalous transactions would have been pushed through with prejudice to the taxpayers.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

No need to worry

"The more we can organize, find and manage information, the more effectively we can function in our modern world."
--Vint Cerf

By Alex P. Vidal


THE ongoing reshuffling and reorganization of key positions in various government offices should not be treated as a tidal wave and a major event.
Many fresh administrations all over the country are doing the same, not just in Western Visayas; not just in the city and province of Iloilo.
Reassignments and revamps are normal. It's the prerogative of any local chief executive.
What is not normal and should be denounced is when vindictive elected officials start to lower the boom on employees identified with their rivals in the recent elections and kick them out from their lofty jobs.
If they were only reassigned, they can still regain or retain their jobs and they won't lose their livelihood.
Their families won't half-starved and life must go on.
It's another story if they are summarily dismissed even if they are permanent employees and, as a result, are forced to forage for food so that their loved ones won't starve to death.
In government service, sometimes it's best if we refrain from making a mountain out of a molehill.

-o0o-

When the wobbling Panay Electric Company (PECO) recently filed a criminal case against former Iloilo City councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava, Presidential Consultant for Western Visayas Jane Javellana, and former politician, Dr. Marigold T. Gonzalez, the news came out simultaneously in all the major publications, broadcast and TV networks with a loud thud.
The timing when the news blasted its way to public was something that catches the eye: after the May midterm elections.
PECO administrative manager Marcelo U. Cacho filed the case on June 27, 2019. Media screamed in unison about it on June 28, 2019.
It's very rare for news about a case being filed against a prominent person or group of persons to immediately attract a helluva attention from the media and delivered simultaneously--unless it's a flash report from a press conference.
In the story of the creation of the universe, scientists call it a "Big Bang!"
Even if the accused won't be convicted when the case reached its climax, the purpose of letting all and sundry know that the key players in the anti-PECO movement have been slapped with a criminal complaint, was already served.

-o0o-

Even after Chief Supt. John Bulalacao has left the Regional Police Office 6 (RPO-6) as regional director and turned over the post to Chief Supt. Rene Pamuspusan in a ceremony on June 27, 2019, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has not responded to our report on the alleged massive recruitment of "soldiers" for enlistment in the armed forces of the "Royal Maharlika Tribes 1-Nation" recently in Calinog, Iloilo.
Recruits were made to fill up a form with a sub-title of "Panay Tribal Governance for Self-Determination and Empowerment" and "Rejahnate of Panay."
In the article we wrote most recently, we asked this question: "Are we bring 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 author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)