Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Quid pro quo

Wilderness designations should not be the result of a quid pro quo. They should rise or fall on their own merits.”
 Nick Rahall

By Alex P. Vidal

FOR the very first time in the festival’s history, a seaside restaurateur in Iloilo City has been given a huge (or is it only honorary?) task to head an important committee in the Paraw Regatta Festival 2020.
Honorato “Tiyo Tatoy” Espinosa has been named by the Iloilo Festivals Foundation, Inc. (IFFI) as chairman of this year’s Paraw Regatta Festival steering committee.
The IFFI and also probably Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas wanted Espinosa in the team “as a tribute to his contributions to the sailing festival.”
Espinosa, who admitted being part of Paraw Regatta for 48 years now, was so elated claiming the festival is “so special” to him.
If we ask the IFFI and Treñas, the feeling is mutual.
Espinosa is also “special” to the organizers.
Since the festival has always been “hosted” by Espinosa’s Tatoy’s Manokan restaurant in Arevalo district since time immemorial, both sides of the coin should come out as co-winners.
The mutual understanding means there’ll be or there should be a quid pro quo.

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The IFFI and the City Government will have everything to gain and nothing to lose if Espinosa, even if he isn’t the only “best person” for the job in the steering committee, is in the helm of the organizing body.
Inasal na manok, drinks, and other seafood freebies plus accommodations in spacious cottages and air-conditioned rooms for organizers and others involved in the preparation level will certainly be dangled by the generous and “grateful” Espinosa.
And who stands to or which business will benefit heavily in the duration of the festival? 
The quick answer should be Tatoy’s Manokan.

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With all the publicity to be generated by one of Asia’s most popular and most-advertised multi-day double outrigger sailboat races, Tatoy’s Manokan, already a household name in the metropolis’ seafoods and native inasal na manok industry, is expected to amass a record-breaking publicity for free.
Be that as it may, but it might also help the manokan business in that coastline area in particular, and Iloilo City’s seafoods industry in general if in the future Paraw Regatta Festivals, the IFFI and the City Hall will also expand the selection process for the next chairman of the steering committee—or whatever honorary position—and include other local owners of manokan and seafoods restaurants in that area.
For sure, it’s not only Tiyo Tatoy who has contributions to the sailing festival, if that is the paramount qualification for being designated in the festival’s presidential table.
Tiyo Tatoy has the edge, there’s no doubt: his name rings a bell and Tatoy’s Manokan is so vastly popular that any visiting manokan customer wouldn’t think anymore other restaurants in that belt offer the same novelty seafoods—and their owners could be as enthusiastic and as active like Tiyo Tatoy.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)





Monday, January 27, 2020

A powerful image

“To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.”
Barbara Bush

By Alex P. Vidal

PROBABLY the most powerful image the world has been seeing on television, newspaper, and Internet these past two days is the photo of the late father and daughter Kobe Bryant and Gianna.
We are easily touched if we see a father and a daughter embracing each other in any photo.
We are greatly enamored and beguiled if we learn that the father and his daughter—or even a son—are like best friends. 
Because Kobe, 41, and Gianna, 13, died violently together with seven (not five as previously reported) others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on January 26, their photos together have the power to send shivers down our spine; they have the power to make the world of basketball cry; they can easily wreck us emotionally if we know what happened to them.
How could a 13-year-old daughter together with an NBA legend die in such a horrific manner?
Gianna had a passion for basketball and was hoping to follow in NBA legend's footsteps before the two died, Karman Allen’s ABC News reported.
Bryant wasn't a frequent social media user, but his Instagram page was full of footage of Gianna on the court.

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One of his last posts featured an image of the teenager taking a jump shot on the hardwood while wearing a dress and stilettos. He captioned the photo "#HoopsAndHeels #StealsAndStilettos."
"A lil one on one with my baby Gigi #footwork #stringmusic #mambacita," the NBA player wrote in the video caption back in 2017.
Ramona Shelburne, an ESPN Senior Writer who developed a friendship with Bryant, said the father of four daughters once told her that kids are "the greatest blessing that God can give you." The NBA legend "lived for" his family.
"Every time I talked to him that’s all he wanted to talk about," she told "Good Morning America." "The last few years all we would do is send each other texts about our kids."
Gianna reportedly wanted to attend the University of Connecticut and even got a chance to meet with the school's women's basketball team when they made a visit to Los Angeles in 2017.
Back in 2018, Kobe revealed that he started coaching Gianna’s middle school team when he retired in 2016, ending his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"It's been fun!" he said in an interview with "Entertainment Tonight" in 2018. "We've been working together for a year and a half and they've improved tremendously in that time. I've got a group of great parents, a group of really, really intelligent, hardworking girls, and -- they're all seventh graders, they're all 12 years old -- but they've been playing so well!"
"They've been playing eighth and ninth grade, they've been winning tournaments. But the most important thing is they keep improving, keep getting better and they love doing it. They love being around each other," he added.

-o0o-

Bryant spoke about his daughter urging him to make the film "Dear Basketball," which won an Academy Award.
"My daughter gave me the best piece of advice. I was a little worried about turning this into a film. I’d never done something like that before," Bryant said after the Oscar win. "We were in the house and talking about it as a family and my little 11-year-old Gianna goes, 'Well dad, you always tell us to go after our dreams so … man up.' She’s 11. Man up. So I had to man up and go for it."
Bryant's "Dear Basketball" film, his books and podcasts for kids and his coaching were all part of the legacy he wanted to leave, according to Shelburne.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Year of death?

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
 Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal

SO many deaths and destructions have been recorded in the early part of the Year of the Rat both in the international and national levels.
Political and EJK-related killings, vehicular and sea mishaps, volcanic eruption, earthquake, plane and helicopter crashes, flash floods, death caused by ordinary sickness and deadly viruses, etcetera.
News of Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash yesterday (January 26) came while many families lost their loved ones when a Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 crashed shortly after take-off in Iran on January 9, killing all 176 people on board.
And we are only in the month of January.
Is Year of the Rat really a year of death?
We hope and pray that the rest of the year 2020’s 11 months won’t be catastrophic and bloody. That there will be security and peace instead of death and mayhem.
Rats are supposed to be quick-thinking, optimistic, and adaptable, which gives them the edge in this year’s rat race.

-o0o-

In Chinese culture, rats are used to symbolize wealth and surplus.
According to Lau Ka-kuen  and Joe Lo of the South China Morning Post, married couples traditionally would pray to these rodents hoping some of their reproductive success would rub off on them. 
Rats are found all over the world and regarded in the Chinese zodiac as being smart and nimble with plenty of vitality and enterprising spirit, they said.
People born in Rat years are said to share some of these characteristics. Being optimistic and energetic they win over many friends. 
They are kind but can be poor communicators, which means they can inadvertently seem brash. 
They are not the reticent people they might seem, and although they are very excitable they can control their high spirits but will fight for their beliefs whatever the circumstances.
Financially they like saving and can be stingy. However, their love for hoarding will sometimes cause them to waste money on unnecessary things, they added.

-o0o-

The helicopter crash in Calabasas, California which also killed Kobe’s daughter, Gianna, 13, comes one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 
As late as 10:39 p.m. on Saturday, Bryant was active on social media, congratulating James on Twitter during the Lakers' 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, it was reported.
James inscribed his sneakers with "Mamba 4 Life" and "8/24 KB" in gold marker before the game, showing respect for Bryant, an 18-time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020. All week, in the lead-up to the milestone, he was quick to laud Bryant.
"It's another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school," James said. "Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it's very humbling and it's dope.
"Kobe's a legend, that's for damn sure."
A 6-foot-6 small forward with the ability to swing up front and play point or shooting guard, Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school. In 1996, he became the youngest player in NBA history.
He won five NBA titles in his time with the Lakers, as well as two Olympic gold medals playing for the United States. Now fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 33,643 points, Bryant won two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA regular-season MVP nod in 2008.
Goodbye, Kobe.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Goodbye, Kobe Bryant!

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were among five people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, a source confirmed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Bryant was 41.
Bryant was on his way to a travel basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant when the helicopter crashed, sources told Wojnarowski. Those aboard the helicopter also included another player and parent. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, there were no survivors of the crash. An investigation is ongoing.

The crash comes one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. As late as 10:39 p.m. ET on Saturday, Bryant was active on social media, congratulating James on Twitter during the Lakers' 108-91 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
James inscribed his sneakers with "Mamba 4 Life" and "8/24 KB" in gold marker before the game, showing respect for Bryant, an 18-time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020. All week, in the lead-up to the milestone, he was quick to laud Bryant.
"It's another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school," James said. "Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So, just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it's very humbling and it's dope.
"Kobe's a legend, that's for damn sure."
A 6-foot-6 small forward with the ability to swing up front and play point or shooting guard, Bryant entered the NBA straight out of high school. In 1996, he became the youngest player in NBA history.
He won five NBA titles in his time with the Lakers, as well as two Olympic gold medals playing for the United States. Now fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 33,643 points, Bryant won two NBA Finals MVP awards and one NBA regular-season MVP nod in 2008.
This week marked the 14-year anniversary of his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors, still the second most points ever scored in an NBA game behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100.
Bryant passed his childhood idol, Michael Jordan, on the all-time scoring list in 2014. Jordan embraced Bryant, fueling his passion for the game. The two had a memorable matchup in Bryant's first All-Star Game selection in New York's Madison Square Garden, and later, when Jordan played for the Washington Wizards, Bryant scored 42 points in a half (en route to 55 for the game) against him.
"He knows how much I've learned from him," Bryant said of Jordan in 2014, "from the other legends and him in particular."
A native of Philadelphia, Bryant was selected No. 13 overall in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. He wore both No. 8 and 24 with the Lakers, both of which were retired by the franchise. He was credited with changing how NBA front offices viewed wing talent coming out of high school into the draft.
"I'm happy just to be in any conversation with Kobe Bean Bryant. One of the all-time greatest basketball players to ever play, one of the all-time greatest Lakers," James said Saturday night. "The man got two jerseys hanging up in Staples Center. It's just crazy."
Bryant is the only player in NBA history to have multiple jerseys retired by a single franchise.
On Nov. 29, 2015, Bryant announced that he intended to retire at the end of the season, which launched a farewell tour for the ages around the NBA. He played in 66 games that season for Los Angeles, averaging 17.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
In his final game, on April 13, 2016, he scored 60 points, leading the Lakers past the Utah Jazz 101-96.
 While Bryant was an unqualified star on the court, he did have controversy off it. He was accused of sexual assault in Colorado in 2003. The criminal case was dropped the next year, but Bryant still issued an apology. He said that he considered the encounter to be consensual but recognized that the woman "did not and does not view this incident the same way I did."
Bryant was married to Vanessa Laine Bryant in 2001, and they had four daughters together. His father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, is also a former NBA player.
A moment of silence was held at the first NBA game of the day Sunday -- the Nuggets' contest against the Rockets in Denver.
Bryant transitioned into a post-basketball life that was far from retirement. He won an Academy Award in 2018, taking home the Oscar for the animated short, "Dear Basketball." Bryant also created a children's book series, inspired by his love for Harry Potter, which became a New York Times best seller.
Bryant's death was first reported by TMZ. ESPN's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Our fame and shame

“Festivals cause diseases, since they lighten cares but increase gluttony.”
Apollonius of Tyana

By Alex P. Vidal

IT looked like we have surpassed the other festivals in the country venerating the feast of the historical child Jesus in many aspects.
Unlike the other festivals, the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival has showcased not only the event’s cultural and religious ingredients, but also heavily the tourism and the rapidly burgeoning beauty pageant.
The Ilonggos’ propensity to innovate and cultivate an aura of competitiveness and easily attract global attention is also manifested in the way the organizers, led by the Iloilo City Festivals Foundation, Inc. (ICFFI), repackaged and remodeled the myriad of colorful activities that jibe with the sociocultural, spiritual, and political climate.  
The Dinagyang Festival has truly become the Ilonggos’ major source of fame and pride.
It can also be a platform of unity and camaraderie when all sectors chip in their resources and talents.
It can be a source of shame, however, if we can’t sustain its glory and the startup gains due to apathy, neglect, ningas cogon attitude, and politics.
Because of this year’s  impressive display of creativity and aesthetics the modern Dinagyang is now in the radar of the universe. We can’t afford to be passive, slow down, relax, and revert back to age-old occultism while technology is on a dizzying speed upward.     
To sustain, maintain, and buttress what we have discovered and started is the beginning of true progress and success.

-o0o-

LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS. Snakes—the Chinese krait and the Chinese cobra—could be the original source of the new coronavirus.
This was learned from the The Conversation's Haitao Guo, Guangxiang "George" Luo and Shou-Jiang Gao.
This was what they reportedly learned: The many-banded krait (Bungarus multicinctus), also known as the Taiwanese krait or the Chinese krait, is a highly venomous species of elapid snake found in much of central and southern China and southeast Asia.
The study of the genetic code of 2019-nCoV reveals that the new virus is most closely related to two bat SARS-like coronavirus samples from China, initially suggesting that -- like SARS and MERS -- the bat might also be the origin of 2019-nCoV. The authors further found that the viral RNA coding sequence of 2019-nCoV spike protein, which forms the "crown" of the virus particle that recognizes the receptor on a host cell, indicates that the bat virus might have mutated before infecting people.
But when the researchers performed a more detailed bioinformatics analysis of the sequence of 2019-nCoV, it suggests that this coronavirus might come from snakes.
In the case of this coronavirus outbreak, reports state that most of the first group of patients hospitalized were workers or customers at a Wuhan seafood wholesale market which also sold processed meats and live consumable animals including poultry, donkeys, sheep, pigs, camels, foxes, badgers, bamboo rats, hedgehogs and reptiles. However, since no one has ever reported finding a coronavirus infecting aquatic animals, it is plausible that the coronavirus may have originated from other animals sold in that market.

-o0o-

IT is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country, this was according to the recent meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee.
Thus, all countries should be prepared for containment, including active surveillance, early detection, isolation and case management, contact tracing and prevention of onward spread of 2019-nCoV infection, and to share full data with WHO.
Countries are required to share information with WHO according to the IHR.
Technical advice is available here.  Countries should place particular emphasis on reducing human infection, prevention of secondary transmission and international spread and contributing to the international response though multi-sectoral communication and collaboration and active participation in increasing knowledge on the virus and the disease, as well as advancing research. Countries should also follow travel advice from WHO.
To the global community: As this is a new coronavirus, and it has been previously shown that similar coronaviruses required substantial efforts for regular information sharing and research, the global community should continue to demonstrate solidarity and cooperation, in compliance with Article 44 of the IHR (2005), in supporting each other on the identification of the source of this new virus, its full potential for human-to-human transmission, preparedness for potential importation of cases, and research for developing necessary treatment.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)




Thursday, January 23, 2020

Bad timing

“Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”
Gore Vidal

By Alex P. Vidal

INSTEAD of staying calm and enjoying the repackaged 2020 Dinagyang Festival, many sensitive Ilonggos are in a state of panic following the reported “arrival” from China of the deadly novel coronavirus.
The timing of this unique virus was bad; it’s a killjoy. 
It exploded in national consciousness at a time when many people will be mixing in the crowd to celebrate the feast of the infant Jesus in the month of January.
The same celebration is held annually in Cebu, Aklan, and other parts of the country where Senior Santo Nino is venerated.
During this celebration, many tourists and locals will make physical contacts with each other in whatever circumstance and breath approximately the same quality of air.
No one knows who came from China, or in places where the novel coronavirus is believed to have spread.
Thus the paranoia of those who will be in the large crowd during the festival is already at fever pitch.
Even if the country’s health officials couldn’t yet categorically confirm if this virus has already started to transfer from one human being to another, worries and fears have started to hound the Ilonggos.

-o0o-

To exacerbate the horror, Department of Health (Doh) Undersecretary Eric Domingo announced on January 23 that the virus “has already gone to several countries so that (the) idea of international spread is no longer theoretical. There is a confirmed case in the US, which is farther (from China) and supposedly has lower risk. There is higher risk within the Asian region.”
Chinese authorities, meanwhile, had confirmed 571 cases of the novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, by the end of Wednesday aside from a report earlier report of another 393 suspected cases.
Of eight known cases outside China, Thailand has confirmed four, while Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States have reported one each.
Domingo added: “Realistically, the strategy now of WHO (World Health Organization) is really to make sure that when it does spread and when it happens, we’re able to isolate and contain the cases and manage them well.”
Flight attendants have been advised to closely observe passengers who appear to be ill. Only two airlines—Pan Air and Royal Air—have direct flights between Kalibo, Aklan and Wuhan, which began last year. 
The last flight from Wuhan to Kalibo arrived on Thursday morning, and all passengers were determined to be healthy.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Philippine Ports Authority also said they were implementing stricter screening of travelers in coordination with the DOH and the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

-o0o-

Buddy Britanico Jr., oldest son of Banat Partylist Rep. Salvador Britanico and Dr. Lita Celestial, sent to me this statement on January 24:
BRITANICO AND LAO FAMILIES STATEMENT ON THE MURDER OF DELFIN BRITANICO
We the members of the Britanico and Lao families condemn the broad daylight shooting and murder of our dearest husband, father, son, brother and family member Delfin Celestial Britanico in Barangay Nabitasan, Lapaz, Iloilo City last Sunday, 19 January 2020.
Del was killed at the young age of 36 years old.
The families trust that the law enforcement agencies supported by the local and national government will catch those responsible for this gruesome act and swiftly bring them to justice.
We are appealing to those who have knowledge or information that may lead to the arrest of the perpetrators to share these with the law enforcement agencies and to mobile number Globe 09369181307
#JusticeForDel
Ilonggo: Kami nga himata sang familia Britanico kag Lao, amon gid ginakondenar ang pagluthang kag pagpatay kay Delfin Celestial sa Barangay Nabitasan, Lapaz, Iloilo sang nagligad nga Domingo, 19 Enero 2020.
Kami naga pangabay, sa sin-o man nga may nahibal-an ukon impormasyon para sa madasig nga pagdakop sa mga kriminal. Palihog lang ipalab-ot sa mga awtoridad kag sa telepono 09369181307.
Gapangadi kami sang lubos nga maangkon namon ang hustisya, kag sa may responsable sang makangilidlis nga krimen kabay pa nga mahatagan kamo sang gakaigo nga silot. #JusticeForDel
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Get killers of Muller and Britanico

“This thing that men call justice, this blind snake that strikes men down in the dark, mindless with fury, keep your hand back from it, pass by in silence.”
Maxwell Anderson

By Alex P. Vidal

WE trust that forensic science will play a major role in helping identify the killers of Allen Muller and Delfin “Del” Britanico.
Both Muller, 42, and Britanico, 36, were shot multiple times in separate places by unidentified assailants on January 19 in Iloilo City.
Muller, a former drug surrenderee and call agent, was killed in Brgy. Cuartero, Jaro at around 12 noon, while Britanico, a businessman, was shot to death in Brgy. Nabitasan, La Paz minutes later.
Initial investigations reportedly showed the empty shells from .45 caliber pistol recovered in the two crime scenes were fired from the same gun.
Which will indicate that the twin killings could be related; or, the suspects could be one and the same.
We expect the more professional National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Criminal Investigation Detective Group (CIDG) to have a breakthrough in their probes.
Forensic science has been a big miracle and constantly credited in the solution of many complicated and almost unsolved crimes in the United States these past 30 years.

-o0o-

The recovery of empty shells is basically a major lead in a crime that involves the use of a firearm as the murder weapon; and it can help bring the investigators closer to the killers’ identity.
Leaving behind the empty shells in the crime scene is tantamount to leaving behind the suspects’ footprints.
If Muller’s murder was a case of extra-judicial killing (EJK), Britanico’s murder could be a case a “collateral damage”. 
Britanico, who was driving his motorbike, could have accidentally engaged Muller’s killers in a traffic spat while they were fleeing which resulted in a road rage.
A chase could have followed suit until they found a perfect spot to finish off Britanico, a well-educated and promising entrepreneur.
The itch to shoot more is reportedly stronger for people with criminal instinct after having committed a crime.
Clinical psychologists can best explain why the trigger-happy assailants decided to kill another human being after making sure they killed their first target, if proven that the killers of Muller and Britanico are one.

-o0o-

POSTSCRIPT: We call on our media colleagues, especially the senior practitioners who know personally former Iloilo assemblyman and Banat Partylist Rep. Salvador “Buddy” Britanico, Del’s father, to help the Britanico family in their moments of sorrow and tribulation in whatever means and capacity.
Rep. Britanico is one of the only few Iloilo public servants who is very dear to many media practitioners with or without the elections.
Rep. Britanico would always distribute calendars to his friends and constituents with all members of his family in the photo.
They are awesome. The Britanico family is a role model and a source of inspiration and good values.
Rep. Britanico, formerly the national president of the Philippine Trial Lawyers Association, is former Constitutional Commission (Con-Con) delegate and once served as the deputy minister of the Ministry of Education during the Marcos regime.
Rep. Britanico introduced me to the entire Britanico family led by Dr. Lita Celestial in the dining table, including the late Del, his older brothers Buddy Jr. and Atty. Franco, when me and Panay News columnist Herbert Vego visited their house in Congressional Avenue in Quezon City more than 20 years ago.
All members of the Britanico family always prayed and ate together if they were all present in the house. Now, they mourn together. We hope the family will get justice for Del’s macabre death.
God bless Del’s soul.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)












Tuesday, January 21, 2020

We should fear most this ‘silent terrorist”

“Think of the earth as a living organism that is being attacked by billions of bacteria whose numbers double every forty years. Either the host dies, or the virus dies, or both die.”
Gore Vidal

By Alex P. Vidal

WHAT the Ilonggos should fear most during the Dinagyang Festival and even beyond the celebration is not the determined bomber feared by the Philippine National Police (PNP) who might sabotage the mammoth occasion.
It is the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), the “silent terrorist” that is reportedly spreading rapidly in China and is now feared to have “arrived” in the Philippines and has victimized several people all over the country.
In fact, hundreds of people have been diagnosed with this deadly virus, even as scientists have confirmed that the virus can be spread human to human.
Already several patients suspected of being infected by the deadly virus were reported recently in Kalibo, Aklan, where the biggest ati-ati festival is scheduled this month together with Iloilo City which has kicked off its celebration of the Dinagyang Festival this week.
We just hope it was a false alarm.
This must be the reason why the Department of Health (DoH) in Western Visayas has issued a warning to all those who will join the crowd during the celebration of the feast of Senor Santo Nino.
The virus should be considered by all and sundry to be “a clear and present danger” and all precautions must be made to avoid this virus. 
We shouldn’t let our guards down. 

-o0o-

FROM miles away in New York City, we share the same fears and concern here.
As we monitored the ongoing impeachment trial of President Trump in the U.S. Senate yesterday (January 21), we received reports that the virus has been confirmed to be in the United States, as simultaneously reported in the CNN and The New York Times.
A person in Washington state has been reportedly confirmed to be carrying coronavirus by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention January 21 afternoon.
Federal officials said the same person was reported to be hospitalized with pneumonia last week and was recently in Wuhan, China.
Wuhan is believed to be ground zero for the outbreak.
The person has not been identified by name and it is reportedly the first case of coronavirus being found in the U.S.
As of this writing we received reports that passengers from Wuhan to the United States, whether on direct or indirect flights, will only be allowed to land at one of the five U.S. airports doing health screenings. Screenings include a temperature check and observation for symptoms such as a cough and trouble breathing.

-o0o-

What is coronavirus and what do we all need to know about the illness?
Here are six things we should be aware of as reported:
1. Coronavirus is actually a group of viruses that can cause a cold or something severe like Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS. The World Health Organization says symptoms are similar to pneumonia symptoms.
The initial symptoms include fever, cough, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath.
2. Normally they’re transmitted from animal to humans, but 2019-nCoV is apparently able to be transmitted between humans. At least two people were infected that way. But there are other coronaviruses in animal populations but have not been transmitted to humans.
3. The World Health Organization is considering declaring a public health emergency, similar to what it did with Ebola and swine flu, the BBC reported. If the declaration happens, a coordinated international response will follow.
4. At least 15 medical workers are infected with 2019-nCoV and one is in critical condition. They are believed to have contracted the illness from treating patients who were kept in isolation, but that has not been confirmed.
5. While the 2019-nCoV was traced back to a seafood market that also sells live animals in Wuhan, China last year, there are a few cases outside of China including two in Thailand, one in Japan, one in South Korea and one in Taiwan. Those cases are linked to the same area in China. To make sure the illness doesn’t spread further, travelers from Wuhan are being screened worldwide including at airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
Testing was scheduled to be expanded to Atlanta and Chicago.
6. People are taking measures to protect themselves from exposure to the virus. Medical-style face masks are sold out in China. Many people in Wuhan are wearing face coverings as they go about their day. The company that makes the anti-pollution masks, 3 million was sold out of the mask online.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)


Monday, January 20, 2020

Twin killings jolt Dinagyang month

“When I hear about people murdering, I wonder, What has to go through your brain to say, I don't want him breathing anymore? What makes you get that angry? How can you take someone's breath away? That just blows my mind.”
Gilbert Arenas

By Alex P. Vidal

IT’S so sad that one of the victims in last Sunday’s senseless killings in Iloilo City was Delfin “Del” Celestial Britanico, youngest son of former Iloilo assemblyman and Banat Partylist Rep. Salvador “Buddy” Britanico and Dr. Lita Celestial-Britanico.
According to a popular digital resume Linkedin, Del was the “Co-Head at Britlao Corp/Manager at KM Haulers Britlao Corp Ateneo de Manila University.”
What a waste of life; Del was not an ordinary Ilonggo. 
He was a productive and worthy member of society.
Del, a legitimate businessman, was highly regarded in his field and came from a very educated and well-respected family in Western Visayas.
In one of his articles posted online, Del narrated how he decided to leave “a great job at a stable company to a smaller organization or a start up.”
Del, a bike enthusiast, wrote that “I stayed in the new company for 2 years. I only disengaged because I had to settle down with family outside Manila. In those two years I could proudly say that the company grew tremendously. Being the small kid on the block or in our industry, we picked our battles. We found our own niche. Growth was so well that our suppliers brought us to their headquarters in the US. Looking back yes I missed on some benefits especially when the old company I used to work for was acquired by a foreign giant. I saw Facebook and Instagram posts of my former colleagues being sent around the world for trainings, etc. But deep inside, I was contended. I made an impact and I am proud of it. My involvement in that smaller company opened some doors in terms of business ventures which are already materializing now.”
What a short life for a great young entrepreneur and possibly a future leader in the industry he had chosen to be part of.
Our sincerest condolences to the Britanico and Celestial families.

-o0o-

MAYOR Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas has all the reason to be jittery after the twin killings in separate places in Iloilo City on Sunday, January 19, the day before the official countdown of the 2020 Dinagyang Festival week.
The crimes happened just after the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) has assured the public it was beefing up the metropolis’ security measure to ensure a peaceful celebration of the Feast of Señor Santo Niño.
Treñas was apparently disturbed by the coincidence of the macabre murders of call agent Allen Muller, 42, at 12 noon in Brgy. Cuartero, Jaro district and businessman Delfin Britanico, 36, minutes later in Brgy. Nabitasan, La Paz.  
“Why they happened during the Dinagyang month when the whole world is watching us?” the city mayor must’ve wondered. 
Why all of a sudden two successive murders when Iloilo City’s peace and order has not been so alarming these past months? 
For sure the killers didn’t commit the crimes to embarrass the ICPO and Iloilo City, which is expecting a lot of tourists for the annual ati tribe competition this week.

-o0o-

“Of course we are worried. We have dignitaries coming. I don’t want incidents similar to Sunday’s to happen again,” Treñas bewailed.
The mayor was right.
All the efforts of his infant administration to attract visitors and potential investors through this once-a-year huge event would be jeopardized if peace and order was in dire straits.
Violence and brazen murders like what happened last Sunday could destroy the image of the “City of Love” which is now inching its way back to normalcy following the weird accusation from President Duterte that it was the “most shabulized” in the country.
In the month of January, Iloilo City competes with other Philippines cities, provinces and regions in terms of public attention owing to its colossal cultural and religious celebration now known in most countries all over the world.
Tourists and Santo Niño devotees regularly checked the Google and other Internet sites for the latest news about the popular festival and all they could read was about the killings.
We had chided  authorities or those in charge of implementing this administration’s wild and woolly anti-illegal drugs campaign not to sully the image of the Dinagyang Festival by the blood of victims of EJK or extra-judicial killings.
It appears our appeal turned out to be another voice in the wilderness.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)







Saturday, January 18, 2020

Pinoy U.S. chess grand slam champ is from Leyte

“All I want to do, ever, is play chess.”
Bobby Fischer

By Alex P. Vidal

MARIO Lawsin Rebano has done what other highly regarded Pinoy chess players campaigning in the United States have failed to do in recent memory: winning three chess championships in different high caliber tournaments in two years.
NM Rebano (L) ponders his move against a US grand master

A civil engineer by profession, the 53-year-old Filipino National Master (NM) chalked up another scintillating performance before the year 2019 ended by clinching the Empire City Open 2019 Under-2100 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City held on December 26-28.
Finishing unscathed with five points and two draws after six rounds, Rebano shared the title with four others to pocket his third major title since winning the 17th Chess-in-the-Park Rapid Open at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park on September 16, 2018 and the 11th Annual Fairfield Country Open (U2200 division) in Norwalk, Connecticut on November 18, 2018.
In the Empire City Open, Rebano (2077), who survived the 2013 super storm “Yolanda” in Leyte, toppled four opponents: Eric Levin of New Jersey, Leonardo Liu of New York, Jose Villar of New York, and Sounak Bagchi of New York.
He drew with Kenneth Fernandez of New York and George Berg also of New York.
The three other co-champions who shared the trophy with Rebano were fellow Filipino Jan Paragua of New York, Mark De Dona of New York, and Luca Dona of Texas.
“I offer my victory to the victims of ‘Ursula’ typhoon and to the Taal volcano eruption,” Rebano exclaimed.
Asked how he felt to be a Filipino grand slam champion, Rebano, a soft-spoken former employee of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for 10 years before campaigning as a chess player in the US, said his secret was “dedication, focus, prayers.”
Despite his busy schedule, Rebano, one of the few 50 above Filipino chess players who remain active in US tournaments, said he regularly studied the games of the world’s top grandmasters and the latest opening variations.
He thanked his adviser and No. 1 supporter Dr. Gil Asoy, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzalez-Romualdez and husband, former Mayor Alfred Romualdez, and his family for the moral support.
Rebano said despite his achievement, he will continue to play in other major tournaments this year “because my goal is to keep on winning and to give glory to my country, friends and family in the Philippines. God has been good to me throughout my campaign in the U.S.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)







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