Sunday, May 31, 2020

Leaving him when he need her most

“If we are happy within ourselves, we don't accept or demand that our partner should fulfill every need. We need to be comfortable with our own company.”
Nathaniel Branden

By Alex P. Vidal


WHAT kind of wife are you when you were so quick to discard your husband at a time when he needed you most? 
Or vice versa.
Would you abandon a partner in life while the whole world wants to roast him for committing an abominable act that resulted in a massive violence and hullabaloo?   
At a crucial moment when murder accused Derek Chauvin badly needed a shoulder to lean on, his wife, Kellie, filed a divorce and flushed him down the toilet like a piece of shit by expressing displeasure for his act after filing the divorce.
Even if their husbands were so notorious and despicable, many Filipino wives never did—and will never do—what Kellie did to her embattled husband.
Our culture is indeed different from the western culture when it comes to family relationship. 
Chauvin, now detained at Ramsey County Jail in St. Paul, Minnesota, was the sacked Minneapolis police officer caught by camera kneeling on forgery suspect George Floyd’s neck that resulted in the latter’s death on May 25.

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A camera has been reportedly focused on him round-the-clock, and cops check on his cell regularly--all the hallmarks of a suicide watch.
Chauvin was brought in late afternoon May 29, and didn't make eye contact with anyone upon his arrival before beginning the check-in process, reported the TMZ.
“We're told Chauvin was put through an unclothed body search to look for any hidden contraband,” TMZ reported further. “Then, he put on a jail uniform and they led him off to a single cell in a special wing of the facility for high-profile cases.”
Chauvin is now in isolation and being watched constantly. There's a camera in his cell watching him 24/7, as well as guards monitoring the feed 24/7. 
On top of that, he's reportedly getting checked on in-person every 15 minutes.
While a source wouldn't use the term suicide watch to characterize Chauvin's circumstances—other law enforcement sources tell, yes, that's effectively what's happening at the jail.

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The violence that erupted in more than 20 states has also affected us in the Filipino community in one way or the other.
Additional curfew has been imposed in more than 40 cities in 15 states affected by the riot that escalated immediately after the viral video on the police brutality in Minneapolis spread.
The furor occurred at a time when we, in the Empire State, is preparing for the Phase I of the reopening of economy on June 8 (not anymore June 13 as reported earlier).
Many of us have started to go out to buy our food but continued to observe the six-feet distancing from one another and avoid places where there are more than 10 people.
We are starting to adjust and go back to normal life even if 41 million Americans have applied for unemployment, most of them have permanently lost their jobs.
While the death cases is nearing 30,000 in New York and 400,000 cases, the Floyd murder-inspired riot erupted.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)





Saturday, May 30, 2020

Not a one-man army

“The readiest and surest way to get rid of censure, is to correct ourselves.”
Demosthenes

By Alex P. Vidal

DID Fr. Maximo Gatela, O.P., former school director of the Angelicum School Iloilo (ASIL), overlap the power of the school board when he solely issued a closure order for ASIL on May 27?
Was his immediate “resignation” an offshoot of the gaffe? 
This became apparent now after Gatela was overruled by the Board of Trustees which issued a “corrective statement” on May 29 recalling the notice of closure.   
ASIL, located in Tabuc Suba, Jaro, Iloilo City, will stay open, according to the school’s board of trustees, as reported by CBCPNews.
The statement, signed by the head of the Filipino Dominicans, Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, O.P., read: “The Board of Trustees, as well as the Provincial Council of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, didn’t approve any cessation of operation.”
If there is smoke, there is fire definitely.
Gatela’s “resignation” as director of Angelicum School Iloilo had been accepted.
The statement read further: “The Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of Fr. Maximo Gatela, O.P., as Director of Angelicum School, Inc., Jaro, Iloilo City.”
ASIL, which occupies the magnificent Lizares Mansion, was founded in 1978 by Fr. Rogelio Alarcon, O.P., first prior provincial of the Filipino Dominicans.
Before Gatela’s censure, members of the board probably decided that the COVID-19 pandemic “wasn’t enough reason” to justify the closure of the 42-year-old historic educational institution.  
Gatela, who cited “the difficulty that the COVID-19 has created” in his announcement for ASIL’s closure, wasn’t ASIL’s one-man army, after all.

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POTOTAN Councilor Paolo Magalona Guanco, one of the Iloilo convenors of Save Our Languages Through Federalism Foundation, Inc. (SOLFED), said the late Willie Andrew “The Devil” Branum had been amputated because of a disease two years before he died of cardiac arrest on May 26.  
Branum, 58, was a prominent political strategist who worked with former President Fidel V. Ramos as his Iloilo political organizer, and with former Senator Serge Osmena as the latter’s liaison field officer for Western Visayas.
According to Guanco, “Wille was a good friend of mine. We were both hispanophiles and we used to converse in Spanish during our drinking sessions. We both admire Gen. Francisco Franco. We both sang "Cara al Sol" together. We were both tobacco lovers. Our topics ranged from politics to history. He was a learned man, owning over a thousand books. There are even books in his bathroom! We were also both advocates of federalism for our country. The last time I saw him in his house, he had part of his foot cut off due to some disease. I likened him to Jose Millán Astray, the one armed, one-eyed founder of the Spanish Foreign Legion dubbed as the ‘Glorious mutilated one’. Farewell my friend. As we always said to each other before we parted ways, Hasta Luego, Mi Amigo!”

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The only difference between the 1992 riot and the ongoing violence that escalated in about 30 states (as of May 30) in the United States is that Rodney King Jr., the African American driver manhandled by four Los Angeles Police District (LAPD) cops on March 3, 1991, didn’t die.
The riot that erupted following the acquittal of the four white cops in April 1992, killed more than 50 people and injured 2,000 others. Estimated losses during the six-day violence and looting in Los Angeles reached $1 billion.
In the case of George Floyd, street rally and violence occurred a day after the spread of a viral video, where Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck while he was pleading, “I can’t breathe” for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Floyd, 46, a forgery suspect, died in the hospital. 
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)



Why things always go wrong

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Theodore Roosevelt
By Alex P. Vidal 

I HAVE encountered a lot of incredible personalities in different fields—incompetent employees, teachers, police and military officers, public officials, entertainers, media personalities, health workers, supervisors, and so on and so forth. 
I have made personal interviews and hobnobbed with some of them in various occasions and circumstances.
But not until I read The Peter Principle, introduced to me by my friend, the late lawyer-philosopher Ernie J. Dayot, when I started to realize that in almost all areas of human endeavor, we can actually always encounter employees that tend to rise to their level of incompetence in a hierarchy.
Written by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull, it tells why Utopian plans never generate Utopias; why prosperity fails to produce happiness; why courts do not dispense justice; why governments cannot maintain order; and why schools do not bestow wisdom.

'OCCUPATIONAL INCOMPETENCE'

Dr. Peter, a Canada-born former associate professor of education at the University of Southern California, coined the term "occupational incompetence" which has become a universal phenomenon.
"We see indecisive politicians posing as resolute statesmen and the 'authoritative source' who blames his misinformation on 'situational imponderables.' Limitless are the public servants who are indolent and insolent; military commanders whose behavioral timidity belies their dread-naught rhetoric, and governors whose innate servility prevents their actually governing," writes Dr. Peter.
"In our sophistication, we virtually shrug aside the immoral cleric, corrupt judge, incoherent attorney, author who cannot write and English teacher who cannot spell."
The author reveals that we see proclamations at universities authored by administrators whose own office communications are hopelessly muddled; and droning lectures from inaudible or incomprehensible instructors.

CAUSE

Seeing incompetence at all levels of every hierarchy--political, legal, educational and industrial--Dr. Peters says "I hypothesized that the cause was some inherent feature of the rules governing the placement of employees. Thus began my serious study of the ways in which employees move upward through a hierarchy, and of what happens to them after promotion."
He collected hundreds of case histories for his scientific data and discovered that all such cases had a common feature. The employees had been promoted from a position of competence to a position of incompetence. This could happen to every employee in every hierarchy, says Dr. Peter.

HIERARCHIOLOGY

This led him to formulate The Peter Principle and inadvertently founded a new science, hierarchiology, the study of hierarchies.
The term "hierarchy" was originally used to describe system of church government by priests graded into ranks. The contemporary meaning, explains the author, includes any organization whose members or employees are arranged in order of ranks, grades or class.
Dr. Peter believes that hierarchiology, although a relatively recent discipline, appears to have great applicability to the fields of public and private administration.
His principle "is the key to understanding of all hierarchal systems, and therefore to an understanding of the whole structure of civilization."
A few eccentrics, he explains, try to avoid getting involved with hierarchies, but everyone in business, industry, trade-unionism, politics, government, the armed forces, religion and education is so involved. All of them are controlled by the Peter Principle.

LEVEL

Dr. Peter elaborates: "Many of them, to be sure, may win a promotion or two, moving from one level of competence in that new position qualifies them for still another promotion. For each individual, for you, for me, the final promotion is from a level of competence to a level of incompetence."
So, given enough time--and assuming the existence of enough ranks in the hierarchy--each employee rises to, and remains at, his level of incompetence, he further stresses.
Peter's Corollary states: In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties.
"You will rarely find, of course, a system in which every employee has reached his level of incompetence. In most instances, something is being done to further the ostensible purposes for which the hierarchy exists," Dr. Peter explains.
Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence, the book further states.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Naked truth about animal called human

"At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty a nothing at all." 
BALTASAR GRACIAN 

By Alex P. Vidal

THE book that makes some of us feel embarrassed about our animal selves rolled off the press in the year when Bolivian guerrilla leader Che Guevara was captured; and when The Beatles released the album "Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band." 
I'm referring to Desmond Morris' sensational worldwide bestseller, The Naked Ape, described by Saturday Review as "a startlingly novel idea, brilliantly executed."

No less than Morris himself, the author, who formerly was the Curator of mammals at London Zoo, admitted that in dealing with the fundamental problems of the naked ape, he realized that he ran the risk of offending a number of people. 
"There are some who will prefer not to contemplate their animal selves. They may consider that I have degraded our species by discussing it in crude animal terms," wrote Morris.
"I can only assure them that this is not my intention. There are others who will resent any zoological invasion of their specialist arena. But I believe that this approach can be of great value and that, whatever its shortcomings, it will throw now (and in some ways unexpected) light on the complex nature if our extraordinary species."

SCIENCE

Morris explained that his book was intended to popularize and demystify science.
"There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes," Morris alleged. "One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens. The unusual and highly successful species spends a great deal of time examining his higher motives and an equal amount of time studiously ignoring his fundamental ones. He is proud that he has the biggest brain of all the primates, but attempts to conceal the fact that he also has the biggest penis, preferring to accord this honor falsely to the mighty gorilla. He is an intensely vocal, acutely exploratory, over-crowded ape, and it is high time we examined his basic behavior."
"To read Desmond Morris on the sex habits of the naked ape is disconcerting, to say the least" observed the Saturday Review. "Here the detail is specific and clinical...and the naked ape comes out of it looking very animal indeed...you read on with the mixture of discovery and embarrassment...an enlightening, entertaining, disturbing, discomforting, ego-shrinking experience."

CREATURE

The book tells about man as "a creature who can write immortal poetry, raise giant cities, aim for the stars, build an atomic bomb--but he is also an animal, a relative of the apes--a naked ape, in fact."
The Naked Ape, serialized in the Daily Mirror newspaper and has been translated into 23 languages, depicts human behavior as largely evolved to meet the challenges of prehistoric life as a hunter-gatherer (see nature versus nurture). The book was so named because out of 193 species of monkeys and apes only man is not covered in hair.
Morris made a number of claims in the book naming man as "the sexiest primate alive". He further claimed that our fleshy ear-lobes, which are unique to humans, are erogenous zones, the stimulation of which can cause orgasm in both males and females. Morris further stated that the more rounded shape of human female breasts means they are mainly a sexual signaling device rather than simply for providing milk for infants.

EVOLUTION

He also attempted to frame human behavior in the context of evolution, but his explanations failed to convince academics because they were based on a teleological (goal-oriented) understanding of evolution. For example, Morris wrote that the intense human pair bond evolved so that men who were out hunting could trust that their mates back home were not having sex with other men, and that sparse body hair evolved because the "nakedness" helped intensify pair bonding by increasing tactile pleasure.
Morris criticized some psychiatrists and psycho-analysts that "have stayed nearer home and have concentrated on clinical studies of mainstream specimens. Much of their earlier material, although not suffering from the weakness of the anthropological information, also has an unfortunate bias."
Sexually the naked ape finds himself today in a somewhat confusing situation, Morris explained. "As a primate he is pulled one way, as a carnivore by adoption he is pulled another, and as a member of an elaborate civilized community he is pulled yet another."

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Farewell my friend, ‘Willie the Devil’

“The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather for the devil.”
C.S. LEWIS

By Alex P. Vidal

I REGRET that I failed to visit my friend, Willie Andrew Gonzalez Branum, who lived in Jaro, Iloilo City, when I went to the Philippines in 2012.
Now he’s gone. 
Branum, 58, or “Willie the Devil”, succumbed to cardiac arrest on May 26 in the conclusion of his dialysis, according to our friend, Atty. Joseph Celis, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Western Visayas regional director.
Willie Andrew G. Branum once threatened to swallow whole every priest he would meet in the road on his way home.
He once showed to me a book he spotted while we were busy ransacking a box full of second hand books in the ground floor of SM City in Iloilo City.
Willie the Devil exclaimed, "Gotcha! At last, I found it."
The book, American Caesar, was about the exploits of Gen. Douglas MacArthur by William Manchester.
Manchester paints a sympathetic but balanced portrait of MacArthur, praising the general for his military genius, administrative skill, and personal bravery, while criticizing his vanity, paranoia, and tendency toward insubordination. 
As the title suggests, Manchester's central thesis is that MacArthur was an analogue of Julius Caesar, a proposition he supports by noting their great intellect, brilliant strategic generalship, political ambition, magnanimity as conquerors, and shared tragic flaw of hubris.
"The problem is," bemoaned Willie the Devil, "this book, as well as other classical books, are beyond the reach of ordinary people. Very expensive if to be bought directly from regular bookstores. It is supposed to be the obligation of the government to make all those great books accessible to everybody—even to members of the society's hoi polloi."
Willie the Devil further thundered: "If those idiots in government can enrich themselves by committing graft and corruption while in office, why can't they do something to help alleviate ignorance in our country?" 

POVERTY

The Devil had a casus belli or cause for war. 
He pointed out that the root cause of poverty in the Philippines is “due to ignorance.” 
When citizens are ignorant, their opportunities to advance their economic well-being are limited if not stymied. They can easily be subjugated and mesmerized.
And because of ignorance, they elect fellow ignoramuses such as comedians, action stars, basketball three-pointers, and other ridiculous showbiz characters into higher office--only to add insult to their injury and rob them of their dignity down to their last cents.
Also, both the Devil and yours truly agreed that "there seems to be a conspiracy between the oligarchs and religious authorities to deny people the chance to have access on classical books -- books that will liberate the mind and open the floodgates of philosophical and scientific inquiries en route to searching for knowledge and truth."

EXPENSIVE
  
Important books about science, history, geometry, psychology, astronomy, environment, physics, religion, sociology, biography, medicine, and philosophy are gathering cobwebs and decaying in bookstores not because nobody could locate them, but because they are too expensive. 
A low-income earner intending to read any of the books will have to prioritize first the food for his family and agonize that he can't even begin reading the first chapter of those books.
History shows that the educated man--the intellectual--has given the best government and achieved the best results when given the opportunity.
Alexander the Great was an intellectual. 
His teacher was Aristotle and he acquired all the learning of his day. 
After talking with Diogenes in his tub at Corinth he remarked, "Were I not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes."
Julius Caesar was a learned man. His Commentaries had not been excelled for two thousand years until another intellectual came along to make history and record it--Winston Churchill.

SCHOLAR

Marcus Aurelius was a great scholar and intellectual. He had a true conception of the universe and his idea of God would be acceptable to most people today above the second-year-high-school level.
Napoleon Bonaparte was a prodigious reader. It is recorded that in his headquarters in Waterloo, with the weight of the entire world on his shoulders, he had a mobile library of some 800 books--most of them on history, science, and philosophy.
Queen Elizabeth I, who ushered in the era of Britain's glory, understood the value of education and learning. 
Frederick the Great was a scholar. He kept Voltaire by his side and subsidized as many men of talent as his coffers would allow. England put emphasis on intellectuals, and elevated her educated men to positions of highest power--Burke, Disraeli, Gladstone, Balfour.

VICTORY

The victory of 600,000 Israelis against 12 million Arabs was won by a group of intellectuals who laid the foundation of the great nation. 
George Washington's greatness was due in no little measure to his tremendous respect for intellectuals. Benjamin Franklin, of course, stands out. 
Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, bitter political enemies, had one thing in common. They were both learned men in history, political science, and philosophy. 
It is interesting to read the titles of the books Franklin had in his library. 
There was the Bible, Euclid, Shakespeare, Homer's Iliad, Plutarch's Lives. 
A man could spend two lifetimes studying those five books.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Vatican should ‘rescue’ Angelicum School


“Where human lives are concerned, time is always short, yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed 'too big to fail.'”
Pope Benedict XVI

By Alex P. Vidal

SOME people find the reason put forward behind the closure of Angelicum School Iloilo (ASIL) in Jaro, Iloilo City effective July 31, 2020 to be “too shallow” and wonder why the financially robust Roman Catholic hierarchy in Vatican “didn’t do something” to bail out the magnificent learning institution from dire straits.
If the reason for the closure is economics, the “problem” is a pittance given the whooping resources of the Roman Catholic Financial Empire based in Rome.
Its motto, “Caritas, Justitia, et Fortitudo (Charity, Justice, and Fortitude)” is very much identified with the slogan, principles, and spirit espoused by the Pope, thus it boggles the mind why the Vatican will allow one of the pillars of education in this part of the world to close shop without lifting a finger to save it. 
We are aware that the Roman Catholic hierarchy owns the Vatican Bank, which reportedly has about 33,000 accounts, a distribution network in more than 100 countries, and an estimated $8 billion in assets. 
Can’t the Vatican Bank, in the name of charity, justice, and fortitude play the role of a “Big Brother” to the embattled Angelicum School Iloilo?

-o0o-


The Vatican Bank is officially called the Institute for the Works of Religion and is a privately held firm run by a CEO who reports to a committee of cardinals and the Pope.
It reportedly offers ATMs with transactions in Latin and boasts a small castle-like headquarters protected by Swiss Guards.
Though the Vatican reportedly admits most of the accounts belong to members of the clergy, the bank’s assets are not the property of the Holy See, but is considered a charitable foundation affiliated with the Vatican.
Definitely ASIL isn’t that big and heavy for any SOS from the Vatican.  
In his “ASIL’s ceasing of operation” notice addressed to “the Parents of ASIL students” dated May 27, 2020, School Director, Rev. Fr. Maximo P Gatela O.P. revealed he “expressed” on May 9, 2020 to the officers of the council of parents online “the difficulty that COVID-19 has created to ASIL.”

-o0o-

“The experience of the 4th Grading Period was difficult for all of us,” Gr. Gatela explained. “The sad part was that ASIL was not ready and failed miserably in delivering the services.”
Gatela stressed: “As the situation of uncertainty continues, we cannot prolong the 4th grading experience throughout the whole school year nor keep you hanging in the air. Effective July 31, 2020, ASIL will cease operation.” 
We frequented the school during our high school days for sports activities in the 80s and were awed by the mansion’s Christmas lights especially during the "Daigon Slash Sigaboom."
Established in 1978 during the Martial Law years, ASIL, a former heritage house known as the Lizares Mansion, is arguably a sight to behold owing to its remarkable European renaissance designs in the façade, perhaps one of the most majestic campuses in Asia. 
We mourn ASIL’s scheduled departure—unless the Vatican will do something to save it from imminent doldrums.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)












Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Bato’s ‘good life’

“The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Alex P. Vidal

“SARAP ng buhay, sarap ng buhay, ganto na lang tayo palagi ha?” (Life is good, life is good, I hope we’re like this all the time.) thus was the controversial statement recently made by Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa after the Senate shifted to “hybrid” sessions and plenary meetings while we observed the social distancing owing to coronavirus’ murderous binge.
If Bato wants to desire a “good life” it’s none of our business.
Who wants to have a “bad life” in the first place?
Only hypocrites will deny they wouldn’t fight tooth and nail to have a good life, or to enjoy a satisfying and stress-free life.
Only the charlatans will admit they would choose a miserable life if asked to make a choice.
There’s nothing earthshaking actually about his words even if we view them from the perspective of politics.
They can’t be associated either with the dreary “political correctness” or a term used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.

-o0o-

Expressing ecstasy in that “hybrid” senate session, Bato desired only happiness in life, not hedonism.
When applied to a person, the word “hedonist” has slightly negative connotations as it suggests that they are devoted to what some have called the “lower” pleasures such as sex, food, drink, and sensual indulgence in general.
The question whether we want a good or a bad life actually isn’t as simple as it sounds. 
We don’t specialize in unpacking hidden complexities in sentences, but most of us will probably agree that the concept of the good life is one of those that needs quite a bit of unpacking.
The good life we all desire is different from pleasure, bluntly declared by Epicurus thousands of years ago as what makes “life worth living.” “Pleasure is enjoyable, it’s fun, it’s...well...pleasant! The view that pleasure is the good, or, to put I another way, that pleasure is what makes life worth living, is known as hedonism,” according to Dr. Emrys Westacott of University of Texas at Austin.

-o0o-

The problem with most people is their tendency to be sanctimonious when passing a judgment to what they hear and see in the political jungle.
Bato may not be our ideal senator (critics even call him as “clown”), but he deserves “to be happy” or to express what he wants and what to desire for his own life; the neophyte senator is entitled to his right to freedom of expression just like any other ordinary citizens, and his critics are also entitled to rib him; anyway they were the ones who placed him there.
I never voted for Bato but I won’t belittle him. I didn’t believe he should be in the senate, in the first place. But the people have spoken and he is now a duly elected senator; he deserves our support.
In fairness, this was what the former PNP chief-turn-solon texted to reporters to justify his “happiness”: “Kaya nasabi kong ang sarap nang buhay kasi mas mabilis ang talakayan ng bills kapag naka-(WebEx) kami at mas maaga matapos ang session.” (The reason I said that was because our discussions on the bills were faster as we used WebEx and the session was suspended early).

-o0o-

Speaking of desiring a good life, here are the 10 golden rules on living the good life, according to Forbes’ Panos Mourdoukoutas:
1. Examine life, engage life with vengeance; always search for new pleasures and new destines to reach with your mind.
2. Worry only about the things that are in your control, the things that can be influenced and changed by your actions, not about the things that are beyond your capacity to direct or alter.
3. Treasure Friendship, the reciprocal attachment that fills the need for affiliation. Friendship cannot be acquired in the market place, but must be nurtured and treasured in relations imbued with trust and amity.
4. Experience True Pleasure. Avoid shallow and transient pleasures. Keep your life simple. Seek calming pleasures that contribute to peace of mind. True pleasure is disciplined and restrained.
5. Master Yourself. Resist any external force that might delimit thought and action; stop deceiving yourself, believing only what is personally useful and convenient; complete liberty necessitates a struggle within, a battle to subdue negative psychological and spiritual forces that preclude a healthy existence; self mastery requires ruthless cador.
6. Avoid Excess. Live life in harmony and balance. Avoid excesses. Even good things, pursued or attained without moderation, can become a source of misery and suffering.
7. Be a Responsible Human Being. Approach yourself with honesty and thoroughness; maintain a kind of spiritual hygiene; stop the blame-shifting for your errors and shortcomings.
8. Don’t Be a Prosperous Fool. Prosperity by itself, is not a cure-all against an ill-led life, and may be a source of dangerous foolishness. Money is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for the good life, for happiness and wisdom.
9. Don’t Do Evil to Others. Evildoing is a dangerous habit, a kind of reflex too quickly resorted to and too easily justified that has a lasting and damaging effect upon the quest for the good life. Harming others claims two victims—the receiver of the harm, and the victimizer, the one who does harm.
10. Kindness towards others tends to be rewarded. Kindness to others is a good habit that supports and reinforces the quest for the good life. Helping others bestows a sense of satisfaction that has two beneficiaries—the beneficiary, the receiver of the help, and the benefactor, the one who provides the help. (The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Too fast, too soon

“Electricity is really just organized lightning.”
George Carlin

By Alex P. Vidal

WHEN power interruptions began to annoy the residents of Iloilo City amid the coronavirus-mandated lockdown early this month, we sounded an alarm that enemies of More Electric Power and Corporation (MORE Power), particularly its rival Panay Electric Company (PECO), might use the furor to pound MORE Power with heavy molotov before the bar of public opinion.
This was after the metropolis experienced a nerve-tingling 13-hour power blackout first week of May.
“The Ilonggos are ruthless and unforgiving when it comes to protesting against any power outage,” I warned in my article. They don’t care anymore if it is PECO or More Power that provides them electric services. Just give them a fair deal and they won’t give a damn which power company to acknowledge. All they want is efficient service and unhampered power distribution. Anything less would mean an apocalypse of verbal denunciation.”
Another “long” power blackout will again reportedly occur anytime this month and in the coming weeks thereafter. 
True or not, this isn’t funny anymore.
MORE Power better shape up or shut up.

-o0o-

ON the other hand, we find it too premature for Congress to jump into the gun battle and “probe” the “frequent” power interruptions under the tutelage of MORE Power. 
In fact, House Resolution No. 785 has already been reportedly filed “probing the status of the distribution of electricity in Iloilo City to ensure that power distribution will not cease and that the people of Iloilo will not be affected” by Party List Rep. Sony Lagon.
Too fast. Too soon. So embryonic.
MORE Power is only in the infant stage of serving the Ilonggos and it will now face the Inquisition because of a wispy crime?
It looks like somebody has been waiting only for someone inside the movie house to slip in the banana peel and shout “fire”.

 -o0o-

A 40-YEAR-OLD mother from Arevalo, Iloilo City has a message for Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones:
Dear Secretary Briones, I believe you have so many fulfillments in life. I also believe your parents were so uncompromising in taking care of you when you were a child, protecting your skin from the mosquitoes and other elements. I further believe your parents would never want to put you in any danger and risk your life just to fulfill their dreams for you. And I strongly believe you are aware that education is not the only important bridge to become successful. My teacher once said, “You should have the sense of empathy towards your fellowmen.” 
It could also succinctly mean that education is nothing if we don’t know how to consider the feelings of others. In short, be sensitive enough to the needs of others by putting your shoes on the parents of the students.  
To reach your age is what we parents have dreamt for our children. Do you think if we send our children to school and study in a room with a maximum capacity of 15, they will be secured from the coronavirus? 
As a doctor of education, you are considered as “witty and well-trained” in all aspects of strategies in the field of teaching. You have been through a lot of trainings that have sharpened your skills not only as a good teacher but also as a better person and a responsible parent.
May I respectfully suggest that instead of sending our children to school in these uncertain times, let’s adopt a system where we can use the modular and give the students scheduled tests at home?
I am motivated by a desire to have a better plan in teaching instead of complaining and doing nothing. I am also a mother and very much aware like other mothers that this year’s education can be considered as a bonus.
The whole school year, even without the COVID-19, some students always have a hard time coping up with their studies at school because of so many hindrances; some of which, aside from the coronavirus, are overpopulation of students, limited number and sizes of classrooms, and shortage of teachers. 
The specter of COVID-19 has resulted in the exodus of more OFWs going home, and most of them are husbands of teachers and parents of children we have exhorted to strictly follow the social distancing at school.
When they sit in their chairs, move in their surroundings, and use the comfort rooms, how are they going to disinfect? And what about the teachers? Who will protect them? 
Norman Cousins once said, “Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.”
As a parent, I can’t in my conscience put to risk the safety of my children.
Education is important but I value my children’s life over their dreams to become professionals someday. Coronavirus might turn their bright future into ashes; I love my children so much and they are my life.
I also call on my fellow parents to reecho my sentiments and help campaign for the modular mechanism and teach our children at home. Remember we can do this all together because we are the first parents and their teachers are the second. Secretary Briones hear us parents! LOVELYN LOVEFAYES” PANIZAL-GEDUQUE.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Iloilo mom to Sec. Briones: hear us

A 40-YEAR-OLD mother from Arevalo, Iloilo City has a message for Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones:
Dear Secretary Briones, I believe you have so many fulfillments in life. I also believe your parents were so uncompromising in taking care of you when you were a child, protecting your skin from the mosquitoes and other elements. I further believe your parents would never want to put you in any danger and risk your life just to fulfill their dreams for you. And I strongly believe you are aware that education is not the only important bridge to become successful. My teacher once said, “You should have the sense of empathy towards your fellowmen.” 
It could also succinctly mean that education is nothing if we don’t know how to consider the feelings of others. In short, be sensitive enough to the needs of others by putting your shoes on the parents of the students.  
To reach your age is what we parents have dreamt for our children. Do you think if we send our children to school and study in a room with a maximum capacity of 15, they will be secured from the coronavirus? 
As a doctor of education, you are considered as “witty and well-trained” in all aspects of strategies in the field of teaching. You have been through a lot of trainings that have sharpened your skills not only as a good teacher but also as a better person and a responsible parent.
May I respectfully suggest that instead of sending our children to school in these uncertain times, let’s adopt a system where we can use the modular and give the students scheduled tests at home?
I am motivated by a desire to have a better plan in teaching instead of complaining and doing nothing. I am also a mother and very much aware like other mothers that this year’s education can be considered as a bonus.
The whole school year, even without the COVID-19, some students always have a hard time coping up with their studies at school because of so many hindrances; some of which, aside from the coronavirus, are overpopulation of students, limited number and sizes of classrooms, and shortage of teachers. 
The specter of COVID-19 has resulted in the exodus of more OFWs going home, and most of them are husbands of teachers and parents of children we have exhorted to strictly follow the social distancing at school.
When they sit in their chairs, move in their surroundings, and use the comfort rooms, how are they going to disinfect? And what about the teachers? Who will protect them? 
Norman Cousins once said, “Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.”
As a parent, I can’t in my conscience put to risk the safety of my children.
Education is important but I value my children’s life over their dreams to become professionals someday. Coronavirus might turn their bright future into ashes; I love my children so much and they are my life.
I also call on my fellow parents to reecho my sentiments and help campaign for the modular mechanism and teach our children at home. Remember we can do this all together because we are the first parents and their teachers are the second. Secretary Briones hear us parents! LOVELYN “LOVEFAYES” PANIZAL-GEDUQUE.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Leave the sex workers alone

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Alex P. Vidal

IT’S a silly argument that a city hall task force has focused on running after sex workers in Iloilo City after it received reports “they were demanding for food instead of cash” in exchange of sexual services amid the COVID-19 quarantine measures.
Money is hard to find nowadays because of the extended lockdown but not food.
Food is always available and can be bought in any public market and grocery store as long as there is money.
Our agriculture and factories can still produce abundance of food. 
We aren’t yet experiencing a famine or extreme scarcity of food. 
Our problem is the pandemic, a coronavirus that has spread worldwide and killed more than 340,000 and infected more than five million people.
No prostituted woman in her right mind will demand a food for her body, at least not in a highly urbanized metropolis like Iloilo City.
Prostitution is always synonymous with money. No money no honey. 
Some women resort to the oldest profession on earth because they want a quick cash, not instant noodles or hotdogs and hamburgers.
Granting for the sake of discussion there are sex workers who want only food for their services, is this a valid reason for authorities to prioritize their arrest and incarceration while the coronavirus threatens to decimate the human race?
Whether they demand food or money as a mode of payment for a sexual transaction, prostitution is still illegal and wrong morally and spiritually.

-o0o-

WHO are “V” and “E” or the couple exposed by Iloilo first district Rep. Janette Loreto-Garin in her recent privilege speech as being involved in the overpriced COVID-19 test kits charged to PhilHealth? 
Instead of charging only P800 for each RT-PCR test kit, suppliers V and E made a killing at the expense of the people by charging P8,150, according to the lady solon who served as health secretary during the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. 
The unnamed suppliers must be well-connected in the Duterte administration the reason why they were able to corner the rich deal.
This is probably the same reason why Rep. Loreto-Garin was adamant to reveal their true identities for fear they might get back at her.
Or the former health secretary was only apparently trying to hold her punches and reserve her bullets just in case the President will not lend his ears to the “expose.”     
Unravelling the true identities of the COVID-19 test kits “scammers” would have been perfect during a privilege speech. 

-o0o-

But if President Duterte is determined to minimize if not totally stop graft and corruption in his administration, he will press the Leyte-born congresswoman from Guimbal, Iloilo to spell out the letters V and E so that the President can begin cutting off their tentacles to pieces.
The President would be obliged to initiate drastic measures once the media started revealing the “scammer’s” names based on damning pieces of evidence to be provided by the feisty congresswoman.
Failure on her part to name names would render her “expose” inutile and become an exercise in futility.
Failure on her part to go beyond the initials will embolden the people to think she wasn’t serious in her crusade to cripple the anomalies involving the COVID-19 test kits.
Of course we believe she is sincere and has no ulterior motive other than to correct the wrong hounding the government efforts to arrest the growing number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the country.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)



     
  


  


Saturday, May 23, 2020

Lockdown and our mental health


“We know how to treat depression, we know how to treat mental illness, and we have not had the political will in our country to make it happen.”
Rosalynn Carter

By Alex P. Vidal

WE have been hearing a lot of complaints about “gutom” (nothing to eat) and “pigado na gid” (life is so hard) as a result of the months-long lockdown and the coronavirus-instigated enhanced social distancing from residents who believed the government’s social amelioration program (SAP) response wasn’t enough to sustain their day to day survival.
In a pandemic, SAP or any form of assistance from any Good Samaritan is viewed heavily as equivalent to a band aid, not surgery.  
These are valid assertions especially that some people haven’t earned any income for nearly three months now while others have altogether lost their jobs.
While we are “all in this together” and hopeful things will normalize when the coronavirus pandemic is gone, empty stomachs and mounting bills can’t wait.
Creditors with low emotional quotients have joined the fray and added pressure to the psychological trauma and dwindling pockets.
These are some of the pandemic “side-events” that have been roiling down the country and nobody appears to have given them a serious attention.

-o0o-

Since there is no timetable for the virus’ exit—if ever it will disappear soon—anxieties and frustrations grow in an alarming scale in many homes.
Even if the second tranche of SAP will arrive soon, it won’t guarantee that those in the economic skid row can immediately recuperate from wobbly legs.
What if the COVID-19 will continue to wreak havoc until the “ber” months, or even until next year? 
What if the pandemic’s feared “second wave” will aggravate and empty the government’s coffer as forewarned by President Duterte?  
Sadness and depression continue to deepen and prolong.
As a result, many Filipinos, shellshocked by the pandemic’s onslaught, have suffered both from alarming emotional and mental anguishes, aside from financial difficulties.
We have heard of some exasperated income earners committing suicide and even killing their families, and couples separating. 
Domestic violence was reportedly on a rise but wasn’t given proper attention because the media and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been preoccupied with reports about COVID-19, the disheartening troubles in the checkpoints, and the inequalities and injustices in the SAP distributions.

-o0o-

Even in the mighty United States, mental-health experts are especially worried about the ongoing economic devastation. 
Research has reportedly established a strong link between economic upheaval and suicide and substance use. 
A study of the Great Recession that began in late 2007 found that for every percentage point increase in the unemployment rate, there was about a 1.6 percent increase in the suicide rate, according to a Washington Post report.
Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. 
A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year, added the Washington Post. 
Last month, reports said, roughly 20,000 people texted the hotline, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Online therapy company Talkspace reported a 65 percent jump in clients since mid-February. 
Text messages and transcribed therapy sessions collected anonymously by the company reportedly show coronavirus-related anxiety dominating patients’ concerns.
“People are really afraid,” Talkspace co-founder and CEO Oren Frank said. The increasing demand for services, he said, follows almost exactly the geographic march of the virus across the United States. “What’s shocking to me is how little leaders are talking about this. There are no White House briefings about it. There is no plan.”
One in five adults in the U.S. reportedly endure the consequences of mental illness each year. Yet less than half receive treatment, federal statistics show. As suicide rates have fallen around the world, the rate in the United States has reportedly climbed every year since 1999, increasing 33 percent in the past two decades.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)






Thursday, May 21, 2020

A letter from President Donald Trump

“Every time I hear a politician mention the word 'stimulus,' my mind flashes back to high school biology class, when I touched battery wires to a dead frog to make it twitch.”
Robert Kiyosaki

By Alex P. Vidal


I RECEIVED a letter signed by U.S. President Donald J. Trump dated May 1, 2020.
Printed in a letterhead of “The White House Washington”, the letter was sent to my address in Elmhurst, Queens and I received it on May 15, 2020.
President Trump started his letter with my complete name and mailing address and addressed me as “My Fellow American.”
The President’s letter read: Our great country is experiencing an unprecedented public health and economic challenge as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Our top priority is your health and safety. As we wage total war on this invisible enemy, we are also working around the clock to protect hardworking Americans like you from the consequences of the economic shutdown.
We are fully committed to ensuring that you and your family have the support you need to get through this time.
On March 27, 2020, Congress passed with overwhelming bipartisan support the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which I profoundly signed into law.
I want to thank the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate for working so quickly with my Administration to fast-track this $2.2 trillion in much-needed economic relief to the American people.
This includes fast and direct economic assistance to you.
I am pleased to notify you that as provided by the CARES Act, you are receiving an Economic Impact Payment of $1,200.00 by check/debit card.
We hope this payment provides meaningful support to you during this period.
Every citizen should take tremendous pride in the selflessness, courage and compassion of our people. America’s drive, determination, innovation and sheer willpower have conquered every previous challenge—and they will conquer this one too.
Just as we have before, America will triumph yet again—and rise to new heights of greatness.
We will do it together, as one nation, stronger than ever before. Signed President Donald J. Trump.

-o0o-

I am not yet an American citizen, thus I presume President Trump used the same format when he sent the same letter to 330 million Americans and other recipients of the CARES Act during the same period.
Nevertheless, I thank Mr. Trump and the Department of the Treasury Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for my inclusion in the CARES Act as a taxpayer.
As this developed, a second wave of coronavirus relief checks is reportedly on the table, penciled to bring more IRS stimulus money to the Americans’ pockets—if it passes.
When the first wave of coronavirus stimulus checks was announced, the assumption was that it was a one-time deal to help prop up the economy, reported Personal Finance’s Clifford Colby.
“That may no longer be the case. A second round of stimulus payments to put more money in your pocket is now under consideration in Congress, even as the IRS continues to send the last batch of economic relief checks,” he wrote. “Whether or not this second stimulus payment gets signed into law is another question.
This new relief act--proposed last week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and passed by the House of Representatives--is reportedly fueled by rising concerns about the economy and people's ability to pay for basic needs.
Colby said in Senate testimony earlier this week, Jerome Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, called for additional economic relief.
He explained that “the US economy has is already staggering from coronavirus closures that have put millions of Americans out of work and ground businesses to a halt. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 14.7% unemployment rate in April. On Thursday, the federal agency reported that 38.6 million Americans sought unemployment benefits (PDF) in the past nine weeks. The International Monetary Fund warns of a deep global recession that could become the worst since the Great Depression.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Keep the school gates close until 2021

“Protect yourself at all times. It's what I talk to school kids and college kids about when I do my seminars. I'm not just talking about in the ring. Protect yourself at all times.”
Bernard Hopkins

By Alex P. Vidal


AS more evidence surfaced that children’s lives have been turned upside down by COVID-19 pandemic anywhere in the world today, we agree on the proposal of both Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. and Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas to postpone the school opening until 2021.
The call for postponement by both Iloilo chief executives came as the Department of Education (DepEd) decided recently to open school year 2020–2021 on Aug. 24, 2020.
To prepare for the opening of the school year 2020, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones has reportedly ordered all public school teachers and employees to report back to work starting June 1, 2020.
Both Defensor and Treñas apparently were worried that the coronavirus might not go away until the end of 2020, and there is a need to protect the school children who might be exposed to the pandemic if they go back to school even in August which is about two months away while the world is still being hounded by a growing number of cases and deaths.
So far, no parent has opposed the stand of the two Iloilo leaders even as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) supported the move of some teachers, students and parents to question DepEd’s decision to open school year 2020-2021 on Aug. 24.
“Secretary Briones’ pep talk on fighting fears and teaching students courage does not assuage our apprehensions as they are based on our rational assessment of the country’s present condition,” ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio said in a statement.

-o0o-

It should be noted that between schools being closed and playdates being cancelled, children's routines are anything but routine.
Even before the school opening, school children also have questions about coronavirus, and benefit from age-appropriate answers that don't fuel the flame of anxiety.
While they are at home, there should be a need to discuss things they can control, like hand washing, social distancing, and other health-promoting behaviors.
How does COVID-19 affect children? Children, including very young children, can develop COVID-19 even if many of them have no symptoms, according to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing.
Those that do get sick tend to experience milder symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough.
Some children have had severe complications, but this has been less common.
Children with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe illness.

-o0o-

Harvard has warned that a complication that has more recently been observed in children can be severe and dangerous. Called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), Harvard said it can lead to life-threatening problems with the heart and other organs in the body. Early reports compare it to Kawasaki disease, an inflammatory illness that can lead to heart problems. But while some cases look very much like Kawasaki's, others have been different.
Symptoms of MIS-C can include: fever lasting more than a couple of days; rash; conjunctivitis (redness of the white part of the eye)
Stomachache; vomiting and/or diarrhea; a large, swollen lymph node in the neck red, cracked lips; a tongue that is redder than usual and looks like a strawberry; swollen hands and/or feet; irritability and/or unusual sleepiness or weakness.
Many conditions can reportedly cause these symptoms.
Doctors make the diagnosis of MIS-C based on these symptoms, along with a physical examination and medical tests that check for inflammation and how organs are functioning.
Harvard recommends to call the doctor if the child develops symptoms, particularly if his fever lasts for more than a couple of days. If the symptoms get any worse or just don't improve, call again or bring the child to an emergency room.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)