Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Defensor right not to tell Duque to quit

“There's so much interference, so much static and people's voices talking about what you do and why you do it that I've learned to be like, 'No, no.' It's actually simple. I just do this.”
Jenny Slate

By Alex P. Vidal

IF Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. isn’t happy with both the health programs in the province of Iloilo and the way the provincial health office is handling the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, he can always call for the provincial health chief’s resignation.
Or the governor can replace the provincial health chief right away without prejudice to the latter’s security of tenure and civil service eligibility.
So far, so good. 
The provincial health office, headed by Dr. Patricia Grace S. Trabado, has been doing a good job in the fight against the pandemic, and the governor appears to be pleased and satisfied.  
But if Defensor Jr. is frustrated with the way the Department of Health (DoH) is being managed—especially if he finds the campaign to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases in the country to be inefficient and unsatisfactory—the least he can do is recommend to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that “incompetent” Secretary Francisco Duque III be sacked.
He can’t directly ask Duque III to yield his portfolio and escort him out of the DoH building. 
Even if Defensor Jr. thinks that Duque III’s supposed negligence and mismanagement of the DoH will have immediate and far reaching effects to his Ilonggo constituents, in one way or the other, he doesn’t have a jurisdiction over Duque III’s employment in the Malacanang.


Since Duque III serves at the pleasure of President Duterte, only the president can remove him from the cabinet.
As long as Duque III enjoys the trust and confidence of the president, he can’t abandon his post only because some local chief executives don’t like him.
Thus Defensor Jr. made the right answer when asked by reporters recently if he would also call for Duque III’s resignation after Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas openly demanded for the controversial DoH boss’ resignation “for the sake of the country.”
Treñas thundered: “As a decision maker, what I can say is that the DOH has not done correct decisions since the start of this pandemic in the Philippines. That is why we are the country with the longest lockdown and yet the (COVID-19) cases continue to go up.”
The city mayor added: “I am not putting blame on anyone but there are decision makers. Secretary Francisco Duque is a friend because I have known him since the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.  But I think it is really about time to accept responsibility and voluntarily resign for the sake of the country.”
Although several senators have also earlier called for Duque III’s resignation, Treñas became the first local chief executive outside Metro Manila to seek for Duque III’s ouster.
He must have been exasperated when the DoH had earlier called for the pulling out of 39 rural health workers from Western Visayas to be assigned in Cebu, now touted as the new COVID-19 epicenter.


Defensor Jr., on the other hand, wanted to leave Duque III’s fate to President Duterte even as he refused to reprimand the DoH chief or pass judgment on his performance, saying “he was not familiar” with the circumstance of the DoH tasks in the national office.
The governor reportedly admitted he had no basis to judge Duque III since he did not have a direct work relationship with the DoH secretary.
By refusing to interfere in a matter that only the president can decide,  Defensor Jr. wanted to send a message his time and energy were focused only to the Ilonggos in his area of responsibility, and that he has nothing to do with the wrangling and intramural in the national level whatsoever.
COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc in many municipalities even as the province and city of Iloilo are still under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until July 15, 2020. 
Defensor Jr. probably believed it’s not worth his effort to demand for  the head of the top DoH official while the nation continues to struggle to surpass the deadly pandemic and lower down, if not totally stop, the number of infected cases and deaths.
The governor must have realized it’s not wise to fire the chief cook for committing a mea culpa in the middle of a big party where food preparations and kitchen works will last from lunch time to dinner time. 
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)




Monday, June 29, 2020

Docs are like soldiers being deployed to war zones

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.”
—Denis Waitley

By Alex P. Vidal

WHEN the 44 members of the Special Action Force (SAF) were deployed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao together with other crack SAF soldiers to help arrest a high-ranking terrorist on January 25, 2015, they didn’t realize they would be massacred by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Soldiers sent to dangerous combat missions obey first before they complain.
Sometimes they don’t complain, at all; or they have no more time to complain. 
They are not supposed to complain, in the first place, since when they accepted the job as combatants they knew one of their legs was already in the cemetery.
The 39 Western Visayas rural doctors who were earlier ordered deployed in Cebu, the country’s new coronavirus disease epicenter, probably felt they were like SAF soldiers being given a dangerous assignment in Mindanao.
To add suspense, news of their deployment to Cebu spread in the media at the time when reports came out that eight doctors from the St. Paul’s Hospital have been tested positive of COVID-19. 
“Why us?” they must have probably wondered. 


As of this writing, however, their deployment, which was supposed to commence on June 29, has been held in abeyance by Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DoH-CHD) Regional Director Marlyn Convocar “until issues and concerns are settled with all concerned physicians and other stakeholders.”
Before Convocar’s intercession, the organization where the 39 doctors belong, had issued a statement strongly condemning the DoH’s directive from the central office, lamenting that “the involved doctors have not been suitably informed through writing.”
The deployment order, reportedly signed by DoH Undersecretary Abdulah Dumama Jr., “did not have a proper consultation with the stakeholders prior to the directive and no detailed guidelines and protocols to protect the doctors in this temporary reassignment,” protested the group referring to the 39 Rural Health Physicians (RHP).
The 39 doctors probably thought they would be risking their lives if they weren’t ready for the tough assignment in Cebu.
DoH Secretary Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the National Task Force-COVID 19, has described the coronavirus cases and death rate in Cebu as “very much alarming.”
Galvez revealed that in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, 86 of those who died did so in less than 48 hours since being brought to the hospital.


BASED on my personal experience, residents of New York City will never go hungry in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. 
Through GetFood NYC, the City has been distributing over a million meals each day to ensure no New Yorker will go hungry because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Where can New Yorkers access free meals?
All New Yorkers can pick up meals at more than 500 NYC schools.
Meal pickup is from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm Monday through Friday. All adults and children can pick up multiple meals at one time, and all New Yorkers are eligible (no registration or ID required).
Vegetarian and halal options are available at all sites; kosher options are available at select sites. New Yorkers are asked to text FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to find the closest location, or to go to nyc.gov/getfood​ to view an interactive map of all schools and open pantries.
Emergency home delivery is available for those who need it. If we cannot go out to get food, no one can bring us food, and we are not able to use private delivery options, New York City will deliver emergency meals to us. 
We can visit ​nyc.gov/getfood​ or, if we don't have internet access or an email address, we may call 311 and say “Get Food” to sign up. Deliveries can be one-time (9 meals) or recurring (9 meals twice per week) for up to four weeks.
Deliveries may include pantry items, shelf stable meals, or fresh meals. New Yorkers can request Kosher or Halal​ ​food. Specific delivery items vary based on availability; efforts are underway to increase food options in the future.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Ilonggos want a stable power supply, not finger-pointing

“You get a reputation for stability if you are stable for years.”
Mark Zuckerberg

By Alex P. Vidal

LET us take into consideration the main interest and priority of power consumers in Iloilo City: a stable power supply.
After they have been annoyed by several unscheduled blackouts, “a stable power supply” is the only language they would always want to hear.
The power consumers may be satisfied that the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) has taken an initial step to address the baffling power outages these past months when it called for a committee investigation on June 30, but they will be more happy if given an assurance that there will be no more power interruptions as immoderate and egregious as the ones that occurred while the residents had been mandated to stay at home amid the pandemic restrictions.
They will be happier if the problem on power outage is resolved soon without hearing one party point an accusing finger at another party.
Uninterrupted power supply is their utmost priority even before the COVID-19 pandemic came; they want it now, and they want it quick. 
They are aware that the longer it will take for the SP to act on the matter, the more they will agonize now that we are in the middle of the summer season. 


They may not be interested in the dispute between the More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) and Panay Electric Company (PECO), let alone hear the Department of Energy (DoE) recite some technical terms that will create more perplexing questions than direct answers to their main concerns.
Moreover, the Ilonggo power consumers may scoff at an SP inquiry riddled with so much rancor and extended debate, especially if they feel the commotion will not immediately redound to the quick resolution of the problem.
A long debate means both parties are wrong.
An extended hearing means life will remain unbearable for thousands of power consumers who will end up in the losing end. 
The power consumers have a short tolerance when it comes to disruption of their normal lives where the role of electricity is essential and a necessity.
It’s no longer a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It’s should now be “fix it and stop fighting. Period.”


NOW that the law on Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) has been passed in the Philippines, let us be reminded that manners are actually important to make a good impression on others in everyday life. 
They also help us to feel good about ourselves and our identities.
No matter where we are, at home—with kids, at work—with colleagues, or with friends, practicing good manners are important. 
If we practice good manners, we are showing those around us that we are considerate to their feelings and also respect them. 
We are also setting standards for other’s behavior and encouraging them to treat us with similar respect.
Florence Lewis of Jobcluster has listed some of the basic examples of good manners and etiquettes:
—Choose your words wisely and don’t rush to comment about things you don’t know much about. Being a good listener is often better than speaking. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything.
—Think things out before you speak, especially if you are a person who may be poor at finding the right words to say. Don’t start a sentence, with ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ in between, it seems awkward and you should try speaking to yourself in front of a mirror, it works! It increases your confident in speaking.
—Don’t speak loudly. You will quickly lose respect if you do, as this can be seen as overbearing and rude. It can also make other people angry and upset with you before you even establish some kind of relationship with them. They will see you as a ‘big mouth’ who cannot be trusted with anything confidential. So practice turning your volume down if you tend to have a loud voice.
—Speak with respect to and of others. You can do this by avoiding negative remarks that may insult someone else. The general rule is- if you don’t want someone to speak about you that way, you don’t speak about them to others.
—Do not ever speak of bodily functions even if it is a casual conversation, such as using the bathroom or telling crude jokes, for this shows sign of immaturity and often creates a bad impression of you with your friends, family, and co-workers.
—Always respect older people and listen to them and learn. This applies to all elders and not just parents and grandparents.
Using the terms ‘Thank You’, and ‘You are Welcome’ shows that you have good manners. People who lack manners do not use these terms.
Hold open a door for anyone following you closely. This is a sign of a good manner and has never changed. There are no strict gender rules in this day and age.
—Speak highly of your parents respect them, even if there are things about them that you do not like. If you cannot do that, stay away from speaking about them at all. It looks bad to insult or speak badly of the people who brought you into this world or raised you. Don’t wash dirty family laundry in public. It is negative and rude.
—Do not swear to use filth language and curse words. It is unprofessional! People who do this are usually very immature and have no self-control or respect for themselves and others!
Good manners are simply respect and consideration for others or being aware of the needs of others. 
They are the oil which lubricates the friction of interpersonal relations and creates a happy and successful society. 
So, Give Respect and Take Respect!
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Power blackout probe: SP’s time to shine

“To avoid a blackout, electricity generating companies must lower generation in line with low demand.”
Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia

By Alex P. Vidal

FOR the first time since after the May 13, 2019 elections, the Iloilo City council or the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), will finally hog headlines when the inquiry on the frequent power blackouts that hit Iloilo City these past months will unfurl in the SP committee on public utilities on June 30, 2020.
The committee hearing is expected to attract a huge media attention since the invited parties are all heavyweights in the power industry—MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power), Panay Electric Company (PECO), and the Department of Energy (DoE).
The Iloilo Business Club (IBC) and the Department of Tourism (DoT) regional office are also expected to be present.  
No other major issues have been tackled in the local legislature these past 12 months, thus the Ilonggos would be very eager to hear from their city councilors, who have started to load extra bullets in their revolvers during their regular session on June 23. 
This may not be a namby-pamby discussion, but it is something that will at least help shed light on the causes of blackouts and their origins, in one way or the other.  
Fireworks and tremors will finally shift from the executive branch or the office of Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas  to the domain of Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon.  
It’s now time for the city council to shine.


Through the committee investigation, Ilonggo consumers will be able to understand and be enlightened about the frequent power interruptions, especially the ones that irritated and angered a lot of Ilonggos during the weekend, these past weeks.
Even during the pandemic lockdown, the power outage would sometimes last for 13 hours, it was reported.
Since MORE Power has been using the same distribution facilities formerly managed and owned by its rival PECO, both electric corporations are expected to bring a tennis table and nail each other during the committee hearing.
Interestingly, the blackouts occurred when the distribution of electric supply to thousands of consumers in the metropolis was already under the stewardship of MORE Power, owned by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr.
Could the power blackouts have been avoided had Razon’s company purchased and used their own facilities before elbowing out PECO from the scene?
What has happened to MORE Power’s “promise” to build some P1.8 billion worth of facilities once it has taken over the power distribution management from PECO?
These are some of the questions that might possibly surface during the committee investigation.


Once the SP committee hearing will kick off, public attention will focus on the city government’s legislative body for many days as long as the topic continues to be relevant.
All the possible defense mechanism by MORE Power to justify the objects of the power consumers’ scorn will be scrutinized and examined piece by piece.   
PECO’s attempt, on the other hand, to portray MORE Power as an eager-beaver but unfit and unprepared service provider will be reevaluated, but will have a lesser impact on whatever final recommendation and verdict on the investigation. 
Even if the committee hearing will yield a report conclusively pointing to MORE Power’s negligence, it won’t change anything in as far as the granting of franchise to MORE Power to operate in Iloilo City is concerned.
The SP can censure parties that are neglectful, not resourceful, inept, and bungling and may recommend measures that can help alleviate the woes on blackouts, but it can’t strip any party of authority to continue serving the local power consumers. 
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Christians who could be devils in disguise

“Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse. It's a bum's life. Quitting acting, that's the sign of maturity."

By Alex P. Vidal

We should not blame the song if we don’t like how it is being played. 
It’s the singer not the song. 
It’s the lovers not the love – when relationships nosedive. 
If we don’t like the shows on TV, let’s switch channels, not destroy the whole hardware. 
If we hate rats, let’s spare the whole house from our homicidal wrath.
Christianity, like other religions, is not perfect. 

In every forest there is snake, in every paradise there is serpent. 
When some people give Christianity a bad name, it does not follow that the entire religion is swamped with dregs and nincompoops. 
Gandhi didn’t like the Christians but he loved Jesus Christ.
Jamie Frater, a California-based author of Ultimate Book of Bizarre Lists, has identified 10 people who have given Christianity a bad name. They are: Fred Phelps, Sr., Fr. Charles Coughlin, Jim Jones, Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr., Paul Jennings Hill, Michael Bray, Matthew Hale, Pat Robertson, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon.
According to Frater, Phelps, Sr. had three children, four of whom have disowned him and their other siblings. The four children, two men and two women, have denounced Phelps as “a vitriolic, megalomaniacal sadistic psychopath.”
“I can phrase it better than that, and yet, it still doesn’t fully capture the man’s personality,” admits Frater, who was born in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. “Ordinarily, the lister should remain objective about the list, but in this case, except for his congregation, which officially numbers 71, and 60 of whom are Phelps’ relatives, it’s highly doubtful that anyone else on the planet agrees with, or even slightly supports, Philips’ savage, barbaric perversion of Christianity and its founder. So I don’t feel quite so bad about being biased.”
Phelps’ “ministry” at the Westboro Baptist Church, which he founded in Topeka, Kansas, is based almost entirely on antihomosexuality, which is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, sin to denounce by means of quoting Bible, reveals Frater.
“God condemns homosexuality at least twice in Leviticus, and from this principle, Phelps feels he can condemn the entire world, but especially the U.S., which he has described as a liberal hellhole that supports homosexuality,” Frater explains. (That’s a very, very cleaned-up paraphrase of his graphic, disgustingly profane words).


Coughlin was a priest who used the radio to acquire a large audience for his political and religious propaganda, Frater writes. He was born in 1891 and was one of the first to use modern technology to mass communicate for such a purpose.
He started out innocently enough, using radio to decry the KKK for burning crosses on his church grounds, but 10 years later, in 1936, he started praising and defending both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini for their politics and spewing some of the most despicable virulence against Jews that the world had seen to that point. He blamed the Great Depression on “an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers,” then blamed Communism, the Russian 1917 Revolution, and Marxist atheism on “global Jewry, in its attempt to lead people astray from the perfection of Lord Jesus.”
According to Frater, Coughlin plagiarized a speech by Goebbels, then delivered it himself in a rally in the Bronx on September 13, 1935, giving the “Hitler salute.” And this is what he said: “When we get through with the Jews in America, they’ll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.”
He acquired thousands of followers who chanted things like, “Wait until Hitler gets over here!” Coughlin was linked with a group that attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government, after which he was abandoned by most of them. He still refused to change his politics, and fought a series of radio duels with Unitarian Walton Cole, who wanted the Catholic Church to put an end to Coughlin’s vitriol.


The number of people who died with Applewhite is nothing compared to the 909 people, 276 of them children, who became enamored with the handsome, charismatic founder of the Peoples Temple. James Warren Jones started out Methodist and seemed to have fine intentions, endeavoring to bring about civil rights for blacks and integrate American society.
Somewhere along the line, however, he went patently insane. He was an aggressive narcissist. He never claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and the only reason he founded the Peoples Temple was for the money he could make via his congregation.
The strangest part is that his followers were not hopeless runaways or uneducated or uninformed. They were predominantly members of other Christian denominations. They were taken by Jones’ good looks and charm and his ability to lead and convince.
In 1974, the Temple went to Guyana with only 50 members. But Jones promised others back in the U.S. a tropical paradise, and they flocked by the hundreds to “Jonestown.” Because he had always been an outspoken Communist sympathizer, and intended Jonestown to be a socialist safe heaven, he drew the attention of the U.S. Government.
On November 17, 1978, investigating claims of abuse within the Peoples Temple, California congressman Leo Ryan went to Jonestown, and about 15 members wanted to leave with him. They attempted to depart via a nearby airstrip, and were fired upon by Temple security guards. Ryan was killed, along with four others, one a Temple member.
When the shooters returned to Jonestown, Jones and accomplices were preparing a mass suicide by poisoning: Flavor Aid loaded with cyanide, phenergan, Valium, and chloral hydrate. There are graphic pictures of the dead lying en mass outside the pavilion, 909 of them. The children were probably not told that the drink was poisoned. Jones shot himself in the head.


Applewhite has gone down in history as a true psychopath, write Frater. Born May 17, 1931, he proclaimed himself the prophet in 1972, and then, as all other weirdos seem to do, called himself Jesus Christ reincarnated. He was not as handsome as Koresh, but he wasn’t exactly ugly, either; he was married and seemed for all the world to be “blameless and upright before God.”
Followers flocked to his forceful charisma when he told them that UFOs were coming to take them away to heaven. When the UFOs didn’t show, the followers left, but he kept preaching to friends and their acquaintances, and by 1975 acquired a following of 93 men, women, and children.
He eventually recruited people from all over 50 states and settled in Rancho Santa Fe, California. His wife died of cancer in 1985, and sometime between then and 1997, he had a nurse surgically castrate him, for purification. He called his church “Heaven’s Gate.” His congregation worshipped him fervently.
Om March 19, 1997, as the comet Hale-Bopp was passing Earth, Applewhite recorded himself preaching to his congregation that suicide “was the only way to evacuate this earth.” His congregation did not believe in suicide, but was so enamored with him, that 39 members took his word for it, and on March 24, 25, and 26, they killed themselves with mixtures of phenobarbital and applesauce, followed by vodka. They also put plastic bags over their heads to be sure of asphyxiation, in case the poison didn’t work.


Paul Jennings Hill was a trained and ordained Presbyterian minister, but the church excommunicated him in 1993 for taking such a militant stand against abortion and for becoming a member of the Army of God, a Christian terrorist, antiabortion organization.
This ordained minister finally let her anger get the best of him when he traveled to Pensacola, Florida, on July 29, 1994, to an abortion clinic, and murdered one of the doctors and his bodyguard point-blank with shotgun blasts. He also wounded the bodyguard’s wife. The he calmly put down the shotgun in the grass and sat and waited for the police.
He was executed. The law does not permit vigilante justice, and come to think of it, “Love thine enemies” seems a fair argument against it also, Frater reports.


Matthew Hale is currently serving 40 years in prison for attempting to solicit the murder of Judge Joan Lefkow. Not a model preacher. But actually, he calls himself the Pontifex Maximus of the Creativity Movement, which is just another offshoot from the Ku Klux Klan. The church is for whites only, and it has its own bible, in which one finds passages such as, “You have no alibi, no other way out, white man! Fight or dies!”
His church calls for a worldwide racial holy war to exterminate the Jews and all the black people in order to establish “a white world.” His reasoning: God is white; God created Jews and black people to test the faith and resolve of white people; thus, killing a Jew or black person is not a sin. After one of his followers, Benjamin N. Smith, committed a deadly shooting spree, targeting only minorities, Hale “defended” his actions on TV by saying, “We do urge hatred. If you love something, you must hate that which threatens it.” He is recorded on audiotape laughing about the shootings and imitating the sounds of gunfire.


Michael Bay is not an ordained or college-educated minister, but he does preach a lot about abortion. He served 46 months of a 10-year sentence for conspiring to bomb 10 abortions clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. He and his wife stand firmly on Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and they say that because it preaches so firmly against homosexuality and adultery, anyone convicted of either in a court of law should be put to death, even though American courts have no problem with either. They might be sins, but they aren’t felonies, according to Frater.
Bray didn’t exactly help the Christian cause of conversion by allowing Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist in the world, to interview him for a show called The Root of All Evil. Bray was thoroughly outmatched, of course, and made Christianity look like…well, the root of all evil, writes Frater.
He is now out of prison and living in Washington, Ohio; he is officially labeled as a terrorist.


Frater describes Pat Robertson as “worse” (than Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh) because “he doesn’t even know how to lie convincingly. He swear that “the spirit of God comes mightily upon (him)” and enables him to leg press 2,000 pounds even though he’s 79 years old. This claim has been thoroughly debunked by weightlifting experts, and yet he persists in claiming it without proving it.
He has claimed to be able to deflect hurricanes by praying to God, and stated that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for abortion throughout America, thus showing that he did not pray for Katrina’s deflection. He believes that the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina might be divinely connected.
He denounced Haiti after the January 12, 2010, earthquake, stating that Haiti deserved what it was getting because it swore a pact with the devil back in 1791 in order to drive out the French. Whether that pact was sworn or not, his comments were obviously intended to inflame and hurt, and they did so. How Christian of him. He was roundly denounced by most Christian denominations and still refuses to retract what he did.
He predicted doomsday in 1982. He predicted a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest in 2006, then a terrorist attack on American soil sometime in 2007. He defended this failure by saying, “All I can think is that somehow the people of God prayed and God, in his mercy, spared us.” He has made many other predictions, none of which has come true.
He has many times called for the destruction of Islam and all its followers and calls Islam “satanic.” He calls Hinduism “demonic.” He even claims that some Protestant Christian denominations harbor the spirit of the anti-Christ. He has made quite a few anti-Semitic remarks, notably about Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel, whose stroke and subsequent vegetative state Robertson calls “an act of God.”


David Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell) was a handsome, charismatic Texan, considered so poor a student in elementary and middle school that he was enrolled in special-ed classes. He memorized the New Testament by age 11, and impregnated a 15-year-old when he was 19. He must have forgotten a few verses, says Frater.
By 1983, after being kicked out of a Seventh-Day Adventist Church for fooling around with the pastor’s daughter, he began calling himself a prophet. He was able to recruit followers because of his good looks and magnetic personality, eventually proclaiming himself Jesus Christ, “the Son of God, the Limb who could open the seven seals.”
He taught that monogamy was the only proper relationship, but that polygamy was perfectly fine for him and him alone. After his first wife died, he quickly had sex with Karen Doyle, called her his second wife, and proceeded to have sex with as many as 140 different women.
Karen Doyle did not get pregnant, probably because she was 14 years old, so he slept with Michael Jones, who was 12 years old. By proclaiming this is to be God’s will, he was able to have sex with any woman or girl whenever he liked. He tried to gun down George Roden, who was also a high-ranking member of Koresh’s sect, and escaped conviction by mistrial.
By the time of the Waco Siege, he had, by his own admission, fathered at least 12 children, some by girls as young as 12. And the followers just kept coming. Frater says in his option, the NBI seriously botched the siege and used unnecessary force, but Koresh was the primary culprit of his followers’ death, 82 of them by fire. Which side started the fire is hotly disputed and will never be known, but Koresh told his followers, “Don’t move until you see God.”
They didn’t see God before they burned alive, Koresh with them.


Sun Myung Moon is the founder of the Unification Church, which has spread worldwide since its origin in 1954. Moon was born in 1920 and has set himself up as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. A lot of people go around saying, “I’m Jesus,” but they’re usually dismissed as insane or attention-seeking.
Moon has convinced anywhere from several hundred thousand to one million people to join his church and consider him “Jesus reincarnated.” He is vehemently opposed to homosexuality. He is also extremely anti-Semitic, championing the Holocaust as divine vengeance against the Jewish because they didn’t support Jesus, which Moon claims brought about his murder by the Roman government.
And Moon leads an extraordinary lavish lifestyle. Modern church founders typically make a lot of money, but Jesus didn’t make one cent. Moon has been known to spend $2,000 a day and give his children as much as $50,000 monthly allowances. His “True Family’s” home is a huge mansion on 18 acres in Irvington, New York, with 12 bedrooms, a dining room complete with pond and waterfall, seven bathrooms, and a bowling alley. He also has mansions in Korea, England, Scotland, and Germany, and his kids have Thoroughbred horses, private tutors, Ferraris, motorcycles, and black checks to take on their vacations (on which they travel first-class, of course -- Frater).
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The funniest part, Frater reveals, is that he was convicted of tax fraud and served 18 months in prison. Remember the fish Jesus told Peter to catch? It had two coins in its mouth, one for each of them, to pay the tax. “Render therefore unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” Even Jesus paid taxes.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

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." 
We’re referring to Desmond Morris' sensational worldwide bestseller, The Naked Ape, described by Saturday Review as "a startlingly novel idea, brilliantly executed" and first came out in 1968.
No less than Morris himself, formerly the curator of mammals at London Zoo, has admitted that in dealing with the fundamental problems of the naked ape, he realized “running 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."


Morris explained 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."


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.


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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

SP probe shouldn’t be in aid of condemnation

“The next time you experience a blackout, take some solace by looking at the sky. You will not recognize it.”
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

By Alex P. Vidal

MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) might walk into an ambush site when they attend the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) committee investigation spearheaded by the Committee on Public Utilities chaired by Councilor Romel Duron on June 30, 2020.
The hearing has been called to shed light on the disturbing frequency of power interruptions experienced by Iloilo City residents these past weeks amid the pandemic lockdown.
The power consumers’ irritation and inconvenience apparently have already reached boiling point that five aldermen: Eduardo Penaredondo, Ely Estante, Jay Trenas, Allan Zaldivar, and Duron are now itching to mount their horses and confront MORE Power in the Rubicon.
During the SP regular session on June 23, Penaredondo, et al started to warmup for the June 30 committee hearing by blasting MORE Power’s “frustrating” services, a telltale sign of the portent of things to come for the embattled MORE Power.
Despite the imminent entrapment, supporters of MORE Power are only hoping that the SP committee hearing will be done in aid of legislation, not in aid of condemnation.


Penaredondo himself admitted that “his heart trembled” in frustration aside from being “dismayed”, lamenting that the Ilonggo consumers don’t deserve a “lousy” performance as far as power is concerned.
The most senior SP member also recalled MORE Power’s promise to deliver a P1.8 billion modernization plan for their facilities which was reechoed by Estante who chided the new power distributor for not buying their own facilities.
Based on what transpired in the SP regular session on June 23, MORE Power has already been forewarned of the kind of artillery attack that awaits them on June 30.
What they don’t know is the type of ammunition their inquisitors will use during the firefight.
MORE Power is aware they will be grilled only for the deplorable blackouts that sometimes lasted for 13 hours especially during the weekend.
They will come only to justify the high tide and the low tide, not to own up to a tsunami.
They are aware they will have to always lean on the Department of Energy (DOE), which speaks their language concerning the problem’s technical aspect, for succor if push comes to shove.
Panay Electric company (PECO) will be as excited as the panel of inquisitors, but anything they will say that will bring further disdain and infamy to MORE Power will only be dismissed as a sourgraping and a wishful thinking since they are now “outside the kulambo,” so to speak.


WE’RE glad to have made a decision to stay put in New York City during the pandemic lockdown since March.
Anyone coming to New York from a state currently hard hit by the virus would now have to quarantine for two weeks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced June 24.
The restrictions were reportedly based on specific health metrics related to the coronavirus.
Travelers from eight states—as well as New Yorkers returning from those states—would have to quarantine, at the moment.
Cuomo said: “We now have to make sure that the rate continues to drop. A lot of people come into this region and they could literally bring the infection with them. It wouldn’t be malicious or malevolent, but it would still be real.”
Failure to quarantine in New York could reportedly result in thousand-dollar fines.
Travelers to New Jersey and Connecticut would also be told to quarantine, though officials from both states said there was no enforcement mechanism at the moment.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

What to expect during SP probe on Iloilo City blackout

“Of the various branches of electrical investigation, perhaps the most interesting and immediately the most promising is that dealing with alternating currents.”
Nikola Tesla

By Alex P. Vidal

AT this early, we already anticipate what might happen on June 30, 2020 when the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) in Iloilo City opens up an investigation “in aid of legislation” on the frequent power outages experienced by Ilonggo consumers these past months.
MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power), the main cast in the hullaballoo, won’t be there definitely just to absorb all the brickbats and catch all the uppercuts and roundhouse kicks.
“In aid of MORE Power”, the Department of Energy (DOE) might pick up the cudgels and help justify the causes of power interruptions like the way it explained everything in the media.
We can already anticipate, in fact, the DOE telling the SP Committee on Public Utilities, chaired by Councilor Romel Duron, that the successive power blackouts occurred “because the MORE Power needed complete maintenance work at substation 2 or the Jaro substation of the electric distribution facility.”
The same excuses and justification.


We won’t be surprised if MORE Power, or even the DOE, will go to the extent of pinning the blame on Panay Electric Company (PECO), which controlled and was responsible for the substation’s maintenance until March 2020 when MORE Power took over the facility by virtue of a court order.
MORE Power had claimed earlier the Jaro substation “had not undergone maintenance for the past six or seven years when it was still under PECO’s charge.”
PECO, of course, won’t allow itself to be used as the punching bag and the scapegoat in the imbroglio and might even take the opportunity to step up its indictment of MORE Power for the seemingly abysmal services to the consumers which happened during the pandemic lockdown.
It will be a pingpong match anew between the two rival electric companies.


And if lawyers from both parties will be allowed to join the fray, the SP committee hearing could be transformed into another venue for MORE Power’s and PECO’s display of supremacy and authority.
In terms of management capability and resources, MORE Power and PECO will try to out-duke each other in order to avoid the ax of culpability and public rebuke.
Councilors Eduardo Penaredondo and Ely Estante are among those who have openly expressed displeasure on the 13-hour power blackouts that almost occurred on a regular basis especially during the weekend.
They are expected to empty their cylinders during the committee hearing and won’t take sides.
The aldermen are so worried for the consequences in the metropolis’ tourism and economy.
The bottomline here should be accountability and efficient services to the consumers.
We are also weighing the problem of successive and long period of power blackouts to the impact on local economy especially now that everything seems to be in tatters due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Which is why there is a need to conduct the committee investigation in order to iron out some kinks and resolve whatever inefficiency and negligence committed by parties concerned.


New York, the place where I currently live, is now inching its way to the last two of the four phases in the reopening of economy.
After the Empire State implemented blanket shutdown orders in March that closed stores, shuttered offices and curtailed business at restaurants and bars, state officials set up a gradual process to restart the state’s economy and ease restrictions.
Regions of New York that show they have been able to effectively keep the virus contained can reopen sectors of the economy in four phases, under the state’s plan.
Still, all phases of the reopening require us here to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including wearing masks or face coverings in crowded public spaces, on public or private transportation or in for-hire vehicles.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Smorgasbord of news

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Fred Rogers

By Alex P. Vidal

THERE have only been three issues that “interrupted” the daily news headline dominated by coronavirus these past four months: the blackout in Iloilo City, the shifty “close-open” Angelicum School Iloilo ruckus, and the reported filing of double murder cases by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Region 6 against several cops involved in the twin killings in January this year.
Headline stories changed each time there were events of power interruptions or reports of looming blackout; and when there were major progress in the Muller-Britanico twin slay.
Blackouts were a prominent story because critics of MORE Power wanted the neophyte electric firm held accountable for the “habitual” power interruptions.
Breakthroughs in the Muller-Britanico double killings were important headline story because Ilonggos who follow the latest about the investigation want immediate justice for the victims.   
News of the sudden announcement of Angelicum School Iloilo’s “closure” elbowed its way to the headline only to die abruptly after it became a dud.  


Since March when COVID-19 started its murderous rampage, all that we read in the newspapers, seen on primetime TV, and heard on AM radios were news about coronavirus—its destruction to the human life and the global economy.
There has never been a sustained, extended, and protracted reportage of a single event in history other than about the coronavirus in 2020 and the World War II 75 years ago.
Even after the actual combat, post-World War II stories continued to dominate the news media in the 1940s, especially during the reconstruction and repatriation.
Even if COVID-19 cases will decline before December this year, major papers and the electronic media are expected to continue giving emphasis and importance to the post-COVID-19 stories, especially on the search for the pandemic’s vaccine.


There were instances these past weeks when the debates had shifted from the coronavirus to controversial political issues like Manny Pacquiao’s presidential ambition, the ongoing struggle of the ABS-CBN to obtain a new franchise, the passage of the hotly debated anti-terror bill, China’s non-stop but “silent” incursion on our natural resources and territorial soils, and, recently, the furor about Sharon Cuneta’s youngest daughter engaging in an on-line debate why women are being raped—and the alleged “threat” by a netizen to rape the daughter.
But, after a while, like a pendulum, news would be back again to coronavirus—especially when the policy and guidelines on the quarantine and social distancing had been violated by those who should be the ones to enforce the law.
COVID-19 is a compact subject matter. 
Media can tackle stacks of stories about the pandemic: heroism of the front liners, the infected and dislocated OFWs, how the government is solving the social amelioration program (SAP) “shortage” or how it is lowering the boom on corrupt DOH test kit facilitators, DSWD and village officials in charge of SAP distribution; how certain local governments flatten the curve, etcetera. 
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)