Monday, March 29, 2021

Unholy week

“He who laughs has not yet heard the bad news.”

Bertolt Brecht


By Alex P. Vidal


IS the Philippines going the opposite direction in as far as the fight against the pandemic is concerned?

While more than 67 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the United States so far as of this writing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there have been a reported “dramatic” decline in the number of hospital admission cases here, the Philippines’ new COVID-19 cases for March 29 reportedly breached the 10,000-mark for the first time ever, bringing the number of active infections to 115,495.

This report is so depressing and is tantamount to “unholy week” especially since many countries around the world are on the verge of inoculating a large part of their population as the pandemic entered its first year since terrorizing us all in 2020.

The Department of Health (DOH)’ COVID-19 bulletin reportedly showed there were 10,016 new infections on March 20, setting a new high for single-day increases since the pandemic arrived in the Philippines.

With this sad development, no one in the Philippines will completely feel the ambiance of a “holy week” as the total number of cases is now reportedly 731,894, with 602,213 of them listed as recoveries, with 78 patients officially recovering on March 29. 

The death toll, on the other hand, has risen to 13,186, with 16 new fatalities. 

Unholy week indeed.

Either we have incompetent health authorities or the Duterte administration was caught flat-footed and couldn’t handle the mammoth problem that has destroyed economies all over the world.




Moderna, COVID-19 vaccine maker, said it was expected to ship 40 to 50 million doses per month to the US to fulfill its contracts even as it has shipped the 100 millionth dose of its vaccine to the US government, the company announced March 29.

The 200 millionth dose is reportedly expected by the end of May and the 300 millionth dose by the end of July.

“I would like to thank the millions of people who have put their confidence in Moderna’s science and our COVID-19 vaccine. We are encouraged by the fact that more than 67 million doses have been administered in the U.S. and we are humbled to know that we are helping address this worldwide pandemic with our vaccine,” Stephane Bancel, Moderna's CEO, said in a statement as reported in the U.S. media March 29.

“I would also like to thank the Moderna team, our suppliers and our U.S. manufacturing partners including Lonza and Catalent, for their tireless and extraordinary work in completing this important milestone.”




In the Christian church, Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter, is observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

It is called the Great Week because great deeds were done by God during this week in the Greek and Roman liturgical books.

Used in the 4th century by St. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, and St. Epiphanius of Constantia the name Holy Week were Originally only on Good Friday and Holy Saturday as holy days. 

Later, Wednesday was added as the day on which Judas reportedly plotted to betray Jesus, and by the beginning of the 3rd century the other days of the week had been added.

According to Britannica, the pre-Nicene church concentrated its attention on the celebration of one great feast, the Christian Passover, on the night between Saturday and Easter Sunday morning. 

“By the later 4th century the practice had begun of separating the various events and commemorating them on the days of the week on which they occurred: Judas’s betrayal and the institution of the Eucharist on Maundy Thursday; the Passion and death of Christ on Good Friday; his burial on Saturday; and his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week is celebrated from Sunday, March 28 to Sunday, April 4 in 2021,” explains the Britannica.

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


Sunday, March 28, 2021

Mang Pepeng

“There are people who curse worse than me and want to hide it all, but I ain't no hypocrite.”


By Alex P. Vidal


MANG Pepeng, 84, and his wife, Estelita, 85, finally received their stimulus checks worth $1,400 each on March 27.

Contrary to what he passionately declared two weeks ago, Mang Pepeng didn’t reject the largesse from Uncle Sam, which was part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic stimulus package otherwise known as the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“Better late than never,” the old man, who survived the pandemic by taking a Tylenol tablet in June 2020, beamed. 

Mang Pepeng and Estelita were “expecting” to receive the checks before March 24 but they arrived late.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Social Security recipients and railroad retirees who weren't required to file federal tax returns for 2018 or 2019 will receive $1,200 stimulus payments automatically based on information contained in their “1099” benefit statements

Under the law, a single filer making up to $75,000 will receive the full payment, while those earning up to $80,000 will get a reduced amount. 

Joint filers making up to $150,000 will get the full $2,800, while those earning up to $160,000 will receive a smaller amount. 

Previously, the phase-out thresholds were $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers in the House version.




Eligibility was based on our most recent tax return and adjusted gross income. 

For the third round of checks, the IRS used our 2019 or 2020 tax return to determine if we qualified for the direct payment.

Social Security beneficiaries, Disability Insurance beneficiaries, Supplemental Security Income recipients, Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries, and Veterans Administration beneficiaries all were eligible for the payment even if we didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return

“Ayaw kong tanggapin yan kahit na dumating (I won’t get the check if it would arrive),” Mang Pepeng, a native of Nueva Ecija, told his fellow Filipino-Americans in Queen’s Elmhurst community second week of March. 

“Naawa ako sa mga bata sa masunod na henerasyon. Sila kasi ang magbabayad sa utang na yan (I pity the children in the next generation who will pay that debt).”

He believed that if Mr. Trump were the President, congress would reject the $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package.

Mang Pepeng was criticized by pro-Biden Pinoys in the community for being “hypocrite.”

“Sabi ko na nga ba. Kunwari iingay siya na ayaw pero pagdating ng stimulus check masaya naman siya (I knew he would take the stimulus check even if he was grumbling against it),” said Demit, 61, a Democrat and supporter of former President Barack Obama.




Mang Pepeng, a loyalist of former President Donald Trump, scored the Biden administration’s “excessiveness” and the “wasteful” law, which was President Joseph Biden’s first big legislative initiative making good his  campaign promises of more economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mang Pepeng, who fled the Philippines after Marcos declared Martial Law on September 12, 1972, echoed Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, who called the bill “wasteful, poorly targeted, and largely unrelated to COVID.”

Taxpayers who don't receive a direct deposit by March 24 may get their payment as a paper check or a prepaid debit card in the mail.

The first batch of payments was worth approximately $242 billion, or more than half of the $450 billion earmarked for stimulus payments. 

It went to taxpayers who have direct deposit information on file at the IRS, either from their 2019 or 2020 tax returns or from those who used the IRS Non-Filers tool in 2020.

The majority of payments were expected go out by direct deposit, but around 150,000 paper checks—worth approximately $442 million— have been mailed as part of the first batch.

This round is $1,400 per eligible individual plus a $1,400 bonus per dependent. 

Around 158.5 million households are expected to receive a payment under the new stimulus deal, according to the White House.

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

Saturday, March 27, 2021

‘Good news’ for 50-year-old New Yorkers and up

“Vaccines are safe, effective, and lifesaving.”

Alex Azar


By Alex P. Vidal


THE good news is that my chances of being inoculated soon will hopefully be accelerated now that New Yorkers 50 years of age and older can now make appointments to receive Covid-19 vaccines. 

More than 1.65 million doses have been administered through the New York Mass Vaccination Sites and FEMA sites as of this writing. 

More than 1 million does have been administered over the past days.

Unlike in the Philippines where the major problem being encountered by health authorities is reportedly 61 percent of the people are hesitant to take the vaccines, many people in the United States are now starting to appreciate the necessity of taking the vaccines to finally stop Covid-19 on its tracks despite the virus’ multiple variants that have been documented around the world. 

Here are three variants that are currently in the US: UK variant (B.1.1.7), South Africa variant (B.1.351), and Brazil variant (P.1).

Scientists have been working to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. 

According to the New York City Health (NYCH), mRNA is a molecule that contains the blueprint for making proteins. 

These are the first mRNA vaccines to be authorized, but the technology has been studied for over 30 years.




Here is how mRNA vaccines work, according to the NYCH:

The mRNA molecules enter the body with instructions on how to make a protein that is part of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The proteins produced trigger the body to make antibodies (special proteins that fight against a specific infection) and other defenses.

The mRNA is then broken down and destroyed by the body.

If a person is exposed to COVID-19 after they were vaccinated, the body will be able to recognize the virus and produce antibodies and other defenses to fight it.

In short, mRNA is similar to email that gets sent to our body with instructions on how to identify and destroy the virus. Our body uses those instructions and then deletes the email completely.

mRNA does not interact with or change a person's DNA.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is an adenovirus vector vaccine. Johnson & Johnson has been researching adenovirus vector vaccines for other infections for decades, including the company’s Ebola vaccine, which is already in use.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works similarly to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, though it uses a different type of messenger to deliver instructions for making an immune response. 

To make the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, scientists took a gene from the virus that causes COVID-19 and put the gene into an adenovirus. Adenovirus are viruses that cause the common cold. 

The adenovirus used in this vaccine has been modified so that it cannot multiply in humans or cause disease.




Here is how the Johnson & Johnson vaccine works, according to the NYCH:

When the vaccine enters our body, the adenovirus carries a gene from the coronavirus into human cells, which then make a COVID-19 protein, but not the virus itself.

The proteins that are produced trigger our body to make antibodies (special proteins that fight against a specific infection) and other defenses.

If we are exposed to COVID-19 after we are vaccinated, our body will recognize the virus and your immune system will be ready to fight it.

In addition to mRNA, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain the following types of ingredients:

Lipids: Lipids are molecules of fat that do not dissolve in water. 

They surround the mRNA, protecting it so it does not break down before it gets into your cells. 

One example of a lipid included is polyethylene glycol.

Salts, acetic acid and amines: These are all used to protect our cells by keeping the pH (acidity level) of the vaccine similar to the pH in our body. 

The Pfizer vaccine contains four salts, including table salt. The Moderna vaccine contains acetic acid (the kind of acid in vinegar), one salt and two organic compounds derived from ammonia known as amines.

Sugar: Sugar helps keep the lipids from sticking to each other or to the sides of the vaccine vial.

The vaccines do not contain: Antibiotics, Blood products, DNA, Fetal tissue or human cells, Gelatin, Gluten, Mercury, Microchips, Pork or other animal products, The virus that causes COVID-19.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON VACCINE INGREDIENTS. In addition to the harmless adenovirus, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains the following types of ingredients: 

—Stabilizers: Salts, alcohol, polysorbate 80 and hydrochloric acid.

—Manufacturing biproducts: Amino acids.

The vaccine does not contain: Antibiotics, Blood products, Fetal tissue or human cells, Gelatin, Gluten, Mercury, Microchips, Pork or other animal products, The virus that causes COVID-19.




STRANDED IN THE SKY. The first animal to join the endangered species list because of climate change was the polar bear. 

The next may be the American pika. 

These rabbit relatives spend summers scampering around mountaintop boulder fields, gathering plants to store for winter meals and ducking under rocks to hide from eagles and weasles.

Jewelry dominates gold consumption. The metal is also critical in electronics as an efficient, noncorroding conductor; gold-backed investment funds are growing. (National Geographic)

The price of gold was first standardized in late 1717 by Sir Isaac Newton, then England's Master of the Mint. 

In coins and later as backing for paper money, it fluctuated with world crises and market forces. After 1971, when the dominant U.S. dollar was no longer tied to gold, the metal became a freely traded, often volatile, commodity. (National Geographic)

(PG 13) In the United States, one in four television programs contain scenes emphasizing sexual behavior. One in eight programs contain a scene in which sexual intercourse is depicted or strongly implied.

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



Friday, March 26, 2021

Canada’s stimulus ‘touches’ a Pinay nurse

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


FILIPINO nurse Marjorie Carnaje described as “tears of joy” her emotional reaction to the announcement made by Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa that the federal government would deploy up to $82 billion in direct spending and deferred taxes to help every Canadian get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nagtulo gid ang luha ko (I really shed tears). It’s tears of joy. Prime Minister Trudeau is really supportive of all the Canadians,” hissed Carnaje, 52, a registered nurse in Toronto.

Health authorities estimated the novel coronavirus could overwhelm Canada’s hospitals if it spread freely.

 Most people suffer relatively manageable symptoms, such as fevers and coughs, but a small percentage of people who get COVID-19 needed  intensive care, sometimes for weeks.

 More than 25 million people around the world have tested positive for the virus and 2.75 million were known to have died from it as of this writing.

 Carnaje said there are now 952,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 22,790 deaths.




Carnaje, a mother of two, just arrived in Toronto after a month of vacation in Cabatuan, Iloilo, or just in time when Canada banned all non-citizens and permanent residents from entering the Canadian territory because of the novel coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

 She became a Canadian citizen in 2018 after working as a nurse in a private hospital in Brampton, Canada’s ninth largest city in Ontario, for 10 years.

Carnaje, who worked in Singapore and Saudi Arabia before coming to Canada, spent the morning in her flat watching Trudeau who delivered the “good” news in a conference with reporters from the capital city of Ottawa.

“In these extraordinary times our government is taking extraordinary measures,” Trudeau said. “Public health should never hinge on financial considerations.”

 The package was reportedly aimed at ensuring people can do what they need to do to protect their health and that of others without fear of not being able to feed their families or pay their rent or mortgages, the prime minister said.




Carnaje said the unprecedented financial-aid package helped health workers like her and all Canadian citizens as they grappled and made adjustments financially while the world faced economic uncertainty owing to the coronavirus attack.

It also reportedly beefed up Canada Child Benefit payments for families and GST tax credits for low- and middle-income earners, provide a wage subsidy for small businesses to help them keep staff on the payroll during the slowdown, pause Canada Student Loan payments for six months and establish emergency benefits for people who don’t qualify for employment insurance.

Under the package, there would be support for shelters that house the homeless or people fleeing gender-based violence, to ensure they can help people and manage the need for some to self-isolate.

A separate fund to help First Nation, Inuit and Metis communities respond to COVID-19 was also part of the package.

 The single biggest item that Carnaje likes most was the deferment of tax payments last year, accounting for an estimated $55 billion.

 “As we very well know, ‘tis the season for tax payment,” she sighed.

 Canadian businesses and individuals who owe tax money after today will be able to put off paying it until after August.

 The government also reportedly moved the deadline for filing taxes but was encouraging those who receive benefits from the GST credit or the child benefit to file as soon as possible to get access the additional funds available under those programs.

 The government had also announced a $1-billion fund to help Canada respond to the virus, including funds for the health-care system.

 “It’s great to be a Canadian in times of coronavirus,” Carnaje said.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

President Manny Pacquiao

“The presidency has many problems, but boredom is the least of them.”

Richard M. Nixon


By Alex P. Vidal


IT appears only Sara Duterte-Carpio is standing in the way of Emmanuel Pacquiao’s ascension to the Malacanang Palace in 2022.

Vice versa.

With due respect to the pro-democracy 1Sambayan coalition led by former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, Duterte-Carpio and Pacquiao, both 42, are the rumored leading contenders for the presidency of the Philippines, although they have not yet officially declared their intentions to run.

When the fat lady sings third quarter of 2021–and when most Filipinos have been vaccinated hopefully—it will be the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte and the eight-time world boxing champion, who once graced the cover story of Time magazine as a sports icon-cum-philanthropist, and the 1Sambayan coalition bet who will slug it out for next year’s presidential derby.

A three-cornered fight isn’t far-fetched despite the efforts of 1Sambayan to unite all the contenders versus President Duterte’s choice.

At this early, Pacquiao has been in the receiving end of all the howitzers and scud missiles being unloaded by the Duterte camp.

Interestingly, some of the heavy blows against Pacquiao came from the social media flamethrowers who have been praising President Duterte like a demigod these past years, bolstering suspicions they may have the imprimatur of the Duterte camp.




Like a true pugilist, Pacquiao absorbed the attacks by the Duterte camp flamethrowers without engaging them in a toe-to-toe slugfest. 

Not yet.

It’s too early to empty his revolver as the bout is still in the warm—up stage or in the “acquaintance party” level.

Like in the sports field where Pacquiao had soared to stardom, politics isn’t decided merely in three or five rounds; sometimes it also moves to 12 rounds or the full route.

The main objective, meanwhile, is probably to soften Pacquiao’s breadbasket with light punishments and see if he will quit. 

If he is undaunted and remains to be a strong contender for the highest position of the land, the flamethrowers might go for a kill ala Juan Manuel Marquez in the latter’s fourth duel with Pacquiao, where the Mexican dynamo scored a smashing one-punch KO victory.

But before it will happen, Pacquiao should be wise enough to parry the flamethrowers’ brutal assaults and unleash his own artillery during the no-holds-barred fisticuffs in the campaign period.

He can’t afford to remain a gentleman in the arena of mudslinging.

If boxing is brutality personified, politics is the higher level of brutality: it will smash his dignity into pieces especially if he isn’t made of sterner stuff.

When it comes to credibility but not necessarily competence, Pacquiao arguably holds the edge over Duterte-Carpio. 

Forget the rumor that Bong Go, Pacquiao’s colleague in the Senate, will also run for president, as disclosed by President Duterte himself.

If we are not familiar with Mr. Duterte’s politics and style, we will believe it. Go is a joke, of course.

Only a hypocrite president father will not admit that he also wants her daughter to be the next president.




FILTER IT AWAY. The human body requires at least one gallon of water a day. 

If we are considering stocking up on emergency supplies, let's bear in mind that plastic bottles are thought to leach chemicals into the water if left for a length of time. 

Let's save space and the environment by stocking up on water filters instead.

WELCOME THE WIND. Many products can cause air pollution to build up in our home, including modern cleaners, which contain strong chemicals. 

Let's make sure to ventilate our home well, ensuring a through-flow of air to help reduce pollution levels and encourage good ventilation.

ATOMS CANNOT BE SEEN. To show that the world was made of particles a million times smaller than objects visible to the naked eye was so difficult that their existence was not established beyond reasonable doubt until the end of the nineteenth century.

EMPTY CUP. Each day is full of reasons to praise God, even when life seems empty of comfort or joy. 

It's when our cups are empty that God fills them up. My cup was empty yesterday but this morning, it was filled up.

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Don’t be afraid

“I am not afraid... I was born to do this.”

Joan of Arc


By Alex P. Vidal


WE exhort our kababayans living in New York and other states not to be afraid in taking the COVID-19 vaccines even if they have no sufficient legal immigration status.

COVID-19 vaccines are available to people of all immigration statuses, we have been assured by the New York City Health.

Immigration status does not matter and no one will  be asked about it at the vaccination site.

Getting vaccinated will not result in a negative public charge decision or otherwise negatively impact any family’s immigration application.

While no one knows how long the vaccines will protect people from COVID-19, we do not know yet whether the vaccines will be needed annually, similar to a flu shot, or if an additional shot or booster shot is needed, such as with a tetanus shot. 

It is also possible that no additional vaccine will be needed after the first two doses.

The clinical trials showed the authorized vaccines are reportedly all effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19 and severe illness due to COVID-19. 

There are ongoing studies of the impact on transmission that should provide more information later this year.

Continued research and time will tell us how long the vaccines’ protection last and whether people may need additional doses. Participants in the clinical trials will reportedly continue to be monitored, and we will learn more over time from the millions of people being vaccinated around the world.




Meanwhile, three COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer), Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). 

These vaccines have been shown to be very safe and effective in protecting people from severe COVID-19 illness, hospitalization and death. 

As of March 1, tens of millions of doses of vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

These vaccines are reportedly “the best protection we have against COVID-19.”

No matter how old we are, COVID-19 can lead to complications and death. Even if we had COVID-19, it is important to get vaccinated because it reportedly lowers our risk of getting COVID-19 again and may prevent us from passing it on to others.

Also, getting vaccinated may protect those around us, particularly people who cannot get the vaccine, such as children. 

Vaccination, along with other prevention measures, can help us end the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Below is the other information about the vaccines, including how they work, when and where to get vaccinated, and what to expect when you get vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are intramuscular vaccines. They are given through a shot in the arm, similar to most other vaccines. 

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses several weeks apart. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.

All three vaccines are very safe and effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death. The most important thing is to get vaccinated, with whatever vaccine is available to us.




Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is just one dose. All three vaccines reportedly cause similar mild to moderate side effects.

It is hard to directly compare the vaccines effectiveness since they were tested at different times and in different locations. 

Johnson & Johnson trials were conducted more recently, when there was higher levels of COVID-19 transmission, and in countries that have high levels of the new variants of concern. 

Even under these circumstances, the vaccine reportedly prevented hospitalizations and deaths.

A key difference among the vaccines is that only the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people ages 16 and 17. 

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for people ages 18 and older.

Another difference is how the vaccines can be stored and distributed. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is more stable and can be kept in a refrigerator, making it easier to transport and reach people who cannot travel to a vaccination site.

For now, most vaccination sites have only one type of vaccine. The type of vaccine you get will depend on where you go. We have the NYC Vaccine Finder showing the type of vaccine given at each site.

It is normal for a virus to mutate (change) over time and for new variants to occur. 

Several variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been identified. Some of these variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than others and may cause more severe disease. 

This may lead to more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The presence of these variants makes it even more important to get vaccinated.

The vaccines are expected to protect against variants detected to date, though their protection may not be as strong against some variants. Scientists are reportedly working to learn more about these variants and how they affect vaccines.

Herd immunity is when enough people in a population have immunity (protection) against a contagious disease that the disease is unlikely to spread. 

As a result, even people who are not vaccinated are at lower risk for infection. 

The percent of the population that needs to have immunity to reach herd immunity is different for different diseases.

For COVID-19, experts do not yet know what percentage of people would need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. 

However, even before we reach herd immunity, having a large number of people vaccinated will lower the number of people who get sick and are hospitalized or die from COVID-19.

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


Sunday, March 21, 2021





Was ‘Don Chiyuto’ murdered?

“Kidnapping causes a long-term rupture in the psyche of those kidnapped and of those who wait for their return. It doesn't end.”

—Uzodinma Iweala


By Alex P. Vidal


IS he still alive or was silenced permanently by some irate investors?

It’s been a week since double-your-money investment executive Patrocenio Calvez Chiyuto Jr., popularly known as “Don Chiyuto” and the chief executive officer (CEO) of a double-your-money investment scheme based in Roxas City, Capiz, went missing after he was allegedly kidnapped by armed men at around 5:30 p.m. at his residence in Barangay Talon Dos, BF Resort Village, Las Piñas City, Metro Manila.

Although some of his alleged abductors, including some cops, have been arrested days after his alleged kidnapping on March 16, his whereabouts haven’t been known as of this writing.

The alleged kidnapping and the reported capture of some suspects, however, left so many questions than answers.

A CCTV reportedly captured Chiyuto’s “abduction” where he was heard crying for help while being forcibly brought inside a van waiting outside his house.




His relatives, meanwhile,  have offered a reward of P200,000 for those who could provide tips for his whereabouts, or whether he is still alive.

There were no reports of ransom being asked by his abductors.

Six persons, including a police officer, were arrested in Makati and Parañaque on March 18 for allegedly kidnapping the man accused of masterminding an investment scam.

Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar identified the lawman as S/MSgt. Felipe Woo, 46, who is assigned with the Regional Mobile Force Battalion of the National Capital Region Police Office.

The other suspects were Cyryl Malana, 38; Maverick Edrol Sapitanan, 24; Sapitanan’s mother, Marie Grace, 41; Celso Lozano, 50; and Chinese Gao Ya Quong, 30.

Based on an initial investigation, PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said it appears Chiyuto allegedly duped dozens of people in a fraudulent investment scheme. 

There were speculations some of those who felt double-crossed must’ve masterminded the alleged abduction “after realizing they could no longer recover their investment.”

There were those who accused Chiyuto of “staging” the kidnapping so he could escape from the wrath of his investors and avoid prosecution.

As days passed by without any lead as to his exact location, Chiyuto’s friends and relatives feared for the worst.

Did he fake the abduction? Did the kidnappers keep him in an undisclosed place? Or did they murder him as a retaliatory act for the failed investment scheme? 

If some of the alleged kidnappers have already been arrested, how come the PNP has failed to compel them to pinpoint or produce Chiyuto’s body dead or alive?




LET'S PREVENT THE SPREAD OF FLU by doing the following: 1. Staying away from people who are sick--and staying home when we are sick; 2. Covering our mouth and nose when we cough or sneeze; 3. Washing our hands frequently; 4. Don't touch our eyes, nose, or mouth. 

If we smoke, we know that this habit can be hard to kick. If we have been thinking of quitting or have tried before, let's not give up. It is never too late. Let's take advantage of the options available. People who make a plan and get support can succeed.

I’m hoping that my Microsoft 365 subscription will no longer give me a headache this week.

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