Saturday, July 31, 2021

What kind of father are you?

“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.”

Euripides

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

WITH the Internet and other high modern technology, it’s impossible he didn’t learn about his daughter’s gigantic conquest in the world of beauty pageant wherever he is today.

It’s impossible he didn’t read the news, a national sensation in the Philippines, unless he is now in the Kingdom Come.

Since the day his very talented daughter clinched the crown, she was never remiss in announcing to all and sundry how proud she was of her “missing” father who left her, her brother and mother when she was five in 2001.

Before leaving for the United States in April to represent the Philippines in the world’s most prestigious beauty contest, she feverishly told the country she was excited to meet her father, a surgeon, believed to have relocated in Chicago a long time ago.

The public was animated and enthralled by the potential soap opera-like would-be “reunion” between daughter and father. 

The much-awaited meeting had been emblazoned in the people’s mind to be the trip’s “side event” regardless of the results of the competition in Florida.

 

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Those who followed the saga were on the edge of their seats starting the day the vivacious beauty titlist left the Philippines a month before the universal competition. 

So bewitched were some entertainment scribes they reckoned two stories would be bombshells: the dramatic father and daughter meeting and the possible crowning of another Filipina beauty in the tough global competition hosted by Florida amid the pandemic.

Some avid fans and countrymen bombarded heaven with prayers not only for her victory, but also for the much-anticipated father-daughter reunification.     

She had an almost two-month extended tour in the United States after the pageant meeting well-wishers, attending fund-raising events and gracing the invitations from Filipino communities and embassy officials.

After the smoke was cleared, no word about the father and daughter meeting.

Not even a detailed report; no how, where, when. 

Only a why. A big why or a forlorn question mark.

 

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She arrived in the Philippines first week of July and yielded negative details about the much-ballyhooed would-be meeting, which turned into a mystery if not a dud.

Was she at fault? Certainly not. 

Although there was no prior arrangement or tacit agreement between father and daughter to meet in the United States, she only had all the best plans and intentions to see once more her inscrutable father, believed to be living with a new family. 

A stranger in Uncle Sam’s territory, she has no capability to altogether crisscross the East and West Coasts on her own volition just to locate a seemingly enigmatic father even if she’s a VIP. 

The nagging question is: where the hell are you, father?

Why didn’t he spare some precious moments to meet a loving and caring daughter he abandoned 20 years ago and who painstakingly went out her way to reach him to no avail?

She was already within his radar geographically; but they both ended up “so near and yet so far.” 

Other fathers in the same circumstance and magic moment would have paddled their canoe into the River Styx to meet, embrace and kiss a “long-lost” daughter, a treasure in her country.

But “not” this reticent father.

Did he intend to avoid his own flesh and blood? Was he under duress? Better still, is he still alive?

If yes he intentionally dodged the possible meeting and is still very much alive and kicking, why blew away the golden opportunity to show warmth and affection to a daughter he left behind when she was a kid?

Where is his heart? What kind of father he is?

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

 

 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Why Diaz’s Olympic gold may be more valuable than Pacquiao’s combined world titles

 “You have to beat the king to be the king. No one is going to hand you a gold medal.”

Donovan Bailey

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

WE can never produce another Manny Pacquiao in 100 years. 

No doubt he is the greatest Pinoy professional boxer and the most accomplished and flamboyant to ever sweeten the dirty world of prizefighting. 

The world boxing belts Pacquiao, 42, had collected in more than 20 years of lording over the brutal sport consisted of championships in eight different weight categories, a rare achievement for any pugilist since the adoption of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules in 1889. 

In terms of popularity, Hidilyn Diaz, 30, who recently produced the Philippines’ first-ever gold medal in the Summer World Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, pales in comparison to the charismatic senator-boxer who aims to establish another record when he tackles Errol Spence Jr. in a 12-round world welterweight match in Las Vegas on August 21.

In terms of achievement in the world of sports, however, Diaz’s Olympic gold medal may be more valuable than the combined eight world boxing crowns Pacquiao had amassed.

The modern World Olympic Games (Summer and Winter) is the biggest and leading sporting event in the world participated by more than 200 countries. It was said that even the aliens from other planets monitored the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Not all athletes can qualify in the Games; they must pass through the proverbial eye of the needle in tough regional qualifying rounds. The system will ensure that only the best can reach and take part during the Day of the Reckoning.

 

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All competitors are as tough as nails; there are no pushovers, all world class athletes with scintillating credentials to parade and brag about. 

In order to reach the medal column, an Olympian must labor hard like Sisyphus, condemned to forever roll a boulder up a hill in the depths of Hades as a punishment from Zeus.

Diaz went through that arduous and heavy sacrifices before pulling off a shock victory over her highly regarded Chinese rival for the gold medal. Petite but strong Diaz labored hard like digging the Gulag rocks before clobbering other qualifiers from weightlifting superpowers like Kazakhstan, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Russia.

An Olympic gold medal, the first since the Philippines joined the Games in 1924, can’t be matched by any medal or championship trophy outside the Olympic Games. It’s priceless, one of a kind, and the only medal that matters in any known sporting competition in the human history.

A boxing title, on the other hand, can be won by any handpicked (even substitutes who never went through the elimination process can participate in a world boxing championship) Filipino professional ringster in a commercial promotion anytime of the year.

Without defeating all the top 10 contenders in one division, a “world class” Filipino fighter can pole-vault his way automatically to the world championship through the “machination” and influence of matchmakers and promoters.

Which explains why 44 Filipino prizefighters have won world titles since 1923 when Francisco Guilledo a.k.a Pancho Villa bagged the world flyweight jewels by knocking out Jimmy Wilde to become the first world champion from Asia.

 

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The Philippines isn’t stranger to winning world boxing crowns.

From 1935 to 1997, 25 more Filipino boxers became world champions after Guilledo. 

This was before Pacquiao clinched the Philippines’ 27th world crown by putting away Chatchai Sasakul in a World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight duel in Thailand in 1998.

Pacquiao, to his credit, worked hard to topple an assorted list of  Mexican terrors, mostly semi-retired, and bankrolled millions of U.S. dollars for his efforts.

In securing the eight world crowns in eight different divisions, Pacquiao also didn’t have to eliminate all the top 10 contenders in each division. 

Through the arrangement made by Top Rank’s Bob Arum, he fought for the world featherweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2004 three years after snatching the IBF super-bantamweight crown from Lehlo Ledwaba in Las Vegas in 2001. And so on and so forth. No  fisticuffs against the top 10 contenders under Marquez’s division. 

Diaz’s gold medal came when the Philippines, which waited endlessly and frustratingly for nearly 100 years, was not anymore expected to improve its past medal haul of three silvers and seven bronzes, having lagged behind other Asian countries in the Games held every four years.

We can win another world boxing crown and add it to Pacquiao’s rich collection of belts if lady luck will smile at him against Spence Jr. on August 21, but winning another Olympic gold for the Filipinos is equivalent to another trip to planets Jupiter and Mars.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Congratulations Jed? ‘Thanks, but no thanks!’

“The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”

Dante Alighieri

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

SOME of those who were quick to “congratulate” former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog when the latter was acquitted in an administrative case in a 24-page decision promulgated on June 11, 2021 by the Court of Appeal’s 19th Division, were his former political allies.

The CA granted Mabilog’s petition assailing the decision issued by the Office of the Ombudsman on Aug. 27, 2019.

Some of them were the same political personalities who taped their own mouths and never said a word to denounce the cruel harassment Mabilog had endured from the loquacious and verbally abusive President Rodrigo Duterte since 2016.

Or at least belie the malicious and false accusations leveled against the crestfallen Mabilog, who now has found solace in Canada.

Where were they when Mabilog “needed” them most?

Comforting words or moral support expressed in public couldn’t reverse the tragic political misfortune Mabilog had incurred from Emperor Digong, but these gestures would have been enough to cushion the impact of the unmitigated slander fired at Mabilog without let up from different angles.

Imposing and powerful words of support from these former political allies that would have given Mabilog the fighting chance to out-slick his detractors in the bar of public opinion, besmirched by lies after lies repeated like dizzying sirens from winged creatures.

 

-o0o-

 

Now that the CA has cleared Mabilog, victory has many fathers, so to speak.

They can now suddenly “freely” express their feelings as regards Mabilog’s predicament; they aren’t anymore muzzled and, in fact, are “glad that the truth has come out.” Whoa.

There’s a lesson to learn in this episode. Friendships, with or without politics, are one of the most important pillars in life.

They make up the support system; a sanctuary where friends can share the good and the bad, and really feel understood.

True friends and political allies stand up for one another. 

When powerful characters like Emperor Digong try to intimidate and persecute them, they must do everything they can to make sure they will continue to stay afloat and survive the political Pearl Harbor like in Mabilog’s case.

True political allies will defend each other anytime, anywhere, even without the election with no reservation or reward. 

Real political allies are not those who repeatedly tell each other negative things their rivals and detractors say about them.

Real political allies standby consistently and don’t abandon each other even in the face of imminent slaughter from the ruling political party.

Still probably hurting from some of his former political allies’ eerie silence during the reign of terror, Mabilog must be telling them in his mind: “Thanks, but no thanks. Dark clouds may have hovered around me, but truth and justice will work them out—even without you and your hypocrisy.”

 

-o0o-

 

THE Diaz ladies are the first: Gloria Diaz, the first Filipino Miss Universe in 1969 and Hidilyn Diaz, the first Filipino Olympic Games gold medalist in the 2020 Tokyo Games (held in 2021 because of the pandemic).

The Marcos couple was the first: Ferdinand and Imelda, the first to land in the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records for being we-all-know-what.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, July 26, 2021

We waited for so long

My children can really understand the Olympic Games, To have a medal is very, very special.”

Tim Henman

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

I AM proud to belong in this generation of sportswriters.

At least I’m still active and alive when the Philippines finally and officially won its first-ever Olympic Games gold medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz of Zamboanga City.

My being a sportswriter by heart has brought me sentimentally near the podium of the awarding ceremony where the Philippine anthem was loudly played to our grand delight.

What a feeling.

Other great Filipino sportswriters have passed away without knowing what Golden Girl Hidilyn Diaz did during the once-postponed Summer Olympic Games in the time of pandemic. 

History was made 97 years since the Filipinos became the first athletes from Southeast Asia to compete in the modern games that romped off in Greece in 1896 several months before Dr. Jose Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan.

My late fellow sports scribes had waited impatiently for so long starting when featherweight boxer Anthony Villanueva nearly won the Philippines’ first gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; when another boxer, light flyweight Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco Jr., followed suit in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics; and when Diaz clinched the silver in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. 

The rest was a spaghetti of bronze medals.

Miracles didn’t happen.

 

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We were all actually ecstatic when the Philippines “won” the first gold medal during the 1988 Seoul Olympics in bowling courtesy of Arianne Cerdeña; but the medal wasn’t counted in the official tally since bowling was then a demonstration event.

It was Cerdeña’s fellow Pinoy Olympian, light flyweight boxer Leopoldo Serrantes, who reaped the honor by bringing home the bronze medal.

Since 1924 when the Philippines first took part in the quadrennial international multi-sport event in Paris, Golden Girl Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal was elusive. 

We couldn’t snatch it in the track and field, taekwondo, archery, swimming and other events where we had world class athletes but with slim chances of winning it, but continued to dream and pursue that slippery gold medal until weightlifting finally nailed it in Tokyo.

Fourteen Philippine presidents from Manuel L. Quezon in 1935 until the time of the late Benigno “Noynoy”Aquino III in 2010 waited in vain for the Olympic gold medal. 

Still, no gold medal.

Every four years when the Philippines came home from the greatest sports event in the universe, the gold medal seemed like beyond the reach of the brown athletes— it’s like they had to scale the Alpha Centauri constellation in order to just touch and smell that precious metal awarded to the fastest, the mightiest, and the strongest athlete on earth.

 

-o0o-

 

Below are some of the facts about the ancient Olympic Games:

-All athletes competed naked;

-Wrestlers and pankration (a sort of mixed martial art which combined boxing and wrestling) competitors fought covered in oil;

-Corporal punishment awaited those guilty of a false start on the track;

-There were only two rules in the pankration – no biting and no gouging;

-Boxers were urged to avoid attacking the on-display male genitals;

-There were no points, no time limits and no weight classifications in the boxing;

-Athletes in the combat sports had to indicate their surrender by raising; their index fingers – at times they died before they could do this;

-Boxers who could not be separated could opt for klimax, a system whereby one fighter was granted a free hit and then vice-versa – a toss of a coin decided who went first.

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

 

 

 

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Why this Pacquiao fight is unique



 

“Boxing is serious. It's not a game. Just one punch-change life.”

Gennady Golovkin

 

By Alex P. Vidal 

 

STARTING when he “angered” President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, 42, lost a lot of followers who were mostly Duterte die-hards.

These sycophants are now ready to dump Pacquiao as a politician but not totally as an athlete.

Hence, in his 12-round unified world welterweight tussle against Errol Spence Jr., 31, on August 21 at the T-Mobile Arena, Paradise, Nevada, not all Filipinos will root for him unlike in his previous matches where almost 95 percent of the Filipinos all over the world cheered for him win or lose.

Some of those who would want to see Pacquiao’s destruction from Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) aren’t in favor of his purported plans to run for president next year; they are mostly those who have committed to support Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is expected to run for president under the administration ticket.

These Duterte supporters think if Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) will lose, his political bargaining chips will ebb; the “humiliation” won’t help prop up his chances in the presidential derby. 

Nobody loves a loser, they might chorus.

 

-o0o-

 

While watching the duel on their TV screens on August 21, some of the Duterte loyalists will no longer be as passionate to wish for a Pacquiao victory compared in his past performances where they ran berserk and rioted if Pacquiao was “cheated.”

In the political arena, the Duterte loyalists view Pacquiao as a charlatan if not a demagogue blinded by ambition and bitten by a false pride.

In the fight arena, he is a hero who has brought countless honors to the country earning millions of dollars by pulverizing world class pugilists in America since capturing his first world title, a WBC flyweight belt in a shock KO of Chatchai Sasakul in Thailand in December 1998.

Pacquiao himself feels he no longer enjoys the all-out support from some Mindanao voters now pushing for Inday Sara’s presidential bid.

Either this will embolden Pacquiao to give his very best to beat the younger Spence to prove his critics wrong, or it will demoralize him and affect his performance.

Definitely he will carry this heavy psychological baggage when he goes up the ring and attempt to topple the WBC and IBF tiaras off the head of the New York-born black champion known as “The Truth” and who now resides in Dallas.

But some neutral analysts think Pacquiao, because of his vast media exposure and extraordinary ring exploits, will route Inday Sara in Mindanao, except in Davao City, in a fair and square election if they will collide in 2022.

What makes Pacquiao’s fight against Spence Jr. unique is some Filipino fans don’t care anymore if he will win or lose.

What many fans want is for the 8-time world boxing champion in 8 different categories to retire now and focus in public service if he really intends to help the poor as he has been telling all and sundry, or completely eschew the dirty world of politics, enjoy his hard-earned ring earnings and preserve his legacy as a great ring titan.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex P. Vidal Quotes

 


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Embarrassing and frustrating

“The pandemic has been such an awful time for so many people around the world, but it has also been a reminder for us about the things that really matter - the people in our lives and the love we have for them.”

ANANYA BIRLA

 

By Alex P. Vidal

 

IT is embarrassing to admit that instead of seeing many New Yorkers slowly lifting the mask mandate entering the third quarter of 2021, we are now once again being mandated to wear masks now that the highly contagious Delta variant has fueled a surge of COVID-19 cases around the world, including here in New York where the numbers are creeping up.

Only weeks earlier, we thought we would be seeing the days when we could finally freely roam around the Big Apple without the need to wear a mask (In my case I have been wearing a mask in public even if I have completed my Pfizer vaccination two months ago).

We were wrong. The pandemic has continued to shortchange us sadly.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, New York’s positive infection rate over the weekend was 1.51 percent, continuing its rise from 1.02 percent a week earlier and 0.63 percent two weeks earlier, 

New York City had a 1.3 percent positive infection rate, with 1.88 percent of COVID-19 tests coming back positive on Staten Island.

Everyone older than age two, regardless of vaccination status, are being required to wear masks when schools reopen in the fall, according to updated guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) released July 19.

 

-o0o-

 

Mask guidelines are also changing in some popular tourist destinations because of the spike in cases. Also a mask mandate has been re-issued in Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, where a big boxing match between Manny Pacquiao, 42, and Errol Spence Jr, 31, would be held next month, was recommending masks indoors for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

NYC Councilman and Health Committee Chair Mark Levine said the city or state Health Department should follow the lead of other parts of the country.

“It presents a new challenge for us and it probably means all of us even those who are vaccinated need to be a little more cautious, including wearing our mask in crowded indoor venues,” said Levine. “Having an honor system where people wear it if they want to, it’s not working. You see the number of people wearing masks go down.”

Hot spots were resurfacing in states with low vaccination rates.

Former FDA commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, appeared on Face the Nation July 18 and reminded Americans a final push in prevention is getting vaccinated.

“This virus is so contagious, this variant is so contagious, that it will infect a majority,” he said. 

“Most people will either get vaccinated, or have been previously infected or will get this Delta variant, and for those who get this Delta variant it will be the most serious virus they get in their lifetime, in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”

Doctor Gottlieb said there’s an epidemic of the unvaccinated, which means it’s prudent for everyone to take precautions like wearing a high-quality mask, especially if you’re vulnerable.

 

-o0o-

 

The city continues to focus on education and outreach. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was not considering a mask mandate, but will continue to watch the data. 

Health experts say even if you’re vaccinated and want an added layer of protection, wear a mask.

Meanwhile, APP, the leading national pediatrician group said it recommends universal masking because so much of the student population isn't yet eligible for vaccination.

It's not clear how quickly that will change, or how likely parents will be to get their younger children dosed when the federal government approves shots for kids under 12.Research consistently shows opening schools in person doesn't generally increase community COVID transmission when masks and other protocol are employed, AAP says, and the emergence of more contagious variants, some of which are linked to more severe outcomes, poses a particular threat to people who aren't vaccinated.

 

-o0o-

 

THE TRUE STATE OF THE PHILIPPINES. John F. Kennedy once said, “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."

Most of those who are in power—President, vice president, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors (and even some barangay captains) are billionaires and millionaires who don't live a frugal life; they are not role models for the hoi polloi;

Graft and corruption has depleted our resources and we have become the object of derision and unsavory spiels by observers from other countries. No corrupt public official has been jailed or shot in public;

Poverty, unemployment, overpopulation, ignorance have spawned more social maladies such as squatter, child and adult prostitution, criminality, drug addiction, suicide, insanity, cult fanaticism, religious dogmatism, poor sanitation and garbage disposal, among other serious health and environmental problems;  

"Pork barrel" will not be eliminated. Politicians will swim and sink with this budgetary cellulite, the biggest source of their moolah to sustain their extra-curricular activities outside the marital bed and after office hours;

Women and children are still being exploited in labor, whorehouses, film, and in other salacious and prurient activities in the name of livelihood and economic buildup;

Criminal elements—those involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping-for-ransom, human trafficking for prostitution and labor, holdup and hulidup,  gambling, akyat bahay, gangsterism, street mugging and mulcting, begging syndicates—are making a pile and are not neutralized. Many of them enjoy protection from corrupt policemen.

There is a culture of impunity. Killing of activists, labor leaders, and crusading journalists has continued unabated owing to the failure of authorities to solve one murder after another. No efforts from the higher authority to run after and prosecute the perpetrators who are mostly hired killers.

We are still being bullied by China and other neighboring countries that are numerically and militarily superior; and our unguarded islets and territorial waters are being invaded one after the other.

Our overseas Filipino workers (OFW) continued to be enslaved by exploitative and heartless employers in cahoots with unscrupulous agencies that hired them. Many of them live under sub-human conditions, receive paltry sum for their salary, and are treated shabbily if not raped and maltreated by sadistic bosses and malicious embassy consuls.

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