How I remember ‘Bombo Armand Parcon’

“Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” 

–Richard Bach

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — ILOILO City Councilor Armand Parcon was my first buddy from the broadcast media along with Francis Hinayhinay (Pare Armand’s colleague in the defunct dyRP Radyo Tagring), when I started writing for the fledgling New Express in 1988.
When they left dyRP, they became “Bombo Armand” and “Bombo Francis.”
When I was assigned in the Capitol beat during the administration of Iloilo Governor Simplicio “Sim” Grino from 1989 to 1991, fellow Capitol beat reporter Bombo Armand and I were almost inseparable, while Bombo Francis “retired” and dabbled into buy-and-sell business.
In 1991, Bombo Armand and I contemplated on changing our profession. We both took an examination for employment in foreign service supervised by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which was planning to open a regional office in Iloilo. We both didn’t make it.


Back in our Capitol beat, in most of our out-of-town sojourns to gather reports, another former dyRP mainstay Arsenio “Kamlon” Ang, who was then reporting for the now defunct dyXX, joined us regularly.
Soon our number (the working press) in the Capitol beat grew. There were Jojie Tiongco and Nereo Lujan of Panay News, Gemma Villanueva and the late Erla Ojana of IBC-12, Fernando “Nanding” Madero of dyRI Radyo Agong, the late Tony Laniog and Ibrahim Calanao of dyBQ Radyo Budyong, the late Rene Porras of dyRP, Romela Arieta-Sanggalan and the late Joe Sepulvida of Radyo Ng Bayan, Romy Belisario of dyXX.
When we weren’t gathering reports, Bombo Armand, businessman Francis, and I were at the batchoyan kiosk of manang Marlyn inside the Iloilo Central Market and at the Sariling Sikap restaurant on J.M Basa Street, City Proper.


When I was assigned in the City Hall beat after the 1992 elections, it was Bombo Armand’s turn to be assigned in the same beat replacing Bombo Abe Beatingo during the administration of Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor.
Together with Lemuel Fernandez (Panay News) Wenceslao Mateo (Panay News), Gemma Villanueva and Stanley Palisda (ABS-CBN), Lynon Cortez (dyOK), Art Calsas (dyBQ Radyo Budyong), Joy de Leon (News Express), Jun Lojero, Fernando “Kapid” Gabio, Roger Tamon, and Jun Intrepido (dyRI Radyo Tagring), we organized the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps.
When it was my time to become president in 1998, Bombo Armand was our treasurer.
He was aware that the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps under my presidency “owed” me P5,000, the amount I forked from my own pocket when we ran out of funds during our induction ceremony held at restaurant in front of the Iloilo Hall of Justice.
We didn’t have enough funds because I was the only president who didn’t allow our members to solicit for our induction ceremony.
In his last message to me on Facebook, Bombo Armand said he was looking forward to join me and Francis Hinayhinay when I go back there in our former favorite “watering hole” in the eary 90’s: in the batchoysan inside the Iloilo Central Market where we regularly discussed so many things about life and our profession and where we solidified our friendship.
Councilor “Bombo Armand” Parcon, my kumpare and buddy during his glory days in the broadcast media, left us on Thursday night after more than a week of confinement at the West Visayas State University Medical Center, according to my kumare Veronica.
He reportedly succumbed to pneumonia complications.
Rest in peace, Pare Armand.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in Uncategorized


When a mayor reports for work on bicycle

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” 

–Albert Einstein

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n (1)

NEW YORK CITY — I HAVE covered the Vancouver city hall beat, among other offices and cities in the British Columbia for a Filipino community newspaper, Philippine Asian News Today, where I briefly served as editor in 2012.
It was in this world’s most livable city where I saw Mayor Gregor Robertson report for work on a bicycle. He went to city hall riding on a two-wheel bike like an ordinary cyclist without any bodyguard.
After parking his bicycle, he changed cloths right there in the parking area from jersey to office attire before proceeding to the mayor’s office on 453 West 12th Avenue. Only tourists could not recognize that the cyclist changing cloths in the parking space was the chief executive of the City of Vancouver.
Because he loves cycling, his proposal to create more cycling lanes in the streets snowballed. It was not hard for Robertson to get the support of the Vancouver city council which had voted unanimously to spend Canadian $25 million to create and improve bike lanes throughout the city, re-writing the city’s map on how people get around.


The money would be spent building about 55 kilometers of new bike lanes and construction is on-going. It was expected to also enhance and improve connections from south Vancouver to the Canada Line Bridge.
Other notable changes expected in the project included extending separated bike lanes along Burrard Street and the Dunsmuir Viaduct, a pedestrian cycling greenway along Helmcken Street and an east-west bike route along 45th Avenue.
On March 10, 2010, we witnessed the smiling Robertson, an avid cyclist, open the Dunsmuir Viaduct bike lane. People in Vancouver have high regards for cyclists, who are treated with utmost respect in the roads because of the mayor’s influence and advocacy for this mode of transportation.
The last time I was with Robertson was when we watched the 2010 World Cup finals between Spain and The Netherlands on Dunsmuir. I sat beside him on the pavement together with hundreds of soccer fans. “Where’s your bike, mayor?” I asked him while he was about to leave after the Spaniards bundled out the Dutchmen, 2-0. “I parked it at city hall,” he retorted with a smile.


I recalled the biking event last April 1, 2014 when I witnessed the 1st Iloilo Bike Festival with routes passing the Lizares Mansion, Casa Mariquit, Jaro plaza, cathedral and belfry, Sanson-Montinola house, Nelly Garden, Museo Iloilo, the old provincial capitol and Arroyo Fountain, Calle Real, Fort San Pedro, Plaza Libertad, City Hall, San Jose Church and Sto. Rosario heritage houses, Customs House, Molo Church and Iloilo River Esplanade.
More than a hundred cycling enthusiasts joined the fun ride and helped promote the “Share the Road” movement.
Then Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who joined the cyclists, led the ceremonial countdown together with then Iloilo City Rep. and now mayor-elect Jerry Treñas and other city councilors and city hall officials.
“All of us are concerned in making our respective communities a better place to live in,” Senate President Franklin Drilon said in a speech and called the activity as timely amid the growing concern about the environment.
We’ve noticed that bike lanes were being built in some highways in the city especially in the Diversion Road.

Mabilog, incidentally, is a friend of an Ilonggo cycling association that spearheaded the bike fest.
Are we seeing Iloilo City as the next Vancouver when it comes to recognizing the rights of cycling enthusiasts to have separate bike lanes in major roads?
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)
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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in Uncategorized


Depression after election defeat

“People who have never dealt with depression think it’s just being sad or being in a bad mood. That’s not what depression is for me; it’s falling into a state of grayness and numbness.” 

–Dan Reynolds

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — A politician who recently lost in his bid for congress has blamed God “for allowing the glitter of money to prevail over my sincere intention to serve the people.”
The politician claimed he lost “because I didn’t have the money to buy votes” and that “I already made a lot of sacrifices and I could feel that I was the people’s choice from the very beginning, but money prevailed and I can’t understand why God has allowed it.”
We suspect the politician is depressed.
Because he could not accept defeat, he found it hard to move on.
What is eating him up is a clear and simple depression, one of the most common human emotional disorders.
Depression may be manifested in varying degrees: from feelings of slight sadness to utter misery and dejection, according to H.K. Bakhru, a member of the Nature Cure Practitioners’ Guild in Mumbai.


Depression is a very unpleasant malady and is far more difficult to cope with than a physical ailment, he said.
The growing complexities of modern life and its resultant crises, as well as the mental stress and strain of day-to-day life, usually leads to the disorder, Bakhru stressed.
The most striking symptoms of depression, Bakhru explained, are an acute sense of loss, inexplicable sadness, loss of energy, lack of interest in the world around, and fatigue.
We further learned from Bakhru that a disturbed sleep is a frequent occurrence.
Other symptoms of depression are loss of appetite, giddiness, itching, nausea, agitation, irritability, impotence or frigidity, constipation, aches and pains all over the body, lack of concentration, and indecisiveness.
Bakhru pointed out that cases of severe depression may be characterized by low body temperature, low blood pressure, hot flushes, and shivering.
Prolong periods of anxiety and tension, he said, can cause mental depression.
He recommended the following for remedies: apple, cashewnut, asparagus, cardamom, lemon balm, rose, vitamin B, dietary consideration.


A person suffering from depression can overcome it by being more active, turning away from himself, and diverting his attention towards other people and things, according Bakhru.
The pleasure of achieving something overcomes distress or misery, he added.
Exercise also plays an important role in the treatment of depression. He said it not only keeps the body physically and mentally fit, but also provides recreation and mental relaxation.
“It is nature’s best tranquilizer. Exercise also tones up the body, provides a feeling of accomplishment, and reduces the sense of helplessness,” Bakhru wrote in Natural Home Remedies.
He added: “The patient must also learn the art of relaxation and meditation which will go a long way in curing depression. He must gain control over his nervous system and channelize his mental and emotional energies into restful activities.”
Bakhru said this can be achieved by ensuring sufficient rest and sleep under quiet conditions.
“Meditations will help create a balance in the nervous system,” he explained. “This will enable the hormonal glands to return to a correct state of hormonal balance and thereby overcome the feeling of depression,” he concluded.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on May 17, 2019 in Uncategorized


We shouldn’t embarrass a friend

“I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel that they have not said enough.” 

–Mark Twain

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — WE have probably met some people with a skill for keeping a discussion going on at our expense.
If we have a friend who finds it entertaining to bring up personal stories about us, making us feel uncomfortable, he may not be aware of our unease.
We may say, “Can we save this story for another time?”
If we want to make our message stronger, let’s say, “Wait! That’s embarrassing to me, you’ll have to keep it to yourself.”
If our companion makes loud comments about the people seated at the next table, we may say, “Can you please keep your voice down? I’m sure those people can probably hear you. I don’t think we should be talking about them.”
For the incident where a friend tells an anecdote of questionable taste, possibly while riding in an elevator or on line at a movie, we may say, “Can we save this story for another time?” When we’re not in public.”


Charlotee Ford and Jacqueline deMontravel, in the 21st Century Etiquette, said asking someone about her income, relationships, or how old is she is naturally impolite–yet people still seem to ask questions of a personal nature.
As rules in manners become more lenient, they said this one has not slackened.
“For those bold enough to impose an improper question, a little wit can gently put offenders in their place,” they suggested.
Ford narrates that when her six-year-old granddaughter asked a family friend why he had gotten so fat, she was instructed on why such presumptuous behavior is impolite.
When an acquaintance asked her who her therapist was, she told her: “I don’t have one, but who is yours?”


Ford suggests a partial answer to potentially embarrassing questions asked out of ignorance.
For instance, a friend who had just seen her lawyer about a separation agreement was confronted at a cocktail party by a well-meaning acquaintance who asked about how her husband was.
She replied, “He’s been extremely busy at work.”
Her answer satisfied the questioner without giving away any personal particulars, Ford points out.
If a question offends us, such as “How much did your CD player cost?,” there’s no need to be indignant, Fords explains.
She says an evasive but polite answer is the best reply, such as “I don’t remember” or “It was a gift.”
When people ask tactless or antagonistic questions meant to put us on the defensive, we can do what certain politicians do so well–evade the question entirely, says Ford.
For example. “How come you aren’t married yet?”–a question often put to single people by a smug newlywed–may be countered with, “Are you about to propose?” Or, less coyly, “I’m flattered by your interest in my personal affairs but I’m baffled as to why you’re so curious.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Uncategorized


Purging is a sad political reality

“If a superior give any order to one who is under him which is against that man’s conscience, although he do not obey it yet he shall not be dismissed.” 

–Francis of Assisi

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — WHEN a new administration takes over, the “purging” of the roster of employees and department heads usually takes effect along with the edict to refurbish the executive office and its environs.
Those who have been identified with the losing bets (who are the incumbents) in the just-concluded elections–or those who had openly helped campaign for the losers–would be in danger of being awarded the chopping block’s priority seats.
Partisan career employees and department chiefs, however, would have the civil service law on their side to protect and “rescue” them; their “punishment” would most likely be only a reassignment and demotion, to some extent, once the major reshuffling’s sharp blade rolled down.
Casual and co-terminus employees, on the other hand, would have nothing to lean on; they would have no legal shields from the incoming administration’s “washing machine” which would soon flush them down and out of employment.
The house-cleaning is normally done to pave the way for fresh appointments of staff and co-terminus consultants who will serve at the pleasure of the newly-elected governor or mayor.
Vindictive politicians will always justify the carnage or the “changing of the guards” as a normal episode in a transition of power in any administration–local and national. 

Since Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. will only turn over the key of power to his son, outgoing Iloilo third district Rep. Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr., capitol workers–casual and permanent–can heave a sigh of relief when Governor Toto assumes office in June.
There may have been a very few who committed a “treachery”, in one way or the other, during the recent election campaign period, but in the spirit of magnanimity and compassion, Governor Toto will just probably shrug off any immediate suggestion or move for a “disciplinary action”, at least for the time being.
Many of those who had risked their civil service career and future during the arduous campaign period would probably be rehired, promoted, and given permanent positions.
To the victor belongs the spoils.-o0o-

We’re worried most for those who have been identified with outgoing Iloilo City mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III.
Many of them are still very much active, productive, and effective in their city hall jobs.
In his statement on radio immediately after being confirmed as the winner over Mayor Joe III, incoming mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Trenas emotionally lashed at “some (city hall) department heads and employees” who had been allegedly “used” or “allowed themselves to be used” openly to campaign for the incumbent mayor and to purportedly villify Trenas.
Many of those city hall subalterns and partisan department chiefs referred to by Trenas can always claim they were “only forced by the circumstance” or “caught in the crossfire” and their actions and activities during the elections weren’t necessarily meant to willfully and intentionally hurt Trenas.
But politics is cruel.
It’s either you belong on the white side or on the black side, not whether you intend to inflict injury to the opposing candidates.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Uncategorized


Trenas’ tears better than a repeat of Burr vs Hamilton duel

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” 

–Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — THERE have been bitter political rivalries in the past like the Trenas-Joe III rift that worsened and turned violent. Ilonggos were glad the outgoing congressman managed to shed only tears after his conquest of the sitting city mayor and no bloodshed attended one of Iloilo City’s most divisive and mucky political conflicts in recent memory.
In fact, one of the reasons why the political feud between former US vice president Aaron Burr and US founding father Alexander Hamilton ended in a duel that killed Hamilton in 1804, was vicious politics.
It was actually the irate Burr, running mate of 1796 presidential election candidate Thomas Jefferson, who challenged the brilliant Hamilton.
Hamilton, who campaigned for John Adams of the Federalist Party, had been exposed as the author of a “black propaganda” article that appeared in the Gazette against Jefferson of the Republican Party.


The article was written by Phocion, a pseudo name who turned out to be Hamilton, one of the era’s most respected and brilliant federalist leaders.
It exposed Jefferson as allegedly having an affair with one of his female slaves. Phocion also accused Jefferson of running away from British troops during the Revolution.
Not to be outwitted, Jefferson’s folks also had been using their own strong campaign tactics against Adams, who was accused of being overweight and given the nickname “His Rotundity.”
Adams had been called also as a “hermaphrodite”; Jefferson, on the other hand, had been accused of wanting to promote prostitution, incest and adultery.
Jefferson’s defeat to Adams didn’t sit well with Burr.
And the rest was history.

Iloilo City mayor-elect Geronimo “Jerry” Trenas pointed to “viciousness” apparently as the reason why he wasn’t yet ready to extend a hand of reconciliation to his rivals, Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and Dr. Pacita Gonzalez.
The tearful Trenas considered the May 13, 2019 elections to be “the most vicious” in all his past electoral combats.
The attacks against him, including his family, were allegedly “vicious and personal” capped by name-calling and insults.
One of his family members had been allegedly called as “agi” (homosexual).
In his rage, Trenas never mentioned Mayor Joe III and Dr. Gonzalez, his two closest rivals whom he routed by as much as 60,000 votes, but Trenas was obviously more resentful at his brother-in-law, Mayor Joe III.


Ilonggos knew how they and their supporters tore each other apart during the campaign period; how some family ties had been ruptured; and how much hurt and how deep was the animosity each side had to absorb and endure these past six weeks.
But nobody expected Trenas to eke out a big margin and to lead his Team Uswag in hammering out a swashbuckling sweep in the races for the city’s lone congressional district (won by former city councilor Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda), vice mayor (won by the incumbent Jeffrey Ganzon), including the majority seats in the city council.
Some Ilonggos are saying reconciliation may not be coming any day from now, but if both camps will allow the healing process to take its course, “time will definitely heal the wounds.”
After all they all come from one family.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on May 14, 2019 in Uncategorized


‘We feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble’

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

— Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — William James was one of the two famous American pragmatists along with C.S. Peirce, who promoted pragmatism that says, “knowledge is a guide for action, not a search for abstract truth.”
James’ philosophy is simple: to fully understand something we must understand all its consequences; true beliefs will lead to positive consequences.
But it is not about James’ philosophy and pragmatism per se why his name is mentioned here today.

It’s about his comments on emotion published in An Insight Book by Van Nostrand in 1962 that I would like to share.
Although James wrote with clarity and depth on a large number of topics of psychological interest, his comments on emotion resulted in a theory of emotion which bears his name.
The following selection idea is taken from James’ chapter on emotion in Principles of Pyschology (Vol. II, New York: Holt and Company, 1890).

The selection is taken from the middle of the chapter. Prior to the place where this selection begins, James has discussed the work of the Danish psychologist, Carl Lange.


Although there are differences between James’ theory and that of Lange, the general theory that emotion is the product of physiological changes, rather than the reverse, is commonly called the James-Lange theory, according to the Van Nostrand Insight Book edited by Douglas K. Candland.
“Our natural way of thinking about these coarser emotions is that the mental perception of some fact excites the mental affection called the emotion and that this latter state of mind gives rise to the bodily expression,” James clarified his viewpoint in a paper which appeared in Psychol. Rev., 1894,1, 516-529.
“My theory, on the contrary, is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion. Common sense says, we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep; we meet a bear, are frightened and run; we are insulted by a rival, are angry and strike.
“The hypothesis here to be defended says that this order of sequence in incorrect, that the one mental state is not immediately induced by the other, that the bodily manifestations must first be interposed between, and that the more rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.”


James added: “Without the bodily states following on the perception, the latter would be purely cognitive in form, pale, colorless, destitute of emotional warmth. We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we should not actually feel afraid or angry.”
The James–Lange theory refers to a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions and is one of the earliest theories of emotion within modern psychology. The basic premise of the theory is that physiological arousal instigates the experience of a specific emotion. Instead of feeling an emotion and subsequent physiological (bodily) response, the theory proposes that the physiological change is primary, and emotion is then experienced when the brain reacts to the information received via the body’s nervous system.
The theory has been criticized and modified over the course of time, as one of several competing theories. In 2002 a research paper on the autonomous nervous system stated that the theory has been “hard to disprove.”
The theory states that all emotion is derived from the presence of a stimulus, which evokes a physiological response, such as muscular tension, a rise in heart rate, perspiration, and dryness of mouth. This physical arousal makes a person feel a specific emotion.


Emotion is a secondary feeling, indirectly caused by the primary feeling, which is the physiological response caused by the presence of a stimulus, according to the theory. The specific pathway involved in the experience of emotion was also described by James. He stated that an object has an effect on a sense organ, which relays the information it is receiving to the cortex. The brain then sends this information to the muscles and viscera, which causes them to respond. Finally, impulses from the muscles and viscera are sent back to the cortex, transforming the object from an “object-simply apprehended” to an “object-emotionally felt.”
James explained that his theory went against common sense. For example, while most would think the order of emotional experience would be that a person sees a bear, becomes afraid, and runs away, James thought that first the person has a physiological response to the bear, such as trembling, and then becomes afraid and runs. James said, the physiological response comes first, and it is followed by an emotion and a reaction. James believed that these responses were “reflex type” reactions which are built in: “Instinctive reactions and emotional expressions shade imperceptibly into each other. Every object that excites an instinct excites an emotion as well.”

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Uncategorized