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‘Nanay patawarin mo po ako’

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” Abraham Lincoln

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Mercidetas is in a hurry to book for a trip to Manila in November 2016 and the cheapest ticket she could get was $453 at China Eastern for a flight via Shianghai.
If she moves her flight to December, Mercidetas will have to shell out $1,439 at Philippine Airlines.
“I need to be home before December. My youngest daughter will deliver her baby before Christmas,” chortles Mercidetas, 56, a mother of three.
Her daugther, Rachel, 17, lives in Carmona, a first class urban municipality in the province of Cavite, Philippines with a population of 97,557, according to the 2015 census.
Mother and daughter haven’t seen each other in person since 2001 when Mercidetas left then two-year-old Rachel to the care of Rosario, Mercidetas’ older sister who was single.
Mercidetas, clerk in the local registry of deeds, left for San Francisco, California on a tourist visa before the 9/11 attack.
She never returned to the Philippines.

CHILDREN

She left her two other children–Rhea, 7, and Dan Robert, 9–in the care of her estranged husband’s parents.
Both Rhea and Dan Robert now have their own families. Rhea, cashier in a grocery store, lives in Norzagaray, Bulacan. Dan Robert, whose expertise in the kitchen was recently featured in a popular TV program in Manila, is cook in a Japanese restaurant in Makati City, Metro Manila.
Mercidetas works as babysitter in Long Island. She admits Rachel is her favorite child “because I nearly lost her when I was only six months pregnant.”
She had a violent altercation with Ramon’s “girlfriend” who kicked her on the stomach during a scuffle.
Mercidetas says “Ramon was not happy” when he learned she was pregnant to Rachel.
“He became paranoid after coming home one night when he saw a carpenter inside our house during a power blackout,” recalls Mercidetas. “He accused me of having an affair with the carpenter.”
Mercidetas theorized Ramon, driver of a prominent politician in Imus, a neighboring municipality, only wanted to justify his infidelity by “falsely” accusing her of committing adulterous acts.

DRIVE-IN

She caught Ramon and his inamorata while coming out from a drive-in motel and attacked them.
Ramon’s girlfriend, younger by about eight years, fought back and Mercidetas landed in the hospital after a violent fracas. “I nearly lost my baby,” she sobs, gnashing her teeth.
Ramon left them and lived with his girlfriend in Quezon province.
“Ate Rosario took care of Rachel when I decided to go to the United States,” Mercidetas narrates. “My heart sank when Ate Rosario died in 2009. I could not fly home because of immigration issues. Rachel was only nine years old then.”
Rosario was a victim of hit and run in the Carmona highway. The car that sideswiped her while on her way home from church sped off.
“When Rachel needed me most, I was not there on her side. I was going insane. I lost my appetite. I lost weight. I had sleepless nights worrying for my youngest daughter. My friends in the Woodside entertained me in the videoke bar and assured me everything was fine for Rachel, who was taken care of by our neighbors before being adopted by Ramon’s sister in Caloocan (city, Metro Manila),” Mercidetas adds amid tears.

FUNDS

She needed to raise funds as babysitter; sometimes she dabbled in house cleaning for a part time job “because I left a big debt in the Philippines.”
Aside from sending money to Rosario for Rachel’s needs, Mercidetas also remitted some cash to Ramon’s parents for her other children.
She also left “a pile of debts” several months before she obtained her visa.
“That’s why I needed to work so I can also sustain the needs of my family even if I am a TNT (tago ng tago),” remarks Mercidetas, who left San Francisco to New York City after two moths in 2001 to hook up with a former classmate, Evangeline, a caregiver in Brooklyn.
Evangeline paid for Mercidetas’ rent for three months in a small bedroom on 69th St. Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside. She transferred to a spacious room when she landed a job as babysitter.
Rachel took up an associate course in computer in Caloocan City where she met Mamerto, an instructor.
“Even if she had no idea how I looked in person except in the photos in our family album, Rachel and I talked over the phone regularly,” adds Mercidetas. “When Skype came, it was heaven for both of us. We cried together because we could look at each other face to face even if it was only in the internet.”

‘MY BABY’

Mercidetas considers Rachel as “still my baby and (she’ll) forever remain as my baby” even if Rachel was already teenager.
Rachel would not anymore resent their distance and flip-flopped in pressing her mom further on circumstances why a mother had to leave her children and could not come home during important family events.
Mercidetas assured her “we will someday be reunited and will no longer be separated in whatever circumstance.”
In return, Rachel promised to be a “good girl” and to finish her studies.
“In the Skype and in the Facebook messenger, we always prayed together for God’s guidance and blessing so that all our wishes would come true,” discloses Mercidetas.
Rachel haven’t heard from her father. Mercidetas says she had to employ “white lies” to divert Rachel’s mind each time questions about her father’s whereabouts tarried in their discussion.
“I just assured her that someday her father will show up and join us. It pains me a lot while saying those white lies because I know it’s already impossible,” Mercidetas laments.
Mercidetas admits her “most shocking” nightmare came in June this year when Rhea, now 22, informed her by long distance that Rachel was pregnant.
To add insult, Mamerto, the man who allegedly impregnated Rachel, is married with four children.
Mamerto resigned from the computer institute owned by the former presidential adviser of Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada after Rhea and their relatives confronted him and brought the matter to the attention of school authorities.

STOP

Rachel stopped going to school. “Nakakahiya (shameful)” was how Rhea described Rachel’s predicament when Rhea reported the matter to Mercidetas.
Mercidetas admits she felt like her world has crumbled for being unable to assist her favorite daughter during “the most confusing moments” in her life.
“I blame myself. All her life I was not there to give her advice and guidance while she was growing up. What she lacked was parental guidance. We failed to provide it,” Mercidetas exclaims, clinching her fists.
She cautioned Rhea from admonishing her sister severely and appealed to give Rachel all the moral support and understanding.
“Gusto ko man lang sana mayakap sia. Pati ba naman sa kalagayan nia ngayon wala ako sa piling nia (I wanted to at least embrace her. I should be there beside her now),” Mercidetas sighs.

CALLS

Rachel refused to answer Mercidetas’ calls in the Facebook messenger, Skype and other means of communications. “Naintindihan ko sia. Naghalo ang kanyang hiya at takot. I wanted her to know that I am not mad at her. I wanted her to know that I am giving her my full support basta kausapin lang niya ako,” she sobs further.
Mercidetas did not press the issue. She waited for the moment when Rachel could muster enough strength and courage to talk to her.
One afternoon in July while she was in the Junction Boulevard subway station in Corona, Queens, Mercidetas’ Facebook messenger rang. It was Rachel.
“Nanay patawarin mo po ako (mother please forgive me). I failed you. I did not honor my promise. I am so ashamed.”
Mercidetas replied: “Anak wala kang kasalanan. Mahal na mahal kita pati ang magiging anak mo at magiging apo ko. Hintayin mo ako. Magsasama na tayo muli. (You are not at fault, my child. I love you, your daughter; and also my grandchild. Wait for me. We will be together again.)”

 
 

I’m not dead, says Pinoy chess champ

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  — MARK TWAIN

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The oldest Filipino to win a category title in the World Chess Open championship has surfaced after a long hiatus to belie reports he was dead.
“I came here to prove them wrong,” Normando “Andy” Bragat Punzalan, 72, told this writer in an exclusive interview at the Elmhurst Park in Queens, August 15, referring to reports.

“In fact, I’m looking for the person or group of persons in this park who spread the rumor that I have died,” fumed Punzalan, who holds a United States Chess Federation (USCF) National Elo 1769.

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SELFIE with a background showing Punzalan playing versus Indonesia Master Thomas.

Rumors of Punzalan’s death spread in Elmhurst Park July 2016, where he used to hone chess skills together with other fellow Filipino-American chess players.
He claimed credit in bringing super GM Wesley So in the park to play with local chess aficionados in exhibition matches.

RATED

Rated No. 2120 in the United States, Punzalan, who has lived here for more than 30 years since moving from Novaliches, Quezon City, blamed “envy” as the source of the false story.
Fellow Fil-Am chess player Melchor “Choy” Florescio alerted Punzalan about the rumors in a telephone call, but persuaded him from identifying the rumor mongers.
Chess aficionados in the park feared swindlers might once again use the opportunity to solicit donations for a “dead” compatriot.
“Ever since I won in Philadelphia (venue of the 7th Annual World Open Under1800), I have been hearing ugly rumors about me. Some people just can’t accept that I could win a chess title in my senior years,” narrated Punzalan, who was 70 when he ruled the category championship.
Punzalan claimed he also topped the tournament in the senior category in 2015.

VICTORY

When his victory became known in the community, Punzalan said envious characters also circulated a story that he was a TNT (Tago Ng Tago or illegal immigrant) in a bid to destroy him in the chess federation.
He chided those who cast doubts on his credentials to check the internet saying he did not want to argue with them.
“I had to show my ID to prove that I am an American citizen,” sobbed Punzalan, who recently engaged an Indonesian known in the park as “Master Thomas” in a series of blitz games.
In an incident during a winter season years back, detractors ribbed Punzalan after a drunken elderly Fil-Am he accompanied home fell to the ground and suffered cuts on his head.
“My detractors claimed I intentionally pushed the elderly person. I was the one who offered to bring the person home, yet I ended up as the contrabida. My critics never stopped maligning me only because I won a chess title,” he exclaimed.

CHESSERS

Punzalan said several Filipino chessers also won in various categories in the past, “but none of them won the title at age 70.”
“I’m not bragging about my achievements (in chess), but I will prove to my critics that I can still play even if I am now 72,” Punzalan said. “I am still active and not yet retiring.”
He plans to participate in the Millionaire Chess Open in Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 6-10, 2016.
Punzalan also reportedly had exposure in the following tournaments: 41st Annual World Open (Ratedgames) Arlington, USA 2013.06.29; 41st Annual World Open (Under1800) Arlington, USA 2013.06.29; 6th NY International (Under1800) New York, USA 2013.06.19; 7th Annual Philadelphia Open (Under1800) Philadelphia, USA 2013.03.27; National Chess Congress (Under1800) Philadelphia, USA 2012.11.23; Boardwalk Open (Under 1800) Asbury Park, USA 2012.10.19; Continental Class (Class B) Arlington, USA 2012.10.04; 40th Annual World Open (Under1800) Philadelphia, USA 2012.07.01; Philadelphia Open (Under1600) Philadelphia, USA 2012.04.04; Eastern Team Championship! (Teamu) Stamford, USA 2011.11.04; 39th Annual World Open (Under1600) Philadelphia, USA 2011.06.28; 38th Annual World Open (Under1600).

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in SPORTS

 

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Posted by on August 20, 2016 in CULTURE AND HERITAGE, TOURISM

 

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France again; terrorism plunges world in chaos as 84 die in bus attack

Truck rammed into crowd on the Promenade des Anglais at around 2230 local (1630 ET) Thursday night, shortly after last Bastille Day fireworks had ended

CLICK: http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/14/europe/nice-truck-attack-live-blog/index.html
At least 84 people killed while at least 18 remain in critical condition, according to Nice police
U.S. officials confirm at least two Americans were killed; three Australians injured, according to country’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop; two Chinese citizens were also injured, the Chinese consulate in Marseille tells CNN
Identity of assailant was known to authorities for petty crime violations, based on a provisional identification of the attacker. But he was not known to security services for jihadism or Islamist extremism, a source close to the investigation tells CNN
Authorities are working to determine whether an I.D. card of a 31-year-old French-Tunisian found in the truck cab matches the body of the driver, according to a police source reported by AFP
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack
Eyewitness: ‘It was well-planned’

Eyewitness Andy McArdy works at Le Queenie, a restaurant on the Promenade des Anglais. He tells CNN of his shock that an attack like this has happened in Nice.
“Maybe though something would happen during the Euro 2016, but that passed without incident. Nice was a soft target, a family outing, people enjoying the music, the promenade.
He continued: “It was very well planned; they knew that the noise of fireworks would mask the noise of gunfire, so that people would think that they were hearing fireworks, instead of, sadly, live gunfire that killed people.”
Recalling the moment the truck appeared on the promenade, McArdy said: “He must have broken through the barriers … You could hear the pop, pop, pop. There were bodies everywhere.
“Everyone came rushing in the restaurant — about 100 people — trying to find safe passage. They ended up staying in the building until midnight, when police said it was safe to leave.
McArdy says the scene today has “an extremely eerie atmosphere.”
“Nothing has been cleaned away — the bodies have been removed, but the debris and the blood are still there.”

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Let’s continue to pray for world peace

We renew our call to all peace-loving citizens in the world to pray for world peace as another terrorist attack occurred in Istanbul, Turkey.  Here’s the link: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/28/europe/turkey-istanbul-airport-attacks/index.html

Here’s the full report from CNN:

ISTANBUL — Gunshots, screams and explosions pierced the air Tuesday at Istanbul Ataturk Airport, as three terrorists armed with bombs and guns attacked passengers at one of the world’s busiest travel spots.
Witnesses described deadly carnage and crowds in a panic as the attackers struck.
At least 36 people were killed, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, in the terror attack, one for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Another 147 people were wounded, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said
Sue Savage was in the airport to see a friend off when she heard gunshots and then an explosion, which she knew was a bomb. Then more gunshots and another boom, she told “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
She ducked into a men’s prayer room and then into a men’s toilet, where she hid in a stall with a young woman. They came out, perhaps 20 or 30 minutes later, and heard more screams and gunshots and ducked into a room where luggage is inspected.
She and about 30 people were herded into a women’s prayer room until authorities led them out and down an escalator into the main terminal hall.
“There was a lot of blood,” she said. The floor was marked with bloody boot marks and she saw a woman’s scarf on the floor. The group was herded around to the other side of the room.
“There was so much glass on the floor they were scuffing it aside so we didn’t slip,” she said.
Video from inside the airport terminal shows people racing away as fast as they could and the bright orange flash of fire from one of the explosions. Victims stagger and some fall from the now blood-covered, slick floor.
Another video shows a man walking with a gun, which he drops when he apparently is shot by a security officer. The man slumps to the ground and the officer briefly stands over him before running. About 10 seconds later, there is an explosion.
Traveler Laurence Cameron described what he saw after he stepped off a plane.
“It was just a massive crowd of screaming people. Some were falling over themselves. A poor chap in a wheelchair was just left, and everyone just rushed to the back of the building, and then people ran the other way and no one really seemed to know what was going on,” he told CNN. “Where you normally hail a taxi, that is where the attack happened. The ground is just kind of shredded. There are bloodstains on the floor as well.”
Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin said the three terrorists were also killed.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a unified international fight against terrorism, saying: “Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome. Unless all governments and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”
The attacks happened on a warm summer night at the airport, east of Istanbul, which is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. CNN’s Ali Veshi said Ataturk is a modern, sophisticated airport.
“There are all of the major European and American boutiques there,” said Velshi, who has traveled through Turkey many times. “… You see people of all shapes and colors, in all sorts of dress. If you want to target the cosmopolitan nature of Istanbul, this is possibly the most cosmopolitan, heavily populated part. You can target tourist areas, but this is the part where the world comes together.”
Flights into the airport were diverted to the capital of Ankara and other cities, airport spokesman Erhan Ustundag said.
“The terrorists came to the airport in a taxi and then carried out their attacks,” Yildirim told a national audience. “The fact that they were carrying guns added to the toll. Preliminary findings suggest all three attackers first opened fire then detonated themselves.”
Yildirim didn’t say why, but said signs pointed to ISIS being behind the attacks, which occurred with a little more than a week left in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Multiple U.S. officials told CNN’s Pamela Brown and Elise Labott that the early thinking among U.S. intelligence officials was that ISIS or an ISIS-inspired group was to blame. Like the Turkish prime minister, the officials said there is much more investigating to be done.
One official said the attack bears the hallmarks of ISIS because of the target and the method. And a senior US official pointed to the way it was coordinated using weapons and explosions.
It would be a “big surprise” if it was the PKK — or Kurdistan Worker’s Party — based on how the attack was conducted. The PKK tends to target military and security installations, other officials said.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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I challenge you to a duel!

“Sometimes in politics one must duel with skunks, but no one should be fool enough to allow skunks to choose the weapons.” Joseph Cannon

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — There was a time when rivalries were settled only after one of the protagonists has been killed.
David bludgeoned Goliath. Lapu-Lapu bar-b-qued Ferdinand Magellan. Julius Caesar decapitated Pompey. Pizzaro burned Atahualpa. Emilio Aguinaldo executed Andres Bonifacio. Vladimir Lenin bashed Leon Trotsky. Fidel Castro defrocked Fulgencio Batista. To name only a few.
Immediately after her defeat (she claimed she was cheated) to former Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 presidential election, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago challenged the former Marcos general to a fistfight.
President-elect Rody Duterte once challenged rival Mar Roxas to a slapping match. Roxas challenged him to fisticuffs.
But the most controversial showdown in history happened between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.
Burr had a knack for making enemies out of important people.

DISLIKE

George Washington disliked him so much from their time together during the Revolutionary War that as president, he had Burr banned from the National Archives, didn’t appoint him as minister to France, and refused to make him a brigadier general, according to The Fascinating Book of History.
Burr became a lawyer in New York after the war, frequently opposing his future dueling partner Hamilton.
But it wasn’t until Burr beat Hamilton’s father-in-law in the race for a Senate seat that the problems between them really started.
Burr ran for president against Thomas Jefferson in 1800. The candidate with the most votes got to be president back then; whoever came second became vice president–even if they were from different parties.
When the election ended in a tie in the Electoral College, it was thrown to the House of Representatives to decide. After 35 straight tie votes, Jefferson was elected president, and Burr became vice president.
Like Washington, Jefferson didn’t hold Burr in high regard. So in 1804, Burr decided to run for governor of New York.

PRESS

When he lost, Burr blamed the slandering of the press in general and the almost constant criticism from Hamilton in particular.
Hamilton later shot off at the mouth at a dinner party, and Burr decided he’d had enough. After giving Hamilton a chance to take his comments back (Hamilton refused), Burr challenged him to the famous duel.
On July 11, 1804, Burr and Hamilton met at Weehawken, New Jersey. Some say that Hamilton fired first, discharging his pistol into the air; others say that he just missed.
Burr, on the other hand, didn’t miss, shooting Hamilton. He died the next day.
Burr fled to his daughter’s home in South Carolina until things cooled down. He was indicted for murder in both New York and New Jersey, but nothing ever came of it, and he eventually returned to Washington to finish his term as vice president. But his political career was over.
Burr decided to head west, after his term as vice president, to what was then considered as Ohio and the new lands of Louisiana Purchase.

EMPIRE

It seemed that Burr had things on his mind other than the scenery, however. According to some (mostly his rivals), Burr intended to create a new empire with himself as king.
As the story goes, he planned to conquer a portion of Texas, still held by Mexico, then convince some of the existing western states to join his new confederacy.
Called the Burr Conspiracy, it got the attention of President Jefferson, who issued arrest orders for treason.
Burr was eventually captured and brought to trial in 1807. But he caught a break. The judge was Chief Justice John Marshall. The judge and Jefferson didn’t get along, and rather than give his enemy an easy victory, Marshall demanded that the prosecution produce two witnesses that specifically heard Burr commit treason.
The prosecution failed to come up with anybody, and Burr was set free.
Burr then left the United States to live in Europe. Returning to New York in 1812, he quietly practiced law until his death in 1836.

 

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Visions of the Virgin

“Only a Woman, divine, could know all that a woman can suffer.”
Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Do you believe in miracle?
Pious Catholics hold a special place for Mary, the mother of Jesus, praying for her daily for favors and blessings.
Some say that the virgin has appeared to them right here on Earth.
Many of these claims are not verified–dismissed as products of overactive imaginations or as outright hoaxes–but two apparitions, which defy scientific explanation, have stood the test of time and remain highly cherished by Catholics around the world.
The Fascinating Book of History tells us that in February 1858, Bernadette Soubirous, a poor, sickly 14-year-old peasant girl, was gathering firewood near a stream when she suddenly had a vision of a beautiful lady dressed in white.
Overcome with fear, she rushed home to tell her mother, who told her to keep away from that place.
However, Bernadette returned and would repeatedly see the Virgin–18 times in all.

CHAPEL

One message stood out: A chapel must be built on the site where Bernadette had first seen Mary.
Bernadette’s parish priest was highly skeptical of the visions and dismissed the little girl and his childish fantasy.
In spite of ridicule, Bernadette stuck to her story. It was only after people began reporting that their ailments had been cured after washing in the stream where the visions occurred that the church decided to endorse the apparition.
A shrine was built on the site and, to this day, is visited annually by millions. These pilgrims flock to Lourdes, hoping to cure physical ailments by washing in its now famous waters.
Hundreds of miraculous healings have been reported, all of them verified by church and medical experts.
In May 1917, Lucia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco were tending their sheep in the town of Vila Nova de Ourem in the parish of Fatima, Portugal.

LIGHT

Suddenly, they saw a tremendous flash of light. Thinking it was lightning, the children rushed for cover, only to see the same flash again.
The children described seeing “a Lady more brilliant than the sun.” This was the first in a series of Marian apparitions reported by the children.
Mary impressed upon the children the importance of daily prayer (especially reciting the rosary) and penance. She also told the children that there would be a second war, much worse than the first.
When World War II began almost two decades later, many saw this as the fulfillment of the prophecy. The Virgin also gave the children a brief glimpse of hell and further revealed a mysterious secret, which church authorities kept under wraps until 2000. (The third secret was revealed to be a vision of the deaths of the pope and other individuals.)

MIRACLE

Word of the apparitions soon spread, and by October 13, 1917, a crowd of 70,000–believers and skeptics alike–flocked to Fatima on the hot rumor that a miracle was about to occur.
They were not disappointed. Newspaper reports of the day document how onlookers saw the sun burst through rain clouds and then begin dancing and spinning across the sky in a zigzag pattern, trailed by a brilliant ray of colors.
The so-called “Miracle of the Sun” solidified belief in the apparition, and a shrine was built on the site.
Each year, scores of pilgrims visit the site, hoping to get the graces of Mary first experienced by the three children.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2016 in HISTORY, RELIGION

 

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