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Dinagyang’s New York trip on despite visa problems

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: An absolute sense of mission.”
— Zig ZiglarBy Alex P. Vidal
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NEW YORK CITY
 — The participation of a tribe from Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival in the 120th Philippine Independence Day parade here on June 3 was nearly canceled after tribe members encountered visa problems in the US Embassy in Manila.
This was revealed by Joji Juele-Jalandoni, former president of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI), who called up this writer morning May 26 to convey the message that “everything is set and ready after the problem has been resolved.”
Jalandoni, from Victorias Milling Company in Negros Occidental, said if the problem was not fixed on time, only the nine-day “Iloilo City Trade Mission and Investment Forum” from June 1 to June 9 would be held without the Dinagyang tribe in the parade to be represented by 2018 grand champion, Tribu Panayanon, of the Iloilo City National High School.
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Jalandoni said another tribe from Guimaras’ Mangghan Festival, Hubon Manguguma, will represent the Philippines together with Tribu Panayanon in the biggest Filipino-American Independence Day parade in the East Coast that is expected to attract some 100,000 audience on Madison Avenue.
“They (Dinagyang and Manggahan contingent) will arrive on May 31 (US time),” confirmed Jalandoni, a registered nurse in New Jersey, who is responsible for bringing the two festivals from Iloilo City and Guimaras here.
Problems hounded Tribu Panayanon after only 11 members were given travel visa by the US Embassy, Jalandoni said.
“They have to recruit warriors from Tribu Salognon who already have the visa in order to complete the team, thus the problem was resolved,” she explained. “It’s not nice to see only 11 warriors dancing during the parade.”
Tribu Salognon is the 2016 grand champion and represented the country in the New York parade’s 118th edition.
The first-ever trade mission, to be led by Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and Mrs. Gina Sarabia-Espinosa, will fly to New York via Hong Kong on May 29 (Philippine time) and will arrive in the US on board Cathay Pacific on May 29 (US time).

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The Espinosa couple, accompanied by Iloilo City Tourism Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia, Executive Assistant Enrique “Rex” Aguado and Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) chief Ariel “Aye” Castaneda, fashion designers Jackie Penalosa and Bo Parcon, journalists Florence Hibionada (The Daily Guardian), Tara Yap (Manila Bulletin), and Herbert Vego (Panay News), West Visayas State University (WVSU) College of Mass Communications dean, Dr. Carmencita “Menchie” Robles, among others, will grace the opening of Ilonggo fashion and jewelry exhibit at the Philippine Center Gallery on 556 Fifth Avenue on June 1.
The Ilonggo trade missionaries are tasked to “introduce” Iloilo City to New York City, Washington DC and Fairfax, Virginia through roadshows showcasing the creations of Ilonggo jewellers, fashion designers and property developers.
Espinosa will host a UP Alumni event on June 2.
The annual parade, spearheaded by PIDCI, will blast off at 12 noon on June 3, followed by cultural presentations.
The city mayor and several representatives from the private sector will hold the Trade and Investment Forum at the Philippine Center.

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Famed NY-based Ilonggo entertainment producer Jhett Tolentino will spearhead the group in a Broadway tour at seven o’clock in the evening on June 5.
An investment forum at University of North America, Fairfax, Virginia will be held on June 6.
This will be followed by a Childhood Education Study in Washington D.C. in the morning and Investment Forum in the evening at the Philippine Embassy on June 7.
The Iloilo contingent will tour Washington D.C. on June 8.
The will cap their US visit with a Philippine Independence Day Ball in the evening at Hilton, East Rutherford, New Jersey on June 9.
Members of the Iloilo Trade Mission depart to the Philippines on June 10.

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Let’s move on to the next agenda

“Every day is a new day, and you’ll never be able to find happiness if you don’t move on.”
–Carrie Underwood

By Alex P. Vidal

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NEW YORK CITY — If both the winning and losing candidates in the recently held Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and barangay elections in the Philippines can immediately bury their hatchet and move on to the next phase of their life, progress and development in the countryside won’t be hampered.
There is no other direction but to tackle next the other major national agenda in the lineup.
Filipinos don’t live and survive by politics alone.
We also have economic, cultural, and environmental concerns; foreign affairs, infrastructure, unemployment, oil and energy price hike, the dilemma of our OFWs especially in the Middle East.
The myriad of problems we face everyday is so thick and loaded we can’t afford to be stuck in one undertaking.
If winning bets can be sworn into office soon, the better for the local government in particular and the country in general.
An essential event involving the right to suffrage in a politically fragmented country like the Philippines isn’t supposed to drag on; it’s not supposed to linger in the Agora after it has reached the pinnacle.

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I beg to disagree with some pro and anti Ma. Lourdes Sereno lawyers that because we are not lawyers, our views and observations about Sereno’s ouster don’t matter anymore.
We don’t necessarily need to be lawyers to understand what is going on in the Supreme Court, and what is happening in our country.
While non-lawyers are not supposed to interpret the now popular quo warranto (the petition used as the basis by the Solicitor General to seek the removal of the lady chief justice), they can still air their opinions independently without prejudice to the 8-6 verdict of SC justices and make a stand on the subject matter’s political component.
Once the SC has spoken, the issue has become a national interest, not just an internal debate of the case’s merits among our brilliant court justices that should not be discussed by other parties outside the court for risk of sub judice.
Airing an opinion about the issue for non-lawyers is different from joining the mind-boggling and confusing interpretations by those in the legal profession of the legal claptrap.

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BEWARE THE DEADLIEST NATURAL TOXIN. Botulinal toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, is the most potent poison for humans. It has an estimated lethal dose in the bloodstream of 10-9 milligrams per kilogram. Death occurs when the respiratory muscles are paralyzed…TO ALL LOVERS OF CIGARETTE. Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and nicotine are some of the major components, with lesser amounts of acetone, acetylene, formaldehyde, propane, hydrogine cyanide, toluene, and many others…WOMEN DRIVERS ARE MORE CAUTIOUS. Women drive and cross the street more safely than men. Men account for 70% of pedestrian fatalities since 1980. Between the ages 18 and 45, males outnumber females as fatal crash victims by almost three to one according to the Nat’l Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Emotional

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.”
–Buddha
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. exhorted candidates in the Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections on May 14, 2018 to control their emotions.
Even if they want to, most of them can’t control their emotions.
Even if they need to, many of them won’t control their emotions.
Elections are an emotional event; candidates always fear defeat and everyone wants to win.
For the reelectionists, there is no substitute for victory; there’s no room for defeat.
For their challengers, victory is right around the corner; as harbingers of change, they aren’t supposed to give up.
When candidates, especially those vying for position of punong barangay or village chief, are running against a friend, a kumpare/kumare or a relative, emotions are at all time high.
The restlessness and bitter feelings are shared by their relatives, as well.
Emotions are at fever pitch especially during the campaign period when mudslinging and accusations fly thick and fast, and after the election results have been known when egos and pride are totally wrecked.

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Because of the size of a barangay, candidates find it hard to avoid each other physically after the elections’ final reckoning.
Some of the candidates are, in fact, neighbors if not colleagues in a religious organization.
Unlike in the elections for mayor, governor and congressman where the protagonists don’t meet face to face immediately for a long while in time for the wounds of campaign bickering to heal, candidates in a barangay election can sometimes rekindle their fresh political rivalry when they bump each other in coffeeshops, barbershops, bakeshops and nearby alleys the morning after the tough and excruciating electoral slugfest.
“An emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioral or expressive response,” according to the book, Discovering Psychology.
This probably explains why it’s so impossible not to get emotional if you are involved in the elections as a candidate on Monday, May 14.

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As a journalist, I go with the Tulfo brothers in their feud with politicians like Senators Bam Aquino, Antonio Trillanes IV, Nancy Binay, and Kiko Pangilinan who sought for a senate probe on the scandalous P60-million Department of Tourism (DoT) advertisement to PTV-4 that ended in the block time program of Ben Tulfo, brother of resigned (or dismissed) DoT secretary Wanda Teo.
While it is their duty to call for an investigation, many of them are probably only trying to get even with the embattled Tulfo brothers after they have been criticized in the radio and TV programs of the hard-hitting brothers in the past.
But on the question of propriety or delicadeza, I disagree with the Tulfo brothers and former Sec. Teo that there was no conflict of interest in the doomed deal.
Based on the paper trail of how the P60 million was released (three trances), the transaction reeks not only with fish, it was done in bad faith from the very start no matter how they tried to sugar coat it.
Teo was right to resign, err President Duterte was right to sack her.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Wanda Teo ‘loses’ to Cesar Montano

“Look around. There are no enemies here. There’s just good, old-fashioned rivalry.”
–Bob Wells
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It’s not a secret in the Department of Tourism (DoT) that resigned secretary Wanda Corazon Teo and Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) chief operating officer Cesar Montano were not in good terms.
For instance, when Teo learned that the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. (PIDCI) had invited Montano to grace the 119th Philippine Independence Day Parade here on June 4, 2017, she reportedly threatened to cancel DoT’s financial pledge of $100,000 for the festival.
When her alleged threat to cancel the financial windfall leaked to the press, Teo changed mind.
Parade organizers reportedly got the amount but Teo decided to cancel her trip to New York City for the parade.
Dr. Prospero Lim, 2017 president of the New York-based PIDCI, confirmed to this writer in an exclusive interview on May 28, 2017 that Teo “decided to withdraw” from the parade but he did not specify why.
It was Montano who showed up officially to represent the DoT. He joined singers Martin Nievera, Asia’s Nightingale Lani Misalucha, American Idol’s 11th Season 1st runner-up winner Jessica Sanchez, then New York-based Ms World-Philippines 2014 Valerie Weigman, former Grand Champion Global Pinoy Singing Idol, Shane Ericks, and comedian Mikey Bustos in the biggest parade of Filipino community in the United States.

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In many tourism-related festivals and activities in the Philippines and abroad, Teo and Montano reportedly made sure their paths wouldn’t cross.
If both Teo and Montano were invited, one of them would show up and the other wouldn’t.
Although Montano’s office is DoT’s attached agency, the actor would get the same attention as Teo in as far as official invitations were concerned in various tourism-related events in the Philippines and abroad.
The genesis of the purported feud between Teo and Montano could be traced back during the time when Teo’s younger brother, Erwin Tulfo, was a newscaster in the ABS-CBN in 2004.
Montano, who was involved in a spat with several showbiz actresses and martial arts icons, was always the subject of Erwin’s critical commentaries.
Because of Erwin’s tirades, Montano reportedly once challenged Erwin to a fistfight.

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When Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency in 2016, he gifted Montano, a native of Bohol, with the coveted TPB post for helping him during the campaign period.
TPB is tasked with domestic and international promotions for the DoT.
Duterte gave the top DoT post to Teo, biological sister of hard-hitting media men–Ramon, Ben, Raffy, and Erwin–who also campaigned for Duterte.
Before Teo was in trouble for the P60 million DoT advertising contract placed in her brother’s block time TV program aired over PTV-4, it was Montano who was first hit by controversy over alleged corruption and nepotism.

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TPB employees have filed a complaint against Montano, for entering into alleged questionable contracts and nepotism.
Submitted to the Presidential Action Center, the complaint listed 30 several alleged misdeeds of Montano such as appointing his relatives into positions whose functions are similar to those of incumbent employees, as well as unprofessional behavior.
Among the actor’s alleged malfeasance was the approval of a P11.2-million contract with a production company that had tapped him and his as guest performers.
The complainants said Montano also paid the same production firm P16.5 million in connection to a rally of President Duterte’s supporters at Luneta park in Manila on February 25, 2017 where Montano has also performed.
The board also complained of paying for Montano’s trips, which they say were not related to his work as chief operating officer.
The actor denied all the charges against him.
While Duterte refused to fire Montano, a protege of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco, Jr., the president did not hesitate to sack Teo, whose husband Robert, served as assistant Davao city administrator when Duterte was mayor.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Mabilog, Joe III to meet in New York?

“I’m still passionately interested in what my fellow humans are up to. For me, a day spent monitoring the passing parade is a day well-spent.”
–Garry Trudeau
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY 
— An Ilonggo community leader in New Jersey has disclosed to this writer recently that Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and his wife, Gina Sarabia-Espinosa, are among the VIPs scheduled to grace the 120th Philippine Independence Day parade in Madison Avenue on June 3, 2018.
The couple will accompany Dinagyang 2018 champion, Tribu Panyanon, and Guimaras’ Manggahan Festival tribe, which were officially invited by the Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) through past president Joji Juele-Jalandoni, according to the community leader who requested anonymity “because I haven’t yet asked permission from authorized parade officials to reveal the official list of people coming for the event pending their application for visa (in the US Embassy in Manila).”
Another source said former Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was also expected to arrive for the parade and to meet with some Iloilo City officials he hasn’t seen since he went on a sick leave that expired on September 30, 2017 and since his dismissal as city mayor the following month.
The former Iloilo City mayor is believed to be currently staying in Canada “for security reasons.”

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The Ombudsman ordered Mabilog’s dismissal on October 6, 2017.
He has been out of the Philippines since last year and was believed to have proceeded to Canada together with his family after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill him.
Nobody from Mabilog’s camp or family has confirmed that he was planning to fly to New York for the parade or to have a private meeting with any Iloilo City official.
It was Mabilog who first brought the then 2013 Dinagyang champion, Tribu Panayanon, during the 115th Philippine Independence Day parade in New York City.
During the 2015 RP Independence Day parade, Philippine Consulate officials in New York City invited Mabilog as among the few VIPs together with then senator and now foreign affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano to join the flag-raising ceremonies in the RP Consulate on Fifth Avenue but he didn’t arrive.
No Dinagyang tribe participated in the 119th Parade in 2017.
Before his dismissal, Mabilog, who was on his third and last term, was reportedly being endorsed by his supporters to seek a congressional seat in the lone district of Iloilo City currently held by Rep. Jerry Treñas.

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Sources said Mabilog “might use the occasion to meet with Mayor Joe III Espinosa and Mabilog’s other former allies in city hall who will be part of the parade entourage.”
Among those coming are Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation chair Ramon Cua Locsin and Iloilo City tourism officer Junel Ann Divinagracia.
Espinosa III served as vice mayor during Mabilog’s term as city mayor.
Espinosa III, Treñas, and majority of the members of the Iloilo City Council are now with the PDP-Laban, the political party of Mabilog’s tormentor, President Duterte.
It was not immediately known whether Mabilog, who still has plenty of followers in Iloilo City, would endorse Treñas’ bid for city mayor in 2019 and Espinosa, who is rumored to be running for congressman but hasn’t revealed anything in public other than confirming that he is “definitely running in 2019.”
Mabilog, Treñas, and Espinosa III composed the so-called “dreaded political triumvirate” that ruled Iloilo City politics in the early 2000 since the departure from politics of the late former Senator Rodolfo Ganzon and the late justice Secretary Raul M. Gonzalez Sr.
They have been tagged as “unbeatable and unbreakable” until Duterte won as president in 2016 and booted Mabilog out from Iloilo city hall in 2017.
They were all backed by Liberal Party (LP) bigwig, Senator Frank Drilon, Mabilog’s second cousin and No. 1 endorser of defeated presidential aspirant Mar Roxas.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Did ‘Ate Glo’ help Treñas?

“Once you embrace the absolute truth that every leader needs a mentor, you can begin to achieve the massive growth and success that you seek.”
–Clay Clark
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Just in case some Ilonggos have forgotten, one of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s most favorite city mayors from 2004 until 2010 was Atty. Jerry P. Treñas, now the congressman of the lone district of Iloilo City.
The Ilonggo solon holds a special place in 71-year-old Ate Glo’s heart until now.
Not everyone knows that Ate Glo was Treñas’ former mentor in college.
It was during Ate Glo’s term in Malacanang when Treñas was elected as chairman of the influential and powerful League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP).
When Ate Glo was under siege from the “Hyatt 10” (composed of her cabinet officials who resigned and demanded for her ouster) at the height of the “Hello Garci” controversy in 2008, Treñas, now 61, mobilized the LCP, which came up with a strong manifesto of support signed by 77 of 119 city mayors in the Philippines on March 4, 2008.

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“The political noise which is mainly in Metro Manila does not represent the true sentiments of the people of the Philippines. While some people are out in the streets to rouse mass fervor, a greater number are bound to respect the proper Constitutional means of ferreting out the truth. And the League of Cities of the Philippines belongs to the greater number – with sobriety and unity,” read part of their statement.
Treñas and his ilk emphasized that they issued the manifesto because “the people were tired of politicking and did not want disruptions especially with the Philippines already on the road to progress due to the President’s skillful handling of the economy.”
The Hyatt 10 failed to oust Ate Glo, who managed to withstand her political detractors’ terrifying assaults and finish her term.
That was one “utang na loob” or debt of gratitude Ate Glo owed Treñas that she probably would never forget for the rest of her life.

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When President Rodrigo R. Duterte ascended into power in 2016, Ate Glo, who was ordered detained for plunder during the term of her successor, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III, was released and became Duterte’s chief ally in the House of Representatives after she was elected as congresswoman.
Treñas, who became one of the top honcos of Liberal Party (LP) in Western Visayas during President Aquino’s term owing to his close association with Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon, jumped to the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan’s (PDP-Laban), President Duterte’s party, in April 2017.
He brought along then vice mayor and now Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and majority of the members of the city council.
Treñas’ presence in the administration party was met with suspicions and derision by his political enemies who blasted him for being a “turncoat”.
The situation became complicated when the PDP-Laban hierarchy installed Dr. Pacita Trinidad-Gonzalez, mother of Treñas’ political rival, Raul Jr., as Iloilo City district chair on top of the reported appointment of Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon, Gonzalez’s Nacionalista Party (NP) partymate, as President Duterte’s “point man” for Iloilo.

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After every mud, sling and arrow has been thrown, however, Treñas and Ganzon have combined forces and will be running mates for mayor and vice mayor in the 2019 elections.
As if the guessing game, thrill, shock and explosion were not enough, Treñas disclosed most recently that he was actually appointed as PDP-Laban “council president” in Iloilo City effective April 25, 2018 by no less than PDP-Laban national president Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, national secretary general House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and vice chairman Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi.
All of a sudden, the Iloilo City solon “eclipsed” Dr. Gonzalez and Vice Mayor Ganzon in as far as power shift and preferential recognition in the PDP-Laban is concerned.
Treñas’ sudden and big leap from a “transferee” to “council president” left all his enemies startled and dumbfounded.
His rise to the PDP-Laban top echelon was meteoric and head-turning.
Did Ate Glo play an important role?

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

I saw Sarah Geronimo as a ‘prisoner’ in another world

“A big part of depression is feeling really lonely, even if you’re in a room full of a million people.”
–Lilly Singh
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — When I was requested to help in the publicity of Sarah Geronimo’s concert tour in Vancouver, Canada in 2012, I saw a 22-year-old lady who looked like a “prisoner” in another world.
Even if she was accompanied by her “stage parents” Divina and Delfin wherever she went, I had a hunch she wasn’t happy.
Showbiz is not my forte, thus I stayed away (I was requested to tag along the group) when Sarah and her entourage–including her parents, of course–shopped around glitzy Robson Street in downtown Vancouver days before the concert held at the Queen Elizabeth Theater.
I noticed that her parents, especially Delfin, would always look at people who shook Sarah’s hands like members of Pope Francis’ Swiss guards.
The parents and some of their companions seemed like human walls taller than the Great Wall of China and more sophisticated than the border walls in El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
They were like guarding the North Korean president while shopping in the Bronx.

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It was like they were hell-bent to shield Sarah even from the mosquitoes and butterflies.
I noticed, too, that Sarah seemed uncomfortable and visibly edgy but was adamant to complain; she appeared to be “not in the position” to protest, but was fretful as if she was in another world.
Either she wanted to shout “leave me alone, please, for just a moment” but could not, or she wanted to run away (if only to gain a total freedom and independence) but did not.
I told my Filipino-Canadian friend Ale Sevillo, who was part of the host staff, that if this was how they treated the young celebrity from Sta. Cruz, Manila, time will come she would suffer from a breakdown if not commit suicide if she feels a tremendous pressure and is “suffocated” by her companions’ (especially the parents) over-acting. God forbid.
When it was reported that Sarah turned emotional in her recent Las Vegas concert for her 15th anniversary “This 15 Me” tour where she was seen crying in the videos uploaded by fans, I remembered this observation I had with her in 2012 in Vancouver.
Sarah must be suffering from a silent depression, whatever inner sadness she can’t fully express.
Recent scientific evidence suggested that the mixed-depressive form of bipolar disorder for celebrities with similar symptoms like Sarah’s can be a particularly dangerous time that can often go undetected or masquerade as general depression and irritability.
Depression, which affects about 16 million people in the U.S. according to the National Institutes of Mental Health, and more than 350 million globally according to the World Health Organization, is thought to be the result of interacting social, biological and environmental factors.

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The word “depression” is tossed around casually, but in reality the condition can be quite debilitating, according to the Scientific American, which analyzed the case of celebrity suicide victim Robin Williams.
People with major depressive disorder (also known as clinical, major or unipolar depression) exist beyond the realm of sadness.
“In fact, they can feel numb to the world and often become lethargic and lose interest in people and activities that formerly brought them joy. When the disorder is at its most severe, people with depression may even experience psychosis–seeing or hearing things that aren’t there,” according to the Scientific American.
Let’s hope Sarah, now 29, can still recover. Let’s hope also that her parents will finally give her the space she badly needs–before it’s too late.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2018 in Uncategorized