Monthly Archives: July 2011

Pacquiao says ‘thank you’ after earthquake

Several days after earthquake hit sourthern California on July 29, 2008, Rep. Manny Pacquiao sent me a personal email: “To, kumusta ka na? Salamat gid ha” (Boy, how are you? Thank you so much). Pacquiao and I talk in Hiligaynon dialect because we both speak Ilonggo.

We were inside Pacquiao’s apartment at the Palazzo in Park La Brea East in Los Angeles, California when a magnitude 5.8 earthquake rocked the United States’ largest state.

We ordered Pacquiao’s two kids — Jemuel and Michael — to hide under the table.  Danny Halibas, Pacquiao’s LA-based aide who is the apartment’s caretaker, secured the duo when the tremor disturbed the building at around 11: 42 in the morning (L.A. time).

I was writing a story in the table when Danny herded the boys under the dining table while their parents —  Manny and Jinky — were at the second floor.  Jemuel, who did not understand what was going on, initially refused but when we goaded him to dive and follow Michael to the floor, he obeyed.



“Go, hide under the table, c’mon, kids hide under the table,” shouted  Halibas, a resident of the boxing champion’s unit in the penthouse floor of the 4,000-residence luxurious building located on 3rd Street.

The children were in the sala near the dining table while Pacquiao husband and wife were preparing for their flight to Las Vegas scheduled at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

Present in the sala together with the children were former WBC international bantamweight champion Jovy Halog, his wife Gemma and their daughter Jolene, 6; NABF champion Bernabe Concepcion, hospital instrument technician Alex Oreto, this writer, and Halibas.

Minutes later, Jinkee and twin sister Janet came down to report what they felt in the second floor and checked the kids who appeared puzzled and still did not understand what was happening. When the shaking stopped, the kids resumed their activity.



Sensing there was no immediate damage on his property and family members, Pacquiao stayed in his room in the second floor and did not bother to go down.

He played dart alone hours earlier while I was sleeping on the floor. Pacquiao chided the kids for being noisy. “Pssst, huwag kayong maingay may natutolog.” (hey kids, minimize your voice somebody is still sleeping)

Oreto, one of the couple’s most trusted assistants and was cooking at the time of the earthquake, warned everyone of the coming aftershocks. “Watch out for the aftershocks,” he quipped. “This had happened before here.”



Oreto, who drives the couple when he is not on duty at the White Memorial Medical Hospital, said California experienced the last strong earthquake in 2001 when he was still working as security guard. “There was also a strong earthquake in Malibu two years ago and in Northtridge,” Oreta said.

The jolt was felt from Los Angeles to San Diego, and slightly in Las Vegas where it was initially reported as “slight shaking”.

When Pacquiao came down to take his lunch some 15 minutes later, he asked Jemuel and Michael if they had already taken their lunch. “Upo kumain na kami,” the two chorused.


Preliminary information from the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake at magnitude 5.8, centered 29 miles east-southeast of downtown Los Angeles near Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.

Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said there were not immediate reports of damage or injury in Los Angeles.

The quake struck at 11:42 a.m. PDT. Buildings swayed in downtown Los Angeles for several seconds.

Minor damages in the runway of Ontario and John Wayne were also reported, while Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reportedly lost one of its radars.

The city council, which was holding a regular session in downtown, called for a 15-minute recess while witnesses reported some crying and moaning in nearby buildings.

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

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Posted by on July 12, 2011 in Uncategorized




I have a confession to make. I was instrumental in the torture of a man we shall call Angelito, a member of society’s hoi polloi, and innocent victim of a wrong accusation and police brutality to boot.
Angelito’s human rights and dignity as a person had been grossly violated — all because of me, my error both as a victim and false witness in a simple act of misdemeanor committed inside a dark place: moviehouse!
The incident happened at around past 4 o’clock in the aftenoon on July 14, 1995 inside the balcony section of Cinema Theater (now a merchandise store selling “Made in China” products) located at the Plazoleta Gay in Iloilo City.
I did not enter the moviehouse to sleep on purpose as I did in the past–although I would have wanted to if opportunity presented itself. As we all moviegoers normally do upon stepping inside, I paused and waited for visibility to change from total darkness.


In about three to five minutes, heads of patrons sitting on the more expensive lodge section in the lower portion from where I was standing were now visible aside from four red “Exit” lights on both sides of the walls.
Then I heared a slight giggling and shrieking coming from more than two people. I glanced at the source of noise and saw somebody who looked like future metro police Supt. Vicente Neptuno together with two young ladies. “Neptuno”, who is a good man, was not giggling and shrieking, the two ladies did–one of them gyrating like doing a slow motion hula hoop.
Anyway, why they were giggling and shrieking–and gyrating- when it was not a comedy film was none of my business. As I walked on the left side to find a seat, I suddenly felt being sandwiched by two bodies on both sides of my shoulders.


When the man on my left side moved away backwards, I checked my pocket on the left side of my shirt (I don’t carry a wallet on my pants until now). My Staedtler pen was missing! I gave a chase to the man in white t-shirt. Outside, I saw the fleeing person enter the men’s room. I followed suit and saw at least three of the many men inside with white t-shirts relieving simultaneously in different urinals.
I hollered at the first one who made eye-to-eye contact with me: “Give me my Staedtler pen back!” Sensing a potential fisticuff, others not included in the provocatory agitation made a mad scramble to the door and called the security guard who called the cop manning the traffic on corners J.M. Basa-Iznart-Ledesma Streets.
“What Staedtler pen?” the man in white t-shirt retorted, his voice loaded with lugubrious intonation, his eyes transfixed in astonishment. “Just return it; you just snatched it from my pocket,” I pressed angrily while blocking the door. The security guard’s timely arrival prevented the aggrieved man in white t-shirt from planting an uppercut and right hook on my face.
The guard turned us over to the cop who brought us to the Plazoleta Gay obelisk. Curious bystanders and usiseros bursted into laughter when the suspect made a sign of the cross, held both hands in a praying position pleading to release him “hay inosente takon; wara takon gani kakita kang stidlir nga re-a. Ano ra man?” (Please, I am innoncent. I don’t even have any idea what is a Steadler pen or what does it look like).


Unconvinced, the cop brought us to the city police station (Police Precinct 1) on board a tricycle. In front of police investigators on duty, he knelt down and pleaded he was innocent. I saw a punch from an impatient prober landing on his breadbasket. As he grimaced in pain, he turned to me and pleaded once more he was not the Real McCoy.
Punishment is supposed to be a penalty levied by society on individuals for our misdeeds. The purpose of punishment is supposed to be retribution for the wrong done–tit for tat, an eye for an eye, or a suitable fine or prison term for an offense.
According to the view, justice is done when the criminal suffers a pain–in body, purse, or freedom–equal to the wrong he did. Any other function punishment may serve, for the individual or society, is, in view, irrelevant.
According to another view, punishment should reform the criminal and deter others from similar acts. But was he really a criminal? Police asked me to go back the next morning “for further investigation.”


I couldn’t sleep the whole night. At past 9 o’clock in the morning the following day, I returned to tell police to let him go. He spent the night behind bars. When he was brought back to the investigation room, a horrible scene greeted me: his white t-shirt had been soaked with blood, his lips busted and his eyes cut to ribbons. He was weak and speechless. He had no more shoes. He missed dinner. Did he miss breakfast too?
A fat cop saw a blue tattoo mole under his foot and blared, “Ano ni ang alom mo sa tiil? En pe eh (NPA) ka no?” (What is this tattoo under your foot all about? You are an NPA (leftist rebel), aren’t you?” When the fat cop hit him with a chair for refusing to answer, I turned my back and ran away fast and boarded the Jaro Liko route jeep. Fellow passengers saw me in tears.
It’s been a long time since it happened but my conscience has been bothering me every now and then. Wherever you are now, and if you happen to read this article, please forgive me, Angelito!

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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in Uncategorized




If Plato is on our right side and Socrates on our left today, we will run for a higher public office.
Against moneyed opponents, our candidacy of course will die a natural death, given the spiraling cost of election campaign any modern candidate is doomed to submit himself to under the present squalid electoral system.
Even if we win the poll debate and succeed in imparting in the minds and hearts of voters our platform of government, our efforts as candidate would be an exercise in futility, a stab to the Milky Way.
Elections are won in the ballots, not in the debate; not in the Agora where the best minds stampede to discuss existentialism, dialectic materialism and laissez faire, including the morality of buying –and auctioning– an expensive sports car for head of state at a time when rice and digestive system don’t meet.
Bare-footed Socrates’ “Socratic Method” has been one of the best instruments to acquire knowledge and mass support. Judge the man by his question rather than his answer. He would have been an instant hit in the Facebook today despite his face.


We envision the leader of Plato’s ideal republic to be a philosopher-king, combining all the moral and intellectual virtues, and possessing both philosophical and practical wisdom.
The qualities that we look for in a political leader are much the same now as they have always been.
In our city, the mayor is under seige; left and right he is being bludgeoned by criticisms levelled by media personalities symphatetic to his erstwhile friend and former newspaper boss (the mayor used to write a column in the newspaper).
It is now a common knowledge that the mayor and businessman are at each other’s throats over certain deals judging from the high-strung activities of their respective fans in media who have been swapping scud missles these past weeks, although both gentlemen have become denial kings in as far as their cold war is concerned.


With the next elections still not visible in the calendar, it will be a long agony for the mayor and a true test to his political stamina and survival instinct.
In order to nip his critics in the bud, the mayor must be interested primarily in the good of the community rather than in his own advancement. He must have sound practical judgment and whatever special skill and knoweldge is required for a particular task.
He must have decisiveness and the courage to take the risk of being wrong or becoming unpopular. And, above all, he must have the ability to inspire trust and confidence.

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Posted by on July 8, 2011 in Uncategorized




WAS he a victim of intrigue fomented by envious characters regularly forming a beeline in Manny Pacquiao’s growing bandwagon? Did he leave the team voluntarily after being tormented by a romantic liaison gone awry?

For sure, Joaquin “Kino” Hagedorn Jr. did not accept a job from Team Mayweather for espionage.

We have not seen Hagedorn in Pacquiao’s last three fights in Arlington, Texas (twice ) in 2010 and recently in Las Vegas, Nevada. Strange.

The tall Mexican-American (former?) boyfriend of Janet, twin sister of Pacquiao’s wife, Jinky, has been a regular and active member of Team Pacquiao.

In 2008, I called him the “Walking Encyclopedia of Team Pacquiao” in an exclusive article distributed by the Philippine News Service (PNS) to major newspapers, TV and radio stations in the United States, Europe and Asia.


PNS editor Rufino “Pinoy” Gonzales II said the article topped the list of request for Pacquiao story that year along with the Filipino lefty’s cruel knockout win over Chicago-based David Diaz because of the readers’ curiosity of the then 35-year-old mestizo Mexican, seldom seen on HBO and in public eye tailing the ring heartthrob like a publicity glutton.

The last time I saw Hagedorn was during the post mortem press conference of the Pacquiao-Miguel Angel Cotto WBO scrimmage in Las Vegas last Nov. 14, 2009 — his right hand locked around Janet’s waist while Janet’s eyes were seen tottering towards handsome middleweight prospect Yuri Foreman, who fought in the undercard (no pun intended, Janet).

“I told you so,” he smirked at me, his voice guturral in excitement. “Cotto was brave but Manny was too strong for him.” Because I was busy taking down notes of Bob Arum’s braggadocio, I gave Hagedorn a thumb’s up sign  to acknoweldge his oratorical brilliancy.

He then gave me a copy of the Sports Illustrated magazine. I haven’t heard from the Las Vegas-based gentleman since that evening.


My first interview with Hagedorn happened first week of August 2008 at the pre-departure area of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) when I arrived from a business trip in Vancouver, Canada via Phoenix, Arizona.

He first waved at me like a long lost friend even if we hardly knew each other when he spotted me wearing a red “Team Pacquiao” shirt designed by Texas-based pediatrician, Dr. Allan Recto.

“Can I offer you a cup of coffee or something?” he volunteered. We then proceeded to the Starbucks Coffee inside the airport and ordered Cappuccino and cake.


Hagedorn’s father Joaquin Sr. used to live in Alabang in Metro Manila. He has fond memories of the Philippines having stayed at EDSA in Makati for three months in 2001. He visited the country months before our meeting and went to Janet’s province in Davao.

He described the people in Davao as “so friendly and they have smiles in their faces most of the time.” Hagedorn said he was impressed with life in the province “because the roots of the Filipinos are in the province.”

“There is something in the Philippines that struck me; I felt like home,” he stressed. “One day, I want to settle there.” (For more details about that interview, please visit

The grapevine said Hagedorn and Janet have called it quits but nobody has come forward to confirm the yarn. And besides, private love affairs are none of our business.


His sudden disappearance from the limelight though has provoked some thoughts. There were reports that Hagedorn left the circle “totally downhearted.” They did not elaborate.

Janet was reportedly seen in the company of a male “friend,” a member of a popular Manila band during Pacquiao’s conquest of Antonio Margarito in Arlington in November 2010.

Hagedorn would be a big loss to Team Pacquiao. He is amiable, quick thinker, intelligent and always tots accurate facts about the sport.

Even if he is not a Filipino, he is closer to most of us Filipino writers; in fact, closer than some fractious Filipinos milling around the boxer-cum-congressman in the circle.

Assuming that he has parted ways with Janet and is no longer part of the team, the nagging question will still remain: where is Team Pacquiao’s “Walking Encyclopedia?”

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized




I would like to set the record straight that former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada did not oppose my participation in the Poynter Institute for Media Studies held at St. Petersburg, Florida in 1992 as mentioned by our Health and Wealth Journal publisher Herbert Vego in his June 23, 2011 column “Powwow Wow” published in the Daily Guardian.
Mr. Vego actually named somebody only as “BM” in that column but there is only one person with an initial of BM who became a grantee of the Poynter media studies twice and that is no other than Mr. Mejorada.
He salvaged the feat in 1991 when he was editor of The Sentinel (Community journalists in Western Visayas should be proud of this achievement which has not been duplicated by any seasoned journalist in Metro Manila until today—to be granted with a slot in the prestigious media training twice!).
Anyway, both Mr. Vego and Mr. Mejorada are my seniors in media and I hold them both in high esteem as community journalists –Mr. Vego, then editor of Panay News and book author, and Mr. Mejorada, then editor of Western Visayas Daily Times and a media behemoth who catapulted into limelight for his famed Asiaweek story about famine in Negros that caught the attention of the UNICEF.


They are among the pillars of journalism in this part of the country and, like fledgling lovers, they also squabble on principles from time to time but are dignified and very professional in their choices of words.
I also had the privilege to serve as officer under their respective terms as presidents – the Iloilo Press and Radio Club (IPRC) under Mr. Mejorada in 1990 and the Iloilo Press Club (IPC) under Mr. Vego in 1991.
They are actually included in my print media Dream Team composed of the late Mr. Ivan Suansing, Mr. Limuel Celebria, Atty. Pet Melliza, Mr. Nereo Lujan, Ms. Diosa Labiste, The Guardian publisher Lemuel Fernandez, Ms. Lydia Pendon, Mr. Amante “Boy” Espejo, Atty. Ernesto “Ernie” Dayot, Mr. Peter Jimenea, Mr. Nelson Robles, Mr. Wenceslao Mateo, and Florence Hibionada, a very good and diligent journalist, who was with the TV media at that time.
I did qualify for the Poynter’s “Coaching Writers” seminar based on the letter dated March 2, 1992 sent by the Institute Associate Don Fry. There were 16 of us who made it in the print media – 14 from the United States, one from Africa and I was the lone qualifier from Asia. We were chosen based on the 1992 Seminar Nomination Form we filed up with our personal information. I was inspired by Mr. Mejorada’s back-to-back entry and with my four years of exposure in community journalism, I submitted my application.


I failed to make the trip because when Philippine Press Institute (PPI) Chairman Zacarias Nugid released the endorsement letter dated April 25, 1992 to PPI Board Secretary, Atty. Fraulin Penasales, as required by the US Embassy in Cebu, it was already the day of my supposed departure for the April 26 opening program.
A year earlier on October 15, 1991, here’s what Mr. Vego wrote to the program director of the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships based in Washington, D.C.:
“The first time I met the applicant (Alex P. Vidal) was sometime in 1987 when I judged a regional editorial writing contest for college editors sponsored by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. He won a gold medal in that contest.
“Whereupon he started writing news stories and features for several community newspapers, including Panay News. As editor of said newspaper, I noticed applicant’s interest in almost all aspects of journalism – especially in sports writing.
“Applicant’s nose for news shows in his being everywhere where the action is. As a columnist and sports writer of News Express, a weekly local tabloid, he is often sent to cover the most important events.”


In his column in Sun Star Iloilo dated July 8, 1997, Mr. Mejorada defended me from an ugly incident that happened in the dinner party tendered by then DILG Secretary Robert Barbers:
“Just because his by-line occasionally comes out in the sports section of the Manila Standard, a certain Aldrin Cardona has had the gall to belittle the writing abilities of Iloilo mediamen and falsely accuse a respected writer of plagiarism.
“By this time, the humiliation and embarrassment suffered by Alex Vidal arising from the boorish behavior of Cardona during the closing get-together party for the LGUlympics on Saturday has become public knowledge. Without first investigating, Cardona confronted Vidal during the party at Punta Villa and started hurling insults at the Ilonggo writer.
“A shocked Vidal tried to explain to him the story originated from Sun.Star News Service in Manila, and he couldn’t have copied the story at the media center because he was busy serving as juror for the boxing matches. These fell on deaf ears, and the tirade about Ilonggo writers not knowing how to write continued. Cardona was just lucky Vidal is a gentleman. Not wanting to cause a scene in the presence of DILG Secretary Robert Barbers, Vidal simply ignored Cardona and kept his cool.


“But the insults hurled by Cardona against Vidal and the rest of the Iloilo media can’t just go unchallenged. Let me say that Vidal is a far better writer than this Cardona. And there are many Ilonggo journalists whose writing abilities would make Cardona look like a high school scribe in the company of journalism giants.
“Cardona’s own editors should know better: our own Limuel Celebria and Gina Hablero have long been correspondents of the Manila Standard, and their stories have always come out the way they were originally written. In journalism lingo, Celebria and Hablero always submit “clean copy” requiring no substantial editing or corrections. That’s the reason why they are highly respected in the field of sports writing.
“I don’t think Cardona’s work can come near the standard of these two sports scribes. So he’d be better off keeping his mouth shut and work hard at polishing his writing skills.”

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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Uncategorized


Encounter with a ‘pickpocket’ inside moviehouse


WHEN Manila hosted the 30th FIDE Chess Olympiad at the Philippine International Convention Center on June 7-25, 1992, I sailed to the Big City via M/V Princess of Negros (this “provinciano” newsman always hated to take the plane–until today).

Unlike chess guru and columnist Amante “Boy” Espejo (he is the only chess authority that I respect most) who secured an accreditation for the mammoth event, I failed to get an official ID and ended up “outside the kulambo (mosquito net)”; so I spent my time in Manila both as tourist and “undocumented” sportswriter.

Anyway, the rare opportunity to see in person Russian Grandmaster Vladimir Kramnik and British Grandmaster Nigel Short was more important to me than joining fellow sportswriters wrecking their brains and belaboring themselves in annotating the Nimzo Indian Defense and Queen’s Gambit variations of the world’s best woodpushers in the conclave that missed the presence of reigning world titlist Garry Kasparov (his absence enabled GM Anatoli Karpov to take over Board 1 for the talented Soviets that romped off with the title edging Uzbekistan and Armenia).




In between matches, I hopped to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) office located inside the Rizal Memorial Stadium (now Ninoy Aquino Stadium) and in nearby Ermita “red light” district during day time.

It was in Ermita at around past 3 o’clock in the afternoon where a very unfortunate incident happened inside–again–a moviehouse.

As usual, my purpose in entering the moviehouse (which had been demolished to pave the way for construction of SM shopping center Ermita branch) was to sleep.

This time, I paid for the cheaper orchestra section. Inside, I noticed a “standing room” or no available seats for those who arrived late.

It was a Tagalog Rated “R” film and most of the patrons were males who came not to sleep. The seemingly dilapidated air-conditioner inside had no match to a horde of warm bodies elbowing each other to get a better space and clear view of the big screen.




After worming my way into the darkness and struggling like a trapped miner to get past and hurdle one body after another, I landed on a wooden wall facing the screen. My view blocked by silhouettes, I rested my back on the wall while standing.

In only about three minutes, I felt uneasy and uncomfortable. Heat was unbearable and the atmosphere no longer was fit for human convenience and decency.

If my purpose inside had been defeated, the realization did not sink immediately in my mind until what happened next.

As soon as I was figuring out my exit plan, I felt something moving, a strange object crawling horizontally on my upper left leg. Not a spider. Not a cobra. Not a caterpillar. Not anything associated to any paranormal phenomenon.

I relaxed, maintained a calm mind, and observed the proceedings. The crawling master stopped and retreated when I moved my leg to send a curt notice.

Seconds later, the mysterious invader was back again this time with unbelievable boldness and ferocity: it landed smack inside my pocket. It was a human hand!




The situation was very familiar: “pickpockets!” I quickly told myself as I made a deep breath and swallow–and summoned my courage.

Without any hesitation, I grabbed a small knife disguised as ballpen placed in the left pocket of my polo shirt and lunged it to my pocket’s uninvited guest.

When the owner of the hand let loose an ear-piercing and loud scream, it was when I realized he was not actually a pickpocket.

“Ahhraaaaaaaay! Anoh vah ang khasalanan koh sa ‘yoh? Huhuhuhu” (Ouch! Why did you do this to me? What is my fault?).

Chaos ensued when some confused moviegoers started running outside thinking there was a rumble.

While those in the hearing distance were stunned, others who didn’t want their earthly pleasures interrupted, were undaunted and ignored the noise coming from a hurting effeminate voice.

When the security guards responded, I thought I made the fastest run of my life and disappeared in the crowd.

When I went home, Leonardo “Nards” Dellero, a singer-composer and one-time barangay captain in Guimaras, borrowed the ballpen-cum-knife. I didn’t bother to take it back from him anymore.

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Posted by on July 1, 2011 in Uncategorized