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Monthly Archives: November 2015

‘Olympic diving champ Vicki Manalo was my wife’

“Sport allows us to engage in dialogue and to build bridges, and it may even have the capacity to reshape international relations. The Olympic Games embody perfectly this universal mission.” Richard Attias

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — When I met former US Olympic coach Lyle Draves in California in 2011, I didn’t know he was the husband of the first woman in history to win the Platform and Springboard gold medals in the 1948 London Olympics.
To my big surprise, Victoria “Vicki” Manalo-Draves, who died in 2010 at the age of 85, was half-Filipina and half-British.
If she represented the Philippines, we could have won our first gold medal after the World War II.
The highest that we have achieved, so far, were two silver medals courtesy of boxers Anthony Villanueva (1964 Tokyo Olympics) and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, Jr. (1996 Atlanta Olympics) and six bronze medals.
When Vicki was invited by President Elpidio Quirino in Malacañang in July 1949, she was feted like a Filipina Olympic champion, Lyle recalled.
It was the then 96-year-old Lyle himself who narrated the great exploits of his wife in an exclusive interview inside his unit in a retirement village in the City of Laguna Woods.
“My late wife was half-Filipina,” Lyle volunteered.

RED CARPET

He accompanied Vicki in the Malacañang visit and they were given a red carpet welcome.
“We hardly had any sleep then,” mused Lyle, the first pure diving coach in history who produced three Olympic gold medalists: Vicki Manalo-Draves (1948 London Olympics), Pat McCormick (1952 Helsinki Olympics and 1956 Melbourne Olympics), and Sue Gossick (1968 Mexico Olympics).
“We were herded from one party to another like real celebrities and almost everybody recognized us, especially Vicki. Man, I can’t forget that moment.”
Husband and wife visited the Philippines a year after Vicki Manalo-Draves made history: she became the first woman in history to win the Platform and Springboard gold medals in the 1948 London Olympics.
“I was her coach and Vicki narrowly beat (fellow American) Zoe Ann Olsen for the gold in her last Springboard dive,” recalled Lyle, who was permanently enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida on May 12, 1989. “I replaced the regular coach, Fred Cady, who got sick and could not make it to the Olympics that year.”
Lyle said Vicki had been elected in the same highest sports pedestal in 1969.

PARK

On October 27, 2006, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom signed a proclamation naming a two-acre park as Victoria Manalo Draves Park in her honor on Folsom and Sherman streets in San Francisco where she was born.
Vicki’s father was a Filipino musician from Orani, Bataan who migrated to San Francisco, California. Her mother was British Gertrude Taylor, also a migrant in the same state.
Lyle and Vicki have four sons – David, Jeffrey, Dale and Kim – all divers. They have eight grandchildren.
Prior to competing in the 1948 Olympics, Draves won five United States diving championships.
Draves turned professional after the Olympics, joining Larry Crosby’s “Rhapsody in Swimtime” aquatic show at Soldier Field in Chicago in 1948.

CANCER

When Vicki died on April 11, 2010 from complications of pancreatic cancer at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs, California, Lyle relocated to a plush retirement village at the Rushmore Towers in Laguna Woods, California where he has been living alone.
“I missed Vicki so much. But every night I talked to her,” sighed Lyle, who was partly deaf.
Lyle coached female divers to 12 Olympic medals and 35 National Championships. His Olympic silver medalists include Paula Jean Myers and Zoe Ann Olsen, each of whom took a bronze. His divers’ Olympic medal count reads 7 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.
Lyle has been described as America’s first great diving coach beginning an era when diving coaches could specialize in divers and not coach swimmers too, or vice versa.
He was a Hollywood film editor and his showbiz background has helped his coaching or again, vice versa, since Lyle was diving in and then producing, top-rated diving water shows before he became a film editor.
An Iowa farm boy, Lyle met Fred Cady at a swimming meet in Iowa. Fred invited him to California where Lyle began coaching divers at the Lido Club at the famed Ambassador Hotel and at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

PUPIL

One of his first pupils was a 12-year-old girl named Zoe Ann Olsen. Next, they both moved to the Athens Athletic Club in Oakland where he met Vicki Manalo. He later married Vicki, who was given away by 1948 and 1952 platform winner Sammy Lee.
After the Olympics, Vicki and Lyle toured the United States and Europe with Buster Crabbe and Dick Smith.
He described the tours as “our great opportunity to travel as husband and wife since we have been traveling a lot together as coach and diver.”
Lyle returned to his coaching, first at tennis champion Jack Kramer’s Athletic Club and then at UCLA.
The Draves boys are Acapulco and World Champion high divers who have followed the showbiz side of their father’s heritage doing high and trick dives in such places as Magic Mountain, Sea World and Marineland.
Lyle described Fred Cady as “the most brilliant man” he ever met.
“He was the team coach during the 1936 (Berlin) Olympics and he was truly a great diving coach,” Lyle said.
The secret to success in coaching diving, Lyle emphasized, is “to follow Sir Isaac Newton and his third law of motion.”
He said, “Divers should know how to utilize the muscles inside their bodies by following the third law of motion.”

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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in SPORTS

 

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I saw Pheidippides

“A runner must run with dreams in his heart.”Emil Zatopek

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I was on my way to quit when I saw Pheidippides.
Sunday at past 9’clock in the morning on November 1, I made a terrible faux pas: from the Grand Central Station, I took an upper east side-bound train and alighted on Manhattan’s 51st Street.
I was supposed to get off on the 59th Street and walk on the left to the Fifth Avenue.
The mistake brought me to the 86th Street walking like a house on fire. That’s where I realized I goofed.
I retreated on the 77th Street and turned left. I reached Central Park’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I walked but stopped before reaching the Central Park North (110 Street).
Eureka, the area was a route of the 45th New York City Marathon, the reason why I was there.
I was supposed to proceed to the finish line at Central Park West thinking I was already late because of the long walk.

FOLLOW

I followed the route and stopped on the race’s 24th mile hoping to salvage a glimpse of the runners on the wayside in case the awarding ceremony was unfolding.
A severe headache suddenly hit me brought by the park’s chilly atmosphere and adrenaline rush. I rested under the park’s colorful trees to savor the falling autumn leaves and took some “selfie” shots.
I was on the verge of abandoning the coverage of the NYC Marathon and was heading to the park’s nearest exit when, all of a sudden, I saw three motorcycle-riding cops followed by two cars with sirens rolling up the hilly part of the route.
It was the lead pack for the distaff side. Kenya’s Mary Keitany, 33, was heading to the finish line unchallenged.
She breasted the tape at 2:24:25.
Realizing I was in the right place at the right time and the race wasn’t yet over as I feared earlier, I positioned myself near the 25th mile waiting for an ambush for the men’s lead pack (away from the main streets, the area was perfect for media coverage).

LUCK

Lady luck smiled at me once more. I heard incoming sirens; this time, Kenya’s world cross-country champion Geoffrey Kamworor was chasing compatriot Stanley Biwott, 29, in a nail-biting finale.
Biwott foiled Kamworor’s last-ditch effort at 2:10:34.
I became emotional watching Biwott as he increased his speed and maked Kamworor eat the dust. It evoked memories of Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce Greece’s victory in a battle against Persia in 490 B.C.
In history, we used to discuss marathon, the most dramatic event in the Olympics (because it is traditionally held in the penultimate day of the Olympic Games) and how it became a sports event in honor of the Greek soldier.
The defeat at Marathon marked the end of the first Persian invasion of Greece, and the Persian force retreated to Asia.

BATTLE

The Battle of Marathon was a watershed in the Greco-Persian wars, showing the Greeks that the Persians could be beaten; the eventual Greek triumph in these wars can be seen to begin at Marathon.
Meanwhile, interesting scenes stole the 2015 NYC limelight. Along the race route, through neighborhoods of brownstones, tenements and high-rises, revelers held signs, rang bells and called out to the runners with words of encouragement.
Live music also blared and some in the crowd, composed mostly of family members, still donned Halloween costumes.
Temperatures in the 50s and little wind provided almost ideal conditions for the race’s 50,000 runners–a mix of amateurs, professionals, locals and visitors from across the country and around the world who dream of running the iconic race.

DISTANCE

It is commonly said that the full marathon distance was set to 26 miles 385 yards because of the Royal family, added the Ahotu Marathons.
During the preparation of the summer Olympiads, it had been agreed that the organizers would include a marathon of about 40 km or 25 miles.
The British officials, desirous to accommodate the King of England, started the race at Windsor Castle and finished at the Royal box in the Olympic Stadium–a distance of precisely 26 miles 385 yards.
But that only explains why the London marathon’s distance was 42. 195 km. It doesn’t tell us why this distance was chosen as the definitive marathon distance.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in SPORTS

 

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Kune Salinas, victim of a corrupt system

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” Richard Bach

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We don’t fault Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for unveiling the guillotine on 19 Philippine National Police (PNP) officials over the anomalous purchase of coastal boats in 2009.
She did a good job.
Aside from dismissal from service, the crooks should have been sent to jail.
The P4.54-million police coastal craft procurement scam was another blot in the image of the PNP organization and heads should definitely roll.
Kudos to the Office of the Ombudsman.
But while we extol the Ombudman’s performance, we can’t help but commiserate with the other sacked PNP officials who may have been innocent in the scandal.
Like Senior Superintendent Cornelio “Kune” Salinas, director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO).

IMPLICATE

Spotless in 31 years of service, Salinas was implicated for being a member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).
He was also the chief of the PNP Maritime Group’s Operations Management at the time of the boats’ procurement.
When the defective boats were delivered, Salinas was no longer with the Maritime Group as he was already transferred to the Police Regional Office 6.
He later learned that the Maritime Group did not accept the substandard boats when delivered by the supplier, Four Petals Trading.
The trouble was the Inspection and Acceptance Committee of the PNP’s Logistics Support Services (IAC-LSS) under Superintendent Job Marasigan issued a certificate of acceptance and paid the supplier.
Salinas swore he did not steal a single centavo from the transaction, but neither denied nor confirmed that some PNP officials indeed made money.

‘GOOD GUY’

According to Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr., Salinas is a “good guy.” He was not referring, of course, to Salinas’ role in the boat brouhaha, but on his overall performance as a police official serving the Iloilo province.
Based on Salinas’ emotional narration of facts to members of media recently and the circumstances that developed leading to the boats’ procurement, he could be innocent.
Salinas could be a victim of a corrupt system in the procurement process involving government properties where membership in the BAC can lead to the abyss even if he didn’t dip his finger in the cookie jar.
Was it possible that when Ombudsman Morales meted the “severe” penalty, which included the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from reemployment in the government service, forfeiture of retirement benefits and cancellation of civil service eligibility, she failed to separate the chaffs from the grains?

ROTTEN

Were the good guys lumped with the organization’s rotten apples under the principle of “an act of one is an act of all”?
In trying to slay the dragon of corruption, the Ombudsman probably wanted to eliminate both its head and body to ensure a total victory.
Salinas and other BAC members probably became accidental villains by virtue of their presence in the dragon’s intestines.
We wish Colonel Salinas the best of luck as he tries to weather the storm by seeking for a Temporary Retraining Order (TRO) before the Court of Appeals and for filing a Motion for Reconsideration (MR).
If he is really pristine, as the saying goes, no one can put a good man down.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mystery of burnt Lopez Pink Mansion deepens

“No object is mysterious. The mystery is your eye.” 

— Elizabeth Bowen

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — Before entering the White House owned by former Iloilo second district Rep. Albertito Lopez in the Lopez compound in La Paz district, Iloilo City in the Philippines, a visitor will be greeted on the right side by the unique and imposing Pink Mansion owned by his brother, Emmanuele (not Emmanuel as reported in the papers) “Nikki” Lopez.
On the left side is the ABS-CBN Iloilo station. Adjacent to the Pink Mansion is another landmark, the Boat House, owned by ABS-CBN Corporation founder Eugenio H. Lopez Sr.
On the right inside the compound is the bungalow owned by the late Fernando “Junji” Lopez Jr., eldest son of the late former Vice President Fernando “Toto Nanding” Hofileña Lopez, Sr.
On the left inside the compound is the mansion of another Lopez daughter, the late Mita.
When Rep. Lopez was active in politics in the early 90’s, we frequented the gated compound.
For a while, the compound was open to invited guests, mostly political, social, and business personalities.

INTERVIEWS

We conducted our interviews with Rep. Lopez and his wife, then Guimaras Governor Emily Relucio, inside the White House.
It was also in the White House where we last saw the late former vice president, who died in 1993.
During important gatherings of the Lopez family where selected members of the press were also invited, we saw there the other members of the fabled clan.
Every now and then thereafter in the mid-90’s, we frequented the compound on invitation of Nonoy Junji (that’s how Fernando Lopez Jr. wanted us to call him) to dine with him and discuss social and political issues. He also invited us in his manokan (chicken) house in Villa, Arevalo.
Of all the living Lopez children then, only Nikki was aloof to members of media. He was very private, quite and avoidant.
But Nikki was also among the most controversial.
In the family-owned University of Iloilo, students were cautioned not to look at him once he entered the campus on board his pink car.

WOMAN

A story circulated that he once allegedly slapped a woman who stared at him in a shopping mall.
The woman happened to be allegedly a top city hall lawyer. He didn’t know her, but she knew him. Nobody came forward to confirm the incident.
The woman lawyer neither confirmed nor denied the alleged incident.
There were reports it was Nonoy Junji, not Nikki, who was allegedly involved in the fracas.
Nikki, whose favorite color is pink, a universal color of love and sweet sensuality, according to feng shui, probably detested being stared at in public.
The Pink Mansion, burned 95 percent according to the arson investigators from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in Iloilo City with initial estimated damage at P10 million at around past 10 o’clock in the evening on Oct. 25, was as mysterious as its owner.
Nikki escaped unscathed, according to reports. He was seen in the vicinity as firefighters were trying to put out the fire.
Nobody from the media, social, political and business community has claimed publicly to have been invited by Nikki or any authorized person to visit the place in the past.
Nikki, who never married, is a known lover of cats. He reportedly owns several cats and takes care of them like family members.
Were some of those cats killed during the one-hour fire?

ANTIQUES

The mansion reportedly contained jewelries, antiques, and art works described by Capitol bigwig and former journalist Nereo Lujan as “priceless” and “irreplaceable.”
Lujan wrote in his Facebook account: “The damage to the house was pegged at P10 million, considering that there were antiques, art works, jewelries, expensive clothing and high-end appliances inside.
“That amount may just be a pittance for Nikki, considering his inheritance, his monthly dividends from the Lopez Group of Companies and that he is not as extravagant as Junjie.
“What is deplorable and regrettable is the loss of the extremely rare antiques and art pieces inside because those were priceless and irreplaceable.”
Some visitors from other parts of the country who happened to pass by described the two-story Pink Mansion as “mysterious” because it was surrounded by concrete walls and wooden gate that were also painted with pink color.
As of this writing, arson probers could not confirm what caused the fire.  Nikki has refused to speak to the media.
Because of the fire, the mansion has once again rekindled public interest and curiosity. The mystery deepens as investigators piece together the cause of fire that reportedly started in the ceiling.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in CULTURE AND HERITAGE, TOURISM

 

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Why everyone wants to become vice governor

“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” Winston Churchill

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Is year 2016 the right time to become vice governor of Iloilo province in the Philippines?
We suspect even former Philippine Coconut Administrator (PCA) administrator Oscar “Oca” Garin Sr. is itching to become vice governor.
His aim actually is to eventually capture capitol, the only tiara missing in his political resume.
But the formidable Garins of Iloilo’s first district has officially fielded Guimbal mayor Christine against Rep. Neil “Junjun” Tupas Jr., “gunslinger” of another powerful political clan in the fifth district.
The patriarch Garin can still substitute for his daughter in the eleventh hour as the Garins are wont to do in the previous polls.
Both the Garin and Tupas clans were supposed to be “united” under one political roof of Pres. Noynoy Aquino with a modus vivendi to support the reelection of Gov. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr.
Everything was going well until the deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy (COC) in the Commission on Elections recently.

FALLOUT

The apparent fallout between the Garins and Tupases happened when Junjun decided the run the gamut from the congressional match-up in his district involving his younger brother, Vice Governor Raul “Boboy”, against Junjun’s wife, Angeli Lee, to the province’s second highest position, where he himself is the candidate purportedly representing the Liberal Party (LP).
Feeling “betrayed”, the Garins responded with a Queen’s Indian Defense vis-a-vis the Tupases’ Fianchetto.
And the die cast.
Had it not been for the imposing leadership by LP big man, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Junjun or any member of the clan, for that matter, would’ve challenged Defensor, who is on his last term.
Or the Garins versus Defensor.
But because no powerful clan can now touch Defensor with a ten- foot pole in as far as the 2016 elections are concerned, they are now up for a battle royale in the vice gubernatorial post.
With or without intervention of President Aquino and Drilon, everyone will salivate for the capitol’s second highest position.
The scuttlebutt is that due to health reasons, Defensor might decide to yield his position and give way to the vice governor before 2019.
Thus, the Tupas versus Garin toss up has become a fait accompli.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in ELECTION

 

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While we laugh at our ‘insane’ bets, the world laughs at us

“The human race is fundamentally insane. If you put two of us into a room together, we’re soon gonna start figuring out good reasons to kill one another.” Frank Darabont

By Alex P. Vidal13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should share the blame for their failure to sanitize the list of candidates for the 2016 Philippine elections from the start.
Poll authorities were aware that during every filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs), the Comelec is being transformed into a circus; in fact, the biggest and happiest entertainment in the world.
Through our excited media, we paraded to the whole world our caboodle of weirdos and wackos blasting their way to the poll body, where they were given full leverage and media coverage to mock our electoral system.
We will have to wait until December when the Comelec releases the final list of official or “serious” candidates sans the names of “psychotics” and other escapees from the mental asylum and slaughterhouse.
Our poll authorities could have saved time and money if they did the delisting the moment those charlatans set foot in the Comelec.
An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.

NUISANCE

Meanwhile, we laughed at the entire proceedings as the “nuisance” candidates dished out unprintable and never-heard-before spiels before national television.
In social media, the Comelec spectacle became an instant hit, a veritable laughingstock.
The jokers helped topple national tensions and stress, and the occasion offered a venue for temporary relief from our day to day worries.
We were amused by our own skulduggery.
We let the whole world know that our electoral system has been saddled with fundamental defects that can be traced to our culture and failure to legislate a quality law on election reforms.
While we laughed at our factory defect, the whole world laughed with us–and laughed at us!

NOTES: Some political observers think Iloilo board member Carmen Rita “Mitch” Monfort-Bautista’s entry into the fourth district congressional race was a “bad timing.” Her best chances, according to them, were in the previous elections when former congressman and the come-backing, Dr. Ferj Biron, was not yet in the field…Was Dr. Marigold Gonzalez, the only daughter of the late former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr., “forced” to run for mayor in Iloilo City? Unable to win as candidate for city councilor in 2013, the cosmetic surgeon will only probably fulfill the wish of her father, who had instructed the family to “continue serving the Ilonggos.” Against the vastly-improved and logistically powerful incumbent, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of the ruling Liberal Party(LP), Dr. Gonzalez is up against a wall…Vice Governor Raul “Boboy” Tupas appears to be the sentimental favorite to clinch the fifth congressional district when he tackles Yvonne Angeli Lee-Tupas, the lawyer wife of his older brother, Rep. Neil “Junjun” Tupas Jr. Although the lady Tupas is the official LP candidate, Boboy, who is now with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), is considered not only as a “dark horse” but a solid pick tumandok (native) to put away the pangayaw (outsider)…Junjun Tupas, the most controversial LP stalwart in the province today, himself will have his hands full versus Guimbal Mayor Christine Garin for vice governor. His eleventh hour decision to run for vice governor caught everyone by surprise especially because he is against the decision of his younger brother, Boboy, to replace him in the House of Representatives. Junjun and Boboy could’ve swapped posts to preserve order and stability in the party and family…former councilor Rolando Dabao, the best congressman Iloilo City never had, is running for vice mayor against reelectionist Joe Espinosa III under Dr. Gonzalez…second district Rep. Arcadio “Cadio” Gorriceta (LP) will try to walk past board member June “Junjun” Mondejar of the United Nationalist Alliance for his second term.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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