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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Dragon stares at death but couldn’t spit fire

“He who does not prevent a crime when he can, encourages it.” Lucius Annaeus Seneca

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — In the hands of his executioners, suspected drug lord Melvin “Boyet” Odicta Sr, popularly known as “Dragon”, saw imminent death.
Based on manner of his execution, there was no way Dragon could escape and survive.
A gunman shot Dragon and wife Merriam as they alighted from a roll-on roll-off vessel at around 1:30 a.m. in Caticlan, Aklan. August 28, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Superintendent Dionardo Carlos confirmed.
“Please bring me out here,” Dragon, limping with a bullet wound on the right foot, pleaded to his lawyer Gualberto Cataluna over mobile phone.
The most feared underworld personality could not even spit a fire as he struggled to avoid being finished off after surviving the first volley of shots.

TRAP

But he was trapped. And Dragon probably knew he was finished.
Dragon was supposed to be brought to a Malay hospital but witnesses, including Cataluna, claimed policemen handcuffed him.
Minutes later, the man considered as “the most powerful and well-connected drug lord” in Western Visayas, was dead.
He had bullet wounds in the body and head, it was reported.
Before he died, Dragon witnessed how his wife, Merriam, was peppered with bullets in the back.
The Odictas were declared dead on arrival in the hospital.
The couple were on their way to Iloilo from Manila where they were reported earlier to have “surrendered” to Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno.
Cataluna insisted they sought Sueno’s help because of threats they were getting in Iloilo and did not surrender.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa earlier tagged Dragon as “the drug lord.” He had vowed to wipe out all the drug lords in six months.

EVIDENCE

There was no evidence that the hard-hitting PNP chief had ordered Dragon’s killing. He asserted that he does not tolerate summary executions but vowed to “get hard” on criminals, especially the drug lords.
For a while, Dragon seemed untouchable.
He repeatedly denied envolvement in trafficking of illegal drugs insisting he was a legitimate taxi operator. The couple managed the Melvin taxi company, among other businesses in Iloilo City.
For so many years now, a mere mention of Dragon’s name evoked fears among local law enforcers, business rivals, politicians, and crusading mediamen.
He had “friends” in almost all sectors and organizations. He was also reportedly a “benevolent” election campaign contributor.
Residents in places where Dragon had businesses and houses wouldn’t comment about the nature of his other “businesses” and sources of income, we were informed. He also reportedly provided sacks of rice, cash for tuition and hospital bills, among other financial assistance, to poor neighbors.

CORRUPT

Some corrupt cops, politicians, thugs, and media personalities were reportedly under his payroll.
Some of the unsolved gruesome murders involving policemen, media personalities, underworld characters and even ordinary employees had been reportedly linked to Dragon and his associates.
No charges have been filed against them, however, in relation to these gangland-style killings.
Aksyon Radyo, a local radio station in Iloilo City, became Dragon’s fiercest critic and continued to expose his alleged illegal activities amid threats of reprisal and harassment.
Dragon and his cohorts had been charged with trying to invade the radio station two years ago. They were caught on CCTV seizing some gadget owned by the radio station during the raid.
Dragon’s death reportedly left a vaccum in the leadership of illegal drugs in the city and province of Iloilo.

TENTACLES

“At least his tentacles will now start to be decimated now that the main head has been cut off,” a namesake, Boyet, who now lives in California, said. “He was probably killed by his protectors for fear he might squeal on their partnership.”
Boyet said some of Dragon’s protectors “are so powerful and prominent. Ilonggos will be shocked if they will know who they are.”
Boyet, a former underworld character, said Dragon’s protectors had been “looking for the right opportunity” to strike starting when they learned that Dragon’s name was included in the list of suspected drug lords in the country secured by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“They have finally caught him up in Caticlan,” Boyet averred. “Happy days (for the Ilonggos) will come again (after Dragon’s demise).”

alexpvidal.blogspot.com/2016/08/dragon-stares-death-but-couldnt-spit.html

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in CRIME, NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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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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