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Monthly Archives: August 2018

My latest treasure: ‘Iliad’s’ best translation

“Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” ― Homer, The Iliad


By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — Without hesitation, I admit that two of the best translations of “Iliad” were written by Caroline Alexander and Stanley Lombardo.
But the translation by Richard Lattimore with copywright 1951 by the University of Chicago is probably one of the best, easier to understand, very interesting and, most importantly, arguably the best collector’s item about the subject matter.

I am lucky to obtain this gem, a rare copy seldom displayed in major bookstores anywhere in the United States and in the Philippines.
William Arrowsmith of the Hudson Review calls Lattimore’s book as “the finest translation of Homer ever made into the English language.”
“The best modern Iliad is that of Richard Lattimore…Lattimore is as much a scholar as a poet,”writes Hugh Llyod-Jones.
“Certainly the best modern verse translation,” confirms Gilbert Highet.
Many books have been written about the Iliad and Odyssey.
Many translations from Homer’s original script have been submitted by different authors in antiquity and in the modern times.
In fact, many of us have already wrestled with this best of all the greatest ancient Greek epic poems ever written in history when we were in high school and college.

COMPOSITION

The ”Iliad” is a 15,000-line work that began as an oral composition in a preliterate culture; amplified and revised by the various bards who performed it over the centuries, the poem was probably set down in writing sometime during the eighth century B.C. and achieved its present form in Athens about two centuries later. Traces of its oral origins and multiple authorship remain, presenting the translator with particularly thorny problems. The frequently repeated stock lines and epithets — ”rosy-fingered dawn,” for example — which allowed the ancient composer-performer to fill in the metrical blanks while thinking ahead to his next line, are pointless in a written text. And there are syntactical anomalies and narrative inconsistencies that suggest unresolved competition between two or more earlier oral versions.
In her version, which came out on November 24, 2015, Alexander wanted to bring the epic down to earth.
Alexander said she wanted to break down that assumption for readers, as she translated the work.
“I felt it was so the opposite of that, and that there was a need to sort of give people, average readers with no classical background, the poem on its own terms,” she said. “I feel that the Iliad has been so appropriated by academia, that it has been made into this very different text that’s a sort of embodiment of high culture — the Everest of literature.”
She said, as a classic text, “The Iliad” has its “own charisma,” which has drawn readers for hundreds of years. Part of its appeal is that it deals with themes that are timeless — namely, war and mortality, she said. “It is actually saying something true about a dimension of our life that will always matter, and that dimension is mortality, and particularly mortality as it is most exposed, which is in times of war.”

CURATE

Lombardo, a classicist at the University of Kansas, makes no attempt to curate Homer, either by replicating his sinewy hexameter lines or by mimicking his craggily archaic diction, as Richmond Lattimore did in his 1951 translation (long popular among classicists, perhaps because it practically is Greek); nor does he try to reproduce the amplitude and momentum of the original, wonderfully captured in Robert Fagles’s excellent 1990 translation.
New York writer Daniel Mendelsohn, lecturer in classics at Princeton University, pointe dout that there are probably too many departures from the Greek text here, and too many blatantly ”contemporary” resonances, for this to become the standard Homer of university classrooms.
“But in a way,” he explained, “those departures, those ruptures with philological exactitude, may make this ‘Iliad’ an ideal vehicle for teaching the poetic tradition that we owe to its creator — the oldest, deadest, whitest European male.

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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Standing position

“I hate summer, to be honest. I hate dressing. I hate the heat. I hate sweaty people getting aggressively close to you when you’re walking down the street.”

— Johnny Weir

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — When I take the 7 train from the 90th Station in Elmhurst going to the last station in the Flushing’s Main Street in Queens nowadays, I have to agonize in standing all the way to my final destination which is four stations away.
Once I got inside, only few seats were available in the 11-car train managed by the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) even for a short distance.
The culprit: US Open 2018.
The train was always packed with Caucasian passengers and tennis fans mostly from Europe who go to the Mets-Willets Point Station, located three stations away or 15 to 20 minutes by walk from where I stay.
Because it’s summer season and heat is extreme, I need to take the 7 train if I want to watch the matches; walking is only possible for me if it’s fall, spring or winter (Conditions were so intense August 28, Tuesday, that Novak Djokovic and his opponent used ice baths to cool down during their opening match. Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis retired due to a heat illness and Stefano Travaglia retired because of cramps, according to tournament referee Brian Earley. Leonardo Mayer of Argentina said he also retired from his match against Laslo Djere due to the heat, and he added that his blood pressure dropped and he was feeling dizzy).
Mets-Willets Point Station is where fans of the US Open 2018 disembark if they come from Manhattan or from the Main Street in Flushing.

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Most of them stay in Manhattan hotels located 20 minutes away by train ride from the Queens, thus they need to travel by MTA train that passes through the sub way to the elevated railway.
Baseball fans also arrive in the same station (Mets-Willets Point) when they to to the Citi Field, a baseball park located in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, located adjacent to the Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the US Open 2018 is being held.
Completed in 2009, the imposing Citi Field is the home field of the New York Mets of the National League division of Major League Baseball.
Meanwhile, all seven active former US Open men’s singles champions are participating this year.
There was an abundance of star power on tap for 2018 after the 2017 US Open went on without five of the ATP’s Top 11 men.
Although Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and world No. 1 has played only one hard-court event this summer, he made the most of it by winning his record-extending 33rd Masters 1000 title at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

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The Spaniard heartthrob has collected five ATP titles in 2018, bringing his career total to 80, and now has an opportunity to complete a French Open-US Open double for the second consecutive year.
After winning five consecutive US Open titles from 2004-08, Roger Federer has not been able to reclaim the New York crown despite two final appearances and three semifinal runs.
Federer has only played one summer hard-court event like Nadal, reaching the final at the Cincinnati Masters. The two-time Swiss defending Australian Open champ has perfected the art of peaking at the right times at 37.
The in-form player of the summer, Novak Djokovic enters New York on the back of titles at both Wimbledon and the Cincinnati Masters.
His Cincinnati title completed a Career Golden Masters for the Serb, as he became the first man in history to win all nine Masters events.
Djokovic has a record of 19-2 in his past four tournaments, including an 8-1 record across two Masters events in the US Open Series, dating back to Queen’s Club in late June.
Matches are getting intense and hot as the weather as the Open progresses until September 9.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Trapped!

“The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.” -Lucretius

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — We wouldn’t venture to speculate what exactly happened pre-dawn on August 15, 2018 at Barangay Atabay, San Jose, Antique in the Philippines when members of the Antique Provincial Mobile Force, 301st Brigade, San Jose PNP, 61st Infantry Battalion swooped down on an abandoned church and killed seven suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed the seven: Jayson Talibu, Jason Sanchez, Karen Ceralvo, Ildefenso Labinghisa, Peter Mecenas, Liezl Bandiola and Felix Salditos engaged the joint PNP-AFP teams in a firefight while they were serving a warrant of arrest.
In this version, the seven were killed in an encounter.


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Since no one among the bodies lined up and presented to media hours after the “encounter” had survived and no other “rebels” were captured alive, nobody can dispute the PNP-AFP version of a firefight.
Dead men tell no tales.
On the other hand, nobody can tell or corroborate if the government forces had also suffered casualties.
An encounter or firefight means both sides fired gunshots to and from various directions.
A thirty-minute (that’s the police version in their report) gun battle would have been messy, bloody and confusing.
There would have been stray bullets hitting the houses nearby or civilians caught in the middle of the deadly violence which happened when everyone in that village was already sleeping.
Police and military officials neither confirmed nor denied some of their men were also hit and wounded.
Media were just informed an “encounter” happened and the enemies were unlucky as shown by the body count. 

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Since human rights groups and families of the dead, now known as “Antique 7”, are claiming otherwise and have moved to file a complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) through the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), some people are getting curious and confused.
They want a clearer picture of what exactly had happened.
Families and supporters of “Antique 7” insisted their loved ones were victims of a massacre.
They threw away to the dustbin the PNP-AFP version of encounter.
Ruth Salditos, Felix’s wife, claimed the victims suffered almost the same “fatal” gunshot wounds on the head, neck and stomach and appeared to be “sleeping” when attacked.
The National Democratic Front (NDF), which admitted the “Antique 7” were its members, claimed the seven were unarmed and were “cultural and educational warriors and non-combatants.”

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The PNP, particularly the Regional Police Office-6 (PRO-6) led by Director John Bulalacao, accused the seven of engaging in extortion activities.
Some of the items seized in the vicinity after the “encounter” were reportedly extortion letters and several high-powered firearms, ammunition, grenades and cash.
Human rights group Karapatan-Panay and families of slain communist rebels and Bulalacao have been swapping heated accusations in media.
The word war is expected to escalate as the families and other cause-oriented groups demand justice for the killing of the “Antique 7” while the PNP and the AFP stand by their claim of a “legitimate encounter” and appeared unperturbed.
Massacre or encounter, we have one description of what happened to the “Antique 7”: trapped.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Teresita’s face

“The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — Even if she is very qualified to sit as the new Supreme Court chief justice, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro has the “misfortune” of carrying a face only her mother can appreciate, thus critics are not so kind when they ripped her apart as they continued to question her ascension as President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s choice to replace ousted Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.
She was chosen, of course, based on her seniority and qualifications despite her “Medusa-like face” which is immaterial and inconsequential.
It is not De Castro’s fault if she was “born in the league of Charybdis”, the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia who flooded lands for her father’s underwater kingdom until Zeus turned her into a monster and had her suck in and out of water three times a day.
But some of the critics’ disdain of De Castro probably has cultural and historical basis.
It can be traced to the Filipinos’ traumatic experiences with their colonizers.

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The faces of the doñas (Spanish for Mrs) mostly portrayed in the movies to be despicable, mata pobre, maldita and sadistic are still very much etched in the memory of the Filipinos, brutalized and oppressed by Spanish colonizers for 300 years, until today.
Filipinos always have this uncanny penchant of viewing the image of a powerful woman (sometimes wearing the boots and riding on a horse in her hacienda) to be an oppressor orcontrabida (villain) who wields a latigo (whip) while berating and questioning the culture of a Pinay muchacha (domestic helper).
This explains why revolutionary heroes like Andres Bonifacio literally bar-b-qued the fat and mestizo Spanish friars (the “demons” in Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere) they caught during the guerrilla offensives (this did not sit well with Emilio Aguinaldo and this “brutality” reportedly was one the sources of their lingering feud.)
Wonder why some Filipinos hated Jose Pidal a.k.a “Spanish mestizo” Mike Arroyo?
Again, we repeat that it is not the newly installed woman chief magistrate’s fault if “she carries the face that resembles monster Scylla’s partner” in a cave on the Sicilian side of the Strait Messina that threatens Odysseus and the passing ships.
Some Filipinos are really cruel when it comes to judging their leaders by how they look rather than how they govern.


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I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing the contemporary and friend of the late Arizona Senator John McCain in the United States Air Force (USAF) in Springfield, Virginia only last month.
Retired Col. Lester Marlon Romine, 81, confirmed McCain’s heroism as immortalized in the US media today by the late senator’s colleagues and people who honor McCain’s “larger-than-life” military accomplishments.
Unlike McCain who became a politician and was twice defeated in the presidential race in as many attempts, Romine became a spiritual leader.
He gave me a book of his biography and we prayed together with other friends.
The Office of Senator John McCain, meanwhile, released this statement hours after he passed away: “Senator John Sidney McCain III died at 4:28pm on August 25, 2018. With the Senator when he passed were his wife Cindy and their family. At his death, he had served the United States of America faithfully for sixty years.”

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

‘Investigate’ is a wrong choice of word

“The largest challenge that we face, from my perspective, is the ability to continue moving forward so the agency will have a single mission: that is, to provide decent, safe, and affordable housing.”

–Alphonso Jackson

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — We doubt absolutely if the National Housing Authority (NHA) will ever succumb to any resolution the Iloilo Provincial Board might pass asking the NHA to award to government employees some of the NHA’s unoccupied housing units in Barangay Cruz, Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo in the Philippines.
The Iloilo Provincial Board, in the first place, has no jurisdiction over the NHA, thus it’s a wrong choice of word to “investigate” NHA’s P4.2 billion housing project in that municipality–unless the project was tainted with anomaly.
If the project reeks with anomaly, let the Congress do the yeoman’s task of grilling the concerned agency officials in the national level “in aid of legislation.”
If the intention of the Iloilo legislature is only to ask a favor, the proper word should be “request” and not “investigate.”
Local legislative bodies don’t investigate government-owned and controlled corporations under the Office of the President mainly because they have not completed the turning over of certain projects to their intended beneficiaries.

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NHA is classified under the Infrastructure Utilities Group and operates under the administrative supervision of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.
Board Member Domingo Oso Jr., vice chair of the committee on infrastructure, was reported to be contemplating on passing a resolution asking the NHA to give to government employees some of the 1,050 NHA housing units intended for members of the police and the military if no takers were interested to occupy them.
Oso, who is from Barotac Nuevo, was quoted in media as saying: “Until now, the area is not occupied and in my personal observation, the facilities, as required in accordance with the requirements, are not properly installed and put up by the developer.”
He added: “We are planning to pass a resolution that if there are no takers, we will give (the unit) to government employees so that it would be used rather than wasted.”

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Rhodora Lim, NHA-6 estate supervisor, has disclosed that 743 of the housing units have been occupied and the remaining units have been reserved for soldiers now assigned in Marawi City.
Lim explained that the housing project has been purposely earmarked for members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for a unit cost of P260,000 acquired through amortization and salary deduction for 30 years.
We admire Oso’s intention, but the Iloilo Provincial Board can only request for the list of the project beneficiaries; it can’t compel the NHA to award the remaining reserved lots to any Tom, Dick, and Harry in government service except for the members of the PNP and the AFP.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Ilonggo lawyer’s murder alarming

“If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.”

–Bayard Rustin

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

NEW YORK CITY — We’re curious, worried and alarmed.
Are lawyers who defend in court those accused in cases involving illegal drugs also being targeted for summary execution in the Philippines?
Does lawyering for the society’s “bad elements” constitute a sin punishable by death?
Does defending the rights of the accused in narcotics cases also make lawyers enemies of the state?
Our curiosity aroused early this year when a prominent lawyer in Cebu City, Jonah John Ungab, was gunned down while driving his car in broad daylight along S. Osmena Street in Cebu City on February 19, 2018.
Ungab was the lawyer of wanted suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Also in Cebu City on July 2, 2018, another lawyer, Salvador Solima, known for handling high profile drug cases, was killed inside his house at Singson Compound in Barangay Guadalupe.

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On Thursday morning in Bacolod City, prominent lawyer Rafael Atutubo, 62, who handled drug-related cases, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding assailants while sitting outside his house on Galo Street, Barangay 20.
The manner the crime was executed was intriguing.
The same pattern and method.
The same purpose and reason?
Just like the recent spate of murders involving Catholic priests highly critical against the police’s operations and their alleged summarily killings of street-level drug suspects, it appears there is a trend in the killing of lawyers handling narcotics cases in the Philippines.
We hope and pray all these incidents weren’t state-sponsored and those involved in the attacks weren’t members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) like in numerous cases recently of foiled ambush attempts on drug personalities where some of the slain triggermen were organic PNP members.

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The escalation of violence involving the campaign against illegal drugs has gone too far.
Lawyers, priests, cops, mayors, village chiefs, and journalists have been waylaid violently like stray dogs all in the name of “all out war” against illegal drugs.
And only few people are angry and willing to denounce violence, which has become the trademark of the Philippines since President Rodrigo Roa Duterte launched an aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.
We’re not saying that the police have allowed themselves to be used as “berdugos” (executioners) or tools to eliminate suspected drug dealers and drug addicts and their defenders, but they should be our protectors, not our killers.
Atutubo’s grisly murder was too much to bear for the peace-loving Filipinos who are now starting to realize that the war against illegal drugs can’t and will never be won overnight through violence.
We demand justice for all victims of extra-judicial killings; we demand the immediate end of violence in the name of war against narcotics.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Itik de Asis rattles Guimaras’ ‘three Stooges’

“Anything you strike, anything you shake or rattle, or just anything that can be picked up, and you can create a sound.” 

— Evelyn Glennie


By Alex P. Vidal20882991_10209822835870464_3941597926135575475_n

NEW YORK CITY — In their psywar game, former Guimaras vice governor Vicente “Itik” de Asis recently made a mincemeat of the island province’s so-called “Three Stooges”– Governor Samuel Gumarin, Vice Governor John Edward Gando, and former Rep. JC Rahman Nava.
They panicked when a certain Rodrigo Gabales, purportedly a “resident” of Guimaras, allegedly filed a plunder and technical malversation complaint against them for the “release” of P264 million in public funds days before the May 2016 elections.
If proven, the three could face jail terms, ouster, and disqualification from holding a public office for violation of the election ban on disbursement of funds during the campaign period.
They suspected De Asis to be behind “Rodrigo Gabales” whose real identity wasn’t immediately established with absolute certainty as of this writing.
What if the alleged plunder and malversation raps were a dud?

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In a joint press conference August 22 in Jordan town, the three bewailed the “erroneous” report published in a local newspaper about the amount involved in the supposed plunder and technical malversation raps.
They also cried “political harassment.”
But if the “Three Stooges” were using their common sense, there was no need for them to act like they were next in line to Leo Echegaray in the death chamber.
If they did not touch with malicious intent a single centavo of the amount being floated by “Rodrigo Gabales”, there was no need for them to summon the spirits in the River Styx to look pristine and unalloyed.
If they did not have yet the copy of the supposed formal complaint, there was no basis for them to belie something that could only exist in “Rodrigo Gabales’” fertile imagination.
They could have just shrugged off the issue if they believed it did not have any iota of validity.
Fear of the unknown is tantamount to dousing gasoline to a warehouse being swallowed by conflagration.
It’s the “Three Stooges’” irrational fear that makes them look vanquished, humiliated, and deserted by their vainglory.

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And De Asis as the convenient whipping boy and suspected culprit, again?
De Asis does not even belong to a big political party with massive wherewithal enough to submerge the Nava-Gumaren submarine.
And they rattled like they were surrounded by scarecrows in the middle of a dark cornfield?
If it was De Asis, their perennial political punching bag, behind the ersatz gobbledygook, he must now be laughing from ear to ear watching his political nemesis reduced to political pygmies by their over reactions.
Political war is a mind game, too; it’s a battle of gimmickry and how to make your opponents mad while they look like scoundrels and circus performers.
If De Asis was the Real McCoy, he just scored a triple whammy!

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THE New York State Department of Labor gave justice to my complaint against a Jewish community leader in Brooklyn in a quick verdict handed an hour after I lodged the complaint in their office on Canal-Varick Streets in Lower Manhattan at 1:30 o’clock in the afternoon August 22, 2018.
Arbiter Mokarram Ahmed first perused the complaint sheet I signed; and buckled down to investigation. After hearing both sides of the coin, the arbiter scribbled his evaluation while I was waiting on tenterhooks.
“Quick justice,” I exclaimed silently when arbiter Ahmed handed to me a machine copy of the verdict and intoned, “good luck.”

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in Uncategorized