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Monthly Archives: January 2019

Secure Jaro Cathedral but don’t shut off mobile lines

“There is no priority higher than the prevention of terrorism.”

–John Ashcroft

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — It’s normal for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to be jittery and panicky these days after the Jolo Cathedral bombing that killed 27 churchgoers, but let’s hope the PNP won’t ask anew the telecommunication companies to suspend the mobile phone lines during the Feast of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Jaro in Jaro district, Iloilo City in the Philippines on February 1-2, 2019.
The Candelaria de Jaro fiesta is one of the most attended and vastly prominent religious gatherings in Asia.
Suspending a vital communication network during this mammoth occasion would be antithesis; it can’t prevent anarchy if it will happen.
It will only embolden troublemakers or small-time terror punks to disrupt events that don’t have direct communication access to authorities and the public.
A huge district event with a suspended communication facility is a recipe for catastrophe; it will exacerbate tension and public paranoia.

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If the attacks are carried by suicide bombers like what happened in Jolo, according to initial investigations, even if we suspend the Panay Electric Company (PECO) lines chaos will still occur.
Determined bombers don’t give a damn whether mobile phone lines are shut off or active.
Their minds are programmed to kill and unleash a carnage by all means.
By all means, however, the PNP must secure the Jaro Cathedral premises where a large crowd normally converges to lit candles, pay homage to the patron saint, and attend the Mass.
The procession also romps off and ends in the Jaro Cathedral.
If terrorists or any lunatic, God forbid, will use long distance or remote-controlled bombs as feared by the PNP, the terrorists will have to belabor themselves in planting or distributing the explosive gadgets first on their target areas.
It’s not difficult to spot them if they act suspiciously, especially if they carry heavy items in their backpacks, during the planning stage.

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With the PNP’s vast intelligence machinery and the mushrooming CCTVs, these terrorists will be stopped on their tracks even before approaching their target areas.
We have abundance of watchdogs and alert residents in the different districts: barangay tanods, vendors, trisikad drivers, cabbies, among other ordinary folk, who can easily notice if someone not familiar with them behaves abnormally in their areas.
Let’s leave the mobile phone lines alone.
Instead, the PNP should buttress their monitoring network and surround vital areas that have potential attractions and interests to the terror groups.
Sometimes all of these are just figments of our imagination.
It may not happen, after all.

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Posted by on January 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Duterte ‘ignores’ Dinagyang invitation

“The safety of the people shall be the highest law.”

-Marcus Tullius Cicero

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — Ilonggos shouldn’t consider it as a big deal that President Rodrigo R. Duterte “ignored” Iloilo City Hall’s invitation to grace the just-concluded Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City in the Philippines.
The president can’t just say yes to all the invitations in all the festivals and other social, political, religious and even business gatherings anywhere in the Philippines.
If he accepts one invitation and rejects another, he will be accused of playing favorites.
January is the month of religious and cultural festivals.
Iloilo City was only one of the many cities and municipalities in the Philippines that celebrated the feast of Senior Santo Niño aside from the Sinulog Festival in Cebu City.
Either his schedule wouldn’t allow it, or President Duterte probably decided to skip the Dinagyang Festival on January 25-27, 2019 for security or even health reasons.
The safety of a sitting president is always a paramount concern over other considerations.
Many Ilonggos still couldn’t forget when he called Iloilo City as “the most shabulized” and when he threatened to kill the former mayor, Jed Patrick Mabilog, for being a “protector” of illegal drugs.
It would have been a security nightmare for the “overloaded” Regional Police Office 6 (RPO-6) led by Director John Bulalacao if the president came after being officially invited by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III.

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As Iloilo aims to harvest one million metric tons of rice this year, rice traders in the Philippines are reportedly set to import about 1.2 million tonnes of the staple food, as the Southeast Asian country lifts a two-decade-old cap on purchases.
This developed as the National Food Authority (NFA) has approved initial applications from 180 rice traders for permits to import a total of 1.186 million tonnes of either 5-percent or 25-percent broken white.
It was also reported that bigger rice purchases by the Philippines, already one of the world’s top importers and consumers of the grain, could underpin export prices in Vietnam and Thailand, traditionally its key suppliers.
According to Reuters, prices in Vietnam fell last week ahead of the country’s largest harvest this month, while the Thai market is likely to see additional supply towards the end of January from the seasonal harvest.
Dr. Sailila E. Abdula, acting executive director of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), has rallied workers to support the upcoming Rice Tariffication Act or currently the Senate Bill 1998, which aims to replace import restrictions on rice with tariffs.
Abdula said cost-effective technologies should be further generated for the farmers to survive the possible influx of cheap rice from the international market.
Under the Senate Bill already signed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, PhilRice will annually receive P3 billion for six years, which will be used for “developing, propagating, and promoting inbred rice seeds to rice farmers and in organizing rice farmers into seed growers associations to be engaged in seed production and trade.”

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The Family Planning Organization of Philippines (FPOP) Iloilo Chapter reportedly distributed thousands of condoms to revelers during the highlight days of the recent Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City.
FPOP Iloilo Chapter program manager Monalisa Diones said they have chosen the festival as a perfect venue to exhort the revelers to practice safe sex and to spread public awareness against the rising cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in Iloilo City.
We suggest that FPOP go directly to the barangays and educate the couples not only to practice safe sex, but also to minimize producing battalions of babies.
One major reason why many Filipinos are still wallowing in abject poverty is because of overpopulation.
For lack of proper education and training, many couples in slum areas continue to transform their households into bodegas of babies.
The number of mouths to be fed isn’t proportionate to their income, thus many of them continue to live below the poverty level despite working like dogs.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

A whirlwind of pride for Ilonggos

“You don’t stumble upon your heritage. It’s there, just waiting to be explored and shared.” 

–Robbie Robertson

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — There is always an element of pride and exhilaration etched on the face of any Ilonggo anywhere in the world when random discussions take a spiral on the Dinagyang Festival.
Ilonggos are always brimming with so much excitement and enthusiasm once someone brings out the topic on Iloilo City’s annual cultural and religious festivities that last for a week highlighted by a fluvial parade, colorful ati dance competitions, among other cultural, religious, sports and tourism programs and activities.
There is no other festival or event that defines the Ilonggos’ heritage and culture to the level of maximum bliss and erudition.
The hysteria whipped up by all the positive energy that clustered the metropolis for one week is shared by every stakeholder and those behind the wheels that steered the festival to what it is today.
Ilonggos parlayed and talk about the Dinagyang Festival like they were promoting their own values, talents, and personal achievements in the global platform.

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Dinagyang is Iloilo; Iloilo is Dinagyang.
There is so much goodness and substance that radiate in the horizon when an Ilonggo talks about the 51-year-old festival, which has now become the focal point when our tourism officials led by Department of Tourism-6 Director Helen Catalbas and Iloilo City Tourism Chief Junel Ann Divinagracia promote Iloilo City and Western Visayas as a whole.
Even the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) has been smitten by the Dinagyang’s potentials and solid impact on business an investment opportunities over the years.
Although their hands are full owing to the stressful security preparations, members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) get a special attention, credit and commendation when the festival goes to bed with nary an anarchy and revelry-related bedlam.
Ilonggos always find the Dinagyang Festival as an occasion to refine and rebuild their spirit and character.

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Ricardo Alonsabe, an Ilonggo Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in Victoria, Seychelles, watched the Dinagyang Festival in his laptop in the lobby of a restaurant where he worked last year.
“I opened my Facebook account and was able to get access to the ‘live’ performances,” said Alonsabe, a chef in a restaurant serving African food.
Alonsabe’s co-workers and some tourists joined him and they were enthralled by the sound of drums and choreography of ati warriors.
“It’s really a world class festival,” he chortled.
Alonsabe and thousands of other OFWs all over the five continents were like watching the Dinagyang Festival “live” in the streets.
With the advent of technology, Dinagyang Festival could now be seen on the Internet and in any social media platform.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Cellphone signal cut off a stupid decision

“If I don’t have wisdom, I can teach you only ignorance.”

— Leo Buscaglia

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — Because of so much paranoia, the local Philippine National Police (PNP) leadership was able to convince the telecommunication companies to halt mobile signals in Iloilo City in the Philippines
during the highlights of the 2019 Dinagyang Festival.
While the rest of the world will be busy texting and talking over the mobile phones for the weekend chat, Ilonggos will be muzzled and pushed back inside the dark cave for several hours.
If Ilonggos within Iloilo City and abroad are unable to transmit important text messages and calls to their loved ones from six o’clock in the morning until two o’clock in the afternoon on January 26 and 27, blame the law enforcement authority’s stupid edict, which will only be complied by the telecommunication companies.
If reports were true, even the Internet connections, the most vital of all forms of modern communication worldwide, would be cut off during that period.
The PNP invoked “security measures” for the doltish move.
It’s better to be safe than sorry; or, as they always parroted in the security exercises, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

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In their assessment, if telecommunications are suspended, troublemakers or terrorists with high tech gadgets and deadly weapons will be thwarted and won’t be able to exploit and disrupt the City of Love’s festive atmosphere.
In their thinking, clever bomb experts wont to utilize long-distance or wireless explosives, might strike at random and sabotage the world-renowned religious and cultural festival.
They have imagined the worst possible scenario, and it is part of their job–and paranoia.
If we remember it right, they have done the same display of morbid doubts and fears in the last four stagings of the Dinagyang Festival.
With more than 2,300 police officers to be deployed within the performance areas and their environs to monitor the peace and order situation on top of the PNP’s vast intelligence network, it’s inconceivable for any high tech amok or terrorist group to breach the police’s security phalanx and create a public mayhem.
The best precautionary measures are still actually sustained sleuthing and monitoring to be done days or hours prior to the two-day highlight events.
Iloilo City is not a security nightmare geographically.
It is surrounded by rivers; and the only way for any determined terrorist or bomb wacko to sneak in is via the parachute.
It appears, however, that the possibility of Extra Terrestrials (E.T.) entering Iloilo City and mixing with the crowd to join the revelry is more possible than the suicide bombers or jihadists succeeding to detonate an explosive device while the Ilonggos are shouting “Hala Bira!” 

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Let’s review the history. Long ago–more than 3,000 years–a band of Greek princes and heroes made a war on the city of Troy, in Asia Minor.
They laid siege to the city, but the Trojans were not easily beaten and the war went on for 10 years.
It might not have ended even then had not Odysseus, the cleverest of the Greeks, devised a scheme to overthrow the city.
The Greeks pretended that they were giving up the siege and began making preparations to leave.
One of the things that they did was to build a gigantic wooden horse.
They left this on the shore, and then went on board their ships and sailed away.
When the Trojans saw the Greek warriors depart, there was great rejoicing.
Believing the horse to be a luck offering to the gods, they opened their gates and hauled the horse inside as a prize of victory.
During the night, however, when the feasting was over and the Trojans were asleep, a door was opened in the side of the hollow wooden animal and out crept a band of Greeks who had been concealed inside.
These men opened the gates of the city and let in the main army of the Greeks, who had sailed back again as soon as darkness had fallen.
Thus Troy was captured and destroyed.
Long ago the blind poet of ancient Greece, Homer, told about the Trojan horse in his Odyssey.
Even today the name is applied to a person or persons who get inside enemy territory and help outside forces to get in and conquer it

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Mayor Joe III should prove Alim wrong

“God as my witness, may He strike me down if this allegation is true.”

–Paul Crouc

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — We suspect that Bacolod City Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia wasn’t happy that the honor of holding Manny Pacquiao’s WBA 147-lb belt when the senator defended his crown against Adrien Broner in Las Vegas on January 19, 2019 went to senatorial candidate Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
The role of holding Pacquiao’s championship belt during the introduction inside the ring has been Leonardia’s exclusive franchise since Pacquiao became a WBO kingpin 10 years ago.
In fact, the chief reason why Leonardia flew to Las Vegas despite his busy schedule in Bacolod City, was “to fulfill that obligation.”
There were many attempts in the past from eager-beaver Pacquiao friends and subalterns to dislodge Leonardia from that lofty honor but they all failed.
I am a living witness to some of these foiled heists.

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In fact, I know personally some of the purported VIPs who tried but failed to trick Leonardia.
In one of Pacquiao’s fights at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino many years back, Leonardia had to grip the belt tightly like Conan the Barbarian and defend it like his honor was at stake when a physician friend attempted to grab it from his hands.
If coolers heads did not interfere, the Ilonggo mayor was prepared to square off with the intruder in what could have been the undercard’s preliminary bout right there in the dressing room.
If these charlatans weren’t jealous with Leonardia, they wanted to become instant celebrity by being seen instantly by millions of boxing fans from all over the world monitoring the event “live” on a pay-per-view.
This time, one of them succeeded.
Bato, of course, had a sinister intention.
As a senatorial candidate, the retired police director general knew his presence would generate a lot of attention from the voters.

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The first-ever serious allegation of a possible graft and corruption “committed” in the infant administration of Iloilo City Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III has been fired by Councilor Joshua Alim.
The eye of the storm is the controversial P45-million newly-built grandstand in the Muelle Loney, City Proper, which Espinosa III had temporarily named as the Iloilo Dinagyang Grandstand.
Alim, a candidate in Iloilo City’s lone congressional district in the May 2019 elections, said he wasn’t convinced that the recently-inaugurated main venue of this year’s Dinagyang Festival was worth that amount.
The opposition councilor wasn’t impressed by the grandstand’s design even as he declared he would call for a committee investigation in the Sangguniang Panlungsod to shed light on the issue.
The grandstand, originally known as the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand when it was still standing in front of the Customs house in corner Mapa-J.M. Basa Streets, City Proper, was built under the Espinosa III’s administration.

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Once Alim starts to seriously pursue the investigation, it will give Mayor Joe III, a rich man who does not need to steal and has no bad record in public service, a terrible inconvenience as he, too, is running for city mayor against Rep. Jerry Trenas in the May 2019 elections.
Alim’s recent saber-rattling, of course, was a music to Trenas’ ears.
Although Alim and Trenas do not belong in one political bandwagon, the councilor’s offensive move against Mayor Joe III is expected to be welcomed by Trenas’ group as a shibboleth of conquest.
Ilonggos who don’t believe that Mayor Joe III is a thief, meanwhile, will now start to suspect that he tolerated graft and corruption when he employed grafters in his administration.
Of course we are not saying that Alim is right.
In fairness to the mayor, everything is a mere suspicion and allegation; no formal complaint has been lodged yet against any Espinosa III minion in relation to the construction of the controversial grandstand.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, Mayor Joe III can’t just shrug off Alim’s fusillade as a mere powder puff.
He must prove that the councilor is wrong by facing the issue squarely and grabbing the bull by the horns.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Ilonggos owe Henry Sy Sr a debt of gratitude

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 

— William Arthur Ward

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — I can’t wait to see Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and the members of the Iloilo City Council in the Philippines honor the late SM Supermalls godfather, Henry Sy Sr, for his big contribution in the metropolis’ economic growth and expansion for over 40 years now.
Ditto for the Iloilo Business Club (IBC).
Ilonggos owe Mr. Sy a debt of gratitude for choosing Iloilo City where to build the first branch of SM Department Store outside Metro Manila in 1979.
The Iloilo City branch was the 4th SM Department Store built by Mr. Sy.
Even as a not-so-expansive department store in the early 1980s, SM Delgado infused tremendous economic gains for Iloilo City in terms of taxes generated for the city government and employment opportunities for the Ilonggos.
SM Delgado’s arrival created a big stir in the Ilonggos’ malling life, and a paradigm shift in the local consumers attitude.
Weeks before the SM Shoe Mart Delgado opened on May 15, 1979, I used to peek inside the glass from outside and saw a lot of shoes being displayed.

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We were told it would be the biggest “shoes mall” to open in Iloilo City, which did not have a big department store at that time other than the chain of traditional wholesale and retail stores in the Calle Real.
When SM Supermarket was conceptualized, SM Prime Holdings opened its store at SM Delgado in 1985 and relaunched the mall in 2004.
It sparked further economic growth for Iloilo City.
SM Delgado was originally known as SM Iloilo prior to the opening of SM City Iloilo on June 11, 1999.
For his 8th of the 72 chain of SM Supermalls built across the Philippines , Mr. Sy picked Iloilo City anew.
The four-level complex, featuring eight cinemas, food hall, food court and a cyberzone with a total retail floor area of 181,657 sq.m., was built and officially opened on June 11, 1999 in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City.
The presence of this mammoth mall, one of the biggest in the entire Philippines, had a domino effect: it further helped skyrocket Iloilo City’s economic development and spur investment opportunities in other areas of business.

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Mr. Sy, who died on Saturday morning, January 19, at 94, was a frequent Iloilo City visitor.
During the inauguration of SM City in 1999, I saw Mr. Sy, moving in a wheelchair, throw coins in the crowd.
I helped myself pick up some coins on the floor together with other guests.
When the Mall of Asia, currently the fourth largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the 13th in the world, opened in Pasay City on May 21, 2006, I was one of the lucky editors officially invited and flown to the event by SM management along with a few selected public officials and business leaders from Iloilo City.
I again saw Mr. Sy throw the coins together with his children and associates.
When Forbes released a list in March 2018, Sy led Filipinos on the World’s Billionaires List 2018.
He has been the richest Filipino since 2005 with a net worth of $19 billion, it was reported.
For his gargantuan contribution in the economic life in Iloilo City in particular, and in the entire Western Visayas in general, we salute the Mall King of Asia. Rest in peace.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Pacquiao’s legitimate title war in an illegitimate body

“Boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book.”

–Joe Frazier

By Alex P. Vidal17236830_10209213849128706_950870941_o

NEW YORK CITY — At 40, Manny Pacquiao is one of the only few world boxing champions in history to fight a younger opponent as a defending champion.
He is about to eclipse the record of Jimmy McLarnin, the Irish-Canadian world welterweight champion who sent the first Filipino world flyweight champion, Pancho Villa, to cemetery when he beat on points the Ilonggo boxer in San Francisco on July 4, 1925.
McLarnin was below 30 when he engaged the talented Barney Ross in an epic three-fight world welterweight series.
Those who fought for world titles in the past who were already considered as “over-the-hill” were mostly the challengers.
And most of these grandfather challengers were sent to retirement after their failure to regain their lost glory or win world crowns.
Sugar Ray Leonard, Hector Camacho, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran, to name only a few marquee names.
And, luckily, Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) will defend a legitimate 147-lb belt sanctioned by the World Boxing Association (WBA) against naughty 29-year-old former four-division champion Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs) in Las Vegas on January 19, 2019.
In the age of alphabet world boxing bodies, only the WBA, World Boxing Council (WBC), and International Boxing Federation (IBF) are considered as the legitimate world boxing authorities.

CROWNS

Pacquiao mostly won his previous crowns in the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and one time in the dubious International Boxing Organization (IBO) when he flattened Ricky Hatton in two rounds to snatch the Briton’s super lightweight bauble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on February 5, 2009.
For 10 years since grabbing Miguel Angel Cotto’s WBO welterweight title on November 14, 2009, the Filipino buzzsaw cemented his reputation as a world champion fighting under the WBO, which charged lesser sanction fees.
Team Pacquiao, which was then under the tutelage of astute lawyer Bob Arum and his Top Rank, avoided the “more expensive” WBC like a plague.
Interestingly, it was the WBC which gave the Filipino senator his first legitimate world crown: the WBC flyweight tiara he wrested from Chatchai Sasakul with a brutal knockout in Thailand on December 4, 1998.
Pacquiao earned millions of dollars to become one of the richest prizefighters in the world fighting the likes of Juan Manuel Marquez, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, Brandon, Rios, Timothy Bradley Jr., Jessie Vargas, and Chris Algieri under the WBO.
Jeff Horn outpointed Pacquiao in another violent WBO 12-round welterweight title fight in Brisbane on July 2, 2017, his lone fight in that year.

LAST

Pacquiao’s last WBC appearance was on May 2, 2015 when he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr on points in the most expensive bout in history.
Mayweather Jr. risked his three titles: WBA super welterweight, WBC welterweight, and WBO welterweight and earned more than $100 million.
But who cares if Pacquiao fights under shady sanctioning boxing bodies?
Fans pay to see him destroy opponents regardless of world boxing authority.
Every time Pacquiao fights, fans don’t question anymore whether it is a legitimate title bout or a duel sanctioned only by a banana peel or a piece of paper.
If he roll past the foul-mouthed black American challenger, Pacquiao will earn another special place in history: a welterweight champion at 40 who successfully keeps his title in the first defense.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in Uncategorized