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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Mosquito bite that could kill

“The people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do.” 

–Joseph Stalin

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — THOSE running for public office in the May 2019 Philippine elections shouldn’t allow themselves to be distracted by the results of “surveys” commissioned by legitimate or shady outfits, especially those that have sprung to life only during the election seasons.
Whether they “lagged behind” or  were “leading”, the results of these “surveys” do not necessarily spell doomsday or ensure a victory for any candidate during the day of reckoning.
If the results say candidate so and so is trailing by a certain percentage, it’s only tantamount to a mosquito bite with no immediate life-threatening harm.
If the results show a certain candidate is “winning by a wide margin”, it’s only equivalent to a Shiatsu massage in a candidate’s ego with no actual majestic trip to Shangri-La.
There were cases though when bogus surveys yielded positive results for narcissistic or egomaniac bets especially if the other camp doesn’t do its homework and are snoring during the frenetic mind game.
This is where a mosquito bite can be fatal and deadly.

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In fact, surveys–legit or not–are sometimes being utilized only by political spin doctors and PR wheeler dealers working for one candidate to out-psych the rivals.
In some cases, candidates who get favorable results or who stand to benefit from the lutong Macao survey had no idea or were never tipped off by their handlers who egregiously hammered out the inside job.
It’s actually done as a form of mind-conditioning.
Some undecided voters would cast their lot with the “sure winners” (based on the surveys) even if they would have chosen another candidates–on the second thought–if they weren’t influenced by the pesky surveys.
I’ve been covering local and national elections since after democracy was restored in the Philippines these past 30 years, and I could count only with my fingers candidates who emerged victorious after “topping” the surveys.
Most of these survey “winners” who had no inkling whether the surveys were meant for their self aggrandizement or really commissioned by independent professional groups, nearly suffered a heart attack when the election results showed they were waylaid by a mile.

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The late Timoteo “Nene” Consing always made Mansueto Malabor eat the dust in various surveys during the mayoral contest in Iloilo City in 1992, but Malabor routed him in the actual election.
Former assemblyman Salvador “Buddy” Britanico clobbered the late former justice secretary Raul Gonzalez in the “surveys” for congressman in Iloilo City’s lone district in 1998, but the former tanodbayan trounced him in the homestretch.
Danding Cojuangco was one of the topnotchers in as far as “winners” in the elections were concerned.
In the 1992 presidential elections, the former Marcos crony “beat” Fidel V. Ramos, the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ramon Mitra, Jovito Salonga, and Imelda Marcos in various dizzying surveys that popped out left and right weeks before the election day.
Joe De Venecia, who never lost in “surveys” for president in 1998, lost by six million votes to Erap Estrada.
The late Fernando Poe Jr. routed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in various surveys  but lost by a small margin during the 2014 presidential contest.
For the May 2019 bets, focus on your campaign and wait until after the biggest and final “survey” which is hours after all the ballots have been counted.

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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Segovia’s resignation is right

“I think my resignation was the only way to avoid bloodshed.”

–Eduard Shevardnadze

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — After her much-publicized quarrel with Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas recently, Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc. (IDFI) vice president Marissa Segovia made the right decision to tender her “irrevocable” resignation.
They may say she was only carried by her emotions and made the decision to quit “on the spur of the moment” being a woman.
But it’s difficult to fix a glass that has been cracked especially if the tiff was tainted with a political undertone.
Treñas reportedly lashed at the businesswoman during a meeting of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation on Feb. 14, blaming her for not inviting him to the Dinagyang Festival last month.
Treñas and Segovia are not strangers to each other.
They were good friends.
And also their respective families.
They worked together not only to achieve IDFI goals and commitment to public when Treñas was city mayor from 2001 to 2010, but also to help buttress the good standing of the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) in the Ilonggo community where Segovia was also an executive.

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Segovia decided to quit from the IDFI but did not issue any statement to the media ostensibly after “being humiliated” by the congressman’s alleged unexpected verbal assault.
If not for politics, there would have been no “heated” confrontation that hurt Segovia and forced her to call it a day.
If not for politics, no one would have raised a whimper that he was left out in the proper protocol for an important event.
Politics smeared their friendship.
Treñas is running again for city mayor versus Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, Segovia’s other friend, in the May 2019 elections.
If Treñas will win, Segovia will be in a very uncomfortable situation running the affairs of the foundation with her “tormentor” at the helm.
And if Treñas will use his power and influence to scrutinize or audit IDFI’s financial records, she will have to belabor painstakingly even if they weren’t hiding something.
The mental and emotional stress may not be necessary and good for Segovia, who is highly respected in the business community.

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Meanwhile, no one has owned up to the snafu especially as to why Treñas was not officially invited.
What ensued next was finger-pointing and offensive justifications from IDFI president Ramon Cua Locsin, who made all the explanation–not particularly in defense of Segovia–but to inform the public they were running the foundation well and shouldn’t be held accountable for sidestepping some VIPs during the occasion, stressing that the responsibility had already been delegated to the city mayor.
Locsin made a lengthy elucidation like he himself was involved in the fracas.
In a statement distributed to media, Locsin stressed: “We believe that we have discharged our duties fairly and judiciously for the successful conduct of the Dinagyang Festival, and we hope that this will end the controversy raised by those whose self-interest could trivialize the achievements of the Iloilo Dinagyang Festival and IDFI.”
He added: “IDFI has always acted with good faith in dealing with all partners of the festival. This is a major factor for the high trust rating of the public in IDFI. This is also the basis of Ms. Segovia’s statement during one of her interviews that Cong. Treñas was invited in the festivities. The City Mayor was also consistent in his interviews that everyone was welcome.”

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

‘Don’t make assumptions’

“We only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. We don’t perceive things the way they are. We have the habit of dreaming with no basis in reality. We literally dream things up in our imaginations. Because we don’t understand something, we make an assumption about the meaning, and when the truth comes out, the bubble of our dream pops and we find out it was not what we thought it was at all.”

— DON MIGUEL RUIZ

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Let me share an ancient Toltec wisdom in a book that offers a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love, as it reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and creates needless suffering.

I chose the the number three of the Four Agreements as the title of this story because I notice that this is where we normally succumb when communication bogs down, and when we make a mistake of magnifying unimportant happenings into major events resulting in sadness and drama.
Author Don Miguel Ruiz warns that “we have the tendency to make assumptions about everything, and the problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real.”
We make assumptions about what others are doing and thinking–we take it personally–then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word.
Whenever we make assumptions, we are asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama for nothing.
We create a lot of emotional poison just by making assumptions and taking it personally, because usually we start gossiping about our assumptions, Silva observes.

GOSSIPING

He counsels: “Remember, gossiping is the way we communicate to each other in the dream of hell and transfer poison to one another. Because we are afraid to ask clarifications, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong.
The author warned: “It is always better to ask questions than to make an assumption, because assumptions set us up for suffering.”
All the sadness and drama we have lived in our lives was rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally. Our whole dream of hell is based on that.
The teachings in the Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz, were based on Toltec knowledge, which arises from the same essential unity of truth as all the sacred esoteric foundations found around the world.
The Four Agreements are:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

SPIRITUAL

“Though it is not a religion, it honors all the spiritual masters who have taught on earth,” according to Ruiz. “While it does embrace spirit, it is most accurately described as a way of life, distinguished by the ready accessibility of happiness and love.”
Anthropologists have spoken of the Toltec as a nation or race, but, in fact, Silva explains, the Toltec were scientists and artists who formed a society to explore and conserve the spiritual knowledge and practices of the ancient ones.
They came together as masters (naguals) and students at Teotihuacan, the ancient city of pyramids outside Mexico City known as the place where “Man Becomes God.”
Over the millennia, stresses Silva, the naguals were forced to conceal the ancestral wisdom and maintain its existence in obscurity.
“European conquest, coupled with rampant misuse of personal power by a few of the apprentices, made it necessary to shield the knowledge from those who were not prepared to use it wisely or who might intentionally misuse it for personal gain,” Silva points out.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Is Mr. Leung still alive?

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

We suffered worst than Rappler’s Maria Ressa

“When the public’s right to know is threatened, and when the rights of free speech and free press are at risk, all of the other liberties we hold dear are endangered.” 

— Christopher Dodd

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — Rappler’s Maria Ressa and her writer Reynaldo Santos Jr. have posted a bail of P100,000 each before the Manila Regional Trial Court for their temporary liberty in a cyber libel case the Department of Justice (DOJ) had “revived” for an on-line article written in 2012 that “maligned” businessman Wilfredo Keng.
In Iloilo City in the Philippines in 1999 or 20 years ago, I posted a total bail of P380,000 for the incredible 38 counts of libel cases filed by former Councilor Ramon Cua Locsin and the late Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) revenue district officer Godofredo San Jose Jr.
Our late publisher Marcos “Mark” Villalon and columnist Wenceslao Mateo Jr., my co-accused, posted the same amount each.
The libel cases first stemmed from an article written by Mr. Mateo in Sun.Star Iloilo Daily about Locsin’s purported “conflict of interest” in relation to the purchase of a lot for the relocation of several displaced squatters in Brgy. So-oc, Molo district.
In Mr. Mateo’s analysis, Locsin’s firm appeared to gain benefit once the purchase would materialize.
Instead of disputing Mr. Mateo or writing a “letter-to-the editor” like what other forlorn public officials normally do in a similar situation, Locsin filed a libel case.

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Like Ressa, who did not write the story about Keng, publisher Villalon and this writer were included in the charge sheet as publisher and editor-in-chief, respectively.
Reporters Ednalyn Belonio, Ruby Silubrico, and Lorelie Panes were initially included in the first wave of the case, but they were dropped in the succeeding cases, which arrived like a torrent of hurricane in an unprecedented volume.
Mr. San Jose entered the picture after Silubrico wrote a story about an incident in the jampacked SM City food court, where he was accused of tossing a P500 bill on a table occupied by several reporters, including this writer, who were there to cover the BIR’s official receipts raffle promo.
I ordered two of the reporters, Fernando “Kapid” Gabio and Francis Terania, to immediately return the money to Mr. San Jose. We also reported the incident in the Mandurriao Police Station.
Mr. San Jose, who was frequently visited by reporters in his BIR office, according to him, was infuriated. He insisted one of the reporters who sat on the table was the one who demanded money from him earlier. When ribbed, he couldn’t identify the reporter.

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Then Bombo Radyo “Zona Libre” anchor and now Aksyon Radyo station manager John Paul Tia arranged a one-on-one joust between Mr. San Jose and this writer in his night program, where I politely reminded Mr. San Jose the SM City food court incident was the first time I ever met him personally; I went there to honor his invitation in a letter sent to our office a week earlier.
Mr. San Jose’s libel case had been knocked out in the prosecutor’s office.
Interestingy–and scandalously, all of the libel cases filed by Councilor Locsin had been “whisked” with mind-boggling alacrity and dispatch by the prosecutor’s office to the trial court!
To add insult and mystery, most of the “libelous” articles were blind items written by different authors. Could malice, a main ingredient in a libel case, be proven in blind items? Whoa.
While the cases were in progress, we endured the hate and insult from our adversaries and their allies who couldn’t bring us down to our knees.
It took five years since the cases were raffled off for trial to the different branches in the Hall of Justice from 1999 to 2004 when all the cases were finally dismissed: 38-0!
More than the triumph for press freedom, the episode exposed the inherent incompetence and corruption behind the characters responsible for elevating the cases to the trial court when they should have been dismissed in the prosecution level for being insubstantial and infirm in nature.

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Ressa and Santos will be arraigned next month. They both have received tremendous moral support and otherwise from various media organizations in the Philippines and abroad.
Their supporters think Ressa and Santos, especially Rappler, are being “persecuted” owing to their rift with President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Most of their colleagues and sympathizers view DOJ’s filing of the case and the subsequent NBI arrest to be an act to stifle the freedom of the press and expression.
There were those who argue, especially President Duterte’s allies, that the president had nothing to do with the case filed by Keng, who is a private businessman
As long as democracy is alive and won’t be raped by a despotic rule, Ressa, Santos, and the Rappler will be able to surmount this crisis.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Ilonggos’ hospitality is tourism’s No. 1 promoter

“We didn’t invent anything new. Hospitality has been around forever.”

— Joe Gebbia

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — We can hold the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City in the Philippines multiple times in one year to attract tourists from all corners of the globe, but if we have a lousy hospitality, tourism will stagnate if not nosedive.
As an annual cultural and religious event held in the fourth week of January each year, the Dinagyang Festival has already captured the world’s imagination what with the digital media technology aside from the Dinagyang ati tribe’s consistent international rendezvous these past seven years, helping provide a colossal publicity and massive promotional tableau.
Dinagyang Festival has reached its peak in as far as universal recognition is concerned.
It is primarily well-advertised there in the Youtube, lionized and chronicled heavily in international journals and flight magazines, and is known all over the social media.
What the stakeholders, led by our officials from the Iloilo City Government, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Provincial Government of Negros, Guimaras, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, and Capiz should do now is strengthen the infrastructure and the backbones of Iloilo City and the Western Visayas’ tourism programs.

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This can be done by encouraging investors to build more hotels and resorts, and other entertainment hubs all over Panay Island and Western Visayas, or within the tourism belts where tourism spots are located like in Carles, Iloilo; Anini-y, Antique; Caticlan, Aklan; Pan-ay, Capiz; the island province of Guimaras; Talisay City, Cadiz City, Mambukal, among other known tourist spots in Negros Occidental.
There should be regular trade missions abroad to be participated by the regional provincial governments akin to the trade and economic mission undertaken by the Iloilo City Government in the East Coast in the United States in June 2018.
We should also invest more on the manpower and hospitality by recruiting tourism personnel and train them to become effective tourism ambassadors.
These tourism emissaries must see to it that each year when tourists from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Europe arrive for the Dinagyang Festival as well as other similar festivals and events in Iloilo City and in other parts of Western Visayas, these tourists must have the reason to come back or invite, motivate, and bring their fellow nationals.

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It has been proven that tourists are encouraged to come back when they feel a certain extraordinary warmth and peaceful climate even if they are not so head-over-heels by the local festivals and events.
When they see amiable and smiling faces and local folks who can easily and effectively communicate in English, the tourism destination becomes a second priority.
In a sustained tourism promotion, there is no substitute for hospitality.
And we have abundance of it.
When the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), led by Governor Thawatchai Arunyik, conceptualized the “Amazing Thailand” and promoted it internationally in 2015, it was supplemented by a “Discover Thainess” campaign.
The campaign incorporated the “twelve values” that Thai junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wanted all Thais to practice.
Due to the “Discover Thainess” campaign, Thai tourism officials foresee a large increase in tourist numbers even as Ms Somrudi Chanchai, director of the TAT Northeastern Office, has forecast that tourists to her Isan region will increase by 27.9 million visitors and thus generate an expected 65 billion baht in revenue.
We can generate more funds in tourism, and with our vast resources and God-given natural wonders and sparkling destinations, the sky is the limit.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Ilonggo journalists fight hard to decriminalize libel

“If you call your opponent a politician, it’s grounds for libel.”

–Mark Russell

By Alex P. Vidal50497947_10213293970086650_8339189084090007552_n

NEW YORK CITY — In a democratic state like the Philippines, onion-skinned politicians and other known enemies of press freedom use the libel case to harass and intimidate practicing journalists.
They are aware that libel is a criminal offense, thus punishable by fine and imprisonment under the Philippine jurisprudence.
They aren’t actually after the fine.
Most of them want to see the journalists who have “offended” or “defamed” them go to jail.
That’s the bone of their contention; that’s what they want to happen.
Most of them think sending a journalist to jail via the libel case is already tantamount to “avenging” against the journalist’s critical newspaper articles and commentaries.
No normal human being, including a journalist, would want to go to jail.
However, we prefer being charged in court (which they refer to as “the proper forum”) than being murdered.
The Philippines, after all, is the most dangerous country in Asia for journalists, according to the media watchdogs.
It’s actually the biggest cemetery in the world for members of the Fourth Estate based on statistics on media killings.

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Going to jail for a libel case filed by a public official, so far, hasn’t caused any iota of fear and embarrassment to any journalist who is merely doing his job.
When we are arrested and manacled, it’s not because we committed a heinous crime or stole a neighbor’s wallet.
It’s because we made somebody, who has very poor understanding and appreciation of the nature of our profession, mad.
It’s because somebody doesn’t have the delicadeza misusing the public funds, using public office for advancement of his whims and caprices, and for engaging in transactions and activities inimical to public interest.
After being charged for libel and spending a few hours or days in jail, a Filipino journalist, in many cases, becomes a celebrity and hailed as a hero of press freedom; he gets invitations left and right to speak about the hazards of his profession in universities and other gatherings.
The politicians who filed the libel case become the objects of derision and public contempt.
If a public official’s attention is being called over a possible impropriety while in public office, he must submit to the critical news or commentary however bombastic may be the method used by the press, as long as it doesn’t breach the public official’s private life.
This hinges on the principle that a public office is a public trust.

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It’s because of the libel case’s imprisonment clause why we, the Ilonggo community journalists, as well as our colleagues in other parts of the Philippines, have been in the front-line campaigning since after the EDSA Revolution or during the time of President Corazon Aquino to decriminalize libel.
Our campaign in the period between 1989 until 1998 and most recently, included regularly pressing during chance “ambush” interviews and press conferences former senators Joey Lina, the late Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Nikki Coseteng, the late Raul Roco, among other national legislators to pass a bill in congress to make a drastic change for libel law in the Philippine penal code.
No political figure has publicly said no and they all promised to initiate steps to decriminalize libel.
Until now, however, their promises have remained a promise.
Until our colleague, Maria Ressa, chief executive officer of the confrontational Rappler, was recently arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila for cyber libel case, another libel dog with a different collar.
We are confident Ms Ressa will be able to survive this latest attempt to gag and muzzle the press in the Philippines.
No matter how they try to camouflage the issue, it’s a clear case of harassment and intimidation.
We shall continue to advocate for the change of the libel law in the Philippines, and to vigorously fight for press freedom even under a despotic regime with low regard for freedom of the press and expression.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Uncategorized