Monthly Archives: June 2019

Gov. Toto Defensor’s ‘social justice’

“There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”

–Fidel Castro

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

THE presence of billionaire industrialist Enrique Razon during the oath-taking ceremony of newly-elected officials in Iloilo Province at the Iloilo capitol lobby June 28, was timely and expedient.
In the world of philanthropy where Mr. Razon belongs, the phrase “social justice” is very relevant and is heard a lot.
Iloilo Governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr. vowed to serve the province of Iloilo based on “social justice” in a speech during the oath-taking ceremony administered by Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza.
Social justice is originally a Catholic term, first used about 1840 for a new kind of virtue (or habit) necessary for post-agrarian societies.
The term has been bent by secular “progressive” thinkers to mean uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages. It is really the capacity to organize with others to accomplish ends that benefit the whole community.
If people are to live free of state control, they must possess this new virtue of cooperation and association.
This is one of the great skills of Americans and, ultimately, the best defense against statism, according to Michael Novak, George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy.


According to the United Nations, “Social justice may be broadly understood as the fair and compassionate distribution of the fruits of economic growth.”
Social justice refers to a concept in which equity or justice is achieved in every aspect of society rather than in only some aspects or for some people.
A world organized around social justice principles affords individuals and groups fair treatment as well as an impartial share or distribution of the advantages and disadvantages within a society.
Formal definitions for social justice vary in wording, but there are commonalities among them. 1. Equal rights 2. Equal opportunity and 3. Equal treatment
Although he admitted that “I can not do it alone,” the new governor appealed to all: “Please join us in implementing programs that uplift lives such as those of our farmers and fisherfolk. Please join us in improving the barangays, in sharing the wealth and resources of the province. There can be no justice without peace, so please continue to help us.”


Social justice includes a vision of a society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. (Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell, Griffin, 2nd ed., Routledge 2007)
The absence of social justice results in social oppression.
Racism, sexism, ageism, classism, ableism, and heterosexism are some forms of social oppression in society.
Societies and individuals form hierarchies of oppression in which certain types of oppression are addressed and others are not.
Oppression of certain groups or individuals can result in social or legal exclusion, discrimination, inequitable distribution of resources, and emotional and physical consequences.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 30, 2019 in Uncategorized


Theory of the Four Humors

“I think there’s a general misconception that anything written quickly lacks quality, and I don’t believe that.” 

— Michael Connelly

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

The celebrated Greek doctor Hippocrates postulated that all human emotions flowed from four bodily fluids, or humors: blood (which makes us cheerful and passionate), yellow bile (which makes us hot-tempered), black bile (which makes us depressed), and phlegm (which makes us sluggish or stoic).
Though the good doctor’s humors have given behavioral scientists a nice structure for examining personality types (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic), the idea that our bodily fluids makes us angry, depressed, or elated died out in the 1800s.


According to The Fascinating Book of History, the withering of the Hippocratic belief in humors proved to be good news for patients who were not thrilled with the practice of bloodletting, a process of opening a patient’s veins to lower blood levels in an attempt to bring the humors into balance and cure all manner of mental and physical ills.

Bloodletting, with a knife or with leeches, was an accepted medical practice from the times of the Greeks, Mayans, and Mesopotamians.
It was going strong at the end of the 18th century, when George Washington had almost two liters of blood let out to cure a throat infection. He died shortly afterward.
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in Uncategorized


Ilonggo ‘soldiers’ recruited for ‘Maharlika Tribes’ force

“The way that people dress makes them part of an army, dressed in their own uniform, determined to do something.” 

–Suzy Menkes

By Alex P. Vidal

60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_nBEFORE Chief Supt. John Bulalacao leaves the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6), he should enlighten the Ilonggos if the recent alleged “massive” recruitment of Ilonggos in Calinog, Iloilo supposedly for enlistment in the armed forces of the “Royal Maharlika Tribes 1-Nation” was legal and authorized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army.
Sources said the the group has been recruiting “soldiers” from Mindanao and in some parts of the Visayas; and, recently, it recruited several Ilonggos in Calinog, Iloilo.
The recruits filled up an application form with a sub-title of “Panay Tribal Governance for Self-Determination and Empowerment” and “Rajahnate of Panay.”
Are we being governed by another sovereign state right in our own independent civilian republic?
Are the police and military authorities keeping a blind eye on this supposed enlistment in a private army?


The recruited soldiers supposedly will serve for the Royal Maharlika Federal Force with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Registration No. CN201730139 and Tax Identification Number (TIN) 009-809-228.
Sources also obtained a document showing the group’s main headquarters is in Country Homes Ayala Subdivision, Zamboanga City and is headed by Bae Putri Princess Fatimah Hassah Dominguez, Princess Rajanahnate of Panai.
If the Royal Maharlika Tribes 1-Nation is legal, is the recruitment of soldiers for its “federal force” also legal and authorized?
Is the Royal Maharlika Federal Force authorized under the Philippine law to arm its recruits?
If not, then why was the group allowed to recruit in Iloilo without any supervision from the PNP and Philippine Army?
Or why they weren’t subdued and arrested?


It’s over.
As expected, the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation Inc. (IDFI) headed by Ramon Cua Locsin, will be phased out in favor of the Iloilo City Festivals Foundation Inc. (ICFF), which will be created under the new administration of Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas.
Aside from Treñas’ spat with resigned IDFI vice president Marissa Segovia when the incoming city mayor complained in January this year that he was not invited in the annula festival, it’s a common knowledge that Locsin openly campaigned for Treñas’s rival, his own bilas, Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa in the recent midterm elections.
Locsin, for his part, gambled not only his friendship with Treñas, but also IDFI’s “lucrative” enterprise when he opted to support Espinosa.
It would have been “happy days are still with us” had Espinosa won.
New York Senator William L. Marcy once declared, “To the victor belongs the spoils,” referring to the victory of Andrew Jackson in the US election of 1828.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 25, 2019 in Uncategorized


IT ecozone is pride of Ilonggos

“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.” 

–Bill Gates

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

IF there is one thing Ilonggos should be proud of when President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed a proclamation creating an Information Technology Center Special Economic Zone in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, is it’s a first in the Philippines.
Special economic zones (SEZ), or the ECOZONES, are defined in the Republic Act No. 7916 or The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 as “selected areas with highly developed or which have the potential to be developed into agro-industrial, industrial tourist/recreational, commercial, banking, investment and financial centers.”
Information Technology (IT), which probably still did not have a special appeal from SEZ framers when the law was enacted, is now making a debut; and it’s happening in Iloilo City.
An ECOZONE may contain any or all of the following: industrial estates (IEs), export processing zones (EPZs), free trade zones, and tourist/recreational centers.
When the law was enacted, Iloilo was not even included as among the cities and provinces in the Philippines identified as ECOZONES in a system of prioritization for viability and geographic dispersal.


In order to be established as an ECOZONE, an area must be subjected to the evaluation and recommendation of the PEZA, based on a detailed feasibility and engineering study which must conform to several criteria.
Those included, among other cities, municipalities, and provinces were “portions” of Morong, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Orani, Samal, and Abucay in the Province of Bataan; municipalities of Ibaan, Rosario, Taysan, San Jose, San Juan, and cities of Lipa and Batangas; City of Cagayan de Oro in the Province of Misamis Oriental; City of Iligan in the Province of Lanao del Norte; Province of Saranggani; City of Laoag in the Province of Ilocos Norte.
Also, Davao City and Samal Island in the Province of Ilocos Norte; Oroquieta City in the Province of Misamis Occidental; Tubalan Cove, Malita in the Province of Davao del Sur; portion of Baler, Dinalungan and Casiguran including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs in the Province of Aurora.
The portions of cities of Naga and Iriga in the Province of Camarines Sur, Legaspi and Tabaco in the Province of Albay, and Sorsogon in the Province of Sorsogon; Bataan Island in the province of Batanes; Lapu-lapu in the Island of Mactan, and the municipalities of Balamban and Pinamungahan and the cities of Cebu and Toledo and the Province of Cebu, including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs.


Also, Tacloban City; Municipality of Barugo in the Province of Leyte; Municipality of Buenavista in the Province of Guimaras; municipalities of San Jose de Buenavista, Hamtic, Sibalom, and Culasi in the Province of Antique; municipalities of Catarman, Bobon and San Jose in the Province of Northern Samar, the Island of Samar.
Municipality of Ternate and its immediate environs in the Province of Cavite; Polloc, Parang in the Province of Maguindanao; Municipality of Boac in the Province of Marinduque; Municipality of Pitogo in the Province of Zamboanga del Sur; Dipolog City-Manukan Corridor in the Province of Zamboanga del Norte; Mambajao, Camiguin Province; Infanta, Real, Polillo, Alabat, Atimonan, Mauban, Tiaong, Pagbilao, Mulanay, Tagkawayan, and Dingalan Bay in the Province of Quezon.
Butuan City and the Province of Agusan del Norte, including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs; Roxas City including its territorial waters and islets and its immediate environs in the Province of Capiz.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 25, 2019 in Uncategorized


City hall’s wheel of fortune

“There’s still is a status-quo group at City Hall who likes things done the old way, behind closed doors.”

–Laura Miller

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

THE wheels of political fortune will always favor those who are allied with the winners.
Did we say nobody loves a loser?
In a sudden twist of fate, one of the executive assistants asked by Mayor Joe “Joe III” Espinosa, through his right hand, Rommel “Jojo” Castro, to resign in March 2018, will take back his portfolio as city administrator when Rep. Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas assumes as the new city mayor on July 1, 2019.
Melchor Tan, who served as city administrator when Treñas was mayor in 2001 until 2010, will replace lawyer Hernando Galvez, city administrator since the term of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog.
Tan and five other Treñas acolytes– Abel Alejano, Boyet Rico, Irene Ong, Mitch Antiqueña and Roy Firmeza–quit during the Espinosa administration after Castro asked them to resign “if they couldn’t prioritize their City Hall tasks over their other concerns outside City Hall.”
They quit, disappeared from public scene for a while, planned their resurrection, and resurfaced when the Bastille has been recaptured.

-o0o-The city administrator is the most powerful person in the city mayor’s office.
He is in charge of all the appointing papers of casual employees and reviews the executive orders, among his other major functions.
Will it be Tan’s turn to ask Castro and other city hall big guns who feverishly campaigned openly for Mayor Joe III in the recent elections to resign?
Castro, city engineer Bobby Divinagracia, Vincent Dela Cruz were among those who are reportedly “heading for the chopping block” when the Treñas administration takes over next month.
If they are protected by the civil service law, the least that Administrator Tan can do is to reassign them, a euphemism for demotion.
It would be a violation of their rights if they’re dismissed mainly because they were identified with the Team Joe III in the recent polls.


Castro, et al may have already known their fate and are not expecting a walk in the rose garden starting next month even if they can still retain their jobs.
For being loyal to his boss and for “only doing his job,” Castro became the incoming administration’s most favorite punching bag and has been placed in the center of storm in city hall’s forthcoming “house cleansing.”
Many casual workers who lost their jobs during Mayor Joe III’s brief reign are also sharpening their knives against Castro.
But Castro, in fairness to the man, was only doing what his boss Mayor Joe III was asking him to do.
Castro, a sports buff, shouldn’t be singled out during the Joe III administration’s “Reign of Terror” that resulted in the casuals’ “mass slaughter” as his role was only to implement or facilitate the orders from the big boss.
For his part, Mayor Joe III shouldn’t abandon his wounded soldiers.
Although it is not anymore his responsibility to feed and clothe the adults after they have been vanquished, Mayor Joe III, at least, still have the moral obligation to make sure Castro, et al won’t be stripped of their dignities and livelihood.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 23, 2019 in Uncategorized


Dinagyang, Manggahan NYC parade facilitator is Fil-Am mag’s cover story

“In a magazine, one can get – from cover to cover – 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it.” -Maya Angelou

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEGROS-born Josephine “Joji” Jalandoni, main facilitator in the participation of Iloilo City’s Dinagyang Festival and Guimaras’ Manggahan Festival in the annual Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City in 2018, is the cover story of The Fil-Am’s June 2019 (Issue 16).

The Fil-Am, founded by Cristina DC Pastor and published by A & V media, is a popular newsmagazine serving Filipino Americans in New York.

“When we think of the 55,000 Filipinos in New York City and the nearly 300,000 who live in the Tri-State of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut, we think of all the stories just waiting to be written. A wedding at St. Patrick’s, a cousin’s graduation at NYU, or

just playing tourist guide to folks back home who insist on lining up for Letterman,” screams the magazine’s on-line information.

The article, found on page 6 and 7, was written by the magazine’s founding editor Cristina DC Pastor, with a title: “How Joji Jalandoni brought Visayan street kids to NYC”.

Here’s the entire article:

Josephine ‘Joji’ Jalandoni grew up in Victorias Milling Company (VMC) in Negros Occidental–known as the “Sugarbowl of the Philippines”–where the landed families derived their affluence from sugar plantations. Sugar was one of the country’s top agricultural exports up until the 1980s, and the sugar cane farming families at the time were flush with cash.

Her father, Jose Jimenez Juele, a mechanical engineer known as Triple J, was one of the executives of VMC and Victorias International lnc. Her mother, Estrella Ebro Juele, was a high school teacher.

“Those were happy days growing up in Victorias Milling Company, the biggest refinery sugar central in the country. I grew up thinking sugar is free, that is, until I got to college,” reminisced Joji, a slight smile forming.

The sweet life

“Life in VMC was ideal we grew up feeling we were all part of one big happy family. My siblings and I, we are what we are because of the family values our parents instilled in us,” she said.

Her two sons — Jose Carlos and Jose Inigo — grew up nurtured in a loving home by an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles.

“They were raised instilled with the same core values espousing the importance of integrity, excellence and love of family,” she said. “I’m so proud of them.”

Joji, the second of five siblings attended St. Theresita’s Academy in Silay City, a school that produced good Catholic Ilonggas. She went to Silliman University in Dumaguete City for college, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

In New York, where the wings of fate had flown her, Joji found work in hospitals, gained experience and worked her way up through the ranks. She earned a master’s degree in Hospital Administration/Nurse Executive Program from Teachers College Columbia University. In the health facility where she now works, she holds the position of Infection Control and Prevention Associate Director, where her positive attitude, creative problem solving and professional skills make her highly effective in her role.

She became active in the Filipino community of New York despite the long hours she devoted to her work. She is a core member of the Philippine Nurses Association-NY from 2003 up to the present, and was president of the Silliman University Alumni Association from 2007-2009. With every organization she joined, she made sure she contributed to the goals of growing the membership, fundraising, developing young leaders, whatever the organization’s needs were.

The desire to “preserve and share” the rich Philippine traditions brought Joji to PIDCI or the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc.

“Through the 28 years of celebrating the commemoration, the New York festival has gained many reputations, foremost of which is it is the largest celebration of Philippine Independence in the world, larger even than that held annually in the Philippines,” she said. “It takes almost a year to organize.”

She remembered how, in the beginning of her involvement with PIDCI, she rode the Nursing Float. “We won Best Float. The next thing I knew I was one of the volunteers, became one of the Board Directors, vice president, and acting president in the latter half of 2009.”


PIDCI president


In 2011, she was elected PIDCI president and served for a year. It presented, for Joji, a platform to bring the Dinagyang of Iloilo and the Manggahan of Guimaras to perform at the Independence Day parade. She first invited the Dinagyang in 2011 and for three more years after that. In 2018, the Dinagyang and Manggahan dance troupes joined forces to bring color and cadence to Madison Avenue. About 70 young Filipinos dressed in the costumes of their regions danced to Ati-Atihan beat, energizing the parade as FilAms, watching on the streets, cheered and rocked to the beat. Clearly, a day bursting with ethnic pride.

While it was Joji who facilitated the kids’ travel to the U.S., there would be additional responsibilities, such as finding homes that would welcome them and sponsors who would provide meals and sightseeing trips.

“The Ilonggo community rose to the challenge,” she said. “From chaperoning these kids to providing them with hot meals and their favorite chocolates, these generous patrons made sure that these young kids’ dream of seeing New York City becomes a reality even for just a moment in time.”

Through the “gargantuan feat,” Joji was recognized by The Outstanding Filipinos in America as a 2018 honoree in the field of Arts & Culture.


How did she do it?


With a lot of faith in her network of friends, family, community leaders, and some government and local officials.

Asked why and Joji looks back to a time when she was a young student in the province, and life was rich with promising opportunities.

“The street kids and students of Dinagyang and Manggahan are kids of farmers,” she mused. “Yes, they will be all professionals of their chosen careers, and one day as parents, grandparents, titos and titas will have stories to share about how once upon a time they had visited Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and watched Broadway shows like ‘Peter Pan, Finding Neverland.’ These adventures opened their eyes that there is a big world out there full of possibilities and opportunities.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 21, 2019 in Uncategorized


Don’t punish pedestrians for Diversion Road tragedy

“If a neighbor is killed in a car accident, do you sell your car and stop driving?”
–Mario Andretti

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

WE join the Department of Education (DepEd) community in Iloilo City in mourning the macabre deaths of couple Joe Marie Osano and his wife Alnie Dinah, who were hit by a speeding white Mazda MX5 sports car driven by 32-year-old balikbayan, June Paul Valencia, while crossing the pedestrian lane along Diversion Road in Mandurriao district at around six o’clock in the morning on June 15.
Freak accidents like what happened in the Diversion Road normally happen if:
-the driver is under the influence of alcohol or illegal substance;
-there is zero visibility caused by a bad weather;
-the car is overspeeding and tries to beat the red light;
-the speeding car loses its brake;
-the speeding car’s driver is inexperienced;
-the pedestrians, in this case the victims, commit a jaywaking or run across the highway without noticing an onrushing wayward vehicle;
-both the pedestrians and speeding vehicle are caught in an awkward circumstance and get waylaid by an emergency firetruck, patrol car, or ambulance.


Based on eyewitness accounts and initial police investigations, the bloody mishap occurred after Valenica’s car overtook a pick-up truck driven by Allan Calunsod.
Osano, 45, principal of La Paz II Elementary School, was dragged by the killer car several meters from the pedestrian lane, while Dinah, 36, a teacher at Ticud (La Paz) Elementary School, was flown away.
They both suffered serious body and head injuries and were declared dead on arrival at the hospital.
Valencia, who surrendered after the mishap, was able to post a bail of P60,000 for his temporary freedom.
Police charged him with reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and double homicide.


Grief and sorrows almost became endless in the educational and sports institutions where the couple belonged.
Social media were immediately flooded with stories that chronicled the kind of life they lived and how they were hailed by their co-workers, students, and their community.
Truly, based on how their colleagues and loved ones lament their “untimely” loss, they have left a vacuum no one among their ilk can fill in immediately.
They were “too young to die,” their co-teachers sobbed.
“They were active sports enthusiasts and role models in physical education,” bemoaned city officials led by Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa and congresswoman-elect Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda, who had a chance to work with the couple in various community-based projects.
The shocking accident prompted city officials to call for reforms in the traffic system and to hack out “long-term solutions” and safety measures in order to avert a similar mishap in the future.


Among those being proposed by incoming mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas in a recent meeting with officials of the city’s Public Safety and Transportation and Management Office (PSTMO) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Iloilo City District Engineering Office, were: closing of the U-turn where the mishap happened; and putting up of grills from the area where the accident occurred up to SM City Iloilo to prevent pedestrians from crossing the avenue.
They are also eyeing the placing of rumble strips a few meters before and after pedestrian lanes.
Also, all traffic aides will be asked to do the following: guide joggers at the Iloilo Esplanade; report for work at five o’clock in the morning instead of the current eight o’clock in the morning; assist all pedestrian lanes on the avenue.
City Hall is also calling for strict enforcement of the 60 kph speed limit; violators will be arrested and penalized; and jaywalkers will be apprehended and fined.
We only hope that all these “reforms”, reinforcement and revitalization of old traffic ordinances and guidelines won’t end up as a ningas cogon and forgotten after several months.
The pedestrians, on the other hand, must not be punished as a result of one bloody mishap no one had wanted to happen.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 19, 2019 in Uncategorized


Gloria giving Ilonggos false hopes on airport ‘expansion’

“Everything is possible, from angels to demons to economists and politicians.”

–Paulo Coelho

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

WHEN politicians like Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo talk, we should always remember not believe everything hook, line, and sinker.
Look what they did to the proposed Iloilo-Guimars-Negros bridge.
They allowed politicians to announce it in public and created a stir by “confirming” that the bridge’s construction would start in 2018.
We are now in the second quarter of 2019 and the last time we heard about the multi-billion project was “its feasibility study is ongoing.”
Going back to the proposed Iloilo Airport expansion as announced two weeks ago by Speaker Arroyo, who was in Iloilo for the blessing and inauguration of a new hotel.
If you listen to the former president, the Iloilo Airport expansion project, which would cost about P700 million, will start soon.
What and when is soon?
2019? 2020?
Or after the expiration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term in 2022?


Politicians, in order to score pogi points, always conveniently hide in the comfort of the word “soon” in order to be safe just in case there will be delays, or whatever circumstance that might befall the projects they were trying to advertise ahead.
Mrs. Arroyo said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has already secured a signature from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to proceed with the needed expansion of the Iloilo International Airport, which opened its doors to commercial traffic on June 14, 2007 after a decade of planning and construction.
“With the signing of the CAAP Board Resolution granting the Original Proponent Status to the unsolicited proponent for the expansion of the Iloilo airport, the CAAP may now proceed subject the proposal to a Swiss Challenge,” she declared in an interview with Iloilo reporters.
“It is one step closer to bringing comfort, safety and convenience to one of the busiest airports in the country. Again my congratulations to CAAP.”


Okay. Securing a signature from the DILG could be a “crucial step” for the proposal to be forwarded to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), but if the project is not yet in NEDA’s radar and does not have funds as certified by the Department of Budget, and no concurrence from the Department of Transportation, it can never commence “soon.”
It will be another hopes against hope until delayed and eventually forgotten.
Mrs. Arroyo added: “The Iloilo Airport was built during my time as President in 2007 with a capacity of 1.2 million passengers a year. Now it is operating for 2.4 million passengers. Indeed an expansion is much needed.”
Arroyo made sure her name wouldn’t be forgotten when she disclosed she had conducted an oversight hearing at the Lower House on the Iloilo airport to determine the status of its expansion projects.
Her efforts reportedly “paved the way for the fast-tracking of the signing of the board resolution to start the process of approving its expansion.”
Pave the way, the magic sentence.
Nice, Madame Speaker.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in Uncategorized


A short-lived election victory

“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

–Tom Bodett

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

WHEN come-backing Janiuay, Iloilo mayor Frankie Locsin decided to run again in the recent May elections, he probably had no idea his appeal in his February 2015 Sandiganbayan conviction for graft would be denied by the Supreme Court.
Thus he suffered hypertension when National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents arrested him on June 3, 2019 and was rushed to the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao district in Iloilo City.
No one from among Locsin’s family and political team had expected the arrest to happen three weeks after he won back the mayoral post in the midterm elections.
Locsin, who had been semi-retired from politics, probably was prompted to run again when he had an inkling the Supreme Court wouldn’t give him a favorable verdict; or, he must’ve thought it was the best “remedy” for the time being.
Sadly, even his becoming mayor again didn’t save him from the higher court’s guillotine.


In a graft case that stemmed from medicine purchases of the local government of Janiuay using P15 million from Sen. Vicente Sotto’s Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) way back in 2001, Locsin and five others were found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic.
A supplier whose accreditation had been suspended by the Department of Health (DOH) and wasn’t supposed to be qualified in the bidding, cornered the multi-million medical supply contract.
The Sandiganbayan First Division also convicted Locsin’s co-accused Accountant Carlos Moreno Jr., Budget Officer Ramon Tirador, Treasurer Luzviminda Figueroa, Ricardo Minurtio, and businessman Rodrigo Villanueva.
They were sentenced to a jail term of from six to 10 years and perpetual disqualification from public office.
The Sandiganbayan had ordered arresting officers to bring Locsin to the anti-graft court based in Quezon City “as soon as possible, to be dealt with as the law and Rules of Court direct.”


There were three participants – AM Europharma Corp., Mallix Drug Center and Philpharmawealth Corp.–when a bidding was held on January 15, 2001.
Philpharmawealth, however, denied participating in such a bidding.
The Office of the Ombudsman, which investigated the transaction, noticed the apparent haste in the process when the P1.7-million purchase contract was awarded to Mallix Drug Center.
AM Europharma was awarded with a P13.1-million contract approved by Locsin. The medicines were immediately delivered the next day, Jan. 16, 2001.
Supply Officer II Gabriel Billena inspected the purchases which were fully paid on January 17, 2001.
The Ombudsman raised the red flag on the deal’s propriety after fing out that the heads of the AM Europharma Corp. and Mallix Drug Center were one and the same – Rod D. Villanueva.
Ombudsman noted that Villanueva was the sole proprietor of Mallix Drug Center and also the general manager and president of AM-Europharma.
“The Court finds…conspiracy between accused public officials (and) members of the municipal Committee on Awards of Janiuay…as shown by their respective signatures in the Minutes of Meetings which awarded the subject procurement of medicines in favor of AM Europharma and Mallix Drug which gave undue advantage to accused Rodrigo Villanueva, owner and proprietor of said companies,” part of the anti-graft court’s decision read.
The 34-page Sandiganbayan decision dated Feb. 23, 2015 was penned by Associate Justice Rodolfo Ponferrada and concurred by First Division Chairman Efren dela Cruz and Associate Justice Rafael Lagos.
The Sandiganbayan stated that “there was unanimity of purpose and intent on the part of said accused officials to consummate the said procurement in favor of accused Rodrigo Villanueva as shown by the undue haste that attended the delivery of the medicines and the speed with which the payments for the said medicines were made…and even without the latter or his companies posting the required 10 percent performance bond, knowing fully well that there was a failed bidding because of AM Europharma’s DOH suspended supplier’s accreditation, that the government was not able to secure the lowest possible price for the said bidders…”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Uncategorized


Ilonggos don’t love the underdogs?

“I like being the underdog so they don’t expect what’s going to happen. It pushes me to work harder and do the things I’m not doing better.”

–Kawhi Leonard

By Alex P. Vidal60336807_10214018136070347_8150589498095304704_n

NEW YORK CITY — THERE are probably more Ilonggos living in Oakland, California than in Toronto, Ontario, thus the Golden State Warriors apparently have more fans among the Ilonggo populace in both the United States and Canada compared to the Toronto Raptors.
We are supposed to be “lovers of the underdogs”, but we’ve noticed the Ilonggos are more agog over the Warriors, the defending champions, even if the Western Conference kings have already won the NBA Finals for several times in a row and the Raptors, the Eastern Conference heroes, are chasing history and currently the darling of the basketball world.
Even in the social media, the Warriors are very much hailed and cheered especially when they averted annihilation in Game 5 on June 10 with a nerve-tingling 106-105 win.
Many Filipinos fans rooting for both teams from the US and Canada are workers in the health industry–nurses, caregivers, doctors, physical therapists–or Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians who have been following the NBA games with passion and style for several years now. How exciting to read their debates and fierce discussions in the social media and in other communication platforms.
Basketball old-timers in Western Visayas, as a whole, also appear to be Warriors fans, including some politicians, local sports analysts, ordinary folks, and anchormen in leading radio stations chronicling the exciting best-of-seven finals.
May the best team win in Game 6 or Game 7, if necessary.


The original “Ilonggo Bikoy” was reportedly spotted again in Iloilo City weeks after his politician boss lost in the mayoral elections in Metro Manila.
The “Ilonggo Bikoy” is a well-connected mystery man. He has spilled the beans on so many high-profile personalities involved in illegal drugs.
Many of these high-profile personalities linked by this original “Ilonggo Bikoy” in illegal drugs are now either have been buried six feet below the ground, or have left Western Visayas and are now hiding in Metro Manila and Mindanao.
He is a friend of a balikbayan who recently lost in a local election in Iloilo City.
He is an admirer of former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada, who recently hogged headlines after being arrested for cyberlibel filed by Iloilo Governor Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr.
The “Ilonggo Bikoy” is being suspected as one of those who spread the canard that former Iloilo City mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog was involved in illegal drugs.
Former Western Visayas narcotics chief Genodepa of Guimbal, Iloilo knows this “Ilonggo Bikoy” very well.
I know him, too–also very well.


According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, one of the causes of Ernest Hemingway’s “deepest depression” was due to “Writer’s Block” which could happen to any writer.
When asked to write a speech for the inaugural of President JFK, Hemingway, America’s all-time best Nobel Prize in Literature winner, suffered a “Writer’s Block” and could not start a sentence.
Several days later, he shot himself to death with a shotgun!

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Uncategorized