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Did Fr. Boy Celis err?

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

–Saint Augustine

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Was the move of Fr. Espiridion “Boy” Celis Jr., parish priest of Saint Anne’s Parish in Molo, Iloilo City in the Philippines, of calling for a press conference to voice out his rancor with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, correct?
The press conference at the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) on November 28, 2017 came days after Bishop Lagdameo supposedly rejected Fr. Celis’ appeal to postpone his transfer to Saint Anthony’s Parish in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo effective December 3, 2017.
Fr. Celis lamented that his appeal during their private meeting “fell on deaf ears.”
Since the issue Fr. Celis raised against Bishop Lagdameo was intra-congregation, we suspect the move to call for a press conference was not only incorrect, but also a bad move.
We suspect Fr. Celis erred when he decided to bring the matter to the media instead of waiting for the result of his petition before the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, Italy.
We respect though Fr. Celis’ right to seek redress of his grievances in the “proper forum.”

-o0o-

Still, media can’t coax Bishop Lagdameo to change his heart. The glitzy publicity can’t swivel the bishop’s mind.
The public can’t help either. After monitoring the press conference, it can’t hold a “people power” to compel the bishop to favor Fr. Celis.
Any press conference of that nature, in fact, could produce a surfeit of belligerence, thus it would only exacerbate Fr. Celis’ enmity with the Jaro archbishop instead of appeasing the church bigwig.
The issue was about an edict for reshuffling of priests, which falls under the Roman Catholic Church authority.
In the church’s hierarchy and in its chain of command, Bishop Lagdameo is mandated to dispense the clergy’s reassignment.
Shall a professional police officer denounce his superior officer and get sympathy from the press for transferring him from one police precinct to another? If the police officer can’t stand the heat, he can always run to the kitchen’s nearest exit.

-o0o-
Fr. Celis was quoted in the report as saying that “I presented the case as plainly, as lovingly, as quietly as possible, and it was just explaining to him (Lagdameo) why it was important to let me stay with my parishioners (in Molo) for a while. But, unfortunately, (his) ears were closed.”
Fr. Celis added that he was prompted to bring the matter to the church’s higher authorities in Rome after he was allegedly “dared” by the archbishop to do it.
He also compared his predicament to the historical Jesus Christ, maltreated by his fellow Jews despite his goodness, according to report.
From the way Fr. Celis expressed his sentiments, it appeared he was already exasperated. After being spurned by Bishop Lagdameo in what could have been his last-ditch effort to save his present post, he probably became distraught and must’ve thought that, by bringing the matter to the media, it would, at least, mollify his pain and frustration.
Our heart goes out for the good priest who is arguably one of the most respected and highly admired church authorities in Western Visayas today.
Ignosce mihi, pater, quia peccavi or forgive me Father for I have sinned.

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in RELIGION

 

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How I met Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
–Lao Tzu

17155982_10208501843566482_1194099128936945_nBy Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — I first met Dr. Jed Patrick Mabilog in the early part of 2003 when he was introduced to me by Councilor Armand Parcon, my kumpare and former media colleague, in the ground floor coffee shop of Robinson’s Mall in Iloilo City.
I was standing when Parcon approached me and quipped, “Pre, I would like to introduce my friend, Jed Patrick Mabilog. He is from Molo (district). He can be a good material for city councilor. Let’s help him.”
Behind Parcon was a neatly dressed and pompadoured man with a soft voice. “Hi, kumusta? Ako gali si Jed (Hi, how are you? My name is Jed),” he enthused. We shook hands and talked briefly.
I was then active with the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) thus I wasn’t able to fulfill Councilor Parcon’s request for his friend other than asking my family to vote for Mabilog for city councilor.

FOUNDATION

It became moot and academic though as Mabilog, big boss of HALIGI Foundation, ran and won for city councilor in the general elections the following year, May 10, 2004.
From 2004 until 2007 when Mabilog completed his term in the city council, we never met again.
Our second meeting was in the candidates forum sponsored by Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo during the campaign period for the May 14, 2007 general elections.
I was one of the moderators in a “live” debate between vice mayoral candidates Jed Patrick Mabilog and Winston Porras, former chief of staff of Vice Mayor Victor Facultad.
Brilliant and quick-witted, Mabilog routed Porras, who happened to be my friend way back in the 90’s when Porras was legislative staff of then Councilor Victor Facultad and I was writing speeches for the late Councilor Eduardo Laczi and then Councilor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III (now the new Iloilo City mayor).
From 2007 until 2010 when Mabilog finished his term as vice mayor, I never met him again since that “live” radio debate.
Months before the May 10, 2010 elections, Mabilog, who became my Facebook friend, asked my opinion in a private message about his plan to run for city mayor against then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.

RECEIVE

I received Mabilog’s message while I was in Vancouver. I was totally unaware of what was going on in Philippine politics; I monitored only the news on the Internet.
The late Secretary Gonzalez and I never had a spat even if he sued our former colleague in Sun.Star, Nelson Robles, for “unjust vexation” over a series of blind items in 1996 when Gonzalez was congressman in the city’s lone district.
I answered Mabilog in the affirmative even if I doubted his chances against Iloilo City’s hitherto political Goliath, famous for tormenting his adversaries with the nerve-tingling “I will make life difficult for you” remark.
I missed the Mabilog-Gonzalez rivalry as a media practitioner; I missed the biggest election upset in the history of Iloilo City: underdog Mabilog clobbered the most powerful cabinet official of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo by a big margin.
Mabilog closed the Facebook account he was using before being elected as Iloilo City mayor (he opened another FB accounts thereafter), thus I couldn’t send a message to congratulate David.

YEARS

During the years that Mabilog was mayor for three consecutive terms until his “dismissal” recently, I was most of the time outside the Philippines.
I am probably the only Iloilo journalist who has never set foot in the new Iloilo City Hall until today (I was president of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps for two terms–1998-1999 during the time of Mayor Mansueto Malabor).
I finally met Mabilog again and sat beside him in the cable TV show hosted by Vicente “Danny Baby Foz” at Buto’t Balat Restaurant in Iloilo City three days before the May 13, 2013 elections when I was in the Philippines.
It was the height of Mabilog’s quarrel with former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada, the man who filed the case against the city mayor in the Ombudsman that resulted in his ouster.
It was only our third physical meeting since the day Councilor Parcon introduced me to the man who would become the most abused and most harassed city mayor in the world.
I will probably meet Mabilog, an innocent man and great Ilonggo leader, again when he become congressman in 2019.

 

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in POLITICS

 

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I love you, New York City Marathon

“The marathon can humble you.”
–Bill Rodgers

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — My coverage of the 47th New York City Marathon on November 5 was the most thrilling.
I became a sports journalist and spectar rolled into one.
As soon as I saw Shalane Flanagan emerge in the lead pack escorted by two motorcycles and a Ford vehicle carrying a flashing time (2:20:34) in the Central Park’s Fifth Avenue, I yelled.
I itch to cheer the runners as they were about to complete the 42.195-kilometer race was irresistible for someone who witnessed the tight race as it happened.
Seeing the runners being egged and cheered by the crowd evoked past memories when I myself was running in the Nike and Milo Marathons in the Philippines in the 80’s.
I chose that area, some 800 meters away from the finish line, because it’s a picture-perfect camera ambush, and because only a handful of fans were comfortable or brave enough to wait in that isolated route.
LEAD
I was surprised to see a Caucasian leading the women’s race alone. In the past when I covered the same event on the same spot, I saw African runners dominate the distaff side.
The white lady turned out to be Flanagan, who became the first American to win the race at 2:26:53 since Miki Gorman accomplished the feat in 1977.
Flanagan bested three-time champion and recent London Marathon champion Mary Keitany of Kenya by a minute (2:27:54).
Using a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge cellphone camera, I captured Flanagan, Keitany, Ethiopia’s Mamitu Daska (2:28:08) as they struggled and barreled their way to the final 800 meters of the biggest and most prestigious marathon on earth.
What made the race so special was Flanagan, who crossed the finish line crying and yelling, ended United States’ drought in the New York City Marathon.
Rounding out the women’s top 10 were: Edna Kiplagat (2:29:36), Allie Kieffer (2:29:39), Sara Dossena (2:29:39), Eva Vrabcova (2:29:41), Kellyn Taylor (2:29:56), Diane Nukuri (2:31:21) and Stephanie Bruce (2:31:44).

VICTORY

Flanagan’s victory was big. She foiled Keitany’s attempt to equal the record of Grete Waitz to become the second woman to win the New York City Marathon four times.
It came five days after the bike path terror attack in Lower Manhattan killed eight and raised questions about security for Sunday’s event.
That hit home for Flanagan, a Massachusetts native who completed the 2013 Boston Marathon shortly before a bomb went off at the finish line, killing three and wounding more than 260 others.
The men’s category also pulled a lot of drama. When the lead pack arrived on the area where I positioned myself, Kenya’s Geoffrey Kamworor was in front being chased by countryman Wilson Kipsang.
In a mad dash to the finish, Kamworor held off Kipsang by three seconds. He logged 2:10:53 against Kipsang’s 2:10:56. Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa finished third at 2:11:32.
Rounnding out the men’s top 10 were: Lemi Berhanu (2:11:52), Tadesse Abraham (2:12:01), Michel Butter (2:12:39), Abdi Abdirahman (2:12:48), Koen Naert (2:13:21), Fikadu Girma Teferi (2:13:58) and Shadrack Biwott (2:14:57)
It was one of the smallest margins in the New York City Marathon’s history, it was learned.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in SPORTS

 

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Bravest ever city council

“Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.”
–Og Mandino
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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The Iloilo City Council in the Philippines led by Vice Mayor Jeffrey Ganzon will go down in history as the bravest and the most audacious of all the past city councils.
When they passed a resolution during its regular session on November 14 “vehemently opposing the renewal of Panay Electric Company’s (PECO) franchise”, members of the Iloilo City Council made history and defied tremendous odds.
Their bold move restored the Ilonggo consumers’ faith and confidence on our city officials. It largely helped assuage frazzled emotions of tormented consumers wallowing in distress brought by PECO’s appalling services and nonchalance.
It may be recalled that their counterparts in 1993, or 25 years ago, led by Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana, endorsed PECO’s application for a 25-year extension after a series of public hearings in the old Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) building.

SECURE

The “joy ride” in the local legislature enabled PECO to smoothly secure the extension of its franchise in the House of Representatives thereafter.
Interestingly, Councilor Eduardo Penaredondo, the only alderman who did not support the resolution penned by Councilor Joshua Alim on November 14, was part of the 1993 City Council that handed PECO the grand prize..
PECO, the sole power distributor in Iloilo City’s more than 50,000 consumers, must’ve underestimated the City Council after it secured the November 22, 2017 date for the hearing of its application for franchise extension before the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises.
PECO’s franchise will expire in 2019.
Because of the City Council’s recalcitrance, PECO is now expected to have a rough ride when the hearing in the House Representatives unfolds on November 22. It’s like going to war bringing only high powered machine guns but without bullets.
We don’t believe that Alim, Councilor R Leone Gerochi and their ilk are motivated by “political ambitions” when they spearheaded the titanic war versus the giant electric firm.

HELP

Even before Alim became a city councilor, he was already helping the late former Councilor German Gonzales and Gerochi’s father. Atty. Romeo Gerochi, in the battle to free the Ilonggo consumers from the harrowing clutches of PECO’s atrocious generation and distribution charges in the early 90s.
Alim hasn’t forgotten that the anti-PECO crusade did not, in any way, help Gonzales when he ran and lost for vice mayor in 1995.
If Alim intends to run for city mayor or congressman in 2019, he will have to think twice before using the PECO brouhaha as a stepping stone.
If Alim is in the forefront in the war against PECO’s shortcomings, it’s probably because he wants to champion the cause of the hoi polloi, not because wants their votes in the next elections.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in POLITICS

 

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Created by God to be wise

“The four characteristics of humanism are curiosity, a free mind, belief in good taste, and belief in the human race.”E.M. FORSTER

By Alex P. Vidal

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FAIRFAX, Virginia – In October 1521, five years before Martin Luther was to begin to shake the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, the great Renaissance painter and humanist Michelangelo had just finished decorating one of its ceilings.

“And what a ceiling it was!” exclaims Portland-based Ronald B. Allen, professor of Old Testament and Exegesis, in The Majesty of Man.
The Sistine Chapel in Rome, named for Pope Sixtus IV, who had begun its construction in 1473, has a ceiling that measures approximately 133 feet by 43 feet, with the crown of the vault some 70 feet above the pavement.

In conditions of terrible discomfort, Allen points out, the great artist Michelangelo spent nearly four years painting in the fresh plaster on the ceiling.
“He lay on hard scaffolding board, breathing intolerable air and having eyes and skin constantly inflamed with plaster dust. All the while, the impatient Pope Julius II would periodically climb the scaffolding and threaten to toss the master to the ground if he did not finish his work more quickly,” narrates Allen.

The formal unveiling took place on October 31, 1512.
What an event in the history of man this unveiling was—one of the finest artistic achievements of the Renaissance.
Here Christian theology and humanism learned to hold hands.
In his recital of the significance of this event, Charles H. Morgan says Michelangelo “had joined two powerful philosophies, the Christian ethic and the perfect human, at the moment of their most sympathetic coexistence.”

 

CREATION OF MAN

 

This blending of the Christian and the human strains was perhaps nowhere more evidence than in Michelangelo’s portrayal of the Creation of Man.
One of the most famous panels of the masterpiece is the scene of Adam reclining inertly on a brown field, his left arms stretched out languidly over his upraised left knee. Rushing toward him is God, surrounded by storm and cloud, attended by cherubim, and stretching out his hand in a dynamic gesture to the extended finger of Adam.
Our attention is drawn to the rushing power of the finger of God and the small space left between God’s finger and that of man.

“In this painting,” suggests Allen, “we are there a microsecond before the giving of life!”

What are we to make of this imagery?
Morgan sees in it the notion that the church had given nourishment to humanism, and that in this painting they both meet on an equal scale.
Despite the tranquility of the scene, Morgan senses the irony in the painting, for a struggle was about to burst out between the church and humanism in which the power of God would be challenged by man whom heaven had empowered.

Allen says another view of the significance of the Creation of Man fresco is presented by the renowned American biblical theologian Samuel Terrien of Union Seminary, New York.

“Dr. Terrien, in a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco several years ago, observed that there is another figure in the painting in addition to God, Adam, and the cherubim,” Allen observes. “This other figure is a beautiful woman whose head is nestled in the left arm of God, and who looks with anxious interest on man whom God was enlivening.”

 

SPACE

 

We almost miss this woman because of our interest in the latent energy in the space between the finger of Adam and the finger of God. “But there she is!” Allan stresses. “And her presence causes us to ask, Who is she? Is she the as yet unformed Eve, awaiting the awakening of need for her in her mate?” Is she, as some Catholics have imagined, the Blessed Virgin Mary, anticipating a significant day long in the future when God would have a ministry of mystery for her? Terrien brushes away these and other conceptions with his great discovery: This woman is wisdom. It was with his arm around wisdom that God created man, his finest creature.”

Allen observes further: “I suspect that Morgan’s point of view more accurately represents art history. But I am convinced that the viewpoint of Terrien is the one who need in order to understand theology rightly. For this painting points us to one of the most significant elements in our understanding of what it means to be truly human: We were created by God to be wise.”

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Capitol brawl not related to war on mistresses

“No violence, gentlemen–no violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture!”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Friendship ends where attraction to sex objects begins.
There are quarrels among some macho du jours in government that are job-related and not necessarily sparked by a tug-of-war on nymphets like in the case of playboys Bebot Alvarez and Tonyboy Floirendo.
We recall an incident I witnessed as a capitol beat reporter in Iloilo 27 years ago.
The brawl between then deputy governor Ruben Bermudo and provincial tourism chief Manny Benedicto at around 11 o’clock in the morning on July 3, 1990 exploded while DYRI “Radyo Agong” reporter Arsenio “Kamlon” Ang and this writer were doing interview inside the governor’s office with Vice Governor Robert “Bob” Maroma, then the acting governor.
There were only five of us inside the governor’s office present– Maroma, Bermudo, Benedicto, this writer, and Ang, who had just won a labor case in the Supreme Court against the defunct DYRP “Radyo Tagring.”

DAGGER

Even before the interview with Maroma started, we noticed Benedicto and Bermudo, then in their mid-50’s, swapping dagger looks like Crassus and Spartacus.
At one moment, Bermudo removed his eyeglasses like Eddie Garcia to plant a sharp stare at Benedicto, who reciprocated with his own Pacquito Diaz-style look.
While Maroma was answering our questions, the two disappeared surreptitiously. They entered inside the conference room about four meters away on Maroma’s right side.
Minutes later, we heard a loud commotion.
The noise didn’t stop Maroma from talking but our eyes–Maroma’s, Ang’s, and mine–started to exchange tacit signals alternately like actors in a silent movie.
When the conference room’s divider started to shake violently and two angry voices dished unprintable, Maroma stood up and rushed to the scene.
I grabbed my camera and followed suit. Kamlon scrambled to prepare a tape recorder.

THROATS

Inside, we saw two gladiators literally holding each other’s throats on one hand, and throwing rabbit punches on the other hand.
The sight was reminiscent of two Tokyo Dome somo wrestlers.
Blows rained from all angles–a chaotic scene.
Maroma tried to separate the two but was in awkward position, and could receive one of the flying fists on the face if he forced the issue.
So determined were the two Capitol bigwigs to maim each other they refused to let go of their grips–Benedicto’s shaking fingers came closed to drilling holes on Bermudo’s neck; Bermudo locked Benedicto’s jaw with a tight Steven Segal grip.
Both were gasping for breath like sprinters in the 100-meter dash, their false teeth threatening to jump out.
Maroma lost balance on his second attempt to act as third man in the ring.

PHOTOS

Instead of taking photos, I grabbed Benedicto’s hand to prevent his fingers from committing cannibalism.
Having lost much energy, he obliged.
Bermudo, also fighting for air in his lungs, let go of Benedicto’s jaw–but not after leaving some souvenirs on his skin.
“Tama na ina!” (That’s enough),” Maroma, who was himself losing some energy–and patience, shouted while scratching his head in disgust.
When the smoke had cleared, the protagonists could manage to release Mona Lisa-like smiles as if King Kong did not vandalize their mangled faces.
Either the pain from their violent physical activity did not yet take its toll, or they were ashamed for acting like kindergarten pupils and tried to suppress it.
No arrest was made even as Maroma hinted of slapping the misbehaving officials with administrative cases.
Kamlon, who hit a jackpot with his tape recorded “eye-witness account”, had a field day repeatedly playing the violent episode to friends and politicians, including Bermudo and Benedicto, who just grinned to hide their embarrassment.

MISS RP-GUAM

We found out their conflict emanated from the province’s preparations for the arrival of the Miss Philippines-Guam in Iloilo that year.
As tourism boss, Benedicto, of Dumangas, Iloilo, begrudged Maasin, Iloilo-based Bermudo’s decision to bypass his authority and disapprove some items in the budget, among other reasons.
If there was one person so terribly upset and mournful that awful morning, it was neither Benedicto nor Bermudo, who had kissed and made up.
It was Maroma, whose interview with us had been cut off unceremoniously, thus he failed to deliver an important message to people as news the following day was dominated by the skirmish of his warring subalterns.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Google it, kapitan

“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.”

— Simon Mainwaring

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We won’t be surprised if President Rodrigo Duterte will next invite detained Senator Leila de Lima to dinner after Vice President Leni Robredo.
The President might also invite in the future his chief critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and all those who have tasted real terror from his cussing and threats.
It’s another story if they accept the invitation.
After all, Judas dined with Jesus. Voltaire had a sumptuous meal with Catherine the Great.
The President has always been unpredictable. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
The right had accused him of siding with the left when he allegedly made a “sweetheart deal” with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison during the campaign period.
But when President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the rebels, their doubts about his being a pro-communist were gone.

-o0o-

LEADERS of the smallest political unit in the Philippines are in the news nowadays now that there is a proposal that instead of electing them in October, President Rodrigo Duterte intends to just appoint 340,000 of them nationwide.
The number includes both the village chiefs or barangay chairs and council members.
The proposed appointment process is facing major legal obstacles, but whether they will be appointed or elected, it’s certain, barring unforeseen circumstances, that we will have new or reelected barangay leaders before end of the year.
We suggest to all those aspiring to become village chiefs to at least study the rudiments of technology.
It may not be mandatory for them to have college degrees, but in this age, they have to be at least technology-literate. Especially those living in urban areas.
Everything is now operated by technology — communication, transportation, monitoring systems, financial transactions, among other basic necessities and services.
They can expedite their transactions and important messages to their constituents, their mayors, and the police if they are updated with the latest wonders of technology.

SERVICES

Our village leaders will be left behind–and basic services will be delayed and stymied–if they don’t even know how to use or operate a smartphone, a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.
There are instances when village officials can’t immediately rely on their secretaries like when a visitor suddenly goes directly to them to inquire about some important information.
With the use of Google in their laptops, tablets, or mobile gadgets, the matter is addressed with alacrity and dispatch.
It’s understandable though that there are incumbent village officials in far-flung barangays, or in places with no electricity and concrete roads, who haven’t even touched a computer.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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