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Iloilo dads should get their hands off ‘Bato’ case

“There are three major social issues that this country is struggling with: education, poverty, and drugs. Two of them we talk about, and one of them we don’t.”
— Steven Soderbergh

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The night before the Iloilo City Council in the Philippines unanimously passed a resolution in its regular session on January 30 “urging” Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to stay put, President Rodrigo Duterte announced in a haste press conference in Manila that he had rejected Dela Rosa’s resignation.
Had Duterte let Bato go and announced it in the press conference on January 29, the Iloilo City councilors would have nothing to “urge” from the top cop in as far as his stint in the PNP was concerned.
Either proponents would revise the resolution from “urging Bato not to resign” or to “urging President Duterte to reinstate Bato.”
Or they would forget about the Bato resolution and remove it from the regular session’s agenda.

NECESSARY

Was the Bato resolution, penned by Councilor Joshua Alim, necessary?
It may be wise and symptomatic but not necessary, to say the least.
As a national figure, Bato has been the subject of intense discussions in the House of Representatives with some solons calling for his resignation in the light of the kidnapping and murder of a Korean businessman perpetrated by policemen inside the Camp Crame.
Newspapers, news websites, TV networks have been tackling issues about Bato. Even during the Miss Universe Pageant, Bato was among the “top grossers” in the news and social media.
Bato’s fate is too broad for a local legislature like the Iloilo City Council.
Too many cooks will spoil the broth.
Instead of joining the fray in complicated national issues, the city council will look good and earn more pogi points if it will instead focus on local issues.

DINAGYANG

Like an “urgent” resolution commending government agencies, city and provincial officials, private individuals, participating schools, sponsors, choreographers, among other unsung heroes responsible for the successful staging of the just-concluded 2017 Dinagyang Festival.
There’s a myriad of socio-economic, health, business, education, political and environmental issues that affect the life of local populace.
More pressing issues like the success or failure of smoking ban on public places, malnutrition and housing programs in villages, the reported increase in number of AIDS, murder, and rape cases.
The Department of Tourism’s (DOT) efforts to push for chartered flights between Taiwan and the Iloilo International Airport in the town of Cabatuan, Paraw Regatta 2017 preparations, Iloilo City’s aim to become “City of Excellence”, real estate boom, investment and business expansion and opportunities, among other local issues.
Meanwhile, if there was one thing significant about the Gen. Bato Dela Rosa resolution, it was the city council’s avowed display of solidarity behind the Duterte administration’s “strong campaign against illegal drugs and criminalities.”

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Our first Miss Universe’s ‘Sword of Damocles’

“It’s almost not safe to be an artist, the way everybody is randomly picking people to feud with.”

— Busta Rhymes

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — How many Filipino beauties have won the Miss Universe title in the past? Are they still alive? How are they doing now?
Because the Philippines is currently hosting the 2017 Miss Universe, people in other parts of the world might be asking some of these questions in random when they meet a Filipino in their countries.
If they happen to be in the Philippines as tourists or members of the pageant entourage, they must have already started asking some of these questions.
If Americans, for instance, will ask me all the three questions, I will answer them this: 1. Three, so far. They are Gloria Diaz (1969), Margarita Moran (1973), and Pia Wurtzbach (2016); 2. Yes, they are all still alive–and shining; 3. They are all doing fine; Miss Diaz is still active as movie and TV actress; Miss Moran, who is now Mrs. Moran-Floirendo, is a peace advocate and ballet executive; and Miss Wurtzbach will crown the 65th edition winner on January 30, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

RESOLUTION

Of course I won’t tell them that Miss Diaz, 65, had been declared as persona non grata through a resolution by the Vice Mayors’ League of the Philippines-Cebu six years ago.
I will tell my readers.
The organization has failed to rescind the resolution it passed on September 1, 2010 supposed to be in deference to the country’s hosting of the world famous pageant, which is ongoing, this year.
Apparently she wasn’t accorded the benefit of the doubt or the privilege of “immunity from humiliation” due an international celebrity and former beauty queen who gave honors to the country.
Or they must have overlooked the gaffe.
Isn’t it weird that the first Miss Universe crownholder in the host country has a pending enmity with a group of elected public officials in her own country; and no effort has been made to cross out the ruckus so that Miss Diaz would be shielded from embarrassment?

COMMENT

Miss Diaz’s nightmare with the vice mayors league started when she made a “constructive” comment after Miss Universe 2010 fourth runner-up Venus Raj belted the controversial and now famous “major major” pidgin during the Q and A.
Miss Diaz suggested that Raj and other Filipino contestants perhaps would have strong chances if they utilized the services of an interpreter instead of answering in English.
“Because when you think about a Cebuana can hardly speak English, and, of course, Tagalog. Maybe she should answer in Bisaya,” she told ABS-CBN.
Many Cebuanos took umbrage at her statement and accused the beauty queen-turn-actress of insulting their English proficiency. Cebu politicians joined the outrage and demanded from her an apology.

SORRY

Miss Diaz, who stood her ground and refused to say sorry, shot back: “Let me clarify it once and for all. People should have the right to say or to answer (questions) in whatever language they want to say it in. If they’re Cebuanos, they can say it in Cebuano.”
She added: “I did not say that they did not speak English. If you’re Ilocano, say it in Ilocano. But if you’re Ilocano who speaks good English, say it in English. If you’re Cebuano who can speak Spanish, if you’re comfortable with Spanish, say it in Spanish. That’s what I said and that’s what I meant.”
When visiting dignitaries, fans and spectators start to think and talk about the Miss Universe winners in the host country, Miss Diaz’s name definitely will always occupy the presidential table.
They will talk about how good she has become as a soap opera actress, her awards and honors reaped in her stint in the entertainment and showbiz industry, her love life, her children and family, her health, and, your guess is as good as mine, her involvement in controversies–if there are some.

 

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Mr. Poverty meets Miss Universe

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” 

— Frederick Douglass

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It is only the third time in history that the Philippines is hosting the Miss Universe.
The country also hosted the world’s most prestigious pageant in 1974 and 1994. As a host country in today’s modern age, we can showcase to the global village our culture, history, tourism, people, way of life, economic pulse through the power of high-tech media.
Unknown to many people around the world, the Philippines has been “hosting” Mr. Poverty since time immemorial.
In playing host to gigantic international events, the question that has been always badgering the Filipinos is: “Are we a rich country pretending to be poor, or a poor country pretending to be rich?”
Official government statistics showed that more than 26 million Filipinos remain poor with almost half, or a little more than 12 million, living in extreme poverty and lacking the means to feed themselves.
The Filipino poor have families of six or more members, with greater numbers of younger and older dependents, statistics showed.

EDUCATION

In the majority of poor families, the head of household has only an elementary education or below. These families have few or no assets and minimal access to electricity, water sources and toilet facilities. They also have limited access to health and education services, according to Gil Dy-Liacco, Development Assistance Specialist in USAID/Philippines’ Office of Program Resources Management.
About 26.3 percent of Filipinos were found to be living below the poverty line, a measure of the minimum income required to meet basic food and nonfood needs in the first three months in 2015, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
This translates to about 26.48 million Filipinos, based on the Philippine population in 2015 of 100.7 million.

INCIDENCE

The PSA said national poverty incidence stood at 27.9 percent of the population in 2012. It was at 28.6 percent, practically unchanged from the 2006 figure three years before, of 28.8 percent in 2009.
The 2015 survey also found that 12.1 percent of the population–roughly 12.18 million Filipinos–are living in subsistence or extreme poverty, meaning their earnings are not enough for them to eat three square meals a day.
This, too, the reports added, indicates marginal declines from the three previous years the survey had been taken. In 2006, 14.2 percent of Filipinos lived in extreme poverty; in 2009, the number stood at 13.3 percent, and at 13.4 percent in 2012.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!, TOURISM

 

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Miss Universe and sex tourism

“I think the pageant system is about empowering women. I think that aspect of it is great, but when you take parents who are forcing their children to do anything, I don’t think it’s healthy.”
–Olivia Culpo

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW JERSEY — When the Philippines first hosted the Miss Universe in 1974, the pageant not only showcased the country’s “warm” hospitality and “greatness” before an international audience, it also deodorized the human rights violation-tainted Marcos administration which placed the country under Martial Law on September 21, 1972.
Most of all, it reportedly promoted sex tourism, or so it seemed.
In fact, that year’s winner, Ms. Amparo Muñoz of Spain, who became an actress, was implicated in a sex scandal.
It’s not the kind of sex scandal though that has bedeviled some politicians and showbiz stars today like the Hayden Kho sex video or the alleged Senator Leila De Lima-driver taped tryst.
It’s the slapping incident involving Muñoz and a prominent socialite accused of pimping the Spanish beauty.

MOVIE

When Muñoz slapped the alleged pimp of big time Manila businessmen, the episode was not part of the Hayop sa Ganda movie that also starred 1969 Miss Universe Gloria Diaz.
“It was a real skirmish that shocked the entertainment world,” the late Joe Quirino once remarked in Seeing Stars with Joe Quirino.
Since it was a Martial Law, the press could not report in complete details what really had transpired.
Muñoz was reportedly declared as persona non grata as a result of that tumult and left the Philippines in a huff. She died in Malaga, Spain on February 27, 2011 at age 56 due to Parkinson’s disease.
Although nobody came forward to confirm that other Miss Universe contestants had also been pimped at that time, the reported slapping brouhaha underscored fears that sex tourism could have reportedly penetrated the prestigious international beauty contest.

CIRCULAR

Meanwhile, one thing good about the Philippines’ hosting of the 2017 Miss Universe, is the Malacanang memorandum circular dated December 28, 2016 which ordered that no public funds shall be expended for the international event which will unfold on January 30, 2017.
“The DOT (Department of Tourism) may call upon any such department…. for assistance as the circumstances and exigencies may require, read the circular signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
“Officials concerned shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to ensure that there will be no disruption of work and services in their respective offices by reason thereof,” the circular says.
“Except for such reasonable resources required in providing support for the hosting of the Pageant, no public funds shall be expended for the hosting of the 2016 Miss Universe Pageant,” it adds.
When the Philippines hosted the pageant for only the second time in 1994, the organizers suffered a shortfall and the Ramos administration reportedly covered some of the expenses in the $5.3 million-event.

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2017 in TOURISM

 

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While we laugh at our ‘insane’ bets, the world laughs at us

“The human race is fundamentally insane. If you put two of us into a room together, we’re soon gonna start figuring out good reasons to kill one another.” Frank Darabont

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should share the blame for their failure to sanitize the list of candidates for the 2016 Philippine elections from the start.
Poll authorities were aware that during every filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs), the Comelec is being transformed into a circus; in fact, the biggest and happiest entertainment in the world.
Through our excited media, we paraded to the whole world our caboodle of weirdos and wackos blasting their way to the poll body, where they were given full leverage and media coverage to mock our electoral system.
We will have to wait until December when the Comelec releases the final list of official or “serious” candidates sans the names of “psychotics” and other escapees from the mental asylum and slaughterhouse.
Our poll authorities could have saved time and money if they did the delisting the moment those charlatans set foot in the Comelec.
An ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure.

NUISANCE

Meanwhile, we laughed at the entire proceedings as the “nuisance” candidates dished out unprintable and never-heard-before spiels before national television.
In social media, the Comelec spectacle became an instant hit, a veritable laughingstock.
The jokers helped topple national tensions and stress, and the occasion offered a venue for temporary relief from our day to day worries.
We were amused by our own skulduggery.
We let the whole world know that our electoral system has been saddled with fundamental defects that can be traced to our culture and failure to legislate a quality law on election reforms.
While we laughed at our factory defect, the whole world laughed with us–and laughed at us!

NOTES: Some political observers think Iloilo board member Carmen Rita “Mitch” Monfort-Bautista’s entry into the fourth district congressional race was a “bad timing.” Her best chances, according to them, were in the previous elections when former congressman and the come-backing, Dr. Ferj Biron, was not yet in the field…Was Dr. Marigold Gonzalez, the only daughter of the late former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr., “forced” to run for mayor in Iloilo City? Unable to win as candidate for city councilor in 2013, the cosmetic surgeon will only probably fulfill the wish of her father, who had instructed the family to “continue serving the Ilonggos.” Against the vastly-improved and logistically powerful incumbent, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog of the ruling Liberal Party(LP), Dr. Gonzalez is up against a wall…Vice Governor Raul “Boboy” Tupas appears to be the sentimental favorite to clinch the fifth congressional district when he tackles Yvonne Angeli Lee-Tupas, the lawyer wife of his older brother, Rep. Neil “Junjun” Tupas Jr. Although the lady Tupas is the official LP candidate, Boboy, who is now with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), is considered not only as a “dark horse” but a solid pick tumandok (native) to put away the pangayaw (outsider)…Junjun Tupas, the most controversial LP stalwart in the province today, himself will have his hands full versus Guimbal Mayor Christine Garin for vice governor. His eleventh hour decision to run for vice governor caught everyone by surprise especially because he is against the decision of his younger brother, Boboy, to replace him in the House of Representatives. Junjun and Boboy could’ve swapped posts to preserve order and stability in the party and family…former councilor Rolando Dabao, the best congressman Iloilo City never had, is running for vice mayor against reelectionist Joe Espinosa III under Dr. Gonzalez…second district Rep. Arcadio “Cadio” Gorriceta (LP) will try to walk past board member June “Junjun” Mondejar of the United Nationalist Alliance for his second term.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Pope Francis’ Homily in the Philippines

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily during his mass before millions of Filipinos at the Quirino Grandstand on January 18, 2015

“A child is born to us, a son is given us ” (Is 9:5). It is a special joy for me to celebrate Santo Niño Sunday with you. The image of the Holy Child Jesus accompanied the spread of the Gospel in this country from the beginning. Dressed in the robes of a king, crowned and holding the scepter, the globe and the cross he continues to remind us of the link between God’s Kingdom and the mystery of spiritual childhood. He tells us this in today’s Gospel: “ Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk 10 :15). The Santo Niño continues to proclaim to us that the light o f God’s grace has shone upon a world dwelling in darkness, bringing the Good News of our freedom from slavery, and guiding us in the paths of peace, right and justice. The Santo Niño also reminds us of our call to spread the reign of Christ throughout the world.

In these days, throughout my visit, I have listened to you sing the song: “We are all God’s children”. That is what the Santo Niño tells us. He reminds us of our deepest identity. All of us are God’s children, members of God’s family. Today Saint Paul has told us that in Christ we have become God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in Christ. This is who we are. This is our identity. We saw a beautiful expression of this when Filipinos rallied around our brothers and sisters affected by the typhoon.

The Apostle tells us that because God chose us, we have been richly blessed! God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ep h 1:3). These words have a special resonance in the Philippines, for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia; this is itself a special gift of God , a blessing. But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia.

God chose and blessed us for a purpose: to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose us, each of us to be witnesses of his truth and his justice in this world. He created the world as a beautiful garden and asked us to care for it. But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.

Sometimes, when we see the troubles, difficulties and wrongs all around us, we are tempted to give up. It seems that the promises of the Gospel do not apply; they are unreal. But the Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie.

The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else”. He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And so we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.

We forget to remain, at heart, children of God. That is sin: to forget at heart that we are children of God. For children, as the Lord tells us, have their own wisdom, which is not the wisdom of the world. That is why the message of the Santo Niño is so important. He speaks powerfully to all of us. He reminds us of our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.

The Santo Niño also reminds us that this identity must be protected. The Christ Child is the protector of this great country. When he came into the world, his very life was threatened by a corrupt king. Jesus himself needed to be protected. He had an earthly protector: Saint Joseph. He had an earthly family, the Holy Family of Nazareth. So he reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family. Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.  In the Gospel, Jesus welcomes children, he embraces them and blesses them (Mk 10:16). We too need to protect, guide and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage. Specifically, we need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected. And we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets.

It was a frail child, in need of protection, who brought God’s goodness, mercy and justice into the world. He resisted the dishonesty and corruption which are the legacy of sin, and he triumphed over them by the power of his cross. Now, at the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to Him, to Jesus who came among us as a child. May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace. May the Santo Niño continue to bless the Philippines and to sustain the Christians of this great nation in their vocation to be witnesses and missionaries of the joy of the Gospel, in Asia and in the whole world.

And please, don’t forget to pray for me! God bless you all!

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in RELIGION

 

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