Monday, August 31, 2009

Fiesta Economics 101

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another week and we are 8 days away to the Calbayog City Fiesta. And yes, we are finishing off yet another long weekend. Do I still have to mention that it’s the National Heroes Day that we are celebrating thus we don’t report for work today? Well, could be just another day, and depending on one’s priorities in life – a rest day, cleanup day, gimik day, workday for extra pay, or a day to finish a book. Today we honor heroes the names of which we have read since elementary, we have been reading about them for so long that we have forgotten about them. I’d like to mention (again) what I said in my earlier columns: It’s interesting to note that for two consecutive weeks we got long weekends to honor heroes, or at least what they stand (or stood) for. Now, what do you think do most of us do during long weekends (like last week and this week)? Rest, I suppose? As to the ideals that the heroes are there for, I guess we have to observe or at least be reminded about it not only during holidays, but in all the days of our lives.

Now let’s pan our sights to something that has nothing to do with heroes. Forbes magazine is into it again – the list of the world’s richest. I didn’t bother looking at who made it to the list, I don’t want to drool. One thing though, as one news item had it, the rich are getting richer. How about chronicling the poorest and those who are getting poorer? Now that would be one hell of a job to do.

Neri suspended over ZTE. If I may borrow a line from the Philippine Star editorial, is he the most guilty? No comment on that. Many might regard him as the original whistleblower. And we do not have to look far and wide what happens to whistleblowers in this country.

* * *

It’s all-systems go for the soft-opening of the Calbayog City Sports Center tomorrow. The center will be the venue of events slated for Hadang 2009, the local festival which is held in time for the Calbayog City Fiesta. Opening Ceremonies will be held at 6:00 pm tomorrow. It will be followed by the Hadang Ritual Competition at 7:00 pm.

* * *

Mobile Passporting Service in Calbayog. The City of Calbayog through the Local Civil Registry Office, in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) RO 8 will once again offer a mobile passporting service.

This service will be held on September 12 - 13, 2009 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Old Barracks Building (Handumanan) Conference Hall.

In line with this, authentication of Civil Registry documents will be conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) Provincial Office at the Calbayog City Hall Sala on September 10, 2009 (Thursday).

Basic Requirements for Mobile Passporting are:

· Four (4) Passport size photo
· Two (2) valid IDs
· Marriage Certificate (applicable only to married women)

* * *

And yes, fiesta! What is it about feast day of saints that get us or at least many among us going? Am I getting old? I used to get excited about the sight baratillos and peryahan, now I see them as something that mess the city streets. Each time fiesta comes, I always remember an experience I had with my PS 101 professor who gave a very interesting anecdote about fiestas. He started off by apologizing to the Catholics among us, saying that the church is a remnant of the dark ages, after saying that line, he apologized once again. The young person in me did not bother to react then, and when you are at U.P. (sadly I did not finish my course there), everything is in the name of free expression. Anyway back to fiesta. I dunnow if my professor was trying to be funny (I think he did try to be funny), he said that fiestas had a very interesting history. That it all boiled down with some frayles caprices. Wanting to eat nice and be served well – to wine and dine - on certain days, they went around various towns and assigned saints for the local folks to venerate and for them to prepare on the saint’s feast day, and thus was born the pista and patronos or patronas. Of course there are various papers which gave us the history if the pista or patrun.

Anyway, it’s not that I’m against celebrating fiestas, it’s just that the city gets too crowded and noisy (now I’m really old!) and yes, it’s hard to get PD cabs. But fiestas have its positive side. That it’s a celebration of culture and tradition is a given. Let’s look at the economic side. People will prepare food, money will move (or is it circulate?) in the market and the local stores - good thing for the local economy. There will be parades, the participants get dressed and made up, the dressmakers and makeup artists get to earn something. And yes, people get to be generous in thanking for graces received, no need to mention on how much can the parishes rake in from donations and mass sponsorships. When people or visitors come to the city or a place celebrating fiesta, they will take the cab, some will buy cigarettes, candy, food, and some will pay for a place to stay. It’s a season of better earning for cigarette and candy vendor. No need to mention that it’s also a field day for pickpocket, snatchers and the dugo-dugo gang. And yes, even the sex workers both male and female can rake it in come fiesta time. It’s noisy, it’s messy, it’s crowded. But hey, it’s kahi-araan, I rest my case and I have to let it go, it’s only for a day.

* * *

Hadang 2009 activities: September 2, 2009: UV Green Lancers vs TTMIST Kings (at 4:00 p.m.); SMB/ PBA Fans' Day (at 6:00 p.m.); SMB Concert (at 7:00 p.m.)
September 3, 2009: "Himig Nating Pag-Ibig" with Noel Cabangon (at 7:00 p.m.)

* * *

The CKC – Jose Gomez orchestra will have a fiesta concert. This will be held on September 5, 2009 at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral at 6:30 pm.

* * *

Have a nice week everyone. Ciao!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Confident Expectation and Commitment

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend, a long one at that, thanks to National Heroes’ Day. Let me repeat my opening line in my column which came out last Wednesday (where I referred to this Monday’s holiday as Araw ng Kagitingan). It’s interesting to note that for two consecutive weeks we got long weekends to honor heroes, or at least what they stand (or stood) for. Now, what do you think do most of us do during long weekends (like last week and this week)? Rest, I suppose? As to the ideals that the heroes are there for, I guess we have to observe or at least be reminded about it not only during holidays, but in all the days of our lives.

* * *

Mobile Passporting Service in Calbayog. The City of Calbayog through the Local Civil Registry Office, in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) RO 8 will once again offer a mobile passporting service.

This service will be held on September 12 - 13, 2009 (Saturday and Sunday) at the Old Barracks Building (Handumanan) Conference Hall.

In line with this, authentication of Civil Registry documents will be conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) Provincial Office at the Calbayog City Hall Sala on September 10, 2009 (Thursday).

Basic Requirements for Mobile Passporting are:

· Four (4) Passport size photo
· Two (2) valid IDs
· Marriage Certificate (applicable only to married women)

* * *

Early this week, Mayor Mel Sarmiento was in Tacloban for an RDC meeting. In the agenda was the giving of a special RDC citation to Mrs. Lourdes Lauderes – Matan. It should be recalled that Mrs. Matan made it as one of the national winners of the 2009 Metrobank Search for Outstanding Teachers.

This year’s winners will be presented with plaques and cash amounting to Php 300,000 each during the formal awarding ceremonies at Metrobank Plaza in Makati, which will serve as the highlight of the 47th anniversary celebration of the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company on September 4, 2009.

On September 3, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will confer gold medallions to this year’s awardees at Malacañan Palace. Mayor Mel Sarmiento was among those invited to the event.

This year’s winners will join the rank of 276 outstanding teachers, who have been honored by the Foundation for the last 24 years. They automatically become members of the Network of Outstanding Teachers and Educators or NOTED, an honor society of outstanding teachers committed to nurturing a culture of excellence and service among educators through professional development, publications, research, and advocacy in active

* * *

This is it for now. Let me leave you with what I got from a TV Talk show (the title of the show and the name of the person who said this line I don’t remember) and a homily last Sunday.

The title of the talk show and the name of the guest escapes me. What I did not forget was how simply he defined hope, as just that - confident expectation. So what about it? It was the simple presentation or definition of something that we need nowadays that got me; and that hope can come in forms we don’t expect.

On the other hand, I am reminded of the homily delivered by Fr. Jun Jungco last Sunday - the Sunday of Commitment. Among the points he said were that we will be mystified to know that even in a very difficult situation, even when one is already in a dilemma, one will be surprised that God Himself will find solutions to one’s problems which one did not even think about. God intervenes in our most hapless moment if we have recourse to Him because of our commitment. Huwag tayong padadala sa mga sigalot nga buhay, sa mga pagsubok sa buhay at sa ating pagseserbisyo sa gubirerno o pribado man. They are part and parcel to test our commitment. Even gold has to pass the test of fire in order to be sure that such gold is really golden. Let us all go back to the ideals of commitment and look at them as a redeeming factor for us to continue even when our commitment has become shaky and unstable. Lest we forget, God will always come to our rescue so that we remain faithful to our commitment.

* * *

Have a nice long weekend everyone. Ciao!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Facebook (or Damn if you do, damn if you don't)

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend, a long one at that, thanks to National Heroes’ Day. It’s interesting to note that for two consecutive weeks we got long weekends to honor heroes, or at least what they stand (or stood) for. Now, what do you think did most of us do during the long weekends (like last week and this week)? Rest, I suppose? As to the ideals that the heroes are there for, I guess we have to observe or at least be reminded about it not only during holidays, but in all the days of our lives.

Let’s direct our attention to something which does not have room for heroes - election time (forgive me for that line). TV news has always reported about the presidentiables. Lately Mar Roxas’ bid was hit by reports about the LP being supposedly torn between him and Noynoy – something which gave the party some free publicity. And Brother Eddie will be into it again with his yellow color and being reported on Ninoy Aquino day is itself. I’m wondering what happened to Eddie Gil. And then, Mr. Mike Velarde for president? Well, why not? Aside from more being merrier, it will add color (just look at his suits) to the already chaotic political exercise. But no red color please, I see blood in it.

* * *

The final schedule of Hadang 2009 is out. The annual festival will be held from September 1 to 7, 2009, in time for the Calbayog City Fiesta. Events for the week are as follows:
  • September 1 – Opening Ceremonies (6:00 pm); Hadang Ritual Competition (7:00 pm); and Starkatz and Voice Tag Bands concert (8:00 pm).
  • September 2 – UV Green Lancers vs TTMIST Kings Basketball Game (4:00 pm); SMB / PBA Fans Day (6:00 pm); SMB Concert (7:00 pm).
  • September 3 – “H imig Nating Pag-Ibig”, A Noel Cabangon Concert (7:00 pm)
  • September 4 – Miss Anyag 2009 (7:00 pm)
  • September 5 – Ladine Roxas with Strakatz and Vostagz Bands (7:00 pm)
  • September 6 – MYMP in Concert with Strakatz and Vostagz Bands (7:00 pm)
  • September 7 – All-Star Basketball Game (7:00 pm); Pop-Dance Competition (8:00 pm)

All events will be held at the Calbayog City Sports Center in Barangay Capoocan.

* * *

I got into facebook only very recently, and boy was I not hooked? Anyway, I thought it was just going to be another social networking stuff like I did with friendster. That is until I saw a wall comment of a friend lamenting about how political crimes have taken the peace from his peaceful city, or at least the city he knew before he went out of it to work in some foreign land. He recently came back for vacation, apparently got updates from some neighbors or friends and then and there announced to the world that political killings are going on in Calbayog. I replied to his comment by referring to my newspaper and blog updates about the PNP’s official report on the shooting incidents that took place the past few months. I suppose it’s the same official report which the City Mayor and the PNP chief presented when they updated the Bishop about the series of shooting incidents in the City. Back to my friend, obviously he did not check on the links or the reports, humirit pa that these are political crimes and that the authorities are not doing anything. And that was it. And I never commented back. And yes, I have no plan to “un-friend” this friend of mine on facebook.

What am I up to this time? It reminded me of the line said by an official about work in government being a “damn-if-you-do-damn-if-you-don’t-job”. Yes indeed.

Another proof to tell. A few days ago, during break in the school where I am a part-time instructor, we talked about the opening of the Calbayog City Sports Center and that games and events for the fiesta are to be held there; and that there’s going to be AC, parking lot for viewer’s comfort. And then the comment, “3,000 capacity, guti-ay la itun, waay upay”. Yes, it may be small, but it is a good start.

Lo and behold, another proof about how the masters of the universe can only criticize when you are doing nothing, and criticize you just the same after you have done something which do not conform to their specs of things which they never told you about. That’s my way of saying that these are bunch of people who offer nothing to the government officials but criticism and not an iota of idea about how they wanted to make things work, the LGU and the Mayor’s “government-working-with-people” credo, notwithstanding.

And that is when I remembered Ralph Recto who lamented that you cannot wake a person pretending to be asleep; that a man pretending to be blind will not see; that a man pretending to be deaf will not hear. Yes indeed.

* * *

Let leave you with something to smile about this week. Needless to say, it has something to do with, my favorite topic these past few weeks. Very recently, a local monastery had an activity in time for their feast day celebration. It’s a known fact that the said institution lives on donations from the faithful. Talking about donations, word or the grapevine has it that a good number of parishioners have opted to offer their donations or mass intentions to the said monastery instead of the parish. But that’s not the story (at least for today’s column).

A friend of mine and his group always performed during the yearly celebration. When they discussed about asking help from some benefactors, you know like uniform and meals for the performers, they came up with a list. And lo and behold, the name of my favorite priest was there. And when the sister saw his name, the sister said, “puydi dire tana ala siya ig-api?”. Of curse that line was said in a very calm and mild manner only a humble madre can do. Apparently pati ang mga madre in the local monastery ay din niya pinalampas. Yes, my bubwit told me that this is the same priest who supposedly called a fellow (religious) priest asking (or was it demanding?) explanation as to why he conducted a renewal of marriage vows for a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary in their chapel. From the looks of it, the couple did not ask permission form the parish, but it was only a renewal of vows. Let me see, I think the couple forgot to pay the arancel, and that’s the most important part of the sacrament. Oops, me and my mouth.

* * *

This is it for now. Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Friday, August 21, 2009

the ordinary Juan

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend. As I wrote this column, there was much argument, no ‘twas more of flimflam as to when the non-working day observance of Ninoy Aquino Day is - today or this coming Monday. By the time you read this it’s either you are already having a long weekend or looking forward to having one. Anyway, I hope most of our countrymen are aware as to why and/or who we commemorate on August 21.

Some national news muna. So much is being said about the now-notorious New York and Washington dinners. Reporters and TV talk show hosts (and guests) are indeed having a field day. Amidst the endless chattering of ideas and what have you, something stood above the rest. It’s the comments made by Jun Yasay, the former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (better known as the tamaan-ka-sana-ng-kidalat guy during Erap’s time) who said that if there is one thing that we should be giving focus about, it’s not the dinners of PGMA but the stocks or their investments in the stock market. Put it there, I don’t want have any idea of the complexities of the stock market.

And Manny Pacquiao as peace negotiator? C’mon guys, get real. Yun lang po!

Talking about the people’s champ. So we have another Filipino to win a boxing bout. Mr. Donaire in a way makes me proud, boxing being a bloody sport notwithstanding. Anyway, what about that fight? It’s not how he own. It’s the national anthem again. Somebody did it again. Yup, it’s that singer named Dessa. Like what I said with Martin’s Lupang Hinirang flimflam – how could you?

* * *

Local News The Calbayog City Sports Center is almost ready. Finishing touches are being put in place in the center in time for its soft opening on August 31, 2009. The center which is located in Barangay Capoocan will be the venue of all activities slated during the Calbayog City Fiesta. Three concerts have been booked: Noel Cabangon (September 3), Ladine Roxas Voice of Asia 2001 Champ (September 5) and MYMP (September 6). The annual search for Ms. Anyag will also have the center as its new home. Ms. Anyag 2009 will be held on September 4.

* * *

DOST Secretary Estrella Alabastro was in Calbayog City last week. She made a brief stopover at the Calbayog Techno Gabay Center. On hand for the simple program were the staff of the City Agriculture Office and some officers of the CAFC.

* * *

Mayor Mel Sarmiento was invited to deliver a welcome speech during the 2nd Children’s Caucus, an event spearheaded by the SOS Calbayog Village. The one-day workshop is aimed at putting emphasis / promoting the rights of children. It will be held tomorrow at the LMA auditorium.
400 guests and participants are expected from the SK, Church - Youth Ministry, CSWDO / Out-of-School Youth, WESADEF, 16 youth from the SOS Youth Facility, 60 kids from the Children’s Village and 102 FSP.

The first Children’s Caucus was held last week in Tinambacan and Oquendo districts with 200 participants.

* * *

And what am I up to this time? Let give you some rant, but my apologies it has nothing to do with my favorite priest. I have reserved it for my columns for the coming week just in time for the fiesta. This has something to do with my recent not-so-memorable experience with Cebu Pacific.

At around 12:00 noon last Monday, I got a text message from a friend who works at the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines. She took Cebu Pacific Calbayog - Manila flight earlier that day. The text said, "Haay Cebu Pacific did not fly my bag from CALBAYOG. I really had a feeling that they would miss it when I checked in this morning. Great Service". I guess we have to let that go. I believe that that situation is not an exclusive domain of Calbayog, Cebu Pacific or any airline and any airport for that matter. Years ago an article ridiculed the lousy service that airlines - international if I may ads - do in handling baggage. And then I remember something which I was supposed to give you many days ago. And this is it:

Cebu Pacific's daily Manila-Calbayog-Manila flights commenced last Sunday. This is a nice development. On my own little way, I would like to welcome this service of Cebu Pacific with this rant!

Just when I thought I was no longer doing my earlier intention to write something about how Cebu Pacific sucks (the first time I read that line was from the blog of ace videographer Jason Magbanua when he ranted about his flight to Boracay). Yes, that's until I booked a ticket for my aunt and opted to pay via megalink or ATM - something novel for me after paying my earlier internet bookings via credit card. So, in case you intend to book your Cebu Pacific tickets online and pay via ATM, think again.

I did my booking more than a week ago. It was for two tickets for a flight from Tacloban to Cebu on August 12, 2009 (Wednesday). I was pleased to find low-fare tickets available considering the time between booking and the flight itself. I was also pleased to find out about payments via ATM. After entering the necessary booking details, I got the instructions which stated, "You have until tonight (August 9), 23:59H PH Time to pay for your booking through various payment centers. Please see complete list of payment centers by visiting our website at http://www.cebupacificair.com/." After the payment has been made, the passenger will receive a text message from Cebu Pacific confirming the reservation, something which the passenger has to present at the airport together with the e-ticket (or so the instruction said). I did the booking at around 10:00 am, and went to the local UCPB ATM to pay in less than 30 minutes. And in an hour's time, I received the e-ticket via email with the reservation noted: on hold.
So, end of story and welcome to a smooth flight? Nope, it took me four phone calls and a 3-day waiting period before I got the booking confirmation. And yes, we never received a text confirmation from Cebu Pacific.

Let's do some math here. The ticket price was 1,888.32 pesos. Since I opted for ATM payment, 15 pesos was added making the total amount due at 1,903.32 pesos. Still a small amount to pay for the mode of payment. Or so I thought.

24 hours after payment was made, still no text confirmation and no e-ticket with the confirmed reservation. I had to call the airline. I thought it was only one phone call, I ended up doing three more phone calls after being promised that something will be done about it. Yes, they promised to do something about it 4 times (yup, when I called them 4 times) in three days. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon at around 4:30 pm, about 13 hours away from the scheduled flight, only then did we receive the email with the e-ticket and the confirmed reservation; and yes, still no confirmation via text message.

Let's do the math again. My phone calls totaled approximately 25 minutes, give or take a few seconds. And that will cost me approximately 200 pesos in my phone bill next month ('coz suncellular charges 8 pesos/ minute for landline calls). I ended up shelling approximately 2,100 pesos plus for a supposedly low-fare ticket. And yes, what's the amount one had to add for the worry or anxiety about being denied boarding or entrance at the airport? And the waiting one had to do before receiving a final booking confirmation?

Have I told you about their refund procedure? Don't ever contemplate on having to apply for one, saying that the experience is unpleasant is an understatement.

Will I still take Cebu Pacific? Of course I will. It's not that I don't have a choice. It's my way of thanking Mr. Gokongwei for giving every ordinary Juan (like me) the chance to fly, you know with their "Every Juan Must Fly" credo. Sadly for some of their ground crew and flight attendants, with their non-smiling faces which are more of blank stares and the manner some of them give instruction or reminders to some passengers checking in, it seems like the Cebu Pacific credo has been changed to "Every Ordinary Juan Must Stop Flying".

Ah, if only PAL does not live up to what its name stands for: Plane Always Late. The same thing with Zest Air and its erratic flight schedule. Thanks goodness they did away with their old name. I took a good number of their flights, I mean Asian Spirit, I can't help but worry about landing as spirit each time my flight took off.

* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Congratulations Mrs. Lourdes Lauderes - Matan

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s another weekend, a sweldo weekend at that. First things first. Congratulations to Mrs. Lourdes Lauderes – Matan. She made it as one of the 10 winners in the Metrobank Foundation’s Search for Outstanding Teachers 2009.

As one of the youngest awardees in this year’s roster (34 yrs. old), Mrs. Matan was instrumental in her school’s being able to offer a complete elementary education program from grades 1 through sixth by implementing multi-grade classrooms where she taught two or more grades simultaneously. And while this setting presented a number of challenges such as lack of teaching and learning materials, Mrs. Matan was undaunted and instead developed workbooks for the different subjects she was handling. Consequently, these instructional materials were adopted by schools in Calbayog City. Outside the classroom, Mrs. Matan is active in community work, crusading against forced and early marriages, which are still being practiced in some remote areas in the province where minors, some as young as 13, are being married off to older men in exchange for some goods and small amount of money (i.e. a sack of rice, a pig, and P3,000). By educating the young girls on their rights and their parents on the harmful effects of early marriages on their daughters and convincing them to keep the latter in school, Mrs. Matan was able to prevent forced and early marriages in neighboring barangays. Mrs. Matan also serves as a member of the Lupong Tagapamayapa – a group engaged in settling disputes at the barangay level – in her barangay, an affirmation of the teachers’ status in the community.

Mrs. Matan specializes in Filipino and is assigned at the Mag-Ubay Elementary School in Oquendo District, Calbayog City. Now on her 13th year in the teaching profession, she holds the position as Elementary Grade Teacher III.

Last year, during the 60th Calbayog Charter Day celebration, Ms. Matan was cited as one of the Ten Outstanding Calbayognons (in the field of education).

The Metrobank Foundation is the corporate social responsibility arm of the Metrobank Group of Companies chaired by Dr. George S.K. Ty. Over the last 30 years, it has promoted a culture of excellence among Filipinos through its various programs notably the Search for Outstanding Teachers, the Metrobank Art and Design Excellence, The Outstanding Philippine Soldier, Country’s Outstanding Policemen in Service, the Metrobank Math Challenge, and College Scholarship Program. The Foundation also has a grants program that assists NGOs and government in the fields of education, healthcare, and the arts. Metrobank Foundation celebrates Filipino excellence and presents wellsprings of hope in the future of our nation.

* * *

So, what’s up for today? Please don’t ask me to comment on the 20-thousand dollar dinner of PGMA’s entourage. Oops, make it $35,000.00 to include the latest Washington Post feature. It’s not that I like the idea about our officials spending too much for a fancy dinner, but I think I agree with what Chito Beltran wrote in his column last Wednesday. The simplistic in me summed it up as something which says, “Look who’s talking.”


* * *

Talking about talks or talking (Ano ba yan? Redundant!). Early this week, the city was rife with talks (okey, rumors) about a local priest, err, some priests. Word has it that something went not-so-right (okey let use the word wrong) during a meeting of the clergy in our locality. Details in my next column.

* * *

During a recent feast day celebration in Calbayog, my bubuwits (aka sources) told me that the homilist mentioned something about the clergy being here to serve and not to be served. And that they are also human, ergo they are not perfect, and thus to the local faithful was said this line: “please bear with us” and “please pray for us”.

Indeed, some clergy members are human. They can commit mistakes. They are human, so they tend to forget that they are here to serve and not to be served. So, does that explain why a clergy member just can’t say yes to a parishioner who went out of her way to request (or beg?) for a discounted rate of 500 pesos for a funeral mass because her family can’t afford the 1,000 pesos being charged by the parish?

Yes, they too are human, so we have to excuse them when one them says such words as pasasakit, napo-o and gaba in his homily when referring to some parishioners whom they have locked horns with or those whom he perceives do not like him.

Yes, they are imperfect, let us bear it when one of them says, “I don’t care” when asked about calling for an assembly to explain or make clear to the people some changes in the policies and fees of the parish.

Yes, they too are human, they forgot to put provisions for the indigent parishioners in the arancel of stole fees posted in the parish bulletin boards.

And as requested by the homlist, I do pray for the clergy. But forgive me, not for all of them.

And yes, by the way, these words about them being human and imperfect came or were heard at the same time when … (see the preceding paragraph).

* * *

Local news. The Calbayog City Sports Center (aka the Gymn) is being rushed in time for the Fiesta activities. As of the moment, opening day is set on September 1. Among the activities slated are the concerts of MYMP and Noel Cabangon.

* * *

Concert. The CKC – Jose Gomez Orchestra will have a post-fiesta Concert in Calbayog City. This will be held on September 9, 2009 at the Frs. David and Leopold Auditorium in Christ the King College

* * *

Have a nice weekend everyone! Ciao!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cargo vessel sank off Calbayog, Western Samar

Here's a report I got from the Coast Guard website:

(06 August 2009) The Coast Guard detachment in Allen, Samar disclosed today that M/V Queen Elizabeth-IX, a cargo vessel with three (3) officers and seven (7) crew members onboard and home ported in Cebu City, sank at the vicinity of Calbayog City, Samar last August 3, 2009 at 9:20 am.

Investigation by Coast Guard personnel revealed that the cargo vessel was loaded with 22,780 cases of Beer and departed Mandaue City, Cebu at about 9:00 am last July 3, 2009, enroute to San Jose, Southern Samar. The vessel was navigating at the vicinity of Barangay Peña, Calbayog City, Samar when it encountered big waves and strong winds brought by southwest monsoon. The vessel listed on her starboard side and eventually sank.

All officers and crew members of the subject vessel managed to survive by utilizing the vessel’s paddled life raft. They proceeded to Brgy. Bugtong, Calbayog City and arrived at around 4:45 pm of August 4, 2009. The survivors were assisted by the personnel of the Coast Guard Detachment in Calbayog for medical checkup and were advised to report the incident to their shipping Office in Mandaue City, Cebu.

Meanwhile Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilferdo Tamayo, directed Coast Guard District Commander Commodore Rolando Dizon to alert Marine Environmental Protection Group (MEPGRU) Central Eastern Visayas and Special Operation Unit Central Eastern Visayas for possible oil spill.

The crew members are:
  1. Capt Ermin Gabilong (Master), 54 yrs old of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
  2. Jerry Arroyo (Chief mate), 46 yrs. old of Cabancalan, Negros Occidental
  3. Ruben Vargas (Chief Engr), 46 yrs. old of Villa Dolid, Negros Occidental
  4. Ramonito Derafer (Asst Engr), 50 yrs. old of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
  5. Alpidio Portes (QM), 34 yrs. old of President Garcia, Bohol
  6. Sandy Corong (QM), 32 yrs. old of Victoria, Northern Samar
  7. Larry Tablatin (QM), 28 yrs. old of Nueva Valencia, Guimaras
  8. Jeros Hesoler (Oiler), 27 yrs. old of Hinatilan, Cebu
  9. Celestino Ganuhay (Oiler) of Looc, Mandaue City
  10. Roger Corong (Cook), 30 yrs. old of Victoria, Northern Samar

Monday, August 10, 2009

The height of arrogance

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! First things first, advanced birthday greetings to Mayor Mel Sarmiento. He will turn a year older tomorrow.

* * *

This column was supposed to have come out last Friday, but thanks to my puffy eyes brought about by the funeral of tita Cory (of which much has been written about), I did not make it to the deadline.

I thought I was not going to write anything about “the queen that we never had”. I simply made sure I collected all the national dailies which reported on the death and funeral of the former President. That is until a cousin of mine approached me and sought help for a nephew’s school assignment. He gave me a small sheet of paper on which was written the following instruction:

(short bond paper)

  1. Significant contributions of Pres. Corazon Aquino
  2. Insights=
  3. Reaction =
  4. Reflection =

My initial reaction was that of someone realizing how old he was, I can’t believe it, kids are now studying about a person who was a star in my generation (now I’m really old).


And it occurred to me, how can you write about a person who is bigger than life? About someone whose life will never be completely told in all the books and magazine there is; about a person whose name alone is enough to tell everyone that she is a hero. She was not perfect, but certainly she was several notches above all the rest of ordinary mortals like you and me.

And yes, I was not able to help my nephew on that particular assignment.

* * *

And what’s with today’s title? It has nothing to do with politicians and the like. I am referring to the powerful in the local academic community and yes, the local church. In one meeting, a head of a local school uttered something like this, “… I know that some among you do not like me”; and in one mass many Sundays ago, a priest included in his homily this line, “… maaram kami nga damo sa iyo an dire narururyag sa amon tungod kay dire kam natutumanan san iyo mga karuyag…”

I would have wanted to elaborate on those lines which basically mean the same. But c’mon guys, even the Pope has his detractors, you could do no less. Forgive me, but that’s plain and simple arrogance.

* * *

Ah that National Artist Award! I was never into that stuff until I got to see Ben Cab in Calbayog; and lately when Carlo Caparas went on TV castigating the CCP officers and critics for being elitist. So what the hell is Filipino culture? Caparas got the flak for supposedly coming out with movie hits that were in the massacre category. To which he retorted that that’s the problem with the elitists, they tend to forget about the masa, citing an example, like the ones you see in wowowee (yup I started watching that program after hearing that argument on TV).

If my memory serves me right, my anthropology subject (which I took 25 years ago) told me that there is no such thing as a unique culture; and that it is something that is brought about, affected, or characterized by the realities (and / or events) that happen to a certain group of people (or something to that effect).

Are massacre movies reflective of Filipino culture? I dunnow, but they made it big in the box office. Are images and stories of contestants telling their miserable lives on national television Filipino culture? Maybe yes, for it was brought about by - as they always say - the hard life that all of us are into (yes, thanks to the usual suspects in government, etc, etc.) Yes, even making promises of loving one another and / or changing one’s ways in life - all on national TV tears and with background music and all. Whew! I’m tempted to say, start eating your heart out Kris Aquino.

That’s not reflective of Filipino culture, or is it? Or is it that of the new emerging Filipino culture?

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the awarding program. Nope, not to see the awardees receive their prizes or deliver their speeches, but to watch the ceremony (program) flow and the pageantry that goes with it.

* * *

More than a week ago, Mayor Mel Sarmiento turned-over seven (7) units of brand-new motorcycle to Calbayog PNP. These will be used for the nightly patrol that PNP officers will be doing in Calbayog. This is still part of the measure being put in place by the local government to curb the series of shooting incidents which occurred in the city in the past few months.

A few weeks ago, checkpoints have been set in some barangays outside of the city proper. One will also notice the regular foot patrol (akin to the Japanese kabo system) and police officers stationed in various areas around the city.

* * *

Obituary. Ricardo “Cadong” Tan, former City Councilor, former City Vice Mayor and former City Mayor returned to his creator on August 2, 2009. His remains lie in state at his residence in Barangay San Joaquin. He will be interred at the Tan Mausoleum in Barangay San Joaquin on Wednesday, August 12, 2009 after the Necrological Service at the San Joaquin Gym.

* * *

Concert. The CKC – Jose Gomez Orchestra will have a post-fiesta Concert in Calbayog City. This will be held on September 9, 2009 at the Frs. David and Leopold Auditorium in Christ the King College

* * *

Let me leave you with something inspiring from a guardian of our souls, morals, faith, and what have you (try checking my column last Monday). I dunnow if it was my favorite priest who actually uttered this, but my source said that it was a priest who said it. I suppose you are familiar with that organization called Catholic Women’s League, and we call it C-W-L for short. Well, a local clergy supposedly referred to not as CWL, but C Devil-U L. Yun lang.

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Who will guard the guardians themselves?

(This column appears in today's edition of the Leyte-Samar Daily Express)

Hi there! It’s a new week and we are 35 days away to the Calbayog City Fiesta. So finally PGMA and Obama have met. I’ll reserve my comments about the visit (both favorable and acerbic) for my next column.

I thought I was not going to mention anything about the SONA aside from the fashion show that precedes it (oops, me and my mouth!). Last week I mentioned about the SONA being the bitchiest speech (thanks to the description by Rina Jimenez David); and yes that I looked at is as a you’ve-been-castigating-me-for-so-long-it’s-time-that-I-get-back-on-you kind of thing.

And it occurred to me, Tita Cory, Manong Eddie and Erap all delivered their SONAs and all of them received cheers and jeers, praise and flak. I guess all leaders had to live with one reality (a bitter one should I say?) that criticisms go hand in hand with the perks and the pomp and circumstance of power. And comments of all forms flooded in on the last SONA. That the speech was well-crafted all right, but form cannot hide the facts. Many expected to see or hear something like tita Cory’s “thank you and paalam”. Alas they were frustrated. And more speculations abound on the President extending her stay in power. And then a secretary came to the defense of his chief saying that the state of Arroyo is not the state of the nation. Well, Mr. Secretary, it’s not that I don’t like PGMA, it’s just that the President is not a private citizen, at least until her term ends next year.

So, has any Philippine President ever delivered a SONA with the real state of the nation? Let me answer that with a line from Cheche Lazaro: The state of the nation will always depend on who is telling the story.

* * *

And today’s title? It stemmed from the recent spree of shooting incidents in Calbayog (details of victims and suspects I have featured in my column last Friday). As many Calbayognons must have known by now (at least those who still go to church on Sundays) that these incidents were the subject of the homilies of some priests. One castigated the PNP for doing nothing; another calling for the people to speak for the truth; another reminding us of the justice system and that we are bound by the rule of law and not of men; and another calling on the officials to put in place cameras and stuff to catch the criminals. Yup, many Sundays now.

The Pastoral Statement (I hope I’m using the correct term) has been read. The security cluster has met and put in place measures to help minimize crime. The regional PNP has sent it’s men to man checkpoints in the city. And yes, one gets to see police patrol the streets of Calbayog. I hope these actions will stay and not just for ningas cogon.

Needless to say, these measures were put in place after noise was made condemning the series of killings. Thanks to the guardians of our faith, the guardians of our morals, the guardians of our souls.

I hope I am correct in saying that it is not only in Calbayog where you hear or see people being killed by any means there is. And yes, notice that you don’t hear any report about killing through stabbing or hacking, yup thanks to the proliferation of loose firearms. Now that is another story. Yes, and it is not an exclusive problem of Calbayog.

Time and again have we proclaimed with pride that we are the only Catholic country in the Far East. The simplistic in me says that a Catholic believes in God. A person who believes in God, is God-fearing, ergo, he considers the gift of life the most precious gift there is. When the killings start, we questioned the police, we questioned the officials. It is correct as it is our right to do that. On the other hand, those actions - of killing - are not in line with the morals or the teaching given to us as children of God. For the sake of argument, let us put aside the police and the officials, because they are doing nothing, or they do tool little too late - as the usual accusations go.

Why is it that these killings are going on? Money? Morals? Or simply to tell the world that God is nowhere to be found so let us not be afraid of Him? A far cry from what I remember getting from my Sunday school that God is everywhere. God is watching us, so went a line from a song. In a way it sums up the lessons I got from my catechism class many summers ago. What happened to our morals? What happened to our basic belief or at least fear in God? What happened to our catechism telling us to respect life? So, to whom do we turn to in matters or actions aimed at instilling moral values, or at least the re-orientation of/on values, belief in God, care for precious life, fear of God? And yes, let’s include love for our fellowmen. I’ll try to ask the PNP and the city officials.

Many times in the recent past, news reports told us of the debate about population control. And along with the ballooning population is the rise in criminality. As to the former, some clergy members (not from Calbayog, let me assure you) were quoted in some national daily saying that they failed to catechize the faithful. As to the latter, can we say the same line? Making babies is certainly a safer choice - an enjoyable one at that - compared to killing people.

There is one thing that I remember most about Cory Aquino. Focus was given on values re-orientation early on her presidency. In my own simplistic mindset, I believe that one side of the issue boils down to the values we hold dear and that of the people in society and that of our own families.

Speak for the truth, fine. But you don’t speak, much less argue, with people who have no fear for God, do you?

In Thailand, when things go wrong, the King speaks, and all his subjects listen. At home, when things get shaky, the guardians speak, and (I think) the people (still) listen, especially if they do it at the pulpit, at the moment when we still have to receive our communion and the blessing that concludes the mass. Now, who speaks to the guardians when the world they are in get shaky? Who will guard the guardians themselves?

* * *

Local news. The City Nutrition Council concluded the 2009 Nutrition Month celebration by offering various health and nutrition services at the Julio Cardinal Rosales Plaza.

* * *

Late last month, the LGU thru the City Veterinary Services Office and the City Agriculture Office spearheaded the Characterization of Rural Enterprise Development (RED) Project Partners and Focus Group Discussion with Stakeholders.

The activity was held at the conference Hall of the Old Barracks Building. The RED project under the auspices of Department of Agriculture RFU 8, and of which Calbayog City is a part is aimed at providing business opportunities to rural farm households by transforming goat raising from a subsistence type of farm activity to viable goat-based rural enterprise.

* * *

Wedding Bells. Congratulations and Best Wishes to John Nuñez (of Brgy. Trinidad) and Pong Dolera (of Sta. Margarita). They got married last Saturday. Fr. Jun Jungco, ofm presided over the wedding mass at the St. James the Great Parish Church in Sta. Margarita. Reception was held at the Cardinal Rosales Hall of the Centennial Pastoral Center.

* * *

The CKC – Jose Gomez Orchestra will have a post-fiesta Concert in Calbayog City. This will be held on September 9, 2009 at the Frs. David and Leopold Auditorium in Christ the King College

* * *

Have a nice week everyone! Ciao!

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