Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Tribute To Felix Gabriel



Since election time is already near, here’s a little tribute to a great politician from my place of birth and with God’s grace there’s a Holy Week event that reminded me of the late old man whom many  of our youth have almost forgotten.

In the Lenten Recollection aired over ABS-CBN Channel 2 last Holy Wednesday, Fr. Glenn Paul M. Gomez, SVD, a well-known kabayan clergy, mentioned in his sharing about a former mayor of our hometown San Jose in Occidental Mindoro.  According to Fr. Glenn, president of the Divine Word College (DWC) here and one of the top brasses of the Healing Eucharist, a Sunday Mass TV program,  people from our place should be reminded about Dr. Felix Lomboy Gabriel. The life of Dr. Gabriel centered on service, as a war veteran, a medical doctor, a town mayor and a civic leader. Upon retirement, he pioneered the senior citizen organization in whole Occidental Mindoro where he gained prominence all over the country. I remember the old man way back in the early 90s. I was then an apprentice news writer for Radyo Filipino DZYM, the first radio station in San Jose, where Dr. Gabriel, in his late 80s, hosted a radio program. Those were the days when our airwaves are pure and clean. When our radio announcers were not yet under the spell of political witchcraft. There are several times I guided Dr. Gabriel leading to the announcer’s booth for he was already half blind that time and had difficulty in walking. But his mind remained sharp. His wisdom overflows. His humility is beyond compare. His intelligence is oozing. Unlike many of those names and faces printed in tarpaulins posted all over the place today.

The late grand old man in a way paved the way for my earthly existence. As town mayor, he presided the civil wedding of my parents in 1960. He was elected in 1959 and among his three major accomplishments were naming of the streets and the transfer of the all the government offices near the Municipal Hall and the construction of a new Public Market. His youngest son, Hector, stood as my godfather when I was baptized. He and my Papang, our grandpa, were friends not only because they are both health practitioners but because our families were two of the early residents of Pandurucan, San Jose’s name of yore.  Dr. Felix Gabriel hailed from Batac, Ilocos Norte and finished his course in Medicine at the University of Sto. Tomas. In 1931 he was sent to San Jose by the Department of Health as its Municipal Health Officer. Papang, who was also with the department’s Malaria Control Unit, told me that his compadre is a model politician and a have a true heart for his patients especially those who are poor coming from the barrios. Dr. Gabriel, in the 70s also play tennis, his favorite sport. Me mentioning tennis also reminds me of another great old man of Philippine politics named Jovito Salonga who once said, “Politics is like tennis. Those who serve well seldom losses.” Dr. Gabriel’s two daughters, Amelita or Baby and Virginia or Gene were teachers of all the girls from our family who entered Saint Joseph’s School (SJS). His other son was Felix, Jr. or Boy. Dr. Gabriel was married to Amparo Gaudier, I was told by my Mamang. Nobody from his immediate family entered politics. Service and not business was his politics. Unlike many of those names and faces printed in tarpaulins posted all over the place today.

Dr. Gabriel during World War II was with the army being a medical officer with a rank of 1st Lt and in 1992, he acted as executive director of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines or BSP. By the way, on my entry next week, on April 4, I will tell you why I go for boy scout-politicians as my ideal public servant. My personal criteria of picking whom to vote this 2013.

Dr. Gabriel succumbed to heart attack on October 20, 2000. He was 98.

Bearing in mind the clean and honest ways of Dr. Felix Gabriel, I am hoping to see names and faces of genuine alternative politicians in their tarpaulins in the coming elections for we deserve more than  old names and faces in our local politics. I am not losing hope for I belong to Easter people...

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(Photo : Ferdz Decena)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cross Nail Made of Nickel?



Just days before the Holy Week, the Local Government Units of Sablayan and Abra de Ilog in coordination with the Alyansa Laban sa Mina (ALAMIN) and the KAAGAPAY NGO-PO Network of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro spearheaded an ecumenical forum dubbed “Stewardship of the Earth, Ministry for the Poor”. The event was held March 21-22, 2013 at the Sablayan Convention Center this municipality. Around 60 participants composed of LGU employees, pastors from different Christian denominations, Alangan and Tao-Buid Mangyan leaders and Catholic priests attended the activity. The highlights were 3 Biblio-Theological Reflections rendered by Pastor Jeoffrey Landicho and Rev. Pastor Romulo Mari both from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines or UCCP. Rev. Fr. Ruben Villanueva, Parish Priest of Divine Mercy Parish in Murtha, San Jose also shared about his insights against mining in the whole island of Mindoro.

Hon. Ruben Dangupon, IC/ICC representative to the Sangguniang Bayan of Sablayan, Dr. Marius Agua, Jeff Rafa and Ms. Evelyn Cacha of ALAMIN who came directly from Calapan, among others, graced the occasion. Also in attendance were Peping Poyngon and Lunito Daza who are both Mangyan leaders together with their other companions. Mayors Eduardo B. Gadiano and Eric Constantino of Sablayan and Abra de Ilog, respectively, also renewed their common stand against the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP). The activity intends to sustain and unify the efforts of the two provinces on said socio-political issue. The MNP is bound to crucify us all, inhabitants of this fragile island.

In this material written by David Field of the University of Transkei, he wrote, “To confess that Jesus Christ is Redeemer and Lord demands the church that it repent of its complicity in the destruction of God's creation and commit itself to praxis of ecological healing. To fail to respond to the continued degradation and exploitation of the earth is a denial, in praxis, of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” On April 16, right after the Holy Week, the Supreme Court is bound to have an oral argument on the legality of the Philippine Mining Act and it will be conducted in Baguio City. Let us keep our fingers crossed that our justices would be on our side.

This Holy Week season, may we all be reminded of what Pope Francis have told us: “Let us be protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.” ….

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Si Hagedorn sa San Jose



Dumalaw sa San Jose noong Biyernes, ika-15 ng Marso, 2013, ang Alkalde ng Lunsod ng Puerto Princesa sa Palawan na kasalukuyang tumatakbo sa pagka-senador na si Edward S. Hagedorn. Si Mayor Hagedorn ay kilalang kampeon ng kalikasan.

Ito ang kanyang ikalawang pagbisita sa naturang bayan. Balita ko, halos sampung taon na ang nakalilipas, naging panauhing pandangal namin sa siya sa aming Reunion ng Batch ’78 ng San Jose National Highschool (SJNHS). Hindi ako umattend noon. Mabuti na lang. Hindi ko na ikukuwento kung bakit.

Direkta mula sa paliparan, inumpisahan ni Hagedorn ang kanyang kampanya sa pamamagitan ng pakikipag-daupang palad sa mga manininda at mamimili sa Pamilihang Bayan ng San Jose kung saan siya ay pinagkaguluhan na parang artista. Gumawi din siya sa Brgy. Caminawit kung saan ay kinapulong niya ang samahan ng mga kababaihan doon na karamihan sa mga kasapi ay kabilang sa mga mangingisdang taga-Kanlurang Mindoro ngunit lumalaot sa Palawan. Ayon sa ulat, namahagi ng pinansiyal na ayuda ang nag-iisang kandidato para sa senado mula sa rehiyon MIMAROPA sa mga pamilyang nabanggit. Syempre pa, pinalibutan siya ng mga lokal na pulitikong nagkasa sa mga paghahanda para sa campaign sortie niya rito. Halos lahat  sa kanila ay mula sa Liberal Party (LP) ngunit tahasang nagpahayag ng kanilang suporta sa nasabing independent senatorial candidate. Nakalimutan ko, hindi nga pala bawal sa Pilipinong pulitiko ang sumuporta sa mga hindi niya ka-partido basta hindi maapektuhan ang sarili niyang kampanya. Maliwanag na may mga laglagan ding nangyayari.  Pero kung pasok sa kanila si Hagedorn, sino sa Team P-Noy ang kanilang ilalaglag? Nagtatanong lang po.

Isinagawa rin ang isang palatuntunan sa Occidental Mindoro State College (OMSC) Labangan Campus Gymnasium at panayam sa isang lokal na radyo na hindi ko man banggitin pa ay mahuhulaan na ninyo kung saan. Sa harap ng mga mag-aaral, mga organisadong grupo sa lalawigan at ilang lider pulitiko, inilatag ni Hagedorn ay kanyang mga adbokasiya at plataporma. Una, isusulong daw niya ang panukalang pagpapalawig ng termino ng mga pinunong lokal sapagkat ayon sa kanya, napaka-igsi ng tatlong taon sa panunugkulan ng isang halal na pinuno.

Aniya, kadalasan ay kinukulang sa panahon ang mga lokal na lider para sa mga proyekto at programa. Sa pagkakaroon kaagad ng halalan matapos ang lamang ang tatlong taon ay pagsasayang lamang ng salapi ng bayan na maaari umanong ilaan sa mga serbisyo at pagawain. Binanggit din niya na ang maikling panahong ito ang lalo pang nagpapatindi ng lumalalim na tunggalian ng mga lokal na pulitiko sa bansa. Ngunit sa kabila nito, dapat rin umanong magkaroon ng batas na siyang kukontrol sa mga abusadong lider kagaya ng pagpapabilis sa mga prosesong nagtatadhana ng pagpapatalsik sa mga ito, kagaya ng proseso ng recall na sinusuhayan naman ng Local Government Code. Hindi ako palo sa term extension at wala akong tiwala sa mga safety-safety nets o control mechanisms na ‘yan na mga pambansang mambabatas na may mga kamag-anak sa posisyong lokal ang siyang inaasahang magpapatibay. Hindi kaya lalangawin lang na parang tumpok ng nabubulok na dilis sa palengke ang gagawing mga inisyatiba para dito?

Tututukan din niya, ayon sa kanyang talumpati, ang edukasyon at kabuhayan. Ibinida ni Hagedorn ang pagpapatayo nila ng sabay-sabay ng 500 mga silid-aralan sa kanyang lunsod bilang alkalde at ang pagbibigay ng kabuhayan sa pamamagitan ng pag-uugnay ng pamahalaan at mga samahang masa sa pangunahing industriya ng sustinableng turismo sa Puerto Princesa.

Ang boto nga ba para kay Hagedorn ay boto para sa kalikasan? Oo raw. Naniniwala ako na isa sa pumpon o bunton ng mga batas sa bansa na parang mga nabubulok nang tumpok ng dilis sa palengke na hindi nai-implementa ay ang mga batas pangkalikasan. Mayroon na nga tayong tinatawag na Writ of Kalikasan pero bakit kagaya ng House Bill 3413, wala yatang mambabatas na balak seryosohin ito sa pamamagitan ng pag-aproba ng mga enabling law? Kilalang maka-kalikasan si Hagedorn kung kaya naman sa panayam sa radyo ay tinalakay niya ang kanyang posisyon kontra sa pagmimina at iba pang mga extractive industries bagama’t hidi niya lantarang tinukoy ang tungkol sa amba ng Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) sa ating lalawigan.

Simple lang ang aking pahimakas. Kilalang kampeon ng kalikasan si Hagedorn. Sana gayundin ang kanyang mga pinakamalapit na ugnay sa Occidental Mindoro. Sana ay ma-ampyasan man lang sila ng paninidigan niyang ito kontra sa mga agresibong industriya laban sa kalikasan…

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(Photo: www.lexpress.fr)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Of PCOS and Lent



My interest in biblical numbers’ trivia started in 2010 after we, volunteers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), attended series of seminars on the PCOS or the Precinct Count Optical Scanner. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) then also initiated such orientation like the one I am telling you here. Since then, numbers became equally important along with candidates’ given names or surnames. Without doubt, elections for us could be a crucifixion or resurrection, depending on its results and outcomes generally perceived by the citizenry.

Lo and behold! To all first time (PCOS) voters, this is a quickie PCOS course for dummies. If you are regular lotto bettor, it’s easy to understand how the machine works. When you try to bet for a lotto draw, you mark numbers on a betting ticket. The operator will then insert your bet ticket to a machine that will read the numbers that you marked. You will also mark numbers using a special pen. Each number corresponds to the candidates running for the post. That’s as simple as that. Hey, you don't need to be a genius to know that PCOS machine will read ballots instead of bet tickets!

PCOS machine then simply transmits data. After the voting, the PCOS technician will send the data from polling places accumulated by the machine to the server. This is the same process as sending a text message from your cellular phone.

“Do not worry,” says Smartmatic then, “PCOS offers several layers of security”. If we are going to believe them, they placed many security measures to ensure the credibility of the elections. Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. even challenged us recently, “Anyone who can hack into the PCOS machines. Maybe we can give them something if they are successful.” Are you confident now with the PCOS?

What recently causes me goose bumps is this : The Automated Election System (AES) Watch, a group of information technology (IT) programmers and security experts and academicians on the subjects of mathematics, business and public management,- gave the Comelec a failing grade of 0.29 with 4 being the highest and 0 being the lowest for the preparations for the elections.

But ultimately, with or without PCOS, if the choice of the people is corrupted, the election will be a mess. No matter how high tech or how secure the equipment we use, it is us voters who will make this election clean and orderly. Let us just include all these things in our prayers this Lenten season.

Pretend we are in a Sunday school and let’s have a little quiz. Here are the questions: How many disciples ran to the tomb? How many angels were at Christ’s resurrection? How many disciples did Jesus walk with on the Emmaus Road after His resurrection? How many men in white apparel testified at Christ’s ascension?

The answer is a magic number as far as I am concerned…

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