Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Nasa Ecuador Sana Ako Ngayong Bagong Taon

Kakaibang pagsalubong sa Bagong Taon ang ginagawa ng mga Ecuadorian. Parang street demonstration lang ang peg kumbaga dito sa ‘Pinas. Dinadala nila sa kalsada mga effigy ng mga pop culture icon, cartoon characters, super hero, mga showbiz personality na kina-aasaran nila para sunugin. Pero ang mas cool (?) ay ang pagsunog sa mga effigy ng mga pulitiko sa kanilang bansa. Ang mga effigy na ito na pinapalaman ng mga fire crackers ay gawa kadalasan sa recycled na materials. Ang tradisyon ng pagsusunog ng “Año Viejo” o “Lumang Taon” sa hatinggabi ay sumisimbolo sa cleansing ng mga masasamang kaugalian na nangyari sa nagdaang 365 days. Naniniwala ang mga Ecuadorian na kung hindi nila ito gagawin ay babalik ang mga kamalasan at karumal-dumal na kapalpakan na hatid ng mga pangyayari, bagay at taong naging laman ng mga balita at mass media.

Take note, kumpetisyon din ang Año Viejo. Mula sa mga rehiyon sa kanilang bansa, taun-taon ay humihirang sila ng mga pambansang winners. Sabi DITO, “[A]s a ritual of purification and renewal, a cleansing of old, negative energy, individual and collective failures, regrets, bad habits, bad luck and evil from the previous year. Oftentimes, the effigies are heaped together in big piles to create large fires in the middle of the streets. It is said that jumping over the burning effigies brings good luck to those who successfully accomplish this feat.” Ka-ige, hane?

Kung may ganito lang sa Bayan ni Juan, palagay ko, walang magtatangkang gumawa ng effigy nina Alan Peter Cayetano at Antonio Trillanes III maliban sa mga taga-UNA ni VP Jojo Binay. Siguro ay malaking karikatura ni Janet Napoles ang ipaparada at lilitsunin ni Benhur Luy at sasahuran pa ito ng timba para sa tumatagas na sebo. Baka kasama rin ang mga effigy nina Bong Revilla, Juan Ponce-Enrile at Jinggoy Estrada para tustahin to be fair.

Pero ililigtas ko sa apoy si Rose Fostanes (kahit medyo ka-look alike niya si Napoles) na isang Pinay caregiver sa Israel dahil sa kanyang pagkapanalo sa X-Factor sa bansa ng mga Hudyo. Pero ‘yung kay Delfin Lee ng Globe Asiatique baka suplete rin ang abutin habang nananalangin na ang Bagyong Glenda noong Hulyo ay hindi na maulit.

Malamang din, kung may ganitong tradisyon dito sa ating bansa gaya ng sa Ecuador, siguro ang susunuging effigy ni Mommy Dionesia at Buboy Fernandez ay ang kay Kim Henares habang walang mangangahas na sindihan ang manikang kamukha ni Henry Sy na last 2014 ay siya pa ring pinakamayaman na tao sa bansa, ayon sa Forbes Magazine with an estimated net worth of $12.7 million.

Pero sayang din kung isusubo sa darang ang kalunus-lunos na mga replica ng nag-iisang medalyang ginto at tatatlong silver medals na nakuha ng bansa sa 2014 Asian Games na pababa ng pababa na ang ating kartada. Yung paper mannequin na lang kaya ng mga opisyal ng National Sports Associations, madabdab kaya gaya ng uling ng ayo at bakawan?

Pero kung ang tsinelas ay magandang pampa-dingas sa kahoy na gatong sa kalan, natural mas epektib ang  gasolina lalo na kung kasama pa ang motorsiklong pala-semplang. Peks man. Itanong nyo pa kay Korina Sanchez at Mar Roxas.

Ako, ang susunugin ko na lang ay ang effigy ni Bob Arum. Mismatch talaga ang Pacquiao-Algieri. Lutong Macau talaga!

Kayo, kaninong effigy ang susunugin ninyo sana kung may ganitong pagsalubong dito sa Bagong Taon katulad ng sa Ecuador?...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Visible Ray

My cousin Ray was never been invisible. He loves to be around and do something for his close friends and relatives. He’s there during birthdays, weddings, reunions, fiesta celebrations and anniversaries lending a hand especially in preparing and cooking dishes. Whenever we have visitors from Manila, especially our aunties, he’s always the designated driver. He knows acupressure and lately he’s into selling food items including traditional food supplements or herbal medicines. Riding his mountain bike usually in the morning and his father’s jeep the rest of the day or simply walking, most of the time we could find Ray practically in every nook of the town proper each time he’s done with the household chores. He has friends from all walks of life, from the street smarts of Malvar, the rural toughies to the town’s intellectuals, businessmen, politicians, artists and yuppies.

Even without apparent reason or agenda, he would just appear just to say his hello or bring something for your kids, or let you engaged in a chat usually over a bottle of brandy and talk about the good old days and everything under the sun.

Because he’s the Visible Man, he’s everywhere. That was before and he’s gone now. He was shot dead by an assailant just few meters away from the newest, the biggest and the most structurally-advanced municipal police station in the province.

Hours before his tragic death, together with his girlfriend and a friend, an OFW from Hong Kong, Ray helped in packing relief items and gifts that are supposed to be distributed the next day to the Yolanda victims in Brgy. San Agustin. It is New Year outreach project of the HK-based Occidental Mindoro OFW association.

He’s always there to lend a hand not only for private occasions but also for such community cause. He is most of the time in the company of local musicians in their gigs. He’s an alumnus of Divine Word College of San Jose who finished his elementary in 1979, graduated in secondary education in 1983 and got his diploma in Bachelor of Arts in 1988. He was born February 2, 1965. He once ran but lost in barangay election in Pag-Asa some years ago and he even had a dream of trying it again in Iling in 2016. Ray’s simple and not so complicated plan for the future is higher than his desire to be with people always when you need him or even when you don’t. For him, there’s no substitute for physical presence, for just being around.

Not anymore. Our family’s ray of visibility just faded away.
When they finished packing the relief goods and gifts, he and his girlfriend, along with a young friend, was waiting for a tricycle along Mabini St. fronting Caimito Road in Brgy VII when a motorcycle man with a woman riding at the back passed by then they exchanged words. The guy parked the vehicle nearby and the two groups again exchanged harsh words and then blows. After the altercation, the riding couple left. After 5 minutes or so, the man came back alone but this time with a pistol. The man poked the gun at Ray’s young companion and pulled the trigger but Ray quickly intervened and he was hit, though indirectly, in the arm. His girlfriend then turned hysterical while he tried to grab the weapon from the man. Trying to protect again his companion, the three of them, Ray, the suspect and his young friend wrestled again and the moment they hit the ground, another two gunshots were heard. The incident happened around 1:30 in the morning of December 28, 2013 and that was Saturday. It was barely 3 nights before New Year Eve.

Sketchy reports revealed that my cousin suffered 3 bullet wounds. Each in both arms and the fatal shot is the last one he caught the right side of his abdomen. The slug that entered into his torso was not recovered during the autopsy. At 48, he was 3 years younger than me. He was declared dead on arrival at the St. Magdalene Hospital. Some says it’s Colt .38 others says its 9mm. Three empty shells and two slugs were found at the scene including a live bullet along with other physical evidences like a scarf, soap bar and pair of slippers.

There were two major accidents that nearly caused Ray’s life before. When he was 4 or so, he climbed their glass jalousie window wanting to have a clear vision of a chopper hovering above their place. He fell and got a deep and long ugly wound on his right jaw. The scar is still visible even when he’s already a grown-up man. In his late 20s’, he met a motorcycle accident and was airlifted to Manila the next morning while one of the victim’s legs was amputated. But as far as I could remember, he’d never been involved in any trouble and he has no criminal records at all.

With the long list of unsolved killings happening in my hometown since I was a kid, we are hoping that Ray’s life would not be wasted by becoming just a small dot in the galaxy of numbers of unsolved murders in this part of the universe. The list is endless and it’s still counting.

Ray cannot easily be angered by people, events or anything. His words were never been wayward or arrogant specially when talking with people even when under the influence of bottled spirit.

Ray could have a chance going out of the country or work somewhere. He preferred to stay here in San Jose when Yvonne, his eldest daughter, finished her studies and already got herself a good job. Some may doubt or question his priorities in life but for him life must be lived each day to connect with people as much as he can no matter how they feel about him and his presence. He ever cherished doing dirty works for his loved ones. The man at any time of the day would just appear at your door just to greet everyone especially during weekends. He loves to stay around and to simply make his presence felt.

The Visible Man who just joined his Invisible Creator will forever be missed….


Today is the first death anniversary of my cousin Ray and I remember this eulogy I wrote but I was not able to say it during his funeral for I was on official travel that time. Instead, I asked my eldest Yobhel to read this in my behalf as his father’s tribute to his Tito Ray.

The night before when Ray was murdered, I was with Jhong Lagrado and Mon Paquing at a watering hole in Aroma Center having a couple of beer. At around 1:00 AM we went home tipsy.

Very early in the morning my wife received a call from Jhong while I was still in bed asking how I was in a very calculating voice. Jolly person as she told him that I’m still sleeping and after some pleasantries both of them said their goodbyes. Barrage of messages and calls coming from different people, friends and acquaintances, came in asking the same question. It was around 9 AM when Jhong called me. “Sino yung Novio na binaril na dati raw taga Bikaryato?” There are only two Novio boys once employed at the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose: me and Ray. My hands trembled, my heart pumped hard. I uttered a prayer.

Here is the latest on Ray’s murder: The suspect to the gruesome killing of my cousin was arrested in Laguna in another crime and sometime mid of this year, he was turned-over to PNP Occidental Mindoro. He was arrested by police elements in Pakil and was transferred to Magbay Provincial Jail last November 17, 2014. The arrest is made through the PNP e-Warrant System and this database enables the PNP to easily and quickly verify names of persons with arrest warrants. The wheel of justice is about to grind.

You may now rest in peace, Ray…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ang Nosebleed at Si Lourd de Veyra

Hindi ko alam kung si Rufa Mae Quinto nga ang dahilan kung bakit ang salitang “nosebleed” ay palasak na palasak ngayon. May mga pelikula kasing may pamagat na “Booba” at “Bobita Rose” na nagpapakita ng mga scene na kapag may nag-i-ininglis na kausap ang karakter ni Rufa ay dumudugo ang kanyang (Rufa) ilong. Pero kung  naniniwala tayo na ang kahinaan sa English ay nakaka-balinguyngoy, sana ay nakita na natin si Lito Lapid o si Ramon Revilla, Sr. noon, na may pasak na sanitary napkin sa ilong habang naka-upo sa Senado.

Ngayon, hindi lang patungkol sa pagsasalita ng language ng mga Kano ang naka-no-nosebleed sa marami. Magsalita ka lang tungkol sa Higgs Bosom, sa mga akda ni F. Sionil Jose, kay Aristotle, sa teolohiya ni Elizabeth Johnson, ng mga artikulo sa Strange Notion, ng mga balita galing sa Al Jazeera, character sa Greek Mythology, etsetera, #nosebleed kaagad ang majority sa young Pinoy Twitters o Netizens . Sila ang mga kabataang mag-aaral na hindi na nasiyahan sa kani-kanilang pinapasukang kolehiyo ay nag-cross enroll pa sa Facebook kung saan mas marami pa silang gustong makuha o ibahaging impormasyon kaysa sa mga titser (na marami rin ay nag-mo-moon lighting nga rin pala sa Twitter o/at sa Facebook). Quits lang.

Obvious na ang nag-ganyak sa aking isulat ito ay isang aklat ni Lourd de Veyra. Yung mga thunderbirds na walang internet connection at cable TV lang siguro sa Occidental Mindoro ang hindi kilala sa pangalan si Lourd de Veyra ng TV 5. Sa kanyang may kulay dugong pabalat na librong “Lourd de Veyra’s Little Book of Speeches”(2014; Summit Media; p.53), aniya, “Isa pang bagay na dapat nating pagtuunan ay ang gumagapang na espiritu ng anti-intelektuwalismo. Naiinis  ako ‘pag may humihirit ng “nosebleed.” May hindi lang maintindihan na salita, “nosebleed!”” Papaano nga ba naman maghahatak ng imahinasyon ang espiritong ito?

Kung alam lang ng maraming kabataan, mas may sense basahin si Lourd de Veyra kaysa kay Marcelo Santos III. Mas may tulak sa paghatak ng utak ang mga akda ng una kaysa sa huli. Nasa itaas nga pala ang picture ni Lourd, just in case na hindi ninyo alam na siya yung nasa Chicharon ni Mang Juan at Tanduay Ice sa TV commercial. Patunay ang sulating ito na nakakahawa ang istilo ni Lourd de Veyra sa pagsusulat.

Karanasan ko rin kahit na ako ay isa lamang pipitsuging parochial blogger ang masabihan ng, “Nosebleed ako kuya sa blog mo”. ‘Langya, iilan na nga lang ang bumabasa ng blog ko, nosebleed pa ang marami. At kapag nagpapahayag ka ng mga bagay na nagtutulak ng utak, ang malimit nilang depensa ay, “O sige na. Ikaw na!” Sabay bago ng topic tungkol na sa Christmas Sale sa Gaisano Capitol sa San Jose. O ang latest sa “Forevermore”. ‘Pag hindi ka nga naman dinugo, oo!

May katumpakang tingin pa ni Lourd patungkol sa mga kabataan ngayon: “[May] katamaran sa pag-iisip. Ayaw na bigyan ng challenge ang utak. Hindi alam kung papaano gamitin nang maayos ang teknolohiyang nasa kamay nila”. Totoo na sa kasalukuyang panahon ng Twitter at Facebook, kapwa ang guro at mag-aaral ay mauubusan na ng panahon o ayaw nang magbasa ng aklat tungkol sa ideya at mga kuwentong kanilang maiuugnay sa pagpapadaloy at pagtuklas ng kaalaman (hindi lang impormasyon, ha?) na tunay nilang responsibilidad.

Pero maidagdag ko lang, maliban sa katamaran sa pag-iisip na sinasabi ni Lourd, may sakit din tayong katamaran talaga. As in laziness sa pagkakatuto lalo na kapag nasa harap tayo ng computer. Imagine, may nagtatanong pa sa online forum sa mga information na madali namang i-Google. May sakit din tayo,- oo, kasama ako, na mga nagku-comment sa mga discussion thread na post lang ng post na hindi ini-scroll up ang previous posts at binabasa ang kabuuan ng thread. Kaya hayun, nagmumukha tuloy tayong sampitaw na engot dahil sa ating katamaran.

Tamad din tayong magbasa/manood ng mahahabang comment,- o anumang mahahaba, kaya nga walang puwang ang nobela sa kamalayang Pinoy, maliban siguro sa ibang bagay na nakikita ninyo sa net. O baka dahil na rin sa paliit na nang paliit ang mga communication gadgets ngayon kaya tinatamad na magbasa. Sa totoong buhay, hindi naman lahat ay pwedeng bite size. May mga bagay kasi na kung mouthful lang natin malalasahan, so to speak.

Sabagay, sa mass communication daw, mas epektib na strategy ngayon ay one liners, catch phrase, sloganeering, brief and concise statements or presentations. Pero hindi kaya lalo tayong ginagawang tamad ng mga ito? O baka naman kaya tayo tamad ay ginagawa tayong tamad ng mass media? O tayo mismo ang nagpu-push na maging tamad tayo? “Nosebleed na tanong ‘yan”, maibubulong ninyo siguro.

Sige na nga, i-externalize na lang ninyo at i-put into flesh ang prevailing ang most followed word of wisdom ng mga bagets ngayon: “Hindi baleng tamad, hindi naman pagod.”   

Kaya lang, malamang sa kalaunan, pati sa “balinguyngoy” o iba pang salitang sariling atin na madalang gamitin ay nosebleed na rin tayo…


(Photo: Active Vista)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Mindoro Landing Should Challenge Us

Fiesta Mood and Historical Markers

In the 1950s, according to my grandfather, December 15 each year is celebrated with fiesta ambiance. Children from both private and public schools all over San Jose and the pioneering residents from all walks of life gather at the old San Jose Town Plaza to celebrate the Mindoro Landing or what they call as “San Jose Liberation”. Musical bands are all over providing music to stage plays that depict the lives of our local town heroes like Fermin Baretto, Lawrence Cooper, Ramon Ruffy, Sofronio Untalan and Vincent Fortune, Sr., and the rest of the southern Mindoro guerrillas. These are stories that are indefatigably being re-told by our folks to their young children. Click THIS compilation of Mr. Rudy A. Candelario to know some of Occidental Mindoro’s war heroes and learn a thing or two from them.

Though my late grandfather, who came to Pandurucan (Read: San Jose) in the 1930s and later told me stories about the war, never joined any armed resistance that time. He was a medical technician battling the dreaded infected female anopheles mosquito, carrier of the killer malaria. He helped in curing the poor sacadas of the Sugar Central including those residents suffering not only from terrors of war but as well as horrors brought out by the deadly disease.

As early as 1906, the Philippine Bureau of Health established its Malaria Control Division which was tasked to conduct researches and study, history and epidemiology of malaria in the Philippines including control practices such as annual spraying of all houses in areas affected by malaria. My grandfather is one of those “soldiers” annihilating the tiny but lethal winged “enemy”.

Initiatives from the Local Government

In early 1960s, a statue is built at the entrance of the municipal compound to commemorate the historic event including the marker at the site of the landing at Aroma Beach some 2 kilometers away from the town hall.

The last time we came across to an event leading to this historic commemoration was in December 14, 2008 via a musical play held at the town plaza which was directed by the late Prof. Gil C. Manuel dubbed “Mga Sulyap sa Kasaysayan ng Occidental Mindoro”. This was a joint effort of then Gov. Josephine Y. Ramirez-Sato and the Provincial Government, LGU-San Jose under Mayor Romulo M. Festin, and the Occidental Mindoro Historical Society (OMHS).

In 2009 to mid of 2010, conjoining with the town’s centennial celebration, the marker was rebuilt and had a make-over and this project was implemented by Mayor Festin. The following year, on December 15, 2011, a full length program was held right at the landing site featuring songs, dance and speeches. This was presented by, again, the OMHS but this time initiated by then newly-elected mayor, Jose T. Villarosa.

But the people deserve more than that and sustainability is still the name of the game.

Mindoro Landing: A Look Back

Allied forces landed on the shores of San Jose on December 15, 1944. Militarily, the purpose of this landing was to secure sites for air strips providing forward Air Corp bases to support later landings at Lingyen Gulf in Luzon. Without airfields closer to Manila it would be nearly impossible to seize and maintain air superiority in Luzon.  Airfields in San Jose would be much closer to the targets on the big island.  San Jose, Mindoro is, roughly, 150 miles from Manila.

1st Lt. Donald “Don” E. Abbott was a paratrooper and Executive Officer of the “E” Company of the 503rd Infantry Regiment of United States in his article titled “Remembering Mindoro” wrote, “As we came on deck well before the 0700 HR on ''U'' Day (15 Dec 44) the invasion fleet had reached their assigned positions off shore.  The LCI's were lined up in rows consisting of the order they would be landing.  Far to the right, or South, were the landing craft bringing the 19th Regimental Combat Team of the 24th Division.  To the left, North, of us were landing craft with the 1st Battalion of the 503rd who were to land on the North side of the Bugsanga River and represent the Left Flank of our invasion.  Nearby were the LCI's of the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd.  Behind us, further out to sea were craft with the 3rd Battalion, acting as Combat Team reserve.”  

Just minutes after that historic landing, series of heavy bombardment followed. Abbot continued, “As 0700 approached landing craft, including LCI's rigged as Gun Ships began launching rocket salvos.  That was the first time I had seen Gun Ships and their array of rockets.  Each gun ship would fire many rockets at a time.  They would leave with a high pitched swoosh!!  The rockets could, clearly, be followed all the way to the point of impact.  Hundreds of these rockets plastered the beach line and a short way inland.  I'd have hated to have been in the shoes of anyone caught on the beach at that time.” And the rest is history of forgetfulness. We have forgotten how our neighborhood heroes like Fortune, Cooper, et al helped the American soldiers drove away the Japanese from the island.

70th Anniversary: Hopefully A Challenge

The 70th anniversary of Mindoro Landing is just 12 days away but nobody is excited about it anymore. Sad to tell, many of our young people of today consider those markers as mere dating places and picnic sites and fail to re-trace their historical significance. Truth to tell, in this age of celebrities and movie stars, we, especially the youth, lost our sense of history.

It seems that among teachers, students and residents of this most important town of Occidental Mindoro, the Mindoro Landing is not important anymore. The fiesta mood was gone and the markers were watered down. There were initiatives both from the government and private sectors, yes, but never been sustained.  

There are still enemies of freedom in our midst. They are those detestable cancerous figures shamelessly manipulating and destroying the seeds of liberation that was sown by our homegrown heroes.   

We do not need historical celebrations that are only confined to trivial activities and only try to re-tell and explain the past or bring false hope. Much more if we reduce history and heroism into a mere partisan political agenda. Here’s to those in public service, academic circle and the media and all the authorities who have clout and influence: Only in juxtaposition we could challenge the past from the perspective of present experiences of helplessness of our people, and challenge the present from the perspective of our memory of the past. Or else, we will have no true legacy to pass on, or past meaningful events to remember....

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ashley Madison in the Philippines, Agree or Disagree?

According to reports, around 2,500 to 3,000 Filipinos have already signed up to extramarital dating site called Ashley and quickly, justice secretary Leila De Lima said last Sunday that she is seeking to ban the website saying that it facilitates the crimes of adultery (for women) and “concubinage” (for men). Ashley Madison is a Canadian firm and recently launched their website here in the Philippines at the advent of Advent season this year. In Singapore and South Korea, the site believing that it poses threat to family values, was banned. Aside from the Philippines, they are accessible in other 5 Asian countries of Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, and India.

The firm in return sued the South Korean government on the ground of “false allegation of illegal activity”. I believe that same legal argument will also be asserted here in the Philippines just in case the DOJ bans the site.

But it seems that Christoph Kraemer, the site’s international spokesman, is not worried about them getting banned in the Philippines as De Lima have warned while admitting they did not talk to the Philippine government. He said, “What we have is a legal counsel to advise us on the laws that you have here, and we’ve done what we have to do.” Kraemer made it a point that what they are doing is just to provide alternatives to those who are not happily married. He further said, “We did not invent nor do we promote infidelity. All we do is offer an alternative for those who want to have an affair in a discreet manner.” He even concluded that it could empower the feminists for giving them the opportunity to have an affair.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Philippine Catholic church said that Ashley Madison is only exploiting troubled marriages for profit. Liza Masa of Gabriela, a militant women’s group, supported Castro calling it as “commercialization of adultery”. But I really doubt if the government, the Catholic Church and the militant feminist groups would seriously and act, like how serious they are about Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, against this purportedly exploitative business venture. Besides, for government officials, officers of women organizations and the Church leaders, this isn't a priority. Eventually, I think, all of this news about Ashley Madison, sooner or later, will fade out.  

It appears that here is the new norm Ashley Madison is propagating: Do not restrain the sexual instinct and without hesitation, live it fully and have an affair. We are now living in a sexually-emancipated society where the life-style of the elite is aimed by middle class and social climbers where suppression of sexuality is considered as opposed to freedom. For them, this suppression hinders the development of one’s personality. The fulfillment of one’s sexual wish is generally considered self-realization. Humans, as ever, indeed are overly overwhelmed with pleasure and desire and Ashley Madison is just one of its many manifestations but we have to brace for more!  

But the most powerful defense against this subtle attack on marriage is marriage itself. True enough, there’s no amount of extramarital dating sites could ruin a solid and happy marriage, not even the legal action to be taken by the government or the advocacy campaign of the militants and moral persuasion of the Church. News and occurrence like this, no matter how immoral or alarming they may be, in a way, do make many married couple even stronger by resisting temptation. High hope, indeed, pins on the sanctity of the individual marriage, the uniqueness of lasting union, of cycle of relationship of forgiveness, fidelity, trust and love being “one flesh”.

A Filipino marriage life that “does not conform to the standards of this world”, as what Apostle Paul have written the Romans…

(Photo: Huffington post)


Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Manny Pacquiao’s Foot Locker Ad and Online Eavesdropping

Aside from climbing up the ring and exchange punches with Chris Algieri for the WBO welterweight crown in Macau on Sunday, November 23, though outside of the ring, there’s another big event in line with Manny Pacquiao’s (56-5-2, 38 KOs) episodes of money-making efforts as a product or company endorser. On that same day while Manny is busy  with things related to his fight against his American rival Christ Algieri (20-0, 8 KOs), the American shoe store chain Foot Locker will be inaugurating its commercial via the so-called “Week of Greatness” promo. But aside from Pacquiao, the ad campaign has also featured mainstream sports stars like NBA players Derrick Rose, James Harden and Tim Duncan, plus WWE wrestler John Cena. OK, watch this video and see for yourself, so just click THIS.

Foot Locker Retail, Inc. or Foot Locker, Inc. is an American sportswear and footwear retailer and in service in more or less 20 countries all over the globe.

You have probably watched the ad by now and as you have seen, it begins with two men in a gym talking about the chain's "Week of Greatness" promo while all of a sudden an eavesdropping Pacquiao appears over the ring ropes and said, "Wait, wait. So the thing the people wanted is finally happening?" Pacquiao then gets excited, exclaiming "He's going to fight me!" over and over while shadowboxing. The ad is funny, except of course to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and his supporters!

Though the ad is about the chain’s promotional sale, allow me to lead you to the bit mysterious human phenomenon called Eavesdropping.

Netizens as we are, whether we admit it or not, are involved in eavesdropping specifically over Facebook forum and discussion threads that are gradually turning into a hotbeds of bad behavior specially when we comment and post on socio-political issues. One cannot avoid eavesdropping and commenting in a venue where stupidity, bragging, bashing and all the crimes against grammar, among other misdeeds that even myself at times is guilty of, are tolerated. A space where the prevailing mantra is this: “Engage in the social media conversation” according to Martin Miliev, writer at Perceptica. So be it.

Social communicators like me cannot afford to restrict our mind when crowded with people who are afraid of or allergic to profundity. But just like in real life, in order to have a quality conversation, one needs to learn to listen (or in this case, read) first. Aside from active reading, the objective eavesdropper comment only on what s/he perceives as the most relevant social topics at hand. S/he responds to people whom s/he knows personally and vice versa, and not be obsessed with nonsense metrics and knows how to ignore those posters under fictitious identity, then there should be a quick examination of conscience before we click the “Enter” key.

I am a little nosey (though my seasonal/perennial rhinitis lately sidelined me) since birth and in this positive sense, I love eavesdropping.  

Meanwhile, as a boxing fan and a compatriot of Manny Pacquiao, I am wishing him a convincing win over Algeiri on Sunday. Without it, the Pacquiao-Mayweather mega dream bout would make the grapevine soundless about it and that moment would be doomsday for the eagerly anticipating eavesdroppers in boxing today…

(Photo; Rappler)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Alien Trees and the NGP

I am a dumbbell when it comes to forest biodiversity but as a pro-environment advocate, I am trying to grasp it little-by-little and to borrow from the Beatles, with a little help from my friends in the forestry sector like Charlou Ormega of Haribon. Allow me to take off from National Greening Program or NGP. The NGP is a massive forest rehabilitation program of the government established by virtue of Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011 by President Benigno S. Aquino III. It seeks to grow and maintain 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares nationwide within a period of six years, from 2011 to 2016. The intention is sacred but its malevolence lies in its specifications.

Allow me to say this as a starter: The NGP only made worse many reforested areas because biologically diverse forests have been replaced with single species planted for commercial purposes such as palm oil, rubber and cacao plantations. Fast-growing exotic and invasive species like large leaf mahogany and eucalyptus included. Deep inside our forests, these “alien” species have invaded us!

Only last year, even the Intex Resources Philippines, Inc. a Norwegian nickel mining company based in Mindoro initiated the “Livelihood Enhancement through Agro-Forestry” or LEAF saying initially that it’s the company’s response to government’s call for private sector participation in the NGP. Last year, in Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (SPPF), a total of 17-hectare demonstration farm and nursery for coffee and rubber trees can be found. Also last year, Intex received a certificate of recognition from Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region IV-B Director Roland de Jesus, for the company’s “continuous support and very satisfactory accomplishment in the implementation of the National Greening of Program of the Administration of President Aquino geared towards poverty alleviation in the countryside and climate change mitigation and adaptation.” Nice achievement though at hindsight. Like mining, these species tend to ingress our forests and other natural resources.

The NGP the way it is implemented then and now is not reforestation but plantation. Aside from being a reforestation initiative, it is also designed to reduce poverty, providing alternative livelihood activities for marginalized upland and lowland households relating to seedling production and care and maintenance of newly-planted trees. But the question of sustainability and its contribution to biodiversity need concrete answers. As mitigation strategy to climate change, the NGP is no doubt helpful and the DENR deserves a tap on its shoulder for that.

But since the NGP holds true to the concepts plantations rather than reforestation, it produces negative effects in terms of biodiversity. The exotic and evasive species that the NGP are propagating are vulnerable to pest attacks and unable to restore the old, endemic rain forest species. Problems have only gotten worse in many reforested areas because biologically diverse forests have been replaced with single species planted for commercial purposes.

Invasive species are a major threat to our environment because they can change habitats and alter ecosystem function and ecosystem services; crowd out or replace native species; and damage human activities. In fact, the most common species introduced through the NGP are considered a greater threat to biodiversity by causing disease, acting as predators or parasites or as competitors to endemic species, altering habitat or hybridizing with local species.

In 2004, DENR issued Memo Circular No. 6 saying that it is state policy to manage and restore “forests approximate their original structure and functions, and conserve the biological diversity.” But that is only on paper. Denuded areas were instead planted with fast-growing exotic species from big-leaf mahogany teak to Moluccan sau or falcata and eucalyptus.

The NGP is true to its name for it concerns only in greening…

(Photo : Sablayan Herald)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Stories of Sablayan's Magnetism

This is the first story. Silly as a little child, I was made to believe that there’s a certain portion in the mountainous part of Sablayan that, according to some accounts, “magnetized” the Philippine Airlines’ DC3 Flight No. 785 which crashed into a ravine of the northern slope of Mount Rabañgan in the 60s. The mountain is believed to be part of Sitio Yapang and inside the property of the Sablayan Penal Colony just like the marvelous Libuao Lake shown in the above photo. It was the most tragic air accident in Occidental Mindoro’s history. It happened Wednesday morning, June 29, 1966 when a horrible event took the lives of 26 people including its 4 flight crews. I was only 5 years old that time but stories about the plane crash survived for decades especially in San Jose where many of the victims are residing or working, my mother told me.

Based on the investigation conducted by authorities, the PAL DC-3 took off from Mamburao Airport, which was actually came from Manila before its stop-over at the capital town, and was bound for San Jose Airport. Official document has it that the probable cause of the accident was the "misjudgment of the terrain clearance of which resulted (in) the collision with trees." One of the two lucky survivors is an Engineering student at FEATI University and a son of a farmer from Barrio Bubog named Federico Aguilar. The other survivor is a farmer also from San Jose identified as Donato Magpiling. The ill-fated aircraft which was found by the rescuers beyond repair first flew in 1944 was a twin engine Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92. According to Rodolfo M. Acebes in his book “Stories of 100 Families”, “He (Aguilar) survived because of the fresh water he drank from the Rayusan River.” Aguilar’s story instantly became talk of the town in Bubog, the place where I grew up. How he survived for days with wounds all over his body before he was found by the rescuers.

My childish imagination then made me believe in the urban legend saying that there is indeed literal “magnetic” forest in Sablayan causing the tragedy. But now that I am a grown-up man based in this town, I am still a believer of Sablayan’s magnetism but in its figurative sense. This paved the way to my second story of the town’s “magnets”.

My definition of “magnetism” here simply means “attraction”. Every single thing in the world, people, events and places included, has the capacity to attract or to magnetize both “gold” and “garbage”. Or garbage that looks like gold!  

As reported by the Tourism Development and Promotion Division headed by Ms. Sylvia T. Salgado, 3 national media networks stormed this year to Sablayan to feature the town’s tourist destinations. We, without doubt, have “magnetized” those journalists to introduce to the world the amazing-ness of this municipality aspiring to be the economic and political center of the province in the years to come. Our Tourism Office is under the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO). But we are not complacent for we are still aiming to “magnetize” many investors, tourists, local entrepreneurs including projects and programs coming from public and private entities here and abroad and forge sustaining partnership with them as envisioned by Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano and the rest of the LGU officials.

But magnetism isn’t just a phenomenon. Any human organization has to work for it. Aside from places and events, economic opportunities and richness of culture and natural resources, the practice of good governance can be a magnetic material as long as its people mutually has these: vision, expectation, contribution and commitment. To paraphrase an old saying, this kind of magnetism isn’t like that of a vacant lot or a vacant mind. The lot filled with “majoras” (improvements) won’t attract garbage!

Anything we have in common is a potential magnetic field, so to speak…

(Photo : Sablayan File)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lesson from Sarita Devi

I have now a new boxing heroine and she’s from Asia. Her name is Sarita Devi, the Indian who lost a controversial lightweight bout against South Korean Ji Na Park in the Asian Games at Incheon recently. Several dailies around the globe featured a crying Sarita on the front page, claiming she had been "robbed in the ring" by "biased" judges. Said the report that can be accessed HERE.

Before Devi’s emotional outburst during the medal ceremony, I happened to see the live telecast over Channel 5 on how our Filipino boxer lost to another Korean via same controversial match. I almost fell from my seat and shout to the heavens when Filipino flyweight Clark Bautista lost to hometown bet Choe Sangdon last Saturday. Choe was visibly rubber-kneed in the end and very lucky to finish the fight standing. Referee Michael Gallagher called a KO on 3rd round but the 5 judges favored Choe via UD, scoring 30-26, 29-27, 29-27. Five judges are assigned for every fight but a computer randomly selects which 2 scorecards to eliminate.

Ed Picson, the supervisor of the Philippine Boxing Team in Incheon almost filed a protest but he did not. Why? Because according to AIBA rules, said Picson, it is not allowed to file a protest on a decision. He stressed further that, “You can only file a protest on something the referee did to affect the outcome of the match”. So, one cannot file a protest if it concerns the score of the judges as stated HERE. Well, you may call her gesture as unsportsmanlike or plain emotionally- charged action, I understand what Sarita Devi is feeling right now. One thing is certain: She and Clark Bautista are victims of this semi-crazy rule!

With that explanation from Picson, I understand now why the Indian sports officials that went to Korea are mum on the issue. Picson even said on Bautista’s feat, “[I]t would just antagonize the officials if we pursued a protest. We made our message clear to (Tournament Supervisor) David (Francis of Wales) anyway and I’m hoping he appreciated our position.” Therefore, making the message clear to game officials is sufficient enough. But my heart bleeds with Sarita Devi when she cried, "None of the officials who came with me protested. I have been representing India for 14-15 years now but no one supported me when I needed it the most". What a sad, sad thing. "I have sacrificed for my country, whatever I did, I did it for my country and other players so that they don't go through the same thing again," she concluded as reported in THIS news item.

Many will say that the action made by Devi at the medal ceremony is not right and an uncalled for decision. An irrational decision maybe but certainly it’s triggered by emotion. An emotional decision made by a human being who felt robbed and became victim of injustice in a noble sport called sweet science. At age 32, she is not getting any younger for she's in a sport where age and agility matters most. A sport she truly love. 

As of press time, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had been requested to decide on the matter. Francis said in a statement, “I had to request OCA to review this incident, so any boxer or athlete in other sports will not follow in her footsteps by respecting the spirit of fair-play and sportsmanship of the Olympic Movement." Well, that’s it. Disciplinary action from OCA may or may not come soon.

This is the lesson I learned from Sarita Devi’s story: Heroines and victims do not need medals, anyway. And in times of scandals and controversies, heroines and victims, like whistle-blowers, need to rock the boat…

(Photo :

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Filipinos Soon in Space?

Congratulation to my cousin Eunice Barbara C. Novio for coming up with an article at Rappler titled “Coming soon: Filipino food in space”. Please click HERE and read and at least be informed on how Filipino delicacies would invade the space soon. This is a story about NASA Filipino scientist Apollo Arquiza working at the space agency’s Advanced Cookware and Techniques for Food Preparation for its Mars Space Mission in 2030. Reading her story, I became curious to know how the astronauts poop and pee in space. If Eunice’s story is about food preparation for Mars Expedition or on making possible cooking in space, mine is about poop-ing and pee-ing or the "human waste management systems" in outer space.

I did a little reading and "consulted" Cecil Adams, my ever trusted “straight doper”. In the early years of space missions, according to him, “waste management systems” were primitive. The feces were collected in a plastic bag (AKA “Apollo Bag”) that is glued to the astronaut’s behind during poop-ing and when pee-ing, a hose attached to a bag was worn by the spaceman. How about in women? Adam was adamant (?) in that aspect.

Then the Skylab came and later the space shuttle, a “space toilet” was designed by the NASA people. As our teacher in elementary science taught us that there’s lack of gravity in space and the fact that while gravity plays an important role in unloading poops and pees on earth, that would be a big problem up there. But modern space technology made this easy. Here’s the LINK describing vividly how “space toilet” works then during Adams' time in the 1990s.

In the Mars Mission which is set to embark in 2018, Taber MacCallum, member of the Inspiration Mars planning team, said in THIS report that human waste makes great radiation shielding, so it’ll be stuffed into bags and then lined along the walls of the ship. Their poops will stay with the astronauts for 501 days until they come back to Mother Earth. This is the yuckiest: The human poops will be dehydrated, so the waste water can be recycled for drinking. The solid part would remain in the spacecraft but controlling the smell is at present being taken care of by the team.

In that same news report by James Plafke posted March 4, 2013, he explained, “On a spacecraft, there isn’t exactly a plumbing system that leads to a large plant somewhere upstate, so there isn’t anywhere for urine or fecal matter to go.” But it would be fixed in the future, I am sure.

Just for laughs, I imagine, too, Malabanan soon in space …


Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Martial Law Painting

This painting sums up all my recollection of the Martial Law years and this inspires me to no end. Not only because it is one of the masterpieces of a man whom I know personally, born and raised in Mindoro but because it's message is still relevant after 42 years of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos’ Proclamation 1081 in September 21, 1972. The painting, “Notes for a Theology of Struggle” was created inside the prison cell in Bago Bantay, Quezon City by Edicio Dela Torre, former SVD priest and one of the pillars of the Christians for National Liberation or CNL. According to him as he cited in his blog, the reason why he painted a Christ figure with the right hand stretched out in resignation, even unto death, while the left hand is a clenched fist of resistance is, “[t]o portray the tension between our understanding of Christianity as a call to struggle for justice and the more dominant interpretation of Christianity as a consolation for the poor and oppressed who bear their suffering patiently.” Suffering, without doubt, can inspire artistic expression. But also true with comfort. Unluckily, the Christ image that dominates us is the suffering Christ and not the Christ who rejected the dominant religious and political systems of His time. The clenched fist of Jesus at the left side of the cross in Manong Ed’s painting.

When asked about the meaning of the figures at both sides of the cross, Dela Torre explained, “I decided to add leaves sprouting from the left arm of the cross, beyond the fist of resistance. Although the theology of struggle focuses on resistance, we do not need end there. We believe that new life will rise, like the leaves, from the dead wood of the cross. It adds the perspective of hope. To balance the leaves on the left, I filled the space beyond the right arm of the cross with leaf-like patterns on jungle uniforms of the military, and the face of a frightened child.” The “Notes for a Theology of Struggle” is an unfinished work of art and still an opus magnum in progress. Despite of the horrors of Martial Law, the painting comforts us for it leaves us a message that Christ shares in our suffering and struggle.

The turbulent times brought about by Martial Law in the Philippines gave birth to excellent works of art,- movies, novels, music, etc. that are too many to mention. Men and women who lived through it at least have a story or two to tell or re-tell. We need to keep alive the works of progressive artists coming from those dark sides of history when more than 3 thousand people have been killed and faced death. Their works are essential not only to inspire us though the struggle for justice and lasting peace is not yet over, but to celebrate that we, the “Martial Law babies” or survivors, are still alive. And the Generation X to be thankful for they are not yet born during those times. Those victims of "veneration without understanding" and "miseducation", as how nationalist historian Renato Constantino calls them. The "neo-Marcosists" as others would call them. 

The democratic space and the incomplete freedom that we are experiencing after EDSA, should not hinder budding artists here and now, to show their talents along this social or mass line. Pure entertainment is a staple of mass media nowadays without considering its redeeming social and literary value. We need works of art which depict the lives of ordinary people living in poverty, powerlessness and short-mindedness. These are the present-day artists’ battlefield. This must be their desk, studio and workshop aside from city streets and meeting places in the rural areas.

Now is the time they must even simply share artistic “notes” (not manuals) of struggle in case another Martial Law in whatever form and substance, threatens us again or in keeping up flame of freedom against this prevailing “selfie” mindset of our present political system…

(Photo : Ed Dela Torre's Blog)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Exalting the Cross of Renewal and the PCP-II

Allow me to share to you that as I grow old, the Cross to me is gradually becoming a symbol, above all, not only of salvation but of renewal.  What the people in the grassroots and far-flung communities really aspire now is again seeing our local church actively participating in socio-pastoral situations and realities affecting them. My mentioning of the “Cross of Renewal” here also hinges on the belief that we, as people of faith have to move on for a new life. Let go of the shadows of the past, embrace the light to re-start from our tradition of struggling with the aspiration of the masses even those who are not church-goers (Gentiles?). Nobody can afford to just keep his fingers crossed in the face of inhuman social and political realities in our midst till Kingdom come!  

We cannot renew ourselves by discarding everything that we have started just because of the ugliness of the past. This “Cross of Renewal” is challenging us to be relevant in said context and dimension. In his book called, Called to Communion (p.142), writing as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVII taught us, “It is true that purely spiritual attitudes also have an impact on social structures. This shows that the spiritual element does take effect. It is necessary, yet it is not sufficient. There is in fact a density proper to impersonal and collective structures which has to be reached.” On the other hand, we are not suppose to forget that the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) is a council of renewal renewing, among other things, the performance of her mission at the service of the transformation of the Philippine society (Well for many of us, PCP-II doesn’t ring a bell anymore). If we continue to be visible in our Basic Christian Communities (BECs) concretely struggling with the Mangyans in asserting their right to their ancestral domains or with the fisherfolks in their vigilance over illegal fishing methods and the peasants against usury for instance, we together “exalt” (rise on high) the Cross of renewal and salvation.

Call me an old fashioned parishioner but I believe that the tenets of the almost 23- year old Council need to be constantly revisited and revitalized. But it is sad to note that it seems diluted into a mere event than a tool in reading the times in the light of the Good News and “Unite all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10) as its theme have suggested. The PCP-II for me is always relevant to us Filipino Catholics. To some personal reminiscence, PCP-II was the “hot” when I first set foot at the door of the Church as a lay worker and that was 1991 until I tendered my resignation in January 2, 2011. From a radical street militant fixed to Marx’s Dialectic Materialism, I was able to gain example and inspiration of mainly from the Man “fixed” to the Cross.

The decrees embodied in the PCP-II are gems of faith but it is sad to note that it is now seldom referred to in various formation, manuscripts and homilies addressed to the people of God. Like her social doctrine, it is becoming another “best kept secrets” of the Church. The documents were crafted by the Council from January 20 to February 17, 1991. The Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Mindoro then is represented by Fr. Vicente C. Panaligan, Mr. Gaudencio M. Espiritu, Sr. and the late bishop Vicente C. Manuel, SVD, DD who heads the Conciliar Commission on the Religious. Fr. Panaligan, a jolly and friendly but intelligent clergy was among my early mentors on how to be involved in various active peaceful initiatives like pro-environment, the peace process and anti-illegal gambling campaigns towards putting into action the Social Doctrine of the Church. It’s the cross that we fearlessly put up high those days. It is the same cross that I am trying exalt now as a government employee and as a member of a Civil Society Organization (CSO) and as a Mindoro blogger.

Today is September 14, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) and we Catholics honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. And before going further, allow me to greet everyone in Sta. Cruz a Happy, Happy Fiesta!

Here’s a little “throwback” on the Church’s history. The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, according to early accounts. The miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, is the origin of the tradition of celebrating the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on this date.

As we celebrate this feast, let us all remember Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Mt 10:38,39).Meditating on these words we unite ourselves — our souls and bodies — with the cry and aspiration of the Anawim right here in our diocese specially both in the rural and urban areas. We owe a preferential option for them, remember? With this, we are worthy pilgrims who walk with Jesus throughout history in this part of the universe.

People would be glad seeing our local Church taking up the crosses of renewal of our marginalized and deprived brethren by keeping alive her essential pastoral programs that deals with seminary formation and social action ministry, among other related programs or commissions.

The hierarchy has to pick up the Cross of Renewal even at the point of suffering or feeling the weight of a wounded institution brought about by our, to borrow from PCP-II’s (665) description of the Philippines, “chronic, almost compulsive dividedness”…

(Photo : Forum Andrew Gough)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joe Francisco: More Than a Former Boxer

It’s Throwback Thursday! My office mate Jasper Francisco took the above uploaded “throwback” picture of his father and it reminded me of an equally “throwback” blog entry that I have posted some years back that can be accessed if you click THIS LINK.

To retell, the Joe Francisco-Chito Adigue fight in May 16, 1981 shattered our high hopes of seeing our local boxing hero then on top of world championship ring. In Francisco’s home court he was caught by Adigue’s left hook that landed on his jaw on the 6th round of the bout. Chito Adigue is a nephew of the legendary Pedro Adigue, the former World Boxing Council (WBC) Light Welterweight Champion in the late 60s’ and he was at Chito’s corner that moment. Joe Francisco, the pride of Brgy. Batasan in San Jose knelt  on the canvass the night he lost and the people of Occidental Mindoro wept for him.

In his early years in boxing, Diomedes “Joe” Francisco was molded and turned into a human wrecking ball by the former world champion Erbito Salavarria after the great but once controversial Filipino puncher saw Joe’s potential when Joe was still an amateur. After only 2 impressive amateur wins, Salavarria decided to “level up” his protégée to the professional level for the featherweight division. That was 1977 and he’s the Philippines’ newest ring sensation. Boxing analysts in Joe’s golden years considered him as a thinking boxer because of the way he analyzes his opponent before delivering his own killer punches. Until that heartbreaking loss from the hands, err, fist of Adigue. His second lost was in a match held at Araneta Coliseum via split decision to Gener Cruz in October 5, 1980, but in their rematch, Francisco won by points over Cruz in March 1, 1981.

But life has to continue. He married his most loyal (all pun intended) fan, the former Loyalyn “Bing Bing” Hilario of Brgy. Pag-Asa, San Jose. Bing Bing, by the way, just celebrated her 50th (golden!) birthday only last week. Joe and Bing Bing’s 4 children are all boys.

Seriously, here’s Joe Francisco’s record after his retirement in 1981: a total of 26 fights; 23 wins; 1 draw; 2 losses. Francisco was the #1 Philippine Junior Featherweight contender and #3 in the OPBF or the Orient Pacific Boxing Federation that time.  Three 3 years after that gruesome lost, Joe successfully won by way of unanimous decision in his two comeback fights but have decided to finally hang his gloves. He now has a growing family to attend to and new career path to thread.

From fistfights, Joe finally ended in public safety sector, specifically firefighting now known as SFO2 Diomedes L. Francisco of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Only last June 28, he headed the Volunteer Fire Brigade of Sablayan which won the Provincial Fire Olympics and will be representing our province in the upcoming regional competition this September.

Way back in November 10, 1982, a year after his retirement from boxing, Bing Bing gave birth to their first born Drian (nicknamed Jhong) in Brgy, Pag-Asa, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Joe raised Drian Francisco (25-2-1) in Sablayan to be a boxer like him. Drian had been boxing for about 142 rounds now with 71.43 knock out percentage in his 28 professional fights. In Drian’s early professional bouts held here in the Philippines, Bing Bing took care of her son’s diet while Joe give pre-fight pointers and acted as physical conditioning coach in the training camp. But Sweet Science runs deep in Joe’s veins that even after he decided to quit the pugilists’ world, he teaches free boxing lessons to kids, act as referee or promoter of boxing matches in our province. He is also into street basketball as his pastime and he’s in excellent shape until now that he’s already in his mid- 50s.

Let us go back to Drian, the son, just this August he returned to the ring after one year layoff KO’ing in the 3rd round Colombian Manuel de los Reyes Herrera at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in California. A big fight for Drian, after series of fine tuning in the US, is expected to be coming up soon like what his manager Justine Fortune have announced.

And there’s another boxer in Joe Francisco’s family in a son named Lloyd. Lloyd’s first fight as a professional was in September 29, 2007 defeating Jose Ocampo at Ynares Plaza in Binangonan, Rizal. His last fight was held two years ago winning by TKO at the expense of Roger Galicia in Lipa City. Being sidelined for almost 2 years, certainly he could still comeback. In his 12 professional fights, Lloyd record is as follows: 10 wins (6 by KO) and lost twice via KO. The last time I heard he is applying for a slot also at the BFP. I am unaware if it is still Lloyd’s dream to box overseas say for instance at the Madison Square Garden in a city called “The Big Apple”.  

Only the Francisco twins, Jasper and Jarred, are not into boxing but Jarred aspires to be like his father the other way around which is to be with the public safety sector someday as a policeman. On the other hand, Jasper is aiming into something else that he cannot figure out until now. He was once a Sepak Takraw star player in college until he got a knee injury and stopped. When asked if he also willing to box or to deal with fire someday, Jasper jokingly told me that he prefers to be a porn star!

With all certainty, the Francisco siblings absorbed not only their father’s boxing ability and public safety skills but more importantly, they must learn parenting lessons from Joe Francisco,- the former fist fighter, the present chief fire fighter of our pristine town and forever father to his sons…

(Photo : Jasper Francisco)