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 :