Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flashback SUHS 1988 days

I made my first product in Windows movie-maker.
It is a compilation of photos of high school classmates.
It is fun doing this windows movie maker.
I have no other song in my library except APO Highking Society which was uploaded by a cousin before.
But it isn't bad, as a background.
We' re going to have our twentieth reunion this year.
A couple of exciting activities are lined up in Dumaguete.
The class is donating a something to the high school.
There is an outreach project.
But thats ten percent of the affair.
The other ninety percent consists of nocturnal, intoxicating events.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Limkaichong-Paras oral arguments at Supreme Court

I picked up the following news story, in the Inquirer website, of the legal battle between Rep. Joselyn Limkaichong and the wife of ex-Rep. Jing Paras.
The news is that the case will be set for oreal arguments on August 12, 2008 before the Supreme Court. Here is the Inquirer story:

Status of Negros Oriental solon to be argued before SC

By Tetch Torres
First Posted 19:53:00 07/29/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- The Supreme Court has granted Negros Oriental Representative Jocelyn S. Limkaichong’s request for an oral argument of the case she filed on the conflicting Commission on Elections (Comelec) decisions on her status as an elective official.
The high court en banc set the oral argument for August 12 after Limkaichong, through her lawyer, Pete Quirino-Quadra, said it was necessary to clarify issues involving questions on jurisdiction and constitutionality.

“We respectfully pray that the...cases be set for oral argument on the...jurisdictional and constitutional questions that we have raised,” Limkaichong said.
Limkaichong, who ran and won under the administration Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, won by 7,746 votes over her rival Olivia Paras, and less than 40,000 votes over former representative Jerome Paras, in the May 14, 2007 elections.
The four cases filed over Limkaichong’s elective status -- the one she filed and those filed by Louis C. Biraogo, Renald Villando and Olivia Paras -- have been consolidated.
Limkaichong refuted the arguments of her rivals that the June 29, 2007 Comelec en banc resolution affirming the May 17, 2007 resolution of the poll body’s second division disqualifying her is final and executory because of her failure to file a petition for certiorari within five days from the promulgation of the en banc resolution.
She said she received the June 29 en banc resolution on July 3 and filed a petition for certiorari before the high court on August 1, within the reglamentary period of 30 days.
Limkaichong also urged the Supreme Court justices to resolve the conflicting decisions of the Comelec involving her candidacy and proclamation.
She was referring to the May 17, 2007 resolution of the Comelec second division and the evenly divided June 29, 2007 Comelec en banc resolution affirming the second division resolution disqualifying her from running for a seat in the House.
A day after the May 17 resolution was issued, the Comelec en banc promulgated Resolution No. 8062, ordering a “suspension of proclamation of winning candidates with pending disqualification cases...without prejudice to the continuation of the hearing and resolution of the involved cases.”
“These conflicting rulings of the Comelec on Limkaichong’s proclamation and the disqualification cases need to be clarified by our Honorable Justices during the oral argument. These vital issues must be resolved by the Court, in the interest of substantial justice,” the solon’s petition said.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Holidays are anti-poor

I woke up this morning to be greeted by news that classes in all levels in Metro Manila are suspended.
The official reason for the suspension of classes is supposed to be the typhoon, which is not passing the country, but headed for Taiwan.
Then, after lunch, I went to the city prosecutors office for a hearing.
Offices too were suspended there.
According to a staff member, the Department of Justice declared a half-day for all DOJ personnel and that included the staff members of the prosecutor's office.
Then I remembred that today is the state of the nation address.
I don't know why schools and offices have to be suspended when the President delivers the state of the nation address.
The people already know the state of the nation.
This is a nation of holidays too.
In the coming month of August, there are already two scheduled holidays, August 18 and 25.
We need to have more work days, not holidays.
Holidays are detrimental to the lowest paid members of the country's workforce---the daily wage earners, the casuals, the non-regulars.
If it is a holiday, its no-work-no-pay for them.
For each holiday, hardly will they be able to bring food on the table for their families.
Scrap those worthless holidays.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Best lecture was 'The Last Lecture'

I have just been through one of the best lectures about life.
This came from the famous "Last Lecture" by Professor Randy Pausch, whose famous last lecture last September has earned more than three million hits on You Tube.
Its a rather long lecture, one hour and sixteen minutes, but I find it the best inspirational lecture one can ever hear about how to lead one's life.
By the way Randy Pausch just died today, July 25, 2008 (if you are in the United States).
He succomed to pancreatic cancer, at the young age of 47.
He left a wife and three children, a daughter just celebrated her second birthday.
In the Youtube post, here was how the lecture post was described:
"Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals"
What moved me was his demonstration on how to focus on others, and not yourself (Watch it).
Another very touching moment was when he asked the audience whether they figured out "the second head fake".
Of course, I couldn't pass away his sentence when he said brick walls are are there for us to prove how badly we want things.
It's filled with a lot of humor too, as when he tells what his "death bed conversion" was.
You know, when somebody is at the brink of death, the others around will begin talking about conversions "from-darkness-to-light" things.
But Randy's got a different death-bed conversion.
I gotta post the one-hour "last lecture" here:

Twin requirements under Maceda Law

With all due respect to this law, R.A. 6552, it could've scribbled clearer phraseology.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ruled on cases which make things clearer.
In a nutshell, there are twin mandatory requirements that a seller must do in case the buyer defaults in installments.
First is a notarial notice of cancellation.
Second, seller must refund the cash surrender calue, in accordance with the forumla stated in the law, which generally, is fifty percent of all the paid installments.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

PAL returns flights to Dumaguete?

I have just read that Philippine Airlines will return its Manila-Dumaguete-Manila routes by August 15, 2008.
I don't know how true this is.
I got the information from Wikepedia at this address
This must be a new post since it mentions the date of the its return which is August 15, 2008.
PAL had been servicing Dumaguete before.
They used to fly the BAC-111's.
But it stopped flying there.
It was taken over by Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines which presently have two daily flights each.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Maceda Law

A client was inquiring what rights she may have left after having defaulted in the monthly installments of her residential condominium unit. She said she has already paid more than P1.5-million in installments. She is asking whether she can still get back the installment payments she had already made.
I think the Maceda Law comes into play to this query.
Republic Act No. 6552 is a law that seeks to protect buyers of realty on installments.
It is popularly known as the Maceda law, in attribution to its author.
If one is a buyer of real estate, including residential condominium, on installments, the buyer may still retain certain rights even if he defaults in his payments.
If the buyer has already paid at least two years installments, he has two rights under the Maceda law.
First, he can continue paying the unpaid installments due without additional interest.
He must pay within the grace period.
The grace period is one month for every one year of installments paid.
Second, his other option is he can get a cash surrender value, or refund of the installment payments made.
He can get a refund of fifty percent of his total installment payments.
The buyer can opt for the cash surrender value or refund if the contract is canceled.
If the buyer has paid less than two years installment, his option is to continue paying the installments.
The seller has to give the buyer a grace period within which to continue paying the installments due.
The grace period is not less than sixty days.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking for Freddie

I have been looking for my high school classmate Freddie Estacion.
He was a classmate since kindergarten. My latest info is that he is coaching the La Salle soccer team.
Freddie has gone a long way. We used to play soccer games in Dumaguete and national games at the Pasig Ultra ballfield when we were in high school.
He "careered" his talent sint he sport, and is now one of the best soccer coaches in the country.
He joins Marlon Maro, Roroy Pinero, Marlon Pinero who have given honor to the country by representing the national team in soccer events abroad.
I heared soccer teams of prominent schools in the country are in in a tug-of-war in trying to get Dumaguete-based soccer coaches.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dgte. Press forms legal team

The Dumaguete Press Club Inc. has formed a legal team that will address the legal concerns of its members.
I have volunteered to be the team's legal counsel. Hopefully we will be able to invite other lawyers to lend us a helping hand in promoting the legal interests of practicing journalists.
The Dumaguete journalists, members of the Dumaguete Press Club Inc. met at our Dumaguete law office last week, to organize and adopt a framework to fulfill the team's objectives.
I asked the members of the press if there have been legal actions taken against any them.
Fortunately, there have yet been none lately.
However, their concerns are the constant harrassments they encounter when they write their stories.
The harrassments most expectedly come from local officials who are the subject of their stories.
They relate their stories about how mayors "scold" or berate journalists during press conferences.
I am not surprised at these stories.
Some are parochial, the local chief thinks he lords over his little kingdom.
Some local officials also have a burgeoning egos.
So instead of giving his side of the story, the local official lets out his personal emotions, and scolds the journalists for writing the story wrong.
I sense that the only correct story is when the the official is placed in a good light.
If the official is placed in a bad light, then the story is wrong or "libelous".
That is a challenge for journalists---dealing with these kind of public officials.
Fellow journalists related the story of a southern mayor, who in a fit of madness, drove the journalists away from his turf.
"Pamahawa mo diri!" (Get out of here!), the journalists were told.
It was as if the mayor owned the town.
This mayor was formerly a political errand boy in the past.
He continuously licked the asses of political bosses until his tongue dried up, he got his chance, and eventually became mayor.
Now that he is mayor, he thinks he has all the right to scold people, including journalists.
Such are stories I heard during our gathering.
I opined that we really cannot avoid ego-tripping public officials.
Diskartehan na lang. Pasensiya lang.
Public officials should not cross the line though, by doing something that would give rise to legal cause of action.
If there arises a cause of action against journalists, then the journalists must assert their rights, assisted by this legal team, and take action.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ombudsman should probe Valencia

The Chronicle has run an un-intended series of articles about what is going on in the town of Valencia.
Were it not for Mayor Rodolfo V. Gonzalez Jr.’s bizarre press conference weeks ago (I learned the Chronicle was not invited), the interesting things going on in Valencia would not have seen print.
Everybody knows a Commission on Audit (COA) report is routine.
But it moved the newspaper to scrutinize it instead, purely and solely because of Mayor Gonzalez’ previous actions.
I myself was surprised at the mayor’s dis-proportionate reaction to a routine, surface COA publication, that I was prompted to ask: What is in this COA report anyway, that drove the mayor to evoke a moment of madness?
So I asked the news-desk for a full copy of the COA report.
The significant matter I read in the COA report is the inter-twining, interlocking, of personalities, which to my mind, would place its officials in a conflict of interest.
I think Mayor Rodolfo V. Gonzalez Jr., owes it to the public to explain this conflict of interest that has besieged himself and his administration.
This is something a little serious because it has criminal implications.
First, it is the mayor’s own brother, also a public official who is entangled in a conflict of interest position.
His brother is a municipal councilor, and at the same time an officer of a cooperative that has received millions of pesos of loans from the municipal government (peoples’ money).
I think there is an inherent conflict.
Its like playing for the Boston Celtics in the morning, and then playing for the LA Lakers in the evening.
It just isn’t right.
It creates a dizzying dis-comfort like a rumbling stomach.
Immediately, Mayor Gonzalez also gets entangled with the anti-graft law, Republic Act No. 3019, particular Section 3(d):
“Having any member of his family accept employment in a private enterprise which has pending official business with him” during its pendency
What needs to be clarified is: Why did Mayor Gonzalez allow his own brother-councilor to be a treasurer of a cooperative (Valencia Integrated Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative) that has pending official business with the municipality, and that is procuring millions of pesos of loans?
Second, Mayor Gonzalez may get entangled with Section 3 (j) of the anti-graft law which penalizes a public official who:
Knowingly approves or grants…privilege or benefit in favor of any person not qualified for or not legally entitled to such…. privilege or advantage…”
Mayor Gonzalez needs to explain why he allowed the release of millions of pesos of loans to this cooperative when the cooperative is “automatically disqualified” (per COA circular) by virtue of his own brother being an officer of such recipient-cooperative.
Besides, the cooperative according to COA, has deficiencies, which do not even entitle or qualify it to be a recipient.
For one, according to COA, the cooperative is financially unstable. The coop’s assets are insufficient to pay off its loans. The coop has no cash backing to pay annual amortizations and interest.
This brings Mayor Gonzalez to face-to-face with Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law which penalizes any public official who:
“Causes any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or gives any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence”
The finding by the COA of a cooperative that is financially malnourished, and yet being the beneficiary of millions of pesos of loans, leads to a conclusion that the cooperative has received “unwarranted benefits” (undeserved) from the municipality.
I learned that the cooperative enjoys a four-year grace period, meaning, the cooperative is given a vacation from loan payments for four years.
I have also noticed that of the four cooperatives listed as recipients of financial assistance from the municipality in the COA report, it is the Valencia Integrated Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative that has suspiciously received a gargantuan loan of P3-million.
The other cooperatives only received P500,000 maximum.
So, in terms of distribution of financial assistance, the Valencia Integrated Growers Multi-Purpose Cooperative enjoyed far financial advantage, despite its being disqualified and financially unstable.
“Co-incidentally”, this is the same cooperative where the mayor’s brother occupied the position of treasurer.
Can the mayor explain this?
There is, we think, sufficient basis to refer this matter to the office of the ombudsman for administrative and criminal investigation.
In this way, there is a proper venue where the good mayor can explain these matters that are raising more questions than answers.
The ombudsman is the right venue because this is the mechanism adopted by our Constitution to promote, maintain and ensure public accountability
At the same time, Mayor Gonzalez can vindicate himself once he has sufficiently explained to the people why there is, or isn’t any conflict of interest in running the affairs of government.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Relaxing at Hayahay

There is a bar and restaurant in Dumaguete by the bay.
It is called "Hayahay".
Hayahay is a Cebuano word to mean pleasure.
I was with high school classmates Alex Abregana, Voltaire Repollo, and Ulysses Alquisola.
We talked about nothing but the old days.
We will be having our twentieth year Silliman high school reunion this August.

Monday, July 14, 2008

We miss mommy Charing

Today Tita Mamel sent an email informing that its been thirty days since Mommy passed on. She died last June 14, 2008. Tita says "mingaw kaayo". We really miss our lola. She always made her presence felt in our lives by sending us food from Tagbilaran everytime somebody comes to Manila. But now that she is gone, we can only recall and re-live the excitment of receiving those food stuff. My wife Ruby found a photo of her and Mommy taken more than ten years ago, during lolo and lola's golden anniversary on January 1, 1998. We had been married just a few days before before that.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

BIR Tax Audit Seminar

I received an email from Bebs Manalang, Associate Publisher, Tritium Knowledge Center Publishing who asked that the following invitation be published. It's a seminar on BIR Tax Audit:

BIR is tasked by government to collect more taxes this year. This represents 65% of the government’s revenue.
Such a task impacts largely on taxpayers who could expect to encounter more BIR scrutiny for them to comply with their tax obligations. Corporate organizations and high net worth individuals who are not ready for an in-depth BIR audit may expect to encounter tax problems and issues.
The “Winning Your BIR Tax Audit” seminar is intended to address this. The seminar will be held July 30, 2008 from 1-5 PM at the Banahaw Room, Legend Villas, 60 Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong City.
Topics discussed during the seminar are: learning the step by step guide to a BIR tax audit; knowing your rights and remedies as a taxpayer when confronted with a BIR tax audit; and, understanding the techniques and tips in handling tax assessment issues.
Resource Speaker is Mr. Joel L. Tan-Torres—a Tax Expert and practitioner with over 20 years experience working previously as Assistant BIR Commissioner and as a Tax Consultant.
The first 10 paid Registrants get a free short consultation each after the seminar. A FREE valuable Resource CD packed with information is also going to be distributed together with seminar materials.
For details, call Tritium Knowledge Center Publishing at tel. nos. 381-2664; 331-6256; 531-0084 or CP: 0919-2299777; 0919-2299780 or email at or

Mayor's bro not denying documents

I was able to invterview the brother of Valencia mayor Rodolfo V. Gonzalez Jr., municipal councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez, to get his side on his involvement as an officer of a cooperative that received a P3-million loan from the municipal government.
This is a conflict-of-interest issue because Wilfredo V. Gonzalez is a member of the municipal council that appropriates money to assist non-government oganizations, and one of the recipients is a cooperative which he, until recently, was an officer (treasurer).
Here is the story out of my interview:
Valencia municipal Councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez is not denying a document that listed him as an officer of a cooperative that has been a recipient of the P3-million loan from the municipal government.
This was learned from Gonzalez during an exclusive interview with the Chronicle when asked about a document, the general information sheet for the year 2006 where he was listed as “treasurer” of the Valencia Integrated Growers Multipurpose Cooperative.
Gonzalez was first elected councilor in 2004.
He is on his second consecutive term.
A report of the Commission on Audit disclosed additional loan releases amounting to P2,000,000.00 were released in 2006 and 2007.
When asked about the document, councilor Gonzalez said:
“Kay na a man kay documents diha, unsa-on nako pag-deny?” (Since you have documents with you, how can I deny?)
Also the Chronicle asked councilor Gonzales whether or not he is a member of any cooperative other than the Valencia Integrated Growers Multipurpose Cooperative, his response was: “Wala”(None).
Gonzalez also confirmed that there was en elective official who was an officer of the cooperative, but resigned after the release of the finding of the COA.
Gonzalez did not identify who this person was saying this was not “necessary”.
Gonzalez emphasized that the recommendations of the COA were followed.
He explained the set-up of the cooperative saying there is a credit committee of which he is not a member.
He said he is also not a member of the board.
Gonzalez also said he signed documents of the cooperative before when he was still a private person.
Gonzalez also confirmed “the COA report is true”.
He explained that after the audit findings, there is a dialogue with COA and the local government where the COA recommends matters that need to be changed.
He said with respect to Valencia growers, the set-up has been changed because we need to follow the COA recommendations, Gonzalez said.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mayor's brod linked to P3M loan anomaly

The brother of Valencia Mayor Rodolfo V. Gonzalez Jr., who is an incumbent municipal councilor, has been linked to the anomalous P3-million “financial assistance” to a disqualified non-government organization.
Documents obtained by the Negros Chronicle show municipal councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez, the mayor’s older brother, who chairs the powerful appropriations committee of the sangguniang bayan of Valencia, also occupied the position of “treasurer” of the Valencia Integrated Growers Multi-purpose Cooperative (VIGMPCI), a disqualified non-government organization that has been a recipient of a P3-million assistance from the municipal government.
This conflict of interest was among the findings of the latest report of the Commission on Audit.
The Commission on Audit has cited the cooperative code (R.A. No. 6938) which bars elective government officials from becoming officers of cooperatives.
A ranking official of the Valencia government interviewed by the Chronicle has described councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez as one suffering from a serious conflict of interest.
“The role of the municipal council is to appropriate funds for livelihood assistance to non government organizations,” the official said.
Another Valencia official also explained that the sanggunian grants authority to the mayor to enter into a contract with non government organizations.
“Councilor Gonzalez heads the appropriations committee of the sangguniang bayan” the official added.

“After the appropriation by the sanggunian, it goes to Mayor Roldolo Gonzalez Jr, who identifies the NGO loan beneficiaries,” the official explained.
“One of the loan recipients is an NGO-cooperative where councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez was a ranking officer---a treasurer at that,” the official noted.
That is plain and simple conflict of interest prohibited by the local government code, the official said.
Another Valencia official also questioned why councilor Wilfredo Gonzales is signing documents of the cooperative pertaining to the release of funds.
"Before the loaned coop funds are released to loan beneficiaries, documents have to pass through and be signed by councilor Gonzalez," the offiical said.
"Why is councilor Gonzalez signing coop documents when he is a municipal councilor?" the official asked.
The local government code (Section 51) clearly describes a conflict of interest relationship:
"Conflict of interest" refers in general to one where…a member of a sanggunian may not act in the public interest due to some private, pecuniary, or other personal considerations that may tend to affect his judgment to the prejudice of the service or the public

Section 89 of the local government code prohibits local government officials from having pecuniary interest in government transactions.
The law states: “It shall be unlawful for any local government official or employee, directly or indirectly, to: (1) Engage in any business transaction with the local government unit in which he is an official or employee or over which he has the power of supervision, or with any of its authorized boards, officials, agents, or attorneys, whereby money is to be paid, or property or any other thing of value is to be transferred, directly or indirectly, out of the resources of the local government unit to such person or firm”
A check by the Chronicle also revealed that the anti-graft and corrupt practices act (R.A. 3019) holds liable officials in a position of conflict of interest.
The general information sheet of the VIGMPCI for the year 2006 listed councilor Wilfredo V. Gonzalez as treasurer of the cooperative.
At the same time, a finding by the Commission on Audit bared “additional loan releases amounting to P2,000,000.00 in the year 2006 and 2007 were made to VIGMPCI.”
Thus loan releases were made while Wilfredo V. Gonzalez was both a municipal councilor and officer of the recipient cooperative.
The Commission on Audit in its latest report, considers the loans granted to the Valencia Integrated Growers Multipurpose Cooperative (VIGMPCI) as VOID.
The COA also said that VIGMPCI is disqualified from receiving the financial assistance.
The COA has directed that the VIGMPCI “will have to immediately settle the amount released to them.”
The COA has also questioned or doubted the “real intention and use of the fund released” to VIGMPCI and other questionable NGO’s.
The COA specifically noted the “failure on the part of the municipality to properly accredit the NGOs” as evidenced by their deficiencies.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Josh, MJ, Mayen

This picture was taken in front of the FM station in Bohol during our Christmas visit last December. Here Joshua, his cousin MJ and MJ's mom Mayen (my sister) are caught while playing, awaiting the traditional exchange of gifts. It was always fun as children during these times. Its pretty obvious in their faces, I think.

Planting rice is never fun

I received an email from Leo-Dgte, as a fitting reminder of the spiralling cost of rice:
Planting rice is never fun...
Bent from morning till the set of sun...
Cannot stand or cannot sit...
Cannot rest for a little bit....----------------------
It's that time of year once again... thought i'd give you pause to remember....
With the price of rice skyrocketing, this scene is becoming all the more important.Best,Leo

Sunday, July 06, 2008

See the most sophisticated weaponry

Modern technology has helped create the most effective weaponry in land battles....

or on the seas....

The Journey CBS Interview

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Last outing with lola

We recall our last out of town trip with lola Charing.
It was a time when she could still withstand the difficulties of travel.
It was a sojourn to Mount Samat.
I have blogged about this memorable trip before.
But during our lola's wake, we were able to stumble upon a picture we had with lola while we were at the top of the Mount Samat Cross.
We stole a copy of Tita Mamel's album by taking or re-taking the picture with our digital camera.
So its a picture taken from a picture.

Journey's Revelation

We got our copy of the latest album of Journey with Arnel Pineda on leads vocals, given to us by visiting friend Lilibeth who came from Maryland.
She was asking what pasalubong we wanted from the states, and without batting an eyelash, we wanted Journey's latest labum sold exclusive then at Walmart.

It is a great album sold only for less than US$12. It comes with disc one which contains the new songs of Journey including "Never Walk Away","Change for the Better" the re-made "Faith in the Heartland", "Wildest Dreams", "Like a Sunshower" and "After All These Years".
We also enjoyed disc 2, containing the greatest hits of Journey over the years.
It of course contains our favorites like "Only the Young" "Don't Stop Believin'" "Wheel In the Sky","Faithfully","Anyway You Want It", "Who's Crying Now", Lights", "Open Arms", "Separate Ways","Be Good To Yourself" and "Stone In Love".

Third, in the package is a DVD featuring their concert in Las Vegas.
The album has been soaring atop the charts, which indicates its wide acceptance among hard core fans of Journey and a newly built younger fan base.
It'll soon be marketed worldwide.

Friday, July 04, 2008

US Ambassador picks up Erwin's sad story

The amiable US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney paid a visit to the Negros Chronicle and DYEM-FM radio station in Dumuguete early this week.
She came from a speaking engagement in Sillman University and went straight to DYEM-FM studio for a chance to speak directly to the people of Dumaguete.
She was interviewed by station owner Ely P. Dejaresco.
It was an opporunity to bring up to the good ambassador,the sad fate that befell the late city prosecutor Erwin P. Cabanag.
Because of an initial denial of his US visa application, Cabanag, who was then diagnosed of having leukemia, wasn't able to participate in a protocol in a US hospital, that would have brought about positive developments in the continuing research about the adult leukemia.
The ambassador assured she will look into the matter.
But as I understand, those screening applications for US visas are given almost absolute discretion in deciding whether or not to grant an application.
I am not sure if their factual evaluation of applicants is subject to review or appeal.
Anyway, it just appears to many that it was an erroneous exercise of judgment in denying initially Erwin's application for US visa.
Erwin's case was far more meritorious than many other applications that are granted even if the purpose is merely to have a vacation.
What we hope from the US embassy is a more humane consideration of applications of similar nature in the future.
After all, the purpose of Erwin's trip to the United States was for the benefit not only of Filipinos, or Americans, but for the human race.
Erwin was just courageous to consent to what I would really describe as an experiment where he was to be a "guinea pig".
I knew of one (also having cancer) who had to give up being a "guinea pig" in a medical experiment because he just couldn't cope with the rigors of such an exercise.
We hope to hear a word from the good ambassador.

The story of Erwin P. Cabanag

The story of our friend the late Erwin P. Cabanag is heart wrenching.
Someday, we shall find meaning to his story.
As many of us believe, "there is a purpose for everything".
It is our obligation to find that purpose, even if at times, we don't see it in the horizon.
Here is the story of Erwin P. Cabanag, as narrated by his sister physician Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre:

Science looses opportunity
due to US VISA denial.

Atty. Erwin P. Cabanag was a city Fiscal and prosecutor of the City of Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Philippines.
He was diagnosed to have Acute Myelogenous Leukemia at the age of 44 for which he underwent intensive chemotherapy at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang, Metro Manila on November, 9 2003 to induce a remission of his leukemia so he can undergo bone marrow transplant (BMT) also at the Asian Hospital as a strategy to go for cure.
He was successfully brought to remission and was discharged from the hospital on Dec 22, 2003. The intensive chemotherapy that Erwin had caused a severe fungal infection of the lungs for which he had to undergo a surgical procedure to take out the diseased part of the lung. Due to this development, the attending oncologist told Erwin and family that undergoing bone marrow transplant would be very risky and a full transplant would not be feasible.
The success rate of BMT in the Philippines for even the most uncomplicated case is low, roughly estimated at 60%. So for Erwin’s case that was complicated by a severe fungal lung infection, the success rate would go down to about 40%. The high cost and the low success rate of BMT in the Philippines pushed the family to seek help from various foundations locally and in the United States that could help Erwin get a better chance for a successful BMT.
The family’s search led them to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) in NIH found a protocol that could include Erwin. In other words, Erwin had to consent to be part of an experimental drug or regimen that would be incorporated in the bone marrow transplant procedure that he would undergo. In the interest of Science and the human race, Erwin’s consent would mean a free bone marrow transplant procedure as well as a significant contribution to modern science and the treatment of leukemia. After some convincing and prayerful consideration, Erwin consented hence formal correspondence with the NIH/NCI started sometime November 2004. Hence he had to get a visa to allow him entry into the US.
Erwin’s US visa interview was scheduled on February 3, 2005 along with sister Evelyn Cabanag-Tubo, an accountant who took care of Erwin throughout his critical days during chemotherapy. Unfortunately, Erwin was denied a visa. The consul bluntly said she could not believe Erwin was sick and that the US would pay for Erwin’s BMT and more so she could not believe Erwin would return to the Philippines after treatment. Erwin and the family including the NIH could not believe that the US could deny a visa to a patient seeking medical attention and whose participation in the study protocol would benefit not only Americans but the entire world.
After this denial, the family sought reconsideration. The family tried many ways to be heard again by the consul. The family was able to seek help from people with access to the US embassy who were more than willing to help since they themselves could not believe why Erwin had to be denied a visa. Time was running out since leukemia is a disease that would not remain silent. Erwin’s disease progressed. After many follow-ups and days of waiting, a ray of hope for Erwin came when he was called for interview on April 29, 2005. Erwin was then granted a visa along with sister Cynthia Cabanag, an accountant who was to be his donor for the BMT. He then returned to Dumaguete City to prepare his things saying, “God must be giving me a chance to live since I have been granted a visa at last”.
Unfortunately, it was too late. Erwin got very sick and was admitted at the Silliman University Medical Center and in a few days was airlifted to Manila. At this time the NIH kept on contacting Erwin’s sister Dr. Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre (correspondent to NIH) asking about Erwin and that a relative should also be with him to attend to his needs while undergoing chemotherapy and BMT at the NIH. So the family sought help to expedite visas for at least two of Erwin’s siblings who could accompany him as advised by the NIH. At this time the NIH had to answer a lot of questions posed by the US embassy including faxed letters to request for sibling-caregivers to be granted visas in order to accompany Erwin to NIH for treatment. The US embassy still did not act on Erwin’s case with extreme urgency. We waited long for the siblings, Evelyn Cabanag-Tubo and Dr. Oliver Cabanag to be called for interview, still no call.
After 6 days of hospital care, Erwin succumbed to his leukemia on May 12, 2005, three days before his scheduled departure to the US. At this time, the two siblings still were still not called for interview.
During the wake, a call from the US embassy came for Evelyn and Oliver to come for interview. Oliver regretfully refused the interview saying it was just too late.
Erwin’s death brought many issues to the fore especially the critical delay in proper treatment all because of an initial visa denial which would have saved Erwin’s life.
Dr. Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre made the full circle for Erwin and visited the NIH. The BMT team headed by Dr. Dan Fowler with the BMT nurse Ms Kate Castro could not believe the US embassy did not grant a visa on the first interview.
At this time, the first Adult Leukemia Foundation in the Philippines, the Erwin P. Cabanag Adult Leukemia Memorial (EPCALM) was born. The NIH pledged to help every Filipino that would seek help at the NCI/NIH.
- Cardiology Consultant, St Luke’s Medical Center
- 279 E. Rodriguez Sr Blvd. Quezon City
- Tel. mobile 0917-857-9451
- Tel. landline 723-1058 St Luke’s ; 724-4490 –Res.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Image "off-setting"

Last Sunday my wife and I were at Evangelista to meet a friend.
Suddenly, whle we were at roadside, an American wearing shorts and carrying a backpack interevened.
He asked if we could speak English.
We said yes.
He narrated his sad tale that he was on a bus heading for Subic.
Somebody apparently, "dropped" his coins on the floor of the bus.
The innocent American tried to help pick up the coins.
Unknowingly, while helping pick up the coins, somebody took his wallet, which contained all his cash and credit cards.
Upon realizing what had just happened to him, he disembarked from the bus and began walking, as he had nothing with him.
He began hiking and headed towards a police station.
He didn't get any help.
(In the Philippines, some say it is not normal to ask money from the police. It would be normal if it is the other way around).
So he continued walking.
Until he stumbled upon us three.
I gave him a P500, which was the only money in my wallet incidentally.
We discussed, the Philppine image once again received a black eye with that pickpocket incident.
But hopefully it was redeemed when we gave him the P500.
You can call that image "Off-setting".

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Valencia's P1.5M "banyo" anomaly exposed

The Commission on Audit has sniffed a stinking anomaly involving the questionable construction of what is touted to be one of the most expensive public comfort rooms ever built in the province costing no less than P1,500,000.00.
After more than two years since its start of construction these highly expensive “banyos” remain unfinished to date.
The delay is causing damage to the government and the people of Valencia town.
“In January 2006, the municipality of Valencia started the construction of public comfort rooms (CR) near the plaza with an appropriation of P1.5-million sourced out from the loan granted by the Development Bank of the Philippines,” the COA reported.
“It has been more than two years from the start of construction but the C.R. has not been completed up to the present,” the COA lamented.
The COA discovered that the one of the main causes of delay was because the construction plans were not followed.
“The delay in the completion of the project could have been avoided had the construction plan been followed strictly,” the COA reported.
The COA found that the program of work had been revised three times, thus causing the delay.
The undue delay is detrimental to public interest.
“Cost savings would have been possible and income could have been generated more than a year ago had this C.R. been completed and utilized,” the COA said.
Apparently, the kind of materials to be used in this public comfort room is so scarce and hard-to-find.
The municipal engineer has explained that the suppliers who quoted some of the tourism standard items could not deliver because those items were “not available locally nor in Manila.”
As a curious citizen I am prompted to ask these simple questions:
What kind of comfort room is this town trying to build that its materials are hard-to-find?”
If the materials cannot be found locally nor in Manila, where will they plan to procure the materials? In Hongkong?
According to the COA report the mayor of Valencia Mayor Rodolfo Gonzalez Jr., has realized that it would have been better if this CR has been constructed by a “qualified licensed contractor.”
Is the mayor saying that an unqualified, unlicensed contractor was hired to do this job?
If so, why was an unqualified unlicensed contractor tasked to do this job in the first place?
It was learned that there were also suppliers whose deliveries were not in accordance with specifications.
A number of re-biddings for construction materials had to be made due to “bidding deficiencies.”
There were also changes in the program of work due to changes in prices and changes in design, the COA report bared.
Since apparently this delayed project is derived from a bank loan, and it is still not generating income until now, who is shouldering the loan obligations, interest and principal?