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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


To the Sondalus, Saludo


Arnold Schwarzenegger said these immortal words before, but paraphrasing the ‘Terminator,’ we don’t mind saying it ourselves, “We’re back.”

After two issues dedicated exclusively to the passing of world icon and former Philippine President Maria Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco Aquino [1], WTW is back, indeed. For us, it’s back to wishful, wistful thinking and back hopefully to witful thinking as well.

Tardy or not and with detours or distractions like Cancun and Las Vegas notwithstanding, we hope to make good on the premise and the promise that we are not going away anytime soon.


Most likely you will be reading this – if you care to read this – on a Sunday. If so, our apology for the unintended transgression of the unsolicited but not unappreciated advice of “Never on Sunday” from Cavalier Alfonso “Ponsoy/PonsWA” Alvarez ’83, a WTW C5 [2].


Bill Clinton was in the news again, this time front and center in the final negotiations, and of course the inevitable photo-ops, which culminated in the release of US journalists detained by the Pyongyang government.

Some watchers of the popular Clinton couple hinted that Hillary’s first visit to Africa as Secretary of State was being overshadowed by her husband’s trip to North Korea. But Hillary, who must have weighed heavily on the choice of her husband to sew up the release negotiations in North Korea, left no question about Bill’s billing.

“My husband is not the Secretary of State; I am,” she said (she ‘snapped,’ if we are to believe the dispatches), in response to a Congolese university student who asked what her husband thought about an international financial matter.
"I am not going to be channeling my husband."
Now, boys and girls, you have learned one lesson in diplomacy today: know who to ask; know what channel to avoid.


With the pre-season of the NFL in earnest and the first regular game of the NFL just around the corner, it’s time once again for touchdowns.

Last Monday, however, it was a touchdown of another kind – the House of Representatives coming down to earth and deciding finally to drop plans to buy fancy jets for its members after the Democrats were criticized for the $330 million to buy those jets inserted into the $636 billion defense spending bill, without the Pentagon requesting for it. The bill passed the Democratic Party-dominated House last month by a 400-30 vote.

If this was intended to be another stimulus, it did serve its purpose – stimulate stiff opposition from a wary American public, now more than ever, looking into how the original stimulus package was and is being spent.

We think this is good for them – Congress, the Obama administration and the American people.


Belated greetings to Barack Obama on his 48th birthday, his first as POTUS; no disrespect to the “birthers”  [2] whoever they are or wherever and however they may be in their  clamor for proof – original birth certificate, not a duplicate or affidavits from health officials – that the US President was born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961.
We have done the math. The $20,000 tab that Martin Romualdez reportedly paid for that dinner celebrating the wedding anniversary of the First Couple is not quite one million, but only 962,083 Philippines pesos [3].  Subtracted from his 477,205,715.59 pesos [4], the good congressman still has 476,257,917 pesos left in his pocket.

So, the cost was merely a drop in the good congressman’s bucket and did not exactly impoverish him. However, with the fallout in the media hardly going the way of attempts of the administration to put it to rest and with the criticisms from the angry and the hungry continuing, we think the congressman from the first district of Leyte must be wondering how his act of generosity got himself into the center of a controversy.
We can’t help but think that he must be realizing now that he is better off filing bills in the House of Representatives in the Philippines than footing bills at the House of Le Cirque in New York.


Cavaliers Antonio “Mark” Supnet ’79, Eusaquito “Sonny” Manalo '81 and Antonio “Tony” Habulan ’81 are in town and they’re the new sheriffs.

No, sir, we’re talking not of the gravelly street of Tombstone, Arizona but the paved avenue of Massachusetts in Washington, DC. Not exactly sheriffs, but the Defense, Air Force and Navy attachés in the Philippine Embassy. 

Thanks for the information from Cavalier Harold Ochoco, a classmate of Habulan and Manalo – and also a WTW C5.


Behind every man is a smart woman. I know.

But in the picture of my fiancée and me that found its way to a page of a Philippine newspaper last month, the smart woman is in front, not behind.

Maybe, they can tell me why – the NORCALista quartet of Boots, Levy, Chilla and Janet who, to my pleasant surprise, continue to follow and subtly demand follow-ups to the DMV story.

My favorite foursome, they can be a fearsome, if I continue to ignore their latest plaint, “And what happened to our most awaited DMV story?” [6]


The incident happened sometime ago but it appeared as more than a blip on our radar screen when Cavalier Nestor Lim ’60 picked it up from one of his many social e-networks and made this cryptic posting, “Not good, no matter how you slice it.” To which he added, “Of course, it is not an uncommon habit of Filipinos to discriminate their own kind in their own country.”

The subject of his posting, “Insulted Twice Over in Cebu,” was the sub-title of columnist Emil Jurado’s piece in the Manila Standard, an incident involving Jurado, the Shangrila Hotel in Mactan, Cebu and some Koreans – the “height of colonial mentality,” by Jurado’s own reckoning [7].


We posed the challenge:
“Can anything be done about this by anyone in The Cebu Squad, for damage
control purposes or more importantly, to discourage similar incidents that
do not speak well of the Queen City of the South and one of its premier destinations and favorite places to stay in Cebu, the Shangrila Hotel?”


To our way of thinking, the Cebu Squad was well-positioned to act in this unfortunate episode as “amicus curiae,” for want of a better term, for a number of reasons: placement and proximity of its members to Shangrila, the “sin” or the scene of the “crime;” their local knowledge and familiarity (“I have been in and out of Shangrila and consider their culture great. In fact this is where the 12th ASEAN Leaders Summit was held and all the top International and National Meetings,” Cavalier Danilo “Dan” Francia ’71 wrote us; and so did “Nat-Nat,” another member: “I myself was once a Duty Manager of Shangrila's Mactan Island Resort (circa 2000 – 2003); influence and persuasion (Cavalier Nimrod Quinonez is with The Freeman, Cebu City’s oldest local daily. Francia himself writes a regular column for the paper).


The Cebu Squad was more than ready and willing to rise to the challenge – from verifying the veracity of the incident (it was true, confirmed by Cavalier Ramon “MonMon” Mitra ’88 who happened to be an eyewitness) to touching base with the hotel management to discuss the incident, punish those responsible and more importantly, effect a change in culture – equal treatment for all guests – that would prevent a repetition of the Jurado incident; one member, a lawyer, even suggesting the radical option of filing a case with the RTC to teach the wrongdoers a hard lesson and fortify the chances of cultural change.


Yes, The Cebu Squad, they call themselves, addressing one another as Squadmates, harking back to a common beginning – their cadet days in Loakan. However, in this instance, this incident, to which the positive results and outcome of their actions we were privy to, we would like to call them the Sondalus, the Sons and Daughters of Lapu-Lapu [8].

A volley of firearms in salute is called for, but it may scare the guests at Shangrila – Filipinos, Koreans and others, including Emil Jurado (we do not believe he has completely written off Shangrila Cebu). So we will settle with a simple saludo and we hope these Sondalus won’t mind.


We saw nothing wrong when we wrote this in our issue last week (09-08-05 WTW/“Cory Aquino, Goodbye II”): “WTW reader Cavalier Alexander “Smokey D’ Great/Blackjack” Carino ’69 pointed out – and correctly so – that the passing of the 11th President of the Philippines on August 1, 2009 was two days later than WTW’s publication date of July 29, 2009.”

Then, we heard from Cavalier Cleo “Erfs” Erfe who told us that the name is Gregorio Jr., not Alexander. Erfe should know. Carino is his classmate. 


Carino himself did not see any problem as he wrote, “Was it really a mistake, sir, or it’s your play of words in reference to Alexander the Great?” A good lifeline that we could use for our error but won’t. 

At any rate, “Smokey D’ Great,” will just have to go away, even at the displeasure of Cavalier Agapito “Pitong/Peythong”  ’70 to whom this is the moniker of choice for his favorite yearling.  


This feedback we got to our last issue, a personal recollection from Cavalier Enrico “Eric” Pena ’86:

“The woman in yellow shook my hand as she handed to me my diploma and said, "Congratulations.” She then acknowledged my snappy salute with a smile on her face. Just a month prior, we were rehearsing on the same sequence for another sitting Commander-in-Chief…someone who was supposed to hand our diplomas from a wheelchair.” (Emphasis ours)

The woman in yellow was obviously Corazon Aquino.

The ‘sitting Commander-in-Chief’ who was ‘supposed to hand our diplomas from a wheelchair’ was Ferdinand Marcos. He was in Hawaii, forced to leave the country following the events of EDSA in February 1986. Pena graduated in March with other members of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1986, the first class to graduate without Marcos as commander-in-chief and commencement speaker since 1965. 


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” plebe knowledge [9], as we did last week, we are continuing this countdown: 

Sir, there are 271 days, 6,504 hours, 390,240 minutes, 23,414,400 seconds and 46,828,800 ticks before the Philippine elections (or non-election).


You are right, Cavalier Wilfredo “Willie” Mejia ’72. Indeed, we are “writing WTW in the Philippines one month and the US the next, and who knows from where else down the line.”

Your reference to this as “shuttle journalism” is flattering [10], but we know this to be hardly the case. We certainly do a lot of shuttling, but journalism? No, sir, we are no journalists. Just wishful thinkers, plain and simple, thank you.     


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-32
las vegas, nevada

[1]   09-07-29/”Cory Aquino, Goodbye; 09-08-05/”Cory Aquino, Goodbye II”

[2]  Alvarez is one of the C5s -  Cavalier correspondent, contributor, confidant/conniver and critic. We think that without them, WTW can’t be what it has been in the blog or in other electronic media.

[3]   Birthers, a term given to a persistent group of conservatives who believe Obama is ineligible to be president because of alleged questions surrounding his birth status

[4]   The dollar-to-peso exchange rate, August 12, stood at 48.10415.

[5]    Philippine laws require government officials to file annually a Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth. The 477,205,715.59 pesos reportedly in his 2008 SALN, makes Congressman Romualdez, who is also a banker, the second richest member of Congress

[6]   Married to PMAyers, Boots Doria, Janet Hernandez, Levy Hernandez and Chilla Lucero have been avid followers of WTW, especially of the DMV – the “job” of Driving Miss Vicky that we wrote in one of the earliest issues of WTW 

[7]   “I was already seated and taking my breakfast,” Emil Jurado recalled, “when the service manager told me to find another table since a family of Koreans wanted to sit on my table…..a double insult, actually. First, the ill-trained service manager insulted me in front of my friends and travel companions. The second insult was for the benefit of foreigners, "Koreans” whom I suspected the staff was beholden to.”

[8]   Lapu-Lapu, Filipino hero from Cebu and conqueror of Magellan on the island of Mactan where Shangrila hotel is located is considered one of the national symbols of resistance to colonialism

[9]  A ‘plebe knowledge’ is a collective body of composition, poems, rhymes, verses, definitions, etc. that plebes in military academies, like the Philippine Military Academy, are required to know and recite verbatim, a requirement that is aimed at sharpening their memory skills while adding to their knowledge (a good number of plebe knowledge, like “What is a Kiss?” or “How is the Cow?” are funny and frivolous, but some, like The Origin of Coal, contain factual information that are good to know and remember).
In this plebe knowledge, How Many Days, Oh Noble Cataline, we are doing what the plebes would do in  the countdown to the Philippine national election  – compute the days and convert them to hours, minutes, seconds and ticks.

[10]  Even more flattering when we consider that Mejia who was the editor-in-chief of “The Corps,” the monthly publication of the Corps of Cadets received the Journalism Award when he graduated. ‘plebe knowledge’ is a collective body of composition, poems, rhymes, verses, definitions.