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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Still Alive?
Then, Prove it!


His name is Tim Tebow. Followers of NCAA football in the US and throughout the world would know him as the starting quarterback of the NCAA football championship team, the University of Florida Gators and the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, awarded to the best college player for the year.

If you have not been feeling good lately about the Philippines – what with a spate of Internet postings disparaging the country – you may wish to read more about Tim Tebow and his Filipino connections. He is on the cover of Filipinas Magazine (, the article aptly entitled, “The Philippines Is In The Heart.”



What we find most compelling is that we have this inspirational Tim Tebow story today because 24 years ago, Bob and Pam Tebow, both Baptist Church missionaries in South Cotabato, would not agree to an abortion suggested by the attending physician.

Thank you, Cavalier Francisco “Mike/Banat” San Miguel ’51, for bringing this story to our attention before we could post this issue of WTW. You, sir, are in our heart, for this and past contributions to WTW.


A total of 32 “czars” has been appointed by POTUS Barack Obama, a decision that is not without critics, including members of Congress that belong to Obama’s party, who view “czardom” as a way of circumventing the vetting of government policy- and decision-makers. Czars (or czarinas?) do not have to go through the congressional nomination process. 

The US unemployment situation must really be that bad, but we do not think the hiring of 32 would make a dent. Or is the existing structure of government not sufficient to serve the President’s and the American people’s need that “czardom” is imperative?

We are on the other side of this issue; even so, we are resisting the temptation to say, nakaka-aczar [1].

Remember when GMA made herself the “drug czar” and the “environment czar?” [2]. Well, this administration may be right on the money after all when it made this claim – that Obama can learn from the Philippine President.


Palawan representative Antonio C. Alvarez is asking presidential bets to bare all.

Not all, really. He merely wants the presidentiables come out in the open to let the people know who among them have pockmarked their forehead with botox shots, undergone liposuction or face-lift – or any other “cosmetic enhancements” or “cosmetic makeovers -” in preparation for the elections.

We hear you, Congressman. Like you, we do not underestimate the value of good looks in Philippine elections, where botox translates to boto [3].


Meanwhile, the doctor who conducted the surgery to remove a lump on GMA’s breast was quoted as saying that the President is in the “pink of health.”

Healthy, yes – physically. Cosmetically too. But not politically, in the view of many.


International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) worker Eugenio Vagni was finally freed after nearly six months in the hands of Abu Sayyaf bandits. What paid off in obtaining his freedom, according to one pundit [4] was this: patience.

Patience, we agree, is a good virtue, but we refuse to think that it is the cornerstone of the AFP and other Philippine security forces in dealing with the specter of kidnapping.


Order of Secretary Gilberto Teodoro to the AFP: Stop Talk, Get Bombers.

Get the Bombers? We have no quarrel with this part of the order.

But Mr. Defense Secretary, and Harvard graduate, and bar topnotcher, and one of the ‘presidentiables,’ isn’t the first part an abridgement of the AFP’s right to free speech? AFP spokesman, Cavalier Romeo “Romy” Brawner ’89, may wish to ask the same question.


First, it was my DMV job – Driving Miss Vicky. Now it is DUI – Driving Under the Influence. But as always, not to worry. It’s her influence; it’s not drugs or alcohol. And no citations, either from her or from the Motor Vehicles.


Thanks for the thought, but we must say our regrets to Cavalier Abraham “Abe” Paray ’64 who suggested in a text message that we stick to the “proper billing” by putting our references to Miss Vicky at the head of this column, as we used to do in previous issues.


In two weeks, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver her ninth State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Congress.

Referring to it as the President’s “farewell” address, Malacanang Palace’s deputy spokesperson Gary Olivar must have warmed the hearts of critics a degree or two, those critics who continue to believe and fear that the President has something up her sleeves that will allow her to continue to rule the country even after her term expires in 2010.


It will be “great,” according to Olivar, “the product of the most and the best possible number of inputs from government as well as the best-thinking that can be brought to bear on these issues.”

This has been done eight times during her presidency. This time, we would rather that the President does not speak from the paper or the document prepared by others, by her speechwriters.

No, we are not suggesting that we hear from her something akin to a versions of SONA, a scathing one, we received from one reader [5] – that may be asking too much – but something straight from the heart, with candor, honesty and sincerity. 


“I know I am alive! Why the h— do I have to prove it?”

“They stopped my pension! Who the h— is to blame?”

No, these are not from the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive!” but from retirees and pensioners, particularly those residing abroad. We have been hearing these remarks, these plaints too often, loud and angry at times, that we decided to find out for ourselves when we had the opportunity to do so while in the Philippines.

Thanks to Cavalier Victor “Vic” Martir ’78, J2 [6] and a classmate of Martir at PMA Commodore Cornelio “Jun” Dela Cruz, AFP Finance Center chief, we found some answers in an informal briefing at the AFP Finance Center.


A PUF is what a retiree needs to submit, we were advised. PUF is no magic dragon of Peter, Paul and Mary; simply a Pensioner Update Form, to be accomplished only once, to trigger the start of a retiree’s pension.

But, yes, if you are still living, you need to present yourself anytime during your birth month to the AFP Pension and Gratuity Management Center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.

And yes, if you cannot appear in person, you need to submit a POF, Proof Of Life [7] to:   Commanding Officer, Monitoring and Assistance Unit, AFP PGMC, Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.


Failure to prove that you are alive, personally or through the POF, will automatically cause your pension to be held, available to you in “pick-up” mode only.


Now, who is to blame for those missing pension checks?

No one is to blame. Everyone is to blame. How about this for an answer?


Cavalier Delfin “Del” Lorenzana ’73 considered last week’s WTW “another very good posting,” but he had something to say about our feature on the ‘annual report’ of Sen. Trillanes who is also Cavalier Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV ‘2005 to the PMA community.

Lorenzana who heads the Veterans Affairs Office of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., since his retirement as Defense Attache reminded of his experience in working on the Filipino  veterans bills in the US Congress. “…..filing a bill is the easiest part…..the only thing that matters are bills filed that became law. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of paper.” [8].

We hope the good Senator is reading this from his cell.


Romeo “Fards” Fajardo, x92 [9] wrote to ask if he could share last week’s WTW with another e-group (, “EHEMPLO, an anti-corruption advocacy group where Ms. Mae Paner aka JUANA CHANGE and other advocates are members.”

Quite flattered, we assured Fajardo that he could share the entire issue, not just the part where we featured Juana Change.


Our impression was that he couldn’t care less whether they are wrinkles or expression lines on my forehead [10]. He just wanted to be sure we were referring to a fiancée, not fiancé.

We have since sent a response to this worrier-writer, WTW reader and friend Jesse Cabanacan, acknowledging the typographical error. For the second time, we marvel at Cabanacan’s good eye, a seaman’s eye we presume he developed during his years as an officer in the US Navy.

We also promised to look again, but we assured him that the last time we did, she did pass for a fiancée. Our NORCALista [11] friends who know her will agree.


Using as a take-off, “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [12], we are beginning this countdown: 

Sir, there are 306 days, 7,344 hours, 440,640 minutes, 26,438,400 seconds and 52,876,800 ticks before the Philippine elections (or non-election).


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-28
makati, philippines

[1] Nakaka-aczar rhymes with the Filipino word, nakaka-asar, which translates interchangeably to: disturbing; bothersome; or, the phrases, ‘rubs the wrong way,’ or, ‘gets one’s goat.’
[2] We made a commentary on this in an earlier issue (see 09-01-28 WTW/”Puno (ng) Possibilities”)
[3] Boto, a Filipino word, means vote.
[4] Alex Magno, “First Person,” The Philippine Star, July 14, 2009]
[5] The opening of the SONA version:  My fellow Filipinos,… I am a failure. I promised a lot in last year's State of the Nation Address that went totally to Malacañang's overpriced trash cans…”
[6] We thought of seeking, in addition to the AFP Finance Center,  the assistance of J2, the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, knowing its role in the administration and control of Defense or Military Attaches stationed in Philippine embassies throughout the world that would provide access to retirees and pensioners abroad.
[7] Quoted from the Advisory to Pensioners: “The Proof of Life will be your postcard size colored picture with film/negative where you are holding any current newspaper of national circulation. The front page of the newspaper used for the picture together with the clear photo of your AFP issued ID card, photo copy of any two (2) valid ID cards (passport, COMELEC voting card, driver’s license, School id card, PRC card, Office ID card, Senior Citizen ID card, and Postal ID card) will be accepted.”
[8] Lt Commander Antonio Cantoria, Finance Center, conducted the briefing; also present were Lt Commander Jerry Garrido, J2, and Major Cedrick Mones, also from the Finance Center  
[9] An excerpt of Lorenzana’s letter: I would like to comment on your Trillanes portion. He filed 286 bills? Very good. Question is how many of these were tabled for discussion/hearing, how many hurdled the first and second hearing and how many became law? And let us not forget that a companion bill has to originate from the House as well then they have to reconcile the two bills, have the final bill approved by both houses separately before it goes to the President for her signature to become a law. As we all know after many years of working on the Filipino veterans bills in the US congress – filing a bill is the easiest part. It is the process that makes it a law that is very very difficult. Strange that the ad did not mention any that became law? So, let us not be very impressed with bills filed. The only thing that matters are bills filed that became law. Otherwise, it's just a waste of paper, time and money of the taxpayers – or in short just grandstanding to make one look good.
[10] Fajardo belonged to the PMA Class ’92 but did not graduate; hence, x92 is WTW’s shorthand in lieu of ’92 for those that made it all the way to graduation from PMA. Fajardo was one of the first WTW readers to give us feedback (see 09-01-14 WTW/”Vrad, You Are Alone No Longer”)
[11] NORCAL is a fraternal organization of PMA alumni or Cavaliers in the Northern California area; its members WTW calls NORCAListos; their spouses or significant others, NORCAListas
[12] A ‘plebe knowledge’ is a collective body of knowledge in the form of composition, poems, rhymes, verses, definitions, etc. that plebes in military academies, like PMA, are required to know and recite verbatim from memory. One such ‘plebe knowledge’, The Definition of Bocayo, we published in one of the issues of WTW (09-06-17/”LOL1, Laughing Out Loud; LOL2, Land Of Lapu-Lapu”).

Starting with this issue, WTW will be doing the plebe knowledge, How Many Days, Oh Cataline. In this particular plebe knowledge, plebes compute and recite the days before a certain event, then those days converted to hours, minutes, seconds and ticks. before a chosen event, like Christmas, start of December break, Recognition Day, Graduation day etc. Here, we have chosen  to count the number of days before the Philippine election scheduled to be held on the 2nd Tuesday of May 2010.