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Witful Thinking, Wednesday

Winston “Arf-Arf” Arpon

PMA ‘64 

WWW: The Pinoy Version


Yes, Bj [1], you have our word. Despite the popularity of wang-wang since it found its way into a presidential address of POTP Aquino and into the consciousness of his "bosses,"  WTW will remain, as your golf ball lies, as is where is: Witful Thinking, Wednesday still. Not Wang-To-Wang. 

But feel free as always, to think of it by its alias, Watchful Thinking, Wednesday, as suggested by Joe Dasbach three WTW issues ago. As unsolicited advisers to the President, we remain steadfastly committed, as you know, to our role as self-appointed members of VgB, the Vigilance-tee Brigade, to keep watch over the Aquino administration and its promise of good governance [2].  


US authorities, reflecting perhaps the prevailing opinion of other countries in the world, consider the undervalued yuan vis-a-vis the dollar working favorably for Chinese exports to the detriment of exports from the US and other countries and, therefore, a legitimate and urgent trade issue. 

But given the still fragile state of their relations, for now and the foreseeable future at least, expect a trading, of words, not sanctions, between the US and China towards revaluation of the yuan.  


In their joint conference at the White House lawn, POTUS Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed direct Mideast talks between Israel and Palestine in the "next few weeks." 

How few is few, we may know in the next few weeks.

Alas, when it comes to Middle East calculus for regional peace, it has been shown time and time again that time (no pun intended) remains a complex variable, constantly indeterminate. 


On the very day his appointment as Bureau of Customs Commissioner was announced, Alfonso A. Alvarez was suspended as member of the Alabang Golf and Country Club for "gross violation of the rules of golf." In the last Mango Tee golf tournament at the club, Alvarez and his group signed their scorecard without checking the scores. Those score turned out to be incorrect. 

To friends and acquaintances, Alvarez is better known and oftentimes called by his initials, AAA. For his careless infraction – the suspension letter called it "cheating" – Alvarez may have lost what we think his vettors were betting he was bringing to the sensitive and demanding position of BoC commissioner: his triple-A rating in honesty and integrity.  

Former BoC commissioner Parayno a.k.a. Cavalier Guillermo "Willy" Parayno '70 was on the short list of candidates for BoC commissioner. He doesn't play golf, does he?


Getting rid of the controversial congressional pork barrel was not one of the promises of Presidential candidate Aquino. Asked about it during his press conference, President Aquino said, "The minimum that we will do on pork barrel is that it will be on a menu." 

So, boys and girls, expect pork to be served to your representatives in Congress.


Meanwhile, through spokesman Gerry de Leon, Senator Lacson a.k.a. Cavalier Panfilo "Ping" Lacson '71 whose disdain for the pork barrel system is a matter of public record – he hasn't used any in his entire political career – opted to break his silence on the subject.  

However, until Lacson opts to break his self-exile, sooner than later we hope, his lone dissenting voice on pork will sound to us, literally and figuratively, as a voice in the wilderness, a voice from not-even-the-NBI-knows-where.


Item:  Estrada objects to Aquino's choice of Hilario Davide to head the Truth Commission that will look into corruption during the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, citing the  association of the former Chief Justice with the former President. 

Malacanang’s response, in so many words, can be summed up thus: Objection overruled.


"If the intent of the creation of the commission is truly to get at the reality of governance and not to give a veneer of acceptability to most of the transactions it is supposed to investigate, then the selection of retired Chief Justice Davide to head it is a mistake."

The writer, retired General Mison a.k.a. Cavalier Salvador "Buddy/Badong" Mison '55, signed his letter  [3] with this address: 73 Times St., West Triangle, Quezon City.

If our good, old skills competency in map reading hasn't deserted us, we think that this address is but a few houses away – by our dead reckoning, 48 houses at most – from 25 Times St. where the man who chose Davide to head the "Truth Commission" lives. If so, Mison can walk over and knock on that man's door to discuss his pessimistic if well-reasoned conclusion that the commission, "in reality, will only serve to whitewash the sins of the Arroyos. It will only be able to judge and condemn the usual fall guys." [4].


This is a text message, clearly Pinoy-style, that we received during the last Philippine elections, from constant WTW C5 [5] Cavalier Victor "VicE" Erfe '69 who, to our thinking in this case, was doing a valiant if unsuccessful imitation of the classic, "Tale of Two Cities" and its author, Charles Dickens:

"These r d best of times.

These r d worst of times 

We will have a president, one way or another. Then we will play it by ear." 

Yes, MVE [6], a President has been elected and yes, we are “all ears.” But please don't forget that as witting or unwitting members of VgB [7],  you and I need be “all eyes” as well.


POTP Aquino held his first conference with the media which lasted for 1 1/2 hours. 

We watched it on TV. The President and the media, they were cozy to each other. 

The President was newsy and the media, nosy.


"No ambush, please," he asked during the conference. 

No, not the kind of ambush he experienced during one of the coup attempts against President Aquino I where the young Noynoy could have lost his life [8]. But the other kind, the less deadly ambush but one to be avoided, if at all possible – ambush interview.


A “promise” to end the insurgency in three years has been attributed to new AFP Chief of Staff a.k.a Cavalier Ricardo "Ric" David '77, calling to mind similar promises in the past by his predecessors and the last Commander-in-Chief, promises that were unfulfilled at the conclusion of their watch. 

It is unclear what exactly was said by David in making the promise. Be that as it may, the timetable for it is well within the six-year presidency of his Commander-in-Chief but two years, three months and 24 days beyond David's tour of duty. Unless extended by the President or the retirement law is amended that will extend his military service, either of which we think is highly unlikely, David will retire when he
turns 56 on March 8, 2011.  

Lt. Gen David we think, however, was neither selfish nor presumptuous. We would like to think of the long and short of his promise to be simply this:  he was speaking, as he should as the top leader of the Philippine military, on important issues like the decades-old insurgency. 

Of course, nothing can keep David from achieving the goal during his tour of duty. After all, as Cavalier Leopoldo "Pol" Aliac ’67 reminds critics, it was a David who slew Goliath.


Ranking military commanders in Southern Mindanao admitted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines lacked expertise on how to take care of battle-weary soldiers.

The commander of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, a.k.a. Cavalier Carlos "Caloy" Holganza ‘78 hinted that they were even avoiding the issue.

Another major general, the commander of the Eastern Mindanao Command a.k.a. Cavalier Raymundo Ferrer '77 also admitted that there was a lack of facility for “war-shocked” soldiers.

Admitting you are wrong, is a right thing to do, right? We think so and our thinking hats off therefore to the two major generals and to their candor.


Then, there was WWW, the World Wide Web, two decades ago [9].

Now, there's the Pinoy, we mean the Filipino, version; two of them, as a matter of fact. 

One, Walang Wang-Wang.  The call of POTP Aquino for "no more sirens," symbolic of a pledge he made in his inaugural address to lead a crusade against arrogance. 

And two, Wowowee Without Willie. The popular daily program, Wowowee, losing Willie Revillame, the once irrepressible and irreplaceable host, banished from the show, on account of his arrogance [10].

Walang Wang-Wang. Wowowee Without Willie. No more arrogance.


Allow us to acknowledge Cavaliers Arturo “Tex” Balmaceda ’71 and Diosdado “Dong” Tabamo ’71 for the recent donation to the Loakan Educational Assistance Project of DJLF Foundation, Inc. 

In our visit to Honolulu recently, we asked the two classmates to assist DJLF, as convenors for the Fund-Raising Hub that DJLF has planned to build in the US, Hawaii being among the first of them. Balmaceda and Tabamo have delivered.


Our thanks to Bob Angelo and Ed Klijanowicz, both from Maryland and former colleague of ours in our other life, for sending in “Dr. Seuss on Uncle Sam,” their R&R to what we wrote last week (From Hope to Nope – we remember this as Newsweek's cartoon on the first year of POTUS Obama's Presidency. So, beware, POTP Aquino) [11].


Juan "Jeepy" Perez was complimentary when he wrote us, [12],  but hardly so, when he wrote and issued a frantic warning in "SOS from the front lines"  [13].

PhilHealth was created by law during the presidency of Fidel V. Ramos that mandated universal coverage by 2010. 

According to Perez who is a doctor [14], these are the figures on universal coverage: 85%, based on PHIC records which are poorly maintained and 38%, based on a national demographic survey in 2008. POTP Aquino chose the latter in his press conference. Almost 50% 


Do we see universal disagreement here? Or just a disagreement between two Aquinos, Philippine President Noynoy Aquino and PhilHealth President Rey Aquino who fed the 83% to Arroyo. 

Two Aquinos and three Presidents. 

Ang gulo talaga! [15].


"In what paper," Cavalier Virgilio "Bill" Bas asked," is Noralyn Mustafa's column, and on what day of the week?"

This would not have caught our attention, but for the time-stamp of his email: 00:32:39. 

By our clock, that’s a little over a half hour after midnight. 

Sleepless in Talisay, Cebu? We think so, although we would also wish to think otherwise – that he actually stayed up late for last week's issue of WTW.


In Argentina, they have built a "siestario," the Buenos Aires Siesta Zone that will help stressed workers catch up on a little down time. A power nap, a minimum of 40-minute snoozes each day, according to business woman and siesta advocate Viviana Vega, is needed to avoid burnout.    

We have a better solution; no “siestario” required. It is called retirement.


The Commanding General of the Philippine Air Force a.k.a. Cavalier Oscar “Oca” Rabena '78 made a "confession" to his Commander-in-Chief in his welcome remarks on the celebration of the 63rd anniversary of PAF. This was the first major service anniversary attended by Aquino as  CinC.

As reported by the Philippines Daily Inquirer, Rabena confessed that he and his wife were "actually avid fans" of pop TV host Kris Aquino, the youngest of the Aquino siblings.


A couple of weeks later, this headline was in the Philippine Star [16]: Kris & James: It's over na talaga! [17]. 

On this break-up of Kris Aquino and husband James Yap, the Philippine Star article made no mention of any third party, including one named Gabby Concepcion.

Kris will continue to be a celebrity in her own right. So if her fan, the good General Rabena, is listening, we think that in retirement, he may consider writing, with his wife as co-author, a new column all about Kris: "Kris-Crossing Manila." 

Then again, it might constitute a patent infringement of Noralyn Mustafa's "Kris-Crossing Mindanao" [18].


At the mass for the executive and the judiciary, so-called "Red Mass" because Cardinal Rosales and others who officiated all wore red vestments, the two were in attendance and they shook hands – Corona and Aquino. Reportedly, it was Aquino who extended his hand first.

We think both of them deserve a big, big hand.


We knew its owner, so the email address, was, to us, most intriguing. Conceding that choosing an email address isn't as interesting as Queens Gambit or God Save the Queen, circa President Aquino I, or the Feliciano Commission, circa Oakwood II, for which people may well remember Cavalier Rex Robles '65, we asked Robles:  Are you sure you are, as your email address suggests, trouble-free? Or is this, plainly witful, er wishful, thinking?

The response of the former editor of The Corps and avid chess enthusiast and player: 

"At age 60, seven years ago, when I was making up my email address, I remembered my nominal presence [19] in all troubles and problems. (strike out t and u from troubles and the p and m from problems! [20]. I had a fanciful thought to free myself of all troubles (problems will always be around, but should not always trouble us) by the time I would be 65. Which happens to be my PMA class! 


“More fanciful than wishful, isn't it? Cheers!"

Fancy free, sort of – that's how we are feeling right now. And feeling OutWTWed, er outwitted, as well. 


dateline: makati city, philippines 

@arf-arf ‘64

wtw 2010-09

volume 061


[1]  We have chosen this phrase in place of the worn-out cliché, 'Yes, Virginia,' in acknowledgment of Cavalier Gregorio "Blackjack" Carino '69 whose WTW R&R, Read and React, with wit or without, has become a rich source of our commentaries. His latest R&R: 

"This is not a good sign. 


"The past four WTWs came as scheduled…all on a Wednesday, no delay. Before, after the big wedding, they came staggered and late but rightly so. Now, looks like (he) has all the time to write and humor us, again. Is the honeymoon really over? 


This is not a good sign."

[2]  See  2010-06-30 WTW/"A High Five"

[3]  Letters/Opinion, Philippines Daily Inquirer, Jul 9.

[4]  Mison’s letter, in full:

PRESIDENT BENIGNO “NOYNOY” AQUINO III has set up a Truth Commission to determine the “truth” about certain transactions, activities and decisions of the Arroyo administration. If the intent of the creation of such a commission is truly to get at the reality of governance and not to give a veneer of acceptability to most of the transactions it is supposed to investigate, then the selection of retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide to head it is a mistake. 

Chief Justice Davide’s past performances, to my own perception, are not par for the course. His role as head of the impeachment trial of Erap Estrada was namby-pamby. He was not able to control the process. He allowed the trial to be indecisive such that the process was brought to the streets. He could have pre-judged the case and thus let the whole process go hang. 

Thus, Chief Justice Davide, on a flimsy reasoning, allowed the Supreme Court, which he headed, to declare Erap’s “constructive resignation” despite the latter’s objections, so that he could justify and proclaim Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo president. 

When he retired as chief justice and when he was appointed to the United Nations, he did not wait to be confirmed; he instead proceeded to assume his post. In effect, he did not observe the proper procedure in government appointments. 

Because of his several dealings with former President Arroyo in the past, I do not think he will be impartial in making judgments about her. I can be sure that having benefited from Ms Arroyo will get in the way of his decisions, and I can be sure he will find even the flimsiest legal reason to justify his actions. 

The Truth Commission, in reality, will only serve to whitewash the sins of the Arroyos. It will only be able to judge and condemn the usual fall guys. In our judicial system, masterminds go free; only those who obey the masterminds suffer the consequences of the evil deeds they commit.

Because of his several dealings with former President Arroyo in the past, I do not think he will be impartial in making judgments about her. I can be sure that having benefited from Ms Arroyo will get in the way of his decisions, and I can be sure he will find even the flimsiest legal reason to justify his actions. 

The Truth Commission, in reality, will only serve to whitewash the sins of the Arroyos. It will only be able to judge and condemn the usual fall guys. In our judicial system, masterminds go free; only those who obey the masterminds suffer the consequences of the evil deeds they commit.

[5]  Cavalier correspondent, contributor, conspirator/conniver and critic  [x] ,

[6]  MVE stands for Manila VicE, another one of the monikers of this colleague of ours who is based in Metro Manila, Philippines, not Miami, Florida 

[7]  Vigilance-tee Brigade  

[8]  To this day, a bullet remains lodged in his neck.  

[9]  The World Wide Web marked its 20th anniversary on March 13 last year. 

[10] Revillame arrogantly threatened to quit the show if his employers, ABS-CBN did not act on his demand to fire Jobert Sucaldito, who had criticized him in writing. His employers called his bluff and let him go, settling for two virtual unknowns, Mariel Rodriguez and Luis Manzano, to take the place of Revillame and choosing to retain Sucaldito.

[11] Dr. Seuss on Uncle Sam

I do not like this Uncle Sam,

I do not like his health care scam.


I do not like these dirty crooks,

or how they lie and cook the books.


I do not like when Congress steals,

I do not like their secret deals.


I do not like this speaker,  Nan ,  

I do not like this 'YES WE CAN.'


 I do not like this spending spree,

I'm smart, I know that nothing's free.


I do not like your smug replies,

when I complain about your lies.


I do not like this kind of hope.

I do not like it, nope, nope, nope!  

 (Underscoring, ours)

[12]  2010-07-07 WTW/"Mabuhay P-Noy V-Nay"

[13]  BW Yellow Pad, July 12, 2010

[14]  Perez’s 'frontline' as far as the practice of medicine is concerned, includes the mountains and hinterlands of Samar where he decided to spend his early medical career among the peasants during the martial law years

[15]  What a real mess!

[16]  Funfare Update, July 12, 2010  

[17]  It's really over!   

[18]  See our commentary on this writer in 2010-07-07 WTW/"Mabuhay P-Noy V-Nay"  < /p>

[19]  Nominal, our eye!

[20]  And what do we have as a common result? Robles!


Witful Thinking, Wednesday