Select Page

Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64

I Lied, Sorry

As I write this, I am thinking: if or when, by some stroke or twist of circumstance, this issue gets posted before Wednesday, others may ask, is this is a portent of things to come in 2010?

I wish. But Nah. WTW’s trademark of tardiness has been developed during its first year, it won’t be a thing of the past. I promise. 

For when the dust of the last few days – the WOW! – Whirlwind Of Wedding! – settles, as all good things must, we will be back to normal, back to our good, old selves – WTW tardiness and all.

Did I actually say old?


“See you all, three weeks from now; same time, same place…..” I promised in our last issue.

I lied.

With this issue, WWW will be AWOL [1] for only two, not three weeks.


The blame, if any, should not be on me, but on Pards a.k.a. Cavalier Randolph “Pards” Espejo ’74.

Addressing his “buddy” Bj, a.k.a. Cavalier Gregorio “Blackjack” Carino Jr. ’69, Pards posted this:
I bet he will violate MV Decree Nr. 1 [2] and post his WTW next week as usual. (Emphasis and italics ours).

Not a betting man myself, I couldn’t bear the thought of a close colleague and a friend like Pards lose a bet; neither can I bear the thought of making a liar out of him.


Cavalier Leo “Primer” Primero ’84, on the other hand, suggested I may not be “be able to resist going to an internet shop and sneak a couple (of WTW issues).”
Sorry, Leo but even if I wanted to, the ‘law’ won’t allow it, at least not in the next two weeks, whether I am at the NAIA [3], Hongkong, Sydney, Wellington or Melbourne – or back at NAIA.


With send-offs from friends like Pards and Leo, who needs a honeymoon?


We gratefully acknowledge the emails, public as well as private, that we received after we posted our last issue (2009-01-06 WTW/”Rendezvous with Reality”), the most R&Rs [4] that we have received since our first issue in January last year.

We regret, however, that we cannot respond to all of them through this column.


Moreover, we would have a problem with those that may be fit only for the fans and followers of Hayden Kho or Katrina Halili. A decent, family column like this can ill afford a triple-X rating.


Gemma Nemenzo, WTW reader and NORCALista, thought it was sweet and inspiring to say of her close friend, the bride, “I could not help thinking how much I owed her for giving space to squeeze in my love for her.”

I was not being sweet, Gemma, just being honest and truthful; okay, gracious. And, above all, ever grateful.


Cavalier Butch Aguenza ’75 thinks I may have done something good to deserve two lovely ladies in my lifetime.

On the second, I say, guilty as charged; and on the first? The jury is still out on that one.


This time, no R&R was received from Larry “Lar” Leviste. But his article in the Philippines Daily Inquirer was more than his usual feedback; as it were, almost a full-page spread of the Sunday Inquirer [5].

The article was titled, “Overjoyed;” aptly, I think.

As far as I am concerned, given my emotions for that day, “Overwhelmed” would have been apt as well.


Trust a classmate to straighten you out when you need some straightening and/or strengthening.  Trust Cavalier Leonardo “Ding” Odono ’64.

“Mistuh, [6] three days after your wedding, confused ka pa rin! 35 lang tayo sa '64, two more than '59.” [7]


Odono did say he saw at church that day a snappy groom – kadeteng-kadete pa rin [8] – who “marched” up the aisle to the altar, although he admitted to having “the scare of my life when you were drawing close to Bishop Villegas.”

Odono was afraid that the groom would salute the Bishop and report "Groom and bride and wedding entourage and the Class of 1964 all accounted for!"

Of course, for the record, there was no such salute and report. So, that groom may not have been nearly as confused as I thought he was.


In retrospect, all that I thought needed to be said was in my brief speech during the reception [9]. But now a week later, I harbor one, lingering regret.  I should have said this:

“I can feel that at this very moment, they are up there, watching this event: Francis, the father of Vicky’s children, and, Iday, the mother of my children. What could they be thinking?
If they heard what we have been hearing from friends and family – from you all – on this day, both Iday and Francis would say that they, too, are happy for Vicky and me.”

Writing it here eases somewhat my sense of regret.


I felt no regret at all that for once in the last weeks since that celebrated early morning car crash in Florida last month, my fallen idol Tiger Woods was not on my mind – sorry, Georgia – either in spite of or because of, the homily of Archbishop Soc Villegas during the wedding ceremony which was explicit on fidelity, albeit implicit on “transgressions.”


Thank you, Joe Dasbach, for this: “Fear not, Winston. We have Wednesday covered for you.” [10].


We leave for our honeymoon, not without advice from family and friends, including one from Captain Tucay Philippine Navy, Retired, a.k.a. Cavalier Domingo “Jun” Tucay ’65 on new security procedures in New Zealand airports. It came with a most interesting picture, one that could have come with a watermark – For Adults Also. For reasons, therefore, other than security, exposing it in this column is out of the question.


And from Pards – who else [11]? – a bit of concern: The honeymoon should have started as soon as you closed the door of your Intercon room; otherwise, Houston, we have a problem.

Alas, the gag rule on TMS, Too Much Sharing, imposed by the ‘law,’ remains in effect. But fear not, Pards. On this score, should you wish to keep score, Houston (or Winston) does not have a problem.

But don’t ask her. Just take my word for it. Please.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [12], we are continuing the countdown we started several issues back: 

Sir, there are 117 days, 2,808 hours, 168,480 minutes, 10,108,800 seconds and 20,217,600 ticks before May 10, 2010, before the Philippine national elections (or, to hedge our bets, the failure of election).


“See you all, two weeks from now; same time, same place…..” I promise.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 10-02
makati city, philippines

[1] Absent WithOut Leave, in military parlance
[2] Espejo did not elaborate, but we think MV stands for Ma’am Vicky
[3] Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila
[4] Read and React, feedback from WTW readers
[5] Sunday Inquirer, Jan 10, 2010; Lifestyle Section, page C2
[6] PMA classmates address each other ‘mistuh,’ a West Point tradition. PMAyers use it interchangeably with ‘mistah’
[7] Translation: You are still confused; there were 35 of us in Class 1964, two more than the Class of 1959.
What a good eye and a fantastic memory! He even remembered and reminded me there were 108 of us that reported to PMA for our plebe year. That was on May 1, five decades ago.
[8] a cadet, still
[9] The speech:
[The last time I spoke in a wedding, I was father of the bride. The bride herself, my daughter Lavinia, told me to limit myself to no more than seven sentences; to which I dutifully complied. I knew better than to be in trouble with the “law.” Lavinia is a lawyer. 

For this part of the program, Vicky told me this: not only will I have the last word; I will have the only word. (Thank you, Honey.) As you know, Vicky is not a lawyer, but she is the “law,” my “law.”]

Dear family and friends, ladies and gentlemen, this may be the last time, the only time perhaps that I would have the last word. So, please bear with me, if I should go beyond a sentence or two over the seven that Lavinia allowed me ten years ago]. 
Thank you, Archbishop Soc for coming all the way from Lingayen to be here with us. You and Vicky, I have been told, go a long way in your acquaintance and friendship, and she speaks so highly of you as a prelate and your advocacies, I understand why you were her first choice, her only choice, in fact, to solemnize our marriage.   

This is the journey Vicky and I have chosen to take, together. It took more than a few steps for us to get to here and now. Those steps inevitably had to take us through our children.

I may never know when each of them reached that tipping point, the point of (quote) “coming around” (unquote) to our side. But ‘come around’ they eventually did, one after another, seeing Mom and Dad were in love and accepting what Vicky and I had decided for ourselves, for our happiness, for our future.

On Vicky’s behalf as well as on my own, therefore, I wish to thank them all – Vicky’s children – Jaime, Rafael, Isabel, Teresa and Carlos; and my children – Cybele, Bismarck and Lavinia – for their patience and understanding and their respect for and trust in our decision.

Our thanks to all the other members of Vicky’s family and mine, to all of our friends, who have been no less generous of their understanding, encouragement and support, especially in the earlier stages of our relationship.

Our special thanks, in particular, to our sponsors and to all of you who have come here – a significant number from far corners of the world – to share these precious moments with us. We feel honored by your presence here today. For having family and friends like you, Vicky and I have to consider ourselves among the luckiest people on earth.  

We have passed this way before, but except for some inoffensive gray hairs, Vicky and I are basically the bride and the groom that we were, she in 1967 and I, in 1965. We are completely confident of our future as husband and wife, but like any new couple, ever cognizant of the challenges we face to make this marriage work, to make this marriage last.

I can tell you that our love for each other is so much today that if we just manage in the long run of our marriage to love each other half as much as we do now, we will be all right. But I know that Vicky won’t settle for just being all right. I won’t settle for that either. Neither would you, our family and friends.   

We will soon be taking to the floor for our traditional first dance as husband and wife. Here, the music will stop, but not so, in our life. For Vicky and I have made this our solemn promise to one another – Keep Our Music Playing, for the rest of our life.

[10] Joe and Mona Dasbach, remain ardent WTW readers and long-time friends. Joe’s email of reassurance, of friendship:
WTW: "My first wedding 45 years ago was on a Monday; this one, my second, on a Tuesday.
But once again, better banish that thought, Bj. I have no plans for another wedding on a Wednesday, let alone Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday."

Fear not, Winston. We have Wednesday covered for you. Mona and I married on a Wednesday way back in 1961, only 9 days before 5 January (1962).

Mona didn't "misplace" her cell phone back then, but our car only made it about 10 meters from St Matthew's Cathedral before the transmission broke down. I remember the loud CLUNK, but I don't remember how we traveled to our reception. We were lucky that it didn't break before our Nuptial Mass, or I would have been very late. Yes, there is a God — not just on Tuesdays, but also on Wednesdays, especially when there were no cell phones.
[11]    By our count, Prolific Pards sent us or posted on PMA forums no less than five emails on our RwR issue of WTW.  
[12]   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 (Two ticks equal one second, but don’t ask why. This computation was there only for us to apply, never to question why).

Witful Thinking, Wednesday