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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Mar & NoyNoy
A House by the Beach


No, this is not a reprint of last week’s WTW. This is the second part of that issue and with the same center-“piece” subject [1]. 


Life is a beach, so the expression goes. But you don’t have to own the beach, or even a house on the beach for life to be one or to feel like one.

Apparently no one told Mikey Arroyo, or his wife, or Beach Way Park, LLC. Or whoever owns that house by the beach at 1655 Beach Park Boulevard in Foster City in California which has generated waves of controversy, of tsunami proportions, for the beleaguered congressman from Pampanga. 

Life can be a bitch, Mr. Congressman, if you are not careful. Or frank and truthful.


On August 31, Conrado de Quiros in his PDI column “There’s the Rub,” wrote about “seeing stickers and T-shirts that say “Noypi ako. Ikaw?”  Noypi was his reference to a “Noynoy for President Initiative” [2].

de Quiros wrote this a good two days before the celebrated announcement of the ‘handoff -’ Mar Roxas-to-Noynoy Aquino – as candidate for president of the Liberal Party. Whether or not Mar read what de Quiros wrote and convinced him to make that fateful decision to give way to Noynoy on September 2, we may never know, but if only for his clairvoyance and nothing else – what did he know and when did he know about the hand-off? – de Quiros, a favorite columnist of ours, has rubbed us again – not the wrong way, hopefully.


In a clear departure from the reasons advanced by political pundits on the inevitability of a Noynoy Aquino presidential run, with or without “divine guidance,” Cavalier Jose “Joe” Dado ’55, writing on September 4, presented a different view that, to our thinking, is a very interesting one [3]. Taking a page from US history, he said that if Noynoy does not “seize the moment” now, “like Ted Kennedy, he may never again (be) seriously considered for the leadership of his country.”

Joe Dado’s view, in a nutshell, comes from two perspectives; one, from US history: after “the decision of Ted Kennedy not to seek the Democratic nomination in 1968 after the assassination of his brother, Bobby, who was leading in the Democratic primaries…..he was never again seriously considered for the presidency, although he sought the nomination several times.” And two, from Philippine history: the case of Rogelio de la Rosa – “after withdrawing as a strong third party candidate in 1960, which resulted in the victory of VP Diosdado Macapagal, De la Rosa's brother-in-law, over re-electionist (sic) Pres. Carlos P. Garcia, RDR never won another election: not as a re-electionist (sic) senator or even as a representative from Pampanga.”


Mar Roxas said in his statement to the press, “Noy has made it clear that he wants to carry the torch of leadership.” Evidently, Dado’s historical parallels must have weighed on Noynoy to make it clear, in his talks with the Liberal Party President over the weekend, that he was at long last no longer the ‘reluctant candidate’ that he was, deliberately or not, before the passing of his mother, Cory Aquino. Consciously or sub-consciously, Noynoy had decided he would be neither a Ted Kennedy nor a Rogelio de la Rosa. 


As if on cue, key players in the Philippine political drama have been beating their own hasty retreats: Binay, Panlilio, and Padaca – in quick succession. Our favorite GenSen [4] Ping Lacson, had retreated months earlier but he was not about to keep silent about the Mar-Noynoy ‘hand-off.’ He asked his former boss, Erap Estrada, to follow the lead of Binay, Panlilio, Padaca in order to unify the opposition.  


Not heeding Lacson, at least for now, the former student dropout is entertaining no plans to drop out from the presidential race.


An observer whose acumen on political matters and analytical skills we have begun to notice and appreciate more than before still thinks that for all the advantages of the Noynoy-Mar tandem, it “will be necessary to move the LP bets into striking range of Noli and Villar…… But getting all of this done is almost like paying off the opposing basketball team to bench all but one player against your five man press. The question now is what are you willing to pay to have the opposing team benched?”

We concur with this pragmatic view. Even after Noynoy makes his final decision and with only 243 days before Election Day (see How Many Days below, if the number of hours, minutes and seconds are of interest to you), Manny Villar and Noli de Castro remain the ‘presidentiables’ to beat, at least according to the polls [5]. 


The analogy to basketball, we think, is appropriate for a couple of reasons.

Bilog ang bola,  a basketball truism that gives hope even to those ‘presidentiables’ outside of the acknowledged front runners  – Manny Villar, Noli de Castro and of course, Noynoy – hopefuls like Loren Legarda, Dick Gordon, Erap Estrada and Chiz Escudero.

And like basketball, isn’t an election open season for pambobola? Fashioning and saying exactly the words that the voters want to hear. Or, to quote POTUS Obama, calibrating your words.


We think the American term, political football, would have been more appropriate for the Noynoy ‘hand-off.’ But Filipinos love basketball. So, forget the ‘hand-off.’

It’s “Play Ball” time, boys and girls, and no surprise here! The game is basketball: Noynoy asking for the ball; Mar, the unselfish teammate, passing it to him; all followers in the stands rooting for Noynoy to shoot the ball, and their star player Noynoy obliging.

With the ball in his hand for the most part from this point onward, will Noynoy make enough baskets that will win the game?  


Fiancée:  How was your game?
Me:  It turned to be a beautiful day for golf. 
Fiancée:  How did you do?
Me:  The Lake Merced Golf and Country Club – it is really, really beautiful; truly magnificent, stunning, I won’t mind playing there again.
Fiancée:  And your game, how about it?
Me:  Playing with those three gentlemen – our host Bennie Picardo; Irwin Ver and Larry Doria – was such great fun. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Fiancée:  I see…you did not play well.


The feedback we received from several readers, both military and civilian, vindicated our decision two weeks ago to publish in its entirety Cite Beltran’s opinion piece – They might as well have been “unknown soldiers” [6].

It is our pleasure to report here what these readers said.


The first reaction we got barely minutes after we posted the issue. It was from Cavalier Robert “Abdul” Bruce ’65 who wrote to thank us for our “objective view of the situation in Basilan” [7]. A believer in Islam, Bruce has no doubt that the terrorists there are the culprits, reiterating his long-held belief that “these terrorists and their terrorist acts are not acceptable and have no place in Islam.”


Cavalier Bob Aviso ’73 also thanked us “sa paghatid ng napakagandang artikulo ni Ginoong Beltran” [8]. “It is indeed a tragedy for our country, that we, as a people, have misplaced values on this regard. “A lot of blame to go around,” he admits, he does not “even know where to start” (except) “praying for a miracle.”


Echoing Aviso’s sense of hopelessness, Cavalier Renato “Rene” Garcia ’64 offered an explanation, “Is it our damaged culture?” As Director of Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps in the education of the orphans of soldiers killed in combat, Garcia has seen for himself, through the widows and orphans he meets in the course of his work and his advocacy, the sentiments expressed in Beltran’s column.


Of those who manage to cheat death, the ones that were ‘only” wounded in battle, “Kawawa talaga,” wrote Marilou K. Magsaysay [9].    (But) “every time we visit them in the hospital, they are so grateful.” [10]


And from Chit Applegate: “If you continue writing this way, you will get a lot of Filipinos to finally understand what the military represents.” [11]
Memo to Ms. Applegate:
We could have written the article ourselves, and we regret we didn’t. But we have no problem that Cito Beltran, a “civilian,” beat us to it and we thank him for doing it.  But rest assured that, if only for your encouraging words, we will do our part. 


Cavalier Victor “Vic” Erfe ’69 paid his tribute: “I, too, grieve the passing of our warriors. I also envy them for having the opportunity of going in the most esteemed way a warrior should go, in combat and with their boots on [12]. 

Erfe appreciated the fact that we quoted Cito Beltran’s column in full; otherwise, he would not have read it. He revealed that “since Ka Doroy Valencia and Cito’s father – Louie – passed away, I stopped reading so–called columns dished out by know–it– all composition writers who call themselves ‘columnists’ hereabouts…..Indeed, Cito’s piece encapsulates the condition of journalism in our inang bayan nowadays.”


Cito Beltran would be glad to know that a fellow media man of his called the article “powerful stuff.” A ringing endorsement, coming from Greg B. Macabenta, editor and publisher of Filipinas Magazine and incumbent President of NaFFAA, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

Macabenta concedes: “You are right. Our values as media need a brain check.”


We extend our thanks to Cavalier Augusto “MarQ” Marquez ’84 for the correction to another one of our errors in identity. In a previous issue (09-08-05 WTW/”Cory Aquino, Goodbye II”), we cited Cavalier Louie “Timmy” Oppus ’84 instead of his cousin and former PMA classmate, Timoteo Ylaya-Osmena ’x84. Our regrets to both of them for the error.


In one of our issues (2009-08-19 WTW/”Loren, Loren Sana”), we wrote about PMA alumni associations, fraternal organizations, in the US. We did not know the official name of three of them. Now, we know one of the three – thanks to Cavalier Jorge Agcaoili ’64. The one that is based in Chicago is the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association of the Midwest, with Cavalier Alejandrino “Alex” Cirera ’63 as President.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [13], we are beginning this countdown: 

Sir, there are 243 days, 5,832 hours, 349,920 minutes, 20,995,200 seconds and 41,990,400 ticks before May 10, 2010, before the Philippine national elections (or non-election).


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-36
san francisco, california


[1]   In that issue we wrote: To be continued. The remaining segments of this issue will be in next week’s WTW 09-09-09 (We did not make this up; indeed, our next issue falls on this date, Wednesday, September 9, 2009). 
And in that issue next week: more on Mar & Noynoy and the house by the beach; readers’ feedback to recent issues of WTW; and, our usual clincher, the countdown to the Philippine national elections, May 10, 2010

[2]   As a continuation of a previous WTW issue, this segment on Mar Roxas and Noynoy was written before the latter formally announced his candidacy for President

[3]    To Dado, a prolific writer whose articles almost invariably deal with history or history-based matters, we wrote that he deserved more than a penny for his thought-provoking article on “Ted and Noynoy.”

[4]    General-Senator
[5]   Having been scratched from consideration as standard bearer of the Lakas-Kampi Party coalition, according to Party chair Eduardo Ermita, de Castro seems to be the odd man out and could be joining the increasing number of ex-future Presidents

[6]   09-08-26 WTW/”Cito’s Lament – Our Plaint?”

[7]   The column of Cito Beltran that we quoted in that issue was, indeed, about the soldiers that died recently in Basilan and in Sulu.

[8]   sending a very beautiful article of Mr. Beltran.

[9]   How pitiful.

[10]  Marilou Magsaysay is married to Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr., ex-senator and son of former Secretary of National Defense and Philippine President Ramon “The Guy” Magsaysay.

[11]  Chit’s evident concern and love for the military in the Philippines and her adopted country is understandable; she is married to Bill Applegate, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, Class of 1967.
[12]  Erfe added, “I hope they had the proper boots on.” We leave it to the reader to put this addendum of Erfe’s in its proper context, i.e. providing our men going to battle with the wherewithal for victory and greater chances of coming out of the battlefield and returning home alive

[13]  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.