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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Loren, Loren Sana!


On last week’s Witful Thinking, Wednesday which was posted on a Sunday, for the first time in 32 issues, someone suggested this:  How about Wednesday as any day when WTW is posted, Sunday included?

Another good lifeline for our habitual tardiness which is too tempting to refuse, but nah, thank you. Making excuses has become a habit as well.


We join in mourning the passing on Tuesday of political columnist Robert Novak, a diehard conservative, after a battle with brain cancer at the age of 78.  We will miss the energy, the integrity and the easy wit that we think he lent to each and every offering of CNN’s "Crossfire" on television. With Novak as its co-host, and us – couch potatoes that we are, imagining ourselves to be, like him, in the line of fire – “Crossfire” was one of our favorite TV shows. We hope its fire has not been diminished nor extinguished with the loss of Robert Novak.


Once in a rare while, we stumble upon an item like this, something that is refreshing to include in this segment of WTW about Inang Bayan [1], the Philippines. This one is from Cavalier Louie “Timmy” Oppus ’84. This was in response to a challenging proposition in one of the PMA mailgroups posed by a fellow Cavalier, Nebuchadnezzar “Nebu” Alejandrino ’77: "If we want change, let it start from us, sirs …"

Oppus’ testimonial, bereft of anything we can consider a spin:
“We started change here in our ancestral town in Baclayon, Bohol. For 18 years this town was mismanaged by political patronage and vote buying when a young lawyer related to our family begun to institute change by firstly he did not buy votes and won without a party (sic).  You see change begins in our very little ways and we are almost finished constructing an office exclusively for the PNP without any FINANCIAL help from the PNP (sic).  Hopefully named after my grandfather Col. Angel Oppus cl' 25.”

“Did not buy votes and won without a party.” Take note, boys and girls, that you may inspire yourselves and keep the faith that all is not lost for your country, your people and your future. 


But now comes another dinner, another object of controversy, this time south of Le Cirque in New York – Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. 

To Quezon Congressman Danilo Suarez who admitted paying the $15,000 tab for that dinner, we reiterate a suggestion we made in last week’s WTW to Leyte Congressman Martin Romualdez who has yet to admit paying the $20,000 tab for the dinner in New York:

You are better off filing bills in the House than footing bills in some restaurants for the First Couple.

A bill on diets could be a deterrent, preclude expensive dinners in future presidential trips, like those at Le Cirque and  Bobby Van’s Steakhouse; a good start which may mollify the hungry and the angry among your constituents.


We always knew that eating can be dangerous to one’s health, but not from a legal perspective. Until we read that GMA’s lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, had to give up watching a movie with his wife in order  to attend a press conference to defend his client on those two dinners in the US.


Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth which is required of public officials go by the initials, SALN.

What happened to the W, in Worth? Hello. A Freudian slip?

Could dropping this be the reason why the true worth of public officials cannot be gauged from their Statement of Assets, Liability and Net Worth?


Yes, my fiancée and I were in Las Vegas. Yes, we went to church. No, we saw neither a priest nor a judge. And yes, like that woman in a Filipino commercial several years ago, my fiancée can say “Miss pa po ako.” .


In two days, the Dual Meet between the East Coast Chapter, ECC, and the North East Group, NEG will unfold in New Jersey. (Yes, Bang [3], there are a good number of these fraternal chapters, recognized or unrecognized by the PMAAAI, Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc. [4]).


In retrospect, the Dual Meet, now on its 7th year, is the brainchild of the members of the PMA Class of 77 overseas: Cavalier Danilo “DMJ” Jimenez, as ECC President, hosted a tennis tournament in 2001, picked up the following year by his classmates, ECC president Nebuchadnezzar “Nebu” Alejandrino and NEG co-presidents Jaime “Jinggoy” Garingo and Jaime “Jomas” Masfere, to become the annual Dual Meet in 2002 [5].     

Don’t ask us why it required two Jaimes to preside over the NEG.  Ask the self-appointed and –anointed Council of Elders, Cavaliers Randolph “Pards” Espejo ‘74 and Vladimir “Vlad/Vrad/HoAJ” Punto ’74 [6].


At stake in the Dual Meet is the Jurado Cup [7], a perennial trophy donated by Alejandrino and Garingo, awarded to and kept for one year as the coveted object of bragging rights by the winner of the competition that includes tennis, volleyball, basketball and golf. And yes, Karaoke singing too.


The members of the ECC, a.k.a. the henpECCkeds, are the defending champions this year but the members of the NEG, a.k.a. the reNEGades, under newly installed President Cavalier Leopoldo “Leo/Primer” Primero ’84, have not made any secret of their plotting since the last Dual Meet to reclaim at all cost the Jurado Cup they won two years ago.

Our information is that they have been combing the New York-New Jersey corridor for anyone who has a PMA cadet serial number, especially golfers, for conversion to instant reNEGegades in time to participate in the Dual Meet.

Our bet is that for their efforts, they are due for a victory.


We will be missing the Dual Meet, two years in a row now, and counting.

We will miss the sleepover and the hangover, among others.

The sleepover on Friday, visitors reveling in new surroundings – this year, it is the Jackson/ New Jersey area – before the contending teams are locked in battles, in fierce competition, Saturday and Sunday.

The hangover on Monday, after the contenders are locked in bottles, in camaraderie, with the completion of the last event, the golf tournament on the last day that incidentally serves a noble purpose [8].


This Dual Meet could be the swan song of Cavalier Delfin “Del” Lorenzana ’73, the incumbent president of the ECC.

Two days ago, August 17, he announced: 
“It is with mixed feelings that I announce my imminent departure as Head, Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA) as my replacement has been appointed.”


An outpouring of regrets followed immediately from stunned recipients of the announcement, which was quite understandable, considering that Lorenzana leaves the US scene, almost to the day of his assignment as Defense Armed Forces Attache, seven years ago on August 8, 2002; a collective sigh of Sayang! [9]  emanating from those who know what Lorenzana has accomplished during his stint in Washington.


Why the walking papers for Lorenzana?

As far as we know, Mum is the word from Ma’am, Lorenzana’s C-in-C or from Cavalier Eduardo “Eddie” Ermita ’57 a.k.a. Executive Secretary at the Palace; and the same can be said of Secretary Gilberto Teodoro or Cavalier Ernesto “Nesty” Carolina ’70 a.k.a Undersecretary for Philippine Defense Reform at the Department of National Defense, to whom Lorenzana directly reports for funding and other administration requirements. 


While Malacanang remains tight lipped about the whys and wherefores of Lorenzana’s relief, however, a number of speculations have reached us from sources – believe it or not – in the Metro Washington Area itself; no, not the CIA, trust us, even if they would appear to be conspiracy theories to the imaginative.

Three of the scenarios we have received we find laughable, incredible, and plausible, respectively, and have tagged them thus: The 2010 Elections Fallout; The Marathon Man Theory; The Operation August Moon Connection.


The 2010 Elections Fallout.
GMA, to a potential voter:   Who would you like to be the next president?
Potential Voter:   Si Loren, sana!
GMA, to her aides:   Who is this Lorenzana?


The Marathon Man Theory.
A report reaches Malacanang that retired Major General Delfin N. Lorenzana, Special Presidential Representative and Head, Office of Veterans Affairs is ‘preparing to run,’ a transgression on Lorenzana’s part, the aides suggest to their boss, because he did not seeking prior clearance from Malacanang.

If the aides just did their homework, they would have found this to be true: Lorenzana has been preparing to run, but not in the next elections. As in previous years, he is preparing to run for the Marine Corps Marathon in October.


The Operation August Moon Connection.
Ex-envoy to the US Alberto F. del Rosario is on Malacanang’s crosshairs, his name linked to Jose de Venecia’s claim of a military rule plan discussed with US authorities sometime in 2005 during his tenure  [10].  A loose connection to anyone,  but not to Malacanang,  worried that Lorenzana, as Defense Armed Forces Attache served under – and could be identified with – the maverick del Rosario.


If Lorenzana is disappointed, or hurt, by his sudden relief sans any explanation from his bosses, we cannot know. And for someone who we know has avoided the spotlight throughout his tenure, he does not deserve to be put on the spot, at least, not from us.

We think, on the other hand, that through all these, Lorenzana has been very professional; a “true officer and a gentlemen,” in the words of Cavalier Harold Ochoco ’81 who served as Secretary to Lorenzana’s ECC President, and, like Lorenzana a marathoner himself. In his email of farewell to Lorenzana, he was visibly appreciative that he was “allowed… follow your footsteps even for a brief moment.”


The portion of Lorenzana’s announcement concerning his successor and his appeal for support to him was a class act all the way, betraying no trace of disappointment:

“…..let us prepare to welcome the arrival of the new Head, OVA who should be reporting for duty anytime soon. He is a very popular fellow cavalier with impeccable credentials and whose reputation for probity, integrity and professionalism is widely known not only by us Peemayers but by the entire Filipino nation:  BGen Victor N. Corpus AFP (Retired) '67.
“I do hope and pray that you give him the same help and assistance that you have so generously given to me.”


We have been asked this question: Victor Corpus is NPA, isn’t he?

Our response: Yes. New Presidential Appointee. His appointment dated July 20, 11 days before GMA’s visit to Washington, we have gathered, was signed by GMA herself.


Another question:
Does Corpuz have other missions here?

Our response: We don’t know. We do know that the job of the OVA is already winding down with the approval of the FVEC, Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Act and is being implemented; to date, 7,000 veterans have gotten checks.


Who else but Cavalier Francisco “Mike” San Miguel 51 could have discerned it in his inimitable way? But again, this comes as no surprise to us. After all, we realize that he was not Assistant Superintendent of PMA nor one of the topnotchers of his class for nothing.
“I expected ‘I have returned’ from a Waray of Eastern Visayas,” [11]  he wrote, referring to our statement in last week’s WTW, ‘We’re back,’ paraphrasing Schwarzenegger.

Sorry to disappoint you, sir. We wish, but the name is Winston, not Douglas; not MacArthur either. Not even MacArpon. 


And from Chilla Lucero, speaking for our Fave Four NORCAListas [12], a feedback that is heartwarming and satisfying to us:

“This definitely quenched our thirst and endless request for a segment specially dedicated to the DMV story. Thank you very much….. Are we asking too much??”

No you’re not asking too much. For as always, we aim to please, especially a group we now recognize by the new moniker, 5Fs. Yes, 5Fs as in Favorite Fearsome Foursome Femmes from Frisco. 2Fs, for Femme Fatales, would have been insufficient, we grant.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” plebe knowledge [13], as we did in the last few weeks, we are continuing our countdown: 

Sir, there are 264 days, 6,336 hours, 380,160 minutes, 22,809,600 seconds and 45,619,200 ticks before the Philippine elections (or non-election).
It is getting closer than we think….


At this writing, we just bade “fair winds and following seas” to Cavalier Lope “Louie” Dagoy ’87. A veteran of counterinsurgency in the Philippines, Dagoy will assume command of the 10th Philippine Contingent to the United Nations in Haiti.

In his parting email, he expressed the “hope I can leave up to your expectations.” A Freudian slip, we reckon, he was excited too about his departure, but we knew what he meant and we have no doubt that like his predecessors, he will acquit himself creditably and live up to our expectations, leaving us impressed forever.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-33
makati, philippines


[1] Inang Bayan translates to mother country
[2] I am still single
[3] Bang is one of the more popular directors of the PMA Alumni Association, Inc., Cavalier Fiorello “Bang” Adriano ‘70
[4] In the US, aside from ECC and NEG, we have these: In California, NORCAL/Northern California and SOCAL/ Southern California and four more that we know of -  in Las Vegas, Chicago, Texas and the Northwest.
[5] Sadly, 2002 was the year that Alejandrino and the ECC lost Alejandrino’s wife, Vicky to cancer.     
[6] HoAJ is shorthand for one of Punto’s many monikers, “Husband of Angelina Jojie.” Punto, incidentally, was the one who coined Witful Thinking and proposed it as title of this column, which we tweaked to Witful Thinking, Wednesday.
[7] At PMA, a trophy by that name, Jurado, is awarded to the overall champion of sports competition among all companies of the Cadet Corps during the year. The gymnasium at PMA is Jurado Hall, named after the same alumnus, Augusto L. Jurado ’38, distinguished for his athletic prowess and sports-related achievements
[8] The golf tournament Sunday serves both as part of the ECC-NEG contest as well as a fund-raising activity of DJLF’s Charity Golf, the proceeds of which go to LEAP, the Loakan Educational Assistance  Project. LEAP supports college scholarships of students from the Baguio City National High School, Fort del Pilar Annex and other high schools nationwide. DJLF Foundation is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Maryland composed of members who were former cadets of PMA now residing outside of the Philippines, notably the US and Canada.
[9] Sayang! -  What a waste!
[10] On Thursday, Malacañang, through spokesperson Undersecretary Anthony Golez, scoffed at former del Rosario’s claim that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had considered suspending the writ of habeas corpus in 2005 and tried to seek US approval for such a move.
[11] Inhabitants in this region in the Visayas composed of the Leyte and Samar provinces are called Waray or Waray-Waray
[12] Janet Hernandez, Boots Doria, Levy Hernandez are the other three.
[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 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.