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Witful Thinking, Wednesday
 Winston “Arf-Arf” Arpon
 PMA ‘64 

Filipino vs. Pilipino - 

Ong vs. Wong?


Cavalier Michael "Chasan" [1] Sanchez '81 emailed us about some wishful thinking of his own: How about a double issue of WTW this week? 

But of course! How could we possibly refuse someone like Sanchez who bundled his wish with a "Bravo!" because he enjoyed last week's issue [2]?  


Two WTW issues in the same week would be a first. 

But first things first, I mean, my DMV job comes first. Remember, this is a 24/7 and around-the-clock unlike the five-day and 8-5 federal job. Today, it's Driving Miss Vicky to and from Marlin Cove in Foster City to the Beverly Heritage Hotel in Milpitas for her meeting with the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara County. 

She’s been on a tear of gala, wanderlust in Pilipino, visiting places and meeting people to   promote the Philippine Development Forum and the Gala Event on September 25. I, of course, have to go along for the ride, I mean, for the drive.


There were no whistles (Bj, did you say catcalls instead?) for Tiger Woods during this tournament, the 2010 PGA Championship, his last chance to win a major this year. His performance here was not as bad as his performance at the WGC-Bridgestone the week before – he finished a respectable two-under-par at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits.  

At the end of the day, Whistling Straits for Tiger became Dire Straits, as he did not earn enough points to qualify as automatic member of the US Ryder Cup team. He stood at number 12, four slots shy of the last automatic berth. Since 1997, he always led in the standings. For the first time in his brilliant career, he must rely on the Captain's pick, the last four members to be chosen by team captain Corey Pavin on Sept 7.


The US Senate confirmed Elena Kagan as the Supreme Court's 112th justice and fourth woman.  The first nominee of POTUS Obama, Kagan succeeds retired Justice John Paul Stevens.  

Another change in Obama’s presidency, but with this equation – one liberal in, one liberal out – one that can hardly be a source of worry or concern for conservatives and other Obama watchers like us. Some loose change, considering that the ideological balance in the Supreme Court has been maintained.


We wrote about it, in fact, it was our center-“piece” subject last week [3] –  an election in the Metro Washington area unbeknownst to all, except a few who were there.  With that election, we now know of two Presidents in the Nation’s Capital who have something in common – the letter “O.” Obama, POTUS, President of the United States; Ochoco, POTECC, President of the East Coast Chapter, PMA. Move over Oprah!


Despite reported fierce criticisms, POTUS Obama insists that he has "no regrets" about supporting the plan to build a mosque near the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. This, in spite of an opinion poll released last week by CNN/Opinion Research showing that nearly 70 percent of all Americans do not agree with the mosque proposal.

Of course, the President has issued a clarification – what did you expect? He now says he supports the "right" to build a mosque near the site but would not comment on the "wisdom" of doing so.

Come again, sir?


Reacting to the division among Democrats on the issue –  on Monday Majority Leader Harry Reid parted company with the president, saying the mosque should be built elsewhere – members of Obama’s party are urging the White House to regain control of their message on this controversial issue before it's too late. A communications strategist, an adviser in the 2008 Obama campaign, has warned against the “danger here (of) an incoherent presidency.” 

Didn’t POTP Aquino have a similar “messaging” problem several weeks ago which led him to revamp the Office of the Press Secretary? Maybe, POTUS Obama can include this in his talking points if/when he meets his Philippine counterpart next month. 


A convert to the faith while he was in active naval service and who he remains a devout Muslim, Cavalier Robert “Abdulrakman” Bruce ’65 translated the Quran to Filipino/Pilipino [4].

 On the Ground Zero mosque, we sought Bruce’s opinion. He would only say that it is “a matter of perception whether the site is appropriate or not for the mosque. Only time can tell and heal with the Guidance of the Almighty.”

We disagree with our esteemed colleague.  We think this is adding insult to injury: injury in 2001 and insult in 2010, or whatever year the Muslim Community Center and the mosque will rise from the nightmare and ashes of 9/11. 

We think that the organizers and supporters like Obama, are conveniently using as their shield and justification to an unpopular plan the very right to freedom that the 9/11 jihadists wanted to wipe off the face America and the earth.


Prisco Nilo was the first senior official to be sacked by the new administration of POTP Aquino.

This comes as a surprise to us because Nilo was relieved of his post as
administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) due to incompetence – palpak, in the vernacular.


Basyang, a typhoon, claimed the first victim of the reformist Aquino administration; not the $329.5 ZTE broadband deal nor the 728-million pesos fertilizer scam, two scandals that rocked the previous administration.  

We would have expected the axe to fall first on someone for reason of corruption, given this administration’s highest priority on fighting corruption in government with its battle cry, Walang  Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt [5].

We think this new battle cry is in order – Walang  Mahirap Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Palpak.

But which of Aquino’s media communications group would decide this? The PCOO or the PCDSPO? The Presidential Communications Operations Office or Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office?


Secretary of National Defense Gazmin a.k.a. Cavalier Voltaire “Voltz” Gazmin ’68 has been tagged as AFP ‘morale destroyer,’ the author of the article, Victor Reyes, attributing this sobriquet to the contents of a three-page manifesto, of "concerned officers" who didn’t concern themselves with revealing their names or identities.  

We think that the SND is well-advised to pursue this matter but also to remember the old saw that says, when you start to make a mark in this world, there will be people with erasers.


Meanwhile, Rear Admiral Angue a.k.a. Cavalier Feliciano Angue ’78, taking to task the SND but not his Commander-in-Chief for the predicament he finds himself in has claimed that his recent relief as commander of Capital Region and reassignment as commander of the Naval Forces Western Command was a demotion.

Reading a transcript of his long-winded and in our view, self-serving, statements to the press, we are tempted to ask if the good Admiral is talking about his ‘demotion’ or his ‘emotion.’


Your thought on the controversy [6] is well taken, thank you, but no, Cavalier Guillermo “Gerry” Cunanan ‘66, the issue – Filipino or Pilipino? – has not been concluded.  We thought we had a conclusion when we went along with Cavalier Ramon “Monet” Ong ’63 to go along with the Philippine Law that mandated ‘Filipino’ as the language. 

Not since we wrote about the Kissing Rock (2009-02-25 WTW/”But Where is the Kissing Rock?; 2009-03-04 WTW/”Kissing Rock – Lost and Found?) has there been a deluge of emails on one  subject, (WTW, a deluge can be as many as two emails), starting with Cavalier Jose “Joe” Dado ‘54/’55 [7], with his basic view of the whole issue, quite appropriately calling it, the abakada,  or the abc of it [8].


“The Pilipino language, just like any other language in the world, has basic grammatical and alphabetical concepts. These concepts are altered to make way for adapted foreign words which ultimately, by continuous use, find their way to our native alphabet such as taksi for taxi, as previously mentioned. We apparently have an exceptionally numerous amount of foreign words in our Pilipino language by virtue of occupation or commerce. As such, there is a proliferation of Chinese, Spanish and English words in our language, not to mention texting and jejemon. We often say we speak Taglish but that is because the latest addition is English, not knowing that the Tag part is actually Chinese and Spanish, as well. Because of national communication and population movement and migration, the Tag part is now composed of Visayan and its derivatives, as well as Ilokano, Kapampangan, etc. When the mountain people like the Igorots finally establish communities in the lowlands, we will have their dialects incorporated in our language, as well. Our language will indeed be enriched (or bastardized depending on how one view changes) by the mixture of all local dialects and probably even global as we interact with the entire world, given the deployment of OFWs.

“Common usage will ultimately determine which letter to use, P or F, regardless of what is prescribed. Notice the solid and broken white and yellow lines in our streets? They are just for show.”

No, boys and girls, we did not write this. Cavalier Guillermo “Willie” Wong  ’69 did.


“But we should not really argue. Kasi [9], if he wants to disagree with the Philippine Government on how the word is spelled, that is his prerogative. I do not agree with Guillermo on how to spell "Filipino" — but I shall defend to my last dying breath his right to spell "Filipino" as "Pilipino." I shall also defend to the death his right to say "Visayan" instead of "Bisayan," although I'm not sure why he preferred "V" instead of "B."

No, boys and girls, we did not write this either. Cavalier Ramon “Monet” Ong ’63 wrote it – and more [10].


Sorry to disappoint, but witdom, more than wisdom, is this column’s calling of choice.


We do think that Ong is right when he suggests to us that “this is a unique situation – two Chinese arguing in English on how to spell a Pilipino word!”


Rudyard Kipling wrote – remember? – in his Barrack-room ballads, 1892: "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet."

In this case, Kipling was wrong, dead wrong. Wong from the East (Maryland) meets Ong from the West (Arizona) – to WTW’s credit, if we might say so ourselves.


With Deakins Hall gone, WTW reader Larry “Larry” Leviste asked: would this mean you will be retiring in Malarayat? [11].

That would be heaven for me, Mr. Leviste. 

But you know only too well, as much as I do, who can bring me to that heaven – she who owns that place in Malarayat.


Lorenzo Hall at PMA, Fort del Pilar, Ba
guio City was the reception area where cadets met their visitors. It no longer exists today, Cavalier Alfonso “/PonsWA” ’83, reminds us. So, he asks, why not “Lorenzo Hall” to replace “Deakins Hall?” Alvarez is obviously referring to a place on Nakpil Street in San Lorenzo Village in the Philippines.

Our response: As we wrote last week, I happen to be law-abiding. She is the law. And she owns the house in San Lorenzo.


Boy! Was he “wrong like the dickens" about Deakins Hall, Cavalier Michael "Chasan" Sanchez '81 now admits. "All these years I thought it was a library of some sort, a reading or a writing room." 

 But our thanks to others who know better and have, since our “Goodbye to Deakins Hall” shared with us some of their memories, like Cavaliers Wilfredo “Willie” Mejia ’72 who remembers 18 years of coming and going to Deakins Hall [12], and, Carlos “Chuck” Agustin ‘59/’60 [13] whose last visit to Deakins Hall was five years ago [14].


There's a tablet, a headstone on the second crypt of the second tier of a white mausoleum in the George Washington Cemetery. It reads:

 OCTOBER 12, 1942 – MARCH 18, 2008
 Loving Wife, Mom and Lola

Cavalier Mejia, she was the ‘beacon of light’ you wrote about “that always harkened you to come drop by, share a meal or take up a bed for the night.” 

So, “Goodbye, Deakins Hall” cannot be final after all. When we visit her again and again, our feet will bring us, as they have done since she left us, back to Deakins Hall, which as you know, is but a mile away from her she lies.


Aquino Administration Watch [15].  We continue what we began several WTW issues ago – our countdown of how long the present administration has been in office, using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [16]. 

Sir, 49 days, 1,176 hours, 70,560 minutes, 4,233,600 seconds and 8,467,200 ticks have passed since Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III assumed office as President of the Philippines. 

Yes, boys and girls, 49 days – and what has the Aquino administration done to show for it? 

We invite WTW readers to dial in, wherever they may be on this planet or in cyberspace. You may not like our VgB idea – Vigilance-tee Brigade [17] – but we would love to hear from you.


dateline: foster city, california

 @arf-arf ‘64

 wtw 2010-14

volume 066



[1]  Following Loakan barracks “convention or standards,” Sancho would be the appropriate nickname or moniker for any cadet surnamed Sanchez. Then, why Chasan? There is a story behind this, something to do with Sanchez’s grandma, but the details escape us at the moment – and we can’t find the one-on-one email from Sanchez we received in the early 90s during the early years of the PMA e-group, ACF, Academy Cavaliers Forum, of which Sanchez was one of the earlier members-subscribers 

[2]  2010-08-11 WTW/"Homeless in Washington"

[3]  2010-08-04 WTW/”Yes, Money Changed Hands in this Election”

[4]  According to Bruce, he just “found out this year this year from my youngest daughter that my transliteration, Ang Banal na Kuran, is in the Yale University Library ( and was mentioned at the Encyclopaedia of the Quran ( as the first Tagalog Quran transliteration. I tried to reprint the book for the madrasahs in Basilan and Zambo this year but the cost was very prohibitive for me. Instead, I am now starting to build the website that will showcase the transliteration and hopefully attract contributors to print the book. The book will be available on the web for reprinting.”

[5]  Roughly translated, “No poverty if no corruption”    

[6]  If the only reason you're hanging on to your position is that there was no F in our native language  then, maybe, you should also propose that Philippines be officially spelled Pilipinas….. Ph is strange to Abakada speakers

[7]  Dado was a member of Class ’54, PMA but graduated with Class ’55, USMA

[8]  Our abakada, Dado maintains, did not have the letters c, f, j etc. “we had to use k. p, h etc instead. But  now, we use those letters plus q, v, x z, ch, ll, tilde n etc for proper names of persons, places, nations, languages etc. We write taksi when we mean taxi, but not Rohas for Roxas etc.” 

“ So,” he concludes,  “Pilipino is now Filipino. I think.”

[9]  You see…..

[10]  Ong: "El idioma español" is translated as "the Spanish language" not as "the Español language." Therefore, "Ang wikang Pilipino" is translated as "the Filipino language," not as "the Pilipino language."

[11]  Malarayat  is the name of a  residential cum golf development in Lipa, Batangas, Philippines, a little over an hour ride from Metro Manila

[12]  Mejia posted this email: “It is no surprise that many of your readers always thought of Deakins Hall as an august hall of some kind because it truly was.”

< p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; ">“In the 18 or so years that my family and I have been coming and going in Deakins Hall, it has always been a welcoming haven for us where pleasant memories of fellowship/gathering abound. In naval/maritime parlance, it was a beacon of light that always harkened you to come drop by, share a meal or a take up a bed for the night.

“So it was indeed sad, nay painful, for us in so many levels that you had to “give up” Deakins Hall. But rest assured that the memories and even traditions that were created/started there will remain in our minds and hearts forever.

“In spite of the “change in management,” we might even drive by just to see if the new owners are doing a good job of keeping the place the way it used to be.” 

[13]  Agustin was a member of PMA Class 1959 but graduated with the Class of 1960, US Naval Academy.

[14]  Agustin’s memories: “I remember Deakins Hall. “I had free meals there a couple of times, including my last visit in 2005, where I met what seemed to be the Greater WDC Chapter, including an old friend (and former boss in the Cavalier staff) Cav Dante Simbulan’52 whom I mistook as a Class 1972.”

[15]  A segment of WTW is dedicated to a commentary on events and issues involving the administration of Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III who took office on June 30, 2010 which coincidentally was a Wednesday, the same day that we post Witful Thinking, Wednesday.

[16]  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 have done in a countdown of the number of days POTP Aquino has been in office – compute the days and convert them to hours, minutes, seconds and ticks, a laborious computation by long hand, before the slide rule, calculators, computers and spreadsheets.

[17]  An idea we have mentioned in several issues. In 2010 WTW/”A High Five!” we wrote:  We wrote earlier of our role as adviser – self-appointed, unsolicited, unrecognized adviser to the President. And don’t forget, unappreciated. Nonetheless, this role we will take very, very seriously and with gusto.

By whatever name we go by, “vigilance-tees” or Devil’s Advocate, this will be our contribution, albeit a small one. It is the least that we can do for this President who by most indications at this point has given us no reason to doubt his sincerity and sense of purpose. But of course, this comes with our realization that vigilance is the root word of “vigilance-tees,” and that Devil’s Advocate does not mean, Advocate of the Devil.

If this President, for whatever reason, should deviate, or worse, depart from and abandon his promise of good governance, we will be vocal and we will let him know before it becomes too late for him to do something about it. 

We think and we hope and we pray that for the nation’s sake that he will listen

Witful Thinking, Wednesday