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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Mar & Noynoy
A House by the Beach


We had a number scenarios, ‘conspiracy’ theories if you will, at least three of them, on the whys and wherefores of the walking papers and sudden replacement of Cavalier Delfin “Del” Lorenzana ’73 and retired AFP major general as head of OVA, Office of Veterans Affairs in Washington, DC (09-08-19 WTW/”Loren, Loren Sana”).

The Manila Mail [1] put it quite simply in its headline, thus:
With all due respect to The Mail, whose editor is a former associate of ours in a previous life [2], here’s the WTW version, courtesy of our source somewhere around the nation’s capital:

When interviewed on the news of his sudden relief which he learned first from the papers, his comment was “Shocked!” not “Sacked!” The Manila Mail must have heard it and/or printed it wrong.

Oh, what difference a letter or two makes. But what a difference, we take, it is to Malacanang Palace, to whoever it was that shocked or sacked Lorenzana.
Incidentally, the good general is an Ilocano whose family moved to Cotabato where he grew up. We have no information on the ethnicity, if any, of Lorenzana’s interviewer, so we’re at a loss to say where the translation was probably lost in this surreal shock-to-sack affair. 


Item:   Slippage in the popularity of POTUS Obama continues.

According to a poll of CNN/Opinion Research Corp., 53% of independent voters now disapprove of Obama’s job performance; only 43% approve. This is the first time a majority of these voters, the ones that helped put Obama in the White House in last year’s presidential elections – they provided the swing votes – do not approve.

Another poll by Real Clear Politics shows that Obama’s overall approval rating among independents, Democrats and Liberals is about equal to President George W. Bush’s at the same point in their term – 51.8 percent for Obama and 52 percent for Bush.
Arguably more popular than many of his predecessors to the Oval Office when he assumed the presidency, the articulate and charismatic Barack Obama is on track to be among a very few number of presidents whose proverbial honeymoon was over too soon [3] belying the expectations at the start of his term. He may need more than the ‘calibration’ of words which he has deftly used to good advantage. 

But no, we don’t think that the visit and meeting with Obama last July of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo whose popularity and job approval rating are no better had anything to do with the decline of POTUS Obama’s.


On the other hand, in mid-August, following the successful release of two American journalists in North Korea, with ex-President Clinton in center stage of the final negotiations, poll numbers were surging for the Clintons. In a Rasmussen Reports survey, 58% of the respondents viewed ex-President Bill Clinton favorably, only 40% unfavorably; and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, just slightly lower, 53% and 43%, respectively, both numbers surpassing those of Hillary’s boss.  

A memo to Hillary’s faithful, to Bill Clinton, if he’s not too busy with his affairs, and, to Hillary, if she’s not too occupied with attending to the affairs of the state:    We’re thinking of the same thing – an Obama-Clinton return bout in 2012 is not out of the question. Like you, we also think it is not too early to be watching the numbers.   


Headline:   It’s Make or Break for Health Care Reform.

Yes, if POTUS Obama and his fellow Democrats make it, heart break it will be for health care opponents, including a majority of Republicans.


An official of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) yesterday said that based on the latest geophysics research, it appeared that the Philippine land mass is moving toward mainland Asia at an average of seven centimeters every year.
This may be the best news yet for a country that, in the view of local and foreign political and economic analysts, has been left far behind by other countries in Asia in the last fifty years. By this measure, at least, the Philippines is finally changing course somewhat, moving closer to its Asian neighbors.  Getting there, of course, at seven centimeters a year, will take more than fifty years.


Cebu, Philippines is the 4th best island in Asia for 2009, according to the results released by Travel + Leisure in its World’s Best Awards 2009 – a listing of the best hotels, airlines, cruises in islands and cities all over the world. Cebu got a rating of 79.68 points behind Bali, Indonesia (87.41), the Maldives (84.43), and Phuket, Thailand (80.93).

No other Philippine city, island, resort, hotel, or airline made it to the listing in other categories.

Like other Sondalus [4] Cavalier Alfonso “Ponsoy/PonsWA” Alvarez ’83 is understandably ecstatic but insists with a additional sense of pride (braggadocio?) that Cebu made it to this prestigious list with its ‘best kept secret’ still intact – the Cebu Squad of which he is one of the shakers and movers [5]


Headline:  Palace increases 'pork' by P700 million.

We think we heard this from the members of Congress,
“Thank You, Madame President,” didn’t we?

Or was it, “Oink You, Madame President?” 


 In her report, Ensign Judyline Caneneo, spokesperson of the Naval Forces Central (NavForCen) based in Cebu and a member of PMA Class 2007, attributed the spike in the number of examinees to “Tayong Dalawa,” an ABS-CBN teleserye [6]

Alas, the highly popular TV series has run its course. So, it’s back to square one for Cavaliers Leonardo Calderon ’76 and Nonato Alfredo “Fred” Peralta ’79, PMA Superintendent and Commandant of Cadets, respectively, who must find innovative ways and means, a new TV series not excluded, to fill up the quota of 300 to 350 cadets per year.


Gentlemen, how about this teleserye – “The Both of Us, Three.”

If you check the archives of the CCAFP [7] circa 1979, you will find an account of the original malapropism involving, our source tell us, an officer of the Tactics Department and a member of Class ’71 with the initials, RR.


Two issues back, we reported on the Dual Meet between US-based PMA alumni from the East Coast Chapter, ECC – the henpECCkeds – and from the North East Group, NEG – the reNEGades. It was a huge success, by all accounts (translation: the account of one – who else but Cavalier Randolph “Pards” Espejo ’73 who continues to chronicle important events such as this in his inimitable prose. And who is counting anyway?).


The ECC got two points, for winning the competition in tennis and volleyball; the NEG, two points as well, for winning golf and basketball. Both teams got a half point apiece for the Karaoke competition. In a show of sportsmanship, the host NEG agreed to declare it a tie. Only a few of the ECC’s Karaoke team made it.


The bad weather in the Metro Washington area on the days of the competition was definitely a factor in the  significant number of no-shows from the ECC camp, although from Cavalier Harold Ochoco ’81, ECC Secretary, we got this explanation: “I can only speculate but the reason may be tied to the recession: the interest went down.”

We don’t know Ochoco’s politics but we would like to think we have a good idea of his persuasion, based on his concluding statement: we really need a bailout plan.

Calling the czars and czarinas of Obama! Exclude Van Jones, Obama’s “Green Jobs” czar who has just resigned, according to late-breaking dispatches.


For retaining the Jurado Cup in view of the tie, the first ever in the 7-year ECC-NEG rivalry, Cavalier Delfin “Del” Lorenzana ‘73, perhaps on his last term as President, had reason to be proud in declaring  that his delegation this year was “outnumbered but not outfought,” a reference evidently to the mantra of the defunct Philippine Constabulary.

Lorenzana may not have made the analogy, if he knew that Cavalier Dante Simbulan ’52 would be posting a week or two later on PMA forums on the Internet a history of the PC as “mercenaries.” Simbulan’s posting has been generating a lot of emails, drawing contrary opinions from PMA alumni, especially those who once wore proudly the khaki and red uniform of the PC. 


To many in the PMA alumni community who know them well, Cavalier Basil “Butch” Moreto and Lou, his OAO [8],  have an enviable marriage, a ‘marriage made in heaven,’ as the expression goes, which is most appropriate for this deeply religious, God-loving couple. So, it came as a scare to us when we read Butch Moreto’s posting that they were splitting, especially because we knew that the couple are celebrating on September 7 their 55th year as man and wife.

As it turns out, the split is temporary – thank God – and only in connection with the induction on September 26 in Sacramento, California of the new set of officers of the PMA alumni of Northern California, NORCAL. The Moretos had long committed to attend the wedding of a nephew in Pasadena in Southern California, SOCAL. Not one to miss an important event of NORCAL in which he served a distinguished as President for a number of years, Moreto said, “We will split – she goes to SOCAL, I go to NORCAL.”



The week that was in the Philippines clearly belonged to the two of them and to no other: Senators Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas II and Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III; the former, making the surprise announcement that he was giving up his quest for the presidency in favor of the latter, his friend. 

They were the talk of the town, at least the part of the town that talks politics (in the Philippines, what town doesn’t?), until a house by the beach spoiled it.   


It is an ordinary house, by US or Philippine standard, at least from our view across the street [9]  but nothing is ordinary when it is linked to someone like Pampanga Congressman Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal Arroyo, son of the Philippine President. 


Mikey, a former actor, has been the object of twitting by YouTubers [10]  for his performance on television’s “Unang Hirit,” where he attempted to answer probing questions  on that house on 1655 Beach Park Boulevard in Foster City, California; a house of his – no, correct that, his wife’s; no correct that, a house owned by a company, Beach Way Park LLC.

“Unang Hirit” translates to “First Draw,” as in drawing of cards. After watching clips of the Mikey interview, we think “Unang Hirit” translates to “First Blood” as well, especially after the Mikey interview by the  irrepressible pair of Igan and Winnie Monsod who, without gloves, can give Manny Paquiao a run for his money in trading hard punches.  


From that interview, Mikey earned instant critical acclaim – short on the acclaim; long, very long, on the critical.

The consensus is that Mikey made absolutely no points by agreeing to this interview. But not so fast, boys and girls. If his intent was to draw attention away from Mar and Noynoy, then Mikey Arroyo made his point, much better perhaps than Executive Secretary Ermita or Press Secretary Cerge Remonde.


Memo to Congressman Arroyo:

We happen to be but a mile or so, as the crow flies, of this house by the beach. If no one is staying in the house, as you revealed in the interview, we would not mind living in it, being your caretaker and giving you the opportunity to help tide us over this US recession which could be good PR for you. And of course, Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth won’t be an issue at all; we aren’t covered by the law on declarations required for public officials like you.


He was retreating, Noynoy Aquino said in his press conference the day after Mar Roxas’ announcement of his withdrawal from the presidential race.

Going on a retreat to seek divine guidance won’t harm. An excellent move, we think, on Noynoy’s part, the first of what is expected to be a series of well-calculated moves before the deadline for the filing of candidacy for the presidency.

He will fare better, his advisers and handlers would hope, than Chief Justice Ronaldo Puno who was a hot commodity for the presidency early this year but who has now joined irreversibly the ranks of ex-future Presidents. Under pressure to declare his candidacy, he took a similar route, although in his case, seeking guidance from his grandchildren, a move that nonetheless earned our grudging praise (09-01-28 WTW/”Puno (ng) Possibilities”) [11].  


The mood in much of the camp that used to be that of his father, Ninoy, a stalwart in the Liberal Party, was palpably upbeat; it was one of elation and jubilation.

To our knowledge, only one in the camp shed a tear – broadcast journalist and ex-future First Lady, Korina Sanchez, although the reason remains unclear to us. Was her cry for Noynoy, of Noynoy – or was it ngoyngoy, [12] plain and simple?

And for the rest of the citizenry, what would the cry be? Ngoyngoy or clamor for Noynoy?


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. 


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-35
san francisco, california

 [1]   August 31 2009 issue, Vol. XVIII, No. 20. The Manila Mail is a “fortnightly Filipino newspaper in Washington, DC.’ Photo, courtesy of The Mail, shows Major General Lorenzana, AFP Retired (right) taking his oath of office as head of the Office of Veterans Affairs before Alberto del Rosario (left), then Philippine Ambassador to the US.

[2]   A seasoned journalist, Bert Alfaro, served in the Office of the Press Attache, Philippine Embassy, Washington DC, circa 1982-1986 

[3]   The Gallup Organization polls show Obama at just 50 percent approval rating less than eight months into his first term. Only two modern presidents, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, saw their approval ratings drop below 50 percent by this time in their presidencies.

[4]   In an earlier issue (09-08-We have coined the acronym Sondalus, to stand for SONs and Daughters of LapU-lapu.

[5]   Pardon our ‘objectivity,’ but our inclination is to agree with Alvarez. If we are correct in thinking that the Cebuanos are as friendly to visitors as the members of the Cebu Squad were to us during our visit with them last June (see 09-06-17 WTW/”LOL1, Laughing Out Loud; LOL2, Land of Lapu-Lapu”), then Cebuanos like Alvarez deserve to have their island  on anyone’s A-list of places to visit.

[6]   Filipino idiom for a TV series like the popular “Tayong Dalawa,” (The Two of Us), based on the lives of twin brothers, both PMA cadets.

[7]   The official name of the body of cadets at PMA, Cadet Corps Armed Forces of the Philippines

[8]   In PMA circles, OAO is the acronym for One And Only, as contrasted with OAM, One Among Many

[9]   From where we were, it appeared to be no different from the other houses nearby, or, for other houses on the entire stretch of Beach Park Boulevard, although a website that we later checked (Zillow Mortgage Marketplace) listed it with having five bedrooms, 3 baths, occupying 2,690 square feet and estimated at $1,299,000 that would require an estimated payment of $5,566 for the buyer

[10]   We are not subscribers, not yet anyway, to Twitter, sorry, so we cannot say if this is true of Twitters or the FaceBookers as well.

[11]   In that WTW issue, we wrote:
The Chief Justice continues to make the right moves that could propel him from the bench to the presidential chair.
When asked if he will run, he said he will consult his grandchildren, ages seven, five and four.

You can never go wrong with children; everybody loves them. Who can fault Lolo Reynato if he runs because his apos said so?

[12]   Ngoyngoy, a term in the Visayan region, means  sobbing. Korina Sanchez is not from the region; she was born in Hongkong. Although born in Manila, Mar Roxas comes from a family in the Visayas; his father, Senator Gerardo Roxas, was from Capiz and Mar Roxas himself served as representative of the 1st district of Capiz from 1993 to 2000 before becoming a senator in 2004.