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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Independence Day Redux:
Which Way Do We Go From Here?


The world mourns. Gone is MJ. Michael Jackson.

The other MJ, also well-known to the world, is Michael Jordan.

A third MJ. Cavalier Marcial J. de Leon, PMA Class 1968. Known only to our own little world, but no less loved, no less respected and no less revered, at least by the members of the PMA Alumni Association, East Coast Chapter, USA.


The advice – how to age gracefully – showed great promise as we began to read the article. And then, we realized it came three decades too late. The advice was from Leah Navarro. She is only 38.


This one is a contribution from a WTW reader and friend, though not quite a WTW C5 [1] Danilo “Dan” Perico ’71 – thank you – about SC Governor Mark Sanford giving a new meaning to ‘hiking in the Appalachians.’
The Appalachians, a vast system of mountains in North America, is a favorite for hikers. But hiker or not – the reports did not say so – Sanford has admitted that he lied when he told his staff he was   ‘hiking in the Appalachians.’  In truth and in fact, he was in Argentina spending time with his lover there.

Mr. Governor, what were you thinking? You did not only mess around but messed with a favorite American pastime and with a revered piece of Americana dear to your countrymen – Appalachia, so steeped in tradition that in the early 19th century, noted American author, essayist, biographer and historian Washington Irving proposed renaming the United States Appalachia.


Sanford was considered a rising star in the Republican Party but with this indiscretion and his admission of wrongdoing, the message to this potential presidential candidate has been made clear: Take a hike.

We still think, however, that all is not lost for the Republican Party.  Neither Plain’s Alaska nor Romney’s Massachusetts is that close to the Appalachians.  


Shaq caused shock waves with the news of his impending transfer from the Phoenix Suns to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Still considered one of NBA’s heavyweight players, averaging 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, Shaquille O’Neal has raised hopes among basketball fans in Cleveland, Ohio and is now regarded as the missing piece in Lebron James’ first NBA championship.

We see Shaq, the gentle giant, as a counter-weight – literally and figuratively – to another NBA heavyweight, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, the team that eliminated the Cavaliers in the NBA Eastern championship.

Which weight will have its say?

Let’s wait and see…


In a previous issue of WTW, 09-05-06, for our commentary on the Pacquiao-Hatton fight, it was”In This Corner: Manny & Ricky & Vlady & Chucky & Glory” [2].
Now, it’s “In This Corner: Manny & Mosley  & Money.”

Manny, of course, is Manuel “Pacman” Pacquiao.

Mosley is Shane Mosley, the reigning WBA welterweight champion 

Money is the $20 million, yes, about 100 million Philippine pesos, that Mosley says Pacquiao will earn by fighting him instead of the Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto.


Headline: UP prof ready to run vs. GMA.

Yes, boys and girls, it is Randy David versus Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for a congressional seat in the province of Pampanga, a contest between a David and a Goliath.  David’s David against Gloria’s Goliath.

From diminutive to giant, that’s a giant step, pun intended, even for this President, sitting or standing up.


But WTW readers and C5 [1] like Vic E remains unfazed by the overwhelming odds and is appreciative of David’s quixotic plunge from psychology into politics. “By his own admission ,” Vic E writes, “Randy David does not stand a chance against GMA, but will do it anyway. It’s people like this that keep our hopes up. Two or three more of this kind and we got it made.”

We agree. We agree that this is wishful thinking.


They’re running her out of town, out of Malacanang, even before she finishes (or extends) her term in 2010.

So, it may not come as a surprise that she is running. Running away to safer haven. No, not Barbados or Colombia but the second district of Pampanga, a safe haven for her, until Randy David came along and spoiled it all.


Katrina Halili, in a recent interview: "I'm really a homebody…..I just like staying in my bedroom, watching DVDs, listening to my favorite music and reading fashion magazines."

Watch, listen and read, Katrina. And stay home. Stay in your bedroom, not the bedroom of a doctor; especially, not the bedroom of Dr. Kho. [3]


We should have left this well enough alone, without comment or commentary; leave the whys and wherefores to the Police Department; and the politics, to Mayor Osmena and Vice Mayor Rama. But, alas, because of the declaration of a tow away zone on Marcial Velez in Guadalupe, Cebu, Pancit Malabon restaurant located on this street has to cease operations on July 15.

Sadly, this will also mean closing the 4Cl club [4]. But with still two weeks to go, maybe the Cebu Squad can come up with something, and just in case anyone else has something that goes beyond witful or wishful thinking, there are phone numbers to call -  255 6297, 0917 320 8038.


After our visit to the Land Of Lapu-Lapu, we wrote to Cavalier Nilo Yap ’77, one of those that made our Witful Weekend in Cebu City on Independence Day week, a most memorable one:

"If you build it, they will come." An unforgettable line from the movie "Field of Dreams," remember? You guys have built it – a bridge for bugos [5].

To be sure, one of those bridges is Pancit Malabon a.k.a. the Fourthclass Club to The Cebu Squad.


On Monday, June 23, Typhoon Feria was raging in the Visayas and Metro Manila was inundated by heavy downpour. But I was oblivious to these. Was it because I was feasting on the thrill of the presence and company of a fiancée? Or, was it because of the early dinner at Casa Armas in Malate, and we were feasting on delectable servings of calamari, gambas, agazonas and king crab in garlic butter?

Before I could get a handle on the real reason, we had finished dinner and left the restaurant and I found myself at the CCP, by the ramp – a.k.a. the runway, I would learn later.

This was not an airport, and, not a freeway either. This was the Cultural Center of the Philippines. So, what am I doing here?


There was just too much for me to take in as I settled not too comfortably in my seat on the front row; this occasion, my first visit to the Cultural Center of the Philippines in the last several years, I would say, 20 years or so, that I did not pay attention to and absentmindedly pocketed the playbill.

The papers I read the following day reported the event in print and pictures. “Face Off,” it was called. Rivalry of the 3 Rs: Rajo vs. Rhett vs. Randy. Rajo Laurel; Rhett Eala; and Randy Ortiz. Three of RP's young fashion designers. Three of the brightest talents in the fashion industry.


Now, I remember leaving the CPP at the end of the show and realizing on the way home that I did not thank Larry Leviste, one of the show’s organizers, who invited us. A breach of protocol that, in retrospect, could be explained not by my occasional senior moments but by the fact that I was preoccupied with thinking of Imelda Marcos.

Yes, she was there, a few seats from us. She won the raffle – why not me? I could have used that Samsung cell phone she got as a prize.


We may have spoken too soon, in our attempt at closure, once and for all, on last issue’s center-“piece” subject -  Independence Day: Dialing the Wong, Not the Wrong Number – when we wrote this, with hasty finality, “Game. Set. Match. Willie Wong.”

If we made this call at Wimbledon, it would have been challenged as it has been challenged by WTW readers.


First of all, an additional note from the horse’s mouth:
“….. since we are in (sic) the subject of Independence Day, our flag was first displayed not in Cavite but in Manila Bay as Aguinaldo hoisted it on the first Philippine Navy boat given by Dewey taken from the defeated Spanish Fleet.  The other foreign ships in Manila Bay paid respect to this flag on the boat as it sailed in Manila Bay.  This was the first time the Philippine Flag was ever hoisted and displayed.  This item can be found in our Naval History book written by a recognized historian.”


And then this observation:
 “…..the discussion left out the 2nd Philippine Republic which was established when Japan granted "independence" to the Philippines on October 14, 1943.”

Thank you, Cavalier Francisco “Mike” San Miguel ’51 for catching this omission. Consider this our omission, not Willie Wong’s. 


And finally, to what we wrote, thus,”…..the “declaration” seals the deal. We declared our independence 111 years ago but lost it a few months after.  It is the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate……,” an exception or clarification, a different view, dissenting opinion, if you will.


“You see, if I am correct in understanding his line of thinking I am not sure now as to what we are celebrating or what we are supposed to be celebrating.
“Are we supposed to celebrate the beginning of a new life of freedom from external interference? Are we supposed to celebrate the start of our exercise of sovereignty as a people? Are we supposed to celebrate the dawning of a new era as a new nation? Are we supposed to celebrate the first day of our Independence, which was incidentally and aptly marked by a "Declaration?"
“Or, are we supposed to celebrate the ceremonial proceedings – the Declaration?
“What happened to the last part of the Wong assertion which says:
   ‘It is that undying spirit and desire to be free and independent demonstrated by our  
    historic heroes that we would like to celebrate and remind us to keep…..’

“There, to my mind was the confusing part; but the better part as well. For, contrary to the Wong theorem, the Filipino people celebrates, and celebrate they/we must, the beginning of our Independence, the Declaration merely being the formal act that marks the same.’
“Did our forefathers have an independent nation/state in mind when they made the declaration in 1898?
“I am not sure, but I think Lapu-Lapu made a similar, much earlier, declaration; and some other regional warlords, as well.” 


We understand that one of the favorite clip-arts of the author of the foregoing, Cavalier Fernando “Butch/Baltic” Baltazar ‘81, is one that shows a rooster perched upon a weather vane, which he says is reflective of his personality, his likes and preferences [6].

Not knowing, like Bautista’s weather vane, where the next gust of wind will be blowing – east, west, north or south – we cannot tell if we have heard the end of this issue of Philippine Independence. For now, therefore, we can only ask: which way do we go from here?


Through Cavalier Arthur “Tex” Balmaceda ’71, GenSen Panfilo Lacson, corrected the text message we quoted in our last issue thus: i have managed to keep my nose clean. i have no pork barrel (P200M/mo), i don't steal  government funds, i don't accept lobby money and i don't engage in transactional politics.

No, his correction was not about keeping his nose clean, not about having no pork barrel, not about not stealing government funds, not about accepting lobby money and it was not about not engaging in transactional politics.

His correction was simply this: the pork barrel should be P200M/yr, not the P200M/mo in his original message.

P200M per year, that’s still a lot of moolah you refused, Mr. Senator.


From the feedback to last week’s issue of WTW, we think that man and/or woman, father and/or mother will always generate attention and strong feelings from our readers. We haven’t received this much email since we wrote about the PMA Kissing Rock [7].


Here’s a sampling of what they had to stay, our WTW’s readers, a number of them we call our “usual suspects” (translation: the ones who invariably read this column and have something to say, one way or another).


Cavalier Francisco “Mike” San Miguel ’51.
During the American occupation in the first half of the 20th century, Mothers Day was celebrated in the Philippines on the first Monday of December [8]. But when the US granted Philippine independence, Filipinos started celebrating “American Mother’s Day… flagrant display of colonial mentality, dropped the Philippine Mother’s Day and started celebrating the American Mother’s Day.” 

“I complained….. Sometime after 1986, the Department of Education issued an order for schools to celebrate Philippine Mothers Day on the first Monday of December. The order was not followed.  The Publisher of a national newspaper wrote to inform me that the Philippine newspapers and the malls are sponsoring the celebration of  American Mothers Day in May instead of Philippine Mothers Day in December in accordance with the wishes of business establishments.”


Cavalier Archie Grapa ‘2006.
I don't think the precedence of Mother’s Day over Father’s Day signifies order of creation. I remember reading that Mothers Day celebration started out from something like a women's rights or women's liberation movement in the US, which was later marked as women's month, then women's day, and ultimately ended up as Mothers Day as we know now, adopted by other countries, including the Philippines.

Father’s Day, I think had a similar evolution but started differently. If I remember right, it started out of a mining community where most miners were fathers [9]


Cavalier Fernando “Butch/Baltic” Baltazar ’81:
“Your analogy is inaccurate. You were talking about man and woman, not father and mother.”

Being mother and father is a matter of knowledge and faith, respectively. Motherhood is a fact; fatherhood, belief. So, it’s Mother’s Day before or over Father’s Day


Cavalier Alfonso “Ponsoy/PonsWA” Alvarez 83.
“Ask any medical doctor and he will tell you this: a man's skeleton misses exactly one rib on one side, while the woman's ribcage is complete in number. Amazing.

“I have no explanation for the precedence of Mother's Day over Father's Day.  But I never bothered to ask why we celebrate it that way.  I just celebrate.”


On our winning that raffle at the meeting of the Business Industry and Retired Chapter, Inc./BIRCI, Alvarez had this to say:   I celebrate your winning a microwave oven! That means more corn will be popped – not necessarily "out"! [10]


This week, the last taps was sounded for a very popular PMA alumnus, one of the few remaining PMA alumni from the pre-war classes:  Cavalier Ramon “Monching” Alcaraz ’40. The “SOPA,” as Cavalier Carlos “Chuck” Agustin ’59 called him in his posting to share the sad news about the passing of an icon in PMA alumni circles.

SOPA, for Senior Officer Present Afloat, an endearing title, calling to mind his years of service in the Philippine Navy where he was the Commander of its operating arm, the Naval Operating Forces when he retired as Commodore, the highest rank then for a Navy officer. 

To “Ka Monching” for whom the Philippine Military Academy always had a special place in his heart, to someone who continued to drink from the well of his Alma Mater and change or fill the water in that well when he felt it was necessary to sustain PMA and its alumni, to someone unafraid to speak up to friend or foe, stand up against anyone, when it came to practicing and upholding the PMA values of courage, integrity, loyalty – and honor – we render a final salute.


@arf-arf ’64
wtw 09-26 
makati, philippines


[1] C5, in WTW terms, means ‘Cavalier correspondent, contributor, confidant and critic’ of this column
[2] Manny, Ricky, Vlady, Chucky and Glory are, respectively, Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Vlady Punto, Chuck Agustin and Gloria Macapagal.
[3] We featured Katrina Halili in a center-“piece” subject of one issue (09-05-27 WTW/”Intimacy, Hidden or Hayden: Ay Naku, Ay Na-Kho! 
[4] As we wrote in an earlier issue (09-06-17 WTW/”LOL1: Laughing Out Loud, LOL2: Land Of LapuLapu, they call it the “Fourthclass Club,” the name reminiscent of a club for plebes at Loakan barracks. The meeting place of the Cebu Squad, a restaurant in the heart of Cebu City, a simple, one-room affair, and no “ruffles and flourishes,” owned and operated by the family of Cebu Squad member, Nestor Bontol ’77.
[5] ‘Bugos’ is shorthand for ‘bugo-bugos,’ a term used to refer to plebes but PMAers call themselves or others ‘bugo-bugos,’ even after plebe year or after they graduate.
[6] In his very own words,  “I like the attributes of a rooster – protective, fighter, wake-up caller, er, crower; am proud to (be) one. I also like looking at pictures of those rooster figures on weather vanes atop cupolas; image signifies control, direction, sharing of knowledge, power….” 
[7] We have featured the Kissing Rock as a centerpiece issue twice before (see 09-02-25 WTW/”But Where is the Kissing Rock; 09-03-04 WTW/”Kissing Rock – Lost and Found?”
[8] Schools were open and the pupils participated in the celebration. They came to school on Monday morning with a flower pinned on their left breasts in honor of their mothers, red flower if the mother was living or white flower if the mother was dead.
[9] Grapa has admitted he needs to do some research on this.
[10] ‘In case you miss the wit, just remember that ‘popping out’ is PMA-speak for farthing.