Select Page

Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


America is in the Hurt


For the record, my friend is not to blame. On the other hand, I think she might be able to help – she’s used to and is very good at dealing with sins of omission from her days and experience at Holy Ghost College, in government and in the corporate world; but  only if I am able to summon sufficient courage to admit to and tell her that I’ve been missing my self-imposed deadline of Wednesday (don’t look now, but today is Thursday, from where I sit);  and if this continues, there’s more than an even chance for a change to the title of this weekly column. From Witful Thinking, Wednesday to Waitful Thinking, Wednesday. And perhaps, even to the more ignominious Wasteful Thinking, Wednesday.

Vrad,  a.k.a. Cavalier Vladimir “Vlad” Punto ’74,  coined ‘Witful Thinking,’ (WTW 09-01-07,  “Thank You, Vrad”) and he won’t like the change!


March 15: The IDeS of March. April 15: The IRS of April

Different months. But the same day and the same message, Beware the IDeS of March/the IRS of April. The same sense of agony, for all taxpayers in the US and the Philippines and anywhere else in the world where April 15 is, was and will always be a taxing day.

This may be the reason why April 15, according to PAGASA, this day was recorded as the hottest day so far this year.


The temperature was 51 degrees, chilly by West Coast standards, when I drove to a post office in San Mateo, California to mail my income tax return. But I felt hot. And who wouldn’t, if you, like me, had to go through the ordeal of preparing the return, leafing through pages and pages of print and fine print – and then, paying for the tax?


Meanwhile, I was missing, I found out later, the TEA party going on in several cities on both coasts.

A TEA party, not just in Boston where it first happened over two centuries ago; not in Colonial or Continental, but in Obama time. TEA, as in Tax Enough Already! 

That oversized exclamation point that you see is purely mine, not the organizers’.

And this is one TEA! I’d love to drink if only in my mind to calm my nerves come April 15.


In his email, Cavalier “Chuck” Agustin ’59 said that Cavalier Edwin Popa ’94, representing PMA Superintendent Cavalier Leandro Calderon ‘78, submitted to the PMA Foundation Board a copy of the press release that 181 out of the successful examinees to last year’s entrance examinations reported to PMA to become the members of the PMA Class of 2013 on April 1, 2009.

According to the press release, three did not report, although our figure was 191, not 181, when we report this in WTW. We haven’t received word from Agustin, Popa, Calderon or from any other about why they did not report. But you have our word – and this is not an April Fool’s Day joke – that those three, or ten, are not working on the Class Manifesto for Change in the country and in the military establishment, the center-“piece” subject of the last two issues of this column (see WTW 09-04-01 & 09-04-08, on “The PMA Class of 2013: Something Happened on their Reception” and “The Manifesto that Never Was,” respectively).


To the victor, we have been told, belong the spoils. But this is no ordinary Victor, and, one who we hope won’t be spoiled and won’t spoil others.

Announced the other day as the next Chief of Staff of the AFP, replacing incumbent CSAFP Cavalier Alexander Yano ’76, Cavalier Victor “Bong” Ibrado ’76, has been getting from many sectors high marks and praises, including the fact that unlike Cavalier Delfin Bangit ’78, another candidate for the post, Ibrado is not a “mistah” of the Commander-in-Chief nor as closely identified with her. Bangit was former chief of GMA’s Presidential Security Guards.

Senators Enrile and Lacson, speaking highly of Ibrado, practically guaranteed smooth sailing for him in the hearings and deliberations of the Commission of Appointments for his confirmation. It is unlikely that this will go into the record of that Commission, but this is what we got from our source about the CSAFP-designee: “He is not just a nice guy, but very prudent and very careful with spending…..Everywhere he goes, he “inspires” junior officers to go mountain biking and every Tuesday and Thursday, the camp declares vehicles “off limits” …..Everybody walks, to save on gas and get healthier.”

If “being very careful with spending” is, as we have gathered, a euphemism for “cheap,” then we say, in triumph more than guilt or shame: who ever said that being “cheap” and encouraging others to be as “cheap” do not reap their just rewards?


By law, Ibrado retires from active military service on his 56th birthday.

By law, Bangit could be chosen by the Commander in Chief to replace Ibrado. 

And by golly, this would be on March 10, 2010, exactly two months to the day of the election – or non-election – on May 11, 2010!

But then – and again, this comes from our source – this early (Ibrado does not replace Yano until June 13), there is already serious talk that Ibrado’s services could be extended until after the May election, if there is an election. For “stability” reasons, whatever that means.

Is that within the law, too?


In the New York Times, General Carlos P. Romulo wrote:

"America came to him in a public ward in the Los Angeles County Hospital while around him men died gasping for their last bit of air, and he learned that while America could be cruel it could also be immeasurably kind…. For Carlos Bulosan no lifetime could be long enough in which to explain to America that no man could destroy his faith in it again. He wanted to contribute something toward the final fulfillment of America. So he wrote this book that holds the bitterness of his own blood."

This was six decades ago and the object of Romulo’s review was the autobiography of the well-known Filipino poet and writer, Carlos Bolusan.  The title of the book:  America is in the Heart.


If he were alive today, even with his faith in America, sustained and sustainable amidst his reflection of the ‘life of a persecuted minority’ away from his country of birth, Bolusan could have written a sequel, America is in the Hurt, a new reflection, and this time not just his, but that of Filipinos, including Filipino-Americans, who have been or are being hurt.

And why?


You don’t have to ask Malacanang. Even if it has had its share of hurt from Washington’s actions or inactions in the past, and only recently, the hurt from the act of a US President refusing to meet with or even acknowledge, consuelo de bobo, the Philippine President in a breakfast conference in Washington.


Rather, ask the tens of thousands of Filipino veterans of World War II who waited for so long to get their due from “Mother America,” six decades overdue.


Or read Cavalier Columnist, Ramon “Mon” Farolan ’56, who as recently as two weeks ago, articulated the case for them. His contention, in brief:  these veterans, as citizens of a Commonwealth of the United States, were “legally American nationals, entitled to all benefits afforded those serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.” (Reveille, Philippines Daily Inquirer, April 6, 2009)

Or listen to former President George Bush, as quoted by Farolan, “A monetary sum and words alone cannot restore lost years or erase painful memories; neither can they fully convey our nation’s resolve to rectify injustice and to uphold the rights of individuals.”

The first batch of the 30,000 claims filed by these vets, it has been reported, will be paid in the Philippines in two days. True, but too little, too late.


Or think of the rape of Nicole by Marine Corporal Smith in Pasay, before she recanted her account afterwards for reasons that we can only grant as speculative and doubtful, but reasons nonetheless that suggest the US government, through the US Embassy, was behind the retraction, to add insult to injury.


Or hear this account from a Filipino just a couple of days ago of an interview at the airport following the formal announcement by his interviewer that he was now admitted as a permanent resident and eligible to apply for employment and to work in the United States:

I laughed. He got irritated and asked why I laughed. I said that I am 81 years old and did not come to the USA to work. (This was considering that there are news items about layoffs and unemployment in California.) He asked how I was going to support myself. I told him that I receive pensions. (I did not mention that the pensions are small and that the pension givers were agencies of the Philippine government). He asked how I intend to stay in USA. I told him that I can come and go. He told me to listen carefully and seriously. He gave me a brief lecture on my immigrant status and declared that if I do not intend to stay permanently in USA, I should tell the government so that they can bring me to court and deport me. I laughed some more. He glared at me and gave me my passport and papers. I am now an immigrant threatened with deportation on my first day (actually first hour) in the USA.


Or, if you can, take a cue or a page from the postings of Cavalier Arturo “Art” Vidad, and in his continuing skirmishes with fellow PMAyers that have made the US their home. And from your reading of his postings and the ensuing give-and-take, please resist the temptation to say that Art, when it comes to America, has an axe to grind. We think – and this is no wishful thinking – that he only asks to grind his points, through questions, several of them rhetorical, and with a constant message: Why is it all wrong for us to criticize you, our neighbors in North America and all right for you to criticize us?


In his time, Carlos Bolusan chose to write America is in the Heart, when he could have written America is in the Hurt.

In our time, one can write America is in the Hurt but with apologies to the Filipino World War II veterans, Ramon Farolan, Nicole Smith, that 81-year-old immigrant, Art Vidad and others that have been hurt or are hurting in, from and because of America, we daresay this: one still can choose to write, as Bolusan did, America is in the Heart.

And why?

Why not?


On Obama’s recent wanderings, we said, “in any case, this wanderlust will last for this ‘wonderboy’ of US and world politics.  Cavalier Wilfredo “Willie” Mejia ’72 sees it another  way, and, in this way: the American people some 62% of whom were in the tank for him start to ”wonder” when this “boy” will start the serious responsibility of governing what used to be the greatest country on earth.

Would he mind if WTW quoted him and exposed his “true colors” other than the blue of his old Bravo company? “Not at all,” he quickly assured us. “I have sort of come out of the ‘ideological closet’ following the 2008 Presidential election so it is not like my position will be a great shock to many. And more importantly, it is important to stand one’s ground when it comes to this.”


Thank you, Cavalier Arthur Evangelista ’84 for the thought, your “hope we could get WTW part of the CAVALIER magazine… good to have some humor and irony combined.”

Maybe it’s worth taking a crack at this suggestion, but on condition that you can convince two others: your old man, Cavalier Amaury Evangelista ’62 and your plebe and younger brother, Cavalier Angel Michael “Mike” Evangelista ’87.



For this week, WTW reader and friend Joe Dasbach gets the sworde, star for wordsmithing excellence.  He came up with the word, palindromic, to describe the Sarah Palin faithful.

Remember her? She was buried, together with a man named John McCain, in the Obama avalanche of November 2008, so deeply that she would never be reckoned with again. If you are palindromic, to this day you remain a Sarah Palin faithful, you will disagree.


As you can see below, this is WTW’s 15th issue. In our first issue (WTW 09-01, “Thank You, Vrad) on the first Wednesday of January 15 weeks ago, we wrote:

Today is Wednesday, isn't it? And I will be seeing you again next Wednesday and every Wednesday thereafter.

Same time, same place.

But for missing the Wednesday deadline, what we wrote was not wishful thinking after all.


@arf-arf ’64

wtw 09-15      

san francisco, california