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Winston “Arf-Arf” Arpon
PMA ‘64

Banishing/Vanishing Bangit


POTUS [1] Obama to POTP [2] Aquino: If you decide to quit, I'll send advice.

Aquino has made it crystal clear. He isn't quitting. Are you, President Obama?


Philippine Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona was asked about friction between the court and Aquino. His answer: It would take more than a 30-second oath to do that.

Memo to the President-elect and to whoever will administer the oath (anyone but Renato Corona, the President-elect has insisted): Take no more than 30 seconds for the oath-taking, please.


My fearless forecast – Gibo will be the best president the Philippines will never have.

This is one of several text messages we received on the day of the Philippine elections, May 10, 2010.  

Our political observer, obviously one who voted for Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. sent this, moments after the second tally of the votes by the Comelec showed that his choice for President, the former National Defense Secretary Teodoro, was trailing badly in the count, a distant fourth among the candidates.


In an article "Gibo’s Crusade for New Politics" author Michael T. Toledo endeavors to make a case for Gibo's lasting contribution – a "positive issues-based campaign amid a presidential race set apart by a vicious level of mudslinging and character assassination."

Toledo did not say this made Gibo a winner but we think he made a compelling case for us to concede that they also serve who run and lose.


"You helped me win. Now you must help me succeed.

"Today, we celebrate.

"Tomorrow, we work."

Is this a leak from the inaugural speech of the next President of the Philippines? Nah, this is just plain clairvoyance on our part and occasional flight of our wishful thinking. 

Truthfully, it is a paraphrase of this exhortation that caught our eye today:
"We helped Noynoy win. Now we must help him succeed. Today, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we work."  [3].


"The proclamation of Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino as President of the Republic," so writes Raul Fabella  [4] "opens a decade of hope."

A decade? No, POTP Aquino, you don't have 10 but six years, at most. And this early, please don't get any ideas about staying longer. Your predecessors, FVR and GMA did, remember? They didn't get away with it and they got nowhere. You won’t either.


FG, the First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, has left the Palace, or so he claims.

Will the other FG, First Girlfriend Shalani Soledad be moving in?


"I read six or seven books on the making of the American President," Binay revealed in his first conference as Vice President-elect, when asked how he did it. 

Boys and girls, please take note that the book he read is on the making of a President, not Vice President.


Binay stopped short in revealing the secret of his victory, thinking that he might be ‘giving away too much.’

So, how much is too much? How much did he really give away, in the last election, for his upset win over early favorite and frontrunner Mar Roxas?

We think we may never know. 


Vice-President Binay as Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government?

A bad idea, even if it is dedicated to the proposition that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


Lakas Party to President-Elect Aquino: Don't use pork against us.

It would be detrimental to the national interest, they claim. They should know. The head of their party, GMA, has been there, done that.


Philippines Daily Inquirer headline:  After June 30, Bangit’s in limbo.

Before this, unknown to the Philippine leading newspaper and its readers, PMA alumni mail groups on the Internet, notably ACF and PnC [5] were a-twitter, their members weighing in on the subject, "Banishing Bangit," an email thread initiated by Cavalier Danilo "Dan" Jimenez '77.

We think that "Vanishing Bangit" would be more appropriate, now that the Chief of Staff a.k.a. Cavalier Delfin “Del” Bangit ’78 is making his rounds to say goodbye to the 120,000-strong AFP troops, following the President-elect's unequivocal decision upon his proclamation last week that Bangit will not be his Chief of Staff. 


Meanwhile, Bangit's counterpart in the 130,000-strong PNP, Police Director General Verzosa aka Cavalier Jesus "Jess" Verzosa '76 said goodbye yesterday to his outgoing boss by way of an "exit briefing."

His old boss exits June 30; Verzosa may not. Earlier, he tendered his resignation to give his new boss a free hand and as it turns out, a free hand to retain him until he retires this year.

Bangit, on the other hand, did not tender his resignation and, as it turns out, gave the new boss a free hand to relieve him and help him decide to retire earlier.


Bangit and Verzosa: A tale of two generals. An interesting sidelight to the highlight of Aquino's starting presidency.

A book to write, anyone?


To this day, the change in 1998 of the PMA foundation day from 1905 to 1898 remains a bone of contention among PMA alumni, young and old [6].

Cavalier Jose Maria "Jim" Zumel '59  [7] asked if there is "any thread, no matter how thin," that directly links the Philippine Constabulary Academy (1905)and PMA to the Academy to the Academia Militar de Pilipinas (1898).

Our response: Yes, sir, there is a link. It's called the missing link.


Item: Cebu was named Best Honeymoon Destination at the awards night of the recent World Trade Fair 2010 held in Shanghai, China.

Cebu, Philippines for Wellington, New Zealand – what a difference it would have made! If not to our book of memories, to our pocketbook.

It’s too late for us, five months too late. But not too late for that honeymoon on our golden anniversary.


The Leyte provincial government, in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, is rolling a software for tracking revenues in 15 municipalities.

It's called iTax. No relation to iTunes, that gizmo your wife invariably finds like magic to turn you out or turn you off.


The mother of wishful thinking, that’s how we considered our fast-forward 2016 presidential scenario[8].

Cavalier Danilo “Dan” Jimenez wrote to say it’s plausible, but would prefer impossible.

Pray hard then, Cavalier, to keep Erap alive. 


Can we do a fast forward to 2022?

We are mulling this over, Cavalier. But if you’re thinking of an even more imponderable link to the Cory-Noynoy presidential chain, you can rest easy. Noynoy Aquino’s child, if any, would only be 11 years old, at most, in 2022.  


Thank you, Ms. Connie Macasaet, for the thought. We don't know exactly what it means but it's a good alibi as any for WTW's 19-week absence: “honeymoon work load.”


"This is the vocation of a father. To give and to ask nothing back. He gives life to his children and labor and love. He gives them all he has. Literally, he lays down his life for them, day by day. And when they are grown, he lets them go….. The Daddy gives. This love. This is religion." [9].

Beautiful. Simply beautiful, even for us, empty-nesters to whom fatherhood has become as faint as the memory of our first attempt at changing a baby’s diaper. But how did the author know so much? He is not a father, as far as we know.

Oh, okay, he is, a father all right. The eminent Father James Reuter, S.J.


Shalani, in case you're listening, you may wish to read this ode of fatherhood to your Beau President. Father of the country. And future father? 


In four days, it's Father's Day once more.

We seem to recall writing about this here before, but we don't mind repeating ourselves.

Mother's Day is celebrated in May; Father's Day, if celebrated at all, in June.

Mother's Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday; Father's Day, on the third.

Fellow fathers of the world – and this includes you, Father Reuter, if you won’t mind – please take note that by this precedence, month- or week-wise – a month behind, a week behind – we know and should accept where we stand!

Behind every successful father is a mother. Then she turns around and expects the father to do the same and he does.   


He called in the middle of the night a week ago.

"Thank you, Jay-R," he said, "for coming up with a very peaceful election. Thank you too for serving Negros Oriental.

"There's one thing, however, I want you to promise me – please take care of my province."

Jay-R is the Provincial Director, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office a.k.a. Cavalier Augusto "Jun/MarQ" Marquez, Jr. '84. His caller was Gov. Emilio C. Macias II.


"When will you be home?"

"Very soon, Jay-R. Very soon…."


The Governor is coming home today. Home from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Manila where he succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 76.

All he was thinking, Jay-R now recalls, was "Negros Oriental and his constituents."


With leaders like him, we can't help but think, amidst bouts with lingering doubts on the future – and we hope those who have given up are listening – that there's still hope for the Philippines, its politics and its politicians included.


We continue what we started, using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [10] for our countdown to the next Philippine elections on May 9, 2013 [11].
Sir, there are 1,058 days, 25,392 hours, 1,523,520 minutes, 91,411,200 seconds and 182,822,000 ticks before that election.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 2010-05
makati, philippines

[1] President of the United States
[2] President of the Philippines
[3] "After the Platitudes," Ad Lib by Greg B.  Macabenta, BusinessWorld, June 16, 2010.
[4] Introspective, Business World. June 14. 2010,
[5] Academy Cavaliers Forum and PlebesaNdCavaliers
[6] Cavalier James Ramon '62, for example, may have spoken for several alumni, notably those of  the older PMA classes, who generally take exception to the new PMA Foundation Day when he wrote: Besides the venerable Cavalier Leoncio Tan (May he rest in peace), please count me as one among so many graduates who, for personal reason, subscribe and adhere to the 1905 PCA as the root of my school, the PHILIPPINE MILITARY ACADEMY, despite whatever pronouncement, official or unofficial, to the contrary.
[7] Zumel, an Air Force General and former PMA Superintendent was the valedictorian of his class
[8] Jejomar Binay has announced that he is a candidate for the presidency under the Puersa ng Masang Pilipino party. PMP head Joseph “Erap” Estrada passes away 10 months before the election and there is an outpouring of grief, for the fallen former President, an eraption, rather, an eruption of spontaneous sympathy from San Juan to San Francisco.

One month later, Jejomar Binay announces that he is stepping aside in his bid for the presidency in favor of Estrada’s son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada. Binay will settle for the vice-presidency, as Jinggoy’s running mate.

Jinggoy wins; Binay loses.

The Philippines chalks up an improbable trifecta of parent-son Presidents, the only one in world history; more implausible than 555 Lebron James triple-doubles: Diosdado Macapagal-Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; Corazon Aquino-Noynoy Aquino; Joseph Estrada-Jinggoy Estrada. Father-daughter; Mother-son; Father-son combinations.
[9] Quoted from  Mercedes B. Suleik's "Celebrating fathers," BusinessWorld, June 16, 2010.
[10] 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 to the next Philippine election  in 2013 – 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.
[11]  This is our justification for this milestone as our choice for our  countdown:
The candidates that won in the 2010 elections will be up for reelection in three years, with the exception of the elected President, Vice-President and the 12 Senators, although  12 Senators will be chosen. The second Monday in 2013, the date mandated by the Philippine Constitution, is closer than we think.

In any election, the stakes are high for all concerned, but especially for the election in 2013, given that this will only be the second time the Automated Election System will be used. We know of government and non-government electoral reform activities targeted for implementation and operationalization in 2013, one of them undertaken by YouthVote Philippines. This early, therefore, we thought a countdown would guarantee a level of awareness for all stakeholders,  borrowing, of course, from that US congressman who came up with the notion, to which we are in agreement, that whatever it is that we want to accomplish for the next election, the time to start is now.

Witful Thinking, Wednesday