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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


According to Bigo


With the Philippine national elections, by a plebe’s precise calculation, a mere 5,664 hours away (see last segment below), the battle for the top prize in the elections – the presidency – has been joined; inevitably, understandably.

Should it would seem, from this and previous center-“piece” subjects and commentaries, that we may have joined too, please understand it was inevitable.

Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar, Erap Estrada, and other so-called ‘presidentiables’ have given us no other choice. This is our story and we will stick with it.


Two speeches across the miles, a few days apart; and three “lies.”

In the US, last Wednesday, in an unprecedented speech before Congress on the Health Care Reform, POTUS Obama said they lie, referring to the “radio and cable talk show hosts” and “prominent politicians,” critics of parts of his plan, including the so-called “death panels” that will come out of the plan.

Obama was applauded.

South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson, hearing Obama’s claim that his Health Care Reform will pay for illegal immigrants, yelled from his seat in the gallery, “You lie!”

Wilson was booed.

In the Philippines, GenSen [1] Panfilo “Ping” Lacson delivered a privilege speech, revealing as he promised, the “bad side” of the former president that he served, Joseph Ejercito “Erap” Estrada. Lacson harshly criticized Erap’s micro-managing of the bureaucracy, including the Philippine National Police and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force of which Lacson was the head.

Erap’s response, in so many words; in English, Tagalog or Taglish: Lacson, you lie!

Applause or boos for Erap? The jury is still out on this but at this point we think it is safe to say that like Erap’s favorite drink or drinks, it will be a mix of both.


Item:   Aquino rules out wedding before elections.

This means no First Lady, if he is elected and does not get married before his inauguration. This means no conjugal presidency either. Advantage, Noynoy?

On the other hand, if Noynoy wins, more so if he does so by a landslide as expected by his swelling number of supporters based on the recent polls, we don’t think the country would mind not having a First Lady at all.

A Second Lady in Korina Sanchez-Roxas should suffice; that is, if the wedding pushes through and Mar declares for and wins the vice-presidency. 


Mar has yet to go beyond giving hints about accepting the offer to become Noynoy’s running mate. He better hurry. Until Noynoy made his decision, he was known to be the reluctant presidential candidate. Mar does not want to be known as another reluctant candidate. As president of the party, Mar won’t want the LP to be the RP, we mean, the Liberal Party to be the Reluctant Party.


Vice President Noli de Castro joined the ranks of politicians and religious leaders seeking “discernment” in deciding whether to run for president in the 2010 elections.

Then party president Eduardo Ermita announced that Noli was “no longer on Lakas-Kampi radar.” Maybe, Noli would not have disappeared from that radar if he had opted for “divine guidance,” not “discernment.” Noli, a media man, should have known better.

Yet, it may not be too late for Noli, some pundits have suggested. He can follow the Fidel V. Ramos model that worked like magic three presidential elections ago: bolt from his party; form his own; run for President in that party; and win.


Now, here comes a report from Cavalier Carlos “Chuck” Agustin ’59, quoting a PMA report of Cavalier Diosdado “Dondi” Pambid to the PMA Foundation that the strength of the Class of 2013 stands at 128, a far cry from the other classes (2012 – 253; 2011 – 233; 2010 – 233).

The reason or reasons for the low turnout of examinees for this class may not be known. You can blame the TV series, “Tayong Dalawa,” for not coming soon
enough [2].  And please don’t blame us either. Our two features on this class [3]   were posted after, not before, the PMA entrance examinations. 


The Washington-based East Coast Chapter of the PMA Alumni Association was recently beset by an integrity problem.

As reported by the secretary who investigated and reported the problem, an email address was being deleted each time a new one was added to the mailgroup to the surprise and consternation of the owners of those deleted email addresses.

It was a data integrity problem, without question. Phew!

A solution may not be forthcoming soon but those who were inconvenienced will prefer this technical problem anytime over a problem that involves PMA’s good, old motto of Courage, Integrity and Loyalty. 


Talking about integrity, we hear that Congress is poised to enact a law carving out a new district in Camarines Sur. Wouldn’t this act of gerrymandering,  an act to benefit Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, a clear case of violating territorial integrity, of dividing up the country, akin to what our Muslim brothers have been accused of?


In July, Cavalier Eusaquito “Sonny” Manalo ’81, Defense Attache, Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C. asked his classmate Cavalier Harold Ochoco 81, a Virginia resident, if he would like to host a dinner cum open forum for Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, Jr., who was scheduled to visit Washington in September.

“I did not hesitate at all but I asked him if I can hold off on a decision, since I needed “Divine guidance”. I then called my wife!” Excited, his wife said yes. That was indeed divine.

Ochoco revealed this in his introduction of Teodoro on September 8; an introduction that earned lavish praises from the 50 or so who were present and from those, like us, who weren’t there but were privileged to read it.


“Reciting a litany of his accomplishments and admirable traits” was an option, Ochoco admitted, but he chose another way of introducing Teodoro; to our mind, an unusual one.


Listen, boys and girls…..

“For the differences, let’s start with the obvious. He is tall; I’m short.”

“He received his law degree from UP and was given the Dean’s medal for academic excellence. I did not.  In the same year, 1989, he topped the bar exam.  Very impressive!  For me, in 1989, I hopped the bar…of the night clubs in Washington DC.”

“He completed his master’s degree at the Harvard Law School.  That is only in my dreams.”


“I can go on and on to highlight his achievements and I will just feel frustrated specially that I am comparing myself with a bright, intelligent and a successful man.  We call him “Gibo”, and if I continue to compare myself with him, I feel like a failure, I may as well call myself “Bigo”…..”


What Gibo did not know perhaps is that Bigo graduated cum laude at PMA.


The commonalities between Gibo and Bigo? Let’s hear it from Bigo himself.

“Let’s start with the obvious. Good looks!  While we try to be modest about it, it is something that both of us cannot hide.”

“He is a pilot, and so do I (sic) [4] My last unit in the Philippine Navy was with the Naval Air Group, although I did not have the chance to gain much flying hours because I migrated to the US immediately after my training.”

“I work for the IMF. Our good Secretary is indirectly a part of the IMF family, since his father, the late Gilberto Teodoro Sr. worked there from 1951 to 1960.” 


“There are more commonalities between us, but I just would like to highlight the fact that we both have a beautiful wife!” [5].


We requested Ochoco to post the introduction on the Internet. He agreed, albeit reluctantly.

No, boys and girls, there was no arm-twisting involved (despite what you think of PMAyers, this column frowns upon any act of violence). For a complete transcript of Ochoco’s introduction, see:


Ochoco has served, par excellence, as the Secretary of the East Coast Chapter of the PMA Alumni Association, a fact that evidently was not lost on Cavalier Danilo “Dan” Perico ’71 who said, “Baka hindi ka na lang secretary of ECC, [6],  you might be Executive Secretary soon.”
When Perico posted this email, he must have been thinking of what Ochoco said in concluding his introduction:

“In my books he is a transformational leader who will pursue the following: G – for Good governance, I – for integrity, B- for basic services for the poor and O – for opportunities for all.  That is “GIBO”, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m sure the good Secretary can elaborate more on his vision…..”


In five hours and fifty-five minutes, my fiancée will be arriving at BWI airport in Maryland.

I am glad I renewed my driver’s license the other day, since I will be resuming, at least in the next several days, before she leaves Washington, my DMV [7]  job.


Almost two months later, we continue to receive feedback related to our issue a few weeks ago on the “unknown soldiers” cited in Cito Beltran’s column (09-08-26 WTW/“Cito’s Lament – Our Plaint?”), this time from Cavalier Francisco “Mike” San Miguel ’51 who reminded us of these lines:

"God and the soldier we adore
in time of danger, not before.
God is forgotten and the soldier slighted."

San Miguel has been a constant provider for the WTW “fodderland,” excellent materials that we have been privileged to use in this column so many times in the past.  


In his cryptic feedback, he didn’t exactly say what segment of last week’s issue he was referring to – Noynoy Aquino, Mar Roxas or Mikey Arroyo and the house by the beach or any other – but we would like to acknowledge Larry “Lar” Leviste who wrote us to say that our “tirade was SPOT ON and bulls eye today!”

We consider this a compliment, if for no other reason than the fact – and we hate to admit this in the open – that we couldn’t hit the bulls eye if the target were a yard away during marksmanship training when we were cadets at Loakan. We believe they had a word for shooters like us – bolo man.


On the same issue, first time reader Ben Picardo thought WTW is “light yet inspiring,” asking us to “keep ‘em coming.”

Yes, Ben, we will keep ‘em coming, but please don’t expect any heavy stuff. We want it to be as light as possible and be easy on our shoulders.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [8], we are beginning this countdown: 

Sir, there are 236 days, 5,664 hours, 339,840 minutes, 20,390,400 seconds and 40,780,800 ticks before May 10, 2010, before the Philippine national elections (or non-election).


As we were preparing to post this – a tad tardy, as usual – we received this wonderful news. Kevin Obfan was among the successful examinees of the PMA entrance examinations for the Class of 2014. Obfan is one of the five scholars, Batch 2009, of LEAP, the Loakan Educational Assistance Project. LEAP is the pet project of DJLF Foundation, a non-profit organization whose members are former cadets of PMA who are now mostly residents outside of the Philippines.

If or when Obgan is finally admitted to PMA next year, he won’t cease to be a LEAP Scholar. LEAP has this saying: Once a LEAP Scholar, Always a LEAP Scholar.

Never mind if the PMA, not DJLF, would be supporting him towards a college degree.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-37
deakins hall,  maryland

[1]   No relation to GenSan, by which General Santos City is referred to in the Philippines. Senator Lacson is a retired general, hence the title ‘GenSen’

[2]  “Tayong Dalawa” was cited by PMA authorities to be largely responsible for the spike in the number of examinees for the Class of 2014

[3]   see 09-04-01 WTW/”The PMA Class of 2013: Something Happened on their Reception; and 09-04-08 WTW/”The Manifesto That  Never Was”.

[4]   Noticing the error, Ochoco told us that this could be easily explained, thus: a “pilot’s error as determined by the black box (no offense to you, sir).” He should have said, “He is a pilot and so am I.”

[5]   Ochoco may have missed this commonality – The names of Melinda, Ochoco’s wife and Monica, Gibo’s wife, both start with the letter “M.” Of Monica, Ochoco said this: We were indeed looking forward to meeting Mrs. Teodoro, unfortunately she was not able to make it for this visit.  Hopefully we will have a chance to meet her someday.  If you don’t know it yet, Mrs. Nikki Prieto-Teodoro is a member of the House of Representatives representing the province of Tarlac.  In my research, I have found out and was impressed about her advocacy for the welfare of children.  Mr. Secretary, please extend to her our appreciation and admiration for her work

[6]   You may not only be ECC  secretary

[7]   Driving Miss Vicky.

[8]   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 do in  the countdown to the Philippine national election  – compute the days and convert them to hours, minutes, seconds and ticks.