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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


From Across the Miles:
A Happy New Year


The world had been living with a constant fear of a financial crisis since hearing the news of Dubai World’s $25 billion loan restructuring (read: default). So, it cheered when it heard the news of neighboring Abu Dhabi extending a $10 billion aid to the debt-laden company, averting what could have been a reprise of the US financial meltdown.

Dubai, one of seven nations in the United Arab Emirates Federation that includes Abu Dhabi, is not yet out of the woods. Nonetheless, it insists on continuing its policy of no taxes in 2010; this, despite facing a 2009 deficit of 4.2 billion [1] That’s in Dubai’s currency – the dirhams. Which, to our Filipino ear, sounds like hiram? Hiram, as in borrowing [2].


Accenture, the global management consulting services and outsourcing company and one of Tiger Woods’ sponsors, has pulled out its ad that egged everyone: Go on. Be a Tiger.

Of course, we think you can still go on and be a Tiger. But with this caveat: on the course, yes; intercourse, no!


POTUS Obama, as we thought (2009-12-23 WTW/”From Across The Miles: Merry Christmas”), got his gift on Christmas eve from his former colleagues in the Senate:  approval of the US Health Reform bill.

The bill will extend coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans. Historic, according to its staunch supporters; catastrophic, according to its opponents – take your pick.


Estimated Cost: $1 trillion. Boys and girls, that's $1,000,000,000,000,.

American taxpayers should consider themselves lucky. If they were living in Great Britain, that would be $1,000,000,000,000,000,000.

To reach one US trillion, counting at the rate of one number per second, would take 79,275 years.


The reconciliation of this and the House version that was approved earlier – HR 3590, the 2,074-page Patient Protection and Affordable Act – begins, which would not be difficult, with the Democratic majority in both houses on the Hill. 
Reconciliation on the issue of health care reform a.k.a. Obamacare, between supporters and opponents, certainly between Democrats and Republicans on the Hill was a much steeper hill to climb for Obamacare’s proponents.


A gun was found in the locker of basketball star Gilbert Arenas, top gun of the Washington Wizards.

Not to worry, basketball fans that follow the NBA. The gun was not loaded, just like Arenas’ team, the Washington Wizards. Well into the first half of the NBA's regular season, the Wizards are firing blanks.


But Philippine Senator Miriam Santiago may be a different story. She too has a gun, according to newspaper reports the other day.

We know that this fiery senator, a top gun in Senate investigations and often on the firing line by her own choice most of the time, is a straight-shooter. Or acts like one.


The Chinese are coming!

We know. So does Augusto Santos.

But Santos, chief of the Philippines’ National Economic Development Authority, issued his warning on the inroads of China into the global BPO, the Business Processing Outsourcing industry (read: call centers) where the Philippines, along with India, has been a powerhouse for years. 

The advice of the NEDA boss to his countrymen: improve proficiency in English.

8 hs bcm obyos 2 mny obsrvrs dat d Plpns hs lst 8s cmpttv edg n d Nglsh lnguag. Y? Mayb txtng Pinoy-styl s 1 rson. 

We mean: It has become obvious to many observers that the Philippines has lost its competitive edge in the English language. Why? Maybe texting Pinoy-style is one reason.


In the traditional ‘Parade of Stars’ for the opening of the 35th Metro Manila Film Festival, a Christmas spectacle in the Philippine capital, one of the floats was for the movie, WaPakMan. 

Pacman was there. Wa Krista. We mean, No Krista [3].


The Pacman flick flickered. It was knocked out in the tills, occupying last place among the several entries to the festival, grossing on opening day 750,000 Philippine pesos, a paltry sum compared to the 16.9 million pesos grossed by the first-placer, “Ang Panday,” a movie starring Revilla, aka Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Filipino moviegoers, evidently discriminating in their taste, have given a valuable tip for their boxing hero: legislators, more than boxers, make good actors; and, actors, better senators.


Philippine authorities insist that no ransom was paid for the release of Dr. Orlando Fajardo of Basilan State College. The money given to the kidnappers was for "board and lodging."

The amount involved was 100,000 Philippine pesos. That’s almost 7,000 pesos per day and we think Fajardo was overcharged for 15 days in captivity.


An “air war” has been promised at the start of the year by Florencio “Butch” Abad, Liberal Party Manager, reacting to the increasing number of advertisements of presidential hopefuls on the air, and to help  LP presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino maintain his lead in the polls.

Aquino supporters and other political observers expect that this part of the campaign would be  substantive and won’t just  be one that is full of air.


In the results of the surveys of both Pulse Asia and Social Weather  Stations, we see, as other observers do, an unmistakable core base of support for Aquino.

Okay, a Cory base of support as well, mindful as we are and conceding that the so-called NP (that’s Noynoy Phenomenon, not the Nacionalista Party, Manny Villar) can be attributed in large part to the late Cory Aquino and the outpouring of affection upon her death this year.


Those were not fumes you saw at Napindan Channel in Taytay, Rizal.

That was Noli de Castro fuming mad over inaction to clear the debris and other obstructions there. And believe it or not, the sitting Vice-President said this was a standing instruction he received from her boss. Yes, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


Towards the close of the year, two tales of four PMAyers.

One; before the New Year.

Major Aquino a.k.a. Cavalier Jason Aquino ’91 has filed a complaint against Colonel Querubin a.k.a. Cavalier Ariel Querubin ’79 for slight physical injuries from an incident on December 12. Both Aquino and Querubin are detained for mutiny charges in the 2006 attempt to overthrow President Arroyo.

Two; before Christmas
Senator Lacson a.k.a. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson ’71 and Police Chief Inspector Mancao  a.k.a. Cavalier Cesar Mancao ’86 promised, through their respective lawyers, to  "above personalities and will confine our legal battles to the cases already existing…” Mancao is state witness in the Dacer-Corbito killing implicating Lacson.

We prefer the latter tale and will follow the tail of Lacson and Mancao, without reservation.


 “Sorry,” my fiancée texted. “I meant love you, not live you.”

I texted back: ‘Live you’ is fine. ‘Leave you’ isn’t.

Yes, boys and girls, my fiancée and I are not fans of texting, Pinoy-style, refusing ‘tom’ or ‘2maro’ or ‘2moro’ for tomorrow, even if the keying takes a little bit longer.


Nicanor Perlas whose Certificate of Candidacy for President of the Philippines was disapproved by the Commission on Elections has submitted a motion for reconsideration.

We think the embattled ex-future President has made a strategic error. Challenging the Comelec on its decision to declare him a nuisance candidate is fine but submitting his motion in 48-pages can be a nuisance to commissioners that can only read a brief.


From across the miles, to WTW readers, here and everywhere: A Prosperous New Year. Manigong Bagong Taon.


Yes, we too have our resolutions for the New Year.

No, posting this column on Wednesday isn’t one of them. We’ll go with the suggestion that as far as Witful Thinking, Wednesday is concerned, Wednesday is the day, any day, of the week when we post this column. 

Yes, we will continue with the Notes, or footnotes that invariably come with each WTW issue, so  we may not displease WTW readers like Larry “Lar” Leviste, who, with his constant R&Rs [4], has been a source of encouragement to us during the year.

And yes, we will heed another WTW reader, Carino, a.k.a. Cavalier Gregorio “Blackjack” Carino Jr. ’69 who, like Leviste, has been generous with his R&Rs as well. [5]


A plebe at PMA [6] is called bugo-bugo, a term that has stuck even after women were admitted to the Academy several years ago.

Our New Year resolution: Following the example of Cavalier Jose “Joe” Dado ’55, [7} correct the gender bias (and our machismo?); henceforth, use the term bugo-buga or buga-bugo.

And then, see if we can write or convince someone else to write the distaff version of “Kaydet Girl.”


Economic indicators are showing that the Philippines has graduated from the category of low-income to a lower middle-income country.

We told you this, didn’t we? If you find time to look out of the window and look hard enough, you will see the sun brightly shining outside.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [8], we are continuing the countdown we started several issues back: 

Sir, there are 131 days, 3,144 hours, 188,640 minutes, 11,318,400 seconds and 22,636,800 ticks before May 10, 2010, before the Philippine national elections (or non-election).


[1] $1.14 billion.
[2] No stranger definitely to borrowing, the Philippines had its foreign debt rising to $53.1 billion at the end of the third quarter.
[3] Krista Ranillo, the love interest of Filipino world boxing champion and Filipino idol Manny “Pakman” Pacquiao who stars in the movie.
[4] Read and React feedback, his last R&R being this: the only writer I know who has footnotes. Very scholarly and considerate.
[5] Taking exception what we wrote about  MICE in our last issue  – “Yes, Bj, there is such a market, but it’s not what you are thinking – he wrote us: You're beginning to scare me…before you could publish WTW to a future date, now you can read what I'm thinking…I dread what may come next, perhaps forward to the past?
[6]  A freshman in other schools or colleges.
[7]  Dado has brought attention to the fact that “PMA, Oh Hail To Thee” the PMA Alma Mater song mentions only sons of the Academy, omitting its daughters and needs to be corrected.
 [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 (Two ticks equal one second, but don’t ask why. This computation was there only for us to apply, never to question why).

@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-51
lipa city, philippines