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Winston "Arf-Arf" Arpon
PMA '64


Initial-ly Speaking:
Presidential and Vice-Presidential Hopefuls


For POTUS Barack Obama, they were two momentous events, two weeks apart, in two places abroad – and two contrasting outcomes.

Last week, the IOC said “No” and made Obama a loser in the campaign to have the IOC choose his adopted city of Chicago as the venue of the 2016 Olympics.

This week the Norwegian Nobel Committee said “Yes,” and made Obama the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, he did not campaign for this. 

Meanwhile, Obama will have to fall back on a core competency of his – campaigning skills – in one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenge of his young presidency; and he’s campaigning not in Copenhagen, Norway or Sweden but right at home. That challenge: passage of the Health Care Reform as he envisioned it and promised in his presidential campaign last year.

Will the American people, through their senators and congressmen in Congress, in town halls, blogs, Facebook or Twitter and other media outlets on and off the Internet make a winner or loser of Obama, concededly one of the greatest campaigners of all time in US politics?


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Philippines to post stronger economic growth this year and next year after successfully weathering the global financial storm mainly due to fiscal and monetary reforms.
British bank Standard Chartered, on the other hand, has upgraded its economic growth outlook for the Philippines this year and next on the back of the pump-priming activities being undertaken by the government and the robust remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Good news such as these come in small packages but the Philippines, with very little reason to cheer in these last few weeks, needed them and could use the expression of confidence and bright outlook from these third parties. They could not have come at a better time.


Item:   Gloria allies seek P46B more next year for relief.

Non-allies of Gloria, we think, would rather seek her relief. Not next year, but this year, if at all possible.


A Special National Public-Private Sector Reconstruction Commission will undertake a rehabilitation plan for wrecked infrastructure, according to Malacanang. The body will be headed by MVP.

MVP is Manuel V. Pangilinan but we hope MVP would be a Most Valuable Player as well in this gigantic task of rehabilitation unprecedented in Philippine history.


Meanwhile, the two houses of the Philippine Congress can’t seem to agree on the calamity fund.

Another calamity brewing the country can ill afford, especially with PAGASA warning Visayas and Mindanao about coming floods.


Pork is not going away any time soon, no matter the danger it poses to the country’s health, physically and economically, and, no matter who succeeds Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president of the Philippines next year.

All three declared candidates – Aquino, Villar and Teodoro – assured local government officials that they won’t be abolishing the pork barrel a.k.a. Priority Development Assistance Funds. Its abolition was favored only by Escudero, the presumed candidate of the NPC, who is believed to be the odd man out in the presidential race.


Loren Legarda recently announced that she is quitting the presidential race. Later, she revealed that not one, not two, not three but five presidentiables
are after her.

It’s not what you are thinking, Cavalier Gregorio “Blackjack” Carino ’69.

La Loren was talking about being courted, yes, but for the vice-presidency.


Cavalier Delfin “Del” Lorenzana ’73, expressing his regret for the late announcement, recently reported on the arrival on September 30, 2009 of Cavalier Victor “Vic” Corpus ‘67 in Washington D.C. Corpus has formally taken over the reins of the Office of Veterans Affairs following the turnover on October 5. Cavalier Percival “Perci” Abu 81, long-time assistant of Lorenzana remains as Assistant to Corpus.

Yes, we have had our speculations on the Lorenzana-to-Corpus changeover (see 09-08-19 WTW/”Loren, Loren Sana”), but no, we still do not have any idea, our due diligence notwithstanding, on why Lorenzana got the boot from Malacanang. Or was it from the US Embassy in Manila? Or both?


At PnC and ACF [1], they’re discoursing on an email thread, WHERE IS THE DISASTER FUND?

Yes, boys and girls, the subject was/is in big, bold capital letters, no one would have missed it. But even with so many of them PnCers and ACFers looking hard and long, a good number of them in the intelligence community no less, no one seemed to have found the fund and they’re still looking, the last time we looked (no pun intended).

This fruitless search reminds us of a similar one two presidential administrations ago – the money from the sale of the base lands.


Cavalier Guillermo “Gerry” Cunanan ’66, as we expected, wrote: “I will not add any further correction to the correction given by your fiancée. I think she has described Noynoy perfectly already.” [2]

Not correcting my fiancee, that’s just perfect.  


However, Cavalier Nebuchadnezzar “Nebu” Alejandrino ’77, currently studying at Harvard, was not as easy as Cunanan in his feedback to what we wrote (I said Noynoy was the least tainted; my fiancée said, Noynoy is not tainted at all).

Alejandrino’s proposition: If Noynoy can explain even to the satisfaction (only) of those who support him in his bid for Malacanang–on what happened in hacienda Luisita when farmers were asking for their CARP beneficiaries (where 16 people were massacred including two children and a priest)–then your Fiancée’s correction is correct…..”


The Philippine Commission on Elections will crack down on premature campaign, according to Ferdinand T. Rafanan, head of COMELEC’s legal department. In a telephone interview, Rafanan was very specific about the law on the campaign period: February 9 to May 8, for national candidates (president, vice-president and senators) and March 26 to May 8 for local positions (congressman, governor, vice-governor, provincial board member, city/municipal mayor/vice-mayor, and city/municipal councilors).

Any person, whether a voter or candidate is prohibited from engaging in an election campaign or partisan political activity except during these campaign periods and that premature campaigning could lead to disqualification as candidate or, if proven after being elected, disqualification from holding office.

No one has been campaigning in the last several months? Sure. To quote John McEnroe, you can’t be serious!


With the 2010 elections still 208 days away – see our weekly countdown below – but with the campaign, with all due respect to Attorney Ferdinand Rafanan, already in full swing and with persons and parties jockeying for positions in the national and local slates, we think we should share some of our initial thoughts, i.e., our thoughts on initials or combination of initials of declared or would-be candidates while we wait for them to finally define themselves more substantially than they have done to date.


For the acknowledged frontrunners, Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas, we think N & M is a winner.

N&M, the sweetest duo – just a letter short of M&M, everyone’s favorite on the  candy shelf.


Isn’t V&V made to order for Nacionalista standard Manny Villar, now that he has  reportedly considered Batangas governor Vilma Santos for a running mate?

V&V. Villar’s Venture for Victory, to reclaim the position at the top occupied in recent weeks by N&M.


Joseph Estrada and Jojimar Binay? We think J&J is a juicy combination, and would even be juicier if Johnny Enrile favorably considers Estrada’s invitation for a slot on the J&J senatorial ticket.

The more J’s in the mix the merrier, the juicier; we wonder if Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante will get a similar invitation from Estrada to join his party. Bolante, the former Undersecretary of Agriculture was implicated in the much-publicized 728 million pesos fertilizer scam, has declared that he is running for governor of Aklan.

On second thought, this may not be a good idea. J&J, though catchy, might catch voters in another mode that neither Joseph nor Jojimar would want: remembering Jueteng [3] – a source of Estrada’s troubles in the past, including being deposed as President.


Gibo Teodoro and Ronnie Puno?

GRrr! Isn’t that a mean, mighty growl, and thus, a strong message from a tandem that, despite Malacanang, hasn’t been given a ghost of a chance in the elections? Never mind if GRrr suggests one Gibo and three Ronnies, an equation that may not sit well with the former’s die-hard followers.  


Sorry, but we are at a loss with thoughts, initial-ly speaking, on Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda, although CHILL would be cool for both, especially for the young Escudero who turned 40 only a few days ago.

But maybe, it is just as well. Chiz still has to declare and as cited above, La Loren could very well end up as somebody else’s mate; we mean, running mate.


Cavalier Danilo “DanMelJim” Jimenez ’77 thought we delivered a left hook a la Manny Pacquiao when we wrote this in our last issue:

Headline:   GMA places entire country in a state of calamity.

Didn’t she place the country in that state a long time ago and long before Ondoy and Pepeng?

Thanks for the feedback Cavalier. But as you know, whether it is a hook, a jab or an uppercut, we deliver with and from the right, not the left. A favorite professor of yours and mine knows this too.

And on another note, we don’t want either to put a hex to Manny Pacquiao, exactly a month before his fight with Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao may be the favorite of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo but we are also proud of him – Manny, not Mike.


And for the third straight issue, we heard from Larry “Lar” Leviste. “WITTY, breezy and so unapologizingly TRUE,” (underscoring his, not ours) was his description of our last issue.

Thank you, Larry and pardon the self-pride, but we’ll take your ako-lade, we mean, accolade. And As to breezy, we do have to ask: Breezy as in mahangin?  Mahangin, as in Filipino, for blustery?


And of Michelle Malkin? [4] She got a thumbs-up from WTW reader Daisy Tucay from McLean, Virginia who wrote us: “Luv that lady, Michelle Malkin! She is a genuine fearless unflappable being who can "fight city hall."

Daisy, we think, must be watching that channel call Fox, and its “fair and balanced” reporting.


Six months ago, this is what we wrote in one of our issues (09-03-18 WTW/”Joe Guevara & Conrado de Quiros Move Over”):

JoeGuevaraPhoto Joe Guevara – may his soul rest in peace – was a favorite of mine then. My previous e-column, Reveille, Tattoo, Taps/Weekly, Weakly, Meekly was to emulate his Manila Bulletin column, “Point of Order.” 

The other day, thanks to former Secretary of Agriculture Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez  who I had the pleasure of meeting over the last weekend,  I learned about and got the email address of Joe Guevara’s daughter, Cynthia Guevara-Gale, now residing in the US. “Through you,” I wrote her, “I want to thank the person who inspired me to write these columns – Joe L. Guevara. Thank you for him.”

Cynthia’s reply:
There is no finer tribute to my father than to write in a style a la Joe Guevara.  Thank you for finding time to let me know. I truly appreciate the gesture. I thought your email would please my brothers as well and have forwarded it to them. My father was really such a sharp wit, whether at home with his family or out of the house, with both friend and "foe."  He made us laugh to no end, at times at our expense no less!

You can say that again, Cynthia. Compared to your dad’s sharp wit, ours still needs some honing, as our readers will tell you and which you and your brothers can see from past issues of Witful Thinking, Wednesday  in our blog [5].


Joe Guevara did a passing review of the book, “Laughter in the South/Footnotes to the Southern Philippines Conflict” – a few lines in one of his columns in 1980. He passed away in December 2002 and I regret to this day that I did not find the time to personally thank him for being the only one to do this for my first book, the only one I have written to date.


Using “How Many Days Oh Noble Cataline?” a plebe knowledge [6], we are continuing the countdown we started several issues back: 

Sir, there are 208 days, 4,992 hours, 299,520 minutes, 17,971,200 seconds and 35,942,400 ticks before May 10, 2010, before the Philippine national elections.


@arf-arf ‘64
wtw 09-40
lipa city, batangas


[1] PnC stands for Plebes aNd Cavaliers and ACF, for Academy Cavaliers Forum) two active e-forums of PMA alumni in cyberspace whose members in the US are deeply involved in fund-raising for  victims of Ondoy and Pepeng, along with CPW, Cyberspace Prayer Warriors, a prayer group composed mostly of PMA alumni all over the world

[2] Cunanan did correct us for mistakenly calling him Geronimo.  “…..I will not allow you,” he wrote, “ to call me by the first name of my favorite  Mistuh and compadre, Troy Dumadapat.” We know. Troy, a fan of the popular movie actor of the 60s, Troy Donahue, is  Geronimo indeed and we do regret our error. Sorry Guillermo.
[3] Jueteng is an illegal numbers game played in the Philippines.

[4] In our last issue we mentioned Michelle Malkin’s book, “Culture of Corruption”

[5] All issues of Witful Thinking, Wednesday can be found in

[6] 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.