EDITORIAL Revisiting the Palaro AS we hail this year’s holding of the Palarong Bicol that sees action throughout this week, we really don’t care what province or city will finally get the general championship crown. What we should care more about are how our young athletes in each sports discipline or category have fared compared to the feats or records achieved in the past Palaro. Have records in swimming, track and field, and all other events been broken or improved through the years? Such close review should be taken seriously to know why Bicol has been faring so badly in the Palarong Pambansa and other national games compared to other regions in the country. And then we should start asking what went wrong? What should be done and how are we going to do them? Should we relieve our sports officials or send them to more trainings, if not recruit new ones? And why are the other regions’ athletes doing better than us? Because they have more funds, better facilities, and competent trainers and coaches? If so, why can’t we get or be allocated with more funds or similar interventions to procure them? Indeed, the officials concerned should address the above questions/problems judiciously because after all, medals in sports are given only to those who’s stronger, faster, higher, and stronger, as espoused by the Olympic ideals of Citius, Altius, and Fortius. Without casting aside the spirt of camaraderie, sportsmanship, and hospitality that sports events like the Palaro want to foster among the competing athletes and their coaches, we cannot deny the fact that the moment they carry their flags to the sporting field, it will always be every athletic delegation’s goal to push its young athletes to become the best that they can be. Regretfully, Bicol’s flatfooted and anemic performance in many national athletic competitions so far are loudly imploring our local officials, sports officials, and those in the education department tasked to handle student amateur sports that much has to be done to make ourselves competitive even among our regional rivals. Otherwise, such sports officials and those concerned should start asking themselves why they are there in the first place and what have they been doing (or undoing) through all these years, leaving the Bicolano athlete always trailing in the race? There is no gainsaying that our greatest resource are our people, especially the young ones, whose human talents, including prowess in sports, we must develop to the fullest, not only for our region’s honor but also for everyone’s opportunity to raise the level of personal growth and development. If we can spend so much and earn popular support, though in an absurd way, in such unproductive endeavors as beauty pageants and wayward festivals aimed at gaining a page in Guinness Book of World Records, why can’t we do the same for our emerging athletes that are expected, given the proper training and better equipment, to develop a culture of excellence, perseverance, and determination to succeed? More than the parades and the Mayor’s or Governor’s Night where the overfed local officials are the frontline players and participants, we must always cultivate the games, such as the Palaro, as goldmines of sporting talents that should be honed while they are still young school athletes. The immediate challenge now is to climb the ranking when the Palarong Pambansa takes place. Then a long-term strategic sporting plan must waste no time to be crafted. BLIND SPOT “May parakuang aki!” Joseph Ochoa When I was a child, I would be frequently warned by my mother not to go out of the house, or stay out for too long “ta may parakuang aki”. I initially received that caution with seriousness. But later, after experiencing no apparent physical firsthand threat, I dismissed the warnings as a part of grand parental scheme to retain my person in domestic confinement. Besides, I had not heard of any playmate that had gotten lost because some stern villainous henchmen pulled him to their van while playing in an abandoned vacant lot. So, I thought, “the ideas parents would concoct just to stand in the way of the joys of childhood...” However, the past weeks have marked a surge of advisories on precautionary measures on van driving kidnappers, hunting for healthy looking children, which later would include female adolescents. Oh well, the young schoolboy has to say goodbye to the excitement of exploration of the school neighborhood and staying out with the “tropa” well beyond dismissal time. “While alone at 2 in the afternoon of January 21, 2017, a 9 year old boy was suddenly grabbed by men wearing bonnets, and pulled into a white van. The boy was later released from the vehicle after his pulse rate was taken. While inside the van, he allegedly saw severed human body parts. He was found by siblings at the corner of Almeda Highway after an hour. “(Now, that sounds like a scene from the TV show, “Probinsyano”.) “After a few days... a 15 year old high school student was seized by men at the corner of Panganiban Drive around 1 in the afternoon of January 26, 2017. The boy was reportedly going home due to a headache. According to the school principal, the kidnappers were driving a black van, but the student was able to fight back and eventually get away, despite incurring bruises.” (news.abs-cbn.com) These reported incidents have caused a wave of paranoia; that rumors have spread that these van riding kidnappers are specifically looking for healthy children supposedly to be retrieved of internal organs. A tale even goes that one child was dropped off the van after the abductors realized that he was not healthy enough. The principal and teachers of the said student support his statement of having been mugged by seven men, and having seen medical apparatus inside the vehicle. According to the account, after losing consciousness for a while, the boy was able to regain his senses and was able to jump off, catching a ride on a tricycle and to a hospital where he was confined for a week. In a Bombo Radyo Naga interview with Mayor John Bongat, he said (at that time)that they are still finding out whether an attempted abduction of a 15-year old student, by unidentified men driving a black van, truly occurred, due to suspicious details on the adolescent’s account of the incident. (www.bomboradyo.com) Naga City Police Director Julius Munez had later denied any truth of child abduction reports which when verified were primarily on hearsay, and simply products of wild imaginations”. (www.newsnow.ph) Okay, that’s a relief. A teacher of the 15 year old alleged abductee stresses that if the whole story was a hoax, that would mean that the student concocted this fantastic story and he sustained his bruises from himself. (That would make him a young sadomasochistic.) He suspects that the authorities are downplaying the case to protect the business climate in the city. On the other hand, we could not undermine the judgment of investigators in determining the merits of a case. Considering these incidents as hoaxes, and painting an environment secure for commerce, sacrifice the public’s sensitivity to the victims, and withhold justice for them, and in the process, indirectly giving the permission and opportunity for perpetrators to freely roam school zones with their van to hunt for potential preys. On the other hand, if these accounts are indeed hoaxes, we sacrifice the value of truth, the sense of peace, the liberty of a child to walk, run and play outdoors. In an informal conversation with a police officer friend, I was told of an actual abduction of two teenage girls in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, who after keen police operations, were fortunately rescued and brought back to their parents after a few days. One can only guess what could have happened if the girls had been trafficked to wherever. On September 2014, “a 19-year-old girl in Naga City was walking when men aboard a white van approached and punched her. She lost consciousness. When she came to oneself, she found she had been brought to a wooded area. The girl found an opportunity to escape and reached a residential area where she sought help. She learned she was in Batangas.” (www.gmanetwork.com) “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” Psalm 127:4 Good morning judge On the President’s health Eufronio K. Maristela Judge (Ret.) REPORTS from television and print media which deny earlier reports about the President’s admission that he is suffering from some kind of heart condition is not well taken. Our people should be made aware of the real status of the President’s health condition as it is to the country’s and its people’s best interest. As the leader of our country, his health is as important to himself as it is to the people he leads. No matter how good or how bad his style of leadership may be perceived by the people, it cannot be denied that the President’s health is also his countrymen’s concern. The reports therefore, allegedly coming from Secretary Ernesto Abella that “President Duterte was just making up stories on his health when he disclosed that a doctor went to see him in Malacanang after he felt pain in his heart” is a mild attempt to hide the President’s true health status. This is indeed unfortunate and the President’s rah-rah boys should learn better. The duties of the Executive Office demands good health if it is to be exercised with utmost competency. The Regional Palarong Bicol which recently reeled-off in Legazpi City will showcase different sports events from which probable athletic champions may compete in the national level. It can be recalled that Team Naga won last year’s most coveted Championship crown with 72 gold medals, 58 silver medals and 58 bronze medals. It is our hope that our Team Naga will give us the honor of attaining a back-to-back championship.
TRIVIA: Congratulations to Bishop Gilbert Garcera for his new mission as Archbishop of Lipa in Batangas from Bishop of Daet, Camarines Norte. Bishop Garcera is a native of Magarao, Camarines Sur. His brother Ed who is a close friend and his family are now permanent residents of Los Angeles, California. Belated birthday greetings to Rev. Fr. Noe Badiola who celebrated his Nth birth anniversary last Thursday, February 2, 2017. The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, Monsignor Jorge Barlin Assembly, will have its regular membership meeting this coming Sunday, February 12. 2017. QUOTATION OF THE WEEK: “REAL INTEGRITY IS DOING THE RIGHT THING, KNOWING THAT NOBODY IS GOING TO KNOW WHETHER YOU DID IT OR NOT.” OPRAH WINFREY FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE: “LET US NOT GROW WEARY OF DOING GOOD FOR IN DUE SEASON WE WILL REAP, IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.” GAL. 6:9 Selda Numero 10 Class project Jose B. Perez AS my fellow HS alumni at the Ateneo de Naga are preparing for our 45th reunion this coming Friday thru Sunday (Feb. 10-12), with those from far away probably already hitting the tarmac at the airport in Manila, I am privileged to publish this rationale about our class project as articulated by Atty. Luis Ruben M. General. Incidentally, Ruben was the editor then of our high school organ, “Blue and Gold”: Our high school class was the last pre-martial law batch to graduate. When the dictatorship was decreed five months after our graduation, we experienced personally its effects: not only the loss of some personal liberties but also the constraints of the academic environment if not the direct prohibitions of campus politics and publications, student organizations even remotely related to social and political concerns, and such other activities, including cultural ones, that tend to be political. Many of us had friends, relatives or classmates who were killed, imprisoned, tortured, “disappeared,” or harassed for their political beliefs or for simply being associated with persons or groups not acceptable to the security forces of the authoritarian regime. It is no exaggeration to say that our generation indeed bore the brunt of martial law. Recent events, however, have turned around some concepts that we have always thought to be secure in memory. About 2 years ago, a subtle yet systematic and well-funded campaign in the social media started with the claim that the martial-law era was a “golden period” of our history. True it may be said that anything golden during the time was always a point of interest for the rapacity of the regime, but the intent was clear: revisionism of history. The memory of the dictator was to be rehabilitated and with it, his family who would then be brought back to power, not just as governors or senators, but again as absolute rulers of the land. This campaign bore its rotten fruit with the near-election of the dictator’s son, Ferdinand Jr. aka “Bongbong,” as Vice-President, losing only by a hairline margin, a loss that he is still protesting in the Supreme Court (constituted as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal), which might just turn out to be favorable to him considering the many plus factors at his side. Then last month brought again a double punch in the gut, the decision of the Supreme Court that it did not have the legal power to stop President Duterte from allowing the Marcos corpse to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the actual sneaky burial itself at the same hallowed, now desecrated, grounds. Many have already been said for or against these incidents, but one thing for us, our generation, is clear: These events are attempts to twist our memory, to make us forget what happened and to actually change what we remember. Much worse, the generations after us, the X gen and the millennials and the next, are the prime target of this campaign of changing history. It is, almost frighteningly, more than post-truth. Just like what we experienced during martial law, it would seem that our generation will again be at the forefront of another, yet different, fight: the battle over memory. Many of us have already been in the thick of it, as some are again joining rallies, speaking in symposia, writing in newspapers, engaging in discussions, and very likely, battling in the social media as so-called “keyboard warriors.” It is in this light that we of Ateneo de Naga HS ‘72, almost the true representative of a generation, if we can say it in that manner, should contribute to this battle for the truth -- something that is tangible and lasting. We in the core committee for the celebration of our 45th homecoming this February 2017 have come up with a proposal, now strongly and enthusiastically endorsed by Fr. Primitivo Viray, S.J., ADNU President, to erect a memorial for the martial-law victims and martyrs from Ateneo de Naga. It will be a statue yet to be designed and will be put up in the ADNU campus, the actual site has tentatively been designated already. Our class has two martyrs whose names will be forever inscribed in the memorial: Elmer “Peks” Pereda, who was with us until second year only since he stopped school to engage in full time mass-organizing, and who joined the armed struggle right after martial law was declared and was killed in a firefight with PC troopers in the hills of Bula, Camarines Sur, in December 1972, and Homer Aquilino, who joined the anti-dictatorship movement while in college at UPLB, was detained for several months and severely tortured, and then died some years later from the torture injuries he suffered. Other classes, upon learning of our project and ruefully commenting that we beat them in coming up first with the idea, have already began identifying and presenting the names of their classmates who would qualify to be memorialized. With its initial costing, this project will cost no less than P500,000.00. You can send us ideas or suggestions on how we can raise the fund. Other classes have contributed to our alma mater such fixed projects as the Front Gate (Class ’50), the St. Ignatius Statue (Class ’54), the O’Bikoliana Library (Class ’66), etc. In time for our 45th anniversary, without waiting for our Golden Jubilee as some of us might no longer be here, now is the time to make a lasting contribution to our school that we can all be proud of, and which will remain standing in the campus long after we have kicked the bucket. Please do support our project. Apart from Ateneo, it is our own contribution to the education of our youth about martial law. It will be our own share in the continuing struggle for freedom and democracy, so that the horrible events that happened during the dictatorship will not be forgotten and hence will no longer be repeated. As Rizal, the Great Atenean, said in his hero Elias -- “You who will see the dawn in our motherland, do not forget those who fell in the night.”