Starting life at 80

>> Friday, December 30, 2022


Alfred P. Dizon

(We would like to share this article by Bernie V. Lopez, a professor and writer, blogger and former columnist of the Inquirer. He is with Healing Ministry, ex-professor of Ateneo University, documentary producer-director (freelance, ex-ABS-CBN, ex-TVS Tokyo) and  ex-broadcaster of Radio Veritas. Check Facebook “Bernie V. Lopez Eastwind” / Pages “Eastwind Journeys and Journals” and “Mary Queen of Peace.)”
The secret to life is in our stars, our destiny, hidden inside our hearts. We have to find it and unravel it. Eighty -year-old Kevin was so depressed, he wanted to commit suicide. But suddenly, his total darkness became a blinding light. This story is inspired by a character in real life.
    It was Christmas eve, the most dangerous time for people who were bored and lonely. Kevin started thinking of death. He started getting sick with imagined diseases. In total depression, wanting to die but not knowing how to, he took a walk in the nearby woods, contemplating suicide.
    He stumbled and sprained his ankle. Unable to walk, he lay on the grass, and for the first time, saw the panorama of the stars like a million diadems on soft black velvet. Suddenly, he realized that he took many beautiful things for granted, that life was worth living, and it was not too late to start life at 80. His entire life of emptiness and misery flashed back in a split second. He was sad how he had wasted his life. On that Christmas eve, a storm passed by Kevin’s heart to cleanse his soul.
    He screamed at the Lord in tears, “This is all your fault, Lord. You abandoned me. My misery is all your fault.” Suddenly, he realized that, for the first time in his life, he was praying for help. Suddenly, he felt the Lord’s warm embrace. A deep spiritual transformation descended on him. There was only himself and the world to blame. Only then did he realize, that he was still alive, that life was so precious, that life was what he made of it.
    Unable to walk, he was forced to sleep until morning on top of soft summer leaves. Resisting old age and weakness, he wandered aimlessly for two days, wondering what to do with himself. He bought bread in a bakery along the road. There, he saw a young lady sitting on the curb, crying. He brought her out to a nearby garden, and asked her to lie down on the grass. She meekly obeyed, no questions asked. Kevin lay beside her. They watched the clear star-studded evening sky for a whole ten minutes in silence. Her sobs stopped.
    SANDRA. My name is Sandra. Hey, look, a shooting star.
    KEVIN. I’m Kevin. I was ready to commit suicide two days ago, Sandra. The stars saved me. They made me feel alive.
    SANDRA. I have cancer. The doctor said I will die in six months.
    KEVIN. How nice. Plenty of time to start your life.
    SANDRA. What would you have me do?
    KEVIN. Give yourself to others, that’s the only way to die. Forget yourself in others.
    SANDRA. Oh, I see. I am not important. Everybody else around me is. All my life, I never see people that way. Sounds like a good plan. Yes, I will try it. Look, another shooting star.
    KEVIN. A shooting star, in all its grandeur, lives only for two seconds at most. You have six months. You have plenty of time.
    SANDRA. Thank you, Kevin. I will never forget you.
Kevin did not fully realize that the utter spiritual comfort he gave Sandra was the same spiritual comfort the Lord gave to him, only five times more. It was a boomerang. It was not just a spontaneous thing that came out of him. It was the Holy Spirit in action, the answer to his prayers. Now he knew what to do. He resolved to begin a life for the Lord and for others. It was not too late. It was only then did he really begin his life. He found his youth in his old age after eight decades of emptiness.
    An idea flashed. With his last savings, he built a kitchen named “SOUP FOR THE SOUL”, inviting other old people. Every day, they came, about 50 of them, men and women in rags, many homeless, a noisy bunch who began to discover their youth in their old age in each other. When his money was running out after two months, he told the sad news to all that he had to close the kitchen. Rebecca, a 78-year-old feisty woman, stood up.
    REBECCA. No way. We will raise the money.
    They had a big rowdy meeting. Everybody was screaming. In the midst of the pandemonium, a beautiful young lady alighted from a black limousine and approached them. All were silent.
    SANDRA. Hi, Kevin. I can see your making a mess of your life. Kitchen mess, that is. I’ve searched high and low for you. I hired two detectives.
    KEVIN. Sandra, it’s so nice to see you so alive. Let me see, it has been 12 months since we met, right?
    SANDRA. Eighteen, Kevin. I did not die after six months because if you live for others, you don’t easily die. You have first do something for the Lord. You taught me the secret to life, Kevin.
    KEVIN. It’s no secret. It’s just that we are mostly blind because we often refuse to see.
    REBECCA. Hey, Sandra, you know what …….
    SANDRA. Hush, grandma. I know. The soup may ran out, but not the love we all share.
    Sandra winked. She wrote a cheque and gave it to Rebecca, whose eyes popped out. She passed it on until it reached Kevin. Everyone screamed. Soup for the Soul was alive and well. It became immortal and would never die. Somehow the Lord planned its finances, not Kevin, not Sandra, not anyone.
    SANDRA. Tell me, Kevin, do you lie down on the grass with these people?
    KEVIN. No grass around here. Anyway, we don’t need shooting stars. We look to another star which does not ‘shoot’, the one that guided three kings to Baby Jesus.
    SANDRA. You are shooting stars to each other, right? The secret to life is in our stars, Kevin.
    KEVIN. Right, hidden inside us. God bless your pretty soul, Sandra. Merry Christmas.
    The mob screamed a ‘Merry Christmas’ in unison that shattered the silent night. In an instant, like a brilliant shooting star, Sandra was gone.


P500 enough for noche buena?


Suffice it to say that P3PWD Party-list nominee Rowena Guanzon flatly rejects the supposed pronouncements from the Dept. of Trade Industry that P500 is adequate budget for a Filipino noche buena.
    The at-times feisty Guanzon took to Twitter on Tuesday, Dec. 20 to give a particular official from DTI a piece of her mind regarding the viral P500 noche buena budget.
    “Pag inulit pa ni DTI Castelo na kasya na ang P500 sa Noche Buena padadalhan ko siya ng Christmas gift na P500 worth na goods, including 1/8th kg giniling na baboy (If DTI’s Castelo says one more time that a P500-budget is enough for noche buena, I’ll send her P500 worth of goods as Christmas gift, including 1/8th kilogram of ground pork),” she said.
    Guanzon’s tweet has accumulated nearly 3,000 likes from inflation-weary netizens as of this posting.
    The former Commission on Elections commissioner was apparently referring to DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, who has come under fire in public–fairly or unfairly–over the agency’s 2022 “price guide”.
    The price guide shows that P500 in today’s money is enough to buy ham, cheese, spaghetti and salad for the traditional early morning Christmas meal. The catch is that buyers must pick the cheapest brands and small portions–like the 1/8 kilogram of ground pork.
    Castelo has since defended the price guide and called it DTI’s “sincere effort” to advise Filipinos consumers this holiday season.
    P500 for noche buena? Castelo must be joking. Go buy in any sari-sari, department store or market and you will know the grim reality – it is just not enough.  


The troubling greeting of “Merry Christmas”


Richard Kinnud

"Agawid kayo nu Christmas?" (Are you going home this Christmas?)  This is a question commonly asked to those who have left their hometown, probably for work or some other economic reasons, and especially when one doesn't have that so-called permanent address. I have been asked that question several times already since the "ber" months started. 
    When someone whom I know to be from another place too, I threw back to him the question.  And he answered, “Haan san!  Narigat met gamin ti agawid ta adu da ti mangreet ti ‘Merry Christmas!’” (Perhaps not!  It is tough to go home as many will be greeting ‘Merry Christmas!’” 
    He explained that such greeting of Merry Christmas often comes with the expectations of the greeter to be given something, maybe some goods, or even money.  The expectation is higher if the greeting is coming from a close relative who thinks that those who went away for work always go home better off. 
At an office, a boss issued a memo that had a statement that goes something like “We should not be having a Christmas party.  If you are planning one, please do inform me.  But do not expect me to finance the said party.”
    A staff’s reaction to this was, “Narigat ti ag-Christmas nu kastoy ti panunot ti boss!” (It’s tough to celebrate Christmas if this is the thinking of the boss.)
When I shared these stories to a friend and asked the question, “Don’t you think the greeting of ‘Merry Christmas’ is really troubling?”  He answered that sometimes it is because the culture or maybe some cultural change has made it so.  It starts from the lowest grade level in school that they have classroom party and exchange gifts, he pointed out.
    That made me remember the Christmas gift I received when I was in Grade I.  I had two pieces of binakle (rice cake) wrapped in Grade I writing paper.  That most probably was cooked by the mother of my classmate who got my name during the draw (bunotan).  Our class shared tambo-tambong that was prepared by parents and our teacher.  “Christmas gifts and parties, need not be expensive!”  I pointed out to my friend.
    He fired back, “Try gifting the one drawn by your child with two pieces of suman and see if you will not be peppered with curses and complaints from your fellow parents.”
    “Cursing will surely ruin Christmas,” I said.  And we ended up laughing at the thought of being pulled by the hair by a parent just because of giving a Christmas gift that did not approximate the monetary value as agreed upon during a parents-teacher meeting.
That sparked a discussion on what has become of Christmas.  There’s the popular statement,“Christ is the reason for the season!”  It is the birth of Christ that is being commemorated, some would say.  Others would argue that it is the purpose of that birth that is being instilled.  Or that these commemorations are actually part of our preparation as a people for the second coming. 
    There are various observances that churches do churchgoers reflect on these and related themes.  There are symbols such as the Advent wreath, and the Belen, the depiction of scenes during the birth of Christ as recorded in the scriptures, that are supposed remind those who see these of the spiritual nature of the celebration.
    But on the other hand, the statements “Christmas sale” or “Christmas promo” are also popular.  Christmas parties are made fun with games.  Christmas adornments are often made a contest whether formally or informally.  “Happy Holidays!” has also become a convenient greeting.
These illustrate the duality of the character of Christmas.  Others would call it the Christian value and the commercial value; or the spiritual nature and the secular nature.  Sometimes, it can be observed that the second overwhelms the first. 
    My friend and I ended our discussion with this question unanswered, “Would Christmas becoming very commercialized spells trouble to Christian value of the season?” 
Speaking of trouble, the story of the birth of Christ was full of themes about it.  When the Gabriel, the angel, greeted Mary about being a favored one, the Bible text has it that “she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.”  The angel replied that she should not be afraid.  She would eventually say “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
    Bible scholars interpret these texts as illustrations of the humility of the Mary.  But did the angel’s assurance for her not be afraid led to a trouble-free story?  The rest of the story tells it is not.  There’s the account of the couple Joseph and Mary not being able to find a house to rest when they went back home for an ordained registration.  This situation led to birth at a manger.  And there is the plot to kill the child Jesus.  These are surely wearisome. 
    On the other hand, these could be inspirational as we reflect on the accounts.  I heard a pastor tell his congregation, “If Christ was victorious in carrying out his mission despite the troubles during his birth, we can draw motivation from here that despite troubles in our economic life, we can be victorious in our spiritual life.”
     Hearing that, my thought went back to my friend who plans to skip going back to his hometown because of fear of being greeted “Merry Christmas” and of the boss who won’t like to celebrate an office party.  Would their greeters be more understanding if they say, “Well, let’s just reflect on the spiritual side rather than deal much on the economic side.”
Before I forget, may I greet readers of the Northern Philippines times including those who would come across this in other platforms such as the paper’s blog and on facebook, friends, and kins, a very Merry Christmas.  I hope this greeting won’t be troubling for you.  I just mean how the online dictionary defines this – “ Merry Christmas (idiom) —used to wish someone an enjoyable Christmas holiday.”


The Christmas tree


March L. Fianza

Environmental awareness was probably the reason Yuletide season celebrants were prevented from using real Pine Trees as Christmas trees. In many Christian areas, they now prefer Christmas trees made of plastic. Maybe many of them are “plastic” too.
    But it makes no difference whether the tree is real or made of plastic, what is important is that the trees are set up to celebrate Christmas according to one’s wishes. Even US President Theodore Roosevelt banned the use of a real Christmas Pine Tree at the White House for environmental reasons.
    Christmas trees in 15th century Germany were traditionally decorated with apples, nuts and foods, and lighted with candles. When Thomas Edison discovered the electricity, the candles were replaced with bulbs that made the Christmas trees glow for days and nights.
    Before Christmas trees, the Chinese, Hebrews and Egyptians used evergreen trees and wreaths to symbolize eternal life. The Vikings and the pagans in Europe also practiced “tree worship”. After their conversion to Christianity, they still decked their houses with evergreens to scare away the devil, witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
    I remember my father had his own way with Christmas trees. A few days before December, he has already prepared rocks and soil in a big can. By then, he had looked around for a good size of a live Pine Tree from a group of Pine seedlings.
    My playmates at New Lucban would then get together to help dig out a young three-foot high Pine Tree growing on my grandmother’s hill that we transplant in the tin can that papa prepared. A star is placed on the tree to represent the Star of Bethlehem, and a ceramic angel to characterize Angel Gabriel.
Every morning, my father waters the tree before he leaves for work. That became our Christmas tree for the rest of the holidays until after New Year. On any morning after that, we would surprisingly find the Pine Tree replanted on the same spot where it was dug out.
    We know that my father did the replanting. Replanting Christmas Pine Trees was fun until the tradition stopped when the law prevented people from cutting trees for environmental reasons. That was also the time in Baguio or in the mountain provinces when the use of Pine Trees as Christmas trees was restricted.
    That December routine went on for many years until real Pine Trees were replaced with plastic trees. I knew that houses had Christmas trees every December and I remember that more than three of the replanted trees grew tall until these were indiscriminately cut down by squatters in 1987.
    In high school, the tree that I decorated was that of a coffee plant I found in the garden. Years later, we had a Christmas tree cut from a big branch of a wild Guava tree that grew on the hill above the house.
    There was really no need to sacrifice a young Pine Tree. A Christmas tree does not have to be big but it is better that it is a living tree that has roots and appears to be full of energy so that it can be replanted after it has served its purpose.
    Whatever, the Christmas tree is also a “tree of paradise” similar to what is commonly imagined as Eden. The tree is decorated with apples to represent the forbidden fruit that Adam and Eve shared together.
    But many 19th-century Americans were weirdos because they thought of Christmas trees as symbols of weakness when German settlers in Pennsylvania first displayed a Christmas tree in public view. This were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
    Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer was believed to have been the first to add lighted candles to a Christmas tree. Accordingly, he erected a tree in the main room and tied lighted candles to its branches.
    In the middle of the cheerful Christmas atmosphere, there are people who do not have Christmas trees. I have seen children who do not have the same privileges. I saw them peeping through the fences of neighbors partying in the garden, dreaming that someday they will also have enough food on their table.
    These days, a good number of celebrants worldwide have to be reminded that the season is a celebration of the birth of Jesus in a manger, so that parties, food and gifts are secondary.
    This scenario has been implanted erroneously in societies all over since the start of Christianity. While there is the practice that tells many that Christmas time is gift-giving time, I believe otherwise. In the first place, that should not have been because Christmas should not be leveled with the love for material things.
    I may be sounding like a misbehaving “born-again” preacher but I believe that the decent ministers have to correct misimpressions of what Christmas is all about and how the birth of Christ is celebrated.
It is disturbing enough when celebrities on TV talk shows crow about their new shiny gifts when there are countries in crisis due to natural and manmade calamities. Those gifts sometimes make me feel reduced. And the poor who watch these talk shows become even poorer.
    By the way, Covid-19 could be more transferable during family occasions. What comes next is the pain of seeing family members getting infected. It is certainly more heartbreaking when a member of the family is lost because of partying – minus the health protocols.
    The appeal is not intended to suppress the celebration, but a reminder that adjustments and sacrifices are necessary when enjoying the Yuletide season so that our love ones would still be around in a party next year. Be careful.
    The season brings back both the good and bad memories too. Good for those who recall the happiness that the season brings, and bad because we also remember our dear ones who are no longer around to celebrate with us.
    To make peace with myself, I always recall a Christmas SMS sent to me years ago. It said: There are many reasons why some good things do not last. But there is only one explanation to it – “The best is yet to come.” The message gives us hope, especially at these trying times.
    Happy anniversary Baguio Chronicle! Merry Christmas!


Duterte okays request to open Teachers Camp road/ Night market


Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Vice President and Education Sec. Sara Duterte has approved Mayor Benjamin Magalong's request to open a road here inside Teachers' Camp to private vehicles on a trial period until Jan. 20, 2023 to Ease traffic at Leonard Wood Road.
    Mayor Magalong expressed profound gratitude to the Vice President for granting the long standing request saying it would alleviate the traffic condition in the area especially during this peak tourist season.
    The scheme would allow private vehicles to pass through Teachers Camp's inner street connecting Leonard Wood Road and South Drive Road from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.
    Duterte's approval was subject to conditions that the scheme be implemented on an experimental basis until Jan. 20, 2023 subject to close police monitoring during operational hours.
    "This is to protect the safety and security of the premises as well as the motorists and pedestrians entering the area," the Vice President said.
    Baguio City Police Office Traffic Enforcement Unit Chief PMaj. Zacarias Dausen said they will coordinate with Teachers Camp for the immediate implementation of the scheme as ordered by Duterte.
He said this will help declog bottlenecks in the area such as Ilusorio Drive and Pacdal Rotunda.
    "I am filled with gratitude that VP Sara finally heard us and gave us this chance," the mayor said as he gave his marching orders for traffic authorities to make sure that the scheme will be implemented properly and without any hitches during the trial period.
The City Market Division of the City Treasury Office conducted an intensive clean-up of the parking lot at Burnham Park which houses the food section of the night market.
    Mayor Magalong directed market superintendent Ceasar Emilio to conduct general cleaning on the area following complaints of foul odor emanating from some sections.
    Emilio said they immediately conducted disinfection and flushing to thoroughly sanitize the place.      Disinfection was also conducted by the Sanitation Division team of the City Health Services Office.
    He told the food vendor leader to strictly implement waste disposal protocols to ensure proper management of both the solid and liquid waste being generated every night.
    Food vendor leader Sisinando Monderin was tasked to call a meeting with all the vendors to cascade the proper ways of disposing their wastes.
    "They were instructed to segregate their wet and dry wastes.  The wet ones should be properly wrapped to avoid leakage and left at the parking for immediate pick up by the CEPMO (City         Environment Parks and Management Office), before 5 a.m.," he said.
    The hauling of solid wastes was also adjusted to an earlier time to allow more time for cleaning.


Don’t ignore heart attack symptom while travelling


Victor Dumaguing MD

MALAGA, Spain –   Holidays –Christmas 2022 have opened the floodgates which were locked by the Covid 19 pandemic for almost two years. The WHO has somehow minimized the scare but still insists that the virus is still around with all its variants and sub variants.
    Thankfully, the virus may be more transmissible but, as per consensus of health experts, less virulent leading to a milder form of infection. Thus there is a surge of the so-called “revenge-travel” with almost everyone, from all walks of life, indulging themselves with some form of vacation or staycation or travel whether to visit relatives, attend class reunions, and homecomings or simply have a refreshing change of venue.
    Don’t ignore heart attack symptoms while travelling, keep emergency numbers at hand. That’s the main message of a study presented at Acute Cardiovascular Care a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) congress.
    Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of natural death among people who are travelling, yet, so far, the long-term outlook for those who have a heart attack while on a trip is unknown.
    “If you are travelling and experience heart attack symptoms such as pain in the chest, throat, neck, back, stomach or shoulders that lasts for more than 15 minutes, call an ambulance without delay,” said study author Dr Ryota Nishio, of the Department of Cardiology, Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital, Izunokuni, Japan.
     This observational study included 2,564 patients who had a heart attack and rapid treatment with a stent (percutaneous coronary intervention; PCI) between 1999 and 2015 at Juntendo University Shizuoka Hospital. The hospital is on the Izu peninsula, a popular tourist destination near Mount Fuji, and is the regional centre for PCI.
     The researchers compared the demographic and clinical characteristics in residents versus people travelling. Patients were followed up for 16 years and the death rates were compared between groups. Mortality data were collected from medical records, telephone contact, and postal questionnaires.
    A total of 192 patients (7.5%) were travelling at the onset of the heart attack. Patients who were travelling were younger and had a higher prevalence of ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), a serious type of heart attack in which a major artery supplying blood to the heart is blocked.
       The median follow-up period was 5.3 years. Locals had a significantly higher rate of all-cause death (25.4%) compared to non-residents (16.7%; p = 0.0015) but the rate of death from cardiac causes was comparable between groups.
    Heart attacks during a trip were associated with a 42% lower risk of long-term all-cause death than those that occurred in residents, after adjusting for age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemias, chronic kidney disease, current smoking, prior heart attack, Killip class,2 and STEMI (adjusted hazard ratio 0.58; 95% confidence interval 0.38–0.83; p = 0.0020).
    “Our study shows that long-term outcomes after a heart attack while travelling can be good if you get prompt treatment,” said Dr Nishio. “It is important that, when you are over the immediate emergency phase, and return home, you see your doctor to find out how you can reduce your risk of a second event by improving your lifestyle and potentially taking preventive medication.”
    He continued “We also found that overall, patients were more likely to die during follow-up if they were older, had prior heart attack, or had chronic kidney disease. If you fall into any of these groups or have other risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking or obesity, it is particularly important to make sure you know the emergency number at home and at any travel destination.”
    Dr Nishio noted that local patients had a higher rate of non-cardiac death, mainly due to cancer. “This may be because most non-residents were from urban areas where people tend to be more health conscious, actively seek medical advice, and have a greater choice of treatment than in remote areas like the Izu peninsula,” he said. “In addition, having a heart attack while away from home is a traumatic event that may create a lasting impression and greater health awareness when patients return home.
    Take home message is even before you plan your trip, make sure, you have a complete set of your maintenance medicines as well as meds for mild common concerns like colds, headache, allergy; the amount of which should be more than the planned duration of .travel because a lot of things might delay your return trip back home. Carry with you the instructions and prescriptions of your doctor with his/her name and address Have fun. Happy Holidays


Lito Adiwang pulls out of Malachiev bout


Carlo Quinto

Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang’s return to the ONE Championship Circle will have to wait a little longer. 
Adiwang bared that he’d have to rest further as the pain on his knees have been getting worse with three weeks to go from his supposed return bout against Masnur Malachiev at ONE Fight Night 6 set on 14 January at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand. 
    The Filipino shared that he consulted with his doctor again after feeling some pain on his knees while preparing for the bout, and he was advised to take medical attention and rest for 60 days barring any complications. 
    It’s a letdown for Adiwang, who’s so motivated to get back for his late father Crisantio. 
    “It’s heartbreaking that I have to break a promise to my father to fight this January. Also sorry to our fans and supporters who are eager and excited to watch me back in action,” Adiwang said.
    “My mind is 1,000 percent ready to go to war but suddenly, my knee is not cooperating and it’s getting worse when I try to push it hard for training. As per the advice of my doctor, I’ll give it some time to recover and continue my therapy to strengthen it.” 
    The “Thunder Kid” tore his ACL last March in his All-Filipino match against Jeremy Miado at ONE X, and then he underwent surgery to fix his knee last May. 
    From then on, Adiwang has been plotting his return, actively strengthening his knee through various rehabilitation programs, from the basic ones to more intense ones like swimming. 
    He was doing pretty much okay when he returned to full contact training, but as the fight drew near, the pain in his knee seemed to bother him more, forcing him to reconsult with his physician, and eventually drop out of the fight. 
    Still, he sees the bigger picture that the delay doesn’t mean it’s the end for his comeback. It only means that he’s taking the necessary precautions to make sure he’s in the best shape of his life in his return. 
    “It’s heartbreaking to withdraw but I need to think for the best and look at the big picture,” Adiwang said. 
    “I may not fulfil my promise this time, but this made me focus to the bigger promise that I gave to both of my parents that one day I will become a World Champion.
    “To ONE Championship, my opponent, fans and supporters, I’m sorry that I will not be able to compete this January in Bangkok but I will do my best to heal and recover as fast as I can and continue this fight. I’ll enter the Circle healthy and prepared to give the best show that I can give.”


Turning our weakness into strength


Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE secret is to assume the identity of Christ and his attitude toward all forms of human weakness and limitations. He himself assumed our human weaknesses even to the extent of making himself like sin without committing sin, if only to save us from our fatal predicament. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21)
    If we would just open ourselves to the possibility of taking that leap of faith to become like Christ who gives us all the means to be so, what may appear to us as an impossibility due to our weakness and limitations can become possible.
    We are reminded of this wonderful truth of our faith in that gospel episode where the Archangel Gabriel visited Zechariah to tell him that his aging and barren wife, Elizabeth, was going to have a baby that would turn out to be Christ’s precursor, John the Baptist. (Lk 1,5-25) Zechariah was doubtful at first that what the angel said could happen, but in the end he acceded.
    We should make St. Paul’s words, “For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Cor 12,10) also as our own, and feel reassured and consoled every time we are hounded and burdened by all sorts of difficulties and troubles, including when we are tempted and fall into sin.
    We have to know what exactly St. Paul meant by those words. What we can readily see is that he made all these predicaments a reason for him to go to Christ, to identify himself more closely with Christ who went all the way to making himself like sin without committing sin just to save us. (cfr. 2 Cor 5,21)
    We have to learn how to react to all these negative and evil elements in our life from the point of view of our Christian faith, and never just from our own estimation of things that would often lead us to be scandalized, to feel bad and discouraged, and to run away from the one who can resolve everything for us, including those problems we cannot anymore resolve.
    Our faith in God can still work and function even if we are down spiritually and morally, because it is, first of all, a gift from God who will always give it to us irrespective of how we have been behaving. We should just try our best to receive it and to correspond to it as best that we can.
    We will always have difficulties in life. They are unavoidable. They come with the limitations of our human nature and aggravated by its condition of woundedness. Usually they come as small disappointments and frustrations, little failures and setbacks we meet everyday. All of them, more or less, manageable.
    But they can also be big ones that can plunge us into deep, long-running crises of fear, anger, anxiety, hatred and despair. Cases of unsolvable predicaments, at least, humanly speaking.
    We have to be ready for them and know not only how to deal with them but also how to derive something good from them. In these instances of the hard predicaments, for example, when we seem to be at a loss as to what to do, we should just see at what God does, after we have done all things possible to solve our problems.
    We need to trust in God’s providence and mercy. We have to learn to live a spirit of abandonment in the hands of God. Yes, if we have faith in God, in his wisdom and mercy, in his unfailing love for us, we know that everything will always work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28) -- Email:




Loakan Airport flights on; folks air plight on ‘demolition’ of houses

>> Wednesday, December 28, 2022

BAGUIO CITY — Commercial flights at Loakan Airport in this mountain city are now on even as local folks aired their plight over impending demolition of their structures along the airstrip in accordance with regulations.
    Some 80 passengers and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama flew in the maiden flight of the flag carrier Philippine Airlines’ Baguio-Cebu route at past 10:30 a.m. Dec.16, reviving this city’s only airport, which had been idle for decades.
    The Turboprop plane bearing tail number RP-C5903 descended without a hitch and passengers were welcomed with cool air and Loakan community who performed tribal dances
    PAL had been flying passengers to Baguio since 1941, before World War II but ceased operations in the late 1990s.
    A PAL official said this flight from a Manila airfield started Philippine commercial aviation.
    The Cebu route is the airline’s return to this summer capital.
    Residents near Loakan Airport here are apprehensive waiting for updates from the city government regarding status of their settlements reportedly due for demolition to prevent accidents along the airport.
    Eduard Cayetano, Punong Barangay of Loakan Proper, told the city council Dec. 12 there had not been any conference yet with the city government’s anti-squatting and anti-illegal structures committee since 2020.
    In January 2020, around 180 owners of structures reportedly situated within the buffer zone were issued notices of violation pursuant to Mayor Benjamin Magalong’s call for an investigation on the said buildings and houses.
    This was in preparation for the opening of the airport to commercial operations.
    Magalong directed Baguio chief Col. Francisco Bulwayan Jr. last week to assist the Loakan Airport Security committee during temporary closure of the national highway at the end of runway 27 to ensure safety during flight arrival and departure.
    The mayor Dec. 19 approved the request of Loakan Airport Manager Rosito Tamayo for deployment of personnel from BCPO Station 4 to augment the team from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and Philippine National Police Aviation Security Group in manning intermittent closure of the highway.
    Tamayo told the mayor they needed police assistance since the national road, located at the end of runway 27 or the road leading to the Philippine Military Academy, is outside the airport perimeter.
    He said closure will only take a few minutes each time.
    Magalong said the city government will pursue its plan to construct a new road to serve residents and motorists affected by closure of the Loakan airport runway.
     “We need to do it as the permanent solution to the access problem in the area,” he said.
    He said coordination is now being made with the Dept. of Public Works and Highways and other agencies on the technical and financial aspects of the proposed project.
    However, initial findings on the lot being eyed for the road showed portions owned by private individuals and not solely owned by the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) as initially presumed.
     “Unfortunately, we need to resolve issues on privately owned lots along with the additional funding required to get it done.  The additional funding was not included in our 2023 budget so it may be worked out by 2024,” he said.
     The mayor said arrangements are being made with the CAAP through Tamayo in working out ways to provide residents temporary access while ensuring safety of aircrafts and crewmen using the runway.
    “What is important is to stop the indiscriminate use of the runway to prevent hazards that may compromise the safety of the passengers, airport personnel and the aircrafts,” the mayor said.  – With reports from Aileen P. Refuerzo  


P5-B Baguio- La Trinidad road at Balili River pushed

To ease traffic, lessen pollution 

BAGUIO CITY – City officials here supported resolution 25, series of 2020, of the municipal council of nearby La Trinidad town that requested concerned offices of the national government to provide around P5 billion for construction of the La Trinidad-Baguio bypass road or bridge along Balili River located within the capital town of Benguet.
    City council resolution 564, series of 2022 said construction of the multi-billion bypass road or bridge from La Trinidad to Baguio city would not only greatly lessen traffic congestion affecting both localities but also contribute in lessening air pollution.           
    Earlier, the Association of Municipal Mayor and Barangay Captains of the Philippines, Inc. (AMMBCP) urged the local government for issuance of a manifestation of support for the implementation of the project construction of the La Trinidad-Baguio bypass road or bridge along Balili River.
    The council said Baguio and La Trinidad are 6 km apart and both experience heavy traffic daily due to huge volume of motor vehicles traversing roads going to both localities taking several hours of travel time instead of a matter of a few minutes.
    According to the body, the inconvenience caused by the daily heavy traffic has become unbearable to residents of both local governments and aggravates air pollution in both localities, thus the need to provide alternative routes to decongest traffic and reduce air pollution in both localities.


Ilagan stude dies in crash

ILAGAN CITY, Isabela — A 23-year-old student died Dec. 18, after his motorcycle collided with another motorcycle in Barangay Fugu in this city, police said Monday.
    LT. Reggie Bulan, Ilagan police-community relations chief, identified the victim as Noel Dumaya, of Barangay Cabiseria 10-San Antonio, also in this city.
    An initial investigation showed that Dumaya was on his way home when the motorcycle driven by Jomel Crisostomo, 19, hit him while the latter was trying to overtake a car.
    Dumaya suffered severe injuries and was taken to Faustino Dy Sr. Memorial Hospital in this city but was declared dead on arrival.
    Crisostomo would be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, the police said.


8 illegal shanties along Camp 9 watershed ordered demolished

By Aileen P. Refuerzo

BAGUIO CITY -- Nine illegal shanties have been spotted and ordered torn down at Camp 8 watershed here along Kennon Road.
    Mayor Benjamin Magalong bared this on Dec. 17 saying the City Buildings and Architecture Office and the City Environment and Parks Management Office inspected the site.
    City Building Official architect Johnny Degay said they issued notice of violation of the National Building Code while CEPMO under lawyer Rhenan Diwas called them out for transgression of the Environment Code.
    The mayor said upon latest inspection, four shanties had been voluntarily dismantled while the remaining ones are being subjected to follow through operations.
    The city's watersheds had been under constant threat of intrusion by land speculators resulting to dwindling of forest covers which threatens the city's potable water supply and carbon sink resource.
    "Their protection from further denudation and human intrusion is paramount since they are our ecological lifelines. Please help us protect our watershed by immediately reporting illegal constructions," the mayor said.


CHR says cyberlibel used to suppress press freedom

Baguio journalist’s conviction 

EXPRESSING concern on how cyberlibel has been used to suppress press freedom, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said the conviction of a Baguio City-based journalist is the most recent case of a pattern of legal actions targeting critics of the government.
    Journalist Frank Cimatu was convicted of cyberlibel over charges filed by former Agriculture secretary Emmanuel "Manny" PiƱol in 2017, for a reportedly libelous Facebook post in connection with the avian flu crisis.
    In a statement, the CHR also expressed concern about how cyberlibel has been used to threaten the right to free expression. It reminded the Philippine government that as a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it must protect the people's rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
    "When these rights are compromised, especially for journalists and critics, the government also cripples one of its informal feedback mechanisms that serve to inform and improve government policies and decisions," the CHR said.
    The CHR also urged legislators to process Senate Bill (SB) 1593, which seeks to decriminalize libel. It agrees that "libel laws have been used and abused by private parties to advance their various interests, and by public personalities to shield themselves from public scrutiny, even on matters of public concern."


Why Bontoc PNP camp is Camp Montes

By Roger Sacayaten

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Ever wondered why the Philippine National Police headquarters here was named Camp Montes?
    Some 30 representatives from the tourism stakeholders such as tour operators, tour guides, the academe, historians, and local enthusiasts motored to this capital town to visit Camp Geronimo F. Montes last Dec. 20 as part of historical journey to military compounds named World War II heroes with markers in the Cordillera.
    They were oriented on the activity sponsored by the Dept. of Tourism, Cordillera Administrative Region, to bring awareness to tourism stakeholders on the World War II heroic patriotism and military exploits of local heroes whom the military installations were named after.
    In a message by Karlo Altomonte, journey coordinator, he said participants of the historical journey came from Bessang Pass then came here to Camp Montes.
    This journey is to venture into other places depicting heroism of individuals during the World War II and the Hispanic period.
    For his welcome remarks, Lt. Col. Crisanto P. Sadino thanked the DOT-CAR and the group for including Camp Montes in the Cordillera World War II historical journey brings pride to the community and the province.
    Lt. Geronimo Montes was the fourth of the children of Kepkep-as and Agkopa, both of one name, from Samoki and born sometime in 1901. He was baptized by the Belgian Missionaries with the surname “Montes” that means “living in the mountains”.
    He entered military service as a private in the Philippine Scout and rose from the ranks, assigned from places until he was designated as 1st Lieutenant and became commanding officer of the “B” company of the of thew 11th Infantry, USAFFE.
    At dawn of June 4, 1945, he led his men in opposing the entry of Japanese soldiers heading towards Tocucan and Kalinga in a war at sitio Wakalan, just a kilometer from Bontoc which was the Japanese Army’s depot of machine guns and other heavy weapons.
    His men he fought with described him as an officer and a gentleman: “He had an extra-ordinary valor and gallantry; he possessed an unequalled loyalty to the Armed Forces where he belonged and he had a deep abiding love towards his country and people”
    For his bravery and sacrifice, he was posthumously awarded the “Purple Heart” from the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
    In May 15, 2013, Republic Act No. 10534, authored by Congressman Maximo B. Dalog, Sr and signed into law by President Benigno Aquino, entitled: “An Act naming the Mountain Province Police Provincial Office in the capital town of Bontoc, Mountain Province to Camp Lt. Geronimo F. Montes”.
    It is expected that after this initial historical journey, Camp Montes will be an added tourist destination in the province.
    Provincial Administrator Franklin Odsey, in his message, thanked the group for the visit and expressed hope that historical tourism that include Camp Montes be included in the advocacy and promotions of the Department of Tourism.
    Meanwhile, the Battles of Kussad and Angwood, both in Lias, Barlig which bear the marker of the National Historical Institute and the newly installed Camp Acmor in Paracelis will be the next destinations to be visited in the future.


Baguio, Benguet power charges down -- Beneco

 BAGUIO CITY – The Benguet Electric Cooperative’s monthly rate for December has decreased compared to last month -- a timely Christmas gift to member-consumer-owners.
    From P10.4744 per kilowatt hour residential rate in November, Beneco's residential rate for December dropped to P10.4698/kwh or P0.0046/kwh less than previous billing rate.
    Beneco general manager engineer Melchor Licoben said among factors that caused drop in power rates were decrease in generation and systems loss charges and temporary suspension of feed-in tariff allowance for the next three months.
    Beneco's current systems loss charge of P0.7076/kwh is P0.0167/kwh lower compared to the November systems loss charge of P0.7243/kwh.
    The P0.0364/kwh feed-in tariff was also temporarily suspended starting in December.
    Beneco's commercial high voltage rate of P8.1702/kwh this December was P0.0455/kwh lower than November's P8.2157/kwh rate.
    For public building high voltage charges, Beneco's December rate of P8.1424/kwh was P0.0455/kwh lower compared to last month's P8.1879/kwh.
But commercial low voltage, industrial, public building low voltage and streetlight charges increased in  December billing period compared to charges last month.
For commercial low voltage charge, the December rate of P9.7622/kwh was higher by P0.0110/kwh compared to the P9.7511/kwh in November.


P’sinan cop held for firing gun

By Hilda Austria 

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan –A police sergeant was arrested Dec. 18 for firing his gun indiscriminately in Mangatarem town.
    Chief Master Sergeant Raul Cayabyab, a resident of Barangay Olo Cafabrosan, Mangatarem, is now facing criminal and administrative charges for firing his gun multiple times at the JK Resort in nearby Barangay Caviernesan.
    Mangatarem Police recovered 42 pieces of fired cartridge cases at the scene; and a nine-millimeter Glock generation 4 gun was seized from Cayabyab.
    Meanwhile, Pangasinan police director, Col. Jeff Fanged, on Monday reiterated his warning against erring cops, including those who will engage in indiscriminate firing, especially this holiday season.
    Fanged said he would not tolerate any illegal acts of his fellow cops.
    “We will arrest erring cops even if they are part of our organization. The Philippine National Police (PNP) is relentless in its internal cleansing efforts to rid of scalawags and misfits in the organization,” he said. -- PNA


Extension of newsstands, watch shops pushed

BAGUIO CITY -- City officials requested the City Mayor’s Office to extend validity of the agreement entered into by the Permits and Licensing Division–City Mayor’s Office and the newspaper stand vendors and watch repair proprietors from January to June 2023 or until such time that the City Planning and Development Office has come up with relocation area for them.
    Under resolution 637, 2022, concerned stakeholders of the local newspaper industry appeared before the citizen’s forum of the City Council Dec 12 and appealed to the city council to allow newspaper stand vendors and watch repair proprietors continue vending at their current locations until such time that concrete plans and arrangements for them are realized.
    Earlier, the city council adapted several resolutions in relation to the agreement between the Permits and Licensing Division–    City Mayor’s Office with newspaper stand vendors and watch repair proprietors on sidewalks of the city to give them ample time to comply with the 0.6-meter setback from the sidewalks or to find a relocation place before the implementation of Dept. of Interior and Local government memorandum circular 2020-145.
    Resolution 330, series of 2021 also requested the City Mayor’s Office to extend validity of the agreement entered into by the Permits and Licensing Division – City Mayor’s Office and newspaper stand vendors and watch repair proprietors from July to December 2021 or until such time that the City Planning and Development Office has come up with concrete plans and arrangements for their relocation site.
    Another resolution earlier requested the City Mayor’s Office until April to June 2022 the validity of the agreement.
This was extended until this month of December. 


Cordi PNP chief warns cops: Don’t solicit, receive gifts

CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet -- Regional police director Brig. Gen. Mafelino A. Bazar warned cops to refrain from soliciting and accepting gifts during this holiday season.
     “Pinapaalalahanan ko yung mga tauhan natin na huwag na sila mag-solicit at huwag tatanggap ng anumang regalo lalo na kung ito ay makakaapekto sa pagbibigay nila ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan,” Bazar said in a statement.
    “Mabuti man ang inyong intensyon, kapag nag-solicit kayo maaring ma-interpret ito ng ibang tao na mali o masama na magdudulot naman sa pagkakasira ng ating pangalan bilang isang organisasyon” he added. 
    Bazar urged the public to avoid giving gifts to the police even if it is a sign of their appreciation.
     “Sa ating mga kababayan iwasan po natin na magbigay ng regalo sa ating mga kapulisan dahil natanggap na po nila ang kanilang year-end bonus at iba pang cash incentives, sapat na po iyon,” he added. 
    Bazar warned said any police officer found to be engaged in solicitation for the holiday season would face administrative and criminal charges under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
    Section 3 of RA 6713 prohibits public officials including elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the career or non-career service, to include military and police personnel, whether or not they receive compensation, regardless of amount from soliciting or accepting gifts, favors, loans or anything of monetary value in the course of their official duties.
    He said government workers should not to accept gifts nor solicit for items to be raffled during Christmas party or holiday celebration.
    The regional police director commended police officers who opted to share their blessings by giving back to the community.
     “May mga reports din naman ako na narereceive na yung mga kapulisan natin dito sa Cordillera noong nareceive nila yung mga bonus nila eh nag-initiate sila ng mga community outreach, may mga classes din na nagcelebrate ng anniversary sa pamamagitan ng pagtulong sa ating mga kababayan,” Bazar added.


Baguio lodging scamming cases up; tourist warned

By Liza Agoot 

BAGUIO CITY – The city government reminded tourists anew to book their stay only from accredited accommodation establishments as cases of scamming rose.
    This came as the city released a list of accredited lodging establishments for visitors to choose from.
    “The city government and the Cordillera office of the tourism department started accrediting accommodation establishments in the city to ensure these businesses conform with the standards of accommodation establishments,” said     Aileen Refuerzo, chief city information officer, in a phone interview Wednesday.
    She said visitors are urged to validate legitimacy of the operation of the accommodation establishment they intend to stay in when visiting the city to prevent being victimized by booking scammers and to guarantee that establishments practice the industry standards for accommodations.
    Refuerzo said there are more than 1,600 accredited accommodation establishments and the city government continues to give accreditation for their inclusion in the list of facilities operating in the city.
    The city tourism office had earlier reported complaints from tourists who were victimized by persons presenting themselves to be connected with establishments and can facilitate the booking for the accommodation who later turned out to be bogus and can no longer be contacted upon receipt of down payments.
    Others promise to provide amenities but turn out to be inexistent upon the arrival of the tourists, giving the visitors a problem, especially their parking needs.
    Aloysius Mapalo, City Tourism Operations Officer, said at least 70 percent of the accredited establishments are serviced by residential units that can accommodate groups or families.
    “We encourage the visitors to visit the city’s online visitors information and travel assistance site to validate whether or not their intended accommodation establishment is duly accredited to assure their safety and convenience while in the city," he added.
    Mapalo had earlier said they have been informed by the big hotels and accommodation establishments that they have full bookings for the holiday season.
    The officer said the 'Visita app' can also be accessed by the public round-the-clock for assistance if only to avoid transacting with any person they see on social media for their needs.
    “We need to protect our tourists and we will assist them if they ask us,” he said.
    The city had been experiencing a spike in tourist arrivals since it opened a few months back as can be shown by the traffic congestion.
    Mapalo said an average of 25,000 to 40,000 tourists arrive in the city every week. --PNA


LGUs told: Synchronize road violation records with DOTr

ROAD VIOLATIONS -- The Dept. of Transportation-Land Transportation Office in Cordillera is urging local government units to synchronize their record on transportation and road regulation violations with the department to educate drivers on the importance of following road rules and laws. Here, DOTr LTO-CAR regional director Francis Rae Almora says even minor violations will be reflected in the system and will be basis for penalty or denial of renewal of driver’s license. (PNA photo courtesy of Romeo Gonzales)

By Liza Agoot 

BAGUIO CITY – The Dept. of Transportation in the Cordillera Administrative Region urged local government units to synchronize their record on transportation and road regulation violations with the department to help educate the drivers on the importance of following road rules and laws. 
    “Kapag naka synchronize kasi ang apprehension report nila sa LTO (Land Transportation Office), makikita nila ang violation nila kapag nag renew sila ng lisensiya at baka kailanganin na mag-undergo sila ng seminar bago makakuha ng lisensiya (if records are synchronized with the LTO, they will see their violations when they renew their license which may require a seminar before they can renew their driver’s license),” said Francis Rae Almora, officer-in-charge of DOTr-CAR and regional director of the LTO-CAR, in an interview on Wednesday. 
    Almora underscored the importance of compliance with road rules and laws as drivers and motor vehicle owners are not just penalized with fines for violations but will be required to undergo a seminar if the person reaches demerit points that bar him outright license renewal. 
    He said road crashes and rages happen as some drivers ignore road rules and laws. 
    “This is more of information education for the public. If they know that their violation is being recorded hopefully, they will be very cautious and will not violate,” he said. 
    Almora said the LTO has limited personnel to implement traffic laws and regulations but LGUs and police assigned in the localities have more personnel allowing them to check on violations and be recorded with the LTO. 
    The DOTr-LTO issued new guidelines before a driver can be issued a license that is valid for 10 years. 
     “If they don’t have violations, they get (license with) 10 years validity. If a violation is recorded even if they are committed and apprehended by the local enforcers, then it forms part of the records, giving them a lesson to not repeat a violation,” he added. -- PNA


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