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Sunday, 17 May 2015 05:32

WHAT TO DO WITH CHINA?

 

 

I talked on the phone last Saturday with Zambales Gov. Hermogenes " Jun" Ebdane who was a colleague in the Arroyo Cabinet. He has set up a high-tech coastal watch monitoring system in his province, in cooperation with a Canadian firm, to spot foreign vessels intruding into his provincial territorial limits. .  This is clearly aimed at China which has started shooing away Zambales fishermen from the Panatag or Scarborough shoals, around only 230 kilometers from Masinloc town. What the Philippine government intends to do if China indeed intrudes into our claimed territorial waters, I have no idea as yet.  Over the weekend, a team of foreign journalists visited Masinloc as part of their study tour on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issues. They belong to various international news organizations as Jefferson Fellows under the auspices of the East West Center based in Honolulu, Hawaii and skippered in their Philippine trip by EWC's Ms. Ann Hartman.

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WATER CANNONED -- I missed joining the team of journalists on their Zambales visit as they came right smack into the annual media forum of the Philippine Press Institute that I had to host, PPI also being the local partner of the Fellows' visit.  Fortunately, my long-time "girl Friday" Charmaine Olea joined in my behalf and she reported how Masinloc fishermen aired their anger at losing their livelihood. This was the group of fishermen who were driven away from their usual fishing grounds by the Chinese using water cannons. They were terribly missing the protective presence of the US bases, according to "Cha", and they (including the local LGUs) seemed not in the loop on what Malacanang is doing. I suspect Gov. Jun being not with the Liberal Party is the reason why.

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CHINA -- The way things are shaping up and if things are not properly handled,  our country is on a collision course with  China in our territorial dispute.  I remember having a chat sometime ago with the previous Chinese lady Ambassador Ma. She was stressing a more effective way of settling issues among  neighbors, the Asian way. Although we need to go to an international body like the United Nations to seek redress on a multilateral basis,  we ought to have opened up also  a parallel, backchannel route on a bilateral basis. President Ramos again called for "back-channel" direct contacts.  Why this was not done up to now, I still cannot understand.    Fact is, we cannot go to war with other countries, much more  with China. Lest we all forget: we all  have Chinese blood in our veins.  And yes, sorry to say, we are no match to China militarily.

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PAPAL MAGIC -- I read a report earlier this week  that Cuban President Raul Castro, a communist and brother of famous Fidel Castro, after meeting with Pope Francis, said that  that he was "returning" to the Catholic Church. Cuba although a next door neighbor of the US has been an "enemy" of the US for half a century. It was through the recent  facilitation and assistance of the Pope that  both  countries resumed diplomatic relations. As a result  the 50-year economic blockade of Cuba that practically isolated it to the world, was lifted  by the US. Papal magic at work.

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"HAVING STOMACH" -- Elections  is just 12 months away.  The rigor and the heavy burden  that  a candidate and an elected official for public office must  experience  to win -- and then serve if elected --  are principally the reasons why only a few good men, who "have the stomach" venture into politics. Yes, there are blessings in many forms but, take it from me,  there's "life after politics".  When public officials refuse to dismount or they consider politics as a lifetime career or claim it as their own birthright or consider themselves (or their kin) as God's gifts to mankind, that's where the problem lies. I've been there before, folks. So I know!

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BANGSAMORO --- The crucial vote on the BBL in Congress, both in the House and in the Senate and its final fate will be known in due time. Congress is  bent on removing some provisions that were subject, I am sure,  to intense negotiations over the years. Mind you, during my time as peace negotiator,  even a word or  a comma, could be a serious bone of contention.  I now  worry that  the milestones that both government and  MILF achieved will be put to naught in one single  sweep when the final version is passed. This is a repeat of Congress "writing its own peace agreement" as what Misuari's faction complained about before. In fact, up to now, MNLF still complains  about the alleged  non-implementation of the original Tripoli Agreement signed in 1976 during Marcos time.

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NO MORE WAR ?-- Fast forward today. While Congress now  talks of major revisions, MILF keeps saying that they will not accept a "watered-down" BBL.  But at the same time,  MILF hurriedly says they will not go back to war again. To me, this sounds more like an early warning  that while MILF may not accept Congress' own version,  they will still continue their struggle through peace negotiations to get their "non-negotiable"  concessions at another time, perhaps beyond the Aquino administration.  Of course, the so-called "rogue elements", the BIFF and other armed groups that MILF disclaims links with,  will do their own thing.    Anyway, things will come to a  head soon.  Whatever is the  final outcome of all this,  the fact remains that the work for peace is a never-ending journey.

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JOURNALISM AWARDS -- The Philippine Press Institute this week honored the winners of the annual 2014 Civic Community Journalism Press Awards during appropriate ceremonies at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.  They are: Bohol Chronicle, Baguio Midland Courier, Baguio Chronicle, Cebu Daily News, Sun Star Davao, Edge Davao, Sun Star Cebu, Mindanao Cross and Business Week Mindanao. Congratulations!

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Sunday, 10 May 2015 05:48

WHY I HAVE AMERICAN BLOOD IN MY VEINS



By Jesus "Jess" Dureza

A few days ago, I got reminded, during a recent clan reunion in my late father Martin's hometown JANIUAY in Iloilo, that I have American blood in my veins.  I was one year old and born in another Iloilo town GUIMBAL when our family migrated down south to Davao where I grew up and have taken permanent residence since then up to now.  I am a Dabawenyo but an Ilongo forever. Going back to the family "memory lane" and meeting seldom-seen relatives are always a source of unending joy.  It's reconnecting with the past that we never lived but only heard about, that's valuable.

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FAMILY STORY -- Last Saturday, on our way to the venue of the Dureza clan reunion, we were passing through an old bridge being re-constructed, in entering the town when someone told us that the old, concrete turret or structure with openings for gun implacements at the foot of the bridge was where our late father, Martin, Sr. almost died during the war years when he was still a teenager.

Hearing that, we all immediately jumped out of the vehicle! Ah so this is what our father always told us about when we would sit by his side and he would regale us with his exploits as a young boy.

Here's his story.  He was a teenager when Japanese occupation soldiers barged into their nipa hut, roused them up in the dead of the night and rounded up all males in the neighborhood. His father (our grandfather) was among those taken. Luckily our father Martin jumped out of the window and escaped. The following day, at daybreak, word got around that the men taken the previous night were all beheaded by the Japs. At nightfall, his family recovered his father's headless body using a carabao-drawn sled. The young Martin, with revenge in his heart did not return home and volunteered to join the local guerillas and in no time, he earned the local reputation of being a Japanese hunter-killer. He volunteered to be in the front lines during raids. One important mission for him one fateful day was to clear the bridge of the armed sentry guard to allow a guerilla dawn entry into town by   silently killing without firing a shot the Jap soldier manning the gun turret. He volunteered, climbed the wall and engaged the Jap sentry. It was mission accomplished. But before the Jap gave his last gasp, he was able to thrust his bayonet at Martin who fell to the ground below mortally wounded. He however survived after months of treatment at an American hospital where it was said that he was saved because of the transfusion of American blood.  Were it not for the massive transfusion, he would have died. (All 8 of us Dureza siblings would not have been around today.) Truth to tell, up to this day, I never stopped believing I   have American blood in our veins -- but still wondering why we don't have the American GI looks! (Lol)

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CONNECTED -- Being "connected" nowadays is a given. The cyberspace age makes this a normal "must do” with all the devices like phones, computers, IPADs, tablets, etc. While many of us consider this advance technology as breakthroughs, there are downsides to consider.

 

CLONING -- I remember what a young, school-aged scion grandson of tycoon Henry Sy, Sr. told me while we were on a private plane enroute to General Santos City sometime ago to visit the SM mall there.  He was on summer break from schooling abroad and accompanied his father Hans, Sr. to an inspection trip. I was surprised at his thoughts when we started talking about how the world advanced. He said that modern technology is both good and bad. The downside, according to him, has something to do with creating a clone of your private self and storing it in your phone or device. The privacy risk is allowing others to gain access to your innermost self or your complete persona given that there is yet no foolproof security shield discovered by modern science to completely guard against such access. That's the reason why if one is separated from that phone or device, you either feel incomplete or insecure. You created your own clone for the outside world to see or pry into.  This is one thing about being "connected” we should take into account.

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" NETWORK" -- In last Sunday's homily, I heard a priest- celebrant at the Greenbelt Chapel in Makati an interesting thought that is worth sharing. He said that in today's cyber-age, everyone is  "connected" by phones, the computer, in the  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. He noted how we become so distressed or feel incomplete if we suddenly discover that our cell phone is lost or nowhere to be found. Or when the Internet or network is lost.   When the "network signal"  is lost or gone, we all become disconnected. Even the most expensive phone or most modern computer is  less useful if it is not connected to a network.

The priest intoned: If we all want to be always connected with one another and feel complete, let God be our "network". God is the uninterruptible "wi-fi".   Good thoughts.

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