Monday, March 22, 2010

MY CHOICES: May the Best Men & Women Win

I WILL AGAIN exercise my right of suffrage come May 10, 2010. This is the first time that the Commission on Elections will implement an automated counting system. This is my first time to make public my choices and THIS IS NOT a template for which to base your votes ad verbatim. Mind your own list.

This early (or at this late date), I have finally made up my mind after a long and thorough study and recollection of whom to vote for the best possible people to lead and govern my city and my country.

My preference varies and will not toe the line of party dominance or of popularity but hinged on a standard and values entirely on my own conception and design. I am pseudo-liberal and my political strata varies from left-of-center to ultra right.

I am a bona fide resident of Cebu City and, where I live, belonged to the North District. There are only two credible political party slugging it out for slots in the city council (which has eight), the vice mayorship, the mayorship and the district representative of the north.

Of course, the incumbent has the edge for their achievements are the benchmark. The Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) political party have endeared to me, partly because the outgoing mayor – Tomas Osmeña – have made Cebu at par (if not, better) with Metro Manila. Partly because of personal and sentimental reasons.

Sounds biased? No and no. The IT factor is heavy on BO-PK. However, two guys from Kugi Uswag Kusug (KUSUG) and one independent made it to my list for city councilors while a KUSUG lady convinced me with her education, achievement and experience that she is better than her rival in a seat for the House of Congress. Wanna see?


          1. Andales, Sisinio (BO-PK)

          2. Arcilla, Alvin (BO-PK)

          3. Cabrera, Ma. Nida (BO-PK)

          4. Fernan, Danilo (KUSUG)

          5. Garganera, Joel (KUSUG)

          6. Japson, Lea (BO-PK)

          7. Labella, Edgardo (BO-PK)

          8. Rupinta, Felicisimo (Independent)

VICE MAYOR: Young, Joy Augustus (BO-PK)

MAYOR: Rama, Michael (BO-PK)

NORTH DISTRICT REP: de los Santos, Mary Ann (KUSUG)

Sorry Hon. Raul del Mar, your daughter Cutie doesn't have the IT to represent the North District and continue your good works. You degrade yourself by painting government buses used by northern barangays with you and your daughter's name and face and lending the phrase “Serbisyo del Mar” as if your constituents owe you for providing them these buses which is not your money, in the first place, spent to buy those.

To think that all your constituents might be that dumb when you could not find even one deserving party mate to replace you except your own daughter, of all people. How paternal and traditional. Yes something like a TRAPO does. What a legacy to leave behind.


Now for the national scene. There are 187 PARTY LISTS out there (as of last count) and I'm sure these marginalized groups are worthy of your vote. Chose well and study every group's aims and advocacy. They vary according to its purpose.

I have a soft spot though for tribal communities and I have seen their children deprived of the basic amenities like education and shelter. Besides they have to walk one to three hours in the jungle trails just to learn and I just hope this time they will have someone from their kind to represent them and gave them a voice.


I will chose and vote ONLY ONE from among the above list.


In the battle for 12 slots in the House of Senate, I would very much like to place at the top of my list fellow Cebuanos. Then those senatoriables coming from the rest of the Visayas and Mindanao are considered before I work on the rest. Below is the trend I would like to happen.


          1. Osmeña, Lito (Independent)

          2. Osmeña, Serge (Independent)

          3. Maambong, Regalado (KBL)

          4. Defensor-Santiago, Miriam (PRP)

          5. Tamano, Adel (NP)

          6. Cayetano, Pia (NP)

          7. Tatad, Francisco (GAD/Gabaybayan)

          8. Enrile, Juan Ponce (PMP)

          9. Hontiveros-Baraquel, Risa (LP)

          10. Ople, Susan (NP)

          11. Querubin, Ariel (NP)

          12. Ocampo, Satur (BMP)

Why blend leftists and an ultra-rightist to the mainstream? Simply, because I want a better Senate representation from all sides of the political arch than just be dominated by these same elite and traditional politicians that does nothing but make the Senate a half-way house for half-cooked pirates and dim-wit nags who called themselves “honorable”.


The vice-presidency is an honorable office that have been regarded at one time as a staging ground to usurp the presidency by that second sequel of People Power. However, it has regained some of its lost glory (as a silent bridesmaid) courtesy of the incumbent – Mr. Noli de Castro.

The present cast of vice-presidentiables are a hoary lot. Three are too noisy and too vindictive, another one is too TRAPO and the rest are feeling their way in their dark shades. Of course, I need someone who is not a traditional politican and who could fit well as a silent bridesmaid but could not be dictated by a mere presidential staff.

I have one in mind:

VICE PRESIDENT: Yasay, Perfecto Jr. (BMP)


Six years is a long time to experience a bad president and I would not want that. Would you? There are five heavyweights and four lightweights in the presidential race. Let's start with the lightweights.

JC de Veyra of Ang Kapatiran is a child playing in a game purely designed for matured men, except one. Though endorsed by six archbishops of the Roman Catholic Church, he knows he does not have a chance of winning this lofty position and you don't have to be a rocket scientist why is it so.

Nicanor Perlas, an independent, is my original choice before with his non-traditional platform and for espousing green politics. But I have changed course since then when I became convinced that he has not an iota of a chance to pummel his way via an upset. Not in 2010. Needs more exposure though.

Jamby Madrigal is a sitting senator running as an independent and I think she should concentrate more as a housewife and a soon-to-be mother than by just chasing another candidate as the highlight of her platform of governance.

I remembered after the 2004 polls when Bro. Eddie Villanueva cried foul after being “cheated” saying God anointed him to become the next President of the Republic of the Philippines. This electoral process is quite interesting don't you think?

Honestly, I never voted for Joseph Estrada in 1998, much more so this May. He had his chance then and he blew it. I am just wondering why a convicted felon is allowed to run in the elections? Only in the Philippines.

Richard Gordon is a doer and his candidacy is a fresh wisp of breathing air to a stale market populated by old traditional parties of whose tentacles lived off on a society of corruption, patronage politics and violence. A good choice but rather “Hitlerian” in style which tend to divide a nation instead of healing it.

Noynoy Aquino's candidacy is anchored on the death of her mother. Nothing else. It may start like a wildfire - big and threatening - but peters out at the last stretch as everyone became wise. Trend setting. Credit that to his handlers. Personally, I don't think he has the skill and the depth to run a country if you base his forgettable 9-year stint in congress and another six ho-hum years in the senate. He could not even lick his aversion to smoking. Basically, he is just a child trapped inside a man's body.

Naliligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?” (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?) This line from Manny Villar's campaign jingle caught everybody by surprise and endeared himself to the masses. It projected himself to be one with them. Which is true, perhaps. On the heels of a corruption headline he caught up and tied with another candidate in the surveys which got the ire of the latter. However, he invited suspicions of how he would recoup his campaign expenditures once he gets elected.

Many people say, an endorsement from the most hated person today – Madame President – is a kiss of death. That is only an innuendo thrown by skeptics to Gibo Teodoro's candidacy. For the record, Gibo was never a member of long standing with the dominant party LAKAS-KAMPI and was only thrown into the seat because many believed he has the IT to run a country judging by his intelligence, integrity, competence and depth while he was serving three terms in congress and as Secretary of National Defense. His is a darkhorse challenge and he remains a darkhorse with full of optimism.

I always love a darkhorse. I don't know, maybe I can see things that other people don't. We're talking of substance here. I do believe that Gibo is the best man to whom we start to rally ourselves, and this nation, to respectability and recovery.

PRESIDENT: Teodoro, Gilbert Jr. (LAKAS-KAMPI)


One last thing, isn't six years too short for a good president to serve?

Document done in OpenOffice 3.1 Writer

Monday, March 15, 2010


THERE IS A PROMISE of a hot day today, October 4, 2009, as me and my guest, Wil Rhys Davies aka CochiseRattlesnake, walked the concrete-and-asphalt road at 8:15 AM from Guadalupe to Napo. Will is a Welsh national who opted to live here in Cebu and put up an adventure-tour business – Jungle Wild Adventure, Inc. He had been living in Banilad since February and we crossed paths at the Tap Room of the Gustavian Restaurant on September 29 after he surfed and contacted me in the Internet in my dormant MyOpera blog and in my very active Blogger account.

We reached Napo at nine and crossed the first river crossing. Wil liked the idea of crossing streams stepping on stones placed across its width. “Only in the jungles will you find these”, he said and I surely agree with that. We both laughed. He is a good-natured guy and willing to take the risk of walking behind me along a trail that followed the bends and turns of the Sapangdaku River. He slowly learned a few Cebuano words of greeting from me and he waved and smiled as we meet locals going the other way. As we walked, I showed to him plants and fruit trees that are very useful for survival.

We rested after we made the second river crossing and Wil was sweating all over and was dripping with it – literally! His bush shirt and long walking pants were a mass of brine-soaked fabric and he kept wiping his face with a handkerchief. I drank from a nearby spring and filled my water bottle then we started to climb a trail passing along a small flower farm and into an upland community where we took another rest. It is so hot and I had been breathing hard. The shade from a mango tree where we sat is most welcome.

After a lengthy conversation, we left the place and climbed again passing a trail lined by ancient mango trees. This is mango country and their sweet yellow fruits have made Cebu famous internationally. I let him know that and he smiled. Along the way, we meet a couple with their little son clearing the trail of its already thick vegetation. Will gave away his new bolo to the husband who appreciated very much the gift. We climbed on until we reached the house of my young friend, Manwel Roble.

Jucel, Manwel's 3-year old brother, jumped up and down upon seeing me and I brought out my token of bread and gave it to him and he vanished inside his house giggling as he ate. That fattened my heart and Will appreciated very much my generosity to the kids. As we sat on the bamboo benches, I showed to him my home-made three-bladed dagger, my white-steeled Mantrack little machete and my tomahawk, the shaft of which I made and carved with my own hands.

Afterwards, Manwel arrived with four young coconuts and I helped him open the bottom end of the fruit with my own blade. God, it was sweet and Wil helped himself with his share of the coconuts. Well rested and fully nourished by the nutritious fruit, we climbed again at eleven going by way of the Babag East Ridge Pass. It is almost noon and the sun shone its hottest over this part of the globe and upon us and, soon enough, I struggled to keep my pace and gulped air as fast as I could exhale them.

I rested often feeling the heaviness of the load I carried. I looked over my shoulder and Wil seem to be not bothered a bit by the heat and the exertions. Saw him wipe his face, time and again, with his handkerchief and wring it and, besides that, he is uncomplaining. A true outdoorsman in the purest sense of the word. Slowly, we were able to reach Babag Ridge and rested at a store. We both drank soda drinks and I ate my hamburger lunch. Wil did not, the coconuts might have been enough for him.

After a half-hour of siesta, we started going downhill via Kahugan Trail. Retracing partly a trail where we had passed before, we came into a slippery slope along a forest of madre de cacao trees. Will was able to hold his balance well and both of us went through unscathed until we reached the community chapel and rested. It was in this interlude that Wil caught a good subject for his photo collection – an 81-year old woman carrying a heavy basket balanced on her head while smoking a home-made tobacco.

Satisfied with the picture shot, Wil took the lead in going down to the river crossing and greeted everybody he met on the trail until we reached Napo. From Napo we walked down for Guadalupe and everywhere people waved at him, happy to see a foreigner going backpacking in their place. It elated them so much to see Wil.

Finally, finally, we reached the church in Guadalupe and I invited Will to meet good friends Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon waiting in V. Rama Avenue. Both were pleased to meet Wil and practiced their English in their hard Cebuano accent. We were able to finish one case – six one-liter bottles – of Red Horse Strong Beer and, by then, both Boy T and Ernie spoke in a slurred accent.

It was a good workout for Wil and a good introduction for him into the local trails here in Cebu. It also was an eye-opener for him to know the company I keep and how easy we make water out of beer. Just kidding.

Anyhow, Jungle Wil is now connected with the Trailhawk in Facebook and you will see more of him soon. Just keep that mouse handy and you'll get your fill of adventure.

Sign out!

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer


Monday, March 8, 2010


IF BOHOL WERE a stone's throw away, I sure would have loved going and staying there for keeps. I have been there many times when I was a tot in the company of my grandparents and I was their favorite. I remembered hearing during their conversations of the names of places where we visited like Tagbilaran, Tubigon, Clarin, Sagbayan, the Chocolate Hills, etc.
Back then, in my own little world, I have never seen a wide country with so many trees and plants and insects as I have discovered in Bohol. For me, Bohol was the jungle of my imagination and totally different from my bald Cebu. Waking up on early mornings there would find me hunting for fighting spiders or, during early evenings, catching fireflies and keeping them inside a glass jar.

In the countrysides, I find myself amazed by the sight of an endless army of brown hills and marveled at the flight of a pair of giant fruit bats gliding past me. Bohol fed my deep and bottomless childhood curiosity and great sense of adventure. That was a long time ago but the scant memories still linger.

I went to Tubigon though for a few times in early 1986 when I was a crew of a ferry boat but my freedom were just confined to playing basketball games in the town square or fishing along in its kilometer-long pier. The boundless mangroves is a marvelous sight when approaching Tubigon from the sea and the topography seemed to be flat when viewed near.

My grandmother fed me stories of how she and grandpa, Gervasio Lavilles, hid in the interior part of Bohol during the Japanese occupation and how they were able to evade the Japanese patrols sent on a mission to locate him. Grandma would also recall how she gave birth to my mother in Sagbayan in 1943 while on the run as grandpa, time and again, outfoxed several enemy patrols who will pass by just a few feet without noticing them.

She says the Chocolate Hills in Sagbayan and in Carmen was where their hideout was located and during the barren episode of their existence their dog, Dinky, would source and hunt food for them which kept them alive. Later, after the war, they bought a parcel of land in Sagbayan. The property in Sagbayan contained a cave, a subterranean river and a lake.
I'm sure there are many tales that I would love to write about my grandpa but it would be in another article. Not just yet. Right now, I am in the middle of the Bohol Strait on board a fastcraft in the early morning of October 28, 2009 and looking forward to my first real (and mainly conscious trip) to Bohol. The craft slowed down as it approached the port of Tagbilaran and I am amazed at the still clear water in her waterfront.

A passing shadow of a sea hawk greeted me as I stepped on the pavement and her presence reminded me that Bohol is still ecologically healthy. Finally, I have gone beyond the wharf of Tagbilaran City and walked outside to smell the familiar odor distinctly her own. I hailed a tricycle and I am glad that this unique transportation system doesn't have a fixed route and follow the principles of a taxicab in ferrying passengers. With this state, I am quite sure I will never get lost and I don't have to worry about the ticking meter.


The opportunity of coming to Tagbilaran had been anchored on an errand by my employer to send packages to the PhilHealth offices in Mansasa and to faraway Talibon in the north. As the tricycle took me on a tour, I keep noticing that the streets of Tagbilaran were quite clean and swept of unwanted wastes and, from across a narrow strait of water, I saw Panglao Island so famous for its white beaches and cavern pool.

After my purpose in Mansasa had been done, I raced to the Dau bus terminal to hie a vehicle-for-hire for Talibon. The terminal's design included a rainfall catch basin in its center and this was planted with mahogany trees. Sadly, the purpose of the catchment area was defeated due to poor maintenance as a lot of these disposable plastic bottles and drinking cups were thrown there. The “hole” became a possible breeding ground for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Leaving a quick snack, I climbed inside a rickety passenger van and squeezed my six-foot frame in between seats that refused to fold through a door handle that barely work. I hardly breathed as I shared my row with three other people and we were packed like the insides of a sardine can and it was so hot as the ancient airconditioning system failed to cool the interior. Good thing the side glass window nearest me still worked catching wind and ventilated the insides as it cruised the highway.
Despite that difficulty, the wonderful sights along the national road won me over. The wide rivers of Cortes and Inabanga are still very clean and hectares of mangrove forests and swamp palms remain untouched as it blended well with development along the sea coast. I passed by Tubigon again and it has changed a bit although it still retained a laid-back atmosphere.

Then I arrived at the port town of Talibon at 1:15 PM and it is my first time there. I delivered the package and talked with the branch manager for a half hour. I went outside and I took pictures of the town hall and the Nombre de Santissima Parish for souvenir. Omitting lunch, I raced back for Tagbilaran passing over the same beautiful highway. This time, I am on board a newer vehicle-for-hire and seated on the front seat.

I arrived at the Dau terminal at 5:00 PM, I hopped on a motorcycle-for-hire back to Mansasa. From there, I took a “taxicle” bound for the Agora district and took a well-deserved meal. Actually it is my breakfast, lunch and dinner for the day eaten in one setting. How's that for traveling with set deadlines? True to that query, I missed my return trip to Cebu, but I'm not worried, I possessed an open ticket.

That night, I make use of Plan B and spend my night at RDAK office in Carlos P. Garcia Avenue thru the courtesy of Wilbert Pepito – Regan King's top honcho in Bohol. I would have loved to stay late and wake up early and take a morning stroll but my shoes gave up today. So I slept early instead and gave my tired body a much-needed break.
In the morning, after a humble breakfast with Wilbert and his staff, I left my temporary billeting place and make for the wharf. I left Tagbilaran at nine and arrived two hours later in Cebu's Pier 1 in time for a great lunch at my home. My ever-loving wife prepared a steaming stew of shrimps with horse radish. Hmmm...yummy!

Document done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer.

Monday, March 1, 2010

FREEDOM TRAIL II: Ultimate Freedom

THE FREEDOM TRAIL is a route that start in Katipunan Street in Tisa and ends at Mount Babag. Both places are historical. Katipunan is named after the independence movement of 1896 which fought against the Spanish colonizers and Mt. Babag is a site of many battles by different generations of Filipino resistance against the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese. 

This trail is created and designed for use during the so-called Freedom Climb that coincided with Philippine Independence Day. It is over fifteen kilometers long and passes over many rolling terrain, a forest reserve, ridges, cleaves, small hillside farms and a handful of river crossings.

Actually, two attempts have been made to complete the trail to Napo by Kompas Lakaw Mountaineers with Boy Toledo and Ernie Salomon and both failed. A breakthrough did fell on June 7, 2009 where I led the exploration team. The trail was officially used on June 13, 2009 and the Cebu Mountaineering Society, led by Boy T and Ernie, did the honors of the first club to walk in full length this trail.

On September 13, 2009, Boy T, Ernie and me retraced the Freedom Trail again and below are the images I took:

Photos taken by a Nokia 3650

Document Done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer