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Bacolod City, PhilippinesMonday, July 1, 2013
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

A record to be proud of?

Ninfa Leonardia Joseph Ejercito Estrada, former president of the Philippines, ran and won as mayor of Manila. During his inaugural speech after he was sworn into office yesterday, the former movie actor said “For the first time, Manila has an ex-convict for mayor”. He said if as if it were a badge of honor. And the people clapped.

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In Sri Lanka, a man died from the shock of a very high electric bill. Explanations that it was due to a 50 percent hike in electricity costs proved too much for S.P. Samaradasa who collapsed and died right at the office of the electric company. Officials of our own Central Negros Electric Cooperative here should pray that such a tragedy does not take place at their office when they hitch up power costs.

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Both the police and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte have refused to give conclusions on the incident involving a House Member, outgoing Congressman Benjamen “Benjo” Benaldo, who was found bleeding in his office from a gunshot wound in the chest, with a gun on the table before him. The police and Belmonte, while stressing that there was nobody else in the room with Benaldo when gunfire was heard by his staff, prudently keep saying that everyone should wait for the explanation from Benaldo himself.

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Ah, but the speculations are getting closer and closer to what must have happened. Weeks before, his wife, not known earlier to be that, since they reportedly got married secretly in Las Vegas, had been using social media to hint that she was a battered partner, and even showed some bruises and scars to stress her point. What could the husband, who was then in the thick of campaigning, do? Losing the election must have been the last straw. Meanwhile, hasn’t anybody ever suggested a certain kind of test on the couple? That could explain some things about why they are acting like that.

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Saturday night, ABS-CBN went to town in celebrating their silver anniversary. The La Proa Ballroom of L’Fisher Hotel was filled to the rafters, figuratively, with the staff, alumni, friends and benefactors of the network. Very colorful presentations were held, and a lot of “remember when” revelations were made. There were also amazing juggling exhibitions and a bicycle stunt show that was quite heart-stopping.

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The program was very well prepared and executed, and if I had to find some fault – it would be that they put out the lights when dinner was served so that we had to grope for our food and eat very carefully, lest we got choked by some bone. Still and all, everybody has to be congratulated for the teamwork and dedication that went into the celebration. Two ladies with reasons to preen were Maria Luisa “Bing” Lopez Ascalon, its first station manager, and incumbent Leilani Salem Alba. The reader will forgive me if I attempt to get into the act for a bit. Bing will remember how she got to be manager then, and Leilani will also recall that she started her journalism profession in the DAILY STAR.

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Meanwhile my sister and I had a very happy and memorable reunion last night with a very dear friend and playmate from our childhood says in San Isidro (then known as Tuguis) in Pontevedra town. Elsa Sombito, now Severino, is the only daughter of the late Elias Sombito and the former Soledad Velmonte, who were very close friends of our parents. Elsa now resides in Queens, New York, but her daughter, Kathleen Nior Leichtenstein, or Mai-mai, now heads the KSL Corporation in Ayala Alabang, and is the exclusive agent for the French company, Charabot.

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It was a wonderful evening of reminiscence, especially remembering our parents who continued to keep in touch even after World War II was over. We had not seen Elsa for about 50 years now, but the meeting went on as if we had always been together. By the way, Mai-mai is also my god-daughter, because I was a sponsor at her wedding that she came home for, and was held at the Sta. Clara Chapel. During this visit, they also reunited with their Consing, Parroco, and other relatives. I was also amazed to find out that Elsa, who took up creative writing in college, is now about to publish her book of memoirs that, she said, will include our childhood days together. Wow! Mai-mai is also a Mass Communication graduate, and where do you think she got that ink in her blood?

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Meanwhile, we attended the inauguration Saturday of Governor Freddie Marañon and the other elected officials of Negros Occidental and it was a very solemn but touching occasion, considering the conflicts that had preceded it. Now it seems all ill-feelings and political discords have been cast aside, and we can look forward to a more cohesive, more vibrant and better performing officials for our province. Congratulations to all!*

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