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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, February 28, 2018
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OPINIONS

Where was Digong?

Ninfa Leonardia

A lot of people have noted that President Duterte was not at the EDSA gathering when its 32 nd anniversary was celebrated. Where was he? We have not also heard about any other engagement that may have prevented him from joining the sentimental EDSA crowd. For that matter, where, or on which side was he during the first EDSA? I don’t know if he was already in politics then. I hear, though, that he might declare EDSA day a national holiday. I agree that it is a day worth commemorating, but haven’t we got too many holidays already?

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But today, February 27, is the death anniversary of another great Filipino, who died in 1987, a year after EDSA. Despite the fact that it must have been a painful ailment he suffered, it must have been a happy death, having seen the liberation of his beloved country from the clutches of the dictator. Despite his brilliance and eloquence, he was actually a simple person, with a big heart. He was one of those who tangled with the dictatorial government and went to prison for it.

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I have my own memories of then Senator Jose Diokno. When two Columban priests and a Filipino one, together with six others were charged for the murder of a politician in Kabankalan, Diokno promptly volunteered his services to defend them in court. And he came regularly for the hearings that gained international interest because of the two Columban priests, Fr. Brian Gore was an Australian, and Fr. Niall O’Brien an Irishman. The Filipino was Fr. Vicente Dangan.

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The DAILY STAR was just a fledgling newspaper then, but that was how we got into the limelight as well, because members of our staff got recruited by the international news agencies like Reuters, Agence France Presse and the Associated Press. We were also the ones supplying the Manila media with reports on the hearings, and there was no internet, no cellphones, or even faux machines then, So we had to either phone in our reports, or get some Manila bound passengers to handcarry them. Senator Diokno was the one who volunteered to bring my reports to the Manila Chronicle after every hearing, so I saw him off at the airport everytime he flew back to Manila. All these memories came back when I read an item about him yesterday in the Inquirer. They don’t make public servants like him anymore. May God bless his soul.

***

Why are Filipino sports leaders so hungry for an Olympic gold medal? So far, and we have supposedly participated in the Olympic Games for almost a century, the best we could muster was silver and very rarely at that. And every time we send off our athletes, we keep hoping and dreaming that, maybe this time? Well, records reportedly show that some countries, poorer than us, and had joined the Olympics only recently, already have harvested golds, but we have nary a one so far.

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Of course we are realistic enough to admit that we can not hope to grab the championship, but what do we lack that other, smaller countries possess? What is lacking in the preparation of our delegations all these years? Is the leadership of Peping Cojuangco alone the reason? A recent report noted that even Ethiopia, that joined only in 1956, already hauled away 22 gold medals, and some silvers and bronzes maybe. And another latecomer, Thailand, who became a member in 1952, already has nine golds to its credit. For us, will 1919 be the time, and Tokyo the place?

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I think many Americans, like Filipinos, are laughing at the proposal of the American President to provide teachers with guns as a deterrent to the senseless shootings that have been taking place in some schools there. I think it was the New York Times that had noted that since there are more teachers than there are soldiers there, then the educational system would be like an army. That is, if the teachers ever agree to the idea of them wearing hipsters with guns tucked in!

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But isn’t it surprising that the schools there do not have police guards to secure them? I remember that, as students of La Concolacion College, from elementary to college, there had always been a guard, a policeman at that, at the main gate. In fact in my college years, I remember the policeman assigned, Doming Nolido, whom we called Tio Doming, and was a good friend to everyone and very protective, too. He would even help students to cross the street if they had no “yayas”. From the reports on the Florida shooting, it would seem as if there was no security officer at the school. Well, they better think about having them in every school now. And stop pestering the teachers.*

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