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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, July 5, 2019
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with Ninfa Leonardia
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Rotary at 100

Ninfa Leonardia

A belated congratulations to the Rotary Club of Manila that marked its centennial year, or 100th year anniversary, on June 21. I read the announcement in yesterday’s Daily Inquirer, which is why this greetings come only now. Indeed, the RCM is the pioneer for all Rotary Clubs in the country, that already have 34,000 members in the Philippines. It is one of the few organizations we have that has remained dignified and consistent in serving the communities where it has a club.

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Why am I so partial to Rotarians? It is not only because, when we started the DAILY STAR on the proverbial shoestring, some of those who joined us in the Quixotic dream were Rotarians who also embraced our project that many predicted would not last, as no other daily newspaper had ever done so in the city and province. But we staggered on, and among the most inspiring moments in our existence were the awards as Most Outstanding Provincial Newspaper in the Country that the Rotary Club of Manila, the first and oldest in the country awarded us, not once, but twice! I don’t know if it has also given that award to any other “promdi” newspaper.

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I had to go up the stage also twice where the RCM was holding their activity to receive those awards. Those were unforgettable experiences, and were also great inspirations for us to hold on to, despite the challenges. And here we are, now on our 38th year, still struggling, but still as inspired as ever, with the support of our community and the loyalty of our staff, both in the editorial and printing departments. Would you believe that some of them had joined us when we started as very young men and women, but many already have grandchildren now?

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Anyway, enough of the reminiscences, back to reality again, because there is an event being awaited, not only by government officials, but also by the public in general, which is the annual State of the Nation Address of the President, that is scheduled to take place on July 22. That should be very interesting, because we will have an idea of how our President views the condition of our country and our people after three years of his leadership. Will he be brutally frank about our state, or like some other presidents, be painting a rose-colored view of our situation now? Abangan!

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I am sure a lot of people will be thankful to the Bureau of Internal Revenue for its recent move to ease its rules on bank deposits of deceased persons for their heirs. But the move came a little too late for our family, because when my sister Perla died last May, I really had a hard time dealing with the banks, even if our meager deposits were all in both our names, as in P or N Leonardia. It was not so bad at the BDO where the manager, Joe Ocampo, knowing the situation, was so helpful, it didn’t take an hour to settle everything.

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But it was not so at the BPI where we had to wait for three hours and a half to get things fixed. We went there at 3 p.m., and, believe it or not, were not able to leave until 6:30 p.m.! I even missed my brother’s oath-taking rites despite the fact that they kept calling me when it was about to start, and even waited a while. Perhaps if the amount involved had been in the millions, it would have taken faster – or maybe longer? The news in the Manila Bulletin yesterday about the BIR statement on deposits of deceased persons should be welcomed by all concerned.

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Oh no, now it’s dirty air that China is sending us! Reports say that such polluted air is coming our way through seasonal winds and most endangered are those living in the northwestern areas of the country. A Filipino scientist has reported this as a result of her studies on pollutants. A town in Ilocos Norte that has no heavy industries was found to have fine articles of heavy metals that could cause lung diseases to those who inhale them. Unluckily for the people living in Northern Luzon, they are the ones who are being affected.

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Perhaps our city officials should also look into the situation in our markets to see if something like what is happening in Manila is also taking place here. In the markets of Manila, two persons were arrested for collecting money from vendors claiming they were authorized by the city government, to collect P20 to P30 three times a day from them and issuing tickets not coming from the city. And the amount collected added up to millions of pesos every week! The new mayor, known as Isko Moreno, but is actually Francisco Dumagoso, is ordering the filing of charges against the enterprising collectors.*

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