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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, November 11, 2019
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with Matè Espina

Golden celebrations

Rock & Refuge

Yesterday was a reunion of sorts for many of us in the media industry as we gathered to celebrate the 50th year of our colleague, ABS-CBN senior reporter, Mitch Lipa at the Nature’s Village Resort in Talisay City hosted by his wife, Grace Parreno and son, Myron.

The ages of the people who attended are quite telling of how far back we’ve been working together in the industry at a time when news gathering was more vibrant and exciting, when news coverage entailed real danger, when news was news and not for sale.

Of course the Kapamilya group of ABS-CBN came in droves led by the network’s first Bacolod station manager, Bing Ascalon, who fondly recalled how Mitch was one of those reporters who never gave her any problems in his 27 years in the business.

Also joining Mitch’s well-wishers were his former colleagues in the local station, Agnes Lira-Jundos and husband Jess, Leilani Salem-Alba and husband Rhoderick, Jonali Visitacion and husband, Anthony, who brought along their very charming son, Ali, who sang a song for the golden boy.

After writing the above paragraph, it suddenly dawned on me that there were more women in media in that room yesterday and perhaps, this was that era when women started to be more visible in the industry, following the footsteps of Tita Ninfa Leonardia who is probably the oldest female media personality in our community today.

With us were DAILY STAR family members - present and past -Carla Gomez; Marlin Sanogal, who was a reporter of this paper before she joined the provincial government; Toks Lopez, who was former business editor before joining San Miguel Brewery; and Laarni Aguilar whom we fondly call “Mrs. A.”

Present too were Dolores Miranda of Negros Weekly and Jaz de Jesus Madrigal of BomboRadyo, TV Patrol anchor Barbara Mijares, former ABS-CBN reporter Meniel Lopez who sang a couple of songs, and ABS-CBN news director Romeo Subaldo and reporter, my hijado, Martian Muyco.

Other former media colleagues who joined us were Ramil Estilo who is also now with the provincial government, Jade Seballos who is now PR of Vallacar Transit and Carla Canet of Sun Star Bacolod.

Suffice it to say, when we get together which is not that often, we reminisce about old times and of course, ours was probably the loudest table in that room. But though that would have been an opportunity to talk about what’s happening behind the scenes, we opted to gossip about other matters so as not to compromise our friends who happen to work on opposite sides of the fence on current issues.

It was also nice to see Tito Dodong Bascon and former Himamaylan Mayor Menchit Bascon in that party as they happened to be Mitch and Grace’s godparents in their wedding. Also present were Mitch’s classmates from Holy Trinity Academy in Sagay where he hails from, and the Lipa and Parreno families.

Mitch recalled how he started his career in ABS where he was assigned to cover the sports beat and where he learned much from the mentoring of Tito Dodong who made himself readily available as a news source.

I’m probably the first in that group who turned 50 several months ago, with the exception of Carla Gomez of course who is way beyond us in age and experience (hehe) and after Mitch, there will be a few more like Dolores and Toks which may just give us more opportunities to gather again.

Happy birthday Mitch!


Yesterday too, I was glad that Senator Ping Lacson is bent on helping Vice President Leni Robredo in her task as the new head of the anti-drug campaign program of the national government.

Ping used to be the head of the controversial Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) at the time when he was national police chief and although he was embroiled in a few controversial cases as well, as senator, he has shown that he is not agreeable to the methods employed by the administration and the police in their anti-drug war.

His first warning to Leni was to “watch your back” as the new directive coming from the vice president is to focus on cutting the drug supply instead of the demand supply which has led to the deaths of thousands of small drug users and peddlers.

Lacson will also be recommending men who can be trusted and who can point to erring policemen, especially following the investigation against alleged ninja cops who are part of the supply chain by under-reporting confiscated drugs and releasing it to the streets.

It is certainly going to be a daunting task for the vice president but hopefully, with Lacson as adviser we will see the likes of Peter Lim and those Chinese drug lords in chains.

I also totally agree with Lacson to thumb down the suggestion of PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino to have the vice president join anti-drug operations as these will not only endanger her life but will compromise operations.

That was a stupid idea in the first place and should have been ignored outright. Not even the very macho President Rodrigo Duterte has ever joined an anti-drug raid and would rather order a killing-spree of drug personalities.

With Leni at the helm, will the directive for Lt. Col. Jovie Espenido change as well? Just asking.*

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