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Opinion writing

The opinion article


1. The opinion article is concerned with the readers views. It may take the form of
a column, the inquiring reporter or letter to the editor.
2. It deals with timely subjects. It may single out a group for attention, if the news
spotlights this groups interest. It should try to have new names each issue. The
column may be made more readable by a lead that includes a question and a
conclusion.
3. Answers are presented in an interesting manner. Usually the body is simply a
series of paragraphs explaining issues in detail or in a chop-chop style. The
editorialized opinion article can take sides, but it is preferable that contrasting
points of view should be presented before arriving to a conclusion.
4. An opinion column could tackle topics of general interest written in
individualistic feature style on a news background. The personality of the
columnist as revealed in his comments and writing style is the main attraction of
this column.
5. Some types are the editorial (news-commentary) column, opinion, variety or
humor, the personals (also called chatter), sports and book-review column.
6. The editorial (news-commentary) column is the most serious of the personalized
columns. Like the editorial, it comments on or interprets timely subjects. It may be
made up of short paragraphs on several topics or it may treat of one subject per
issue. It is usually found on the editorial page.
7. The sources of material for the editorial columns are current news, observation,
interview, commendable undertakings or accomplishments, investigation. It
resembles the interpretative editorial but it carries a by-line.
8. The variety or humor column is an entertainment feature made up of short items,
such as philosophical comments, a play on names, local humor, parodies, quotes of
unintentional blunders, light thrusts at school happenings, puns, jokes, light verse.
The column must be funny, clean, in good taste, pertinent to school life, and
original. Only rarely should it reprint jokes. No joke should reflect upon the
reputation of an individual.

9. The personals or chatter column. Of all columns, the personals column has
replaced the gossip column which was given to unkind and even malicious
innuendo. The personals column chatters about well-known persons. All its
materials should be true and all suggestions, complimentary. It may include: lists
of couples at a party, parodies of popular songs, playful verses that characterize
well-known persons in kindly manner, praise directed to certain persons.
This columns new value lies in the names. The writer must try to spread his
coverage and not limit himself to friends.

Qualities of a good opinion writer


Due to possible influence of his column for good or ill, the columnist should
be a highly responsible individual. Among the qualities expected of him are:
1. Keen observation
2. Good judgment
3. Sound reasoning
4. A knowledge of human nature and wide acquaintanceship
5. An original style
6. Tact
7. A wholesome sense of humor
8. A spirit of restraint
9. A high respect for the school
10.Freedom from petty prejudices

Writing the opinion article


1. Use leads which are suited to the subject. Leads include the contrast, descriptive,
question, stinger, narrative, summary, among others.
Examples:
A.) Laymen who publicly slam court actions can get jailed for contempt. Not
clergymen, it seems, like Baguio City Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon.
The prelate has been haranguing in the pulpit and on church-run radio
against a trial judge. Reason: the judge happened to dismiss three lawsuits that
Cenzon and fellows had brought against SM Mall-Baguio.
B.) A year after US troops weighed anchor in Subic Bay, John Negroponte arrived
in Manila as Americas ambassador.

Today Negroponte is back, this time as a civilian on a visit to boost business


links between the two countries, a year after the Philippine government allowed
US troops to use Subic regularly again.
C.) Does the nullity of a reconstituted lost certificate of title settle the issue of
ownership of the property covered by said title? This is the question answered in
this case between Nora and the spouses Montes.
Nora was the registered owner of 11 adjacent lots covered by TCT Nos.
72654 to 72664. However, the owners duplicates of said titles were not in her
possession. So she reported to the Register of Deeds that she lost the owners
duplicate copies of said TCTs and at the same time filed a petition for the issuance
of new owners copies before the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
D.) Before I get into my heavy-duty topic for today, allow me to issue this warning
to the public. With the start of the election campaign, we would like to warn
owners of SUVs, 4-wheel luxury vehicles, pick-up and the likes to please be extra
careful about where you drive your car and especially where you park. According
to neighborhood sources, two SUVs were recently carnapped from a grocery
parking lot within our Barangay in Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig.
E.) Just last year the Senate was the toast of the town. This was immediately after
the impeachment trial that ended in the conviction of erstwhile Supreme Court
(SC) chief justice Renato Corona. The Senator-judges were being feted for
faithfully doing their job in removing from office a sitting Chief Justice in
accordance with constitutional process of impeachment.

2. Build your story by identifying your topics.


3. Limit your topics. Stay within the subject range of your article.
4. Avoid unkind references to people.
5. Write in good taste.
6. Deal with timely material.
7. Depending on the topic, you may employ a serious or humorous tone.
8. Be fair all the time by discussing contrasting points of view. But in the end you
can arrive to a conclusion, but may end your articles with an open ended question
like not endorsing whether a certain point of view is right or wrong. If the column
gives serious suggestions, be sure it is reliable.
9. End your articles with a summarizing statement, a tickler or a call to action.
e.g Humanity has advanced in many ways, but it has hardly advanced in fortitude.

Grammar review
Subject-verb agreement
The number of the subject determines the number of the verb.
Problem areas
1. Intervening words between subject and verb do not affect the number of the
verb.
Wrong: The captain, along with his men, were attacked by several
assailants.
Right: The captain, along with his men, was attacked by several assailants.
(Phrases like along with, together with, as well as do not change a singular
subject.)
2. A verb agrees with its subject, not the noun in the predicate.
Wrong: The problem are crimes.
Right: The problem is crimes.
Wrong: Among these problems are they energy crisis.
Right: Among these problems is the energy crisis.
(The subject of this sentence is crisis)
3. One of phrases
On of is always followed by a plural noun, and the verb in the relative clause
after it must be plural as well.
Wrong: One of the member who has signed up for the project is Roberto
Pangilinan.
Right: One of the members who have signed up or the project is Roberto
Pangilinan.
Wrong: One of the delegate is late.
Right: One of the delegates is late.
4. Each, either, everyone, everybody, neither, nobody, someone
These pronouns take singular verbs.
Wrong: Each of the candidates are expected to present their platform.

Right: Each of the candidates is expected to present his platform.


5. Either or/ neither nor
Nouns used with these words are alternative subjects and not compound
subjects. The verb agrees with the subject nearest to it.
Wrong: Neither the team member nor the coach are ready.
Right: Neither the team members nor the coach is ready.
6. None
Use a singular verb when none means no one or not one.
Wrong: None of the guests have arrived.
Right: None of the guests has arrived.
Use a plural verb when none suggest more than one thing or person.
Wrong: None but the brave is worthy of respect.
Right: None but the brave are worthy of respect.
7. Compound subjects composed of two or more nouns joined by and
These usually requires plural verbs.
Wrong: The mayor and the vice mayor expects to attend the ceremony.
Right: The mayor and the vice mayor expect to attend the ceremony.
But certain compounds, often clichs, are considered a unit and take singular
verbs, as do compound subjects qualified by each and every.
Wrong: The long and short of it are that we have lost.
Right: the long and short of it is that we have lost.
Wrong: The prisoner said that during his captivity, bread and butter were
all that he has served.
Right: The prisoner said that during his captivity, bread and butter was all
that he was served.
8. Linking verbs
A linking verb agrees with the number of its subject.
Wrong: What is needed are more disciplined men.

Right: What is needed is more disciplined men.


Wrong: The trouble with the prejudices are their persistence even in the face
of contrary evidence.
Right: The trouble with prejudices is their persistence even in the face of
contrary evidence.
9. Adjectives used as nouns.
Adjectives made to stand for nouns are plural because they imply the people
who are described by the adjective.
Wrong: The rich does not respond well to this approach.
Right: The rich do not respond well to this approach.
10.Collective nouns and mass nouns
Collective nouns (e.g., group, class, cattle) and mass nouns (e.g., sand,
furniture) do not have a plural form and do not take plural verbs.
Wrong: There are still some equipment left in the base.
Right: There is still some equipment left in the base.
Wrong: The baggages have been abandoned at the airport.
Right: The baggage has been abandoned at the airport.
Other examples of this type of noun: ammunition, herd, class, group, news,
gossip (unless what is mean is people who gossip, who can be called
gossips), mumps, measles, scenery, dcor, whereabouts.
Data takes a plural verb when it is not used as a unit. (Example: Data are
being carefully collected.)

Untouchable clergymen
Laymen who publicly slam court actions can get jailed for contempt. Not
clergymen, it seems, like Baguio City Catholic Bishop Carlito Cenzon.
The prelate has been haranguing in the pulpit and on church-run radio
against a trial judge. Reason: the judge happened to dismiss three lawsuits that
Cenzon and fellows had brought against SM Mall-Baguio.

The cases concern SMs relocating 182 trees in its compound to give way to
a traffic-unclogging car park and urban-greening giant rainwater cistern. We are
shocked at how the court disregarded the opinion of our witnesses, rants Cenzon,
one of the witnesses. The judge should have ignored instead the incompetent
testimony of government ecologists, he says.
Of about a thousand trees in the SM complex, 87 pine and 95 alnus
(flowering) trees will be replanted, by consent of the environment bureau and
Baguio city hall. Most will be moved to SMs reforestation projects in Baguio and
Cordilleras, where it has sown more than 23,000 of 50,000 intended trees. Fortytwo have been moved within the compound. A temporary court injunction halted
the earth balling of the rest by UP-Los Baos arborists. The tree doctors have
recommended the sanitation cutting and replacement of six contagiously
diseased pine trees.
As bishop of Baguio, Cenzon oversees the diocese-owned Porta Vaga Mall,
down the road from SM. We hear reechoing Gods instructions ... Fill the earth
and subdue it, he refutes the judges ruling with the Bible. (Only recently he
scoffed at laymen who quoted the same passage in arguing for Reproductive
Health.)
Deeply religious, the matriarch of the Sy family that runs SM has built in all
their malls chapels that teem with devotees on Sundays. Cenzon had barred priests
in his diocese from celebrating Mass at SM-Baguio for a year, to make SM atone
for the 182 trees to be transferred.
Baguio old-timers are wondering if Cenzon would punish his own church
for a worse offense. In the 60s, when he was newly ordained priest, the Catholicrun St. Louis University felled some 3,000 pines in wooded Mount Mary, at the
heart of the city. This was to construct the for-profit Hospital of the Sacred Heart.
The church never revealed where it brought the logs.
Climate Change was not a hot issue back then, a septuagenarian lawyer
recounts, but that doesnt mean the wholesale tree cutting was correct.
Now if 128 relocated trees equals one year of no Masses, good Lord, what
penance would Cenzon impose for 3,000 axed trees?

Rebalancing
A year after US troops weighed anchor in Subic Bay, John Negroponte arrived in
Manila as Americas ambassador.
Today Negroponte is back, this time as a civilian on a visit to boost business
links between the two countries, a year after the Philippine government allowed
US troops to use Subic regularly again.

The return of US troops to Subic on a semi-permanent basis (as described by


an Australian newspaper) is part of Washingtons shift back to its home region, the
Asia-Pacific, from its numerous counterterrorism engagements elsewhere on the
planet.
Call it the US pivot, or rebalancing, alongside Americas military drawdown
in Iraq, Afghanistan and thereabouts its a shift that Washington is expected to
pursue as President Barack Obama embarks on his second term.
Negroponte, Americas first director of national intelligence and a former
deputy secretary of state and ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq, thinks reports of the
United States demise as a world leader are premature. He points out, for one,
that US defense spending is still larger than the defense budgets of all other
countries combined.
But he sees his country in this century increasingly eschewing preemption
and unilateralism in promoting its interests overseas. He sees no more large
expeditionary forces or costly entanglements in nation-building. Instead he sees
more reliance on special operations and intel gathering in counterterrorism, and
multilateral approaches where possible.
I think were going to seek to continue a responsible leadership role,
Negroponte told a gathering of local and foreign investors at the Tower Club
yesterday.
* * *
Negroponte arrived here ahead of a large, top-level American business
delegation for a visit organized by the US-Philippines Society, a non-profit and
independent group set up when President Aquino visited Washington last year.
Negroponte co-chairs the group together with industrialist Manny Pangilinan.
Also in the delegation are Philippine Ambassador to Washington Joey
Cuisia and two other former US ambassadors to Manila, Thomas Hubbard and
Richard Murphy.
Negroponte arrived in the Philippines in 1993 when the country had
disappeared from US radar screens following the bases shutdown. The Philippine
desk at the State Department got downsized and US aid to Manila was drastically
cut.
China occupied Panganiban or Mischief Reef off Palawan at around that
time.
But the Philippine economy flourished in the 1990s as the Ramos
administration implemented liberalization policies, opening several sectors to
competition.
Negroponte, a career diplomat for four decades, describes the 1990s as the
era of the Asian economic tigers. The Philippines was preparing to join the tigers
when the Asian financial crisis struck in 1997.

The years from 2000 he considers the era of emerging markets, and he
believes Washington has the same view.
Its a particularly good time to deepen our ties with ASEAN, he said at the
Tower Club. Now is a good time for the US to put a bit of a spotlight on its
own on the relationship between the Philippines and the United States.
The relationship is currently strained again after a US Navy minesweeper
ran aground in Tubbataha Reef, damaging the World Heritage Site. But if handled
well by both sides, this is going to be a blip in ties that have generally improved
since terrorists struck at the heart of America on Sept. 11, 2001.
* * *
Negroponte sees 9/11 as the start of Washingtons loss of focus on the AsiaPacific. In the decade after 9/11, as the US became preoccupied with the war on
terror and then exit strategies, he said Asia became a demographic, economic and
political center of gravity in the world.
Obama assumed leadership at the height of a financial crisis in America, as
the world was shifting from bipolar to (briefly) unipolar and then to a different
post-cold war environment.
Now Obama must face the challenge posed by a China that has the will and
growing resources to end 200 years of military weakness.
Negroponte sees Obamas attitude toward China falling into the same
pattern as other US presidents since Richard Nixon in 1972: eventually they all
came out in favor of engagement and forming a positive relationship with the
Chinese.
As deputy secretary of state, Negroponte had met with Chinese officials and
stressed the importance of China being a responsible stakeholder in building a
peaceful world.
He said US relationship with China must be managed carefully
assiduously.
The overall relationship with China will be a challenge for decades to
come, indeed for the next generations, he said, not just for the US but also for
Chinas neighbors. We have to find positive issues with which to work with
China.
Like other US officials, retired or not, Negroponte has been asked what
America is prepared to do in case territorial disputes between the Philippines and
China deteriorate into armed conflict.
And like other US officials, Negroponte emphasizes that Washington isnt
taking sides in the dispute and prefers only a peaceful settlement through
negotiation.
Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the US is committed to come to our
aid in case of attack on Philippine soil by an external threat. But there are

disagreements on whether the VFA commitment covers the Philippines 200-mile


exclusive economic zone, as defined under the United Nations Convention on the
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The Obama White House has signed the UNCLOS but the US Congress,
leery of UN intervention in US affairs, has not ratified the convention. John Kerry,
slated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, is a supporter of ratification
and may give the effort the necessary push.
Negroponte would only say that Obama, with his roots in Hawaii and
Indonesia, has a strong commitment to our Asian alliances... we have to nurture
these friendships.

`Unsettled issue
Does the nullity of a reconstituted lost certificate of title settle the issue of
ownership of the property covered by said title? This is the question answered in
this case between Nora and the spouses Montes.
Nora was the registered owner of 11 adjacent lots covered by TCT Nos.
72654 to 72664. However, the owners duplicates of said titles were not in her
possession. So she reported to the Register of Deeds that she lost the owners
duplicate copies of said TCTs and at the same time filed a petition for the issuance
of new owners copies before the Regional Trial Court (RTC).
After due notice and hearing the RTC granted Noras petition. Hence, new
copies of the 11 TCTs were issued to Nora pursuant to Section 129 of the Land
Registration Act.
It turns out however that the TCTs were not actually lost but were in the
actual possession of the spouses Montes. So when they learned that new TCTs
were issued in the name of Nora, they filed with the RTC a petition for relief from
judgment asking that the new owners duplicate copies of the 11 TCTs be declared
null and void.
The spouses claimed that they had actual possession of the owners copies of
the TCTs which had been declared lost and cancelled. They alleged that Nora had
sold the lands covered by the TCTs to a certain Mr. Lazo before it was subdivided
into 11 lots. They further alleged that when Mr. Lazo subdivided the land into 11
lots, the titles remained in the name of Nora because Lazo lacked funds to transfer
them in his name. On March 21, 2006, Lazo sold the 11 lots to them and gave them
the 11 copies of the TCTs. They said they discovered the RTC decision ordering
the issuance of new owners copies to Nora when they tried to register the
properties in their names, thus prompting them to file this petition for relief from
judgment.

The RTC granted the petition of the spouses and restrained and prohibiting
the Register of Deeds from accepting/registering any document executed by Nora
and any person authorized by her that will in any way encumber or cause the
transfer of the property covered by the 11 TCTs. The RTC also set aside its
decision granting Noras petition for reconstitution of titles and instead dismissed
said petition. It also declared as null and void, the new owners TCTs in the name
of Nora. The RTC said that when the original owners copy of the title is not lost
but is in the possession of a new owner, being the alleged buyer, it did not acquire
jurisdiction over Noras petition for the issuance of new owners copies of the
eleven TCTs. Was the RTC correct?
Yes. It is judicially settled that a trial court does not acquire jurisdiction over
a petition for the issuance of a new owners duplicate certificate of title if the
original is in fact not lost but in the possession of the alleged buyer. Such
reconstituted certificate is itself void once the existence of the original is
unquestionably demonstrated. Nonetheless the nullity of the reconstituted
certificate does not by itself settle the issue of ownership over the property; much
less does it vest such title upon the holder of the original certificate. The issue of
ownership must be litigated in appropriate proceedings. It cannot be determined in
an action for the issuance of a new owners duplicate certificate of title or in
proceedings to annul such newly issued certificate.
In this case, the RTC did not decide the issue of ownership when it
permanently enjoined the Register of Deeds from accepting or registering any kind
of conveyance that may be executed by Nora to any person except as to the
spouses Montes. It did not declare that the spouses Montes are the new owners of
the properties. The spouses Montes possession of the 11 TCTs is not necessarily
equivalent to ownership of the lands covered by the TCTs which must be litigated
in another appropriate proceeding. This case is similar to the ruling in the case of
Espino vs. Spouses Bulut, G.R. 183811, May 30, 2011.
One year after
Just last year the Senate was the toast of the town. This was immediately after the
impeachment trial that ended in the conviction of erstwhile Supreme Court (SC)
chief justice Renato Corona. The Senator-judges were being feted for faithfully
doing their job in removing from office a sitting Chief Justice in accordance with
constitutional process of impeachment.
Specifically lionized was Senate president Juan Ponce-Enrile as the
presiding officer of the impeachment tribunal. The 88-year-old Enrile presided
over the grueling trial that had marathon sessions over a five-month period that
started on January 16 last year.

The anniversary of the walkout by prosecutors that cut short the


impeachment trial of former President Joseph Estrada leading to EDSA-2 cast dark
shadows at the start of the impeachment trial. Enrile declared at the outset he
would not allow such antics to frustrate the ends of justice this time around.
Enrile lived up to the challenge to put proceedings in order and whipped into
line each member of the House prosecution and the Corona defense panels and
even his fellow senator-judges. The most dramatic moment of which was the
Senate lockdown that prevented Corona from leaving the Senate premises.
Voting 20-3, the Senate declared Corona guilty of betrayal of public trust
and culpable violation of the Philippine Constitution. On May 29 last year, Corona
was found guilty of Article II of the impeachment complaint: the chief magistrate
did not fully disclose his assets in his statements of assets, liabilities and net worth
(SALN).
Enrile was among the 20 senators who voted for conviction of Corona.
Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Joker Arroyo and Ferdinand Bongbong
Marcos Jr. were the three who voted for acquittal.
The conviction and subsequent removal from office of Corona were bruited
about as a victory for President Benigno Noy Aquino III who regarded him
among the midnight appointees of former President and now Pampanga Rep.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before she stepped down on June 30, 2010.
Yesterday, the Senate marked this historic event in the launching of the
coffee table book aptly titled: The Honor of the Senate, 44 Days of an
Impeachment Trial. It was written by Palanca awardee Nicholas B. Pichay. This
has two other companion booklets. One booklet is a compilation of the daily
prayers said by each senator-judge who took turns during the 44-day trial. The
other booklet contains the explanation of votes of each of the 23 senator-judges.
The book launching was held yesterday at the Senate Museum. It was
attended only by Enrile and Senate president pro-tempore Jinggoy Estrada and
some of the House prosecution panel of the impeachment trial led by committee on
justice chairman, Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas. Incidentally, I gathered the Senate funded
the publication of this set of books, perhaps out of maintenance and other operating
expenses (MOOE) in their annual budget.
Enrile is currently under fire for alleged abuse of discretion in the
disbursement of their MOOE. Miriam and three other Senators decried they did not
get as much in their additional MOOE from the Senate president last December.
Miriams laments were echoed by Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano and
elder sister Pia and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, all of whom are Nacionalista Party
(NP) members.

While the 15th Congress was still on holiday recess, reports leaked out that
Enrile purportedly dispensed very generous Christmas cash gifts to his senatorallies.
Enrile was forced to admit indeed having issued checks to fellow senators
ranging from P250,000 to as much as P1.6 million. But these were not Christmas
cash gifts as wrongly reported, Enrile explained, but checks representing MOOE
released to respective offices of each senator on various dates from November to
December.
And the usual loose talk on coup plots against the Senate president ensued
days before their resumption of session. So when they resumed their sessions last
Monday, Enrile immediately took the Senate floor to deliver his privilege speech to
particularly take issue on the allegations of Miriam and his other senator-critics.
Enrile invoked his prerogative and discretion as Senate president to explain
the disparity of amounts of MOOE given to each senator. It goes without saying
the apple of discord had something to do with these amounts.
It was no empty boast when Enrile stood up and told his colleagues at the
Senate that he is not one to cling to his post. Declaring the Senate president seat
vacant, Enrile got 11 senators to reject his resignation bid. Under Senate rules,
Enrile needs only a majority to keep his post. But electing a new Senate president
needs a vote of 13.
As far as Enrile was concerned, he submitted himself to a vote of confidence
of his colleagues and he got the majority. With only his arch critic Trillanes,
neophyte Sen. Koko Pimentel and of course, Enrile as the author of the motion
to declare his seat vacant voting in favor. Joker and Bongbong (NP), both
known critics of Enrile, were again on the same side in abstaining.
The camp of Enrile senses his latest woes might have been triggered by
another book. Enrile finally came out with his own autobiography entitled
Memoirs released in September last year. The tell-all book of Enrile edited by
comebacking STAR columnist Nelson Navarro apparently stepped on a lot of
toes and hurt monumental egos of certain influential people in power circles.
In the book launch of Memoirs, Enrile was still the most celebrated
national figure for the Corona impeachment trial. Enrile dismissed his sudden rise
to popularity then as one of those times he was on top in the ups and downs in the
roller coaster of his life and career.
One year after, Enrile may have to brace for more of the downs as his sworn
enemies have vowed to bring it on.
Make it governments business

Before I get into my heavy-duty topic for today, allow me to issue this warning to
the public. With the start of the election campaign, we would like to warn owners
of SUVs, 4-wheel luxury vehicles, pick-up and the likes to please be extra careful
about where you drive your car and especially where you park. According to
neighborhood sources, two SUVs were recently carnapped from a grocery parking
lot within our Barangay in Barrio Kapitolyo, Pasig.
This seasonal occurrence has been observed to take place during campaign
periods in the same way that more bank and moneychanger robberies also take
place during elections. People tend to put their guard down when theyre within
their neighborhood and this presents a perfect opportunity for seasoned criminals.
* * *
Another warning to motorists; be careful when driving out of the NAIA
specifically Terminal 1. A band of street hoodlums have been openly harassing
motorists and intimidating them for money and when you piss them off they
scratch your car, break your wipers, or your side mirrors.
The irony is that the Airport Police, that can be oh so powerful and scary
when they want to, as well the Philippine National Police detachment have ignored
or been useless in arresting these criminal elements. It would seem that the NAIA
PNP contingent and the Airport Police are more interested in what goes on inside
the terminal and completely forget that their area of concern is several hectares
wide.
The hoodlums reportedly hide or reside along a creek some 500 meters from
the NAIA 1 driveway and main parking lot. All the cab drivers Ive spoken to
know about the problem and now, the problem is posted on the Internet. So what
are the NAIA security officials going to do about it? Wait until a foreigner posts
that highway robbers strike at the bottom of the NAIA driveway? Sorry but I
already mentioned this before but NAIA officials seem to have more important
concerns than criminals in their driveway.
While watching Jessica Sohos SONA news program, I watched their
segment concerning the fight over graphic warnings to be placed on cigarette
packs. The idea is to force cigarette manufacturers to print photos of smokers who
have developed different types of cancers and tumors essentially to shock or scare
smokers. A group called Health Justice has principally been at the forefront of the
campaign alongside the Department of Health and they have been pushing and
pushing Congress to pass the law.
Unfortunately, in a nation where the legal process is more complicated than
the Genesis Chronicles in the Bible, the proponents of the Graphic Warning
campaign have found their work stonewalled by Judges, injunctions, and
politicians. Knowing the people involved in the conflict, I surmise that they all

agree on one thing; its all a matter of time when the graphic warnings will happen
just like the Sin Tax was passed. The tobacco company executives are merely
postponing the inevitable for as long as they can, while the anti-tobacco coalition
know that every push they make brings them a day closer to victory.
In the mean time, it might interest the anti-tobacco coalition to consider an
added option in their war against smoking. Why not make it governments business
to educate and advertise the physical effects of smoking?
Recently I have observed a number of government/public sector advertising
that are really eye catching, novel and attention grabbing. The first one I noticed
was that of the Department of Foreign Affairs which has come out with a series of
print ads with the Philippine STAR featuring human interest stories about their
officers and staff working as Foreign Service professionals. The style and
presentation successfully communicates a fresh look and washes away impressions
of DFA people as gray haired, stuck-up snobs who just want to live abroad. The
new ads make the DFA people look good but all in a natural way.
Then I recently saw the TV ad that worked around an encounter between
kids and military personnel. The story was so tight that I was not sure at the
beginning whose ad it was. It felt like some NGO, or maybe from the Peace Panel
or Office of Muslim Affairs. Eventually it became clear that the military were in
the village to build relationships and do this through sports. Ultimately the ad
reveals that it was a PAGCOR advertisement promoting their involvement in
nation building.
Of course most of us have seen the Its More Fun In The Philippines
campaign that has become the most successful promotion of Philippine Tourism
perhaps because it was a combined effort of government, citizens and Social
Media.
Using this as a background, plus the fact that the government recently passed
the Sin Tax that will net them gazillions from taxes, why cant government also
spend money on developing video messages for TV and Social Media concerning
the horrible impact of smoking?
Instead of just forcing the hand of the cigarette companies to slap
themselves, government should make it their business to continuously educate
Filipinos about the real effects of smoking and not just try to scare them with
warnings or talk about the problem in forums. For instance, let the DOH come
out with testimonials from people who discovered the bad side to smoking, people
who cant talk, who have impairments or complications.
I for one would share how two decades of smoking started by the bell boy
shouting Call for Philip Morris all the way to the Marlboro Man, has now given
me what I consider a debilitating or serious condition call COPD or Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. I quit smoking in July of 1991 but that was not

soon enough, because now, every time I develop a bad cold or a cough, it almost
always ends up with me needing to undergo a 5- to 7- day treatment of a 750mg
antibiotic designed especially for upper respiratory ailments. Its expensive but
what sucks even more is gasping for air or choking when your air passages get
obstructed by phlegm or mucous. Last time I had it was Nov. 15, now it feels like I
have it again. Its that bad people, its that bad!
So, I say to government, can we please spend some of the Sin Tax
collections to advertise against smoking and drunk driving as well? I dont think
its in good taste for the government to collect all that money with out spending
part of it to save our children and our selves from ignorance.

From sunrays to moonbeams /


common sense, sensibility
Jennifer (Jenny) G. R. Wallum (MBE) is president/founder of the Entrepreneur
Volunteer Assistance (EVA) which helps poor people in remote villages around
Mt. Pinatubo. EVA which has garnered several awards for its humanitarian
services, keeps Jenny travelling a good deal. At home, Jenny writes.
Her From Sunrays to Moonbeams, A Collection of Short Stories from My
Garden, bears the following: Dedicated to my father, Gordon Gordon Russell,
who taught me to observe, love and respect nature and Gods creatures, and to my
mother, L. Muriel R. Parr-Burman who taught me how to hold a pen and draw.
Manila, Philippines, 1991
This is the introductory line: Nestled amongst the trees in an old village in
Makati lies a garden . . .
Inevitably, the dedication explains the collection. Jenny writes on nature
the weather, the moon, clouds, the sky, earthquakes, etc., and on animals: birds,
doves, bats, dogs, cats, squirrels and insects even cockroaches! Inevitably, too,
Jenny illustrates her subjects with fine drawings. The fusion is charming and
fascinating; the short stories will appeal to nature and animal lovers and, doubtless,
to the literati for the writers poetic style.
The collection opens with these lines:
I walked this morning
in shadows of evening
with the noon heat
burnt into my mind
and then I remembered
the dewness of morning
and left the evening
behind.

The collection closes with these lines:


I knew that if I sat there
for long enough one day
Spring would turn to Summer
and green grass into hay
But somewhere patience withered,
no longer I remained
than takes a bee to gather
one golden pollen grain.
Yet now, as grey I sit here
the thoughts of that same day
are like an age of wonder
which cannot pass away.
Life never can be lonely
if each day you re-learn
to see and smell and hear
as that child in the country lane.
Yes, Autumn follows quickly
with Winter on its heel
but still theres always wonder
as each new day begins.
Jenny encloses a leaflet on EVA which we can help by purchasing the
beautiful handicrafts the villagers make. Outlets are Silahis Arts and Artifacts
(Intramuros), Tesoros and its branches. By buying native products, we will not
only be easing the plight of the villagers in remote areas but also significantly
propelling the countrys economy.
* * *
Shortly after Mely Concepcion (Mrs. Paing Hechanova) celebrated her
birthday in style, a book entitled Mely: Common Sense and Finer Sensibilities
came out.
Mely is a fascinating mix of contradictions. She once serve 50 different
kinds of dessert yet her favorite dish is the poor mans tuyo. Further, her gourmet
menus are served on tables elegantly decorated. Simple and unassuming in manner
and speech, she wears ravishingly sophisticated gowns, fabulous jewelry, the latest
in bags and shoes.
Author Chit J. Lijauco records the lives of the Concepcions before, during
and after the war, their diverse activities, and their residences in elite
neighborhoods.
Love is the guiding principle in Melys life: her love as the only daughter of
industrialists Jose Concepcion and Herminia Quisumbing Santos, as sister of giant

entrepreneurs, Jose, Raul and Rene (who has passed away), as wife of
distinguished architect and Rotarian Paing, as mother to Renna, Rafael, Jr., Raissa
and Riana.)
Melys little known community service and charities are recognized by
international VIPs and royalty. In sum, common sense and finer sensibilities
characterize Mely.

Destruction of natural beauty


Last week my daughter was in an absolute lamentable state. I found out the reason
was because a US Navy Minesweeper had run aground in one of her favorite
diving spots in the country, Tubbataha Reef near the Sulu Sea. She was dismayed
over the coral damage that occurred through this unfortunate incident and I can
definitely understand why, as she had told me years before that diving in
Tubbataha had been one of the most memorable dives she had ever had, and that
the natural beauty of the reef was astounding and could not be compared to
anything she had ever seen before.
Tubbataha Reef is a national treasure and one of the few untouched diving
spots in the country today. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO 25 years
ago, the reef is a multi-awarded conservation project and one of the most lauded
dive spots in the world for its natural beauty, abundant marine life, and thriving
coral reefs which have been protected and preserved for years. Considered one of
the best reefs in the world, it consists of two coral atolls and wide range of marine
life including over 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals, several species of
sharks and dolphins and whales, 100 species of birds, and several species of sea
turtles. Divers frequent the reef yearly just to briefly be a part of this thriving
ecosystem and see all sorts of marine treasures ranging from reef tip sharks,
schools of hundreds of jacks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks, and more.
And then, just like that, a ship runs aground destroying at the very least 10
meters of thousands of years old coral with its hull. This is the same reef that
divers and environmentalists revere, always being careful not to even touch it
during dive expeditions, gone in the blink of eye that it takes for a lost ship to run
aground. This is coral in its pristine state unaffected by bleaching and
industrialism, thriving in blue waters with a bustling ecosystem of fish ever
present. Its enough to bring a tear to anyones eye.
According to the news, the US ship USS Guardian had just completed a port
run in Subic Bay and was on its way to Indonesia. They were heading to East
Timor for training exercises. Then, according to the US Navy, a faulty map and
navigation system caused them to stray from their destination and wind up in

Tubbataha Reef. And at present it is still heavily grounded and being hit by strong
winds, which could serve to damage the coral atoll even further.
Understandably, my daughter, an avid diver and lover of the ocean, was
distraught by the thought of her paradise being the target of such destruction. And
she is not alone. The Philippines as well as members of environmental
organizations from various parts of the world have pledged to make sure the
United States pays (at least monetarily) for the reefs that were damaged in the
wake of this accident. Public officials have assured us that compensation for the
damaged reefs will be sought from the US. In a previous interview, Protected
Areas and Wildlife Bureau director, Theresa Mundita Lim said the assessment of
the damage will depend on the condition and extent of the coral cover in the
affected area. The baseline peg for damages currently stands at P12,000 per square
meter of coral damaged.
This is actually not the first time an unfortunate incident like this has
happened. In 2005, the Rainbow Warrior ship of the group Greenpeace also hit the
reef in Tubbataha damaging 32 meters of coral. They paid a fine of $6,857 for the
damage according to their website, roughly P384,000. According to them, the chart
they were using had shown them to be miles away from the reef when they ran
aground.
Presently it is impossible to tell how much damage as occurred until the USS
Guardian is successfully removed. It is still very heavily entrenched in the area and
plans are underway to determine the best possible way to remove it safely from the
reef. The United States Navy alongside Tubbataha Park officials and
environmental officers need to all work together to find the safest way to remove
the vessel while minimizing further damage. The plan is to be conducted as soon as
possible to get the ship out of the park. Once the ship is successfully removed, then
true assessment of the damage to the reef can truly begin. Alongside determining
the physical damage to the coral, damage to habitats and breeding areas, which can
affect marine life, will also be taken into account.
The main problem now though is the timely and safe salvage of the ship. Not
only is further reef damage a concern, but also possible leaks and oil spills as well.
Currently the vessel is said to be flooded within so steps will also have to be taken
to ensure it can still float once removed. Should this not be possible, there are also
talks of lifting it out the reef and pulling it away aboard a heavy lifting vessel. The
most important part of the plan is that it causes no further damage to the
surrounding areas.
This is the first and most important step to be undertaken now. However,
there are other things to consider as well including how this accident happened in
the first place. Government officials will take the explanation of the faulty map at
face value; however there also remains the question of did they ignore the park

officials who patrol the area warning them about their location. There are a handful
of park rangers who live daily in Tubbataha, made up of Coast Guard and Navy
personnel, tasked with the job of patrolling the area to make sure no fishing boats
or unauthorized vessels penetrate the 968.24 sq. km. protected area. Reports
indicate that one of these rangers tried to warn the USS Guardian before she ran
aground.
Additionally, Philippine senators have voiced their opinion as well that the
United States issue a simple formal apology for the unfortunate incident. While the
US Navy as already issued an apology, some feel that this is not enough and that
the US Ambassador should also issue an apology for the accident. Just to ensure
the Philippines that they are taking this as seriously as we are. It was an accident,
for sure, but there still needs to be accountability. A formal apology for the
destruction of a portion of our national treasure is another step in the right
direction. That along with proper compensation for the destroyed area of the reef is
the right thing to do for the United States and would be no less than what they
themselves would demand should our roles be reversed.
There is definitely still much to be done to successfully put this unfortunate
incident behind us. Damage assessment cant even fully begin until we are able to
successfully conduct the delicate extraction of the navy ship from the reef. Whats
more is that, even with just monetary compensation, it will take years and years for
the reef to naturally rehabilitate itself. This is a process that cannot be rushed or
paid for by any amount of money.