Tuesday, May 19, 2009

High School Reunion in Central Visayas Institute Jagna

By Joe Espiritu

There was a Grand Reunion of the Central Visayan Institute Alumni Association the recent week. This was attended by expats from the US particularly from the East Coast, West Coast and Texas. We can boast of having one from Europe. Do not count out Antiocho – did we spell his name right? – Lloren. He came from Europe but settled here for good. The rest were made up with locals, the famous near famous and not so famous. And the bums, yours truly included.

     Anyway, we should have had a sign on the Jagna Gym entrances paraphrasing (shades of Mrs Maria C Pajo) the sign to Dante's Inferno "Abandon all titles and honors all ye who enter here". This means forget who you are now, be what you were before, a student wrestling with syntax, despairing over physics experiments or trying to speak Tagalog with a Pangasinense accent. But it would be no need. No one was putting on airs... That is the CVI spirit.

     We could not say we had full attendance. This cannot really be attained. When the prewar alumni were called, the ranks were empty. There were few who answered for the 45 to 48 alumni call. When the 49 attendance was called we were surprised that only one hand was raised. Ours. Rip Van Winkle – er – Melquiades Abrea is still around but perhaps sleeping. Also Juaning Galagar CaseƱas but she forgot her Skelan. She did not attend 

     As for the rest of our class we could either point to Pangas or the great cross in Kota, or to heaven for those buried out of town like Justice Bernardo Salas. And Magdaleno Rangas. They all have RIP after their names. We would not like to have the letters DOM on their crosses or tombstones. They were clean living citizens when alive not Dirty Old Men. Besides we have ladies among us too. After the 49 call there were again voices who answered.

     The CVI had come a long way. She had graduated the greats, not so greats average Joes, the mediocre, goats and bums. Presently, the bums were gone; they were a dying breed when the Drs Bernido took over. There are still goats but they can easily wear sheep's clothing. Oh, we had use for the bums. They turned out to be demagogues, charlatans, ambulance chasers, accountants who cook up ledgers to make companies in verge of bankruptcies appear thriving. Lawyers who cannot find their way to the courtrooms and whatever, some became politicians. An improvement? They are the people who make the world interesting.

     The CVI had undergone an evolution. As Central Visayan Institute, she thrived under Mr Fernando N. Pajo Mrs Maria C Pajo Pacifico Custudio, our beloved Guro Jose P Cavardo, who always challenged us to a fist fight when we inserted Visayan cuss words in Tagalog grammar. The CVI became CVC briefly, turning out elementary school teachers taking up inverted courses. Then she reverted to CVI once again until she became a foundation under the Drs Bernido.

     Under Dr Ma Victoria Carpio Bernido –  sorry Chris ladies first – and Dr Christopher C Bernido, the passing for the UP College Acceptance Test  UPCAT keep rising. While graduates of expensive high schools study specialized review centers to pass the UPCAT, a CVIF graduate takes it even shortly before graduation. And the CVIF passing average is high.

     One thing. For one whom finishes a course in UP, he will never lack employment. When employed, if  he starts at the bottom, he will never feel the bottom anyway. After UP he can become a college instructor then if he continues, a professor. When he becomes a lawyer, he will never become an ambulance chaser. The ambulance will chase him. Or a hearse. He could either become a scientist, technologist, politician  or a Communist. If he prefers.

     There may be other reunions but we may not be able to attend anymore we will be sporting an RIP but definitely not a DOM. 

Coral Reefs Degradation in Southeast Asia

By Joe Espiritu

    This week, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went to Indonesia to attend a South East Asian conference in the conservation of the coral reef of the region. Those who attended were the heads of most South East Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which owns the Solomon Islands. They all low within the marine, Indo Pacific Region.

     The purpose of th4 conference is how to protect the coral reefs of the region. Coral reefs are is a natural resource that we had taken for granted. Not only that they have been victims of illegal fishing practices but also prey to man's neglect. Previously, the natives were living in harmony with nature. They took only what they want from the environment in order to exist.  They made no permanent structures; they farmed only enough for food. 

     The coming of the white man changed all that. They built churches and other buildings, they cleared land haciendas, they cut down forests for timber, all in all they took much from the environment that Mother Nature was not given enough time to recover before fresh demands were again made. Coral blocks were made into bricks to make churches, fortifications and other buildings. Over the years, they introduced animals that overgrazed grass cover, used fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals used in modern farming.

     Then erosion set in. with no vegetation to hold them back tropical; rains washed out loosened soil and chemicals out to sea. Along the shores, salinity .fluctuated wildly and not only did the silt covered the coral strands, chemical poisoned them as well. With the dying of corals plus population pressure, valuable shellfish had disappeared. Marine bio diversity was threatened.

     For nations heavily dependent on marine resources for food, the situation is serious. The coral reefs are not only breeding grounds for organisms, which are among the first in marine life, they also act as fortresses for fish larvae and small fishes when threatened by predators. Not only that. They are also home for valuable shellfish. They are either utilized as food or are sold as collectors' items.

     The coral reefs around Bohol had been source of some valuable shells. Somewhere in the northern flats where sand islands appear only during low tides, lie the most precious cowries in the world. Long time ago this spot was visited by Evaristo Zambo, a University of the Philippines graduate from Mandaue City and Dr Paul Zhal Ph D, a Senior Natural scientist. Zambo asked Dr. Zahl not to reveal the location for the cowries found there, if shipped in numbers to collectors in Europe would drastically lower the price.

     Before 1817 only half a dozen of the Glory of the Seas cone, the deadly conus gloriamaris were known to exist. In that year, the famous British collector Hugh Cuming visiting a reef near Jagna turned over a small rock and found two side by side he recalled that he "nearly fainted with delight". When the reef vanished under an earthquake the world believed that the habitat of the gloriamaris disappeared. So famous were those shells that a writer Fanny Steele made a novel of these shells. They still value hundreds of dollars now. Another valuable shellfish that could be found in Bohol coral flats is the Leucodon cowry, the cypraea leucodon. This was found inside the stomach of a fish. 

     We have to protect our corals from chemical poisoning dynamite, and muro ami fishing and also from extraction of corals. Not only that. National and local laws must be passed to regulate the collection of shell fish. Today there are still fishermen who use crawl nets to haul up those specimens.

Philippine Cha-cha (Charter Change) Waste of Time

      We're just wasting the time of the nation.

      This was what Rep. Luis Villafuerte said to explain his decision to throw in the towel on his Charter change resolution. After causing the nation so much trouble, it came down to this.

      Of course, it was not because of Villafuerte's lack of initiative. The head of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino did everything to get the infamous bill off the ground. It is not dead not because of Villafuerte – but in spite of him.

      "This is now a terminal case. Let us remove the life support system and bury it," Villafuerte declared with some measure of eloquence to describe the fate of the bill that polarized the nation throughout its existence.

      The death of Villafuerte's Cha-Cha is more a credit to the fight waged against it by a curious mixture of people genuinely enraged by its stupidity and those who once pushed it for the same reasons that they oppose it now.

      As everybody knows, Villafuerte's bill was aggressively sponsored by his patron and all those who shamelessly played the fiddle with her while the Philippines burned.

      Today, only Villafuerte could summon the courage (or shall we call it temerity?) to send it to its burial ground. That's life. Defeat is an orphan.

      Villafuerte of course has little reason to sulk. This administration is known for its generosity to those who serve its purpose and there is no reason to doubt that he was treated differently.

      If there was anybody entitled to fume and rage over the late, unlamented Resolution 1109, it is the Filipino people. They had to channel precious energy and resources they have to fight the good fight.

      While MalacaƱang and its stooges danced the Cha-Cha using the people's money intended for other purposes, the Filipino people who fought back had to dig deep into their pockets to fight it.

      That it sapped the energy, strength and creativity of a nation, there was no doubt about it. Still it was one fight that had to be fought and won. The nation cannot afford to auction its future, if not sell its soul.

      It is a pyrrhic victory in more ways than one. We fought hard and long, spent so much in the process - and not get anything much in return at the end of the day.

      Still, a victory is a victory. This is one win worth taking credit for.