Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Worrier, Warrior, Wealthier and Worthier

Last weekend, we were in Akron, Ohio to act as Primary Sponsors at the wedding of Rafa Pargas and Courtney Kiel. Rafa is the son of Maris Malvar Pargas who was a classmate of my wife in elementary, college and grad school, and of Roy (Hutch) Pargas, who is a computer science professor at Clemson University. Courtney, who was born and raised in the Akron area, is the daughter of Bob Kiel, an executive of UNISYS and a former high school Varsity basketball coach, and Debbie Kiel, a retired teacher.

It was a beautiful and fun wedding. The wedding planner is the father of the bride. He not only spoke his “words of wisdom” but delivered with much love in deed and in action.

It was a blending of two cultures. That’s why the father of the groom had to reiterate his advice to his son that since he represented the “macho” Filipino, he must look straight into the eyes of his bride, and then firmly, strongly, and authoritatively say, “You are the boss.”

This is really a recognition by Roy that based on his observation, exposure and experience, if you marry a Filipina or an American woman, you have to be ready to be Vice-President, or if you want another position, Assistant Treasurer.

Featured first even before dinner was the beautiful wedding cake. It was designed, and baked by the Chef of Disney World who is a friend of the bride’s family.  I jokingly told the other guests at our table that the friend was asked earlier if she could really bake Courtney’s wedding cake. And her answer was, “Piece of cake.”

Marriage, indeed, is a wonderful “institution”. The only reason why many, like my barber, do not want to get married is because they do not want to live in an “institution”. Marriage also requires full commitment – to the extent that some couples become insanely committed to each other. They say that there is a similarity between marriage and insanity. In both cases, there is commitment to an institution.

Having been married for about four decades, I was asked by my barber as to what could be a major factor for a long, enduring and lasting marriage. I said, “Compromise.”

Example: my wife and I decided to go out one evening. I wanted to go to a movie and she wanted to go see a play. We presented our respective reasons, listened carefully, and then as mature adults, entered into a Solomonic compromise: we went to see a play.

My first cousin, Father Vic Arenas Maynigo, who officiated our wedding, those of my youngest sister, Mila, my eldest daughter, Tanya, and several nieces and nephews, used to say that you usually obtain three rings in marriage: first, the Engagement Ring; second, the Wedding Ring; third, the SuffeRing.

Akron, Ohio. The last time I talked and wrote about it was when LeBron James decided to leave his Cleveland team to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. (See article, “King James and King George: Being Royal, Loyal and Real”).

“Destiny”, they say, “is not a matter chance but a matter of choice. It is not to be awaited but it is to be achieved.”  Our new God daughter, Courtney, has chosen her destiny. She is temporarily leaving Ohio to join Rafa in Virginia to achieve such destiny.

George Steinbrenner of Cleveland left for New York and eventually bought the New York Yankees; John Glenn of Cambridge, Ohio left for outer space and came back a hero; Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio went to the moon; 

Actors Bob Hope and Clark Gable, of Cleveland and Cadiz, respectively, and actresses Halle Berry and Catherine Bach of Cleveland and Warren, respectively went to Hollywood; Kathleen Sebelius of Cincinnati became governor of Kansas and then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Donna Shalala of Cleveland also became U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services;

William Howard Taft of Cincinnati became U.S. President and Chief Justice; Roger Ailes of Warren is now President of Fox News; James M. Cox of Jacksonburg founded Cox Communications; Larry Flynt of Cincinnati publishes Hustler; Ted Turner of Cincinnati founded Turner Broadcasting and CNN; and Jack Warner of Youngstown co-founded Warner Bros. Studios. Gloria Steinem, founder of the Women’s Liberation Movement also hails from Toledo, Ohio.

One of my first major jobs in the U.S. was as Administration Director and Comptroller of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB). Founded in 1947, NAREB is one of the most powerful Black-controlled organizations in the country. Through this group, I learned all about minority business development issues. I reported directly to the President James Haynes. He was the best Chief Executive I have ever been exposed to. He was not only a good planner, organizer, leader and controller; he was an inspiring teacher who trained a group of younger male and female leaders who eventually succeeded him as President of the national association. Most importantly, he is from Cleveland, Ohio.

While in Akron, I could sense from people there that they were quite disappointed with the departure of LeBron James.  This prompted me to do a little research and I found out about the above-mentioned celebrities who came from Ohio but made good somewhere – Moon, Outer Space, Hollywood Stars and Worldwide Web. All of them recognize their roots and somehow made their hometowns proud.

In my high school class in the Philippines, 7 of the top ten honor students plus more left our hometown and now live in the United States and Canada. All are doing extremely well.  Of the 90 million Filipinos, 8 million live and work in several countries temporarily leaving their hometowns and more often than not, their families to provide for themselves and their families a brighter future.

In facing the challenges in this material World, a hard Worker usually start as Worrier, then a Warrior, becoming Wealthier and ultimately a lot Worthier materially, emotionally, and spiritually.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Former Speaker Newt Gingrich recently described President Obama as one who has a “Kenyan anti-colonial world view.”

Asked what his understanding of the statement was, my barber whose interest in political history seems never-ending answered, “I think Gingrich believes that Obama is individualistic, an isolationist and against colonizing or being colonized by others. In Filipino translation, Obama prefers, “Kenya, Kenya”.

SONA (State of the Nation): 8 Killed in hostage crisis. President Noynoy Aquino assumed full responsibility following the Principle of Command Responsibility. The amount of responsibility is always commensurate to the amount of power and resources available to him in meeting his responsibility. He definitely had the power and resources to have prevented the killing. Although one was supposedly willing to take the bullet for him, none of the underlings willingly accepted blame and none offered to resign.

SANA (My barber's wish): 1) Si Manila Mayor Lim na head of the crisis team did not go off to eat at Emerald restaurant at the height of the crisis; 2) yung second-in-command did not go drinking coffee at a bar; 3) yung phone call from the Hong Kong chief executive was returned; 4) the right team had been sent in; 5) media did not breach the boundaries; 6) walang hostages na killed by local fire; and 7) kung si Secretary Robrero remains as DILG Secretary, he should be given full powers, responsibility and trust in running the department including the PNP.

SONA:  Appointment of the new Chairman of the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) announced. As provided in EO 269, the CICT shall be the "primary policy, planning, coordinating, implementing, regulating, and administrative entity of the executive branch of Government that will promote, develop, and regulate integrated and strategic ICT systems and reliable and cost-efficient communication facilities and services." In its mandate, it defined "Information and Communications Technology" (ICT) as the totality of electronic means to collect, store, process and present information to end-users in support of their activities. It consists, among others, of computer systems, office systems and consumer electronics, as well as networked information infrastructure, the components of which include the telephone system, the Internet, fax machines and computers.” More than 2 months after the turnover, the website has not been updated. The key officials listed in the site are still the ones of the previous administration.

SANA:   The website of the CICT is updated and the new key officials listed. In fact, the news updates should really be up to date if not in real time. Among the cabinet departments it should take the lead in the utilization of new information and communications technologies. A look at its website, http://www.cict.gov.ph/ would explain our concern. The latest news in the commission happened during the GMA Administration.

My barber says, “Life is really unfair. The Filipino Muslims successfully resisted foreign occupation and colonization and yet many of them continue to live in abject poverty and sub-human conditions.”

I told him about one of the most memorable quotes that I heard in my early years of marriage. It came from Tita Techie la O' Velasquez, sister of my late mother-in-law, Pacita la O' Manglapus when she said, “To say that life is fair is like saying the bull won’t come after me because I am a vegetarian.”

On the Filipino Muslim situation, I told my barber,” President Benigno S. Aquino III in his remarks at the Hariraya dinner held at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall on Monday assured Muslim communities that his administration will work doubly hard to advance the welfare, aspirations and interest of Muslim Filipinos by supporting and strengthening the autonomous region in Southern Philippines.”

“Mosque papaano, si Noynoy naalaala ang mga Muslim! Sa America yung iba ayaw sa Mosque at gusto pang sunugin and Koran!” my barber exclaimed.

SANA: I got this message from Jose Alejandrino, a former Presidential Assistant of President Fidel Ramos and a friend of mine. He has some tips to President Noynoy Aquino which I think are worth considering:

“I just read your Perception vs Reality. Very informative. If we had one or two Fil-American cabinet secretaries, it might not be a bad idea. For one, they would provide fresh ideas. For another, they would inject a new set of values. For a third, the Pinoys in the US would take greater interest in their country, maybe even encouraging the most successful entrepreneurs among them, to invest in the Philippines. India is trying to woo back Indians abroad. Many in England have gone back to invest in Mumbai.

The private sector should be the engine of growth. Also, the president must learn to "harness" the media and not be reactive. He must remind the media of their responsibilities, that is, to inform objectively, to educate the people, and to look to the national interest rather than the interest of a small group that has its own agenda. He must be an excellent communicator and learn how to use "sound bites" that are effective on television.

The president must learn how to turn questions around at press conferences. Often a bit of wit and humor will help. Everybody, including the press, loves a witty person. When asked a provocative question, he should answer, "Now, what you really meant to ask is this. Let me reformulate your question." So he turns the table to his advantage.

The lesson to learn is that when the media warms up to you, they become less aggressive.The second lesson to learn is that when you impress the media by your intellect, they feel inferior. So they become less aggressive. The third lesson is that the media can be your enemy or your friend. To become your friend, they must respect you. When you have lost the media battle, your presidency is doomed because they influence the opinion polls.”

SANA: After reading my article on Dreaming...Hoping...etc., Joe Alejandrino also had this to say: “Very nice. It's what life is all about...dreaming...hoping...fighting...winning. My dream was that the Philippines would reach Camelot. We are a long way from there.”

This was my response. “Thanks Joe. Your dream about the Philippines reaching Camelot is a positive step. Writer Theodore White once wrote what Camelot represented, “a magic moment in American history, when gallant men danced with beautiful women, when great deeds were done, when artists, writers, and poets met at the White House, and the barbarians beyond the walls held back.” Indeed, reaching a situation where a King Arthur with his Knights or a Kennedy surrounded by "the best and the brightest" seems a long way to go.

The crisis that Noynoy initially faced was minor compared to those that occurred during the Camelot years of King Arthur and John F. Kennedy. Remember Arthur's wayward wife and Kennedy's Bay of Pigs? Noynoy's assumption of responsibility over the hostage issue showed signs of command leadership and humility. I continue to hope......”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Try To Remember The Kind of September

As my barber cut my hair, I heard him humming Harry Belafonte’s song, “Try To Remember”. I am reminded of its lyrics which I partly quote,

Try to remember the kind of September
when life was slow and oh, so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September
        when grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember when life was so tender
that no one wept except the willow.
Try to remember when life was so tender that
dreams were kept beside your pillow.”

I asked him, “What is in the month of September that you could deeply remember?”

He quickly answered, “On September 21, 1972, Martial Law was declared in the Philippines. It was also the day I decided to leave the Philippines and go to a place where the “grass is greener and where freedom and justice reign. When the opportunity to come to the U.S. instead of joining the rebels in the mountains came, I grabbed it. What about you?”


September is a meaningful, significant and a very emotional month for Filipinos, Americans and at least 75 other nationalities worldwide. The 911 Commission Report has this to say:

At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001, the United States became a nation transformed.

An airliner traveling at hundreds of miles per hour and carrying some 10,000 gallons of jet fuel plowed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. At 9:03, a second airliner hit the South Tower. Fire and smoke billowed upward. Steel, glass, ash, and bodies fell below. The Twin Towers, where up to 50,000 people worked each day, both collapsed less than 90 minutes later.

At 9:37 that same morning, a third airliner slammed into the western face of the Pentagon. At 10:03, a fourth airliner crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania. It had been aimed at the United States Capitol or the White House, and was forced down by heroic passengers armed with the knowledge that America was under attack.

More than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center; 125 died at the Pentagon; 256 died on the four planes. The death toll surpassed that at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.”

A careful reading of the list of the 77 countries whose citizens died as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001 shows that several religions were affected and represented. While majority of the American and Filipino victims were Christians (Protestants and Catholics), about 300 were Muslims, some were Jewish, Hindi, Buddhists, and probably other unknown sects. The Al Qaeda attackers showed more interest in the economic and political impact which the attacks symbolized. Any religious impact was not a goal they sought to achieve.

September is also a month of other historical events. On September 3, 1783, the American Revolution officially came to an end when the United States, Great Britain, Spain and France signed the Treaty of Paris. On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered while on September 5, 1972 Israeli athletes were killed at the Munich Olympics. On September 7, 1813, United States was nicknamed Uncle Sam and on September 8, 1974, President Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon.

If you are a feminist, this event on September 20, 1973, should be of interest to you. “In a highly publicized "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match, top women's player Billie Jean King, 29, whipped Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men's player. Riggs, a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn't handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player.”

On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery in the United States while on September 24, 1789, the Judiciary Act establishing the Supreme Court of the United States was passed by Congress and signed by President George Washington,

If you were a fan of actor James Dean or have seen any of his movies, you probably know that he died on September 30, 1955.


September also marked the celebration of the birthdays of many of our friends and relatives:

Josephine Maynigo – September 4th sharing the day with automaker Henry Ford II and actress Mitzi Gaynor;

Francis Xavier Manglapus – September 5th sharing it with former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Vocker and comedian Bob Newhart;

Anita Celdran and Vivian Maynigo whose birthday is September 6th and both sharing their birthday with former Prime Minister of Portugal Jose Socrates, and actress Rosie Perez;

Jane Tan Manglapus and Stanley Maynigo who were born on September 9th and their  birthday coincides with that of former Philippine President Sergio Osmena, Sr., Princess Anna Sophie of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and actor Cliff Robertson;

Raffy Maynigo – September 10th, the same as that of Bill O’Reilly, American TV commentator;

Emily Razzano – September 11th, same as  Dutch actress Nelly Knoop

Homer Rabara and Nomer Maynigo – September 14th coinciding with the birthday of American actor Jesse James and Byzantine Emperor Alexios II Komnenos;

Bea Maynigo and Ken Ettinger – September 16th – same as that of former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and King Louis XIV of France;

VayNne Decena and Carmela Maynigo – September 18th – same as that of Queen Anne of Romania, NCAA Basketball Coach Rick Pitino and actor/director Rossano Brazzi;

Paula Veron Manzon Maynigo and Michael Rabara– September 21st – same as that of the Emperors of China Hongwu and Jingtai and German Emperor Frederick III, Innsbruck Austria;

Bing Branigin – September 26th – sharing it with Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Paul VI, and Winnie Mandela;

Eric Lachica, Christian Maynigo and Charito Nanagas – September 27th, same as that King Louis XIII of France, actor Patrick O’Neal, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Phoenix Suns President Steve Kerr;

Pres Ordinario and Mila Maynigo Denton Goldberg – September 29th, same as Pompey the Great, Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, US Senator Bill Nelson, and NBA Star Kevin Durant.

Amidst all the historical significance, the tragedy, the joy, deliverance and hopes that our kind of September brings, for several decades now, I personally, not just try but make sure that I always remember this month. This is because the most important birthday to me is celebrated at this time. It  is that of my wife, Tina who brought me blessings and made me the luckiest human being on earth. Since she deleted the info in her Facebook profile, it means she does not want our friends to be reminded about her upcoming new age. This is despite the fact that she does not look her age. So I shall oblige!
As I ended my conversation with my barber, he reminded me that for us who live not too far from the Chesapeake Bay, the season of good crabbing which is the beginning of the “ber” months has just begun. “Try to remember that the best kinds of crabs are in September,” he concluded.