2014: Another Year of Living Dangerously
By Mariano “Anong” Santos
left photo shows Father & son, Veep Jojo and Makati Mayor Jojo Binay Jr. sued for plunder while daughters, Sen. Nancy & Congressperson Abigail Binays are busy playing apologists.
right shows Popes John XXIII and John Paul II were fast-tracked into saintHOOD BY the Catholic Church last April in a ceremony in the Vatican presided by Pope Francis.
2014 is the year when the world is gripped by Fear, with a capital F.
Fear of the Ebola pandemic that took more than 7,600 lives—mostly in Africa. Fear of terrorists sabotaging the Winter Olympic in Russia. Fear of another super typhoon hitting the same region in the Philippines devastated by the most powerful storm ever recorded just a year earlier. Fear of flying Malaysian Airlines.
Fear of being blown out, literally, just by watching a low-rated James Franco comedy in a neighborhood cinema. Fear that another intrepid journalist will lose his head, literally, from an avenging swift sword of an extremist jihadist in the Middle East. There was even fear among minorities in the U.S. streets—fearing police officers to use excessive force in apprehending suspects.
Fear was not without basis. The Taliban took revenge on the Pakistani government by murdering 142—131 were school children. In Nigeria, rebels kidnapped more than 200 school girls for ransom and to date, the hostages remain captives. Vladimir Putin breathed a sigh of relief with the Olympics concluding peacefully but his fear shifted to the falling Russian currency-- thanks mainly to the falling oil price.
Top Searches online
Internet hackers got into the files of Sony Pictures—producer of "The Interview," a fictionalized film about the assassination of North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong Un. Soon after the warning that U.S. cinemas will be in danger if they show the movie and Sony fearfully withdrew the exhibition—earning a rebuke from President Obama himself. Soon North Korea was hit by an internet blockage. Whew! By Christmas Day, the controversial film reels out to curious audiences with extra police protection, of course.
On Google, the top search of the year was about the suicide of the celebrated actor, Robin Williams. The most tweeted online in the Philippines was the mugging of comedian-TV personality, Vhong Navarro. Coming close was the tweets about the death of transgender Jennifer Laude allegedly by a U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton who is now awaiting trial.
Baby Jennalyn Sentino born July 27, 2014 in a State Hospital was declared the symbolic 100 millionth Filipino of the Commission on Population. Her parents are a van driver Clemente Sentino and his common law wife Dailin Cabigayan who received a cake and baby clothings as gifts.
It was also a year of protesters of various causes. The rallyists in support of the Reproductive Health Law simmered down after the Philippine Supreme Court ruled on its legality. Same went for those protesting the plundering of the pork barrel funds—the shouting got tamed with the arrest of the top suspects—Senators Juan Ponce "Tanda" Enrile, Ramon "Bong" Revilla and Jinggoy Ejecito Estrada—joining in jails their patroness, Janet Lim-Napoles.
Now, the Binay Dynasty
The odorous air of corruption continued to permeate the political environment with the expose of the alleged overpricing of government buildings construction in Makati City during the successive reigns of the Mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay, his wife and former Mayor, Dr. Enelita Binay, and incumbent Mayor Jojo Binay Jr.
Senators Alan Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes doggedly pursued the investigation with the help of Binay's former bag man and Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado who turned whistle blower after Jojo Binay failed to deliver of his promise of mayorship to the guy and gave it instead to his wife, Dr. Elenita. The search for fraudulent Binay holdings extended to a huge hacienda in Batangas, condos in Tagaytay and prime properties in California.
Front-runner in the 2016 presidential derby, Jojo Binay, lost 15 per cent in the popularity polls because of the allegations, with Sen. Grace Poe gaining momentum moving to second place and Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas running third. Binay's apologists that include his daughters, Sen. Nancy Binay and Makati Congressperson Abigail Binay are busy shoring up the erosion of their dad's popularity and are bent to do everything to get him to succeed Noynoy Aquino in Malacanan Palace. Victory means getting away from all the plunder charges plus freedom for the Binays' political allies, Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada.
"Let it Go"
Other positive Philippine news included the continuing economic growth despite the massive cost of reconstruction of the devastated provinces hit by Haiyan. P-Noy's trip to Europe, U.S. and various Asians countries brought commitment for substantial investments.
City of Vegan made the Top New Wonders of the World. Palawan and Boracay were voted by reputable travel magazines as top tourist destinations. Vigan is the site of the Knights of Rizal International Confab on Feb. 18-21. Cruise Lines will be making more visits on main ports of scenic interests back home.
Indie Filipino filmmakers reaped numerous awards in international film fests—making it a banner year for them. "Norte" is on the list of would-be contenders for Best Foreign Film next month in Hollywood where in last year's Academy Awards, Oscar's Best Song Award went to Robert Lopez, a talented Filipino American who wrote "Let it Go" from Disney's "Frozen."
Back here in the United States, polar vortex ominously started the year in deep chill and the wild weather continued its havoc with its drought, floods and record snowfall in the months when normally autumn leaves should have been falling.
The nationwide protest over the police killing of Afro-American young men in Missouri and New York testified once again that the U.S. racial divide is far from resolved. Again, America faced the dilemma of whether to pull out or escalate its involvement in the various Mideast crises notably in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
The Republicans gained total control of the U.S. Congress, defeating most of the Democratic senators running for re-election and widened their lead in the Lower House. The GOP also increased the number of governors including Illinois where multi-millionaire Bruce Rauner defeated Democrat incumbent Pat Quinn. Both candidates graced the Philippine Independence dinner ball in June.
Obama flexes his muscles
President Obama flexed his executive muscles and took action on the long stalled immigration reform bill and then heeded the request of Pope Francis to start a friendlier relation with Cuba. The President also made compromises with China on the climate change issue and traveled to Asian countries to make assurances that the U.S. remains committed in their defense in the wake of increasing Chinese aggression.
The Filipino Community in Chicago got Ambassador Generoso Calonge to replace Leo Herrera Lim who left two years early and moved to the Los Angeles post. The offices of the Department of Tourism will also be permanently closed as of the end of this month (See Travel, page 27)—a paradoxical decision considering the productive work that came out of this out.
The 10,000 Kwentos co-curated by the Field Museum with competent leaders put on the spotlight the rich but obscured treasures in the basement of this iconic institution—making us all aware about the rich heritage that are within easy rich of Filipino Americans in the area.
"Piyesta Pinoy" took a leap forward successfully branching out from the spring gig at the Navy Pier to the civic grounds of the City of Bolingbrook with wider participation and a bigger audience. "Simbang Gabi" grew even bigger—now 72 churches in the Chicago area are joined by dozens more in the Lake, Joliet and Rockford Archdioceses.
Pope Francis, due to visit the Philippines this month, appointed Archbishop Blasé Cupich, a progressive shepherd of the flock to replace Francis Cardinal George. The pope is reportedly ready to name Archbishop Cupich Cardinal who gave the homily at the last day of the "Simbang Gabi" novena at Our Lady of Mercy Church.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Cardinal Orlando Quevado is due to dedicate this coming May a Shrine of the Sto. Nino at Our Lady of the Snow Shrine in Belleville, Illinois. (Popular Manila Archbishop, Jose Cardinal Tagle officiated at his niece's wedding in West Chicago last summer and many faithful want him back in a more official capacity.)
National Confabs In Chicago
Filipino American United Methodists will also hold their national conference here in Chicago said his president Pong Javier, an elder at the Cosmopolitan Church in Melrose Park. Conrad Manankil also shared the news that the Circulo Capampangans in Chicago will this year hold the national confab of the Pampanguenos in the U.S.
The Golden jubilee of the passing of the immigration law in 1965 that expanded the entry of nationals from Third Countries like the Philippines will be highlighted in the celebration of the Filipino American History Month in October.
So there, folks…while summing up what has taken place in the past year of living dangerously, we can look forward with optimism that this New Year brings new hopes and meaningful challenges. Just remember now the lessons of the past in our effort to bring a better future for us all.