A whiff of December

Published December 10, 2018, 12:02 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

BELOW THE LINE

By AMBASSADOR JOSÉ ABETO ZAIDE

Ambassador  José Abeto  Zaide
Ambassador José Abeto Zaide

Last Sunday, 9 December , ageing Eagles Class HS 60/Col 64 swooped on AJ Violago’s South Forbes aerie for their Christmas party , tripping the light fantastic to R.J Jacinto and the (reconstructed) Riots belting new (and more of the old familiar) rock n roll.

Our tattle was on the just concluded 81st UAAP basketball championship. Game 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Ateneo won, 88-79, a relatively close encounter vs. UP.  At Game 2, the Araneta Coliseum was swarmed by maroon shirts fired by the battle cry, “Atin ito!” to end the 62 year drought.  (Only Ding Wencleslao with his perpetual seasons’ pass had assured seats.  The rest of us had to deal with scalpers or relegated to follow on tv.)  Ateneo again prevailed, 99-81.

Ateneo Coach Tab Baldwin showed respect for the Fighting Maroons, “I don’t know what they did but they sure got it together, and they got these guys playing as a team, playing extremely hard, and they put together a great season.” Thirdy Ravena, whose 38-points and will o’wisp 3-pointers set the tempo for the Eagles, echoed his mentor’s sentiments, “They’ve come so far, that’s why we knew they’re no pushovers. Props to the entire UP community, especially making history this year.”

The Maroons are bent on surpassing themselves next year, according to UP Coach Bo Perasol, “If our expectations this season were lofty ones, how much more next season? There’s no question…  it’s about the Finals when we get back next year.” UP graduates Paul Desiderio and five more main players.  But the team will be reinforced in season 82 with two premier stars  –  former La Salle ace Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras (son of Benjie Paras of the fabled UP Maroons 1986 UAAP champions.).

Blue Eagles vs. Green Archers are days of yore.  Look forward to the Battle at Katipunan.

FLY IN THE OINTMENT. After Game 1 and before Game 2, a wayward post from a UP sympathizer threatened to take action below-the-belt and outside the Queensberry rules against Ateneo players.  But quick intervention by U.P President Danilo Concepcion nipped it in the bud and took the “statements seriously and dissociates itself from the post and from the actuations of this regent’, adding to raise the matters with the Board of Regents.  Despite the maverick author’s explanatory note and deletion of his threat from his Facebook post, the State University found it neither funny nor convincing and would address appropriately the conduct unbecoming of a gentleman.

MEMORY LANE.  Flashback to 1962 NCAA championship between Ateneo and Mapua. Towards the end of the game, a gorilla Mapua sympathizer jumped feet first onto a prone Felix Flores.  This was captured in morning papers sports photo; but, surprisingly, the criminal was never brought to dock! (Did our generation circa James Dean and Rebel Without a Cause really live dangerously?) The Eagles won the championship; but the NCAA games were suspended for a year to bring down temperature.

10 December, Today our yesteryears’ envoys gather for Christmas lunch at the Restaurant 101. It is always a good and reinvigorating time spent with one’s peers and contemporaries because, allowing for small lapses in senior memory, the stories to get better in retelling. Two challenges bedevil retirees:  the diminishing retirement benefits and inadequate health insurance coverage.

FACT 1: Because of salary hike over time, one who retired ten years ago draws a pension 1/4 of what another retiree today would draw.

FACT 2: On retiring after age 65, the officer/employee is no longer eligible for government health insurance.  (When he was in active service for40 or more years, he was net donor to the health insurance program.  But now that he has most need for medical service, he is without coverage?)

Some palliative available.  There is a nominal own-contribution program under Philcare: A P30,000 annual subscription entitles the retiree to draw as much as P100,000 on medical expenses according to terms and conditions. But this cannot compare to Department of Defense coverage with V. Luna and Veterans hospitals for retirees and a schedule of retirement benefits with adjustment to reflect actual cost-of-living.  Diplomats, after all, are supposed to be the country’s first line of defense and offense.

12 December.  Japanese Ambassador and Madame Koji Haneda will tender a reception for the Japanese Emperor’s birthday at the Rizal Ballroom, Makati Shangrila.  But an Ambassador’s work is never done; he awakes the next morning 13 Dece,ber to catch the flight to Cotabato to sign four (4) grant contracts with respective recipient organizations for school building project, water system, crisis center and training center amounting to US$286,680 (Php 15,226,260)

These projects are part of Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD) funded under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) implemented by the Embassy of Japan. The agreements signing of agreements will be witnessed by national government agencies and other organizations participating in the peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

Japan, our top ODA donor, launched the GGP program in the Philippines in 1989 to reduce poverty and assist various communities engaged in grassroots activities. GGP has funded 534 grassroots projects in a strategic Japan-Philippine partnership towards the future.

Since 2006, Japan has intensively implemented GGP and other ODA projects for conflict affected areas in Mindanao. The sum total adds up to over US$200 million.  Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe expressed to then President Corazon Aquino his support Philippine Government efforts to secure enduring peace in Mindanao, and stated that the Japanese Government will promote the J-BIRD II in view of the establishment of a new autonomous political entity.

December 14, Joaquin “Chino” Gutierrez , performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 aka the “Turkish”at CCP Main Theater, accompanied by the PPO under the baton of Prof. Hemenegildo Ranera.

Accomplished violinists who have performed Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 describe it with awe and reverence: Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti noted the “extremes” in Mozart’s #5. Other writers have referred to the “wildness of solo parts.” To the musical literati, Mozart’s Concerto No. 5 is one of the four “canonical” violin concertos written during his “year of the violin”—all composed in quick succession from June to December 1775. (After that period, Mozart produced no more of this genre.)

Catch it if you can. Gutierrez takes time off from the Mozarteum Academy in Salzburg where he is under the tutelage of French pedagogue Pierre Amoyal.  For ticket inquiries, call CCP 832-3706, or 832-1125, loc. 1106.

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