Category Archives: Opinions

Unforgivable Brownouts and Inadequate Water in Iloilo City By Rhea B. Peñaflor

Unforgivable Brownouts and Inadequate Water in Iloilo City
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

Each day, it looks like PECO feels bad when there is no power outage in Iloilo City.
But what can it really do when the demand is too high for them to handle?

In the same vein, MIWD kept on billing its discontent consumers even there is nothing that comes out of their faucets.

Going back to the power problem, recall that in April 2009, Iloilo City has an estimated power demand of 76-megawatt but the then local chief executive, now Cong. Jerry P. Treñas said there is a reduced capability of NAPOCOR for PECO with 9 megawatts.
The total capability of generator Panay Power Corporation (PPC) for PECO is only 70 megawatts, assuming there is no breakdown of PPC plants. The total capability of NAPOCOR and PPC for PECO is only 79 megawatts by posting a 3-megawatt margin for reserve.
This reserve is still not enough, thus, the whole of Panay Island will continue to suffer frequent power blackouts. True enough, this is what we are experiencing now.
“Pirme na lang gabrownout, perde negosyo,” these are just some common lines one would hear from owners of small, medium and even big establishments in Iloilo City.

It is not only these establishments that suffer but even common people and even households do suffer too. Some home-based workers largely depend their jobs like online writing on electricity. There is no need to even explain the importance of electricity in this day and age.

Yes, power outage is not only true in Iloilo City, since we all know that even Manila is experiencing the same problem and it will be worse in the coming months. Increased demands for power, less supply equals blackouts. What is the next step then? Do we just complain?

Newly-elected Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog in his inaugural speech said that he wants to be known as the mayor of small business persons with a hotline service for the city, who has the energy, strength and political will to implement projects and programs for the good of the city. Then this is the best time to address and prove to his constituents when we have the Top Two problems in Iloilo City: Electricity and Water.

He can start with providing efficiently these basic needs of the people.

Also, MIWD’s politicking should already come to an end. What is paramount should be the people’s welfare, not the clash between the board of directors (BODs) of the Metro Iloilo Water District (MIWD) and its management.

Kalu-luoy lang ni ang mga kunsumidor. Tsk.tsk. Amo gihapon nga istorya. Kuris-kuris.

Are we always at the mercy of PECO and MIWD?
Sabat, pumuluyo sang Iloilo.


Posted by on July 5, 2010 in Editorials, Iloilo City, Opinions


Tags: , , , , , ,

Leaving 2009 behind and looking forward to 2010

Published in The News Today, Dec.23, 2009

Leaving 2009 behind and looking forward to 2010

By Rhea B. Peñaflor

2009 soon will be over. But how was our 2009? Was it good? Better than 2008? Or was it the year we want it to be?

Indeed, we may have frustrations but Christmas is the time to set aside all these negative vibes. For a moment, let us be thankful for all the blessings that we have received this year.

The News Today wishes everyone especially its avid readers a Joyous Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

It is with pride that we have our share of good news in Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao famously known as “Manny Pacquiao” and Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida Jr.

Pacquiao won the WBO Welterweight Title and WBC Diamond Belt. The Filipino boxing superstar is the first boxer to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions.

Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida Jr., on the other hand was named CNN Hero of the Year for 2009 who started the “Kariton Klassroom” to bring education to poor children. He is the founder and head of the Dynamic Teen Company, which offers Filipino youth an alternative to street gangs through education, recreating school settings in unconventional locations such as cemeteries and trash dumps.

These two are the major good news which the Philippines is thankful about but we also remember the most dreadful incident which happened in our country—the November 23 massacre.

In the silence of our hearts though, we pray for our brothers and sisters who were victims of the hapless killings last Nov. 23. May their loved ones and family whom they left will find justice. We also pray and urge the government to cut the horns of these sacred cows for the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre will forever haunt each one of us especially journalists who are no longer safe to be civilians or citizens of this country.

The Maguindanao massacre is the worst brutal mass killing ever recorded with a single biggest death toll of journalists ever in a single incident anywhere in the world.

The latest update briefing from the International Crisis Group (ICG), shows how the 23 November killings were not the result of a clan feud, as widely reported, but of Manila’s deliberate nurturing of a ruthless warlord in exchange for votes.

Art. XVIII, Section 24 of the Philippine Constitution states that “Private armies and other armed groups not recognized by duly constituted authority shall be dismantled. All paramilitary forces including Civilian Home Defense Forces not consistent with the citizen armed force established in this Constitution, shall be dissolved or, where appropriate, converted into the regular force.”

This constitutional provision has no teeth simply because it is the national government itself protecting these abusive warlords. The Ampatuans amass absolute power, including the possession of a private arsenal that included mortars, rocket launchers, state-of-the-art assault rifles and only-God-knows-what-other kind of ammunitions because even the military is afraid of them. Ask the locals and they know that this kind of lawlesness has been going on for decades. The “Ampatuans” are Untouchables, or, were.

But what now, after this tragic, animalistic massacre?

As responsible journalists, The News Today calls that justice be served and by that, we mean expeditiously. We mean, put to trial and convict the killers. We mean, put a stop to private armies because they have no place in a civilized society.

We also call for the government to put up livelihood programs for the people in Maguindanao because poverty is the cause why they joined the private armies even if it is against their conscience. When the stomach is already complaining, people forget that they have a conscience. What do you do when your family or children goes hungry?

ICG is correct in stating that the government’s tasks include improving security by ending private and local funding for civilian auxiliaries to the police and military and asserting far more control over procurement and issuance of firearms and ensuring the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) moves forward. It was on the pretext of fighting the MILF that the Ampatuans built their private force.

There is thus a need of massive campaign of educating and rehabilitating the people especially in areas of armed conflict. Educating them of the effect of the armed conflict and exploitation may not easy since emotional trauma can not be quantified. Still, we urge NGOs and trained individuals to impart their knowledge and skills in helping appease the anger and sad fate of our unfortunate brothers and sisters in Mindanao.

For our fellow journalists, responsible journalism is about thinking long term.

Recalling the very words of Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism Professor and Director Shiela Coronel during the 2008 Bangkok Media Conference, “Journalists should think long term. You may be a very brilliant journalist but when you’re 6 feet below the ground, that’s the end of you.”

I agree with Coronel. While it is true that journalists should not fear to speak the truth, to tell the truth, it must also go with responsibility of preserving one’s self. We can be better instruments if we remain alive. Of course, we have to also weigh if we are putting our life and limb in trouble. It is a balance of being courageous at the right time and place.

Our fellow journalists who joined the convoy of the Mangudadatus has committed no violation. They have the right to be there. They have the right to be agents of truth since the central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society. Maybe in their hearts, they believed that they will not be harmed since they are civilians, but they were not spared.

That is why the Maguindanao massacre is the most odious, blatant violation of basic human right—the right to life. The greatest lesson here is taught. Do we need all these people killed first before a change be made?

This Christmas, we all wish especially our fellow journalists, a peace of mind. Each day, we are faced with new issues, new tragic events but we have to deliver and report the news.

We have to speak only the truth. Voir dire. This is the first obligation of the journalist to its audience, the readers.

Let us leave 2009 behind with lessons learned and look forward to a better 2010.

As we move forward, The News Today commits itself with bringing you only the truth.


Posted by on January 1, 2010 in Editorials, Opinions


On Police Power When will the public roads be safe again after Typhoon “Frank”?

On Police Power
When will the public roads be safe again after Typhoon “Frank”?
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

(Note: This article was published in The Daily Guardian, June 2008)

Thursday, June 26, 2008, Iloilo City.—I am afraid that as of this writing, there is yet mud all over the public roads in Iloilo City.

In the case of People vs. Pomar, the Supreme Court defined police power as the power vested in the legislature by the Constitution to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes, and ordinances, either with or without penalties not repugnant to the Consitution as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the State and of the subjects of the same.

Although police power is primarily lodged in the national legislature, by virtue of a valid delegation of legislative power and pursuant to the Local Government Code, police power of the State may also be exercised by lawmaking bodies on all municipal levels, including the barangay. As one of the State’s inherent power, Professor Freund describes police power as the most pervasive power among the three fundamental powers of the State because it is the power of promoting public welfare by restraining and regulating the use of liberty and property. That is why police power is regarded as the most important and demanding among the three powers. The other powers are powers of eminent domain and taxation.

That is why I’m surprised why police power has not been exercised when it’s obvious that there is a need to exercise the same. Why is it that amidst the depressing after-effects of the calamity which we are now facing here in Iloilo City, there is no visible help from the local government? Where is the police power that is supposed to co-exist with the State? It is already a tragedy that we have lost our loved ones and friends, homes and livelihood because of this killer flood. We can no longer take further losses like that of public safety and security which is supposed to be guaranteed by the government for its people.

Look at our muddy roads.

I spoke to commuters, taxicab and jeepney drivers as well as the common people in the city and they also wonder like I wonder why the mud has not been taken out from the public roads. When everybody else is busy cleaning their homes or looking for potable water and food, the mud-covered roads remain untouched since Monday.

On a Thursday morning, I happened to witness a motorcycle accident when the motorcycle skid on the road and eventually turned over because of the encroaching mud still on the roads. This kind of obstruction poses a danger to the life and limb of the public.

There was yet no deployment from the government to clean up the mess. There is no excuse for the local government’s unjustifiable delay of taking out the mud from the public roads as Typhoon “Frank” has already passed. People are on their own helping themselves but asking “where the hell are the police officers?” Aren’t they supposed to assist us by at least making sure that our welfare is supreme above everything else? They can do that by cleaning up the roads. The barangay officials can do that as they can also exercise police power by cleaning the roads in their own barangays.

How can we feel safe when we know that even our roads are not safe? In Kalibo, I was told that they have already started cleaning their roads by using bulldozers and high powered equipment to remove mud as it is certainly a nuisance, thus, posing danger to the public and it must be abated.

When are we starting the clean-up?

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2009 in Opinions


A time to invoke the Doctrine of Parens Patriae

A time to invoke the Doctrine of Parens Patriae
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

The News Today Online
The News Today
Updated September 20, 2007 Iloilo City, Philippines

After a long day, I watched the national news last night and I was alarmed by the story where a Grade 3 pupil, 9 years of age jumped off from the fourth floor of her school in Manila.

The police investigators themselves cannot believe that a child of this age can already discern to take her life, worse, to even think of jumping off from the school building.

Whatever was in the mind of this child at that time is something which remains a riddle to us. As of press time, what I know is that she is in a critical condition in a hospital there.

Parens patriae, Latin for “father of his country,” or simply understood as the “State as the guardian of the people”. The term for the doctrine means that the government is the ultimate guardian of all people under a disability, especially children whose care is only entrusted to their parents or guardians as well as those who may be considered as underprivileged, incompetents and the underdogs.

Now, we have an actual case. After what happened to this 9-year old child, can we now invoke the doctrine of parens patriae? The next question is, “Is the school immune from the parents’ lawsuit because it has the legal authority to do anything reasonably related to its educational mission?” Schools legitimately play a significant role in the care and nurture of children entrusted to them by the parents who expect that their children are safe in an educational institution.

With hundreds, maybe thousands of students in one school, how can it possibly control one student from jumping off the school building? What measures does a school take in order to avoid these incidents? Is there a liability on the part of the school for not having prevented this tragedy?

I remember when I was the High School Student Republic (HSSR) President then where a student also jumped off our school building, and landed right in front of me. We brought him to the hospital and fortunately he recovered. Good thing is, he did not fall right where I was standing or else, I could have suffered more injuries. If I have to think about it now, that student was 15 years old when he decided to jump off the school building. There is already discernment since he is already considered as an adolescent, but this child who recently jumped off her school building is only 9 years old. She is still a child. To me, it is most disturbing. It more than anything else, shocking.

But another angle of this story is the personal side, and yes, the psychological aspect of the child, and her family. The police investigators found out that this child was always being scolded or reprimanded by the parents. I do not know if what these investigators mean is that the parents actually pressure the child of what they want for her.

When would parents know that enough is enough, though? There is just no school for parenting and it is always a trial and error case, such as maybe exemplified in this case.

In law school, the doctrine of parens patriae is one of those highfaluting doctrines which I encountered and also, one of the most famous doctrines that makes the State more powerful than anyone with the people’s fear of constitutionally rejecting the said doctrine.

This time and again, I believe that this issue is of transcendental importance. This is something shocking to the senses. A 9-year old child jumping off a school building is most upsetting. Is there any way of stopping this incident from happening again?

What will the State do now as the ultimate guardian of its people?

It is high time to invoke the doctrine of parens patriae again.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2009 in Opinions


Cultural activism in Iloilo City

Cultural activism in Iloilo City
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
The News Today
Updated April 11, 2008, Iloilo City, Philippines

After watching the benefit concert of Jamie Rivera at the Kalantiao Hall, Sarabia Manor Hotel on March 29, there was only one thing that came to my mind. I realized that cultural activism is still alien to this city. And why am I saying this? It’s because so many Ilonggos do not know who Jamie Rivera is but they know Britney Spears or Avril Lavigne. There is still a sort of pseudo-appreciation of the arts, culture and music here. It could still be a residual effect from the time when the Spaniards colonized our country. There is that colonial mentality which lingers, but we cannot blame everything on the past, right?

Isn’t it a weird idea that when a product is imported, the perception is that it tastes better or that it is unarguably better than the local product? Although it could be true sometimes, this idea does not follow at all times. The same is true with talents, like when the singers or talent groups are foreigners, there is also the impression that they are better performers than our local performers. That is false sense of pop culture which makes us victims of the Britney Spears craze.

That is why I think, there is a need to reform or at least educate ourselves again of the truest sense of cultural activism. Cultural activism may come in many forms. Others sing in protest of unfair labor practice, dance in the streets against a corrupt government, or the latest was a performance of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Pyongyang, in the hope of softening Kim Jong-il, a deliberate effort to improve relations between the communist country and the Western world. Indeed, there are many forms of cultural activism. You can use culture such as music and the arts to air your grievances or disgust with something socially or politically relevant. One can inform the public too by writing about certain culture, arts and music as observed or experienced and if one cannot write about it, maybe one can do it by word of mouth when one converses with friends or acquaintances. Also, one need not be an artist or musician to actively support music and the arts, or culture in general. As I said there are many ways to involve one’s self either directly or not. I would say that that is also a form of cultural activism when you patronize your own local artists before foreign artists like Air Supply or Matt Monroe. Why then not just support your own local artists? Why bother flying in already popular foreign artists when our local artists need the support more? I simply don’t get it. If the intention though was to bring in foreign artists for Iloilo City as a way of priming the local artists through exposure, then that is an excellent idea. But if it isn’t, then, is this all about money again? Or false sense of prestige, perhaps? There are lots of local artists here, some waiting to be tapped and others no longer care because anyway, it is useless since there is just no support shown to them. So why bother, right?

As Jamie Rivera’s concert is a benefit concert where proceeds will go to the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology in Guimaras and Iloilo, members of the Iloilo Youth Orchestra (IYO) were guest performers as part of showcasing Ilonggo talents which is an excellent idea. I think that the organizers did a great job in tapping and introducing the city’s local talents such as IYO and Sol Fernandez’s School of Dance. This is a clear manifestation of the support which I just mentioned—prioritizing our very own local artists.

Aside from the fact that IYO’s bulilits (little kids) were really cute, their way of playing their violins although they are as young as 4 years old was commendable considering that the piece Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is a long one, they managed to concentrate and play very well.

Kudos also goes to the senior trainees of IYO when they played their Canon by Johann Pachelbell and the Palladio. With all the pieces that I’ve heard the group play, the most recent piece which is the Palladio is my favorite. I like the beat and the rhythm and to me, it actually tells a story. Hearing the piece would create images in one’s mind. Indeed, it is one stimulating piece.

For about a year now, I have witnessed how the Iloilo Youth Orchestra, a community-based, non-profit organization which just marked its first anniversary as an incorporated entity last January 3, 2008 is slowly achieving its mission of training and developing local musicians, creating performance opportunities for musical artists, promoting collaboration with local artists and encouraging the involvement and support of the local community in the artistic endeavors.

Somebody has to have the balls to start something like an orchestra in Iloilo City. And that was what IYO did—to form an orchestra with a legal entity. And I think this is one big boost to the city’s cultural tourism.

Analyzing and observing what the group has done so far, it is remarkable that in a span of more than a year, IYO already had 12 performances in different venues like malls, restaurants, hotels, and private halls. I would say that is cultural activism on their part utilizing the only resources that they have, since all of the trainees only play the violin as they only have a violin instructor at the moment. I believe that this group is sending an obvious message to the local community that they exist in Iloilo City and maybe we can also do our part as a local community by supporting it.

An orchestra is a large group of musicians who play together on various instruments, usually including strings, woodwinds, brass instruments, and percussion instruments. For the past performances, IYO has to bring in professional players from Manila and Cebu even before the organization was incorporated as well as other performances, in order to respond to the lack of players using other instruments aside from violin. A good example of this was during their participation in a major production which is an opera for children entitled “Mozart’s Magic Fantasy—A Journey through the Magic Flute.” This opera was officially endorsed and financially sponsored in part by Austrian Embassy in the Philippines from November 25-30, 2006 at St. Anne’s Hall, Assumption School, Iloilo City

In the article which I wrote in Consumers and Business Forum magazine, a national magazine which just came out this month, I mentioned how business blends with culture. That is why there is a need to support it because it is cultural tourism in itself. And tourism, be it ecological, recreational, food, cultural, or whatever tourism, in general, is good for a city or any place. It always spells a good economy, which is an investment in itself.

Now that Iloilo City has an orchestra it can call its own, with Ilonggo talents playing their violins, I think it is high time for Ilonggos to show that they also believe in cultural activism . A good start would be to help these local artists as a part of realizing the Iloilo City Government’s goal of making the city a Premier City in 2015.

Of course, for any orchestra to develop and improve, the acquisition of other instruments will certainly help in expanding IYO’s training offerings. Once the instruments are available, qualified instructorswould be brought in to Iloilo City from Cebu, Manila or even abroad. Gradually and maybe just slowly, now starting with the violin, with the help of donations or sponsorships of other instruments to the organization, it will no longer be impossible to achieve the goal of having a real orchestra—that is a group of musicians playing various instruments.

Wouldn’t anyone or any group want to sponsor this orchestra and may be the proceeds can buy other instruments which the group would need? Or can anyone donate their instruments which are only put to waste because of their non-use?

Wouldn’t you want to watch a complete orchestra here in Iloilo City?

I certainly would want to watch an orchestra here.

I think that it would be great.

Seeing and hearing Ilonggo talents play as an orchestra would be great.

As an Ilonggo, I would be proud.

But how about you?

(For comments, please email me at

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 7, 2009 in Opinions


TESDA scholarships: Big boost to education of youth

TESDA scholarships: Big boost to education of youth
By Rhea B. Peñaflor
Updated June 10, 2009 Iloilo City, Philippines, The News Today

Gone were the days when parents fear that their children might not be able to get an education because of high tuition and school-related fees in college.

The Pangulong Gloria Scholarship (PGS) is in line with the Economic Resiliency Program of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which provides free training, training support fund and free competency assessment to support job creation and job preservation.

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) was established through the enactment of Republic Act No. 7796 otherwise known as the “Technical Education and Skills Development Act of 1994”, which was signed into law by President Fidel V. Ramos on August 25, 1994. This Act aims to encourage the full participation of and mobilize the industry, labor, local government units and technical-vocational institutions in the skills development of the country’s human resources.

TESDA’s major thrust, which is the formulation of a comprehensive development plan for middle-level manpower based on the National Technical Education and Skills Development Plan. This plan shall provide for a reformed industry-based training program that includes apprenticeship, dual training system and other similar schemes.

In Western Visayas alone, 2,394 Pangulong Gloria scholars graduated under The Pangulong Gloria Scholarships (PGS) Program as of first quarter of CY 2009, according to the report of the TESDA Region VI.

Of the 2,394 graduates, 25 finished automotive, 94 construction that includes carpentry, masonry, plumbing, steel bar installation, construction painting, and building wiring installation.

For metal and engineering 452 completed courses in gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and gas metal arc welding, while six finished consumer electronics servicing, 234 for health care services, spa therapy and household services.

In St. Therese MTC Colleges, available courses are bartending, housekeeping and food and beverage service; medical transcription at St. Zita Training and Development Center, Inc.; commercial cooking at the KRYZ Culinary Arts and Restaurant Services Institute; and barista at the Asian Touch International Training Institute.

Undoubtedly, St. Therese-MTC’s bartending instructor Brian Andrade is among the best instructors in this field. English instructor Ian Paul Jungay is one competent and dedicated teacher for the PGS scholars in the said school.

For information and communication technology 633 completed courses for call center agents, contact center services, finishing course for medical transcriptions, and computer hardware servicing, and for tourism to include hotel and restaurant 510 finished barista, commercial cooking, food and beverage services, bartending and housekeeping.

A basic objective of the PGS is to produce a pool of qualified and globally competent workforce that is “Job Ready” and to develop skills and competencies of the unemployed and the underemployed through training programs for pre-employment, skills upgrading and productivity enhancement.

The program packages of the PGS include On-shore scholarships, Off-shore scholarships, Trainers Training, and Institutional Partnerships, with qualification requirements, such as, ther applicant must be at least 15 years old, has taken the National Career assessment Examination, or has undergone should take the youth Profiling for Starting Careers, and must be unemployed, underemployed, retrenched/displaced worker or returning overseas Filipino worker.

The PGS is OPEN TO ALL as long as they meet the following requirements:

1. at least 15 years old (OR high school graduate);
2. has taken the national career assessment examination (NCAE) or has undergone / should take the youth profiling for starring careers (YP4SC);
3. be unemployed, underemployed, retrenched/displaced worker or returning Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)

Also, among the benefits from these scholarships are free career profiling, free full cost of training, training support fund, free competency and employment referral.

Those who wish to apply can call the TESDA hotline at 887-7777 which is a 12/5 call center. text TESDA SMS to 0917-4794370 / 0918-2738232, send email to contactcenter @ or visit the nearest TESDA regional/provincial/district offices, TESDA technology institutes, or any participating public and private Tek-Bok providers nationwide and partners industry/sector association and other bodies such as TUCP, BPAP, Philippine Automotive Federation, Inc. (PAFI), Association of Carriers and Equipment Lessors (ACEL), Monark, DM Consunji Construction Inc., SEIPI, among others.

With Pangulong Gloria Scholarship, TESDA hopes to produce a pool of qualified and globally competent workforce who will be ready for the job.

Indeed, this is one excellent and laudatory educational program by the Philippine government.

Apply for a Pangulong Gloria Scholarship now and have a bright future ahead.


Posted by on November 7, 2009 in Opinions


Losing a Genius in Ilonggo Writer Winton Lou Ynion

Losing a Genius in Ilonggo Writer Winton Lou Ynion
By Rhea B. Peñaflor

Ilonggo writer Winton Lou Ynion’s passion for writing is evident not only in what he has personally achieved as a writer at a young age but as to what he has contributed to the Philippine literature.

His exceptional, lively delivery of all his stories whether verbal or written shows this outstanding gift.

We grieve for we truly lost a genius in Ilonggo writer Winton Lou Ynion.

Indeed, Winton Lou Ynion has always been larger than life. He was way ahead of his time. A very effective teacher, he not only inspired his students in different universities but he has left a living legacy that poverty is never an obstacle to one’s ambitions.

He was exceptionally a self-made person.

Winton’s abrupt, tragic death shocked everyone. He was only 28 years old.

He was only starting to fulfill his dreams as a professional writer and teacher. He was only starting to give the life he wanted to “Mommy,” his surrogate mother who considered him as her own son. He was only starting to reap the product of his hardwork.

Winton was only starting to actually live a good life.

No wonder why Winton was always in a hurry. It was his standard to write one poem, essay or article each day, and read all the Filipino epics and literature that he can muster. His self-discipline and focus is beyond compare. Now, I understand why he chose to live a fast-paced life. Maybe there was a subconscious effort that he has only 28 years and that was it.

At age 27, Winton Lou Ynion was the youngest Philippine Studies Ph.D. graduate of UP Diliman.

When we were strolling in UP Diliman campus in 2006, he told me that he is determined to break the record of the youngest student who finished his Ph.D. The youngest he said was 31 years old. Winton had everything planned. He did as planned. He broke the record to be the youngest doctor of philosophy in UP Diliman.
It was on that same year when Winton translated from English to Filipino the book, “The Tale of Juliet” (Ang Kuwento ni Juliet) by author Jhet Torcelino-van Ruyven. Quoting T. Harv Eker, a number 1 N.Y. Times best selling author of the “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind,” he said, “The Tale of Juliet is a transformational and inspiring account of doing whatever it takes to live life to its fullest potential. This book shows how to discover a higher purpose in life while enjoying the journey along the way.” It was on that same year when the book translated in Filipino was launched in Far Eastern University.
Winton has always been inspiring. He was full of zest of life, and his creative ideas would always amuse and amaze me. He would bring his micro-recorder wherever he goes because he records his thoughts before he forgets them. I was a witness to this when we were walking in the shades of trees inside UP Diliman campus. He would just get his recorder inside his bag and say his thoughts about something he suddenly sees or feels. We were talking about our favourite lines in the telenovella, “Maging Sino Ka Man” and the films, mostly Chinese movies, which we consider as the best films. On some other time, he would share with me what he teaches his students and these are always interesting topics in Philippine literature or simply, creative writing.

We would end up talking and talking and it always seem that we are short of time. I always looked forward in seeing him when I had the chance to do so in Manila. I last saw and spoke to Winton last year when we had dinner in Iloilo City with another Ilonggo writer and poet, Alain Russ Dimzon. He was full of colourful stories and I had no clue that it will be our last conversation.

In 2007, Winton won Gawad Komisyon’s 3rd Prize in Short Story (Tagalog) entitled “Paghuli sa Sigbin Pagsan (g) at’t Pagka (i) sa Tungo sa Pambansang Panitikan” and First Prizes in Short Story (Hiligaynon) entitled “May Isa Ka Babayi” and Poetry entitled “Nagapulaw nga Tanhaga ang Dagat.”
Winton proved himself as a prolific writer when he won the 2004 Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature’s First Prize on Short Story-Hiligaynon entitled “Sinipad sa Balaan Bukid.” The Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature is the Philippines’ most prestigious and most enduring literary awards.

In 2001, Winton was awarded the very first Kawad Komisyon sa Tula para sa Beteranong Makata for his poem, “Kapit sa Kape.” It was on the same year when Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) awarded him the Grand Prize in Gantimpalang Collantes Gawad Surian for Essay on Filipino language in the academe. The following year, Winton was kind enough to help me when I had my first book entitled, “Breaking the Fiberglass” got published. He agreed to read and critique my poems and other manuscripts, and finally write the introduction of my book.
Winton also won the Gawad Komisyon for Literary Criticism on the works of Filipino literary giant, Rogelio Sicat. In 1999, he was a UP National Writing Fellow in Filipino Poetry. He has also received awards for Angel Palanca Peace Prize and Gawad Amado V. Hernandez.
He has also travelled to South Korea, China, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia presenting his papers on literature as well as topics on Tourism and Literary Criticism, among others.

Reading his “obra” makes one shiver. He has the mastery and command of the Hiligaynon and Filipino language. He is indeed, a master storyteller. I would even tell him that even if he removes his name, I would know it was him because he has his own “voice”. The rhythm, beat and the intensity are so personalized that it will only be Winton who can write like that.

I can still recall asking him where he gets his creative ideas after he showed me and I read his Palanca entry which later on won as his first winning piece, “Sinipad Sa Balaan Bukid.” He just laughed and told me, “Tani madaug lang ako maskin 2nd place or 3rd place lang, malipay na ako sina” (I hope that I will win even if it’s just 2nd place or 3rd place, I’ll already be happy then.) But Winton won the First Prize. I still shudder every time I remember that moment in 2004 when we met in Recto, Manila. When he told me that he won 1st Prize, I was as excited and so proud of him. He was only 24 years old when he earned his first Palanca Award.

Winton Lou Ynion is not only a brilliant writer but indeed, a very loyal friend. That is why when our friend, Atty. Carol Salvatierra called me up on a Sunday afternoon of August 16 and broke the news that it was confirmed that Winton was brutally murdered in his Quezon City apartment, I was still trying to reconcile if I heard the news correctly.

I verified and asked her if I heard it right that Winton was indeed, killed. She then asked me if I knew where the house of Winton is in Iloilo City. I told her that I knew it was in Tanza but we can ask another friend who might knew exactly where it is located.

I met with Carol and we looked for Winton’s house not knowing how to deliver the sad news to his family.

When we finally found where his house is, “Mommy,” the one who adopted him right after he was born was already crying. Shiera Brook, his niece and another aunt, Tiyay Nening whom Winton calls “Mama” were also crying. Mommy said that a former co-teacher just broke the tragic fate of Winton.

It was the first time I went to his house in Tanza and their situation is very depressing. Mommy said that they haven’t eaten for there days since Wednesday because Winton has not sent any money yet and they were worried why he has not even texted them at all.

“Tingala ko nga wala gid si Noynoy kapadala kwarta kag nakatext, gali kay patay na siya,” (I wonder why Noynoy hasn’t sent us any money nor texted, it’s because he was already dead.) Mommy told us.

I did not know what to say to Mommy, Shiera or to Mama. It was the first time too that I lost a good friend. It just dawned on me that the last time I saw Winton, he was even telling me about someone who died in his own bathroom because he slipped on the tiles. Until now, it makes me tremble knowing Winton’s tragic death.

Lastly, I agree with Ma’am Zenaida French when she wrote in her column, “Siftings” at The News Today, “Winton had proved his excellence despite the flaws.”

Indeed, what we remember is Winton’s excellence and his contribution to Philippine literature. Thank you, Winton and may your soul rest in peace.

Thank you to Ayala Young Leader Alliance (AYLA) for giving Winton decent rites when his remains was in Manila. Winton Lou Ynion was Ayala Young Leader Congress (AYLC) 2000 alumnus.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2009 in Opinions