There’s a lot of history in Samar
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2018 - 12:00am

December 2018 has made Philippine history… when last weekend, the United States military formally returned the famous bells of Balangiga after 117 years in American hands. A hundred years ago it was a different story when we Filipinos did not realize that we had to fight not only our Spanish colonizers who ended up fighting the Americans. Since the Philippines was under Spanish rule we ended up fighting the Americans in what they called the Philippine insurrection. This is what is written in that famous US monument in Arlington Cemetery, an octagon shaped with US soldiers trying to raise the American flag in the Statue of Iwo Jima.

So the return of the Balangiga bells restores our confidence in our mutual defense with the United States. This also gives the Philippines a new tourism destination in Eastern Samar. Perhaps the Department of Tourism ought to re-examine the tourist sights in Southern Samar, notably Guiuan, where most American naval bases of World War II were located. Guiuan is also the location of PT-Boat Base No. 17 which is now in a place called Mercedes, eight kilometers north of Guiuan. It was the largest PT-Boat base of World War II. The late Ernie Aboitiz gave me the full documents on this base.

While we were in the hotel in Guiuan the lady who owned the hotel told us another historic incident just across Guiuan in an island called Tubabao Reef. In 1949 then president Elpidio Quirino allowed some 5,500 White Russian refugees to settle in that island. These White Russians were followers of the Russian Tsars who fled to China’s Chiang Kai Chek when the Bolshevik Communists took over Russia.

But when Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communists took over China, the White Russians had to flee and the Philippines provided the island of Tubabao for their temporary home. After two years, most of the Russians were given asylum in Australia, the US and France. When we went there, there was nothing to see in Tubabao Reef simply because a typhoon damaged most of the facilities there and I’m sure that Super Typhoon Yolanda five years ago totally ruind what was left to see.

Finally, only a few people with the knowledge of history know that the island southmost across Guiuan is the island of Homonhon, the first island where Ferdinand Magellan first landed in the Philippines. This was after he came from Guam or the Marianas Islands that he called the Islas de Ladrones. These are just a few historical notes that we are writing here to help the Island of Samar.

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I spent most of Monday evening watching the replay of the Miss Universe Pageant to see Catriona Gray bag the Miss Universe crown in the Thai capital Bangkok. By now, most Filipinos have already seen that monumental event that made all Filipinos here and abroad proud. Yes, allow me to say that Catriona’s “Lava Walk” and her slow motion twirl made her famous even before winning the Miss Universe crown.

With her winning the Miss Universe crown, the Philippines now have four Miss Universe winners in that coveted winners circle. In 1969, Gloria Diaz won it for the first time, this was followed in 1973 by Ms. Margie Moran, then we had decades of near misses until Pia Wurtzbach, who won it in 2015. At this point when someone asked me who is the prettiest of the four Filipinas who won the Miss Universe crown, I’d say that Catriona Gray won it hands down. I even felt that during the contest, she has already bested the top ten competitors in Bangkok! She was truly a Miss Universe winner!

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Last Dec. 10, I learned that Richard Santillan, a close confidant of my good friend, former Biliran Congressman Glenn Chiong was tortured before he was murdered. I honestly had to search the Internet for the report on the killing of Santillan. Atty. Glenn Chiong has written me a lot of letters about the highly questionable Smartmatic game done by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Thanks to the numerous articles that Atty. Chiong has written to me, I was able to get the report on the killing of his driver-aide that happened only last Dec.10! First of all, I’d like to point out to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte that this was no drug incident, but election related.

What I learned was that Richard was killed by cops and one who was accused of killing the kid Kian. My question is… why is Pres. Duterte totally silent about this incident when it is not drug related, but rather election related. I know that Atty. Chiong has remained incognito for obvious reasons. But the public ought to know that cop killers are on the loose in Metro Manila and we hope DU30 gets hold of this news!

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