2018 in a nutshell is a historic year!
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - December 27, 2018 - 12:00am

I didn’t realize that today was the last day for me to do a column in the year 2018 because my next column comes out next week on Jan. 1, which is already next year. So allow me to write a short dissertation on the important events of 2018 to the nation and personally to me.

Year 2018 is a year of history in the sense that so many historic things happened this year. December was the greatest month of 2018. On Dec. 11 the Balangiga Bells were finally returned to the Philippines and to the church in Balangiga, Samar after a 117-year absence. This was Philippine history that few Filipinos knew or lived with because it happened a long time ago. Now the bells are back thanks to the valiant efforts of US Defense Secretary James Mattis who by the way has now resigned his post lest than a month after returning the Balangiga bells.

Then a week later on Dec. 17 our Catriona Gray won the Miss Universe pageant in Bangkok, Thailand, the fourth Filipina to win this prestigious title after Ms. Gloria Diaz won it in 1969, Ms. Margie Moran in 1973 and Ms. Pia Wurtzbach in 2015. Funny that a week later, some Australians adopted Catriona Gray as their Miss Universe as she was born in Australia with an Australian father. They conveniently forgot that she entered the Miss Universe as Miss Philippines. December 2018 topped our lucky year after all, I would like to believe that Catriona Gray won the contest hands down against all other contestants!

I call this year a year of luck for the Filipino people first of all as we just exhausted Year 2017 with the siege of Marawi City which really took the President’s time and our nation’s money…not to mention the death of many Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers, a total of 167 died and 47 civilians and a thousand Mautes who wanted to establish a caliphate in this country under ISIS. It also proved to the Filipino people our military prowess against these extremist rebels.

It was a historic Friday on May 10 when the Supreme Court (SC) ousted its own Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno in a quo warranto petition filed by Solicitor General Jose Calida. Sereno came into the limelight with so much history behind her, taking over the position of Chief Justice from the convicted CJ Renato Corona to become the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Now she becomes legal history being ousted via a quo warranto proceeding rather than through an impeachment process. Many have called it as CJ Corona’s “karma” after what the Yellows did to him.

Another bigger “karma” happened when by May, then Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III stepped down and handed over the Senate Presidency to Sen. Vicente Sotto III, thus weakening the hold of then House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez with the allies of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in the 17th Congress and all in Congress voted to bring former president and now Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo back in political power!

This was again one lesson in history where an imprisoned former president was eventually cleared of all crimes filed against her and now she is back as the top banana in Congress! It could happen only in the Philippines. This was for me the biggest slap to the Liberal Party and then Pres. Noynoy Aquino!

Other news with historic magnitude was the closure last April of the fabled island of Boracay for six months, which reopened last October. This event emboldened me to challenge the new Commodore of the Manila Yacht Club Robert “Bobby” Joseph to be on top of the clean up of Manila Bay in the same spirit and determination as we cleaned up Boracay and he accepted that challenge last Nov. 17 when he was installed as Commodore.

Since then DENR’s Roy Cimatu also showed his determination to clean up Manila Bay and last Dec. 20 the Philippine STAR headlined this “An attainable objective” with clean up plans for Boracay, El Nido and Manila Bay. Now many journalists have joined the chorus that if Boracay can be cleaned up, Manila Bay can also be cleaned up.

Finally for some news in Cebu. Last June the GMR-Megawide Consortium opened up Terminal 2 and has instantly become the best airport in this part of Asia. Also, the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) construction has started and is expected to open within three years. This roadway is expected to ease traffic going to the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIAA). At least we have some good news for Cebu.

Finally last July I joined the media team with Philippine Airlines president Jaime Bautista to Toulouse, France to bring the brand new Airbus A350-900 of Philippine Airlines (PAL) from the Airbus Industries headquarters in Toulouse, France to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). The Airbus was piloted by Capt. Butch Generoso and PAL’s presidential crew who gave us the famous 4-Star service that PAL achieved this year!

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com.

BALANGIGA BELLS CATRIONA GRAY MANILA BAY MARAWI CITY
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