Black and blue
SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2019 - 12:00am

We may not have oil, but we have land.” With these words, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte sought to assuage our lingering resentment for not being blessed with as generous a bounty as our ASEAN neighbors when it came to fossil fuels. Filipinos may be charming. When it comes to oil, however, our brothers from Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia are the ones charmed.

But we have land, the President says. In a world with an exploding population, land is a precious resource. How is this a consolation when every one else has land? Well, it is when you consider that ours is in the form of 7,641 islands. And islands are defined as tracts of land surrounded by water.

“We may not have oil, but we have water.” This is the prouder boast and no way a consolation. In geography, location and resources, the Philippines is one of the greatest maritime nations in the world, second in size to Indonesia as an archipelagic country; one of the longest coastlines; billions of gallons of gas and oil offshore; an abundance of fisheries and aquatic resources, and with more seafarers than any other nationality (China has more officers) plying the ocean corridors on merchant ships, we are well positioned to become a world maritime power. 

But we’re not. If the President’s excuse is any indication, there isn’t even a consciousness that we’re seated on a gold mine. The maritime sector’s contribution to the economy is measly. And it is far from becoming a foundation for the economy that it has long had the potential to become. 

Last December, the government rolled out its 10 year Maritime Industry Development Plan (MIDP) for 2019-2028, aimed at modernizing the maritime sector. The sooner the President signs off on the MIDP, the faster we maximize our potential. The last roadmap produced by the MARINA was in the 1980s. More about the Blue economy in future columns. 

 Lifting the veil. Speaking of consciousness, its been said that the first step to healing is to acknowledge the problem. Beginning last Thursday, in a summit to last until tomorrow, the gravest problem of the Catholic world was given acknowledgment at the highest level. The Vatican commenced its historic, unprecedented, landmark, turning point conversation on the sexual abuse of minors by reprobate members of the priesthood. 

The summit’s daily themes are indicative of the direction of the narrative: Responsibility, Transparency, Accountability. In his opening invocation, the Pope prayed that the bishops “listen to the cries of the little ones who ask for justice.”

This Pope, more than any in history has done so much to confront this age old curse. It is his fortune to tend his flock at this day and age of instant information, instant action. For this same reason, some believe he has not done enough, as he is also in the unprecedented position of taking immediate action on addressing this unspeakable scourge. 

He may have downplayed the effort as the entire summit is given the official title of “Protection of Minors in the Church.” But don’t look now. In traversing this tightrope of colossal competing interests, many are betting that Pope Francis may just pull a surprise. His decision process is a fascinating study in leadership, administration/management of arguably the world’s largest private organization. The hydraulic pressures from those seeking justice and the expectations of those hiding behind his authority are enough to shred the toughest wills. 

When he speaks at the culmination of the event, he will stake the Church’s position moving forward.  All eyes and ears shall be on that last speech, at the penitential liturgy, expected to be the largest gathering of survivors. 

 On this particular issue, I would not begrudge our President any of his umbrages. He was one of the damned and the truth is really disturbing.  And things will get worse. Even the documented cases represent a percentage only of a larger totality. Almost every day, there are new skeletons unearthed. At home, the latest episodes: Fr. Kenneth Hendricks and Msgr. Arnel Lagarejos. 

All this is being done in the hope of better days. The steps taken today at the Vatican, with revered leaders from the entire Catholic world in attendance, including our own Cardinal Chito Tagle who shed tears Thursday at his sharing of what a moment like this means to the Church, are steps in the right direction. 

Boss of Bossa. Anything Sergio Mendes will always turn my head. It may be the languid tempo of his ballads or the elegant tunes that make you want to sway to their sensuous groove. I confess to being a devotee. 

My attachment to Sergio started around 47 years ago. I was a kid of 7, attending the sold out concert at the Araneta Coliseum (to chaperone my beauty queen aunt, Elizabeth Vera Perez, on her date with future husband Bonifacio Nakpil Jr.). I still vividly remember the statuesque Bonnie Bowden on vocals, telling us what the trouble with Hello was.

Media carried stories of PRRD’s valentine’s night out with his wife and select Cabinet members, enjoying the Sergio concert at Solaire. Déjà vu. Mr. Mendes is really in the blood of our Presidents. Last 2014, President Noynoy Aquino also treated his cabinet and their ladies to a valentine’s day concert with Sergio at the Araneta. This is the 12th time that he has visited. 

The music of Sergio Mendes will always be a comfort zone to my generation. It is a bridge between young and old as the master is well into his 6th decade entertaining us. His music is truly what his timeless hit referred to:“there’s a bridge to tomorrow, there’s a bridge from our past.” 

As musical preferences evolve, so does Sergio Mendes. But always with his signature Samba soul. His influence is everywhere. I was a kid when I became a fan. Now even my young son knows his music. It’s a pretty world.

RODRIGO DUTERTE
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