Hope and glory

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. - The Philippine Star

The story of the triumphant underdog will always sell. It taps into that vein of empathy we have for others. We also easily identify as we see in the perseverance to succeed the image of the best of what we are or that we hope to become.

There is the Cinderella rags-to-riches version or the David v. Goliath of yore. In modern day iterations, from Rocky to Steve Jobs, Rodrigo Duterte, Manny Pacquiao to John Wick. Jesus himself, carpenter’s son from poor Nazareth, was the ultimate underdog.

I grew up on classic Tinseltown fare. A personal favorite is the movie about the town marshal courageously facing up to a gang of villains when nobody else would. Cue the American Film Institute’s #25 of history’s top 100 theme songs: “…Do not forsake me oh my darlin’…” I speak, of course, of the unforgettable western, High Noon.

For generations, this classic has been code for good against evil, the righteous winning even against the greatest odds. It features showdowns, commitment to duty and moments of truth. It was actually an allegory of the Hollywood communist witch-hunt (the blacklist) of the ’50s.

Showdown scenarios remind us of the IATF v. Cebu quarantine protocols impasse. For over a month it was shaping up to be the defining national v. local confrontation of our time. Imperial Manila against the Queen of the Visayas. In the middle, a Mindanaoan. The national government enabled, local government led strategic direction in our pandemic response has not always functioned smoothly. Inevitably, the tension between the autonomy of localities and the urgency of cohesive action occasions deadlocks that hamper the delivery of services.

A burst of light. And then this news about President Benigno C. Aquino, III. Instantly, we are reminded. Here, too, was an underdog. One made so by cruel circumstance.

But this was a man who rose to the challenge. From the start, he impressed his brand of principled leadership on a notoriously stubborn bureaucracy. He did not always succeed. But, in the end, several legacies remain from his multi-dimensional governance and its undeniable impact on our economic, social and political development. His greatest was our glory at The Hague where the world was reminded that national interest need not come at the expense of reason and fairness.

There is universal appreciation for the good he has done and the goodness in the man. We join the nation in mourning the loss of this worthy public servant.

Gordian not. Going back to Manila v. Cebu, we are seeing a clash of personalities, firm in their advocacy of the interests they represent. This is a showdown with no hero and no villain. At bottom, it’s a question of law: Governor Gwen Garcia invoking local autonomy and the Local Government Code; the IATF and Malacañang citing the Bayanihan Act where Congress empowered the President, for a limited time, to exercise more than just his power of supervision over LGUs. This is all that the Constitution allows.

With the expiration of Bayanihan, the audacious Cebuano court action is actually constructive as it provides us with guidance on open questions. The City of Manila also walked this tightrope when allowing walk-in vaccinations in contravention of IATF policy. On this point, however, the DILG immediately upheld Manila (if the DILG had the power to do so at all).

Quarantine power is local under our laws. Unless there is emergency and extraordinary statutory empowerment of the Executive, LGUs remain as primary quarantine authorities. The lip service to a more cohesive and non-fragmented response is backed only by statutory mooring with a limited shelf life.

Governor Garcia may have yielded to IATF wishes amid the fresh threats but it should serve us well if her actions for declaratory relief before the Cebu courts lead to a better understanding of where power resides in such standoffs. No threat will knot cut.

Olympian heart. Making a reappearance after a long absence from winning on the golf course is Juvic Pagunsan. The 43-year-old journeyman from Bacolod recently won the prestigious Mizuno Open. It was Juvic’s 1st win on the Japan Men’s Tour after 13 years of plugging.

This win is significant for Juvic and his countrymen but it is, as well, a curiosity for the golfing world. As part of pandemic protocol, Japan has a no caddy rule on the tour. Golf carts are permitted but some players, like Juvic, are more comfortable just lugging their golf bags. To lighten his carry, he played with only 11 clubs. In a sport where proper equipment maximizes chances at victory, regulations allow up to 14 clubs per round. What Juvic did with 11 only was as phenomenal as it was cheeky. He spotted the field three clubs or its equivalent in terms of handicapping. At home, we’d say “malaking partida.” It has become a story wherever golf is played.

Juvic’s win qualifies him for the British Open! But participation in the lucrative Open from July 11-18, its attendant quarantine protocols and the limited time to recharge and practice may jeopardize his chances in the Olympics scheduled on July 29. Juvic has opted to forego the chance at possibly the largest paycheck of his career in favor of his sense of duty to the flag.

Asthma. For the A3 group, at top of the list of co-morbidities is Chronic Respiratory Ailments. Per the DOH DM No. 2021-0175, the No.1 and most dangerous in this category is asthma. Given how relatively commonplace the condition is, we forget that it is a comorbidity. More than other pre-existing conditions, asthma burdens the respiratory capacity needed to fight the pneumonia that accompanies the severest strains of the virus.

Glossary of gloom. Revenge bedtime procrastination is the act of “going to bed later than intended while no external circumstances are accountable for doing so” – that is, choosing to delay bedtime without a practical reason for this delay (Kroese, et. al. in their article in Frontiers in Psychology, 2014).

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