Cardinal Vidal’s public relations coup
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Freeman) - July 18, 2016 - 12:00am

For our special presentation on our talkshow on Straight from the Sky, we celebrate the 38th National Disability Week with our friends from the Persons with Disabilities sector in order to give honor to those of our brethren whom we consider to have less in life. With Batas Pambansa No.344 or the “Accessibility Law,” the lives of PWDs are getting much, much better than, say 10 years ago. Today, many shopping malls or arcades have ramps or special access especially in parking spaces for PWDs, which did not exist before. Just look at SM City today. Thanks to the Organization of Rehabilitation Agencies & Initiatives (ORAI) for their tireless work.

Tonight we have with us Dr. Elda Grace Anota, M.D., a physiatrist who manages persons with special needs especially in rehabilitation centers. She is a diplomate of the Philippine Boards of Rehabilitation Medicine. So watch this interesting interview with Dr. Anota on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8:00PM tonight with replays on Wednesday and Saturday. We also have replays on MyTV channel 30 at 9:00PM tonight and at 7:00AM and 9:00PM respectively on Wednesday and Friday.

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Tagaytay City – I spent the last four days in Tagaytay City to attend the 4th Farm Tourism Conference organized by the International School of Sustainable Tourism run by former Department of Tourism Secretary Mina Gabor, who invited me to join the conference. I salute Ms. Mina Gabor for she was there at the start of the conference and remained in the conference venue at the Summit Ridge Hotel late Saturday afternoon when the delegates started returning home. That is total commitment for you. Thank you Mina for Farm Tourism is something that our countryside really needs so badly so it can be transformed and help the poor communities.

I already wrote much about what I learned from the Farm Tourism Conference in our column last Friday. Aside from Ms. Mina Gabor’s talk, I especially like the presentation of Mr. Ramon Peñalosa of Peñalosa Farms in Victorias, Negros Island that the Department of Education (DepEd) must remove the cultural bias that our teachers teach in grade school. Notable among them is the nursery rhyme that goes, “Planting rice is never fun!” And when a teacher is frustrated or mad at a slow student, she tells the student to go home and plant kamote! When we rid ourselves of this cultural bias, people will start looking at farming with a positive outlook.

On Saturday, we had farm visits or tours. We visited the Nature Wellness Village and Nurture Farmacy, the Ilog Maria Bee Farm and the Paradizoo Farm in Silang, Cavite. The three-day conference and Farm visits have undoubtedly opened my eyes on the need for the Philippines to promote Farm Tourism because if it is properly planned, the countryside can share in the tourism boom that has now spread all over the country.

I gathered from Ms. Mina Gabor that the 5th Farm Tourism would be held in Davao City next year. I asked her if it was possible to hold it in Cebu. So I guess we will just have to wait for the time when this conference reaches the shores of Cebu. But I see a very promising future for our small farmers in Cebu with Farm Tourism. If there was any huge negative in Tagaytay City, it is their super sloooow Internet service everywhere. But the weather was very cool and there is no question that Tagaytay City is the playground of the people from Metro Manila.

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The big news I got last Saturday evening was that President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte agreed to meet with Peter Lim and this was covered on ANC TV. It was indeed a very frank exchange between Pres. Duterte and Peter Lim. Pres. Duterte questioned him as to why his name always appears in intelligence lists. This included the congressional investigation years back. Peter Lim vehemently denied that he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Then I heard Pres. Duterte say, “Nagbantay gyud ko nimo na ipapatay ta ka. Sa tinood lang ipapatay ta gayud ka. Basta masilip nako [nga apil ka] tiwasan ta gyud ka. (I warned you that I will have you killed. I will really have you killed. If I’m able to prove [you’re a drug lord], I will finish you off).”

At this point we’ll leave this issue until news reports come out in result of any investigation on Peter Lim.

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Perhaps the most unexpected but very welcome visitor to Pres. Rodrigo Duterte was our beloved Ricardo Cardinal Vidal who paid the President a courtesy call. All that the President asked him in Bisaya was to ask for his prayers and Cardinal Vidal responded in Binisaya that the faithful in the Catholic Church would pray for him. Finally, Cardinal Vidal broke the ice that existed between the Princes of the Church and President Duterte. In my book, this was a public relations coup done by a man who is considered retired!

vsbobita@mozcom.com.

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