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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 15, 2019
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An elephant’s memory

Ninfa Leonardia

And then there were three. The province of Palawan, one of the most exotic areas in the country, is being split into three parts. Well, it does not seem final yet because a plebiscite is still expected to be held before the division is finalized. Yes, the President has already signed the law, but the split still requires the plebiscite to see if its people go with the idea of dividing their province into three.

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The areas will be called Palawan del Norte, Palawan del Sur, and Palawan Oriental. But Puerto Princesa, that used to its capital, will remain detached from the three parts as a highly urbanized city. Its situation is like that of Bacolod, that is also independent of the other half of Negros Island, being a chartered city. I wonder which of the three Palawans will be the most progressive, tourism-wise. The split, it seems, is favored by most of its officials, who claim that, with its size, governing it is a “nightmare”.

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And so the splitting into three was decided on, but there is still the plebiscite to reckon with. What if the people of one part are not in favor of the idea of separation? I’m afraid I don’t know much about this province, but only had an idea that it is beautiful and attractive to tourists. But is it true that among one of the three portions is an area that is suspected to have gas and oil reserves? If that is confirmed, and developed, that site will be more progressive than the two others.

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There was a time when a proposal to split Bacolod into two districts, instead of the only lone one was also aired, and seemed favored by politicians, but what happened to it? Nobody is talking about it now. That would have meant we would have two congressmen to work for the progress of the city. I wonder if anybody is still thinking about it. For one, we seem to be doing well enough with only one, so, maybe it is no time to rock the boat.

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I almost choked on my snack when I read the headline of a news item saying: “Palace to China: Stop disrupting peace in SCS”. I know many others were surprised at the tenor of the item, because, hasn’t it been the impression of most of us that our President has a soft spot for China? Well, the “Palace” has now warned Chinese fishermen who seem to think the West Philippine Sea area is part of their domain. At last the Palace has bared its fangs – or was it only the “Palace” a.k.a. Salvador Panelo – who said that?

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Anyway, the Chinese seem to be making free with the area, and even harassing Pinoy fishermen who go there. Let us hope the President himself will take a firmer stand and put those encroaching fishermen in their proper place. That will entail a lot of diplomacy, but I am sure President Duterte has the guts to do it. Otherwise, those fishermen, and eventual all the people of China, will consider the area theirs in the belief that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

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It is not surprising to know that Senator Cynthia Villar is currently topping the surveys for senators in the coming election. The lady is really tireless, the way she seems to be here, there, and everywhere there is action. And she also has this simple approach that can be disarming, The latest surveys appear to have her and Grace Poe wrangling for the top place. Even if Poe is supposed to have roots in Bacolod, she has not been around except for election times. Of course Bacoleños will vote for her, but I have the feeling Madame Villar will give her a good fight for the number one spot in this area.

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I think I am beginning to understand why President Duterte can keep such a strong hold on his group. The guy has the memory of an elephant and can remember even the most insignificant thing. When his speech in Bacolod last week was disturbed by some static in the public address system, he promptly quipped “Baka kalokohan naman ni Monico ito”, obviously referring to that incident when his statement was spliced and he was made to have said a different thing from what he actually said. So don’t ever tangle with him if you don’t want to be humiliated!*

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