September 30, 2023

My column of Oct. 12, 2014 reads: “Fongwan, the man!
I first met the late Nestor Fongwan Sr. when I was lawyering for Hedcor and he was contracting projects. He was a humble and affable man then and of course now. From construction and farming, he shifted to politics and moved up the ladder – councilor, vice mayor, and mayor of La Trinidad and three-term governor of Benguet.
Elias Ng of Bell Church is a common friend and every time Elias would come to Baguio and cook his favorite dish, expect the both of us to be there.
Born on Independence Day in 1951 at Toyong Pico, La Trinidad, he traces his roots to Kapangan, Benguet. He got his Accounting and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Baguio.
Up close and personal, one could feel his sincerity and unlike other politicians who hang out at posh clubs, more often than not he is seen at the Baguio Palace where he swaps tales with habitués. He is in his last term and pundits say he is setting his sights as the next representative of Benguet. Will we be in for a big surprise?”
Eventually in May 2019, he won the congressional seat for Benguet. Six months later, he joined his Creator. Rest in peace in the happy hunting grounds, Apo Nestor!
Meanwhile, while the 761-page verdict in the infamous Maguindanao massacre (although one could not believe the idiotic masterminds who thought they could just massacre 58 people and bury them using a backhoe to hide the crime) was being promulgated, CNN reported that U.S. President Donald Trump has been impeached for abuse of office for personal political gain and for obstructing the congressional impeachment inquiry.
Article 1 of the impeachment complaint says Mr. Trump abused his power when he pressured the president of Ukraine to help him in his reelection campaign by damaging his Democratic foe, former U.S. vice president Joe Biden. Article 2 indicts him with obstruction of Congress for blocking the testimony and by refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.
Like a science fiction movie, the impeachment game is ruled by numbers. At the Lower House, the Democrats hold 233 of the 435 seats. In the Upper Chamber, Republicans have 53 of the 100 seats. So it is that Trump has been impeached – or charged – but he will not be ousted and might even get reelected.
In the 243-year history of the United States, this is the third time that a president has been impeached.
Trump and his Republican supporters echo the theory that he did nothing wrong. They claim that Trump was treated unfairly than witches tried in the 17th century – or even than Jesus Christ. “Pontius Pilate gave Jesus the opportunity to face his accusers. During that sham trial, Pontius Pilate afforded more rights to Jesus than the Democrats afforded this president and this process,” said Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk. Kasdyay met!
Back to Christmas and it’s trappings. The Philippines has the longest and earliest holiday season in the world.
In the ‘60’s, we had a real pine tree for a Christmas tree and its scent would last until Epiphany (the Feast of the Three Kings). The mood is at best celebratory as pockets bulge with bonuses (lucky for Congress employees who received a stunning Speaker’s bonus of P150,000 each) and 13th and 14thmonths’ pay.
A little thought though. Let us direct our hearts and minds not only to the spectacle of lights, the sounds of carols, and the tastes of savory Noche Buena but to the horrors of illnesses – the dreaded cancer or heart ailment, the chaos of conflict, greed, or the sound of grumbling stomachs and poverty of our less fortunate brothers.
We had personal experiences of unprecedented suffering as we slowly but surely move on, search for solutions to our crisis which we pray would stop evading us. When we hear the siren on the 24th and be at the midnight mass let us pause for a moment and receive the birth of Jesus with great joy and nostalgia for happiness, laughter, gratitude, love, and peace.
This Christmas offers us hope that the light of our lives will never be eclipsed by darkness. And although it’s been said many times, many ways, merry Christmas to one and all! Sigh.