Wednesday, February 23, 2005

America’s leader at the forefront of world problems

In what was touted as a “routine” visit to Europe, amidst stinging criticism from left-wing extremists, President George W. Bush of the United States of America braved all obstacles and delivered, what I think, was a remarkable policy speech at a conference room in Brussels, Belgium last February 21.

No less than 88 militant, environmental and other finicky groups planned demonstrations for the day. Fortunately, none was reported to have been rowdy or disruptive.

However, the limelight was clearly not on the side of the dissidents but rather on the American leader who, in this time and age of world turmoil due to incessant international terrorism, confidently and assertively finds courage in his own faith to the Almighty to guide him in his duty and responsibility to safeguard not only the lands of the superpower nation but also of the entire world.

I saw most of the speech at cable television, most specifically Fox News, and what struck me the most was the striking moderate tone of the president while delivering his speech. Prior the live feed of the speech, pundits dished out “expert” advice on what the president should do while on his European tour and one of the interviewees claimed that since the United States is the greatest country on Earth (why people say this I still don’t quite comprehend), its leader shouldn’t be out there trying to mend fences with lower countries. Of course he didn’t say exactly that but that was the implied message. Regardless, the president clearly went the route of the peacemaker and tried to reach out to America’s European allies, most of which are in stark contrast to his policies.

“No passing disagreement of governments, no power on Earth will ever divide us."

These outstanding words by the US president summarized the entire speech for me. It means that even in these harsh times where politicking, mud-slinging, and people-pleasing-but-illogical-decision-making (ahem, France) seems to be the order of the day, America and Europe is still the world’s closest allies. They have been like that since the First World War, and they will be until the word “war” ceases to be part of every language’s vocabulary.

With world problems at an almost mind-breaking high – North Korea’s nuclear weapons program; Iraq’s continued instability; the recent Banda Aceh quake which sent out the killer tsunami; the still-existing conflict between Palestine and Israel; Russia’s apparent stalling of democratic proceedings and institutions; Syria’s continued occupation of Lebanon; Iran’s uncooperativeness in nuclear talks; Africa’s poverty problems; the United Nations’ escalating image problem amidst the “oil-for-food” scandal and the recent “forced” resignation of its refugee chief due to sexual allegations; and of course who can forget the growing tension about global warming brought about by record levels of industrial emission – the only way to possibly confront these tremendous obstacles is through a unified and concerted effort by the two most powerful political and economic entities currently in this world: America and Europe.

If Europe’s vaunted leaders do not heed the call of this righteous but unpopular president, then what step can be possibly taken as an alternative? As it is right now, the best option for the world is one which emphasizes this old adage: “If you lead, we will follow.”

Europe, follow America.

Saturday, February 19, 2005


From left to right: BOTTOM; Luigi Sanchez (supporter), Paolo Cuneta, Landon Rañada, Tatos Nuyda. TOP; me, JRF Ibañez, Rod Vasquez, JC Ibañez (not yet White team member), Paolo Nuguid (fan).

February 17, 2005 would go down in the annals of Southville International School and Colleges as the day when the previously unbeaten Black team (led by 1st College Cup MVP Karl Velhagen) was finally defeated by the White Team.

This feat was no small achievement, seeing as the Black team is the undoubted powerhouse team in the league. Also, the White team, clearly outmatched in terms of height, experience, and skill, was able to make critical adjustments through sheer dedication, determination, and most of all, heart. Without a doubt, this victory of the underdog White team over the dominating Black team is the most controversial upset in the short history of the College Cup.

Now, we love the Black team. Most of us favor the Black team to win again the championship, and this is because of several well-founded reasons. Foremost of all the reasons is that the members of the Black team are gentlemen and clean basketball players. Karl Velhagen, Glenn de Leon, Jude Atanacio, Paolo Gregorio, Pipo Amante, Randy Rabiño, Ken Calleon, Pat Kairuz, Jan Baquir, and AJ del Mundo are not only skilled basketball players, but are gracious both in victory and in defeat. We of the White Team, who see ourselves as gentlemen and clean basketball players, find no other team to relate ourselves with than the Black team. And for that, we greatly admire and respect them. Plus, most of them are our close friends.

The victory was a hard-earned one. As the coach of the White team, I was faced with the challenge of finding solutions to the problems posed by the daunting Black ensemble. The Black team is tall but fast, skilled but discplined, great as individuals but tremendous as a team. I looked into the relatively shallow basketball knowledge of mine and I stumbled upon a basic adage of the game: that is defense wins games.

Needless to say, defense was key to our victory. Those who were able to watch the game should attest to that. Of course, I will not divulge the secrets of that strategy but I would say that I give tremendous credit to the White team players (my friends, all) for their unflinching trust.

For my last words:
Dominic Casaus - thanks for being a super-center!
Paolo Cuneta - for being a tremendous defensive stopper!
JRF Ibañez - for being a great slasher and rebounder!
Tatos Nuyda - for playing with intense intensity all throughout!
Landon Rañada - for being our best all-around player!
Beda Realuyo - for being an outstanding point guard!
Rod Vasquez - for being a credible defensive and offensive option!
Josh Callueng - for being a great reliever for the big guys!
and of course...
Reuel Culalic - for making that impossible 3-point shot amidst tight defense and crushing pressure! You are our HERO!

Thanks for this great season, guys!
Until next time...