By Mortz C. Ortigoza
While waiting for the arrival of President Rodrigo Duterte last Wednesday at the wharf in Sual, Pangasinan for the send-off of the 17 Vietnamese “poachers”, I, some congressmen, Pangasinan political leaders, mayors, military and police's regional and provincial top brass were killing our time at a German restaurant exchanging pleasantries.
PRESIDENT RODY. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before the crowd mostly composed of Pangasinense before he leads the send-off at the wharf in Sual, Pangasinan last Wednesday afternoon of the 17 Vietnamese fishermen released from detention by the Philippine government.
The presidential visit was the first in Sual and the three million population province after Duterte was elected as president and assumed officed at noon of June this year.
Background was the two of the three Vietnamese vessels that would be used by the 17 to sail for six days to Vietnam. Photo: Mortz C. Ortigoza
“What is chocolate in German? I asked the bearded German entrepreneur who served us the chocolate crowned halo-halo.
“Van Houten,” he said.
“How about that priest,” I glanced at the priest and the nun who had a lunch in another table.
“Priester” he said
“How about that nun? ” I posed again.
Before the German could open his mouth so he could utter “Now” the German's translation for nun, a mayor in the western Pangasinan town, who could be mistaken to be a driver of a mini-bus quipped: “Takot sa Hauten!”
“The president is still in Davao (City),” I heard at 1:00 pm Sual Mayor Bing Arcinue told the mayors of Western Pangasinan who were in a huddle with their Congressman Boying Celeste.
I told them it would take two hours from Davao to Clark, Pampanga in his jet and another less than 30 minutes from Clark via a helicopter to the rustic town of Sual.
Why I know it? Geez, I used to ride in Air Asia via Clark, when the mostly Malaysian Tony Fernandes’ owned airline used to service the routes, whenever I went home via Davao City.
Why I know it took 30 minutes from Clark to Sual?
When then presidential candidate Mar Roxas barnstormed San Fernando City, La Union, one of the pilots of his night capable flying helicopter told me that Manila to San Fernando City took one hour for a chopper to fly, thus I just estimated it that Clark and Sual, host of the next two biggest more than two thousand megawatts coal power plants in the Philippines, take less than 30 minutes for the five, with each powerful two –engine and four blades presidential Bell made helicopters, to traverse.
“Did it occur to you when you were a cadet at the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) to join the air force?” I posed to Pangasinan 2nd District Congressman Pol Bataoil (PMA Class 1976) while he was watching with Region 1 Regional Director Chief Superintendent (one star general) Greg Pimentel, Pangasinan Police Director Senior Superintendent (full colonel) Ronald Lee while two air force’s UH-1H” Super Huey” were landing and taking off around 2:30 pm at the wharf probably for some scouting of the area or testing the gustiness from the Lingayen Gulf.
He said it never occur in his mind to be a fly boy despite the air force only had 25 percent quota for the graduating class at the long gray line in Baguio City.
“Many of us then want to be with the PC (Philippine Constabulary). We idolized the likes of Amado T. Espino, Jr (PMA Class 1972 who later became a three termed governor of Pangasinan) that apprehended top communist leaders like Dante “Kumander Dante” Buscayno," Bataoil said.
“Son of a gun, so the PC had the likes of Espino while the other branches of service had their heroes. Were you familiar with Army’s hero Julius Javier a goat or the last in the honor roll of the PMA Class of 1970 but became general and legendary artillery man Army General Rodolfo Canieso (PMA Class of 1956). Si Julius Javier may movie pa titled the Scout Ranger!” I enthused.
Bataoil emphatically told me the feats of Javier, an ilonggo like me.
“Even as company commander he joined patrol and engaged the Muslim rebels in Mindanao in a fire fight. There was an incident where Moro snipers were hiding on the trees in the forest and they were pinning down his troop”
Bataoil recalled how Javier ordered one of his men to run as bait for the sniper.
“Ninerbiyos ang sundalo but he had to comply while running as the sniper tried to pin him down. Javier watched where the shot came from then Javier fired at the location of the sniper”.
Sometimes the sniper, the solon explained, could not be hit and he had to order another soldier to run as bait.
BRASS. Top politicians like Pangasinan Congressman Leopoldo Bataoil, military and police brass
that include three stars Marine general wait for the arrival of the five powerful engines presidential
Bell helicopters that carry and escort Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte for the send-off last
Wednesday of the 17 Vietnamese fishermen apprehended by law enforcement at the Philippines’ sea.
Photo: Mortz C. Ortigoza
“One of the soldiers feared that he would die would not comply with the order. An angry Javier then asked him to watch and fire where the shot came from as he would use himself as the running target.
After he ran, he shouted at the nervous soldier if he hit the shooter from the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Hinde po sir,!” the soldier shouted back.
Javier asked the soldier to run as bait. The soldier hesitated.
“Javier shouted pag di ka tumakbo, ako ang babaril sa iyo!”
The former two- star police general said the poor soldier complied as Javier trained his Armalite rifle to the whereabouts of the Moro’s marksman.
“Sir, may mga tall tales about Canieso, an ilonggo and kanyonero, I heard among non-officers when I visited Awang Dinaig , Maguindanao Air Force base where my father was assigned in the late 1970s,” I said.
“Totoo ba sir na iyong mga (Army) draftee, still wet behind their ears, sa Liguasan Marsh kinankanyon ni Canieso sa likuran nila kasi tatakbo sila from the MNLF who were armed with Belgium made FAL or Fusil Automatique Léger assault rifles given by Libya president Muammar Gaddafi? At ang sabi pa ni Canieso to his worried commanders dahil andaming patay sa Army na huwag ma-mrublema kasi marami pang Ilocano sa Luzon na puwedeng hakutin sa eroplano para ilaban sa Moro?
Batoil told me his version: He said that battle ensued in Jolo. President Ferdinand Marcos called probably via radio Canieso and asked why a lot of casualties on the side of the government.
“He told the president that the huge death happened too at the side of the rebels. Normal lang daw sa giyera iyong casualties. He said: “Mr. President do not worry about the casualties on our side. We can still bring a lot of Ilocanos from Luzon to fight the rebels to the end” the solon stressed.
“Kinabukasan relieved na si General Canieso in his post,” Bataoil amusedly told me.
When Cory Aquino became president after Marcos was toppled in 1986, Aquino appointed Canieso as the 28th Commanding General of the Army of the New Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Lininti-an gid!” I mumbled in our vernacular.
At 3:30 pm, while waiting at the gate of the Sual Wharf for my identification card as my clearance for the Presidential Security Group to enter and cover the Philippine’s president, I saw military top brass like those in the Navy and Marines and police generals with ranks up to three stars waiting there too for President Duterte.
When Regional Director Greg Pimentel (PMA Class ’85) , who was in a huddle with lieutenant colonels, clad in camouflage uniform from the army special forces and navy, he called me and told the duo I lived in PMA before.
“What class po kayo?” I posed to the young officers and gentlemen whose names were Navy Captain (Colonel) Erick Kagaoan and Army Colonel Batle.
“I’m 1987,” Kagaoan smiled.’
“Oh, mag ko-commodore (one star general) na ito, sir,” I told General Pimentel.
Kagaonan, commander of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon, told me he was waiting for his star anytime this year. He said he is the president of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association (PMAAAA).
“Ako ang president ng Triple A this year,” he told Batle.
He said as part of the social activity of the Triple A he and staff visited Muntinlupa to see how four prisoners who are members of the PMAAA have been doing there. Two of them were Army General Carlos Garcia and Police Colonel Dionesio Borromeo who is actively doing his pastor calling.
The amiable Batle, told me he was Class 1988.
I told them something that could make them reminisce (including the PMAyers probably from Class 1980 to present who read this blog/column) PMA.
“Don’t you know that Susan or Sunzu the supervisor of the waiters and waitresses of the bachoyan (a noodle soup made with pork organs and others) of retired Colonel Orlindo C Caingcoy located at the bowling has a son who joined the PMA?”
PMAyers at the wharf including those air force pilots eavesdropped at our conversation.
Kagaoan said that Colonel Caingoy, an ilonggo from Iloilo and former PMA professor, has a son in law who is a commodore in the Navy.
“Son in law ni Colonel Caingcoy si Commodore Sam Felix”
“Oo, nakikita ko sila pag nagsisimba ako doon sa protestant church when I go to PMA,” I told them.
(You can read my selected columns at http://mortzortigoza.blogspot.com and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too firstname.lastname@example.org)