UNIFICATION (IN MY OPINION) By Mars Cavestany Featured


I know whereof I speak
Beginning this issue, I am reviving my old PCHN column that ran from mid- to late 90’s – previously called “Light from Mars” the selfsame column I have been identified with since I began column writing as college editor –in-chief for an unduplicated length of 3 straight years of the Philippine Normal University-National Centre for Teacher Education where I graduated a bachelors degree in English and Journalism was my initial preparation.
From Uni, I hit the ground running doing the ABC’s of professional ‘Fourth Estate’ work in Metro Manila beginning from rookie news reporter to becoming a full-pledged columnist-cum-theatre and film/critic to arts/entertainment/lifestyle and features editor to managing editor of top national broadsheets, local tabloids, magazines and periodicals.
Although my career in Manila peaked largely in the performing arts where I harvested my national awards, my real grounding is in the fundamentals of press work, i.e., as a newspaperman or “dyarista” as we say in Filipino idiom. In other words, I am an honest-to-goodness journalist-writer of some qualification and distinction and not just someone who loves to write. There is a world of a difference.
Hindi po ako pawitwit na manunulat na pinabili lang ng suka, wiki nga, nagsulat na.
Ergo, I know whereof I speak, but do forgive me for prefacing this initial salvo with a bit of my relevant background because my first hurdle here is to stand my ground against the misguided, baseless and preposterous miscalculations of some people reacting to my three-in-a series of news reportage bannered by PCHN , not to speak of a controversial editorial and poetry – all on the very subject of “UNIFICATION” – a passionately inspired and concerted movement almost single-handedly spearheaded by Evelyn Zaragoza, the tireless publisher of this oldest surviving and largest circulating Filipino printed community newspaper with matching online version both valued and read throughout Australia.
In more ways than one, I have volunteered to be EZ’s creative partner, sidekick in light banter, or a Sancho Panza to a Don Quixote of you like literary parlance. Having rejoined her pool of writers after more than a decade of inactivity and semi-retirement, I suggested to EZ to tie-up the concept of “unification” as the underlying theme of the 23rd anniversary of PCHN.
EZ and MARS Creative Partnership: This is where it all caught fire and picked up steam.
Together we began exchanging and percolating ideas , pursuing what EZ has earlier began as two exploratory brainstorming sessions with selected “movers and shakers” of the community attached or associated with PCC and/or APCO. Opening Pandora’s Box after seven years brought forth differing opinions expectedly but the one common denominator was the deeply felt and expressed need to unify which egged her to forge ahead. This need t be emphasized because the provocation came from fellow “kababayan” but the impetus or driving force was positively engendered by the opposing leaders themselves, otherwise, EZ would not have deliberately if enduringly plodded along
But the continuing state of resentful antagonism between two parties (PCC and APCO) has been raging for seven years and something needed to be done NOW before things spin out of control and all hell breaks loose. To test the waters, EZ disseminated an email questionnaire asking people to share their thoughts on the notion of “one voice.” The number of responses from who’s who in the community far exceeded our expectations.
Thus, UNIFICATION banner headline number 1 came out in the June-July issue just in time when PCHN turned 23. We published not all but as many of the email responses at the same time as I began sifting through all the ideas and distilling their essences and synthesizing them into three possible options of conflict resolution: status quo, reconciliation, or dissolution. Given the resounding imprimatur from a cross section of personages in the community, we further conceptualised and sallied forth organising the twin-bill of fora in which to present the 3 golden suggestions for further discussion, if at all – resolution. Lo and behold, EZ coordinated with PCC first and they gamely complied following their general assembly meet at Marayong Community Centre in 20 August.
Afterwards, came UNIFICATION GATHERS STEAM banner headline number 2 featured in the August-September issue which highlighted more fervid expressions, this time, from outspoken PCC former Presidents the likes of Kate Andres, Malynne Chun, Ric de Vera, and Jun Relunia among others with transcripts of messages and other verbal inputs incorporated in my 2nd news report.
Banner headline number 3, which came out in the October issue was entitled UNIFICATION RECONCILES PCC & APCO with a matching editorial also by yours truly titled, PCC and APCO RECONCILE, AT LONG LAST. Both drew a lot of flak and negative feedbacks.
Unfortunately I missed such historic meet that fateful day of 22 October 201 as I had been hospitalized. But we proceeded with aplomb, as if nothing had happened. Evelyn supplied me with all the materials I needed to write the news. But even before that, I couldn’t help myself hearing what’s what so that I had already phoned my good friend and former high school classmate Francisco de los Santos, plus the host himself, the ever-reliable Manny Roux of Leon Aguila group who donated a thousand dollars to pay for the merienda that day.
Initially, they had briefed me, blow by blow on the flow of dialoguing amongst an amazing array of personalities that took one Evelyn Zaragoza to gather under one roof, Certainly no mean feat, this! Of course the venue available could only accommodate 60 PAX so much so that Miss Benjie de Ubago, the self-anointed chronicler of both PCC history and happenstance, cried foul for having been “simply not advised” or “disinvited”. She wasn’t literally present at the event either but that didn’t stop a true journalist that she is from filing a report. See the point Madame Serna? Since you have propped yourself up as a broadcaster it would be wise to learn some ethical practice and professional cordiality amongst your fellow colleagues, the same way Ms. Ubago observes hers de rigueur, so that in the final analysis, she merely freely expressed her opinions without having to castrate her fellow writer. Respetuhan lang. We can agree to disagree on the level of ideas and opinions pero walang bastusan, which brings me to the case of APCO.
Charlatanism and Philistinism Amongst My Critics: (Sagot sa mga Bumabatikos
As to the other points questioned by Ms. Serna, I find them too naive and puerile to dignify. EZ’s response will suffice. “If you're worried about the title of his editorial, "PCC and APCO reconcile at long last!” can you not think of it as POSITIVE and forward looking?
Can you not feel a positive vibration with that title? Anyway, if you read carefully the content of the news it explains that a meeting is being organized by Consul Marford for 'PCC & APCO officers to meet re: reconciliation and PID.”
Quite the contrary, APCO’s supposed press statement attacked us hook, line and sinker. This is a classic case of argumentum ad populum (go ahead Google that). In hindsight however, this is the kind of positioning that could only be reduced to mere charlatanism or at best philistinism amongst our attackers.

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