Feed and shelter, not blame and quarrel

By Alex P. Vidal

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.”—Arnold H. Glasow

WE appeal to politicians anywhere in the Philippines (not just in Iloilo and Bacolod) to stop quarreling over the Badjaos, or any ethnic group hankering for human attention and compassion.

If the Mindanao-based muslim ethnic group, considered as the sea gypsies of the Philippines, “accidentally” arrive in our cities and provinces announced or unannounced, let’s welcome them with open arms, feed them, provide them shelters, and help arrange for their voyage back to Mindanao.

We should stop being panicky and acting like paranoids as if strangers will take over our domiciles and eat our children.

Instead, let’s be kind to them, kindness that comes from the heart, not “kindness” that earns pogi points or praises from the public.

That’s how cultured and educated members of the community should react and behave.

We don’t need a charter or whatever cultural and religious ethos to remind us to behave like human beings or Christians. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isiah 55:1)


It’s not good for politicians to be at loggerheads and blame each other why the Badjaos, or any ethnic group for that matter, landed in one city, municipality, or province.

No need to declare a fellow elected public official as persona non grata for his “failure” to coordinate the transfer of a group of Badjaos from one territory to another like the spat involving Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas and Bacolod City Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran.

No one from the government should be alarmed and worried that the social services and welfare office of one local government unit (LGU) will be “burdened” if the Badjaos will extend their stay.

In the first place, the primary mandate of the social welfare office is to provide basic social services for those who are in need.

No social welfare office will cry “overburdened” if it will only temporarily attend to the needs of transient beneficiaries.


No social welfare office can complain or will ignore and close its door on anyone needing social assistance. The government has enough funds for the poor, the needy, and the dislocated.

The spat that transpired between Treñas and Familiaran was a result of “lack of coordination” and “miscommunication.”

Treñas was upset that Familiaran, as OIC Bacolod mayor, was supposedly instrumental in the “uncoordinated and poorly planned transfer of the Badjaos to their respective domiciles.”

Familiaran, on the other hand, defended his move saying the 80 Badjaos were booked on a Jolo-bound roll-on-roll-off vessel that had docked in Dumangas Port.

He added: “They promised to go home. It’s not our intention that these individuals will proceed to Iloilo City. They docked in Dumangas port and we expected them to go home directly to their homeland in Mindanao.”

If Familiaran was telling the truth, it was not necessary for Treñas to harshly rebuke him.

If the Bacolod vice mayor was lying, the Bacolod city council should censure him.


The death of at least three billionaires in the OceanGate titan that disappeared on it way to the Titanic wreckage site on June 18 continues to be the hot topic in the social media and in the coffeeshops.

We all have to confront it—that dark specter standing by the door beckoning us to enter what?

Illuminate said every religion worth its salt has to define the “what.” Indeed, some would say religions only exist because we need to find an answer to mortality, that we create an afterlife in order to guarantee justice and to ensure there is place where the mysteries of life are solved.

Stephen Hawking once said this: “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Was he right? He thinks we have gradually been moving away from a superstitious mindset, a primitive dependence on metaphors, like God, and heaven, and final judgment, and into a mature realization that the reality the five senses give us is the only reality. We have been children; we are now adults and should act and think like adults.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)