‘No political breakup’ in Iloilo, at least not yet

By Alex P. Vidal

“It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense.” —MARK TWAIN

WHAT happened in Iloilo City won’t happen in Iloilo Province.

This was the assurance made before the Holy Week by Iloilo governor Arthur “Toto” Defensor Jr., 54, referring to the unfortunate split recently between erstwhile political sweethearts, Iloilo City mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Perez Treñas, 68, and Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne “Jamjam” Baronda, 45.

“Not yet felt” in Iloilo Province, that is.

There are five solons in Iloilo Province, namely: Janette Loreto-Garin (first district); Michael “Mike” Gorriceta (second district); Lorenz Defensor (third district); Ferjenel “Ferj” Biron (fourth district); and Raul “Boboy” Tupas (fifth district).

And there has been no known rift that hogged headlines between the governor and the five Iloilo lawmakers. Also, there have been no head-turning quarrels that resulted in a breakup in the local front in as far as the Iloilo provincial politics is concerned.

When there is no animosity, politics becomes lackluster and boring, according to some pundits and oddsmakers.

Opposition stalwart-turned-administration ally Defensor Jr. could be alluding to his relationship with Vice Governor Christine “Tingting” Garin, who belongs to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s political party.


Defensor Jr. and Garin are political strange bedfellows with tacit understanding not to cross each other’s path, thus they never swapped brickbats while in office these past three years—or even earlier during their first terms.

The “there is no breakup (no, it will not happen in Iloilo Province)” riddle is a liaison that can be sustained and cemented if Defensor Jr. and Garin will agree to switch and run in tandem in the next election: Garin for governor; Defensor Jr. for vice governor.

In some other clime and some other time, this partnership or switching would be normal, the true essence of mutual collaboration among ideal public servants.

But we are now living in an abnormal political climate where loyalty to the people ends where the politicians’ loyalty to self and family interests begins.

If the Ilonggos will bear in mind that both the governor and vice governor belong to classified political dynasties, they will immediately cast doubts the Garin-Defensor Jr. slate (for governor-vice governor) will ever take place.

Both Defensor Jr. and Garin have siblings and parents who still queue for the political popcorns and bubblegums.

The Ilonggos will thus tell themselves: don’t be fooled into believing that because the river is silent, there are no crocodiles.


I bought a very unique book, Oxymoronica, for only $6 in the Barnes and Noble bookseller in California; original price is $14.95 plus tax on a sale day.

It was written by a US-based psychologist, Dr. Mardy Grother, who deals with problems including the art of the insult. He coined a new vocabulary we won’t find in any dictionary (at least not yet?): oxymoronica.

Grothe describes his book as one that contains “paradoxical wit and wisdom from history’s greatest wordsmiths.”

Grothe did actually define oxymoronica in the book: “(OK-se-mor-ON-uh-ca) noun, plural: Any variety of tantalizing, self-contradictory statements or observations that on the surface appear false or illogical, but at a deeper level are true, often profoundly true. See also oxymoron, paradox.

Examples: “Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad.” Victor Hugo;

“To lead the people, walk behind them.” Lao-tzu;

“You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.” Dolly Parton.

Grothe introduces “oxymoronica” to readers in the delightful collection of 1,400 of the most provocative quotations of all time.

“From ancient thinkers like Confucius, Aristotle, and Saint Augustine to great writers like Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and G.B. Shaw to modern social observers like Woody Allen and Lily Tomlin, Oxymoronica celebrates the power and beauty of paradoxical thinking,” writes Grothe.

“All areas of human activity are explored, including love, sex and romance, politics, the arts, the literary life, and, of course, marriage and family life.”

He adds: “The wise and witty observations in this book are as highly entertaining as they are intellectually nourishing and are sure to grab the attention of language lovers everywhere.”

He came up with the word in the early 1990s when he was working on his 1999 book Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You.


“A new word invention is formally called a neologism, and my dream is that oxymoronica will one day show up in a dictionary (and given the meaning “a group or collection of oxymoronic and paradoxical quotations”),” Grothe explains.

According to Grothe, The Never Let a Fool Kiss You book introduced people to the fascinating literary device known as chiasmus (ky-AZ-mus).

“Chiasmus occurs when the order of words is reversed in parallel phrases, as in Cicero’s ‘One should eat to live, not live to eat’ or Mae West’s ‘It’s not the men in my life, it’s the life in my men,’” he further explains.

Even though chiasmus shows up in some of the world’s most famous sayings (like John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” line), the term, he says, is not well known, even among sophisticated and highly literate people.

“While compiling quotations for my Never Let a Fool Kiss You book, I kept running into many other quotations that I loved, but that didn’t fit into the chiasmus theme. Some of the most fascinating quotes captured my interest because they had one special thing in common—they contained either a contradiction in terms or a contradiction in ideas:

“Be careful what you wish for, it might come true.”

“Free love is too expensive.”

“I must be cruel only to be kind.”

“A yawn is a silent shout.”

“Man is condemned to be free.”

“To lead the people, walk behind them.”


As his collection of these kinds of quotes slowly grew from a few dozen to a few hundred, and then burgeoned from a few hundred to a few thousand, he needed a word to describe them.

Some contained a classical oxymoron (like silent shout) and others a classical paradox (like cruel only to be kind).

But simply calling them oxymoronic or paradoxical didn’t come close to capturing their collective magic.

“Then, one cold winter day in the early 1990s, I found myself looking up the word erotica in the dictionary. I knew what the word meant, but wanted to get a precise definition. Very quickly, the entry on erotica took me to another familiar word with the same suffix: exotica,” narrates Grothe.

“Both words referred to collections of things, especially things that hold a particular fascination or interest. Just like that, a word popped into my mind.

“Oxymoronica. I tried the word out on a number of friends, and it almost always brought a smile to their faces. I knew I was on to something.”

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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here