Welcome¸ New Year 2023 

By Herbert Vego

HAVING made it through another “meaty” Christmas, we are simply grateful to be alive in another New Year.

To this 72-year-old writer, it means preparing to be 73 soon.  That’s already beyond the 71-year average life expectancy in the Philippines.

As the Bible says in Psalm 90:10, “The years of our life are 70, or even 80 by reason of strength.”

Any year in excess of 70 is therefore a bonus.

Up close and personal, I have survived life-threatening diseases, including atherosclerosis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, ventricular dysfunction, Covid-19 and cardiomegaly. I thank God for the gift of a disease-resistant immune system.

And so indeed, having done away with Christmas, we look forward to a traditionally more festive and noisier celebration – the New Year.

What’s in you ref? Another kilo of ham for the media noche? Dahan-dahan lang, especially if you have health problems like me.

The end of the year is also a time to write, or simply commit to memory, a New Year’s resolution. Meanwhile, let us see if we have fulfilled one.

I have fulfilled mine – to stretch the value of my money to the max; as in buying cheaper but good-quality denims at ukay-ukay outlets.

If I wear a Lacoste shirt and cap today, it’s only because refusing gifts is an insult to the giver.

As in the year about to end, I intend to stay debt-free.  But for an improved 2023 New Year resolution, it’s to earn much more because it’s the only way to cope with inflationary prices of basic needs. Having learned from past difficulties in paying bills, I vow never to purchase more than what I can afford to pay. The bigger the credit-card bill and the slower it is settled, the bigger the interest!

A retired bank manager has advised me to use my credit card sparingly and prefer ATM debit card for grocery purchases. It’s simply because what’s in a debit card is earned money, not borrowed from future income.

I have no plan to fatten my bank account though; it barely earns minuscule interest that lags behind inflation. Extra income could be better invested in small business.

To remain sane, I don’t regret having lost heavily to casino gambling in my younger years. No use regretting what might have been.

We like to think of New Year’s resolution as another Christian tradition. But it is not. The tradition of affirming a New Year’s resolution had preceded the Christian era. It began in ancient Babylon over 3,000 years ago.

There’s really nothing spiritual that occurs at midnight of December 31. The figurative “turning a new leaf” could be done on any date.

However, if a Christian decides to make a New Year’s resolution, what should it be?

Here’s a reproduction of the 15th-century New Year’s resolution penned by Roman Catholic Bishop John H. Vincent:

“I will this day try to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and self-seeking, cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity and the habit of holy silence, exercising economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust and a child-like trust in God.”

For a New Year’s resolution to succeed, there must always be a strong motivation. The success of a resolution to stop smoking, for instance, depends on one’s will to live healthier and longer.

To you readers who want my two cents’ worth, be realistic. Resolving to win in gambling, as in lotto by buying more tickets, is very remote, since the chance of winning is one in many millions.

There is always wisdom in the old adage, “Be the best of whatever you are.”



“Patience pays,” goes a popular proverb.

This means a lot to electricity consumers in Iloilo City, whose patience is expected to pay off in the New Year, judging from the efficiency of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).

That was the positive impression we got during an interview with Engr. Bailey Del Castillo – the company’s assistant vice-president for network operations – who relayed the good news that Christmas eve had come and gone with no report on power outages in Iloilo City despite the cold weather that could have “sabotaged” the festive celebration.

“The cold weather had positive effect,” he enthused. “There were minimal uses for air-conditioning.  Thus, demand for electricity required less heat, enhancing the capacity of wires. However, on the negative side, it also posed a challenge on the possibility of moisture seeping in, which could have short-circuited the lines and damaged equipment. Therefore, we did thermal scanning to detect the hot spots.”

In electrical parlance, if I am not mistaken, a hot spot is wherever an electrical component overheats, threatening an outage.

Asked on whether the on-going rehabilitation of the entire distribution utility had resulted in fewer consumer complaints, Del Castillo said, “Yes, now usually less than 10 in one day.  There used to be between 50 and 200.”

He attributed such success to continuous replacement of dilapidated equipment, especially poles and wires.

Thanks to the no-holds-barred leadership of MORE Power President Roel C. Castro, Del Castillo said, “we made it all possible by importing two mobile substations.”

The first mobile substation now serves the power-distribution needs of the bursting commercial hub at Megaworld.

The second serves to augment the loading capacity of a substation or even substitute whichever substation needs “rest” to undergo complete rehabilitation.

Asked on how extensive was the rehab work they had accomplished, Del Castillo estimated, “Seventy percent. In the first quarter of 2023, we would concentrate on the secondary lines. In two more years and a half, we would have hit our modernization target.”

While we were doing the radio interview on “Tribuna sang Banwa” on Aksyon Radyo and on Facebook (Sunday, 12:15-1:15), we received text messages urging us to ask our guest on sudden escalation of power rates nationwide.

I assumed the texters were already aware about the surge in the price of coal fuel in the world market from US $60 to $400 per metric ton.

“We at MORE Power are doing everything to reverse the situation,” Del Castillo said, mentioning the name “Niel Parcon” as the right person to do it.

Parcon, the company’s vice president for corporate planning, is now searching for renewable energy generators that could offer cheaper power rates for the growing electric consumers of Iloilo City.

There was a time – continuously for 14 months prior to the sudden price hike of coal – when MORE Power charged the lowest price per kilowatt-hour.  They could do it again.

Del Castillo also raised the possibility of MORE chairman Enrique K. Razon going “solar farming” but would rather not elaborate. For as the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day.”