Who’s welcoming BBM to Antique today?

By Herbert Vego

A fellow Antiqueño asked me whether Pres. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is coming to San Jose, Antique today to give away to indigents tons of rice that have been confiscated from smugglers.

“Ambay,” I answered. “Who knows? He must be trying to atone for his failures, as in promising to reduce the price of rice to ₱20 per kilo and to vainly impose price control.”

If these sacks of rice being distributed nationwide were confiscated from smugglers as reported, who are these smugglers?  Why have no charges been filed against them?

This ticklish issue needs to be resolved because of news reports naming Michael Ma as “top smuggler”. He is a business associate of Martin Araneta, who is a brother of First Lady Liza,

To reiterate, it was no less than an Ilonggo congressman, Horacio “Toto” Suansing Jr. (2nd Dist. Sultan Kudarat), who identified Michael Ma in January this year as one of the top 10 agricultural smugglers.

In the ensuing congressional investigation, however, only one Leah Cruz came to deny charges of her being “the biggest onion smuggler”.

Anyway, knowing how untouchable the well-connected are, Suansing must have given up his fight. Otherwise, it could be his swan song. Makaluluoy man si Toto, who is a gentle brother of our late fellow journalist Ivan Suansing.

Meanwhile, let us focus on the brewing controversy surrounding the arrival of BBM in Antique today, assuming it would push through.

My informant revealed that because of her 90-day suspension over a well-known graft-and- corruption case, Governor Rhodora “Dodod” Cadiao would not be around to welcome BBM at the airport, and that she had asked a relative/Sangguniang Panlalawigan member to do it on her behalf.

I hope it’s not true because it’s Vice-Governor Edgar Denosta who ought to be her proxy, and more so because they are political allies. After all, being a “graduating” governor, she is said to have endorsed him to replace her by winning the 2025 gubernatorial derby.

Papayag ka ba, Senator Loren?



MY octogenarian friend Casiano Mayor, who remains active as owner of the restaurant Marilyn’s Kitchen in Bacolod City, could not hide his excitement over the joint venture agreement merging Central Negros Cooperative (Ceneco) and Primelectric into Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC).

“We are looking forward to the merger,” Cas texted me, “because it will not only bring down our power bills but also stop the frequent brownouts.”

Remember, Primelectric is a sister company of Iloilo City’s MORE Power.

The joint venture agreement having passed the plebiscite among Ceneco customers, the only remaining step for its fruition is a grant of congressional franchise to NEPC. It’s a cinch it would push through under House Bill 9310 sponsored by three Negrense congressmen — Joseph Stephen Paduano, Juliet Marie De Leon Ferrer, and Francisco Benitez.

It is interesting to note that Paduano – a party-list representative representing Abang Lingkod – has had a change of heart.  He had previously opposed but to no avail the grant of franchise to MORE Power replacing Panay Electric Co. (PECO) in Iloilo City.

But now, Paduano lauds MORE Power, citing its fruitful track record. In its first three years of operation, MORE Power has expanded from 62,000 to more than 92,000 electricity customers.

Should the franchise be approved by Congress and President Marcos, NEPC would distribute electricity in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, as well as in the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto for 25 years.

No less than Bacolod Mayor Albee Benitez is impressed by the Ceneco-Primelectric joint venture. While Ceneco’s franchise would not expire until 2030 yet, Negrenses fear that it could die a natural death due to bankruptcy. It is mired in debts totaling more than ₱550 million.



“SAVING Graciano Lopez Jaena: The Case Against Him and His Role in the Propaganda Movement” is the topic to be discussed in the next round of the Center for West Visayan Studies’ International Scholars Lecture Series come 19 October 2023, 9:00 a.m., at the UP-Visayas.

For this lecture, the center has invited Francisco G. Villanueva, an Ilonggo historian based in Canada. He is better known for his extensive research and lectures on 19th century Philippine photography and the life of the first Filipino photographer, Felix Laureano.

As narrated by historian and former Iloilo board member Demy Sonza in his book Mightier than the Sword, Graciano López Jaena – born in Jaro, Iloilo City on January 18, 1856 – founded the newspaper La Solidaridad in Barcelona, Spain. The paper urged reforms in both religion and government in the Philippines, thus serving as the voice of what became known as the Propaganda Movement.

Villanueva’s UPV lecture will explore historiography and the issues revolving Lopez Jaena’s legacy and significance to the Ilonggo community.

The lecture will be open free of charge to interested individuals. So, Doc Bong, let’s go!