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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, October 11, 2014
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Deodorizing Tacloban?

Ninfa Leonardia Yesterday was October 10. Didn’t that use to be a much celebrated holiday for the Filipino-Chinese community? I recall that the “Doble Ten” was always observed with some celebrations and festivities. Yesterday, it seemed rather quiet for a Double Ten day.

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In North Korea, the ruling party was supposed to mark its 69th anniversary, also yesterday, but the country was reported to be in a state of apprehension. Their young leader, Kim Jong-un, who succeeded his father is nowhere to be found, and has reportedly not come out even for state functions for almost one month now. Well, the Koreans are known to be secretive people, but shouldn’t a leader be more visible? His non-appearance has elicited speculations that he is sick, and maybe that’s why.

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The young leader immediately made big news when he assumed the position after his father died, because he was so strict and unrelenting, that he even had his uncle and aunt executed for allegedly being disloyal to him. Well, illness is a possible cause, because heads of state and high officials often try to conceal the fact that they are sick for fear that their people will withdraw support or loyalty from them. Remember the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, who pretended that all was well, even if people were noticing bleeding from his arms at public functions. Seems they want to give the impression that they are immortal.

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Immortality is what victims of the fearsome Ebola virus certainly cannot count on. Reports coming out from areas where it is prevalent indicate that it has a mortality rate of 70 percent or even more. Getting infected would seem to be a death sentence, and so far, none of the supposedly breakthrough treatments have worked. The American who went home to Texas, not knowing he had been infected, was promptly isolated and treated, but the sad news yesterday was that he, too, had died.

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It was the same with the Spanish nurse who went home to Spain after being diagnosed with the infection. But yesterday, it was confirmed that she died, and that even her pet dog had to be euthanized, or subjected to mercy-killing. This caused a lot of complaints from animal lovers, and even from her husband who thought it would be a reminder of her, but because of the highly infectious nature of the virus, he had no recourse but to agree. Meanwhile, it is good to see that media is issuing warnings against the disease and enumerating its symptoms so people will be aware, and take stringent precautions. For that matter, all countries should be strict about entries at their sea and air ports to prevent its becoming a pandemic, God forbid!

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It is really a very wet October that we are experiencing, with rain almost everyday and flooding occurring in many places. Worst-hit in the past two days are towns in Iloilo, where deaths from drowning have been recorded. Badly hit, according to reports are the towns of San Joaquin, Pavia, Guimbal and Lambunao. And not only floods have been plaguing the world, we also have earthquakes, and lately, eruptions of formerly silent volcanoes. In Japan, it was Mt. Ontake, where several have been killed, in Indonesia, Mt. Sinubong, and in our very own country, our beautiful Mt. Mayon is also displaying signs that it may also blow up anytime. At least evacuation has already started there, so the chances of fatalities have diminished.

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Will it be back to the streets for Hong Kong protestors? Now they have a new cause, some accusations against their chief executive involving graft. Now, that is a serious matter over there, unlike here in our country where grafters are allowed all the time to enjoy what they have stolen before justice is meted to them – if ever. Somehow, though, the initial spirit of protest seems to have waned with the halt when they seemed placated with a promise of talks with officials, which, apparently, have not taken place.

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I don’t blame the victims of Typhoon Yolanda who are refusing to be relocated to new structures built for them, and prefer to remain in their tents and evacuation areas for now. Why? They know that the Holy Father is coming to see their situation, and they want him to actually see how they have been coping. That is wise of them, they know that their officials only want to “deodorize” their conditions before the visitor comes. Well, that is a Filipino trait, this anxiety to put their best feet forward, or arrange things so the visitors will be impressed. Meanwhile, me, I just wonder how La Imelda will manage to get herself into the picture when the Pope comes to her hometown.*

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