Faces of the news
Hours before his meeting with President Duterte on Monday, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on Filipinos to “constantly strive to be peacemakers in these troubled times.” The reminder was part of the pastoral exhortation issued by the country’s bishops after their three-day plenary, in response to Mr. Duterte’s tirades against the Catholic faith and God, whom he called “stupid.” Without naming Mr. Duterte, the bishops invoked St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians to address his blasphemous statements: “For the stupidity of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” The CBCP also called on the faithful to join the day of prayer on July 16, invoking “God’s mercy and justice on those who have taken His holy name in vain.”
Former Thai Navy Petty Officer Saman Kunan, 38, would have been pleased to know that the multinational rescue team, of which he was a part, managed to extract alive all the 12 schoolboys and their coach trapped in a labyrinthine cave in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. Kunan, a former member of the Thai Navy SEALs, was the only fatality in the two-week drama that gripped not only Thailand but the whole world. But his death, due to drowning while he was placing air tanks through the cave for the rescue mission, has not gone unheralded. A grateful kingdom has been lauding him and renowned Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, along with 300 others, said they would craft a larger-than-life statue of Kunan to turn the diver’s death into something that would benefit the entire kingdom, and to remember him as the hero that he was.
Rodney Chad Mallari
Taxi passengers will be the first to say that airport cabbies aren’t the best role models, with at least two caught overcharging on video, among their other unsavory schemes. Which makes cab driver Rodney Chad Mallari truly exceptional. On July 9, he was lauded by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) for his “exemplary deed and commitment to service as a public utility driver worth emulating” for returning the P200,000 cash, ID and credit cards, as well as an iPhone that his American passenger had left in his cab. Keeping the stash never crossed his mind, he said. “I was not raised that way. I also thought that maybe [the owner] really needed the money,” Mallari said, adding that he hopes his “simple act of kindness” would become the norm among his fellow drivers.
Hopping from one college to another in the United States in search of that NBA dream, Kobe Paras seemed like he didn’t belong. After flying back to the country to join the national basketball cadet program, the second-generation basketball star finally found a school to call home. Paras committed to the University of the Philippines, and became the latest high-profile star to join the Maroons. The high-flying, athletic wingman will be eligible to play in the 2019 season, when he can team up with former Perpetual Help big man Bright Akhuetie and ex-La Salle gunner Ricci Rivero. Paras’ name, of course, is part of basketball history in the UP Diliman campus. Kobe’s father, basketball legend Benjie Paras—now also a TV-movie actor—led UP to its last college crown in 1986. His older brother Andre also had a short stint with the Maroons.
Long under the radar in the mainstream boxing scene, Lucas Matthysse will finally get the spotlight he deserves as he faces Sen. Manny Pacquiao in a World Boxing Association welterweight championship bout. The current titleholder cedes top billing to his more illustrious foe, the Pacman, the only boxer to have won world titles in eight weight classes. Matthysse, the hard-hitting Argentine champion, was a surprise pick by the Pacquiao camp. There certainly are a lot safer choices for the Pacman than this respected knockout artist. But in winning the Pacquiao lottery, Matthysse earned a shot at cementing a career that has been largely overlooked despite him having compiled a devastating KO rate, sending 36 of his 39 opponents to dreamland. But they’re not after the huge pot, his camp said, but rather the glory of being among the sport’s elite.
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