Faces of the News: May 3, 2020
Ramon Jimenez Jr.
Former Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., the man behind the country’s catchy tourism campaign, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” passed away at age 64 on April 27. The advertising executive took over the Department of Tourism in September 2011, promising to make Philippine tourism the “people’s business,” with the ultimate goal of improving the country’s travel statistics and making tourism enterprise fulfilling and profitable for Filipinos. Former President Benigno Aquino III said Jimenez “achieved so much with so little,” with “successes we could be proud of as a nation.” His successor, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, said the country would “forever be grateful to [Jimenez] for the growth of the tourism sector, and for promoting the Philippines as a place that is wonderful, joyous and fun.” Despite his prominence, his family described him simply as “a beloved husband, father, brother, friend and public servant.” —JEROME ANING
Felimon Santos Jr.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. got infected with the new coronavirus and later recovered, thanks, he believes, to Carrimycin tablets which are only available in China. Just days after the country lodged a diplomatic protest against China over a radar-pointing incident involving its vessel and the Philippine Navy in the West Philippine Sea, Santos made a personal request to the Chinese ambassador to help procure several boxes of Carrimycin for his “close friends” who were also infected. Santos quickly withdrew the letter when it was leaked online and drew criticism. The drug had yet to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration, he explained. A senator late called him out for committing what was described as an act of treason. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, however, described Santos’ request as “not really improper, just out of place.” —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
Even when Labor Attaché to Taiwan Fidel Macauyag threatened her with deportation, overseas Filipino worker Elanel Ordidor refused to retract her online criticisms of the Duterte administration’s response to the coronavirus disease. In a TV interview, the caregiver said public officials were voted into office by ordinary folk whose taxes fund government salaries, so it was within her right to speak up on their missteps. Her three-minute video which earned the ire of the Philippine labor office in Taiwan, contended that Filipinos “would die not from the virus but from hunger,” since a rumored lockdown would make it difficult for them to get remittances from abroad. Ordidor also pointed out that proadministration bloggers like Mocha Uson wasn’t asked to apologize when she previously lambasted Vice President Leni Robredo so why should she? Citing Ordidor’s right to freedom of expression,Taiwan rejected the request to have her deported. —JOVIC YEE
John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo
One-time show biz love team John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo set social media abuzz early this week when they were shown catching up on each other on Instagram. The exchange played out like a promising epilogue from one of their blockbuster rom-coms. For many netizens stuck at home, it provided a swoon-worthy breather as Cruz and Alonzo talked about feeding the hungry and the homeless during the lockdown, raising kids in an increasingly toxic world, and their divergent political outlook. Unlike most love teams, the duo’s relationship has always been more reel than real, but the “kilig”-inducing tone of their chat seemed to suggest that there could be more than mere fondness or friendship ahead. Whether it was staged or not isn’t important. What it made clearer was the pair’s palpable chemistry—something that no amount of promotional ploy nor marketing savvy can manufacture. —RITO P. ASILO
With the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) continuing to brush off the request of Metro Manila mayors for the agency to reinstate the original number of beneficiaries of cash aid under the government’s Social Amelioration Program, Navotas City Mayor Toby Tiangco has taken it upon himself to provide for the needy families excluded from the subsidy. Last week, he announced that he would be donating his entire salary from April 2020 until his term ends in June 2022—a whopping P3.2 million—to the excluded households. Tiangco admitted, however, that this amount would be enough only for 400 to 800 of the over 40,000 families who could not be covered by the DSWD’s limited funds. Although the public has repeatedly questioned where he would get the money, the mayor clarified that he would shoulder the amount in the meantime so that he could immediately distribute the cash aid to the families in need. —MEG ADONIS
After leading the powerhouse San Miguel Beermen to two championships last season, head coach Leo Austria was once again named the best tactician in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). The coveted trophy named after the legendary Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan is Austria’s fourth in the last five years, bringing him up to second slot behind former Gilas and PBA coach Chot Reyes, and ahead of Ginebra coach Tim Cone, the league’s winningest coach who has won the award three times. The soft-spoken Austria has won a total of eight championships in the PBA as a coach—all of them with the Beermen. Despite the accolades, there are those who say that Austria rode a potent San Miguel Beer squad led by six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo on the way to glory. Said Austria: “Of course, with or without him, we are capable of winning. It’s just different when we have June Mar because he is a talented and smart player.” —LOUIE GREG A. RIVERA
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