Not everything virtual is good

By Ermin Garcia Jr.


THE Christmas I enjoyed in my youth (from the late 50s to the late 60s) is gone…for good.

For instance, I know I will never get to see teens, parents, lolos and lolas crowding sections in bookstores for Hallmark greeting cards again, spending time browsing timely and apt messages for their loved-ones… each one smiling at the thought of the reaction of the receiver of their Christmas card sent through the mail. Each card was picked out for the messages of love and care that emanates from Jesus’ unconditional love… and Santa’s thoughtfulness.

Worse, even gone are the days when people would thoughtfully sign their names in ink below messages in carefully selected words and phrases.

Christmas then was more than just receiving or exchanging gifts. It was also about anticipating and expecting Christmas greetings cards (and yes, telegrams) from friends and relatives from far and near, and sharing the excitement of knowing who remembered you.

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EMOTICONS AND RELATIONSHIPS. Today, the precious Christmas greeting cards that we thought would keep generations after generations smiling have been pushed out by emoticons, virtual flowers and images that don’t require the emotional touch that used to go with sealing envelopes that contain expressive cards.

Today, messages of love and care are expressed through a quick unemotional press of a key on the computer, laptop and smartphone. No signature needed, the app takes care of that.

One gets virtual images of greetings that you know went viral and shared a thousand times with people you don’t really know.  You know it to be so because you get the same greetings from at least 20 friends and Facebook friends.

There is simply nothing truly personalized about it. No semblance of a one-on-one relationship, not with virtual cards. 

What I honestly find distressing about virtual cards is that one cannot hold it and share it because nobody but nobody prints them out. These are stashed away in one’s email or locked away in our gadgets’ 300 G memory.

Indeed, at the rate things are evolving, we are getting dehumanized by each gigabyte that is offered us through gadgets. Not a good thought.

So here I am stuck with the Internet era. But still allow me to greet you, our dear loyal readers, in the setting of the old… a sincere wish for a joyful time with family and friends, grateful that Christmas brings us together in a beautiful setting, celebrating the moment when God became Man to live with us… and save us from sin and eternal damnation.

Merry Christmas my dear PUNCH reader!

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VIRTUAL DRUG-FREE CITY. Back to reality… let us disabuse our minds that there is and there can be such a thing as a drug-free province. A drug-free Pangasinan is simply a virtual claim, and hard to believe it can happen in our time.

I believe that what happened in Dagupan City last week is happening in other towns as well. After Dagupan was declared a drug-free (cleared?) city some 25 days ago, having accomplished and submitted the documentation and other administrative requirements duly signed by the mayor and barangay kapitans, communities, quickly lulled officials and the police into complacency.

Proof: Before PDEA can even officially validate the claimed status of the city, PDEA busted a drug den in the city! Mind you, it was not a simple isolated case of a buy-bust operation that collared one street dealer but a drug den operated by a high value target in the PDEA drug watch list.

How was it possible that a drug den could operate in a barangay unmolested in the heart of the city in the middle of a 16-month old war on drugs?

In PDU30’s book, such a situation can only point to an official protection by the barangay officials and the police station.

To put it bluntly, Dagupan police chief Franklin Ortiz earned a big Strike One!  He and Barangay Herrero-Perez Kapitan Levy Tirao Sr. ought to be investigated by the City Anti-Drug Advisory Council for this serious and embarrassing setback in the city’s campaign contra drugs.

Apparently, the declaration of the barangay as drug-free provided the perfect cover for illegal drugs to continue to operate in the barangay.

While the declaration of a town or city as drug-free may make the task to sustain the effort difficult, it can in fact be a lot simpler but only if the established networking  and dedication of the barangay officials and the police are sustained.

The case of a drug den operating in Barangay Herrero-Perez demonstrates how easy it was to break the presumed commitment and networking by and between the barangay and the police under the cover of a declaration as drug-free.

Truth is, I’ve been alerted by residents of another barangay in the city of the resumption of illegal drug trade in their community. I certainly pray, there will not be a Strike Two for Superintendent Ortiz.

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MURDER OR ACCIDENT? Here’s another troubling issue festering the Dagupan police.

Was Atty. Godofredo Manipud murdered and did not simply die from a road accident?

This is a question that continues to hound his family and friends to this day. They say it would have been easy for them to accept the fate that Atty. Manipud suffered, being accidentally hit by one SUV on the road while riding his motorcycle since it’s the kind of accident that happens a lot these days.

But their suspicions were aroused when the police report showed discrepancies, particularly listing a different name of the driver of the SUV. Then the responders from the CDRRMC also reportedly refused to submit their reports of the incident. Worse, the family claims it never got a response to queries submitted to the Dagupan City police.

Indeed, if all these claimed situations are true, one, indeed, cannot help but believe there is a strange cover-up going on. And it doesn’t look good that the police are in the middle of a suspected cover-up.  Tsk-tsk.

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PDU30 ADVOCACY. Still speaking of our police, can they strictly enforce the firecracker ban?

If the Pangasinan police fail in this task, then it will stick out like a sore thumb when reports of successful enforcement from other provincial police offices are out.

Our provincial and town police stations must realize that the firecracker ban is not just any other law that can be ignored. The ban is an advocacy of PDU30. He, like no other president, has made it a point to issue an executive order to give the law more teeth to get it strictly enforced.

For PDU30, if the community does not heed the call of the police, then it can only mean the police are not feared and respected by the community. Not a comforting thought.

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