Random Thoughts

THE MASSACRE OF TREES CONTINUE — Travel to the north is no longer as rewarding as it used to be. We found this out when we had a trip by car up to Sarrat, Ilocos Norte before the New Year.

The Manila North Road has been widened but was done at the expense of many aged trees that used to line up both sides and whose arching branches formed a canopy that provided shade and cover to weary travelers.

So, finally the massacre of trees first started in Pangasinan has finally reached up north.

The only portion of the MNR that remains green is in Batac City, Ilocos Norte but we doubt if the trees lining up its highway will stay once the highway widening reaches the place.

What were mercifully spared so far are the giant centuries old acacia trees in Candon which I suggest must be allowed to live since there is a new and wider expressway built in the outskirts of the city meant to bypass the heart of the city.

What also makes travel stressful and boring are the many ongoing construction and repair of concrete bridges that force many vehicles to slow down in bumper-to-bumper situations.

We must concede that Ilocos is more blessed than Pangasinan in terms of infrastructures. We asked if this was the advantage of having had a DPWH secretary from the Ilocos?

The only redeeming views found in the travel to the north are the beautiful bridges in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, certainly far more refreshing to the eyes than those we have Pangasinan.

One such bridge is the picturesque President Elpidio Quirino Bridge in Bantay, Ilocos Sur that replaced an old structure damaged by floods many years back.

In Pinili and Badoc, Ilocos Norte, garlic plants have just sprouted from their beds.

No, we did not see many tobacco plants, the former top cash crop of the Ilocos after rice. Corn have now replaced tobacco in Ilocos. Tobacco farmers may have already been discouraged because of the declining demand for cigarettes not only because of the graphic images shown on their packs but also because of the smoking ban in public issued by President Duterte.

In Bacnotan, we saw fish cages that may have been stocked with milkfish near its mouth to the sea.

We thought that perhaps the people there want to rival Dagupan in terms of milkfish production.

Reaching Laoag City, we wanted our driver to pull over in front of the public market so we could buy salted “ipon” placed in bottle but traffic was too heavy and there was no place to park.

I decided that our craving for “ipon” would not be worth the risk of being fined for illegal parking. – Leonardo Micua


STL WAR IN PANGASINAN? — The new regional police director, Chief Superintendent Romulo Sapitula, issued a memorandum to his provincial directors to intensify the campaign against illegal numbers game.

Does this mean, goodbye Peryahan ng Bayan, jueteng, bookies of Small Town Lottery (STL) and other illegal numbers’ games in Pangasinan? I see eyebrows raised here. Mahirap paniwalaan na mawawala ang mga illegal numbers’ game, especially in Pangasinan.

The no-nonsense Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who waged a campaign against illegal gambling, knows this too well. He was hated by operators of jueteng but well-loved by his flock for his advocacy.

Latest news in Pangasinan is Speedgame Corporation, which sources say is composed of medical doctors who invested millions of pesos to operate the Small Town Lottery franchise from PCSO, is now the sole group authorized to operate this kind of business in Pangasinan.

Chief Inspector Norman Florentino, information officer of Pangasinan Police Provincial Office, said in the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (Pangasinan chapter) Forum on Jan. 4 that Speedgame has replaced Golden Go Rapid Gaming Corporation.

Golden Go Rapid Gaming Corporation previously encountered low collection of bets in its initial months of operation last year, like any other business in its infancy period, said a spokesman of the group. But we were told they are slowly catching up with the required presumptive monthly retail receipt (PMRR) required of them as operator.

But lo and behold, selected members of Pangasinan media were suddenly invited to witness the launching of Speedgame Corporation for its initial STL draw in Urdaneta City on Jan. 3. The invitation, relayed by a staff of a doctor working in a government hospital who is reportedly among the incorporators, did not reach me but our hardworking reporter, Nora Dominguez, was included in the list of invited guests, so off she went.

I asked the spokesperson of Golden Go Rapid Gaming Corporation about the entry of Speedgame Corp. in the STL operation in Pangasinan

Out na ba ang Golden Go at ang in na lang ay ang Speedgame? Ano ba talaga ate?

The answer I got was, “Let them in para marami tayo laban”.

So that means dalawa sila? Confusing. Paano na ang mananaya? Kanino sila dapat tumaya? Baka masayang lang ang taya nila?

Florentino was emphatic only Speedgame is authorized.

Sure ka, Sir? Will they be able to stop the other group? I saw with my own two eyes the good relationship the other group has established with the police plus its reported connections up there.

Based on latest press releases of the police I got on Jan. 5, about eight persons were arrested for alleged illegal STL operation in Binmaley. It did not state, however, the name of corporation that the arrested persons belong to.

Florentino said based on their experience, bookies happened right at the level of management of STL operator.

Once kabos are offered to work also for the group doing illegal operation, they will collect bets but divide their collection. One is for the legal and the other for illegal.

Sa huli, kawawa ang mga mananaya dahil nasusuba sila.

Words of advice. Careful, careful but better still, do not gamble, to borrow the words of the revered Archbishop Cruz, “as it promotes indolence and enriches the capitalists through easy money”.

This is just an impossible wish.

Good luck, Speedgame. Sana maabot nyo rin yung PMRR nyo set by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office para hindi i-rescind yung contract nyo.—Eva Visperas

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