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As the nation marks the 117th anniversary of freedom from Spain, our family remembered Modesto Farolan on his 115th birth anniversary.

Modesto Farolan, the “Father of Philippine Tourism” was born on June 12, 1900, in the small, sleepy town of Sarrat in the province of Ilocos Norte. The youngest of five children, born of humble, hardworking parents, he rose through the ranks of the newspaper world on a high school diploma to become editor and publisher of the Philippines Herald, one of the leading news dailies of his time. This goes to show you don’t need an Ivy League diploma to make it to the top. Hard work and discipline are the virtues needed to attain your goals. As Benjamin Salvosa, founding president of the Baguio Colleges Foundation (now the University of the Cordilleras) put it, Modesto Farolan was the “acme of the informal process of self-education and discipline.”

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A stint as consul general in Honolulu, Hawaii, during the early years of the Philippine Foreign Service afforded him an awareness of the potential and possibilities of tourism for a country’s economic development. This led to his organizing the Philippine Tourist and Travel Association, a private sector initiative, together with Salvador Peña, a devoted colleague in many endeavors.

President Ramon Magsaysay appointed him the nation’s first commissioner of tourism, this despite being on the opposing side during a bitterly fought presidential election campaign in 1953. The post would later be elevated to Cabinet level and today, the secretary of tourism plays an important and challenging role in nation building.

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Dad always said, “As public officials, we do not serve individuals. We serve the nation and our people.”

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My grandniece, Philippine archer Amaya Paz Cojuangco, is set to shoot for her third gold medal in the women’s individual compound bow event at the ongoing Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Singapore. “Aya,” as she is known to family members, is the daughter of Jaime “JP” and Imelda “Deda” Paz. She won gold in the same event during the 2005 and 2007 SEAGs held in the Philippines and Thailand, respectively.

After several years of absence from the sport (marriage and a baby), Aya has regained her old form and is on the threshold of a third gold medal when she faces Malaysian Fatin Nurfatellah Mat Salleh in the finals on Sunday [yesterday]. Aya is married to Tarlac Vice Gov. Kit Cojuangco, son of Rep. Enrique “Henry” Cojuangco who passed away recently. Aya and Kit have one son, Alfonso.

In the women’s compound bow team competition, Aya and teammates Jennifer Chan and Joanne Cabanag beat Singapore for the bronze medal.

Some 10 years ago, during the first Asian Archery Grand Prix in Bangkok, the Philippine archery team, led by Amaya Paz and Raul Arambulo, won five gold medals to lead the competition in the compound bow event. At that time, a Thai sports writer reported that “Brilliant Amaya Paz of the Philippines showed that she could be a major force in this year’s Southeast Asian Games, when she helped her team sweep all the compound events in the women’s category.” Aya continues to prove she remains a major force in the arena of Asian archery.

We invest a lot of resources in training and preparing 12-16 men for a basketball team. In the end, the effort will net us only one gold medal. We should review our goals and objectives if we are to take full advantage of individual performances that could lead to gold medals. Unfortunately, under the present leadership, Philippine sports is not going anywhere. The only gold being harvested in international competitions represents individual effort rather than being the result of a well-planned and well-funded national athletic program such as the Gintong Alay in the past.

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My friend Nandy Pacheco reminds me that Ang Kapatiran Party or the Alliance for the Common Good is gearing up for the coming election campaign.

One has to admire Nandy for his steadfast idealism and fighting spirit in the face of great odds. He says that Ang Kapatiran is “the only political party that promotes platform-based politics with clear and specific objectives all aimed at enhancing the common good and whose candidates are committed to the party’s founding principles and platforms.”

Pacheco says, “Kapatiran’s focus is on moral principles, not on political expediency; on the need of the poor and vulnerable, not those of the rich and the powerful; on the pursuit of the common good, not the demands of special interests; and on the culture of life and Christ’s peace.”

Nandy believes that we must remove the pork barrel system, abolish political dynasties, institutionalize the gun ban in public places during the election period and for the rest of the year, except for police officers and military personnel who are in uniform and on duty; and fix the term of office of the chief of staff of the Armed Forces to three years, regardless of the statutory age requirement.

We have always pursued the objective of setting a fixed term of office for the AFP chief of staff as well as the major service commanders. But even after the necessary legislation had passed through both houses of Congress, Malacañang refused to act on, or vetoed, the proposal for reasons never fully explained to the public.

It is time that we considered this issue in our choice of the next president. A firm commitment to bring about fixed terms for the AFP chief and major service commanders should be part of a host of other reform measures for the new commander in chief. As I have mentioned so often in the past, my barangay chief has a fixed term of office—three years. Certainly the AFP chief, with his numerous responsibilities involving national security, is entitled to a term of office that would allow him time to ensure that plans and programs are monitored and implemented properly.

By the way, we will have a new AFP chief of staff next month with the coming retirement of Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, the fifth AFP chief in the five years of P-Noy’s administration. As the President enters his last and final year in office, he will also be appointing the sixth AFP chief during his term, making it one AFP chief for every year in office.

Lastly, in pushing for Ang Kapatiran, Nandy Pacheco believes that we must “recover our sense of the common good. We have become too individualistic. We forget that by pursuing the community’s interests, we benefit the individuals within, including ourselves.”

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TAGS: Amaya Paz Cojuangco, Modesto Farolan, people, sea games, Singapore, Tourism
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