Tag Archives: Philippines

How you can help the Philippines in the best possible way: Get money to people in position to aid the needy victims of the super typhoon

Currently,  I am in Asia on an assignment, but not in the Philippines. Feeling so close, yet so far. So what I’m doing is considering what I can do personally, if not professionally. We all feel the human tug of compassion. Maybe more than a tug for some.  

That’s why I turn to CRS.

This group works with people on the ground and is very efficient in how they do things. They also work with diverse groups of people. Not just Catholics. If you’re wondering how to give, I use this group to get money to the Philippine on an ongoing basis. An Asian American heads it up. And the organization is extremely accountable. No overpaid people here.

It’s hard to make sure money and aid will get to the Philippines without being shaved down by admin costs. If you’re looking for a charity with a great efficiency rating, Catholic Relief Services is worth looking into.

https://secure.crs.org/site/Donation2;jsessionid=9A142990A14AADFE61CBDC06ADF1E4AB.app260b?df_id=6140&6140.donation=form1

 

Read my opinion piece on the Philippines on CNN.com.

 

 

 

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Thoughts on Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the Philippines, and Veterans Day: (UPDATED with video of newborn)

Called Yolanda in the Philippines, Haiyan internationally, by any name, the super typhoon has heaped on a sense of despair and helplessness.

Though we all knew it was coming from the warnings in both old and new media, there was still such an overwhelming sense that nothing could be done to help the country from its fate.

The very day the storm hit, a friend of mine in the San Francisco Bay Area, taken by news warnings, asked me if I still had relatives in the Philippines.

What could I tell her? Despite being born in America, in the broadest sense, as a full-blooded Filipino, I’m related to everyone there.

From a humanitarian sense, of course, we all are.

Over the weekend, as a U.S. based columnist for the Philippine Inquirer, I knew to turn to the paper’s website for coverage direct from the hardest hit area of Leyte.

 

For me, more than the photographs and videos, reading the first individual accounts of the super typhoon’s wrath were simply more harrowing, indicating the monstrous power of the storm. Reporter DJ Yap’s story described people in the throes of Yolanda, including one woman, Bernadette Tenegra, who tried to hold on to her daughter who was ravaged by wooden splinters from all the houses crushed by the storm.

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/524723/ma-just-let-go-save-yourself

 

The Tenegra family had huddled together in their shanty at Barangay (village) 66-Paseo de Legazpi, believing it could weather the storm as it had always done in the past.

But as the water rose with astonishing speed, the house toppled over, sweeping away the occupants, including Tenegra’s husband and her other daughter. They were able to scramble to safety, but the youngest Tenegra was spun around by the current along with the deadly debris.

“I crawled over to her, and I tried to pull her up. But she was too weak. It seemed she had already given up,” the mother said.

“And then I just let go,” she said, crying.

Mute shock was etched on the faces of survivors, many of whom were unfamiliar with storms as fierce as this one.

Richard Bilisario, an Air Force man, was carried by violent waves that demolished his unit’s barracks at the military base overlooking the Leyte Gulf.

“At first, the wind was only coming from inland, so we didn’t really mind it. Then suddenly we heard the howling from the sea,” he recalled.

“When we opened the door to check, the water was already up to the knee. And as soon as the door was opened, the water just rushed in, and the 11 of us were thrown away,” he said.

 Four are still missing, including their commander, Bilisario said.

 At downtown Tacloban, two men silently pushed a wooden cart carrying the bloated bodies of a woman, her teenage

son and her baby on the flooded main avenue.

The men took their gruesome load through the streets, as kibitzers watched in morbid fascination.

The woman’s name was Erlinda Mingig, 48, a fish vendor. She had been trapped in her one-story home with her two children, John Mark, 12, and 1-year-old Jenelyn, at Barangay 39-Calvaryhill.

 

“I told them to stay in the house because it was safer,” said Mingig’s husband, Rogelio, 48.

But the water was rising dangerously fast. When Erlinda tried to open the door to escape, it would not budge,” the man said.

 

“We found her embracing the children in one arm and grabbing on to the ceiling with the other,” he said.

 

So what do we do now?

The coincidence of Veterans Day and the world’s awakening to the apocalyptic images of the super typhoon’s hardest hit area, Leyte and its capital city of Tacloban, is eerie.

This is not the first time the region has seen such death and despair—and overcome it all.

It was on October 20, 1944, that General Douglas MacArthur made good on his “I will return” pledge after being forced out of the Philippines by the Japanese in World War II.

Standing on Leyte Beach, with Filipino president Sergio Osmena and Philippine General Carlos Romulo, MacArthur and the American military took back the Philippines and launched the Battle of Leyte, the biggest naval battle of WWII.

In the Leyte campaign that liberated the Philippines, the Japanese lost nearly 50,000. In victory, the U.S. suffered nearly 16,000 casualties.

Their lives enabled Philippine General Carlos Romulo to report back to Congress: “How I wish the world could have witnessed the ceremony on the capitol steps in Tacloban when…just two days after it was freed from enemy control, General MacArthur delievered Tacloban into the constitutional charge of President Osmena. In Osmena’s simple words of acknowledgment, the Commonwealth of the Philippines was re-established on Philippine soil.”

Romulo, who was also a great statesman and an award-winning journalist, continued:

“This is the story I have come back from the Philippines to tell you. It is of General MacArthur and the idea he has lived and fought for since he left Bataan…It is the story of that great Filipino underground army that fought in heart-breaking secrecy for two and a half years and their final triumph in sharing our victory at Leyte. And it is, moreover, each and all of these, American and Filipino feelings, different reasons and different earth, but all stirred by the same impulse that can be summed up in one word—Bataan.

“I saw Bataan again in Leyte. Filipinos and Americans there shared understanding of one another, having shared the same hunger for liberty, the same sacrifices and death and glories, and the same God. From this American Congress we obtained political equality. This is why it is impossible to encompass in communiques the way the American G.I. feels toward the Filipino who fought alongside his fellow American in the same fox hole in Bataan and later inside the barricade as his ally and friend; impossible to compress in print the way the Filipino feels towards G.I Joe.,.his comrade in arms and liberator. This is democracy as we saw it on Bataan. It is on Leyte, set like a torch between East and West.”

Nearly 70 years later, the same passion that liberated the Philippines must once again be summoned by the U.S. and the world, to respond to this natural disaster and save the country.

The start of financial and military aid, including a U.S.Osprey helicopter, have already begun to trickle into Tacloban over the weekend.

And amid the tragedy and rubble, there was even news of a brand new baby born to Emily Sagalis, 21.

She named the little girl Bea Joy, in honor of Emily’s mother Beatriz, swept away by Yolanda.

Even what little hope exists comes shadowed by tragedy.

 

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Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, Haiyan to everyone else, seems to be the mother of all typhoons

The reports of just 3 dead on Friday night were wistful.

There are now reports of at least 138 , with Philippines officials saying they  expecting that number to climb into “the hundreds.”

Philippine Inquirer.Net is reporting a people finder service:

Looking for your loved ones who are in areas devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda”?

The Philippine Red Cross has launched Social Services Restoring Family Links and Tracing Services.

“If you are looking for a family or friend, contact our Social Services Restoring Family Links and Tracing Services, please call 09175328500,” the PNRC said.

Google, meanwhile, is offering its Person Finder service.

It also has a mobile phone version.

“You can request status via SMS by sending an SMS to +16508003977 with the message Search person-name. For example, if you are searching for Joshua, send the message Search Joshua,” said Google.

Read more: http://technology.inquirer.net/31465/red-cross-google-launch-person-finder-services#ixzz2kAkZnfLh

Manila may have been spared, but the devestation appears to be great around the central part of the Philippines, particularly Leyte and Samar.

Leyte was the WWII  battle we celebrated last month, the one that  liberated the Philippines. If it survived WWII, It will  survive the typhoon. But it will take time and help from around the world.

When the typhoon was first reported on Thursday, friends of mine asked me if I had relatives in the Philippines.

I told them as a Filipino American, I’m related to everyone there.

 

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Pacquiao-Marquez V? Count on it.

After the Pacquiao Bradley debacle, I stayed true to my word. Not another pay-per-view dollar from me. Pacquiao Marquez IV to me seemed like Manny’s “Groundhog Day.” Haven’t we been through that before?

But indeed, there was a new scene we didn’t expect.

Manny Pacquiao lying face down on the canvas.

It’s an image we rarely saw–until Saturday.

He stayed down a long time.

But within minutes our champion was back up, on his feet. Just like the Frank Sinatra song, “That’s Life.”

In one of the post-fight interviews in the ring, almost immediately after (the one I saw was with ESPN) Pacquiao was asked the simple question: Was he ready for another?

Pacquiao didn’t flinch. “Why not,” said the Filipino champion. “My job is to fight.”

And with those words, I think I finally saw the truth.

I don’t think he was punch-drunk. Mind you, I was one of those who for the last three Pacquiao fights have suggested that Manny retire with his brains intact.  What can I say, I’m an ardent fan of boxing, but I value a man’s brains.

I also recognized the charismatic power of Pacquiao and saw him four years ago as someone who could rally the Philippines and maybe even spark the country with a massive dose of the pride that comes from being a world champion.

Isn’t that a bigger challenge than fisting a boastful Floyd Mayweather into submission?

Beyond the ring, there’s real life. Manny Pacquiao could be the leader of the Philippines.

That idea first came to me when I noticed the power of Manny’s charisma rising at the same time another politician was acting like an international rock star—Barack Obama.

Based on charisma and appeal, I even called him the Philippines’ Obama.

That may have been my dream. And maybe it was Manny’s too, for a brief second, as he did run and win a congressional seat in his Philippine district.

But I don’t think it’s Manny’s dream after his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.

Pacquiao-Marquez IV has totally changed my view.

Manny Pacquiao is not the savior of Philippine politics. He is not the statesman, the diplomat, the political leader. He’s not the future of Philippine politics or governance.

He’s a fighter. He’s a guy who works in  satin underwear with his name on it.

And hearing him talk from the weigh-in to the post-fight interviews has made me see that all too clearly.

It’s like the knockout blow from Juan Manuel Marquez knocked fans like me to their senses.

I also think it knocked a little reality into Pacquiao’s life.

Pac-man’s passion, his life, and his future is in the ring. Not in the Philippine legislature. Not in Malacanang.

It’s not in movies, nor music, either.

Pacquiao said it himself, repeatedly, even after the most vicious punishment any human could take in a sanctioned athletic event.

“I’m a fighter,” he told ESPN repeatedly. “It’s my job. I’m willing to fight.”

What did we expect after that fight? A cowering Manny? No way.

“I never expected that punch,” Manny said about the right-hand smash from Marquez that Manny walked into squarely in the 6th round. “He got me (with) a good one.”

And then the question came again. Do you want another fight, a rematch?

“Why not?” he answered.

The questioner came back, “Do you want it?”

“Of course,” Manny said. And then he repeated himself, “I’m a fighter. My job is to fight.”

It would have been nice had Manny broken into a bit of diplomatic rhetoric.  A line about “what a great champion Marquez is…” would have worked there, too. Marquez, in his post-fight interview talked about celebrating the victory for Mexicans around the world. Maybe Manny could have responded with a message to all the global Filipinos out there, that despite the defeat, they should all keep their chins up. Surely, there should have been some kind of message to those Filipinos ravaged by the recent typhoon in Mindinao. Now that was a knockout blow.

At the weigh-in, even HBO’s Larry Merchant threw Pacquiao  a softball on the typhoon to give Manny a chance to enlarge his scope beyond boxing.

Manny showed his concern, but it just wasn’t that  rhetorical flourish akin to a jab-straight-hook combo. That’s not who Manny is. But he can do wonders in the ring.

Even after the knockout blow, in his interview Manny knew his business. His true calling.

And you could sense he wanted another round.

Reports indicate that the brutal blow from Marquez may have given Pacquiao a concussion.

But when you are a boxer, concussions are as natural as blood, sweat and spittle. Those punches aren’t love taps to the head.

It’s all part of the world in which Manny belongs and is paid well for being part of. Where else is he going to get a $26 million dollar pay day just for showing up to work. That’s dollars, not pesos. His pay-per-view share, undoubtedly in the millions, is all extra. (You can watch it free this Saturday on HBO).

So I will give up my crusade insisting that Manny quit to save his brains and take on the mantle of being the Philippines’ rock star political leader.

Manny’s role goes beyond politics. He’s above all that. People go from movies and TV to politics all the time. But boxing champions are different.

They are our mythical warriors, cultural heroes. Manny doesn’t need Malacanang. He’s already head datu to Filipinos everywhere. That’s enough burden for one man. He doesn’t need the pettiness of politics. Pacquiao leads from the ring. And when he’s done, he’ll take his role as national folk hero, buddy, and humanitarian. National spirit lifter.

He doesn’t have to be Joseph Estrada.

But why rush things.

Manny turns just 34 on Dec. 17th. He’ll have a good birthday. And I’m sure an even better Christmas.

And, besides, you heard him indicate, he’s not done.

He’s a fighter. So maybe for a change we’ll really see him train like his life depended on it. And dedicate himself to showing the world that the champion can get back up and answer the bell again.

That’s what Pacquiao-Marquez IV has spawned.

Forget Mayweather. Forget the others. The franchise is set and so is the need—for Pacquiao-Marquez V.

Obama and Aquino talk China in D.C., but media can’t get past Obama mini-gaffe on private sector

Below is the White House transcript on the press briefing after the meeting between President Obama and President Aquino of the Philippines.

As usual, what’s news is a function of the audience, and the most important issue here really is the international one:  the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China in the oil rich shoals of South China Sea. It’s resulted in some tense moments within the last month between the Philippines and China, and most Americans don’t even know about it.

What makes this briefing valuable is how it shows China the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines.

If you’re in China, you’re seeing the U.S. remind us all that it sees itself as a Pacific power, and that the Philippines is a really, really good friend and ally.  Don’t mess with it. 

What else can China do but realize it has a lot invested in the U.S. If they want us to pay them back, it should put up with a little Filipino sabre-rattling. 

Frankly, the whole thing is a little too colonial for my taste.  The Philippines isn’t “Little Brown Brother” anymore. But the Philippines is so anemic it still needs the U.S. to play “Big Brother.” 

Maybe that’s all right if you find yourself in a pissing match with China over oil. 

Too bad the press chose to go domestic and followed up with a question focused on Obama’s earlier statements about the economy and the private sector doing well.

Is a mini-gaffe over language really more important than what happens in the South China Sea?  

Here’s the White House transcript of the Washington press briefing:

President Obama: It is a great pleasure to welcome President Aquino to the Oval Office and to the White House.

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him, most recently during my Asia trip, when we met most recently in Bali. And at that time, we discussed how important the U.S.-Philippine relationship was, the historic ties, the 60 years of a mutual defense treaty, the extraordinary links between Filipino-Americans that have brought our two countries so closely together.  And we pledged to work on a whole host of issues that would continue to strengthen and deepen the relationship for the 21st century.

We talked about how we could work on security issues, on economic issues, on people-to-people exchanges, and on a whole host of regional issues.  And I just want to thank President Aquino for his excellent cooperation, because we’ve made a great deal of progress since that time.

On economic issues, the Philippines is the recipient of a Millennium Challenge grant that is helping to foster greater development and opportunity within the Philippines.  We have a partnership for growth that is working on how we can make sure that we are structuring a relationship of expanding trade and commerce between our two countries.

I want to congratulate President Aquino for the work that he’s done on the Open Government Partnership that is consistent with his campaign to root out corruption that can facilitate greater economic development within the Philippines.

And on security and military issues, we had discussions about how we can continue to consult closely together, to engage in training together, work on a range of regional issues together — all of which is consistent with the announced pivot by the United States back to Asia, and reminding everybody that, in fact, the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power.

Throughout all these exchanges and all the work that we’ve done I’ve always found President Aquino to be a thoughtful and very helpful partner.  And I think that as a consequence of the meeting today in which we discussed not only military and economic issues, but also regional issues — for example, trying to make sure that we have a strong set of international norms and rules governing maritime disputes in the region — that I’m very confident that we’re going to see continued friendship and strong cooperation between our two countries. 

So, Mr. President, thank you for visiting.  We are very proud of the friendship between our two countries, and we look forward to continuing in the future.

PRESIDENT AQUINO:  I would like to thank President Obama for all the support that the U.S. has given us in our quest to really transform our society.  Ours is a shared history, shared values, and that’s why America is just one of two that we have strategic partnerships with.

Today’s meeting has really even deepened and strengthened a very long relationship we have, especially as we face the challenges that are before both our countries in the current situation.

And again, we’d like to thank them for all the expressions of support that even now has led to the resolution of situations within our territory.   

Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  All right.  Thank you, everybody.

  Q    Mr. President, Mitt Romney says you’re out of touch for saying the private sector is doing fine.  What’s your response?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine.  That’s the reason I had the press conference.  That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger.

The economy is not doing fine.  There are too many people out of work.  The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater.  And that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.

Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I’ve been saying consistently over the last year, we’ve actually seen some good momentum in the private sector.  We’ve seen 4.3 million jobs created — 800,000 this year alone — record corporate profits.  And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy.

The folks who are hurting, where we have problems and where we can do even better, is small businesses that are having a tough time getting financing; we’ve seen teachers and police officers and firefighters who’ve been laid off — all of which, by the way, when they get laid off spend less money buying goods and going to restaurants and contributing to additional economic growth.  The construction industry is still very weak, and that’s one of the areas where we’ve still seen job losses instead of job gains.

So if we take the steps that I laid out to make sure that we’re not seeing teacher layoffs and we’re not seeing police officer layoffs, and we’re providing small businesses with additional financing and tax breaks for when they hire or if they’re giving raises to their employees; if we refinance housing — or allow homeowners to refinance so they’ve got an extra $3,000 in their pocket so that they can spend money and contribute to further economic growth; if we’re making sure that we’re rebuilding, work that has to be done anyway, deferred maintenance on roads and bridges that could put construction workers back to work — all those things will strengthen the economy, and independent economists estimate it would create an additional million jobs. 

Now, you can’t give me a good reason as to why Congress would not act on these items other than politics — because these are traditionally ideas that Democrats and Republicans have supported.  So let me be as clear as I can be.  The economy needs to be strengthened.  That’s why I had a press conference.

I believe that there are a lot of Americans who are hurting right now, which is what I’ve been saying for the last year, two years, three years, what I’ve been saying since I came into office.  And the question then is what are we going to do about it?  And one of the things that people get so frustrated about is that instead of actually talking about what would help, we get wrapped up in these political games.  That’s what we need to put an end to.

So the key right now is for folks — what I’m interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference.  And so far, all we’ve heard are additional tax cuts to the folks who are doing fine, as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the kind of economic growth that we would all like to see.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.  Thanks.  Thank you, guys.

Philippines going backwards toward colonialism, as talks ensue with Washington for a new military presence

The talks are scheduled for this week, all fueled by the fear of China.

I guess it’s dawned on someone that the Philippines would be a convenient place to have U.S. military in Asia, just in case.

Could be a matter of “everything old is new again.” But the difference may be concerns over a more aggressive China.

The Philippines may want this justifiably for protection, but this is still a disappointment in the development of the country. Years after successfully kicking out the  U.S. presence in Clark and Subic, it seems the Philippines  has been unable to grow out of its colonial mentality. 

Washington Post breaks the story:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/philippines-may-allow-greater-us-presence-in-latest-reaction-to-chinas-rise/2012/01/24/gIQAhFIyQQ_story.html?wpisrc=al_national

Manny Pacquiao needs an exit strategy, so here’s one: The Manny come home, farewell fight and karaoke fest in the RP

His face was “bruised and plump.” He needed help to get on his feet. His fingers were swollen so badly he couldn’t sign autographs.

That was a Philippine newspaper reporter’s description of Manny Pacquiao, the day after he won.

You should have seen the loser.

Antonio Margarito was in the hospital, his face swollen with welts the size of Texas, his right eye shut and barely in place in his broken eye-socket bone.

This is why Manny Pacquiao needs to stop now.

On Saturday, the PPP (pound-per-pound) King of Boxing, won his 8th title in 8 weight divisions. What more is there to do?

He can wait for the winner of this weekend’s Martinez/Williams fight and go after the middleweight crown. Hey, 9 titles in 9 weight classes!  But then why not 10, or 12?

That’s the problem. Manny is so good, it’s not a fair fight unless he handicaps himself so severely. Like a thoroughbred forced to carry more weight, Manny has to do something that’s not as obvious as tying his left hand behind his back.  It’s necessary because he is so good he would destroy others his size or smaller. The only challenge is to keep fighting what I call “up-hill.” Fight bigger,stronger, but not necessarily better boxers.

Margarito was 17 pounds heavier and 5-6 inches taller than Pacquiao.  That’s not Mount Everest, but even Pacquiao admitted after the fight that Margarito had enough mass to absorb all of the Pacman’s punches.

Fighting bigger guys means knockouts will be fewer, fights will be longer, and the war of attrition will ultimately prevail.

Pacquiao’s speed enabled him to punch Margarito 411 times. The battering should have been obvious to the referee and to Margarito’s trainer who let the punishment go on.

And since this is boxing, Pacquiao got his share, 135 punches came from the stronger Margarito.

Punches start adding up and take their toll.  Inside and outside the ring.

By stopping now,  the Pacman saves his energies for his day job in the Philippine Congress, and his real passion in life—leadership.

Notice I said leadership, which is not politics, necessarily. Yes, congress is all about politics, but Manny’s gift goes beyond that. He’s got the most important trait for a leader: Charisma. People follow and listen. This is something that can be developed, hopefully, for positive purposes. But it is Manny’s true gift. His fists may have brought him fame, but his real gift is public service.

Like Obama did in 2008, there’s something about Pacquiao that inspires hope.

Perhaps it’s the back story that creates the foundation for a mythic life. The hardscrabble upbringing, the tale of a street kid who turns to boxing to help feed his family.  Boxing discovered and nurtured him  to the point where he is the most intriguing fighter in the sport.

So why stop there?

Because there’s  life after boxing, and to preserve it, there’s no better way than to end his pugilistic phase at the top.

Pacquiao has established his boxing legacy firmly. His championship track is like watching one of those charts of the evolution of man. Eight weight classes? The only one who could repeat what he’s done is another flyweight with the same expansive heart and spirit. And that’s not likely to happen—ever.

Margarito wasn’t even the best challenger. But he was bigger, by a lot. And if there were any doubters left about Pacquiao, seeing the champ destroy a bigger man was enough to etch the legend in stone.

But boxing is as much about greed as it is about legacy.  Manny’s problem here is coming up with a suitable exit strategy for all.

People keep mentioning Floyd Mayweather, as if that’s the ultimate. It is not. But how do you top that match up?

A Pacquiao farewell in the Philippines.

One big blowout. The “Thrilla In Manila” with a real Filipino champ eight times over, and it doesn’t matter anymore if it’s a lesser fighter. It’s the last-pay-day. The Finale. People would pay to see a finale.  Train for real in Baguio, then take a week to travel and train in different parts of the country, ending in one big blow out in the big city.

Think of what it would do for tourism. And balikbayans would go for balikboxing.

It’s the “Manny go home, farewell tour and karaoke.” The Datu goes out on top.

All you have to see is an image of an addled Muhammad Ali in a wheelchair to know it’s the right thing to