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thLike a knock-off of the familiar Britney Spears tune (vis. “I did it” vs. “It happened”), it appears that I’m caught repeating many recent moments in my life.  All of these incidents of “near deja vu” have occurred in the last weeks of December 2015.  Why this, and why now?

thCould it be that “Father Time” is trying to send me a last-minute message?  Did I not exert enough effort or sufficiently contemplate the importance of the many repeated experiences the first time around?  Did I enjoy a recent pleasant moment in life to such an extent that I’ve been rewarded with a re-play to enjoy a second time?

Tagalog Buddy

Then, there’s the question of why it’s just some very recent events that are being duplicated, and not something from earlier on?

For many, the final week(s) of a year are a time of reflection – looking back over the entire year that has passed by and contemplating the year’s blessings and set-backs, with a studious resolve to increase the former and decrease the latter in the upcoming new year.  I am one of the many, but this repetition is disturbing my reflections on 360+ days gone by, and limiting my concentration to a mere handful of days past.

My dear readers, you may be well asking yourselves:

Has Paul really gone off his nut this time?  Why such disturbing thoughts on the eve of celebrating the coming of a new year?  Is he, heaven forbid, off his medicine again? 


5gul01Take heart, dear followers of my written word, all is well.  Year end reflecting is going on smoothly and anticipation for a wonderful new year is as heightened as it’s ever been.

I suppose that most of my 2015 was a bit more trying and difficult than years previously endured (for example, all of the “medical revelations” during the past seven or eight months).  These episodes of reliving the moment just might be 2015’s final blessing.


I missed the article submission deadline last week – deja vu one too many – but it couldn’t be helped.  Our Town Fiesta seems to have taken up all of my free, and much of my non-free, time.  Instead of hunting and pecking on the virtual keyboard, I was assimilating, adjusting, and celebrating with my town’s mates.  I was involved.  No, not in an “It’s all about me” way, but in a “It’s all about our town and its people” way.

Along with the annual “Holiday Party” at Villa Dolores – our lovely home – there were other lunches, dinners, parties, and Fiesta events that almost certainly required Baket ko’s (Asawa ko’s) [my Wife’s] and my presence (and “presents,” if ya know what I mean!). Of major importance was involvement in the Fiesta activities.  Of those were my locally perceived “fairness and impartiality” for judging events.

I reported on the Lantern Parade and competition in my last article.  Lots to consider, lots to adjudge, and lots of feelings to avoid hurting while making others feel special.  The final parade and competition of this year’s Fiesta was the Grand Float Parade.  All barangays, and anyone brave enough to endeavor a private entry, participated in this capstone event.

Your humble scribe was “unanimously selected” as the chairman of the 3-member panel of judges.  With reputation at stake, rules for the panel and suggested ways to meet their obligation were explained to the judges, along with the different award categories being considered.  The float competition is much easier to judge than the other events – especially the lantern event.


20151230_085930A beautiful, sunny morning blessed our venue.  Thankfully, as the sun and temperature went higher, a delightful breeze coupled with a few light clouds to block direct sunrays served the municipality with ideal parade weather.   All would be bright, and every inch (or centimeter, for those metrically inclined) of every float basked in the sunshine so that no feature or flaw would be overlooked.

With only three judges, all egos were easily put in check and the spirit of teamwork – held captive by said egos – engulfed the panel.  There would be only four categories considered by the judges, making retention of team spirit easily accomplished:

  1. THE MOST “ATTENDED” FLOAT – basically, a showing of community support by barangay residents for their barrio’s entry;
  2. THE MOST “ORIGINAL” FLOAT – a display of ingenuity in design that “stands out from the pack”;
  3. THE MOST “REPRESENTATIVE” FLOAT – a display that best represents the entry’s barangay and the theme of the Fiesta; and
  4. THE MOST “COLORFUL/ATTRACTIVE” FLOAT – a display that best catches the eye of both the judges and the throngs of parade viewers.

These categories, thankfully, were much less subjective than the other events but, outside of the first, subjective nonetheless.  I was amazed, however, that the judges’ scoring for two of the four categories were identical across the board, with another category being nearly identical, and only one category needing post parade discussion.

Even more amazing was the crowd’s agreement with the final results.  Even though the winners for each category would not be formally announced until during the final Fiesta closing ceremony, crowning of the Fiesta Queen, and community dance later that evening, the “buzz” about crowded streets and plaza precisely mirrored the judges’ selections.

If the Fiesta’s success were to be measured by the benchmarks of happiness and enjoyment of the revelers, then I’d say that this year’s town Fiesta was a smashing success.



The Most Attended Float — Brgy Susugaen

This was the most objective of the categories.  It only required the counting of supporters accompanying each float.  Thankfully, the reviewing stand was at the end of the parade route.  Quick marches at the parade’s onset mellowed out to a slower stroll past the judges, making the headcounting that much easier.   Too, the always present “desertion while the parade was en route” kept the numbers manageable and provided the judges with a good idea of true support.

The average number of “float attendees” was in the range of 50-60 followers.  The smallest number (from a highly agricultural barangay that had most of its residents in the fields and not on Parade) was 37.  At the other end of the scale with barangays “fielding” participants with numbers like 97, 105, and 112.  The winner, however, had it nailed.  We stopped counting when the number of float supporters for the BARANGAY SUSUGAEN float exceeded 300.  No one could match that display of humanity.



The Most Original Float — Brgy Nagsanga

Like the first category, this one was scored identically across the board of judges.  All floats, from year to year, shares a great number of attributes.  They serve as a conveyance for the barangay’s Fiesta Queen candidate, as a display representing the barangay, and a display of the effort and energy selflessly provided by residents of the barangay.  In short, “Ya seen one, ya seen ’em all.”

One, however, always manages to stand out from the competition.  Somewhere in the barangays of Pasuquin, someone hatches an idea that – with the help of flowers, papier-mâché, watercolors, and “sweat equity” – transforms an otherwise “float clone” into an original masterpiece.  This year, that idea was hatched in BARANGAY NAGSANGA.  (Had the scoring not been identical across the board, I would have recused my vote as I’m a resident of Nagsanga.)



The Most Representative Float — Brgy Estancia

This one was a little tougher.  Each float enteted was the epitome of the Fiesta’s theme, so it came down to how well the float reflected life in, and the environment of, its parent barangay.  I suppose a barangay that “has got a lot going on” would have the upper hand in this category, but that supposition is put to rest whenever the float representing the barangay doesn’t really show that “a lot’s going on.”  Having a little bit of everything counts for a whole lot more than having a lot of one thing being displayed by the float.

The judges scored this category nearly identical, with two giving highest marks to one entry, and a lone judge allotting highest marks to another.  Both of these top-scored entries had a lot going on and they showed it.  What tipped the scale in scoring the winner was the scoring for each judge’s second and third choices.  While the lone judge’s first choice did not appear as either of the other two judges’ second or third selections, the first choice shared by the two judges was the second choice of the lone judge.  Thus BARANGAY ESTANCIA truly represented life and environment in its seaside surroundings.



The Most Colorful/Attractive Float — Brgy Naglicuan

This category is the reason for needing judges.  Highly subjective in nature, it calls for agreement among everyone having their own, separate favorite.  With 34 barangays and a handful of independent entries vying for top honors, you can easily end up with over 40 favorites.  To make matters worse, the Municipal Fiesta Committee enjoined the words “colorful” and “attractive,” and imposed them as a category for the judges’ panel.  “Colorful”?  Hey, this is the Philippines.  Everything’s colorful; and being colorful can be achieved by using many colors or properly coordinating a few colors.  Unless it was stark white or pitch black (none met these criteria, of course), a float was going to be – one way or another – colorful.

So, in this category, it came down to one of the most subjective criteria of all:  “Attractive.”  With “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” in mind, the decision for this category’s winner would have to be distilled into more objective terms.  Enter mathematics.  As with the other three categories, each judge submitted his/her top three choices for this category.  With 3 judges having 3 choices, the field was narrowed down to 9 final contestants, at the most (3 x 3 = 9).  Each judge assigned a numeric value to each of their choices in the following amounts:  1st choice = 10 points; 2nd choice = 9 points; and 3rd choice = 8 points.  Then the roll call began.  Each judge’s 1st choice was scored by totaling all of the numeric values appearing next to that particular choice’s name on all 3 judges’ scorecards.  Combinations of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice points awarded to the named float.  Then, the same procedure was followed for each judge’s 2nd choice.  Finally, the same for each judge’s 3rd choice.  In the end, every one of those final contestants had points assigned – BARANGAY NAGLICUAN had the most, scoring a 1st, a 2nd, and a 3rd choice amongst the judges.


Pictures?  Yes, we have pictures!

20151230_103407   20151230_10565020151230_105024   20151230_10433220151230_104000   20151230_10482320151230_103011   20151230_10312420151230_102908   20151230_103506


. . . for 2015.  As I’m pounding the keyboard, it’s mid-afternoon on New Year’s Eve, December, 31, 2015.  By the time you read this, we will already be well into January 2016.  So, from last year, I wish you a New Year 2016 that is the happiest and the most prosperous that it can possibly be.  May your 2016 blessings outweigh your setbacks by a million-fold, and may your joy each day be greater that the joy of each yesterday.

P.S.  With everyone “online” via SMART-Bro here in the area, bandwidth congestion resulted in extremely slow upload times for the pictures.  It is now 1:35 AM on January 1, 2016, and I’m still uploading pictures.  Don’t think that I’ll get more posted – there are a lot of them.  Oh, for some fiber optic connectivity in the future!


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Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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5 years ago

Hi Paul, it seems everyone had a good time it’s nice you get involved with the local
Traditions and culture of the Philippines ,very good post looks a great place were you
Live had a road trip to vigan not so long ago loved it , Derek in pasig.

5 years ago
Reply to  Derek

Hi Derek – I truly love life here in Pasuquin, and to love it “properly” means involvement and embracing everything – good and not so good – about it. The Fiesta was one of the good things. Chalked up on the “not so good” side of the tally board for the same day as the Grand Float Parade was a shooting. Apparently, in a case of “mistaken revenge,” the brother-in-law of Baket ko’s (Asawa ko’s) [my Wife’s] Sister (a former Barangay Kapitan) was shot and killed by the grieving sibling of another shooting victim not far away. When it comes… Read more »

John Reyes
5 years ago

Hi Paul – First of all, congrats on being “unanimously selected” as the Chair of the 3-member panel of judges at your town fiesta’s events contests. I can sense the enormous burden placed on the judges’ collective shoulders to be fair and impartial, and to avoid hurting feelings while making others special when judging contests of this magnitude. Really? I’m glad I am not in your shoes, Paul. With the presence of so many fine-looking Ilocanas everywhere you look, especially those gracing the floats in their Maria Claras, not to mention the on-lookers theselves at the parade route, I can… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  John Reyes

Hi John – Thanks for the kudos. Being a judge or a chairman of a panel of judges is a pretty rough assignment, but someone has to do it. I think, though, that the “unanimous selection” spoke more to the viewpoint that, in all of the barangays in the municipality, almost all of the residents couldn’t be trusted to be impartial or unaffected by bids to buy votes. It wasn’t my character, but more of a selection by default with all involved in judge selections “unanimously” in agreement with that state of affairs. 😆 Seriously, though, pleasing everybody is “Job… Read more »

5 years ago

Hi Paul,

I guess I was your substitute scribe last week with my enlightening CR Article. I enjoyed following your adventures and seeing your pictures displaying Filipino culture!

5 years ago
Reply to  Jay

Hi Jay – And a fine scribe you are! But, I’d rather you not give away trade secrets of where most of my articles originate! 😆

Thanks for filling in!

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
5 years ago


OK nut case. Off your meds. Wacked out. How do you type beside the pictures you post? I can’t type beside the pictures. I can underneath the pictures.

Oh, Great article.

5 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

Hi Rusty – Okay, okay, I’ll reveal my secret method of “writing above, below, and beside a picture.” Promise you won’t tell anyone! 1) Write your article – either the whole article or a paragraph or two. 2) Click on the “Preview” button and see how your article will actually appear to readers. 3) Note the first word in every line of the preview. 4) Return to your original composition and place your cursor either before the first character of the first word on the line where you’d like the picture to appear amongst the words. 5) Follow the usual… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
5 years ago

I asked a Globe rep about the fiber optic cable that was run on the island of Bohol. He said Smart/PLDT might have just been running the fiber optics cable to another source. That they had no intention of connecting people up on the island of Bohol. What he said didn’t really make sense. It did in his mind. Of course he didn’t like that Fiber optics was seen as being better than the standard Globe internet lines. I didn’t know this but the Globe rep said there are people that must be paid off to keep the companies lines,… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

The role of the entrepreneur in the Philippines is to have steady income with minimum overhead and labor expenses. 😉


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