ROSARIO, BATANGAS — Even in the wee hours of the morning, the dreams of Felipe ‘Mamay Ipe’ Marquez are often interrupted by knocks on his bedroom window. Sometimes, the unexpected guests are in trouble with the law and ask for his intercession. Usually, though, they ask for things, including money. Some ask for food. Some ask for pigs. Some ask for roofing materials. Many ask for medicines. One housewife asked for eggs for the leche flan she wanted to make for the fiesta. There was even a request for an airconditioner.
SOLVING MURDERS are the territory of the police, but when the victim is a government graft and corruption investigator who was apparently killed in connection with his job, then it’s safe to assume his former colleagues would be keen to monitor the investigation of his case.
SAY the word barako and immediately three meanings come to mind: the strong-flavored and robust brew of the liberica coffee; the sex-driven adult male boar ready for breeding; and that certain brand of Batangueño, the rough and tough Filipino male from the province of Batangas. All three possess virility, strength, fearlessness — yes, even the coffee, whose flavor practically leaps up from the cup and straight onto one’s tongue. All three carry within the pride of the Batangueños, who claim these qualities exclusively as their own.
WHETHER OR not he is or once was a jueteng lord as many people seem to be believe, it can at least be said that Batangas Governor Armando Sanchez has been enjoying the luck of the draw for the past few years. In 2001, he was elected mayor of Sto. Tomas town, which leaped from being a fifth-class municipality to first-class during his term. In 2004, he emerged winner in a field of seven candidates for governor, despite the fact that he was a relative unknown who was up against big-name and more experienced politicos. In 2006, he narrowly escaped death (although two of his aides were killed) when a planted bomb blew up his Humvee, which he was riding at the time.
BATANGAS GOVERNOR Armando Sanchez says journalist Mei Magsino-Lubis is “lying through her teeth when she says she is in hiding.” He also says “the only time there were PNP personnel looking for her” was when she was still the subject of an arrest operation covered by “a valid arrest warrant” regarding the oral defamation case he had filed against the Inquirer correspondent.
MELINDA ‘MEI’ Magsino-Lubis yearns for many things: her flower and herb garden, the sound of her husband’s voice, the kingfisher and maya birds that used to wake her up in the morning. All these she used to enjoy in her five-hectare mahogany farm on top of a hill, in the city of Batangas, around 84 km. south of Manila.