WELCOME to the year of the tiger.

If Feng Shui is to believed then it's going to be tough and rough year ahead of us. Tiger and related animals like jaguar and leopard are ferocious when they go hunting their prey.

Fiercely aggressive, they are very dangerous as they could outrun any best for their meat.

But they could be domesticated as well like cats and could be man's best friends. Tiger's layer of orange, black stripes and white in the belly evoke awe and wonder. With no mane that characterizes the lion, tiger looks subtle and meaning.

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Applied to people in authority, a tiger is simply scary and brutal. Witness how this beast crawls surreptitiously late last year, just in time for his entry in New Year, causing the gruesome carnage unprecedented in the country's history killing mercilessly 57 innocent persons, 30 of whom are journalists. (Two of the casualties were actually known to me. May their souls rest in peace).

If journalism is war in Teodoro Benigno's term, then Nov. 23, 2009 should be the day of infamy elevating the Philippines now as the world's most dangerous place for any journalist. It is hoped however that said incident would not portent doom for the forthcoming May 2010 election.

Why all this apprehension?

Well, the heat is already on and expect miracles and surprises to happen in the Philippines, in the context of Manny Valdehuesa's treatise on Patronage politics, in his book "A Nation of Zombies."

This writer is no propagandist. Candidate's platform, experience, moral persuasion and integrity should be known and presented. That's why I'll go for Manny Villar as president. He is not only sporting an orange color of a tiger but most importantly, has shown that a Pinoy has what it takes is only he's serious of making it to the top incidentally enjoyed by many enterprising Chinese millionaires. He has not only imbibed the acquisitiveness of the Calvinists but also, imbue with humility, a precondition virtue for other values.

Calm against the storm, Manny is the man. Gibo is another choice. If his overwhelming performance in the debate among presidential hopefuls is the gauge, then Gibo is the best and unbeatable hands down. Dick Gordon could be another material having resurrected Subic economy from the graves. Never mind Noynoy Aquino. We'd been there during Tita Cory's time and democracy was already restored. Forget Erap. His latest flick probably didn't enjoy general patronage. JC Reyes is too young. And Eddie Villanueva-I voted for him last elections; he better stop mixing religion with politics instead continue his shepherding work for the afterlife. Mixing religion with his political ambition sucks.

And what a disservice a multiparty system provides. I'm reeling and that's why I'm for face-off of two highest presidential vote earners, as a prelude to the restoration of two-party system. It seems it's fair bargaining to really cloth the president-elect with the mandate of majority to avoid coup 'd etat and other miseries that might arise out of restlessness.

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As this writer indorses promising officials from the top, let me as well go down. By all means this is now the time for Mindanaoans to vote for our candidates. But as usual, this is easier said and done. I recall writing about a solid Mindanao vote for senatorial candidates from our island then and I wonder how many votes said article mustered. Nene Pimentel made it as usual because he's been national figure in Philippine politics.

I'm maybe a political romanticist but I don't lost hope that Mindanaoans, regardless of persuasion, would someday awaken from their deep slumber and rise to the occasion. But why defer when the opportunity to stand is now?! Stand then and cast your vote and be counted so there would be no ranting later for autonomy, secession, independence and federalism and whatever.

For Congress, as usual, I'll go for Congressman Rufus Rodriguez. His projects in his district simply speak of the character of the man who is for progress, a feat incidentally shown by his counterpart, Congressman Klarex Uy, in the first district, earning the respect of those who did not favor him last election. It is hoped moreover that his son when elected to succeed him would continue and even improve more his accomplishments.

For mayor in Cagayan de Oro, it's time to rectify the disgrace of Vice Mayor Emano who set a record of presiding only once as Chairman of Sangguniang Bayan and restore sanity in City Hall. It's time to welcome a humble statesman that is Klarex Uy who, true to his sobriquet, runs his project with transparency. This writer was even more humbled when he declared and clarified categorically that his scholarship program among the poor was extended without any condition in one turn-over ceremony of project in Terry Hills Subdivision, a far cry from the school and politician's way of giving it with string attached and conditions.

Hon. Zaldy Ocon, as he has been consistent fiscalizer, should also be in; and why not give new faces like lawyer Toni Velez a chance to serve in City Hall to infuse new blood to the organization? You may fill in the rest of the slots.

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If you haven't gotten off yet the hangover of Maguindanao massacre then take a break and relish reading. Richard North Petterson's Exile (2007 Henry Holt & Com. New York 562 pp). It's terrorism in its ugliest form: how disgrace could be used as an excuse in incriminating an innocent woman for a crime she did not commit. In that fiction, Hana Arif was the suspect of masterminding the assassination of the Israel Prime Minister when he visited San Francisco and killed by a suicide bomber.

David Wolf, the hero, faced the dilemma whether to represent her or decline her request. The bottom line is he had secret affair with Hana with whom he fathered a child, a secret known by his Palestinian militant husband who then set out to fabricate a scheme pressing Hana for a possible death sentence. All is told she was in the end saved all by the genius of David's Wolf, sending the militant husband in jail.

It is hoped that justice would be serve in the end for Maguindanao Massacre so there would be no precedent and that greed for power should have no place for people in Mindanao. May the victims' souls rest in peace.

(For your comment Email: rfmaulion55@yahoo.com)