POSTSCRIPT / April 6, 2004 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Marina report on ferry fire marked for quashing?

HOT REPORT: Have we stepped on sensitive toes with our publication of some findings of the team sent by the Maritime Industry Administration (Marina) to investigate the Feb. 27 burning of mv Superferry 14 off Corregidor?

We are intrigued by the apparent attempt of some parties to quash the Marina report and the failure of the Marine Board of Inquiry, which is looking into the incident, to input the team’s findings into its own inquiry.

The significant aspect of the Marina report is that it traced the fire to the big stock of paint on board, said that an explosion occured after — not before — the fire started, and concluded categorically that no explosive or bomb triggered the fire.

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FOCUS ON PAINT: Reader Gustavo Pelaez commented in an email: “You seem to be the first newsman to associate the paint stored on the Super Ferry 14 as the cause of the fire.

“It appears that the long arm of (name of entity suppressed — fdp) has been successful in suppressing this possibility. (It was the Marina team, not us, who linked the paint stock to the fire. – fdp)

“It is common practice for ships to carry vast quantity of paints when they are scheduled for dry-docking. From what I saw on TV, it appeared that something was fanning the fire (on the Super Ferry) and causing the explosion. As a retired shipyard staff, I was reminded of a similar fire at the Keppel Cebu Shipyard on the Super Ferry 5 which was in dry-dock.”

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MUSLIM BLAMED: From Dr. Fatemah Remedios C. Balbin, chairman-president of Foundation for Social Justice:

“Thank you for making known the truth behind the incident as reported on March 2, 2004, by Mr. Arnie F. Santiago, MSC, chief, complaints and investigation, and head of the investigation team constituted purposely on the Superferry incident.

“My client, Redondo Dellosa, (Muslim name, Habil) was abducted by the police almost two weeks ago, subjected to a ‘physical interrogation,’ resulting in an alleged confession and admission, without benefit of legal counsel, that he was responsible for blowing up the Superferry.

“Mr. Dellosa was branded as ‘Passenger 51’ who caused the explosion. Today, he languishes at Camp Crame, still under custodial investigation without any criminal charge against him.”

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UNWANTED REPORT?: The investigation team headed by Santiago was created by Marina Administrator Oscar M. Sevilla in Special Order 121-04 dated Feb. 27, 2004.

Named with him to the team were engineers Rogelio G. Samonte, Ruben B. Tejada, Jose J. Teano and Marlon G. Morales. With them also was Hisashi Terada, Marina-JICA expert and consultant.

In his order, Sevilla said the team shall “determine the cause(s) of the accident, the person or persons responsible therefor, among others….” He authorized them to “conduct ocular inspection, survey, and investigation of the cause(s) of the fire on board the vessel while under way from Port of Manila to Bacolod City to Cagayan de Oro.”

We have a copy of the 19-page Marina investigation report that has become suddenly scarce.

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THE DAFFODILS: As a somber shroud starts to descend on Christendom with Holy Week finally upon us, we chose to use today this item titled “The Daffodil Principle” sent by Pompeyo A. Saulo, a regular emailer:

SEVERAL times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.

“I will come next Tuesday,” I promised, reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into her house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!”

My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.”

“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her.

“I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.”

“How far will we have to drive?”

“Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “I’ll drive. I’m used to this.”

After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!”

“We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, “by way of the daffodils.”

“Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.”

“It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.”

After about 20 minutes, we turned onto a gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, “Daffodil Garden.”

We got out of the car and each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a shimmering vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes.

The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns — great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

There were five acres of flowers. “But who did this?” I asked.

“It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline.

The first answer was a simple one.”50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.”

There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than 40 years before, had begun — one bulb at a time — to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop.

Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time — often just one baby-step at a time — and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal 35 or 40 years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!”

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.

It’s so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, “How can I put this to use today?”

“Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” — St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), French bishop & writer.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 6, 2004)

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