THE invitation was for a 10 a.m. meet with Bobi Tiglao Wednesday at, said the text message, "Taal Vista Lodge." Turns out, Waze traced that location not to Tagaytay as scheduled but to an area in the outskirts of the city actually ringing Nasugbu, Batangas. So, while I reached Tagaytay a good 30 minutes ahead of the appointment time, having overshot the mark all the way to the boundary of Nasugbu, I was the last to arrive at the actual meeting place, not Taal Vista Lodge but Taal Vista Hotel. Peter, the comrade who sent me the invitation, said it's all the same, Vista Lodge or Vista Hotel, but to Waze, it's a whole lot of difference. You say it wrongly, Waze brings you to the wrong place.

Anyway, all's well that ends well. After a change of nomenclature at the Waze mobile tracker from "Lodge" to "Hotel," we hit it right finally. There I strode, after alighting from my car, to the hotel entrance, confident that I was right on time when here were the doorman and the lady entrance receptionist refusing me entrance for not having a vaccination card. My blood pressure shot up instantly (I have this physical built-in barometer that alerts me each time I get hypertension, for which reason I had a cute nurse tagging along on the trip to confirm my high blood pressure with an apparatus anytime and administer the corresponding medicine).

"I will never be admitted to this hotel!" I hollered to the guy minding the arrival of guests to the meeting. "I will never get vaccinated."

Actually, what got my goat was that there I was, a member of the Fourth Estate, who I believe was largely exempted from pandemic protocols in pursuing his task, and yet here was this nincompoop blocking my way for not having a vaccination card. As early as my high school days, it stuck in my mind that no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech and assembly; into my octogenarian years, that teaching hasn't waned a bit in me. What right has Taal Vista Hotel to abridge my freedom to gather information from the meeting transpiring at the hotel lobby? Had I not compromised this freedom enough by wearing a face mask according to protocol, though I continue to nurse this apprehension that face masks are there more for satisfying mercantilist desires than preventing coronavirus from entering your system? Do viruses travel in straight lines for them to be blocked by pieces of cloth over your mouth and nose? One reading showed me that a trillion of viruses can be accommodated at the point of a pin, so why won't they penetrate the textile of which face masks are made? For that matter, since viruses travel randomly in the air, can they not seep through the loose space between the textile and your skin?

One thing is clear, no definitive finding has been made until now how Covid-19 began. And yet here we are again, being alerted on the emergence of more of its variants, like Delta and Omicron. Of what use is vaccination against Covid-19 when that vaccination won't be good for combating succeeding variants of the disease? Are we then to subject ourselves to vaccinations time after time after time?

We cannot be forever contending with the emergence of viruses time and again. Time to put a stop to this coronavirus charade. Recognize perhaps once and for all that viruses have been part and parcel of man's creation, that viruses have been there since the beginning of life, and that they appear to threaten man's life from time to time (the Spanish Flu, the SARS, the MERS, etc.), this has to be taken as part of the cycle of living and dying.

Vaccination must take for its basic tenet that life is immortal. There is no such thing. As Aristotle said, "The next best thing after one's birth is to die." The notion of curing the pandemic cannot but satisfy only the desire to maximize profit from the commerce of pharmaceuticals. In the end, those who get vaccinated in the hope of overcoming Covid-19 will meet with their Creator sooner or later after all. Certainly nobody wishes to do it sooner than later. The pursuit of happiness is man's paramount concern after all. And for a journalist, being happy is to be allowed the optimum leeway to do his job. This was what Taal Vista Hotel denied this writer that Wednesday morning. Good riddance then. Taal Vista Hotel just missed hosting a historic event: the elucidation of the agenda of a man who would be president of the Republic of the Philippines — Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr.

The coterie of the general included Manila Times columnist par excellence Bobi Tiglao, Mon Mon Mitra Jr., son of the late senator Ramon Mitra Sr. who is running for the Senate, and former top elements of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) who have long realized — hence rejected — the CPP-NPA (New People's Army) insurgency as nothing but a grand design to advance the selfish opportunistic agenda of Jose Maria Sison to exercise absolute political power in the country. It was a singular honor for me that for that rejection by Taal Vista Hotel of my participation in the already ongoing discussion at the lobby, the group decided to snub the hotel and move to a more scenic locale anyway from where you get a real good vista of Taal Lake. No vaccination card required.

Much has been discussed in the meeting regarding why all of a sudden General Parlade decided to run for president. Since the general has elaborated on the discussion in his column on Friday ("The long haul," The Manila Times, Dec. 3, 2021), I would rather refer the readers to the article than venture into my own elaboration. What was not touched upon in the general's column was the plan of Mon Mon Mitra to file charges against Jose Maria Sison for the Plaza Miranda bombing on Aug. 21, 1971. In that incident, Mon Mon's father was among the more than a hundred injured.

"What charges?" I asked.

"Murder. Multiple homicide. Whatever," the aspirant for senator replied.

"I believe the prescription period for criminal cases is 20 years," I said. "It's been more than 20 years since then."

"Then file a civil suit," Mon Mon said.

Talking of civil damages, I pointed to an article by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon in the December 1 issue of Pwersa, copies of which I had brought to the meeting. The article carries pictures of top leaders of the CPP-NPA with a corresponding bounty on their heads.

Top of the line, surely, is Jose Maria Sison with a P10 million-plus tag.

I said I won't bother filing a civil suit; I will just go for the P10 million-plus price on his head.

As for the criminal aspect of the Plaza Miranda bombing, I don't know if the International Criminal Court (ICC) has the same prescription period as Philippine courts.

I am aware that the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) has already submitted to the United Nations complaints of atrocities committed in the Philippines by the CPP-NPA.

The Plaza Miranda bombing can be an addendum to the earlier charges filed at the UN and thereby satisfy the quest for justice by Mon Mon as well as by those whose relatives were killed or maimed in the incident.

Bobi mentioned about having read in my column an account of the Senate investigation in 1989 of the Plaza Miranda bombing and asked to get copies of the minutes of the investigation cited in my article. So, I referred him to my blog Kamao (kamaopunch.blogspot.com) where an article titled "Knowing Ninoy" and posted on Feb. 15, 18, 20 and 22 in 2012 contained excerpts of the minutes of the Senate investigation which unearthed, through testimonies of former CPP secretary general Ruben Guevarra and a topnotch member of the CPP central committee, Ariel Almendral, the fact that the Plaza Miranda bombing was the handiwork of Jose Maria Sison in cahoots with Ninoy Aquino.

Toward the end of the discussion, I recalled to General Parlade his contention in a past column that the presidential contest was not a battle of surveys but a marathon where the winner is to be decided by who remains standing in the last 25 yards; he said he saw only two standing at that stage, one of whom is, he said, "Si ako."

In his column on Friday about the Tagaytay interlude, General Parlade has this vivifying ending: "And I tell you, the last man standing might not be a woman."