"We have lasted this long without being formally organized."
On September 21, as the nation commemorates the 47th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, we at the 365 Club will also celebrate our 47th birthday. It’s a gathering of professionals, media people, businessmen and politicians.
September 21 is an important date for me because it was the day six of us—Nemesio Yabut, Teodoro Valencia, Pat Dayrit, Joe Viterbo, Biding Sibug and myself—founded the 365 Club.
When Marcos proclaimed Martial Law, I got a call from the chief of security of Channel 9 who said: “Sir, na-martial law na tayo!” Channel 9 was closed with a large poster announcing that day’s development.
I was then at home in PhilamLife. So I rushed to Channel 9. When I arrived, I saw my colleagues gathered in the area. Channel 9 was at that time owned and operated by Bobby Benedicto, a Marcos crony. I learned Benedicto was at Savoy Hotel nearby.
At around 6am, I decided to go home. But first I knew I had to have some coffee.
I entered the famous Jeepney coffee shop at Hotel Intercontinental. There were Yabut, Valencia, Dayrit, Viterbo and Sibug. Yabut’s bodyguards were also seated at a nearby table with a big duffel bag. Yabut later on said he was ready to be picked up by soldiers. Two weeks before, Delfin Cueto and a friend of Marcos, was killed, and Yabut was being blamed for it.
Then Ka Doroy told me that I should notify all members of the media to gather at the hotel to have breakfast—and that Yabut would pay for everything. The Makati mayor simply smiled.
I started calling my media colleagues. That started the 365 Club—the idea was for all media people to meet 365 days a year for breakfast.
After a month or so, Yabut told me that his comptroller was complaining. Not only did media members take breakfast religiously there. They also took lunch—and brought their families along!
On one occasion, Ka Doroy said everybody had to foot his own bill.
Western media have taken note of the 365 Club, described as “one of its kind in Asia, and perhaps the world, since people gathered there despite the Club’s lack of formal organization.”
The 365 Club continued to exist during martial law and beyond. We had notable personalities in regular attendance: Renato Constantino, Blas Ople, Jose Rono, Max Soliven, Louie Beltran, Art Borjal, members of the Supreme Court, and retired politicians, ambassadors, judges, press secretaries.
We still have former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, after we adopted him as honorary chairman. Businessman-sportsman Alfonso Reyno is the new chairman. I decided to just be chairman emeritus.
I find it amazing that the Club has lasted this long without a formal organization. It is still a gathering of friends who update themselves on latest developments and share their views and opinion with each other.
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When President Duterte fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon, I wanted to commend him (Duterte) for listening to the universal outrage of the people who were against the release of Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez. It would have been a travesty of justice!
But when Mr. Duterte said he still trusted Faeldon, even saying he was an “upright man,” I asked myself: What’s happening here? I thought he was intent on stamping out corruption?
I agree with Senator Richard Gordon that Mr. Duterte must be careful about what he says about Faeldon. Even if Faeldon was not involved in the shenanigans at the bureau, he would still be accountable for incompetence and negligence.
I find it impossible that Faeldon, in his nine-month incumbency, was not aware of what was going on.
The credibility of the President has been compromised with his propensity for recycling erring officials.
The most tragic thing about this is the lack of outrage among the people.