All about Valentine’s Day

By Herbert Vego

TOMORROW, February 14, the world will celebrate another Valentine’s Day.  While it’s not a holiday, it is recognized as the lovers’ day when married couples, fiancés and fiancées exchange love notes, whisper sweet nothings and go out for dinner or a hotel tryst.

The most visible symbol of this day is the legendary boy Cupid. Armed with a bow and arrow, he aims at a man and a woman and pierces through two hearts at once. His victims thus fall — in love.

Do you remember the first time you fell “victim” to Valentine’s Day?

I do.  I was a boy of 13, a high-school sophomore in 1963, when I attended a Valentine’s Day program for kids organized by the Christian Center in San Jose, Antique. Each of us received a red cardboard in the safe of a half-heart.  The challenge was to look for the girl having the other half of the two-piece jigsaw. I found mine, held by an American girl, Carol Housestone, who happened to be the daughter of a Baptist pastor.

Now I know that, to this day in the United States, the “raffle of hearts” remains a Valentine’s Day practice. Each half-heart male recipient looks for the other half and inevitably finds it in the hand of a female recipient, who then becomes his Valentine.

The origin of Valentine’s Day could no longer be accurately traced. One theory traces it to a 3rd-century priest in Rome, Valentine, who would immediately become known as Saint Valentine, the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages.

Eventually, however, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from its roster of saints because of his day’s identification with fornication.

Another belief takes us back to the pagan celebration of the Lupercalia feast that originated in the third century in honor of the goddess Juno Februata. It called for young women putting their names on paper into a box, to be drawn by men. The matching boys and girls would be considered partners for the year.

To win converts, church officials Christianized the ancient pagan Feast of Lupercalia, changing its name to St. Valentine’s Day.

To give the celebration further meaning, priests substituted the names of female saints for the names of the girls in the raffle draws. The young people were supposed to emulate the lives of the saints whose names they had drawn.

By the fourteenth century, however, they reverted back to the use of girls’ names on the dropped paper.

The drawing of names on St. Valentine’s Eve has survived in England and neighboring places. When a boy draws a girl’s name, he pins it on his sleeve and pays her special attention. This makes the girl his valentine throughout the year.

Going back to the 3rd-century priest named Valentine, legend has it that he charmed the men and women to attend his services. As a result, he performed many marriages. This angered Emperor Claudius, who could no longer recruit soldiers for his wars because the men would not leave their wives. Claudius eventually banned Valentine from officiating marriages.

Valentine thought this to be unfair and secretly solemnized marriages of several couples. When Claudius found out, he threw Valentine in prison. While there, he performed the miracle of restoring the sight of a jail guard’s blind daughter.

Valentine eventually fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and wrote her letters that were signed, “From your Valentine.”

Claudius became so enraged that he had Valentine clubbed and beheaded on February 14, 269 A.D.

But, alas, according to Webster’s New World Encyclopedia, the reason why he had been “de-sainted” was because he might never have existed.



WE had the opportunity to powwow over coffee with the amiable president and chief executive officer of MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power), Roel Z. Castro, who projected grace under pressure while looking forward to a hectic schedule in the week ahead.

You see, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner – tomorrow, in fact. To Sir Roel, however, the day transcends romance.  It will mark the fourth anniversary of MORE Power, which has lined up week-long activities in pursuit of its corporate social responsibility, such as a blood-letting in collaboration with the Philippine Red Cross, donation of seeds to the city government’s Uswag Agri-Nursery, and release of 1,095 fingerlings at Iloilo River to symbolize the number of days the company has been conveying electricity.

It was on February 14, 2019 when President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law RA 11212, granting MORE Power a 25-year franchise to operate as power-distribution utility in Iloilo City.

Due to a protracted legal battle with its outgoing predecessor, however, it was not until a full year later in February 2020 that the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law giving MORE Power the eminent domain to take over.

Has the company fulfilled its mandate of ensuring uninterrupted supply of electricity to justify such takeover?

Without hearing that question from us, Castro revealed that “scheduled brownouts” could not be avoided until February 2025, based on his own timetable, in order to rehabilitate and modernize the distribution system within five years.  More often than not, repair work necessitates power shut-off.

By then, only unscheduled outages caused by accidents or calamities could stop it.

Rehabilitation entails replacement of all dilapidated posts, crossarms, transformers and other obsolete “oldies” constituting the power lines. No rehab, no more electricity in the long run.”

“Customers should worry if we do no rehab work,” he quipped.

By modernization, Castro means openness to innovations at cheaper cost to customers, such as utilization of solar power as an adjunct to present-day sources. But of course, it would require time and massive capitalization to make this dream come true.

Meanwhile, let’s drink to that.