Murphy’s Law and death at sea

By: Alex P. Vidal

“As per usual, trouble comes in several directions at once.” – Garth Nix, Lirael

SOME of the victims of the “Black Saturday” (August 3) Guimaras and Iloilo strait tragedy that killed 31 passengers from two motorboats, had been reportedly warned by relatives and other “concerned” individuals not to take the boat because of the bad weather.

If the victims didn’t listen probably because some of them already had tickets and were already in the pre-departure area, wasn’t it the obligation of the Philippine Coast Guard to stop the boat from sailing if the weather was showing signs of mayhem and doom?

The passengers would just obey and trust the motorboat captain and the crew the way airplane passengers obey and trust flight attendants and pilots.

If we have been warned of imminent danger lurking somewhere and we still insisted like Julius Caesar, who ignored the soothsayer who warned him to beware of the Ides of March while on his way into the Colosseum before he was murdered, it’s because we allow ourselves (or, in the first place, can we resist it?) to be “governed” by Murphy’s Law.

Murphy’s Law, an adage or epigram that is typically stated as: “Anything that can be wrong will go wrong.”

An addition to this law reads, “and usually at the worst time.”




A simple case of Murphy’s Law is tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he’ll have to touch it to be sure.

Ninoy had been warned not to go back in the Philippines because of threats in his life, but he used the name “Marcial Bonifacio” to return and got murdered on the tarmac.

We are all, actually, can be subjected into Murphy’s Law in different circumstances and methods.

The mathematical statement of Murphy’s Law, as used in scientific communities, according to a Physicist, is tremendously complex and the common form, “everything that can go wrong will”, is reportedly fairly accurate and more than sufficient for most applications.

The Physicist insists that Murphy’s Law is “certainly very real, and can even be measured qualitatively.”

“However, it can’t be anticipated or taken into account,” the Physicist added. “We can only wait for terrible, unfortunate things to happen, and hope that they won’t be too bad.”




Now that he is gone, many friends and admirers of the late former Iloilo City Mayor Mansueto “Mansing” Malabor are saying his shocking loss to Raul Gonzalez Jr. in the 2004 elections for Iloilo City’s lone congressional district could be a “blessing in disguise.”

If the Ilonggos succeeded in sending him to congress, some of them believed Malabor would not have the fire in his belly to sustain the hectic congressional activities that included regular sessions, travels abroad, and committee hearings since he was already 73 at that time.

Having served as Iloilo City for three consecutive terms or nine years straight, Malabor’s forte was in the local government, where he was very effective as a “homebody” chief executive.

Malabor loved to hobnob with ordinary people in public markets, barangay halls, and gymnasiums. He loved to get himself loaded with City Hall works and to stay most of the time in his beloved city.

Also he was a lawyer, many of Malabor’s friends and supporters thought lawmaking or the job of a legislator wasn’t his real world, or the kind of work he would love doing with passion like the kind of passion and intensity he showed when he worked in the City Hall.

Gonzalez Jr. himself did not last in his position after he was blasted to bits in a stunning upset by now Iloilo City Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas in 2010.

Congressmen at that time were being slammed and ridiculed like crocodiles for being enamored to the scandalous “pork barrel” funds.

Malabor, who retired from politics with a solid reputation and clean name in public service, was spared from jeers and humiliation inflicted on the “tongressmen.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)