Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Importance of being Darlene

Darlene in her various moods and nuances (photo montage courtesy of Hector Minoza)

After a sterling performance at the House of Representatives, the next logical step for Darlene Antonino-Custodio is to seek a senatorial position. But no, she does not want more of the same. After her congressional stint, she wants to lead Gensan as its Mayor.

Darlene replaced her mother, Lualhati, as Representative of South Cotabato District 1. Now she wants to test her mettle at the helm once held by her Dad, Adelbert. No political dynasty here as both her parents are no longer politically active.

It is easy for Darlene's political opponents to dismiss her as a political lightweight because of her no-frills approach to her position and constituents. Her simplicity in presenting herself (top and jeans garb, minimum or no makeup, speaking in the vernacular) has beguiled those facing her in the political arena. Her relative youthfulness and being petite intimidate her older and taller nemeses. Darlene makes sure one knows where her heart and passions lie in the first few minutes of conversations with her. Indeed, she is our WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) gal.

Darlene votes in favor of the impeachment of PGMA

Her shining moment at the House of Representatives during the impeachment proceedings last year moved her constituents as she explained tearfully her vote to impeach PGMA. On the TV screen, they saw their petite representative bravely take on the similarly petite president, against all odds. From that time onwards, Darlene stood tall in the eyes of her kababayans.

When she faced Manny Pacquiao in the last elections, she remained undaunted by the cockiness and machismo of the latter. Her constituents voted her back for another term and she "knocked out" the boxing champ in the polls. She had risen to the challenge, proved her worth and earned her place in the illustrious history of the House of Representatives.

One may fault her for not having the glamor of her Mom or the business savvy of her Dad, but never her audacity in blazing trails never before passed by her parents. She is accessible and her charisma with the common tao is so evident that you only need to see her in action as she goes around the SocSarGen area. She is not afraid to make hard decisions - decisions that affect her political career, her family. 

There is no doubt that Darlene may surpass the accomplishments of her Dad as Mayor of Gensan, if she's given the chance to serve as the local executive. Her fervor in giving direction to the growth of Gensan blazes like hot embers in her eyes. Definitely, she will be leading with a roadmap guided by her vision for the city she loves.

A Tale of Two Women

Both are well educated.
One was a French major and mathematician; the other an economist.
One was a grade school class valedictorian; the other a high school valedictorian and college magna cum laude.

Both married into Buena Familias.
One was married to a scion of the political Aquino clan of Tarlac while the other was married to a scion of the political Arroyo clan of Iloilo.
One bore four girls and one boy while the other had two boys and one girl.
One had a prodigal daughter; the other a prodigal son.

Both became presidents of the Philippines.
One is the 11th president; the other the 14th.
One became the First Woman President; the other has the First First Gentleman.
One couldn't wait to end her term; the other couldn't wait to retain power.
One has public service imprinted on her soul; the other claims public service is in her DNA.
One was generally well-loved as President; the other much criticized and vilified.

Both are regular mass attendees.
One is a staunch Catholic; the other a religious person.
One took a moral high ground; the other stayed in the gray area.

Both had family names starting with A and ending with an O.
When one died in August; the other was mistakenly named by media as the one who was in the casket and was to be interred.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My birthday trivia

Age: 53 yrs

Born: November 11, 1956 November (11th month), 11th day, 56 (5+6 = 11)

November 11 is a holiday in the USA (Veterans Day), Canada & Australia (Remembrance Day), Bhutan (King's Birthday), France (Armistice Day), and Myanmar (Independence Day). Hmmmm, maka-migrate na nga sa mga country na ito. Heheh

Saddest birthdays: 2 (1981 and 1990 right after our parents died)

Happiest birthdays: 2 (when my parents gave me my first party at age 11 and when I celebrated it with 3 high school batchmates in 2007)

Cherished birthday gifts: Books, lovely loving moments (hugs, kisses and more! heheh), greetings from friends, co-teachers and students, meaningful birthday cards and prayers

Most common gifts received: next year planners

Signs of aging: receding hairline (front and crown areas), partial dentures, liver spots on face and arms, young/er persons asking for my hand: "bless po,tito/lolo," greying beard and nose hairs!

Most appreciated comment on my age: my younger brothers' friends asking them in reference to me - "Bunso nyo?' hahahaha

Crow's feet, wrinkles and smile lines: priceless!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vignette 3: Chains

I noticed it right away when I entered the jeep - five passengers at the back of the driver and only one across them. So I sat beside the lone passenger.

Glancing up as soon I sat, I saw fear, revulsion cross the faces of those across the two of us. The woman next to me was plump, silent.

Then I heard it. Clink. Clink.

That's when I saw she was barefoot.

Moving up my glimpse, I saw the dog chains tied on her right hand.

Then I saw the damp circles on her shirt. She was lactating!

That's when I understood the looks on the passengers' faces across us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Illiterate Filipinos now 15 million, and counting (Repost)

Illiterate Filipinos now 15 million, and counting
Written by Lilita Balane
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Out-of-school children, school dropouts pushing statistics upward

The number of illiterate Filipinos, which has grown to 15 million in the last 6 years, is expected to further increase as more children stop schooling every year, education specialists said on Tuesday.

The unabated stream of dropouts, they said, may prevent the government from fulfilling its international commitment to provide “functional literacy” or adequate education for all Filipinos by 2015.

When the Philippines adopted the United Nations’ Education For All (EFA) in 2006, its initial goal was to make all Filipinos aged 10 to 64 functionally literate. This means bringing to zero the number of functionally illiterate population from the recorded 11 million Filipinos in 2003.

Unlike basic literacy, which only requires the ability to read and write, functional literacy includes the ability to cope with the demands of everyday life, like problem solving and communicating.

The Functional Literacy, Education, and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS), a survey to determine literacy rate in the Philippines every 5 years, showed that 11 million Filipinos lacks functional literacy, while 4 million Filipinos have no basic literacy.

Critical year

From around 15 million illiterate Filipinos, the illiteracy rate is expected to increase with the more children unable to go to school, and with those in school dropping out, said Edecio de la Torre, president of the Civil Society Network for Education Reforms (E-Net).

“2010 is a critical year for education. It marks the final stretch of the EFA 2015. Countries will be conducting its end decade-assessment to check the progress they had made. The Philippines will be conducting its own assessment and the picture does not seem to be rosy,” said Raquel Castillo, advocacy officer of Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education(ASPBAE).

In 2008, Department of Education (DepEd) reported that some 2.2 million children aged 6 to12 years, and 3.4 million aged 12-15 years, are not in school. Moreover, a 2003 Asian Development Bank report showed that out of the 100 children who enter grade school, only 65 graduate. After graduation, only 58 return for high school, and only 45 of them finish.

To meet the EFA target, the Department of Education has carried out programs like adult education for old people who want to continue their education, and the alternative learning system (ALS).

This month, it launched Project ReaCh (Reaching All Children). This program allows public schools to hold another enrolment in October to accommodate about 5.6 million out-of-school youth.

The new students will be provided “flexible alternative modules,” which would help them catch up with their missed lessons.

Center of debates

There is also the DepEd’s Project EASE (Effective and Affordable College Education) and Open High School program, which will not require the presence of students in the classroom, especially those who are working. Instead, they will be provided modules they can study at home.

“Despite Philippine basic education being free, we still have a staggering number of school-age children and youth out in the streets who face exploitation in all forms,” Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said in a press statement.

For its part, E-Net launched “10 Days, 10 Voices,” a 10-day campaign that would place education as a center of election debates for the 2010 polls. The event hopes to highlight the situation of education as seen by teachers, parents, child laborers, indigenous people, and other marginalized sectors.

Meanwhile, Literacy Coordinating Council head Norma Salcedo and E-Net vice-president Flora Arellano said that an increased education budget would help the DepEd invest in programs that would reach out-of-school youth and adults.

Meager budget

Arellano said that in the past years, the budget for education was only around 12% of the national budget, or 2.36% of the country’s gross domestic product. This is way below international standards, where 20% of the national budget goes to education.

“The proposed budget speaks very little about quality, equity, the out-of-school youth, the illiterates, and the un-reached,” Arellano added.

For 2010, DepEd proposed for P159 million budget for basic education, but the alternative budget initiative of E-net and other education advocates suggests P165 million.

Arellano said the additional budget would fund the expansion of DepEd’s ALS program and other drop-out reduction projects. (Newsbreak)

Celebrate the Freedom to Read! Celebrate Banned Books Week (Sept. 26-Oct. 3)

Banned Books Week is celebrated on September 26 to October 3 this year. Let's celebrate our freedom to read!

How of these frequently-challenged have you read?

100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999

  1. *Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite
  3. *I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. *The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  5. *The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. *Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume
  8. *Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  9. Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman
  10. *The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  11. *The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  14. Alice (Series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  15. *Goosebumps (Series), by R.L. Stine
  16. *A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  17. *The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. *Sex, by Madonna
  19. *Earth’s Children (Series), by Jean M. Auel
  20. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
  21. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
  22. *The Witches, by Roald Dahl
  23. *A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  24. The New Joy of Gay Sex, by Charles Silverstein
  25. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
  26. The Goats, by Brock Cole
  27. The Stupids (Series), by Harry Allard
  28. Anastasia Krupnik (Series), by Lois Lowry
  29. Final Exit, by Derek Humphry
  30. Blubber, by Judy Blume
  31. Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
  32. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
  33. Kaffir Boy, by Mark Mathabane
  34. *The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  35. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters, by Lynda Madaras
  36. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
  37. *The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
  38. *The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
  39. *The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
  40. *To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  41. We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier
  42. Deenie, by Judy Blume
  43. *Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
  44. Annie on my Mind, by Nancy Garden
  45. *Beloved, by Toni Morrison
  46. The Boy Who Lost His Face, by Louis Sachar
  47. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat, by Alvin Schwartz
  48. *Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
  49. *Cujo, by Stephen King
  50. *James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
  51. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
  52. *Ordinary People, by Judith Guest
  53. *American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
  54. *Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  55. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  56. Bumps in the Night, by Harry Allard
  57. Asking About Sex and Growing Up, by Joanna Cole
  58. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons, by Lynda Madaras
  59. The Anarchist Cookbook, by William Powell
  60. *Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
  61. Boys and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  62. Crazy Lady, by Jane Conly
  63. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher
  64. Killing Mr. Griffin, by Lois Duncan
  65. Fade, by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What?, by Mem Fox
  67. *Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
  68. *Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  69. *Native Son by Richard Wright
  70. *Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies, by Nancy Friday
  71. Curses, Hexes and Spells, by Daniel Cohen
  72. On My Honor, by Marion Dane Bauer
  73. *The House of Spirits, by Isabel Allende
  74. Jack, by A.M. Homes
  75. Arizona Kid, by Ron Koertge
  76. Family Secrets, by Norma Klein
  77. Mommy Laid An Egg, by Babette Cole
  78. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  79. Where Did I Come From?, by Peter Mayle
  80. *The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
  81. *Carrie, by Stephen King
  82. *The Dead Zone, by Stephen King
  83. *The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  84. *Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
  85. Always Running, by Luis Rodriguez
  86. *Private Parts, by Howard Stern
  87. Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
  88. Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene
  89. Tiger Eyes, by Judy Blume
  90. Little Black Sambo, by Helen Bannerman
  91. *Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose, by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education, by Jenny Davis
  94. Jumper, by Steven Gould
  95. *Christine, by Stephen King
  96. The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene
  97. That Was Then, This is Now, by S.E. Hinton
  98. Girls and Sex, by Wardell Pomeroy
  99. The Wish Giver, by Bill Brittain
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
* Books I've read

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Air Supply Song am I? - I Simply Want to Give it All

Avel Manansala's GenSan News Online Mag once again launches another blog contest and outdoes the previous ones on Side A and David Pomeranz!

This time it's the What Air Supply Song Are You? Blog Contest sponsored by Concert Producer Michael Wee and his Dreamworks Ventures, Inc. which brings in quality entertainment to Gensan like the Air Supply Concert in GenSan. Michael Wee also owns the Grab A Crab Restaurant and Coffee Club 101.The said contest was launched in connection with the Air Supply Live in Gensan Concert on October 2. The Air Supply in GenSan Concert is a major production of Dreamwork Ventures Inc.’s Platinum Concert Series 2009, in cooperation with the City Government of GenSan, the GenSan City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., ABS-CBN. Other partners are Grab A Crab Restaurant, MISO Hardware, San Miguel Corporation, Coca Cola Bottlers Inc., East Asia Royale Hotel, Coffee Dream, Giacominos, NY Fries and Dips, Giacominos, Gaisano Mall of GenSan and Gregoria Printing Press.

Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply
What Air Supply Song Am I?

Here I am again, I've come to see you smile
I know you understand
I have to say again, it's only for a while.

I didn't immediately take a liking to Air Supply's debut album Lost in Love. That much I'll admit. But when I heard I Want to Give It All, a cut from their second album, I ran out of the house and bought myself a copy of The One that You Love cassette tape. That tape finally lost its sound fidelity from having it played countless of times and was eventually replaced by a CD.

It doesn't happen every day
But it happened to me once before
Those early years I threw away
Now I only have to hear your voice
To make me feel so sure that your love is why I want to give it all.

Unrequited love is bittersweet as it brings exquisite joy and pain. My love story is of the unrequited kind. Unrequited because my beloved does not have an inkling at all of being loved by me. You see, I met my beloved in high school. Our friendship lasted even after college but my beloved never knew my feelings transcended friendship.

My beloved left for abroad and never knew about the love letters I wrote for every year that we were apart. After losing touch with my beloved for almost two decades, imagine my pleasant surprise when my beloved rang me up through an overseas call. And at that moment, all the longing I felt for my beloved simply vanished and I realized that I only have to hear the voice of my beloved to make me feel so sure that my love is why I want to give it all.

Don't the minutes fly
And hours just seem so few with days apart so long
It's hard to spend my time
When I'm so far from you.

These days are made complete by seeing my beloved's smile while we are chatting through webcam, feeling the chasm between us closing in and erasing the thousands of miles separating us. These days are made complete just by hearing my beloved's voice, reassuring me of the friendship between us. My happiness is complete just loving my beloved, albeit unrequited, from afar.

An Air Supply song does that to you. Every song they sing is personal. And hits you where it matters - the heart. No wonder, in every Filipino life, there is an Air Supply theme song playing in the background. And in my life, I Want to Give It All will be playing as long as I live and continue to love my beloved.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking up to our teachers (Repost)

No photo Looking up to our teachers
ROSES & THORNS By Alejandro R. Roces (The Philippine Star) Updated September 08, 2009 12:00 AM

A month-long national campaign for teachers is being observed this month. This was launched on September 4 and will culminate on October 5, a day proclaimed by the UNESCO as World Teachers’ Day. Teachers of today are faced with a great challenge as the world becomes more and more a global village and the country to which they belong needs to put up with increasing competition for growth and survival. The need for constantly upgrading their knowledge and skills comes to fore in the light of rapidly changing information from the internet and other media sources such as the television, radio and newspapers, from where students get more and learn more, both good and bad, and sadly, without guidance.

Today, we also observe International Literacy Day, and focus is trained on a staggering 780 million adults in the world who are illiterate, with at least a hundred million children lacking access to education. In our country, although the basic literacy rate (the ability of a person to read and write with understanding of a simple message in common languages or dialect) is fairly high at 93 percent for individuals over 10 years old, millions remain out of school and more found to be functionally illiterate, especially those among the indigenous cultural communities. These are the pocket areas where the special need for teachers with genuine commitment, a missionary heart driven by a strong vocation to impart knowledge should be directed. Without the benefit of schools and teachers in these remote areas, these marginalized people will remain in the doldrums of ignorance without caring people to reach out to them. Few people remember that some of these marginalized groups (like the Tasadays in the seventies) have not once been taken advantage of for self-enrichment and selfish ambitions of a few “knowledgeable” individuals. This is because of their lack of understanding of the ways of the world because they kept much among themselves, with no one to teach them the basic facts of life in relation to others outside of their sphere.

The role of teachers today is sadly relegated to the mere imparting of knowledge and skills, seeing through the accomplishment of academic requirements until their students graduate from a stage of education to the next or helping them attain a degree in higher learning. To anyone, undoubtedly, teaching is indeed a noble role and being able to help a student realize a major achievement in life while making him become a responsible citizen, gives them a sense of fulfillment in their chosen vocation. They cannot help it that competition is ingrained from the early stages of a life’s learning process, but in the same degree that this drives a person to achieve, a spirit of competition, unknowingly, also helps plant the seeds of corruption and false ambition to be the greatest one day. Hence, today, it is not uncommon to see the most privileged and educated individuals, some of them in “public service” involved in the most corrupt practices, entangled in their ambitions to have more and become more no matter who gets hurt in the process.

We read of awards citing the most outstanding teachers for their achievements in their line of work, who made a difference in the lives of their students and co-teachers alike and who went beyond their limitations and difficult situations in order to encourage their students not only to learn more but to contribute valuable and novel ideas for the betterment of society and its citizens. We salute our teachers who develop the best in their students, because they put their hearts and minds for them. They instil in people the values of hard work, sacrifice and discipline, encourage attitudes towards learning more and caring for others at the same time, leading them to have a greater vision beyond their ambitions.

May we have more of these kinds of teachers in our midst today. With them, our hope for a better future for everyone is alive!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Toys from Ebay.ph

I remember the Coca Cola promo in the mid-60s when kids like me could exchange several Coke/Tru-Orange/Lem-o-lime crowns for white Disney plastic miniatures. Because we had a store then, I was at an advantage (didn't have to buy/drink a lot of soft drinks to collect crowns). I must have gotten the complete set of miniatures and the special board similar to that of the snakes and ladders game board. I jealously kept this collection from my siblings by putting them in a box with my comic books and climbing a cabinet to put it on the top shelf. The box was lost when looters barged into our store during a fire nearby and with it, a part of my childhood memories, or so I thought then. And so when I saw this boxed collection of 42 silver Disney miniatures on Ebay.ph, I gave a whooping yell and immediately bid on it. It was a 7 Eleven promo for the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005. I guessed it was an attempt to recapture that part of my childhood when I was happy reading Disney comics and playing with the Disney miniatures.The boxed set features 42 Magical Miniatures from Disney and Pixar films - from Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Snow White & the 7 dwarfs, to Toy Story, Little Mermaid, Lion King, The Incredibles, Beauty and the Beast, Lilo and Stitch, Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan. It also includes a book tracing the development of film animation and a pop-up Disney cinema in the centerfold where one can put in screencaps from the movies.Mickey and Minnie Mouse were my very first favorite Disney characters. Those are three of the seven dwarfs of Snow White behind them. Dumbo and Tinkerbelle had to put in lots of flying hours as I had them flying all over our bedroom. Goofy and Pluto gave me hours and hours of laughter.
Three Mickey Mouse permutations. At left is the Chinese Mickey stuffed toy, in the middle is the Mickey with the Philippine flag on his shirt front and a Mickey key chain at right.Mickey in Pinoy shirt
I'm proud to own this Charlie Brown plush toy which must have been part of a McDonald's promo. It occupies a special place among my collection of Snoopy figures.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

GTX (Gensan Tunafest eXperience) impressions

Horrendous traffic jam on Roxas, Pendatun, Osmena and Laurel Avenues. Tricycles (especially colorum ones) taking advantage of it by charging exorbitant fares.

Di-mahulugang-karayom crowds at the Oval Plaza, day and nite. Children getting lost. Sweaty people brushing elbows with one another. Several perfunctory frisking at entry points. SRO attendance at the ukay-ukay booths. Food and drinks overflow.

Even the smallest barbecue eateries are filled with diners. Rowdy teeners being served beers.

Tuna floats in silver and ocean colors. Mardi gras dancers in a frenzy.

Inauguration of the P34-million General Santos Park, with shiny people-shaped lamp posts, faux-bamboo bridges, seats to lounge in, perimeter fences around it. Wondering when vendors start invading it and the upkeep slackens like what happened to the Children's Playground across the BIR office.

Miss Gensan pageant, Fishdance and Bodyfest at Gaisano Mall are perennial fave must-watch events. Winning Ms. Gensan needs speech lessons (now na!).

Politicos in person and in their special GTX infomercials greeting the Generals on the 41st Charter anniversary.

Hotels and pension houses at all-time high occupancy rate!

Male foreigners with their Pinay girlfriends and families in tow.

People gathering at the KCC Rooftop parking entrance gate waiting for arrival of GMA7 stars.

Rock band concerts at the Oval Plaza. Foam and Splash parties at local hotels.

Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. mark culmination of GTX.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Vignette 2: Baby niece inside a drawer

When I saw the scene in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button where Queenie, baby Benjamin's adoptive mother, put him in a clothes drawer right after finding him on the steps of the old folks' home where she works, I was reminded of the same thing I did.

Our first niece, Nerissa Joy, who was 6 months old then, was staying with us that time. She was left in my care while Mama went to the market. Mama was taking a long time coming back and it was almost time for my class. So I packed some linen and one bottle of baby formula and rushed to school.

I cleared the top drawer of my desk at school and placed the sleeping baby gingerly inside. No one was in the faculty room so I had no one to ask to look after the baby. Already late for my one-hour class, I left for my classroom.

When some co-teachers arrived from their classes several minutes later, baby Nerissa Joy was awake and gurgling. The teachers were frightened by the sounds the baby was making. They thought it was a tiyanak (a Philippine monster in the form of a baby) as they weren't able to see baby Nerissa Joy inside the slight open drawer.

Coming back to the faculty an hour later, I was surprised to hear them talking about a tiyanak haunting the room. I laughed upon hearing them and proceeded to take baby Nerissa Joy out of the drawer and show her to them.

The room was filled with laughter and cooing sounds when I proudly passed my baby niece around.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Is an urban legend coming full circle?

Several weeks ago, I came across this news item:

08/12/2009 | 05:47 PM

Two secret lovers became the talk of the town in the southern Philippines Wednesday after they were found literally stuck to each other.

Doctors were at a loss on how to separate the two lovers, who had been stuck for more than 17 hours since Tuesday night, radio dzRH reported Wednesday afternoon.

The report quoted doctors at the Isulan town hospital in Sultan Kudarat province as saying the two lovers experienced penis captivus, a condition in which the muscles in the female organ clamp down on the male organ more firmly than usual, making it impossible for the man to withdraw his organ from the woman's.

Before experiencing the condition, the two lovers had a rendezvous at a local pension house in Isulan town Tuesday night.

The man, 32, was described as married and connected with the Department of Public Works and Highways. The woman, 20, was working at a local department store.

Initial investigation showed that the two experienced penis captivus at about 10 p.m., and decided to seek medical help at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, said the report.

Draped only in a blanket, the naked couple asked a tricycle driver outside the pension house to take them to a hospital.

At the hospital, doctors used a tranquilizer on the man to make his muscles contract, but still could not immediately separate the duo. - GMANews.TV

This news immediately brought back a particular memory of the early 60s when I was in Grade 2 or 3. I remembered a commotion in Pioneer Avenue of the municipality of Dadiangas (now General Santos City). A lot of people were gathered outside the clinic of a doctor. Some were scrambling to peek through the glass louvers of the windows and the wooden barandilya on the upper portion of the walls.

The adults were talking about a man and a woman covered in a flimsy blanket who were brought to the clinic early that morning by some fishermen. It was said that the couple spent the night together trysting on the nearby Lion's Beach. The man's wife learned of this tryst and with the help of an albularyo who gave her an amulet fashioned from the penis of a pawikan (sea turtle), she managed to affix this inside her husband's pants before he went to the beach.

While engaged in their illicit romance on the sand, the couple became stuck (as a result of the power of the amulet) and remained so until the fishermen found them the next morning. Later, I heard that the couple died of blood poisoning.

Several of my high school batch-mates also remembered this incident.

I have a theory about how this incident evolved into the urban legend that it is now.

At the time of the incident, the only means by which news of it could spread was by letters, telegrams or word-of-mouth. I would however bet on the last one as the biggest culprit for its spread.

Visitors and relatives from Luzon and Visayas islands would be regaled by local residents with this story. Local residents going to Luzon and Visayas would talk of this incident.

But I suspect that the spread of this incident might be attributed to movie checkers who were assigned here during that time. Checkers, usually men, were assigned by film distributors to escort the movies to be shown in towns and cities all over the country. Their job was to make sure the film reels arrive on schedule and to check that every ticket was torn at the tills (as whole tickets, already bought, could be returned to the ticket booth to be resold several times).
Checkers were great story tellers, often telling whomever was interested in where they had been and what has been going on in those places. This incident was such a great story they could tell and relish to tell over and over again everywhere they were assigned to go.

Until it became an urban legend. From the time I was a teener until now, I would hear variations of the incident happening in different locations in the country. Usually the location was a coastal place. The couple would be a married man and his paramour. The amulet would be made of a turtle's genital or that of another animal's. They would be found stuck together like Siamese (conjoint) twins. Some couples died, some survived.

And now the incident happened again in this part of the country. Has the urban legend finally come home?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vignette 1: Papa snoring in Golden Cinema while "The Fiddler on the Roof" was playing

In my final year in high school, Mama was able to persuade Papa to give me a rare treat for being the second honor in one of my periodical exams. Papa gave me several choices: merienda at our favorite Chinese restaurant, cash, or a movie at the then newest movie house. Since I knew he also liked watching movies, I went for it.

The movie house was showing double programs then, two English movies for the price of one. Papa got us tickets to the balcony. There were only a few people inside the cinema. Papa sat through the first movie, the title of which I had already forgotten. The second movie was another story. It was The Fiddler on the Roof, the film version of a Broadway musical. From the first frame showing the fiddler on a roof playing a melancholy tune on his violin, I was entranced. However Papa slept through it, punctuating the soundtrack with his snores that sounded like a boat sounding its horn as it departs from the wharf.

When the lights were lit at the end of the movie, I shook Papa to wake him up. He saw in my face how much I enjoyed the movie and that was enough for him.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 7: Karen Davila plagiarized Stuart Santiago's work? (Repost)

(Another case of lazy journalism where author Angela Stuart Santiago, who wrote Himagsikan sa EDSA Walang Himala! accuses Karen Davila of plagiarizing several portions of her book for the ABS-CBN documentary Laban ni Cory.)

plagiarism and, uh, karen davila? is that you?!

while it was great that upon cory’s death pinoy tv was swamped with docus that revisited her exalted place in philippine history, one docu, Laban ni Cory, produced and aired many times by ABS-CBN 2 from august 2 onward, raised my ire and my eyebrows.

my ire because some of karen davila’s narrative spiels covering the period of the snap elections through to EDSA sounded oh so familiar, so very close to, if not my very own words in, Himagsikan sa EDSA — Walang Himala! and yet there was no attribution, as though karen davila herself researched and wrote the stuff (wow ang galing), something that took me all of twelve years, lol.


(010) Sa paniniwalang sila ang tunay na nanalo sa eleksiyon, isang victory rally ang inilunsad sa Luneta nina Cory at Doy, na dinumog naman ng mahigit isang milyong tao.

(013) At bilang tugon sa malawakang dayaan sa eleksiyon, inilunsd nina Cory Aquino at Doy Laurel ang civil disobedience campaign, Himinok ang taong bayan na huwag magbayad ng koryente, tubig, at iboykot ang media, bangko at iba pang kompanyang pagaari ng mga tuta ni Marcos. Marami ang sumangayon at sumunod sa panawagang ito. Wala pang isang linggo mula nang unang manawagan ng boycott si Cory nameligro ang ekonomiya ng bansa at nataranta ang mga negosyante.

HIMAGSIKAN SA EDSA–Walang Himala! page 40 last paragraph

Ika-16 ng Pebrero, sa isang “victory rally” sa Luneta na dinumog ng mahigit isang milyong tao, inilunsad nina Cory Aquino at Doy Laurel ang kanilang civil disobedience campaign. Nagpilit si Cory na siya ang nagwagi sa eleksiyon at nangakong pupuwersahin niya si Marcos na magbitiw, sabay hinimok ang taong-bayan na sabayan siya sa pagsuway sa mga utos ng diktador — huwag magbayad ng koryente at tubig, iboykot ang crony media at crony banks, gayon din ang Rustan’s Department Store, San Miguel Corporation, at iba pang kompanyang pag-aari ng mga tuta at katoto ni Marcos.

page 42 paragraph 2

Wala pang isang linggo mula nang unang manawagan ng boykot si Cory…

page 41 paragraph 1

Nataranta ang malalaking negosyante, gayon din ang multinationals …



(022) Kakaiba na noon ang ihip ng hangin. Palaban na ang taong bayan, sabik sa pagbabago at may natatanaw nang pagasa, salamat sa biyuda ng isang tao …

HIMAGSIKAN page 42 last paragraph

Salamat sa biyuda ni Ninoy, kakaiba na noon ang ihip ng hangin. Mapanghimagsik na ang timpla ng taong-bayan, punong-puno bigla ng pag-asa, sabik sa mga naamoy na pagbabago, noong bisperas ng EDSA.



(063) Naghudyat si Ver ng all out attack sa riot police, sa marine artillery, sa mga helicopter gunship, at mga jet bomber.

(067) Naririnig din si Marcos sa radyo. Isinusumpang lilipulin ang mga rebelde.

HIMAGSIKAN page 135 paragraph 2

Sa Fort Bonifacio, naghudyat sina Ver at Ramas ng all-out attack sa riot police, sa Marine artillery, sa mga helicopter gunship, at sa mga jet bomber. Naririnig si Marcos sa radyo, isinusumpang lilipulin ang mga rebelde.



(070) Pumosisyon ang mga sundalo at nagkasahan ng mga baril. Subalit walang atakeng nangyari. Lumapag ang mga chopper sa Crame. Isa-isang lumabas ang mga pilot, may hawak na mga puting bandila at naglalaban sign.

HIMAGSIKAN page 138 paragraph 4

Napakagat ng labi ang mga sundalo, nagkasahan ng mga baril, pumosisyon.

page 139 from last paragraph page 138

Isa-isang lumalabas ang mga piloto, may hawak na mga puting bandila at nagla-Laban sign.



(076) Ala singko ng hapon, sa kabila ng banta sa kanyang seguridad sumaglit sa EDSA si Cory …

(081) Sa main entrance ng Philippine Overseas Amployment agency o POEA building nagbigay siya ng maikling talumpati sa mga taong nagtipon sa kantong iyon ng Ortigas at EDSA. Pinuri ni Cory ang mapayapang pagkilos ng mga tao…

HIMAGSIKAN page 165 paragraph 1

Bandang 5:00 ng hapon, nagpakita sa wakas sa EDSA/Ortigas si Cory Aquino, na Sabado pa ay hinahanap na ng mga Coryista. Sa main entrance ng Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) building, sa kanto ng EDSA at Ortigas, siya dumaan kasama ang kanyang pamilya at mga tagapagtaguyod.

paragraph 5

Sa kanyang talumpati sa mga taong nagtipon sa kantong iyon ng Ortigas at EDSA, pinuri ni Cory ang mapayapang pagkilos ng mga tao …

the docu’s closing credits list the writers and researchers. i expect the researchers cited their sources of info, it’s part of the job, and if so, who decided not to mention na lang these sources, the writers or the hosts? na okay lang naman as long as magaling sila and they can write the material in their own words. but even then, dapat ay mayroon pa ring acknowledgement sa dulo ang sources of information na hindi pa common knowledge.

kung hindi pala sila ganoong kagaling, dapat ay inamin nila by writing-in “ayon kay… sa librong so-and-so….” or maybe it was karen davila who couldn’t be bothered with “ayon sa’s”, akala niya ay makakalusot? whatever, whoever, wittingly or un-, she committed plagiarism by lifting and appropriating my words for her own use without a by-your-leave or a thank-you, how unprofessional, how dishonest, how disgraceful.

nakakataas ng kilay kasi it doesn’t take much time and effort to cite and acknowledge sources. unless of course the idea is to give the impression that hosts and writers of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs productions are all-knowing and sufficient unto themselves?

so, okay, now that i’ve vented, what next? what do i expect? well. iniisip ko nga. an apology? too easy to shed crocodile tears. credits on the docu? rather too late, unless of course they have plans of selling dvds, in which case, okay, credits, and a share in the profits?

suggests a writer friend: like a lawyer can be disbarred, a beauty queen forced to abdicate, ask for the head of the plagiarist in the form of dismissal or suspension. or how about punishing the culprit by having her write a million times in longhand a very long mea culpa — the equivalent of 20 years of keyboarding chores or tendonitis. oscar lopez could also buy the next edition of your book to give away to all libraries nationwide.

sounds good, all of the above ;)

Adventure in Journalism 6: Erratum from Philippine Daily Inquirer (Repost)

Correction, confirmation

Philippine Daily Inquirer Publisher’s note

TWO RECENT news stories and an editorial mistook an intellectual exercise for hard fact.

Yesterday’s editorial mistakenly attributed the alleged itemization of the Le Cirque bill incurred by President Macapagal-Arroyo and her party to the “New York Post.” In fact, the hypothetical itemization was done by columnist Manuel Quezon III in his blog on Aug. 8, and introduced as “a theoretical breakdown of how the presidential party could have racked up the bill.”

Our story on Aug. 9 reported that “The purported menu included caviar; such appetizers as lobster salad, wild burgundy escargot and soft shell crab tempura; main courses of black cod, halibut, Dover sole, saddle of lamb and prime dry-aged strip steak; and Krug champagne at $510 a bottle.” There was, in fact, no such menu, only a hypothetical list of ordered items.

Our story on Aug. 10 reported that “The restaurant tab, purported copies of which have since circulated on blogs, showed that the Arroyo delegation had five servings of wild golden osetra caviar ($1,400), 11 bottles of Krug champagne ($5,610), and 25 orders each of the Chef’s Seasonal Menu and Tasting Menu (totaling $1,450 and $4,500 respectively), along with 17 other items.” There were no such copies circulating, only links and images from Quezon’s blog.

Based on these two stories, yesterday’s editorial criticized the presidential party’s insensitive self-indulgence. We stand by that assessment, however, since the original New York Post report is a fact. It read, in part: “Macapagal-Arroyo ordered several bottles of very expensive wine, pushing the dinner tab up to $20,000.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 5: Lazy Journalism and Lazy Reading (Repost)

Lazy Journalism and Lazy Reading

August 11th, 2009 at 12:50 pm by caffeine_sparks

Yesterday on twitter I was alerted to the supposed receipt of GMA’s New York dinner. The graphic looked familiar and true enough I’d seen it on another blog and knew the breakdown was THEORETICAL, the purpose behind this exercise being to illustrate how X amount of people having dinner in a restaurant with a menu at X prices could’ve racked up $20,000.

The purpose of the THEORETICAL exercise was to see whether it was possible for 27-30 people to consume such an amount in one sitting. And true enough, at the prices food and wine were selling at Le Cirque, it was possible.

Yesterday and today news articles came out in the Inquirer, the Star and even ABS-CBN news taking the THEORETICAL break-down as factual. I am now wondering whether these journalists were alerted to the receipt in the same manner as I was – through social networking media. And in their rush to publish news in real time, they neglected to do something which makes them professionals – fact check their report.

I understand that the terrain of journalism is changing and perhaps many journalists are pressured to deliver news at a faster pace. I do not know whether this is because traditional media organizations feel they are competing against the internet and the ease with which people online, networked through sites like Facebook, Plurk and Twitter, may share information. Blogs are blogs. In Filipino Voices we do commentary. For news – we still rely on journalists – pros. So please, Mainstream Media – do not succumb to lazy journalism.

And to denizens of the internets, please do some critical thinking and a little fact-checking on your own. Follow the url links, verify the sources of forwarded information before you forward said info yourself.

Come on people. Let’s not be lazy shall we?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Adventure in Journalism 4: Not quite like Ninoy's (Repost)

(Note: Here is a report from Newsbreak online regarding the contrast between reporting on Ninoy Aquino's death and the death of his wife Pres. Cory Aquino.)

Not quite like Ninoy’s

Monday, 03 August 2009


Exaggerated and clueless reports on Cory’s procession are a disservice to the public.

As former President Corazon Aquino’s cortege moved from La Salle Greenhills, through EDSA, then Ayala, to the Manila Cathedral today, we monitored the extensive broadcast and online coverage of the event.

And we cringed at the inaccuracies, exaggerations, or plain cluelessness that slipped through some of the reports. Mostly it was about the size of the crowd.

One reporter said EDSA was packed and people could barely move. But the TV camera showed it wasn’t like sidewalk-to-sidewalk, and people could actually walk, thank you. Photos taken by our colleague show that there was enough breathing space in there.

Another reporter said there were 50 vehicles of mourners from Ms. Aquino’s home province of Tarlac. But when interviewed, one of these mourners said their convoy consisted of 5 vehicles.

ImageAt the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas in Makati City, footages taken were mostly tight shots, making it appear that it was a packed procession. The few times the cameras took wide shots, they revealed that the there was not much crowd beyond the intersection. The same was true along Buendia.

Some reports estimated the crowd at 25,000 persons. Our photographer thinks the actual size was only half of that. The crowds in “ordinary” rallies are even bigger, he said. A veteran of rallies who walked with the crowd was more generous with his estimate. The rule of thumb with rallies, he said, is to subtract one-third from the figures that the police gives.

Not lost on us either—but was overlooked in many reports—was the presence of so many grade school students along Ayala. “This is so Marcos-time,” a photographer said, referring to the practice of the authoritarian regime (that Cory helped topple, remember?) of hauling school children to pro-government rallies to give the impression of a big crowd.

Not a few reported—either as their own observation or quoting some politicians—that the outpouring of people on the streets at Cory’s procession was similar to what happened during the funeral of her husband in 1983.

To give perspective to readers and viewers, especially those too young to know what it was like during Ninoy’s death, we compiled photos from that era—when Ninoy’s coffin was transferred from their house at Times Street to Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City; when it was brought to Tarlac, and during his funeral. (We lifted the images from the book “Ninoy Aquino: The Willing Martyr” by Alfonso Policarpio Jr.) See how packed the crowds really were and realize that today wasn’t quite like 26 years ago.



President Cory will be buried on Wednesday morning. We have more than a day to give her and her public some respect by being objective and responsible with our reports.

Adventures in Journalism 3: News writer apologizes for "killing" Pres. Arroyo (Repost)

(Note: On July 31, I blogged about my unpleasant experience to have the spelling of Sarangani rectified. Instead of thanking me for pointing out the error, the news writer rejected my comment for being a "personal attack against persons and institutions." In contrast, in this blogpost, Lala Rimando, the erring news writer apologizes for her oversight with grace and humility.)

I’m guilty. I killed our president.

I wrote an online story about the passing of a former president but inadvertently referred to the current one who’s still very much alive in portions of the story. Instead of Mrs. Aquino, some sentences had "Mrs. Arroyo" in them.

Aside from both presidents having a last name that starts with letter "A," the two have other similarities: both are lady presidents, thrust into power by bloodless people power, and belong to a political family. But the differences are stark: Mrs. Corazon Aquino was herself not corrupt, was uncomfortable with the trappings of power, and stepped down as soon as her term was over in 1992. President Gloria Arroyo, however, has been dragged in almost all political scandals during the past 8 years, and has tried, through her allies in Congress, to amend the Constitution to possibly extend her stay in power beyond her term in 2010.

In typical online fashion, the comments to the online story were immediate. Some were horrified (‘How dare you dishonor the memory of Cory’). Some were naughty (Facebook comment: ‘Was that wishful thinking?’). Some even called me names (dullwhite in plurk.com: ‘Lala Rimando you're an idiot. It's MRS. AQUINO who died, not MRS. ARROYO, doh!’).

I was sinking in my seat as I read those comments. While I immediately made the corrections on the abs-cbnNEWS.com and www.newsbreak.com.ph sites, and added an erratum, the story with the wrong names on it stayed in Yahoo Philippines’ news page for at least 2 days.

I self-flagellated. Why did I not name-check before I published the story and went to do a couple more? Why did I put my name and fruitful 9-year journalism career on the line for a simple explanatory story that’s not likely to change national policies as did my award-winning ones? It was a story that simply explained the implications and contrasts of the Aquino family’s decision to hold a private instead of a state funeral.

Then I rationalized. I was processing many information and had limited time to spend on each story that day. Mrs. Aquino’s death was announced and stories were pouring from all over. We wanted to cover as many as we could. Too, days before that I was writing and editing stories related to the State of the Nation Address delivered that same week. There was constant reference to only one president: Mrs. Arroyo.

After Mrs. Aquino’s only son Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III announced in a late Saturday morning press conference that there won’t be a state funeral, I merely wanted to explain what a state funeral is and what it is not. It was a story on protocols and symbolisms that could help readers better appreciate what Mrs. Aquino's supporters and her family members are possibly missing out on.

Then I laughed. I heard broadcasters make the same mistake. “Palabas na po sa La Salle ang convoy para sa labi ni Mrs. A-a-a-aquino,” a radio commentator stuttered. “Military honors para kay Ginang Arroyo, inihahanda na,“ a TV news show flashed on its screen. The slip ups occured countless times that I sheepishly thought, "Good, I wasn't the only one who "killed" our president."

I became a statistic. On top of the minute-by-minute account of their own 'Cory watch,' the bloggers and those in social networks included in their regular status updates how other media, big and small, committed similar slip ups. "That was fast!" said a Tweeter account holder about story of a national publication's online arm with "Arroyo" on the story's large-font title. The Tweet, however, had a screenshot of the story with the wrong title, before it was corrected to "Aquino."

A Facebook "friend" said in his status page, a "network reported that President Aquino will attend the funeral of President Arroyo." Not only did they "kill" President Arroyo, they also "resurrected" Mrs. Aquino! Worse, the "foreign network" ran this phrase for about an hour in their ticker.

Hilarious they may sound, these slip ups may be causing doubts on who really died. And for contributing to that confusion, I apologize.

It is our mantra as journalists that we exhaust all means to confirm that the facts of our stories are verified or documented, that we get all sides, that we put our stories in perspective, that we stand brave when harassed by libel or intimidation tactics for saying the truth, and that we humbly apologize when we commit mistakes.

How fitting that I practice the latter as we continue to cover the wake and funeral of the late President Cory Aquino. After all, humility to her was not just an accessory. She lived it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures in Journalism 2: They come to bury her, not to praise her

In the flurry of photo opportunities and exclusive coverages of the Cory wake and funeral, the following are just three of the bloopers reporting the death of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo instead of former Pres. Corazon Aquino:

Philippine Star news item featured in Yahoo.com

ABS-CBN live coverage
Manila Bulletin August 6, 2009 issue

(Photos courtesy of Gibbs Cadiz and Frank Cimatu)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cory, my Beacon of Hope

The years after Ninoy Aquino's assassination leading up to 1986 were turbulent years for me. Being a teenaged high school senior when Martial Law was declared and ten years of being bombarded with New Society slogans and jingles (Sa ikauunlad ng bayan disiplina ang kailangan, PLEDGES, Bagong Lipunan march, etc) and relying on the government-controlled media for information, I didn't know how to react to changes wrought by Ninoy's death.

One favorite magazine, Mr. & Ms. spawned special edition issues which I followed avidly because they were reporting the news that didn't make it to the radios, newspapers and TV stations. Songs took on a different flavor as patriotic songs like Bayan Ko and Tie a yellow ribbon were played on the air by a Catholic diocesan radio station here. The local religious community was slow and timid in criticizing the government. The local officials were mostly Kilusan Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party members. Groups like JAJA (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All) shouted anti-government slogans as they marched on the city streets.

In the eye of this storm was a curly-haired widow - Cory Aquino. She was the opposite of then President Ferdinand Marcos. Soft-spoken where Marcos was stentorian. Tentative to his decisiveness. But she was an alternative, antidote to the strongman. She was not what one would expect of a traditional politician (trapo). What she had was the dignity, integrity and courage to stand up to the dictator.I first saw Cory in person when she and Doy Laurel campaigned in General Santos City. Onstage, while she was delivering her speech, the whole city was plunged into darkness. To us, whenever blackouts occurred, something was bound to happen. It was common to have electrical supply interruptions during election day and when the Laban group had events. The international media covering Cory's campaign immediately focused their lights on her, their TV and SLR cameras ready to shoot if any eventuality happened. For a few minutes, there she was - the lady in yellow enveloped by the lights. And then she was whisked away from the stage and brought to a nearby car.

In the Catholic college where I taught at that time, the pro-Cory teachers were a majority. The few remaining Marcos loyalists were ribbed about their staunch support. Unlike their Manila counterparts, the priests, nuns and brothers here were cautious in showing support to Cory and the opposition. Even the Catholic schools had no clear guidelines on how fora and protest rallies were to be held. But the ordinary people started wearing yellow dresses and shirts. The L-finger sign (for Laban "fight") was being flashed everywhere. And the yellow creepers blanketed vacant lands everywhere. The yellow fever turned a pitch higher as the election day neared. Many Marcos loyalists like rats abandoning a sinking ship were seen joining protest marches. On the other hand, at the diocesan radio station, instead of the usual sign-off after the Rosary, I was surprised to hear two radio announcers recording KBL campaign ads! Someone conveniently forgot to turn off the transmitter.

The usual blackouts occurred on election day despite the vigilance of several groups to guard the ballots. The Jaycees, of which I was a member, were among the volunteer groups that helped the Namfrel (National Citizens Movement for Free Elections). I witnessed the incumbent mayor's people distributing campaign leaflets right outside the voting precincts. This was promptly reported to Namfrel. I reported the same on the diocesan radio station DXCP where I was also a volunteer announcer on Sundays. Later, the lady broadcaster on board and I were alerted about the presence of armed men riding a Ford Fiera. The staff helped us exit the station using the backdoor. Hitching a ride, I saw the Ford Fiera and the nozzles of firearms protruding through the side windows as we passed by it. Reporting to school following the elections, I was warned by a well-meaning friend that a death threat had been issued for me. The brothers allowed me to go on leave as I told them I didn't want to involve the school or my students in case the threat was carried out. Some friends acting as intermediaries asked relatives of the mayor to verify if he indeed issued a death threat for me. This he dismissed by saying that he didn't even know me at all!

The protest movement here gained momentum as cheating by the KBL was reported here and abroad. More turncoats joined the protests. When the EDSA revolution started, classes were not cancelled as it was being played out in Metro Manila. But the fervor of People Power was also strongly felt here. The religious community was finally emboldened and openly said prayers and masses for the revolt. The technicians were able to record the broadcasts of June Keithley over Radyo Bandido and these were replayed regularly. The two pro-Marcos announcers took a sudden leave of absence from DXCP and I volunteered to be onboard after my evening classes.

After dismissing my class at 8:30, I walked to the radio station and started my duty until 5:00 the following day. We did not want for anything because listeners would drop off food items, coffee, bread and sandwiches for the 24-hour broadcasts. When we learned about the order to the military to shut down the station, a local volunteer group surrounded the transmitter and provided us protection because we also received a bomb threat.

On the fourth day, while we were broadcasting live a Holy Mass, we received confirmation that the Marcoses had left Malacanang (this after an earlier false alarm) and the priest announced this. Jubilant shouts punctuated the air from those hearing the mass and those living in the vicinity of the station. Many were jumping and almost all, including myself, were in tears. Again, food and beverages flooded the station. It was a euphoria-filled day.

Our college conducted a victory march around the city. When we approached a local station known for being critical of Cory and Laban, we heard "Tie a yellow ribbon" being played for us. This was met by loud boos from the students, teachers and the religious community.When President Cory came to Gensan after being named Time Magazine's Woman of the Year, I begged the local news stand owner for a copy of the large poster of the Time cover, mounted it on a board, and held it high and proud for her to see during the large gathering at the plaza.

The remaining local pro-Marcos trapos, who were ousted from their positions and replaced with transition officials appointed by Cory, switched allegiance and even had the audacity to show themselves onstage to welcome Cory to our city. They were booed as expected. The few Pro-Marcos teachers in school had joined the majority. One teacher, Cory's namesake, who used to tell us she hated to be called Ma'am Cory now wanted us to call her just that.

After she finished her term as President, Cory remained in my mind and heart as the lady in yellow enveloped by lights. After witnessing three presidents take the helm after her, I was in turns dismayed and appalled by what they had done to our country. I may be terribly disappointed by the way the promise and potentials that Cory stood for had turned out, but Cory remains to be a shining beacon of hope to me. Following her exemplar of integrity, dignity and courage, I'm not giving up on our country - not then, not now that Cory is gone, not ever.

(yellow creepers pic courtesy of Avel Manansala)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Adventures in journalism 1

I have blogged in 2007 about being irked by the persistence in the misspelling of Cotabato: "It irked me then and still irks me now. With the great strides in technology, the built-in spell checkers and auto-correct features in browsers and word encoding programs, the misspellings are still as rampant as weeds."

Now comes the misspelling of Sarangani as Saranggani.

Using Google Reader to read online news today, I noticed a headline from the Philippine Star's online site: Suspect in Saranggani blast nabbed. The same word was misspelled throughout the news item written by Dino Maragay. Posthaste, I submitted the following comment to the said site:

Your copyreader/editor must be sleeping on the job. It's SARANGANI and not Saranggani. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarangani
Within the day, I got an email from Philstar.com:

Regarding your post:

Your copyreader/editor must be sleeping on the job. It's SARANGANI and not Saranggani. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarangani

Moderator comment:
This forum does not allow personal attacks against people or institutions.

Moderated by:

If you think this post should not be disapproved, forward this email to the philstar.com Operations Manager Eden Estopace (edenestopace@philstar.com) and optionally state why it should not be disapproved.)

Note that the main purpose of forwarding this email to the Operation Manager is to improve the moderation process. It is not aimed at immediately approving the disapproved comment.

Ref no: 464040
Wondering why I was sent such a reply rejecting my comment as a "personal attack against people or institutions," I emailed the Operations Manager Eden Estopace:

Dear Estopace,

The attached (comment) is not a personal attack on your copyreader/editor. It was meant to correct the wrong spelling of Sarangani.

Thank you.
I opened my Google Reader again and found out the said news item was revised with Sarangani spelled right this time in the headline and text. I replied to the email sender, Dino Maragay, who also wrote the said news item with the misspelled word:

Hi Dino,

I just checked the online news item you wrote and saw that you have corrected the wrong spelling of Sarangani. Thank you.

As per your email-reply, instead of a simple thank you, this is what I get from you for calling attention to the error?
And here's Dino Maragay's reply to me:

Hi reader,

I made the judgment to disapprove your comment because it promotes an atmosphere of negativity for philstar. You could've just pointed out the mistake and we'll gladly change it. But instead you hinted that someone is "sleeping on the job" while in fact, no one does here at philstar.

Please understand that we, I mean I (yes, i'm the sole editor in charge for the entire day), am working at a very fast pace to provide you readers with updates. And such "unpleasant" comments, i think, are inappropiate to be given to those striving hard to give you readers free and updated content.

Anyway, please accept my apology for not thanking you for spotting an error for us. Thanks again and keep posting.

My comment was "unpleasant," "inappropriate" and "promotes an atmosphere of negativity for philstar"? At the risk of being redundant, I will state it here again: With the great strides in technology, the built-in spell checkers and auto-correct features in browsers and word encoding programs, can't misspelling geographical names like Sarangani or Cotabato specially on the part of news organizations and journalists, in print or online, be called "sleeping on the job"?

Anyway, to deal with the reason for Philstar's rejecting my comment because it was a "personal attack against people or institutions", I wrote:

Hi Dino,

I think you need to check your dictionary as to the difference between "personal" and "professional."

My comment "sleeping on the job" is clearly not a "personal attack."

Thank you for taking time for this. :)
And this is his reply:

Well, that's the closest reason available and applicable to your comment, as far as our forum interface is concerned. ;-) Can't really do anything about it.

But the fact that you used unpleasant words is sufficient enough, at least in my judgment (which i am fully entitled to), to have your comment disapproved.

What? "Thank you for your comment" is not among the options in Philstar's forum interface? Let's look at this scenario: If Dino Maragay replied with "Thank you for your comment" instead of spitefully rejecting it with a click of his mouse and proceeded to revise the news item he wrote, then the above exchange of emails need not happen. But noooo, instead of thanking me for my feedback, Dino turned the tables on me and labeled my comment as "unpleasant", "personal attack against him" and "inappropriate" to make it look like it was all my fault in the first place for having submitted my comment.

What is crystal clear to me was that I caught a news writer sleeping on his job (for not checking the spelling of Sarangani which is part of his job - checking facts) which he did not have the gumption and grace to admit, but revised his news items anyway and thanked me after I asked him if a simple "thank you" would have been a more appropriate response.

Jeez, methinks DepEd needs to bring GMRC (Good Manners & Right Conduct) and Values Education back to the classrooms.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fave Song: Alone Again, Naturally

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that’s tough
She's stood him up"
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to well who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God and His mercy
Or if He really does exist
Why did He desert me in my hour of need
I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally
Now looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fave Song: Softly as I Leave You

Softly, I will leave you softly
For my heart would break if you should wake and see me go
So I leave you softly, long before you miss me
Long before your arms can beg me stay
For one more hour or one more day
After all the years, I can't bear the tears to fall
So, softly as I leave you there

(Softly, long before you kiss me)
(Long before your arms can beg me stay)
(For one more hour) or one more day
After all the years, I can't bear the tears to fall
So, softly as I leave you there
As I leave I you there
As I leave I you there

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Kapitan Sino - Book Review

Bob Ong's latest book, Kapitan Sino, explores the fleeting nature of heroism and what it takes to be a hero. Is it the name, the costume, the superpowers, good intentions that make a hero?

Set in the second half of the 80s, the book features a protagonist, Rogelio Manglicmot, who has an electronics repair shop where during a black-out, his friend Bok-bok discovers an electric bulb lit overhead and a soldering gun still working in his hand.

Rogelio and Bok-bok goes into a friendly discussion on what the hero's name should be. Another friend, blind Teng (who wanted to be called Tessa because she is now a young woman) provides Rogelio with the hero's costume cobbled from used clothes and things sent over from the US by her aunt.

With the help of Bok-bok, Rogelio explores his new persona with trepidation as he fails to foil a bank hold-up in his first official act as a hero. His exploits soon involve fighting monsters, criminal elements, rescuing people from around the globe, among others. The costume soon becomes wrapped up in the synergy of a hero that even Rogelio's old rubber shoes become his lethal weapon.

Bob Ong nips the romance of Rogelio and Tessa in the bud and this becomes a turning point in the life of Rogelio as he devotes most of his time in heroic feats, neglecting his repair shop and family in the meantime. Rogelio's grumpy invalid father gives him a man-to-man talk which brought him back to earth.

What follows is a series of events that unfold to Rogelio and the reader the fleeting nature of heroism (very funny is the awarding of P30,000 prize by a local politician for Kapitan Sino and a number of Kapitan Sino poseurs show up to claim it). For Rogelio, there is no other way to be hero when a pandemic a la AH1N1 strikes his locality and discovers for himself what it takes to be hero.

Very deftly, Bob Ong gives us a novel that makes us laugh and in between laughs, makes us ponder the intricacies and implications of being a hero. His funny descriptions of the people in Rogelio's neighborhood (two neighbors, with OFW hubbies, on a competition as to who's got the best appliances, community projects that get talked to death but never acted on) are spot-on and embarrassingly personal. Kapitan Sino's exploits that fail (like that scene after he saves a train, among the passengers, a wife discovers her husband with another woman and Kapitan Sino gets blamed for the ensuing domestic dispute or that homage to the first Superman movie where Kapitan Sino rescues a cat from a guava tree, but inadvertently burns it to a crisp) make us realize that sometimes good intentions are not enough to be a hero.

Bob Ong's avid readers will surely have a field day discovering new quotable quotes which may soon become platitudes, but it is my sincere hope that they (including me) would take these words to heart and put them into action in our own lives.