Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mona Lisa smile secrets revealed

So, Mona Lisa was really smiling after all.

Latest research findings show that Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.

Below is a CNN report on the findings.

Computer decodes Mona Lisa's smile

(CNN) -- Scientists analyzed the portrait of the Mona Lisa, a woman with famously mixed emotions, hoping to unlock her smile. They applied emotion recognition software that measures a person's mood by examining features such as the curve of the lips and the crinkles around the eyes.

The findings? Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry, according to the British weekly New Scientist.

Still, scientists will probably never know what made her feel the way she did.

The computer software, developed by Nicu Sebe at the University of Amsterdam and researchers at the University of Illinois, examines key facial features, the journal reports.

Sebe loaded average, neutral expressions of female faces into a database, which the software used to compare the painting against, says the "New Scientist" Web site.

Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece is housed at the Louvre, in Paris, France, and is the museum's top draw.

The Mona Lisa -- called La Gioconda in Italian and La Joconde in French -- has captivated and mystified the art world for centuries.

The portrait was painted in Florence, Italy, between 1503 and 1506, according to the Louvre's Web site.

Historians have long debated Mona Lisa's identity, with theories ranging from being Da Vinci's mother, a self-portrait or a Florentine prostitute.

Research conducted in 2004 support a claim first made almost 500 years ago -- that she really existed and that she was the wife of a rich silk merchant.

The Mona Lisa is featured in author Dan Brown's best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code.

I know that the Philippine Daily Inquirer made a report on this study last December 16, but I couldn't find a link of the report.

By the way, would Mona Lisa still smile when she sees what she would look like after a week's travel to the United States? Got this from an Italian site. Whoa.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Year of Pinoy Blogs

It seems that the Gloriagate crisis is far from over. Bigfoot -- er, I mean, Virgilio Garcillano is back in town, but his two appearances before the House of Representatives committees investigating the controversy resulted in anywhere except putting the issue to an end.

And now, coup rumors are again in rife in the country's capital. With today's arrest of former defense secretary Ret. Gen. Fortunato Abat who yesterday called for a revolutionary transition government, I wonder how our December would be.

What a year of political scandals, this 2005.

This year also marks significant changes on other fronts, including on the media. In an article published in the November issue of the PJR Reports (formerly the Philippine Journalism Review), I wrote how this year would be known as "The Year of Filipino Blogs," with blog sites complementing (sometimes even scooping up) traditional news media in reporting news and information to the public

Year of Pinoy blogs
By Hector Bryant L. Macale

Thanks to the “Hello, Garci” tape scandal, journalists joining the community of Filipino bloggers have been increasing. And so are the questions about this latest powerful medium for free expression.

In a conference organized by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) last October 22, at least 50 journalists discussed the potentials and pitfalls of blogging. The forum, also supported by The Asia Foundation and the regional press freedom alliance Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), looked into the legal issues and the opportunities for the press because of blogging.

"The beauty of blogging is you can do a blow-by-blow account," PCIJ executive director Sheila Coronel said at the start of the conference.

Coronel’s assessment was based on the PCIJ’s recent experience with its institutional blog, “Inside PCIJ,” which played a big role in the unraveling of the “Hello, Garci” scandal. “Inside PCIJ” provided in-depth reports and up-to-date account of events, sometimes ahead of most media outfits. It was the first to post online audio files and transcripts of the alleged conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. The PCIJ blog registered almost 500,000 unique hits in June, when it started the daily coverage of the “Hello, Garci” scandal.

Instant feedback
Alecks P. Pabico, PCIJ online manager, called 2005 as "the year of Filipino blogs" because of the rapid increase of journalists and non-journalists who went into blogging following the political crisis. These blogs posted a wide range of topics from personal accounts and views to institutional concerns (such as “Inside PCIJ” and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s “Freedom Watch”) to experiments in citizen journalism (Sun.Star’s “Citizen Watch”).

According to Max Limpag, who is in charge of the Sun.Star Cebu website, the blog is easier to manage than the website. Citing the experience of SunStar Cebu’s “Arroyo Watch” blog at the height of the “Hello, Garci” scandal, Limpag said feedback from readers were immediate.

With the success of the “Arroyo Watch,” Sun.Star created the “Citizen Journalism” blog which encouraged readers to post articles rather than not just send comments.

During the forum, ABC-5 reporter Jove Francisco said he was attracted to blogging because it “offers something that is not available in the industry.” A Malacañang reporter, Francisco’s “By Jove!” blog regularly posts additional information or details about news in the Palace. “We want to say more of what we know,” he said.

Lawyer-blogger JJ Disini, director of the University of the Philippines Law Internet and Society program, explained how laws on libel, sedition, privacy, and copyright could be applied to blogging.

When copying information or work from other online sites, he said "the less you use (the article) the better off you are." He stressed that using information from other sources is permissible for as long as the source is cited or a source link is provided in the post.

Blogging ethics
For her part, Rachel Khan, a UP journalism professor and deputy director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), reminded bloggers that they are still accountable to the public. She said blog sites become popular only when readers know they can be trusted. Other reasons for a blog’s acceptance are the blogger’s level of niche expertise on a subject or particular field; transparency of motives (or biases); transparency in process (identification of sources); and willingness to take responsibility when mistakes occur.

Khan (shown in the middle with Tina Panganiban Perez on her left and Atty. Disini on her right) advised journalist-bloggers to strictly follow the Bloggers’ Code of Ethics by the, a modification of the code of ethics by the US-based Society of Professional Journalists.

But, this early, the Bloggers’ Code of Ethics does not seem good enough for some entities. GMA-7 reporter Tina Panganiban-Perez said there are certain corporate or company guidelines which she and her co-employees must comply with in maintaining their blogs.

According to Perez, the GMA network staff are not allowed to discuss their work in their blogs. She said articles posted in the blog of veteran reporter Howie Severino is edited by GMA. The network hosts Severino’s blog, Sidetrip.

Reacting to Panganiban’s revelations, Francisco and ANC anchor and blogger Ricky Carandang heaved a sigh of relief that their networks have not come up with a similar policy on blogging.
Carandang observed that the impact of blogging on the mainstream press is not that yet significant. "While it’s gaining recognition, it’s not quite there yet," he said.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s John Nery agreed with Carandang, at the same time noting that blogs could be used to monitor radio reports. He said many radio reports are not picked up or pursued by other media.

Although she has yet to start her own blog, Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas has reaped the benefits of blogging. She said blogs have proved to be valuable information sources for her reports. (Just an update: In less than a month after the PCIJ conference, Tita Ellen started her own blog.)

The conference ended with a lively discussion on journalism standards as applied to blogging and a technical session on how to set up a blog.

If there was one thing that clearly stood out from the one-day discussions, it was, blogging is here to stay.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Birthday pictures galore

Finally, I am posting the pictures from our small birthday celebration last November 27 (My sister Ivy and I decided to have a single bash almost every year since our birthdays are so close to each other. It’s cheaper too, haha!). More than seventy of the people dearest to us came to the event (which was held in D' Charcoal Haus in Bulacan), excluding the relatives. And my, what a bash. Thanks guys for coming.

Click this link and look for the folder labeled "Bryant's and Ivy's birthday bash 11-27-05" for the pictures.

My cousin, Jhoanna, also celebrated her birthday last November 19. For pictures of her celebration, click this link and look for the folder labeled "Jhoanna's bday bash 11-19-05".

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A victory for press freedom in the Philippines

It was, indeed, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) had written in its blog, a decisive victory for press freedom.

I used to be the alerts coordinator for CMFR, monitoring the attacks against and threats to press freedom primarily in the Philippines. With some time in press alerts monitoring, I know that the murder case of journalist Edgar Damalerio (whose photo appears on the left) has become a kind of symbol of the journalist killings and culture of impunity and violence in the country. If I recall it right, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), a coalition of media organizations addressing such attacks against and threats to press freedom, was organized in January 2003 right after a discussion of the case involving Damalerio, an award-winning Pagadian journalist.

In case you want to know, the FFFJ members are CMFR, the Center for Community Journalism and Development, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Philippine News, and the Philippine Press Institute).

Finally, after a long wait of three years and 200 days, former policeman Guillermo Wapile has been convicted by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court of killing Damalerio, sentencing him of life imprisonment. "Damalerio’s widow, Gemma, broke into tears upon hearing the judgment handed down by Judge Ramon Codilla of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 19," CMFR reported in its post. "The emotion was shared by Edgar Ongue, the slain journalist’s friend and key witness in the case, who sat expressionless, but nonetheless heaved a sigh of relief with the outcome of the case."

The decision, CMFR said, is the only third recorded conviction out of a total of 55 cases of journalist killings since democracy regained its ground in the country in 1986. But the conviction is a welcome turn of events following how media-related killings have risen in the last three years, making us the "most dangerous place for journalists", according to international press freedom watchdogs.

“I would like to thank all, especially the media organizations that never wavered in monitoring and helping the case of my husband,” Gemma said to CMFR.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

PCIJ reposts controversial entry on Mike Defensor's "expert"

With the expiration of a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) imposed on this blog, the The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has reposted the article, "Mike Defensor’s Expert," taken down last November 4 in compliance with the restraining order of a Quezon City judge. I mentioned this issue in a previous post.

The said restraining order is the first to be issued on a blog in the Philippines and "has generated a lively debate on free expression versus privacy in the Pinoy blogosphere," according to PCIJ's post on the issue.

Check out the controversial post.

But where's "hear no evil"?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

PCIJ goes podcasting (and then some)

Hats off to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Its popular blog, the "Inside PCIJ", now has podcast entries. Its latest podcast entry focuses on the highlights of the infamous "Hello, Garci" scandal, including the government officials whose voices were caught in the tapes. Ma'am Yvonne reports. Of course, you know that "Garci" refers to former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, who as of press time, is nowhere to be seen.

Hmm, by the way, I wonder if Garcillano would really appear before the public and tell us what really happened during the 2004 elections. The search for Garci is beginning to be like an "X-files" episode or a special issue of the United States-based tabloid the "National Enquirer". His on-and-off sightings and possible whereabouts in and outside the country put the UFO sightings or the search for the Lochness monster to shame. I won't get surprised if Bigfoot shows up first than Garci.

Here is what the Professional Heckler (one of the more prominent bloggers in the country) said recently about Garcillano, who won as the Harry Houdini Act of the Year in his blog's 2005 Year-End Awards: "Who else deserves the award but former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. He made a fool out of everyone in the opposition. One day he is in Singapore, the next day, he is in London. A week later, Pimentel claims Garci’s in New Jersey even as Gilbert Remulla reveals he’s in South America. The next day, Lacson would report a sighting in Bataan. Just today, the senator says Garci is in Bukidnon. Talk about omnipresence. For all we know, he is so dead and his spirit has just embarked on a world tour. Matakot na kayo kapag may iniulat na bagong aparisyon sa Agoo."

For those who feel glum about the country's situation, you may find some comfort and humor in Avigail Olarte's report on the October 26 book launch of "Hello, Garci, Hello Ma’am: Political Humor in the Cellphone Age", PCIJ's third joke book.

Sigh, living in the Philippines is like appearing in a tragicomedy or at the Theater of the Absurd. Our current situation is almost absurd that it is funny. So funny it hurts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two journalists murdered

This is lifted from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility's (CMFR) blogsite, "Freedom Watch":

Two journalists shot down

In just a span of 60 hours, two journalists were gunned down in separate incidents in southern Luzon over the weekend.

Robert Ramos, tabloid reporter, and Ricardo Uy, a radio commentator and party-list leader, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the Laguna and Sorsogon provinces, last 20 and 18 November, respectively.

Ramos, who worked for the Laguna-based paper Katapat, was waiting for a ride near the newspaper’s office at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (20 Nov.) in Cabuyao town (less than 100 kilometers south of Manila) when two armed men onboard a motorcycle stopped in front of him. One of the BIKERS then pulled out a .38 caliber handgun and shot the victim twice in the head, killing him instantly, according to a report by the Inquirer News Service.

On the other hand, Uy, an announcer of radio station dxRS and provincial chairman of the party-list group Bayan Muna (Nation First), was on the steps of his home in Sorsogon City, around 500 kilometers south of Manila, when he was shot five times by an armed assailant, using a .45 pistol.

Uy was pronounced dead on arrival at the nearby Sorsogon Doctors Hospital, after sustaining gunshot wounds in the head, mouth, and torso. The gunman casually walked away towards a nearby bridge and boarded a red motorcycle driven by another unidentified man, according to a report by national daily The Philippine Star.

Read CMFR's entry.

Back to Kalye Juan and went home defeated (again)

I went back to Kalye Juan last November 19 – my third time to go to the resto, which offers great food that surprisingly cost relatively cheaper than the other chi-chi bars in Morato. I was hoping then that, together with CMFR colleagues Lara and Ate Carol, and my cousin Philip, we would be able to finally finish everything in our dishes (which I and Ate Carol failed to do so in our last two attempts).

Our mission: to finish 3 plates of Sisig (two pork and one tuna), one Salmon Sinigang sa Miso, one plate of Adobong Kangkong, and one plate of Dinamita with six cups of rice.

This, I am ashamed to say: that I failed again to finish the Pork Sisig, which I had been eagerly looking forward to.

I promised myself that on my next battle with Kalye Juan’s sisig, I’ll finally emerge as the victor. Haha.

At left is our appetizer, the Dinamita (breaded chilli peppers filled with cheese with mayo dip). You get like six pieces of Dinamita for P85.

Tuna Sisig costs P140. Pork Sisig costs the same as well.

The delicious Salmon Sinigang sa Miso is priced at P120.

Adobong Kangkong is only P65.

One happy customer.

I should't have taken too much of the refillable iced tea (P40). Naubos ko sana iyong sisig.

Kalye Juan is located in CKB Center, T. Morato corner Scout Rallos, Quezon City. Contact numbers: (+63 2) 376 2508 and (+63 917) 847 8744.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pinoy's coconet wins BBC World Challenge

And now, a bit of good news.

Remember the only Philippine entry to the BBC-Newsweek World Challenge contest, the Coconet? Well, this soil erosion control net made from waste coconut husk won the contest's first prize on November 17, besting other 11 finalists all over the world. The innovative product was among the 456 entries from 90 countries that joined the competition.

"Agricultural engineer Justino Arboleda of the Philippines won the first prize in the First World Challenge contest sponsored by BBC World television in London on Nov. 17 for his soil erosion control net or coconet," reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer on November 21.

Coconet was named as the best environmental grassroots project in the world, the Inquirer article added.

Here is a photograph of Mr. Arboleda, proudly showing his coconet. This photo appeared along with the Inquirer article.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

“Pinoy Ako” is actually “Penoy Akow”?

I am finally speaking after the “Pinoy Ako” controversy has pretty much watered down, although I am quite sure that the issue would still linger, primarily due to those rabid Orange and Lemons fans who would probably shoot anyone defaming their beloved band, and to those who wanted bands like Orange and Lemons to speak the truth behind the rip-off. Now that the radio stations and music channels are airing the band’s next single, let me state a few things before I finally move on.

A rip-off, period

To begin, I would like to reiterate what I posted earlier: “Pinoy Ako”, the song that catapulted Orange and Lemons to stardom, is a brazen rip-off from “Chandeliers”, a song of the defunct 80’s band The Care based in the United Kingdom. For those who staunchly defend Orange and Lemons, I dare them to actually listen to both songs. Why, even youngsters could tell that the chords and melody of both songs are practically the same!

But all you have to do is listen to both songs. You don’t have to be a music expert to know that “Pinoy Ako” was a “Chandeliers” rip-off. I am an avid listener of music, including new wave and rock music. Our band has performed mostly rock songs, particularly on the emo-punk and emo-core genres. But my limited knowledge of music says that “Pinoy Ako” was a second-rate, trying hard copycat of “Chandeliers”.

I already posted earlier on this issue, complete with audio files of “Pinoy Ako” and Chandeliers”. But here are the audio files of the two songs again, for those dismissing the issue outright as a black propaganda on the popular band and the skeptics out there who are too lazy or do not have the time to browse through my pages:

“Pinoy Ako” by Orange and Lemons
“Chandeliers” by The Care

I was able to have a link comparing the files at the same time. On the right speaker, you will hear the Care song, and on the left, the Pinoy version. Got this information from a new acquaintance, Pulp music magazine writer Giselle Roque:

“Chandeliers” and “Pinoy Ako” combined version 1

Another link combining the two songs:

“Chandeliers” and “Pinoy Ako” combined version 2

Several bloggers have tackled this rule as well, with some interesting findings. One such blogger is Alfie Vera Malla, who, according to his blog, is into New Wave (the Orange and Lemons said in their interviews that most of their influences came from 80’s or New Wave bands) and an Ian Broudie fan (Broudie was one half of The Care duo; Paul Simpson was the other). Malla said in his post that in his discussion with fellow new wave enthusiasts, “Pinoy Ako” was indeed a rip-off.

Alfie said: “As a fan of Care and as an enthusiast of Alternative Rock music for more than two decades now, I knew right away, upon first listen to the song in question, that it is not simply an accidental sound-alike of The Care’s ‘Chandeliers’, but that it is in fact a direct rip-off of this – something which the Orange and Lemons most likely thought would pass unnoticed because of The Care’s obscurity.”

He added: “In fact, even some friends who are not that much into music, more so Alternative Rock, after listening to both songs, did not find difficulty in passing judgment: ‘Both (songs) did sound uncannily alike’.” By the way, Alfie and Giselle are members of an e-group of New Wave musicians and enthusiasts. Alfie discussed the rip-off issue with the said e-group, with most of them concluding that indeed, “Pinoy Ako” was rip-off.

Another blogger wondered: “I wonder if the band Orange and Lemons realize that copyright infringement isn’t something to be proud of. She asked: “Anong sinasabi ng kantang ito? Na ipakita natin sa mundo na ang kaya lang ng Pinoy ay manggaya?”

“A part of me wants (Orange and Lemons) to get sued to teach them a lesson. A part of me feels sad that they had to resort to this to gain a foothold in the music industry. What had become of the local music industry?” another said.

Now, what are the arguments raised by Orange and Lemons in their defense?

The “seven-chord progression rule” defense

The foremost mantra taken by the band and fans was: The song did not violate the seven-chord progression rule, and therefore it did not plagiarize the Care song.

Alfie was able to find an article written by songwriter A-J Charron, who has written more than 60 articles for the Guitar Noise music website, who explained how to determine if a song plagiarized another. Taking Charron’s article in mind, I would say that, basing from the chord and melodic patterns of “Pinoy Ako”, the Orange and Lemons hit was a rip-off of the “Chandeliers” by The Care. Alfie also shares a similar view.

True, there are only a limited amount of notes and chords, and chances are, a song may sound similar to another. But “Pinoy Ako” was way too similar in The Care song in melody, chord pattern, and structure for comfort.

Giselle offers another rebuttal of the seven-chord progression defense of Orange and Lemons. She said in her email to me: “I hate to burst the bubble but the seven-chord progression rule, in landmark cases decided by foreign courts under the Intellectual Property Rights which have been in actual existence post- or pre-world war I (has proven to be) a flimsy defense since the pattern could be changed anytime by a fret or a half-note on the seventh note.

“Presently, under the eight-chord progression based on the drum and baseline, if the song or composition in question fails to change at the eighth base and drum progression then it is a vital requisite to be considered as a plagiarized material not discounting the facts of testimonies of credible witnesses and ‘scholars’ to that effect.

“This is what admittedly happened during the course of (the Orange and Lemons) song,” Giselle, who has been a music writer for Pulp since 2003 and a supporter of Filipino indie bands and OPM, explained.

Retorts, denials, explanation

I checked the interviews given by Orange and Lemons on the issue, and frankly, I could not understand their explanations. Talk about inconsistencies.

First, the band cried foul when they were accused of ripping off “Chandeliers”. In an article in the Manila Bulletin, the band said: “It saddens us because it’s unfair.” But they admitted that “perhaps” the “guitar intro part” was the reason why people think that “Pinoy Ako” was a rip-off. If you listen to most New Wave songs, almost all start with a guitar melody, the group said.

Well, maybe most New Wave songs probably started with a guitar melody, but definitely not all of them have guitar intro parts like “Chandeliers”! And besides, the similarities of both “Pinoy Ako” and “Chandeliers” did not stop at the intro part; it extended throughout the former, except for the chorus part which had some different chord and melodic patterns. I’m no New Wave guru, but I have yet to hear another New Wave song that sounded like “Chandeliers”, or any song for that matter. Well, save for “Pinoy Ako”.

In another Bulletin article written by Kate Villagomez also published on October 16, the band admitted to Giselle that they made the song “Carish”. In short, they know that The Care and “Chandeliers” exist, right? Why would they make the song “Carish” if they do not know that there is such a band called The Care?

Three days later, a Philippine Daily Inquirer article quoted vocalist and guitarist Clem Castro as saying: “We have no malicious intent. In fact, we’re not even aware that such songs (‘Chandeliers’) exist.”

Huh? Were Clem and the rest of his band taking crazy pills in their Bulletin and Inquirer interviews? Did they know that The Care and the song “Chandeliers” exist or not?

Ano ba talaga, mga kuya?

To further add insult to the injury, Clem was supposed to have said in the band’s e-group: “Eh ba’t kami magpapaalam? Magpasalamat pa nga ang The Care at pinasikat namin ang kanta nila.”

According to Giselle, the band admitted that they were pressured by ABS-CBN to compose a song for the then upcoming Pinoy Big Brother show, giving them only a few days to submit the song to the network’s bigwigs. Be that as it may, this does not mean that you could copy a song made by someone else. How would Orange and Lemons feel if one of their songs got plagiarized and they were not credited for it? The best thing that they could have done was asking for The Care’s permission to use the song. Or at least, they should have been decent enough to acknowledge the UK band early on, like other Filipino musicians did when they used songs of other musicians.

Some Orange and Lemons fans accuse me of crab mentality; that I am just riding on the band’s popularity. For you guys, I have three reasons: If only Orange and Lemons have been forthright about the rip-off and should have at least credited The Care for the song, then the issue would have died down easily. But, no, they have to wait for someone else to react, apparently thinking that nobody would notice the plagiarism anyway. I would not have known the issue too, had it not for the growing buzz on the rip-off and the band’s inconsistent stands on the controversy.

Second, why only “Pinoy Ako” when there were songs also ripped off by other Filipino musicians? “Pinoy Ako” was different from Session Road’s “Leaving You” and Cueshe’s “Stay” (songs also accused of ripping off songs from foreign bands) primarily because it talks about our pride as Filipinos. That, hey! We should be proud as Pinoys. As Giselle said in her email to me, “Cueshe, Session Road, etc. may not be getting much attention because their songs dealt with corporeal, if not, things which do not appeal to a Filipino’s sense of patriotism. However, Orange and Lemons’s song just hit “X” on the spot because it appeals to Filipino pride in general.”

And lastly, why would I engage in a black propaganda against Orange and Lemons? I love Filipino music, and I know the hard efforts of local indie bands to make more people listen to their songs. I do not personally know the guys from Orange and Lemons, aside from the fact that they are my fellow Bulakenyos. I was even a fan of the band. And then “Pinoy Ako” came along. When rumors about the rip-off started, I initially said that it was also a malicious attack against the band. When I heard the “Chandeliers”, my initial stand crumbled.

I promised myself and to my friends that this would be my last post on the controversy. If I would ever break my promise to write on this again, hopefully my post would be on the resolution of the issue. I pray that the issue would end with The Care properly credited for their song Orange and Lemons blatantly plagiarized, and the Pinoy copycat apologizing for misleading the public over the brouhaha.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Can't wait to see this

Yes. Like almost everybody else, I am also a huge Harry Potter fan. In fact I am planning to watch the fourth film in the Harry Potter series on Saturday.

Meanwhile, for those who are waiting to see the film, below is a review of the fourth installment from Yahoo.

Two and a half stars out of four? Hmmm, not bad eh?

Review: 'Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire'

If the third film in the Harry Potter series, last year's "Prisoner of Azkaban," seemed frightening with its soul-sucking Dementors and its German expressionist aesthetic, then the fourth installment, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," will have kids quaking in their seats and perhaps wishing they had an invisibility cloak to hide beneath.

This "Potter" earns its PG-13 rating a first for the previously PG series about the boy wizard as Harry grows into adolescence and learns more about his powers and his past. Of course, young fans have already devoured the J.K. Rowling books that provide the basis for the films, so they know what's coming. (The author is up to No. 6 out of seven planned.) But reading it on the page and seeing it on the screen can be two entirely different experiences, and several scenes will be disturbing to viewers regardless of age.

Read here for more.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A serious blow to the much-vaunted press freedom in the Philippines

Is the country really creeping back to another authoritarian rule?

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on November 4 to remove from its blogsite a post last August 12 on the background information and credibility of Jonathan Tiongco, the "audio expert" who was presented on the same day by Environment Secretary Michael Defensor in a forum questioning the authenticity of the "Hello Garci" tapes.

"This is the first legal action, and the first TRO, issued against a blog in the Philippines," according to PCIJ in its post on the issue.

For more information about the issue, read the post in the PCIJ blog.

Is the administration that desperate?

This is a serious blow to the freedom of the press in the country. Do people still remember that we have Article III, Section IV in our present Constitution that guarantees the freedom of the press?

Article III, Section IV states that "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."

The TRO also gives us a peek of the government would view blog sites in the near future.The Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres) a Paris-based global press freedom advocacy group, identifies bloggers as the “new heralds of free expression” and the blogs “vanguard of new information revolution.” What would be the effect of the TRO in the local blogosphere? Would you blame me for thinking that the government would try to pressure blogs to tone down, if not stop anti-GMA posts? Would a court ruling banning the "Hello, Garci" tapes be that far behind?


Thursday, November 03, 2005

The 14th Lopez Jaena Journalism Fellows

I know this information is a bit late. Sorry. This is an update of what I posted earlier. Twenty journalists and journalism educators were named fellows of the 14th Lopez Jaena Journalism Workshop on Media and Gender Sensitivity. The workshop ran from October 23 to 29 at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP CMC).The fellows were:

For more information about the fellows or the program, check Sir Danny's latest post on the subject.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Killings, attacks, threats continue to hound Philippine press

The latest issue of the i Report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (November-December 2005 edition) carried a story written by Ma’am Vinia on the case of Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent for the Southern Luzon region Melinda “Mei” Magsino-Lubis. Lubis has been hiding for more than three months now after her stories on alleged irregularities in the Batangas provincial capital involving Gov. Armando C. Sanchez had angered Sanchez, said to be one of the biggest jueteng operators in the country. Lubis had to leave her family and five-hectare mahogany farm in Batangas in July after a police source told her that two convicts from the provincial jail had been released to find and kill her.

Lubis’ story reminded me of the state of journalist killings in the country, which the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has been monitoring since 1991, aside from other threats to and attacks against press freedom. The high number of journalists killed in the line of duty since 1986 (54 as of the present CMFR count), when our democratic institutions following the Marcos dictatorship have supposedly been restored, prompts one to ask: Is the Philippine press really free?

CMFR did a recent study on the journalist killings, focusing on the 25 journalists that have been murdered since 2000. It presented the findings of the study to the media on September 6 (In case you want to know, the press coverage of the CMFR study was anything but accurate, as noted in a PJR Reports monitor).

Among the findings were:

- Most of those killed were community journalists;
- TV and radio broadcasters were more vulnerable to attack;
- Other factors show the weaknesses of the press as an institution, such as the lack of institutional identification/credentials on the part of the broadcasters, the lack of education and formal training in journalism, among others.
- The failure of owners to supervise broadcast press responsibility

In the study, CMFR reiterated that no single solution could solve the cycle of violence and impunity against journalists. While it emphasized the “freedom of speech and press should never be penalized except through the course of libel, slander, or organizational sanctions imposed in line with self-regulation,” CMFR enumerated ways in how to strengthen the press against press freedom violators. These were:

- Safety training undertaken by newsrooms
- Strong legal defense with coordination from law enforcement agencies and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
- Ethics training and Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas accreditation
- Strengthening the Philippine Press Council (PPC) of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and the regional press councils in Baguio, Cebu, and Palawan as venues of complaints against the press. In his article, “The Press and the Public: Words, not Guns, Please,” published in the June 2005 issue of the PJR Reports, PPC chair Gary Mariano noted the potential of a strong PPC in solving complaints against the press. With an invigorated PPC, he said, the real winners will be the journalists. “Journalists with fewer libel cases because grievances are quickly settled at the Council. Journalists remaining free because legislative threats are preempted by effective self regulation. And journalists staying alive, yet fighting as ever, because complainants do not escalate beyond an exchange of e-mails or faxes.”

I met Mei Lubis when she went to the office telling her case. Her story reflected the difficulties community journalists have to face in reporting the truth in their communities. I just hope she won’t be the 55th.

By the way, check out the upcoming November issue of the PJR Reports. Mei is our writer for the issue’s “Back Page” section, telling us her story.

And the truth shall be bought?

I can’t believe that The Philippine Star did not have a report on October 15 about the previous day’s “canonization” of those in the Mendiola prayer rally. Excuse me, Star, but is your pro-GMA slip showing?

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) took note of the press coverage of the said prayer rally led by three Catholic bishops of the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya. (A small note: The CMFR monitor on the October 14 rally is just a part of a more comprehensive monitor of the coverage of the rallies amid the government’s controversial “calibrated preemptive response” (“CPR”) policy which will be on the November issue of the PJR Reports.)
The rally was attended by prominent anti-Arroyo personalities such as former Vice-Pres. Teofisto Guingona, activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, and TV host Oscar Orbos. To me and gazillions of people out there, the “water-dousing” incident should be the biggest story the next day. Whether the paper is for or against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo does not matter. The news elements in the hosed-down prayer rally are pretty much obvious for it to land in the front pages on October 15.

While the rest of the papers were feasting over the latest rally to brush against the government’s notorious “CPR” policy, the Star, apparently, was not interested. From cover to cover, there was no report on the dispersal anywhere in the Star’s October 15 issue. Not even a small, itsy-bitsy news bullet in the paper’s Metro page. To think that Star is considered a major paper, one of the so-called “Big Three.” Why, even the conservative Manila Bulletin had its front-page report on the incident! Hello, Star?

At left are the top three papers' front pages on October 15.

According to the CMFR monitor, text messages pertaining to Star’s snubbing of the October 14 rally instantly circulated. The text message circulating said that the paper had been “bought” by the Palace to keep mum over the incident. The Star should be boycotted, the message said.

Interestingly, Star publisher Max V. Soliven also got the same message. In his October 18 column, he said that he was in Europe when the incident happened and got embarrassed when he found out that his paper did not have a story on it on October 15. He called up his editors for an explanation, Soliven said. “The following day, a day too late, was a follow-up headline: ‘Guingona III: Rally dispersal form of tyranny, oppression’,” he wrote. At least Soliven was correct in saying that it was a day too late for his paper to publish the incident.

What was his reaction to the critical text message he got? “Oh well. Those who believe that stupid canard must already be readers of the other newspapers anyway. Truth will prevail, as our masthead says. No more excuses.”


Friday, October 21, 2005

Blogging conference for journalists

I was invited by Sir Alecks P. Pabico of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) to attend a conference they organized on blogging for journalists tomorrow, October 22. The conference, “Journalists as Bloggers,” will be held in The Linden Suites in Pasig City.

About 60 journalists from the mainstream media, bloggers and non-bloggers alike, will attend the event and discuss insights on the relatively new medium of blogs.

Among the speakers are some of the prominent names in journalism -- Sir Alecks, news anchor Ricky Carandang, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s John Nery, Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas, and journalism professor Rachel E. Khan of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication. Ma'am Rachel is also our deputy director.

The one-day activity will discuss issues of law, ethics, and corporate policy affecting blogging, and the impact and directions of journalism in the country in the Internet age.

The conference happens a few weeks after Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a global press freedom watchdog, launched a handbook for bloggers. Entitled “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissidents,” it is primarily a guide for those who want not only in setting up a blog but in using it as a tool to fight censorship in their countries while remaining safe and free from government control.

The guide identifies bloggers as the “new heralds of free expression” and the “vanguard of new information revolution.”

Can't wait to be in this event.

Ripping off the rip-off "Pinoy Ako"

The Orange and Lemons rip-off affair has taken several turns and twists a few days after I did my initial post on the issue. Will take them up in a future post (as soon as I finish with the November issue of the PJR Reports).

Meanwhile, here's the newest version of "Pinoy Ako" from Toothpick of Pulp Community. Saw this version too in Rickey's Blog from someone who commented on his post, but I'm using Toothpick's version.

Ripping off another rip-off, here's the song.

Pinoy Ba Ako?
By Ponkan and Calamansi

Lahat tayo ay naging biktima
sa dinig pa lang ay malalaman na
di man ito kagustuhan
ngunit ito ang katotohanan

Original na lyrics ang hanap ko
magbibigay ng paghalaga sayo
Nais mo bang ipakilala
kung sino ka ngang talaga

Pinoy ikaw ay Pinoy
ipakita sa mundo
kung anong ginaya mo
Nahihiyang Pinoy
Wag kang mang gagaya
maging original ka
Pinoy ako Pinoy tayo

Pakita mo ang tunay kung sino ka
wag kang umasa lang sa iba
Kailangan ay perpekto basta ito ay totoo

Original na lyrics ang hanap ko
magbibigay ng paghalaga sayo
Nais mo bang ipakilala
kung sino ka ngang talaga

Pinoy ikaw ay Pinoy
ipakita sa mundo
kung anong ginaya mo
Nahihiyang Pinoy
Wag kang mang gagaya
maging original ka
Pinoy ako Pinoy tayo

Talagang ganyan ang buhay
Wag tayong masanay
walang ring mangyayari kung
kung laging nakikigaya

Wag ipagmalaki ang sarili
kung ito ay yong gawain
“Ang Lagi mong Iisipin
Kayang Kopyahin”

Pinoy ikaw ay Pinoy
ipakita sa mundo
kung anong ginaya mo
Nahihiyang Pinoy
Wag kang mang gagaya
maging original ka
Pinoy ako Pinoy tayo

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Orange and Lemons' "Pinoy Ako," a rip-off

I like the Orange and Lemons band. Not because they're also Bulakeños, but because they offer a fresh and vibrant sound amid the melange of rock and pseudo-rock bands (mostly of the pogi-rock-band type) currently lording over the local music scene. When the group came out with "Hanggang Kailan," I instantly became a fan.

Their second hit for me is better than the first one. It has the right ingredients for a follow-up hit: Quite-poppy-but-catchy melody, nice lyrics, and a cool band image. Not to mention that this is the theme song of the hit ABS-CBN reality show "Pinoy Big Brother." But, I'd like to think that "Pinoy Ako" is a hit because it is about having a sense of pride as a Filipino.

A few weeks ago, there were news reports that the Orange and Lemons hit is a rip-off from a foreign group. A Manila Bulletin report on the issue carried the denial of band member Clem who said that "Pinoy Ako" is different from the song "Chandelier," an original song of the UK-based 80's band The Care. A representative of the Star Records, which released the group's song, said that Orange and Lemons may have been influenced by the new wave group but the former did not copy their song. Initially, I didn't give a damn about the issue. I thought maybe someone was trying to pull down Orange and Lemons. And besides, I do not know The Care, so I can't really compare if Orange and Lemons did copy one of The Care's songs.

I was browsing the popular blogsite recently, and lo and behold, he also wrote about the issue. He even got the mp3 files of the two songs in contention (and for that I salute you, Mr. Rickey!). Here are his links to download the files:

Pinoy Ako - Orange and Lemons

Chandelier - The Care

After hearing both songs, I'm convinced. Orange and Lemons copied the melody of "Chandelier." Why, for an unsuspecting listener, "Pinoy Ako" could even pass as the Tagalog version of The Care original! The songs do not have the same lyrics, but eerily, have almost the same melody, except for the chorus part.

Someone commented in the post on the rip-off issue who said that there are other alleged rip-off cases earlier this year.

The hit "Leaving You" of another good group, Session Road, was a rip-off from the "Garmonbozia" song of the US-based band Superdrag. Actually, I've heard this rumor before in Pulp Community, but I did not have the Superdrag song back then.

And the second case was the more recent hit "Stay" of the pogi-rock band Cueshe. It was allegedly copied from a song of the Australian grunge band Silverchair entitled "The Greatest View."

I looked for these foreign songs in Limewire (I already have "Leaving You" and "Stay" in my music folder) and fortunately, they are available. Too bad, I can't upload the mp3 files here in my blog (unless has uploading features that I do not know) but if you want a copy, just give me a pm on my yahoo messenger id -- deadlynecromancer.

And oh, my conclusion: "Leaving You" is indeed a rip-off! "Leaving You" unabashedly copied the melody of "Garmonbozia." The melody of both songs are almost the same, even in the chorus part. The melody of the two songs are so similar that you would think Session Road and Superdrag are the same (well, maybe except on the vocalist, since Session Road's vox is a female and Superdrag's a guy).

Compared with how Session Road ripped off "Garmonbozia" and turned it into "Leaving You," you'll only notice the similarity between "Stay" and "The Greatest View" on the chorus part, where the tune in both are similar. But, "The Greatest View" is edgier and harder in guitar riffs and drum beats compared with "Stay," aside from the fact that Silverchair's Daniel Johns has a much wider vocal range than the two cutesy vocalists of Cueshe. So, I don't think "Stay" is a rip-off from "The Greatest View." This is where I can accept the argument that maybe Cueshe is "inspired" by Silverchair.

Going back to Orange and Lemons, I profess that I am not a music expert, but as an avid music enthusiast and a band member, I dare say: "Pinoy Ako," the song that tells Filipinos to show to the whole wide world that we are proud as Pinoys, was a blatant rip-off. How ironic.

Download the files. Judge for yourself. And tell me your thoughts about the issue. It doesn't matter if we agree or not.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Gangsta wannabe

Ang init e!

Goodbye, Sir Ivan (part II)

Saw the Cebu Daily News and Philippine Daily Inquirer report on Sir Ivan's death. The 43-year-old editor in chief died following a delicate heart operation. According to the Cebu Daily News, he "underwent surgery for an aortic dissecting aneurysm after suffering a stroke on Aug. 31."

"He turned out to be the best editor in chief among us," the Cebu Daily News report quoted publisher and acting editor in chief Eileen Mangubat as saying.

"Cebu Journalism: The People and the Times," a publication published in 2004 by Sun.Star Cebu, also one of Cebu's top papers (and who also reported on his death), featured the prominent Cebu-based journalists today and of the past. Included in the list was Sir Ivan.

Explaing in the publication why he loved newsroom work despite its chaos, Suansing compared it to his favorite game, chess. "I often have to make quick decisions under time pressure," said Sir Ivan, who was the 1985 UP Diliman chess champion and former member of the UP varsity team.

Here is his picture in the publication.

Bye, Sir Ivan. Thank you for the kindness, the good words, the good reports. Rest now. For you have played your game well.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Goodbye, Sir Ivan

I first met Cebu Daily News editor in chief Ivan Suansing at the Journalism Asia 2003 Forum held by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in Bali, Indonesia. He was my roommate. Since it was the first time I met him, I wasn't really that enthusiastic talking to him. Of course, it didn't help too that Sir Ivan was silent and serious most of the time, or at least that was my first impression of him. Our conversations were basic, like the things we were doing in the office or the activities that we had in the forum. Fortunately, we became friends after the forum and personally, I was thankful for knowing a great journalist like Sir Ivan.

We met again months later in a forum-workshop (again sponsored by the CMFR) on media and access to information and corruption in Davao City. He was more friendly on our second meeting, maybe because he knew me from the Bali conference, and that Davao City was like Cebu for him -- him being familiar with the place and the local press community. I didn't get surprised when he knew a lot of people from the CMFR forum (CMFR invited many participants in the Visayas and Mindanao regions).

The Davao forum, which lasted for three days, was memorable to me because for two nights, almost right after the day-long sessions, both I and Sir Ivan went out with some of our fellow participants, drinking and enjoying the city. Grabe pala si Sir Ivan! Mas masaya at maingay 'pag umiinom! Fun, those two nights. My Davao sojourn would have been duller had it not for Sir Ivan.

That was why when CMFR held a forum in Cebu (on press freedom protection) last year, I was looking forward to meet Sir Ivan again, and we almost met -- had it not for a last-minute article that he was working on on the night we were supposed to meet. Too bad. But I knew he was the editor in chief of Cebu Daily News, one Cebu's top papers. And a hardworking editor in chief at that.

I first knew about Sir Ivan's illness last month, when Cebu Daily News publisher Ma'am Eileen Mangubat told us that Sir Ivan was to go under the knife. Upon receiving Ma'am Eilieen's email, we hoped that Sir Ivan would survive the operation and get well soon.

This morning, my colleague Nathan told me that our former editor (and now the Philippine Daily Inquirer reader's advocate) Lorna Kalaw Tirol called the office to say that Sir Ivan died. The details are still sketchy -- I am still not sure what his illness was or if he died during or after his 10-hour operations.

Goodbye, Sir Ivan. Thanks for all the good memories.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Angelo de la Cruz, erstwhile media darling, loses job

I was quite shocked when columnist Federico D. Pascual Jr. of The Philippine Star wrote last September 20 that former Iraqi hostage Angelo de la Cruz lost his job as a rockloading operator that the government, through labor secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, had arranged for him at Clark Field.

Pascual said in his article, "Angelo, GMA's favorite truck driver, now jobless": "Remember Angelo dela Cruz, the truck driver whose kidnapping in Iraq led to the early pullout of a Philippine military-police contingent from that war-torn country in 2004 and soured the Arroyo administration's relations with the White House?

"Angelo is now jobless.... From a daredevil driver in the Middle East and later rockloader at Clark, the 48-year-old father of eight from Mexico town is now down to being an occasional jeepney driver plying the Angeles-Magalang route."

Is this the same De la Cruz who, just a few months ago, was the object of a much-frenzied and criticized press coverage?

At the height of the Angelomania, I recalled traveling to De la Cruz's Pampanga hometown, Buenavista, in time for his return to reunite with his family and townmates. And boy, did media spare nothing and no one in its coverage! As I noted in my article in the inaugural issue of the PJR Reports, "Overnight... the village became a media battleground, with journalists, camera persons, and photographers staking out the area, hounding Angelo's relatives, friends, and neighbors. The result was media overkill, and a public drowning in a sea of information overload. A reader or viewer could not be faulted if all s/he could recall afterward was the picture of the De la Cruzes' pet dog rather than the reason for the kidnapping."

Later, with the media limelight away from him, Angelo tried returning to his normal life. But with his current problem, I won't wonder if he wants to return to Iraq, even if it means risking his life again.

Monday, September 19, 2005

30 fellowships open for 14th Lopez Jaena Journalism Workshop in October

Got this information from Sir Danny Arao's blogsite. I don't know if the application deadline was actually last September 16. Anyway, I just wished many practitioners applied for the workshop.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Department of Journalism, in coordination with the UP Center for Women’s Studies (CWS), will hold the 14th Lopez Jaena Journalism Workshop from October 23 to 29 at the UP College of Mass Communication, Diliman, Quezon City.

Thirty fellowship slots are available for this workshop. Applications are open to full-time print, broadcast and online journalists and journalism educators.

The workshop will focus on Media and Gender Sensitivity in observance of the 100th year of the feminist movement in the Philippines. The Asociacion Feminista Filipina, the first “formal organization” of women, was founded on June 30, 1905 by Concepcion Felix. Last April 29, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 622 declaring 2005 the centennial year for the Philippine feminist movement.

Resource persons from the academe and women’s groups will speak on gender-related issues like ethical guidelines; sexism in language, media and advertising; and news, feature and investigative reporting in a gender-fair manner.

Applicants should be currently engaged in the journalism profession and/or journalism educators with at least two years’ working experience. They must submit an application letter; resume; two published/broadcast news reports; a story plan for an investigative report on a gender-related issue in their locality; and an endorsement from their editor, local press club president, a Lopez Jaena Journalism Workshop alumnus, or their school dean or president.

The fellowship will cover board and lodging. Participants will be billeted at the University Hotel inside the Diliman campus. Due to limited funds, however, they will have to shoulder their travel expenses.

Interested journalists and journalism educators may send their application papers to The Project Director, Lopez Jaena Journalism Workshop on Media and Gender Sensitivity, College of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

The deadline for applications is on September 16, 2005.

For more details, please call Prof. Danilo A. Arao (Chair, UP CMC Department of Journalism) or Ms. Raquelita C. Bacarra (department secretary) at 920-6852 or 981-8500 local 2672 or email

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Too bad. We are currently finishing our articles for the September-October issue of the PJR Reports. So, my posts have to wait. 'Kakahiya, especially now that we have a new editor.

Speaking about posts, could anyone tell me why my first posts (which were in August) do not appear in the August link of my "archive" section? When I check the "edit posts" section, my first posts are there, but strangely, when I check my August posts, no links to these posts!

Some help, please?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dashboard rules!

'Nuff said.

Video provided by VideoCodes4U

Sick, sick political system

I read with disgust the latest report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) on how government funds, including those from the agriculture department, were used to finance President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's candidacy in the last elections.

Nothing can be truer than what PCIJ had said in its report: "While Congress has been busy looking into allegations that jueteng lord Bong Pineda contributed P300 million to the Arroyo campaign, far less attention has so far been devoted to charges that the President's biggest donor was actually the Filipino taxpayer."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

And that's the way the ball falls into the side pocket

For some time now, one of my favorite hobbies has been playing billiards. Sure, I may not be a great player, compared with my cousins Rjhay or Philip (whom I am also urging to blog) or in-laws Fernan or Vijay. I am even the first one who'll admit to that. Still, I love it, especially when the gang's present, taking turns in playing at Charcoal.

Usually we play nine-ball, although sometimes we do eight-ball or "killers." If you're in Charcoal, playing billiards is the best way to let time pass by without getting bored, especially if the place is ultra-packed, and you can't find a table for you to sit, drink, and relax for a while.

Friday, August 26, 2005

On Morato, and eating

I always like going to Morato. It's like everytime you go there, you see new restaurants, new establishments, new hangouts. So, when Ate Carol and I went to Morato last Wednesday to meet NUJP's Jose Torres and PCIJ's Baby for breakfast, I was kind of thrilled. I was even the earliest to arrive in our meeting place (Contrary to popular misconception, I am always on time for my meetings)! Not because I'm meeting Sir Joe and Ma'am Baby (not that I don't want to meet them on the other hand), but because I'm looking forward to eat and feel the ambiance of two restaurants that I haven't gone before -- Heaven and Eggs and Kalye ni Juan. We were to meet Sir Joe in Heaven and Eggs then go to the nearby Kalye ni Juan for a lunch with Ma'am Baby.

Actually, I could not say anything about Heaven and Eggs aside from the fact they have nice interior surroundings ("walls are painted like the sky," says one online fan), that their cappuccino was okay, and that their service was slow (well, at least when we went). Too bad, we weren't able to order anything other than our coffees. I didn't try some of the resto's specialties, like the salt and pepper porkribs with yang chow rice or Asian shrimp poppers, among the culinary greats Malaya said in a report on the resto.

It was a different story when Ate Carol and I met Ma'am Baby. After two coffee servings, Sir Joe left us, apparently busy preparing for his US travel (his prize for being this year's Ninoy Aquino Fellow for Journalism). So, we paid our bill and went to Kalye Juan.

I was amazed by the resto's array of dishes. Actually, I didn't mind all the dishes, only one thing mattered that time: There's SISIG! Avowed sisig fans that we are, both Ate Carol and I ordered it for lunch. While waiting for Ma'am Baby to come, we had Dinamita (breaded chilli peppers filled with cheese with mayo dip... yum!) as our starter. Ma'am Baby, on her way to Kalye Juan, texted us to order for her deep fried hito.

And we were never wrong in ordering sisig. It filled our week-long crave for that sinful delight, lustily eating our sisig (honestly, our tummies were so full we brought what was left of our sisig to the office and ate it 3 hours later). The name of my dessert momentarily slipped my mind, but as far as I can remember, it was Kalye Juan's version of the delicacy ginumis (I did get that right, right Ate Carol?). Our lunch with Ma'am Baby, who frequents Kalye Juan, was quite an experience.

I think the guys in the office could go in those two restos sometime and taste not just the coffee and sisig.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Media and Mindanao

How do the media view Mindanao? Are reports on Mindanao focus on terrorism? Do news stories about the people in Mindanao mostly pertain to the likes of Abu Sayyaf Gang? A workshop organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) will address such issues.

Titled "Looking for Peace in Mindanao: What is Media's Role?," the seminar-workshop was organized by the KBP, the national association of broadcasting companies in the country, in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and UNESCO. The event will be on August 27 at the Mergrande Ocean Resort, in Talomo District, Davao City. Participants will be radio and television broadcasters in areas affected by the conflict, specifically, Cotabato, Davao, Lanao, and Zamboanga.

For more info, check KBP's website or call (63 2) 892-5129.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A new business daily?

While we were having our dose of coffee at Heaven and Eggs in Morato earlier, a friend and fellow journalist told me that a new Manila-based business daily will come out next month, with former Today editor in chief Lourdes "Chuchay" Molina Fernandez at the helm. The paper, according to my reliable pal, will be composed of mostly ex-Today staffers and will be known as the Business Mirror.

Well, if this is indeed true, I hope that the paper will last, given the public's need for more economic reports that go beyond the usual take on statistics, or mentioning catchwords such as GNP or tariff rates without bothering to explain these terms at all. Hopefully, the former Today people would find a home in Business Mirror, including Ma'am Chuchay who left the Manila Standard Today just as soon as the two papers, Today and Manila Standard, merged.

By the way, PJR Reports previously did a story on the merger of the two papers, and the issues that arose from the union.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A dangerous president

I'm currently doing a monitor on how the media covered the recent media blitz-cum-image makeover of President Gloria Arroyo for the next issue of the PJR Reports (formerly known as the Philippine Journalism Review). Vergel O. Santos, our consulting editor and chair of board of advisers of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, reacted on Arroyo's July 27 press conference in the August issue of the PJR Reports. In his well-written article, the veteran journalistm, who is presently writing a column for the Businessworld, said:

"Televised nationwide, the press conference was over in about 30 minutes, but it has left enough stink to last perhaps an entire presidential term. Yet, the more worrisome aspects lie beyond the stink. They suggest a dangerously insecure and self-righteous president—one who would control her environment and one who would readily appropriate God for her cause. The first tendency showed in the scripted proceedings and captive audiences in Congress during her State of the Nation Address and at her press conference; the second was betrayed by her own chilling words.

During her press conference alone, she must have mentioned God being good to her at least three times. Before that, she had been content with having His earthly representative, the pope, for her patron—John Paul II, specifically, who, according to her, had himself told her she was his choice as Philippine president. But of course, when she made the claim, John Paul had become too dead to confirm or deny it. God, on the other hand, is too mysterious in His ways to be helpful Himself.

Obviously, in any case, President Arroyo’s controlled environment would have no place for an independent press. After all, an independent press regards skepticism as a virtue and government as an adversary; it also does not stop asking questions until it is told the truth; and it leaves God well enough alone."

Very well said.

Additional call for the Coconet

I may be a padawan in the blogosphere, but I know for a fact that writer Julian Alejandro's Piercing Pens is among the most-read and active sites today. Our little call for everyone out there to support the Philippine entry in the BBC-Newsweek World Challenge website will at least be given the much-needed additional exposure. Read his post on the call.

Go, coconets, go!

Here is an email from Pia, a friend from a previous workshop.

I've already placed my vote, so I hope you'd do the same and pass this to your friends. Let's help our country win through our online support :) - Pia


Please check out the BBC-Newsweek World Challenge website and vote for the Philippines' entry, Coconets. (Only one vote per person is allowed.)

Coconets is produced by a Philippine company that was nominated and subsequently selected to be one of the 12 finalists for the BBC-Newsweek World Challenge contest. This is a search for the project which has contributed the greatest impact at a grassroots level.

There will be a documentary about the Philippine coconut geotextile/coconet industry which will be shown on the BBC World cable channel several times between September and October (one broadcast will be on September 24th, 8:30 GMT). The finalists will be featured in a special issue of Newsweek coming out on August 29th.

The World Challenge competition offers the possibility of tremendous exposure and publicity to the flourishing Philippine coconut geotextile industry and to our Philippine coconut fiber exporters.

Please help campaign for more votes by forwarding this message to our other co-workers, and to your friends and relatives. Thank you very much in advance.

I visited the site and saw the actual contest and the entries. Let's help the only Philippine entry. It won't take 5 minutes of your time. Let's show our support to our kababayans who have done a great service to the country by thinking and doing things such as these delightful coconets.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


A severe case of narcissism? Not really. Just a bunch of guys going gaga over our latest techie gadget, the digicam.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A friendly what?

In a Past Life...

You Were: A Friendly Mathematician.

Where You Lived: New Guinea.

How You Died: Dysentery.

Who, me? A friendly mathematician? Hahahaha. Yeah right. I might be friendly (to some) but a mathematician? I know I'm not that dumb in Math, but for me to be a mathematician by profession is like telling Mount Mayon is a greeny and sleepy hill in Bicol. I mean, I like math, but I never saw myself giving full-time devotion to cosines, logarithmic functions, and integral calculus. The dysentery part could have been truer.

Coincidentally, earlier, Prof. Elena Pernia was giving a short refresher course on content analysis to the staff. Initially, I thought Ma'am Pernia was only giving some general concepts but, surprise!, we were given an exercise to actually try some of the things we learned from her 2-hour lecture. Using the articles in the "Chronicle" section of the PJR Reports, we are to measure the diversity of the articles. By that I mean the degree of diversity of sources and their number, and the position of the reports. The analysis would include the use of statistical methods, like the strangely-named Simpson's D and D2 formulas (and I'm not kidding here). The formulas, especially the D2 version, would basically say the probability of two articles belonging to one category. For example, if you're doing a content analysis of articles based on geographical location, say Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, and you get .8923 for Luzon-based articles, you have an 89.23 percent probability that two randomly-picked articles would be on Luzon. At least that's what I understand from the session. Oh, and there's more. Simpson's D is the sum of the squared proportions and subract from 1 while D2 could be solved by dividing the sum of the squared proportions by (1-1/k) before subtracting from 1. Talk about "mental ambush."

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the lecture in general. I guess a little math dose would kick my ass not to stop learning.

Including the new world of blogging. Hello, sunshine.
Blog directory