Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gary Granada vs. GMA Kapuso
This is a recording of Gary Granada, a Filipino singer-songwriter, airing his complaint about how he was abused by some of the powers-that-be from GMA-7 Network.

(Note to Bogs and other compo.majors ... don't listen to this if you're in a bad mood... kasi lalo kang ma-ba-bad mood)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Foundation For A Better Life
What a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL site! You'll never want to leave. Each exhilirating story, each uplifting video, is so well made. This has got to be one of the inspiring sites out there.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Self-Regulation: A Repost from the Philippine Star



It was every professional journalist’s nightmare: bloggers taking over a story, running it without the facts, twisting it with the standard emotions of the moment, and, soon enough, a lynching mob set loose on cyberspace.

After that bizarre brawl the day after Christmas at the Valley Golf Club, the first recounting of the incident on the internet was done by a party to the incident. Bambee de la Paz’s version of the incident involving members of her family and the Pangandamans, was hysterical, agitated, foul-mouthed and, and subsequent investigation of the affair proved, grossly inaccurate.

Grossly inaccurate is, in fact, an understatement. She attributed to Sec. Nasser Pangandaman a statement seeping with hubris: Kilala mo ba ako?

As every witness to the event testified, it was not the Agrarian Reform secretary who made that statement. It was made by Delfin de la Paz as he poked Pangandaman’s son with an umbrella. This was after the younger Pangandaman graciously allowed the de la Paz’s to overtake them on the course.

Bloggers of every stripe were soon on the case, none with any careful inquiry into what actually happened. They took Bambee de la Paz’s version of what happened hook, line and sinker. All of them were entrapped in the powerful narrative of the powerful inflicting themselves on the powerless.

Soon, that standard narrative flowed out of cyberspace and spilled into the old media. Broadcasters and newspaper commentators were soon echoing the Bambee line and crucifying the Pangandamans.

It was bad enough that there was so much irresponsibility in the blogs. What was worse was when journalists echoed the unverified version on the blogs and jumped on the case with the same gross irresponsibility. Indeed, with the same unrestrained commentary that used to be the domain only of the most obnoxious bloggers.

Last week, the Valley Golf Club released its decision on the incident after careful investigation of all the witnesses. The conclusion reached was that the unseemly brawl in the golf course was caused by Delfin de la Paz and aggravated by his children.

The de la Paz family was banned from the course for life. Secretary Pangandaman’s two sons were likewise banned. The Secretary himself, a member of that golf club, was suspended for two years because his guests were involved in the brawl.

Most golfers agree with the wisdom of the Valley Golf Club’s decision.

The first time I heard about the incident and read the first commentaries on the internet, including Bambee de la Paz’s, I felt there was something odd about the initial version of what happened. As a golfer myself, I know that there is really no way a flight of players playing in front could possibly aggravate the flight behind them. It is the flight behind that could aggravate the ones in front: which is by hitting balls before the fairway was clear.

Hitting balls while the fore players were still within range is the most indecent thing a golfer could do on the course. It is not only impolite. It is dangerous. Golf balls hit from the tee could maim or even kill a player on the fairway.

As the investigation did reveal, the de la Pazes hit balls at the Pangandamans. That act alone merits suspension at the very least. Pangandaman Jr., instead of complaining about the indecency of the de la Pazes in fact allowed them to play through. But instead of thanking Pangandaman Jr. for the gracious act, Delfin de la Paz verbally assaulted them and then poked an umbrella.

I played Nasser Pangandaman several times. He is a low key person and is a happy golfer if there ever was one. Bambee’s inaccurate version of what happened was entirely out of character.

On the other hand, many golfers and a few golf course employees I have talked to felt that Valley Golf Club’s findings about Delfin de la Paz’s reported behavior was completely in character. The fellow apparently has not endeared himself to caddies and other players.

Going back to the issue I began with: in the light of Valley Golf Club’s findings, some of the journalists who had joined the bandwagon of hate against the Pangandamans have gone on record apologizing for coming on the case without the facts. Some apologized in their columns, others on a number of broadcast programs.

What I have not seen is a single ranting blogger from that lynching mob on the internet writing an apology for arriving at wrong conclusions in the absence of the facts.

In the “old” media, there are mechanisms in place that restrain professional journalists from going on an irresponsible binge. They may be imperfect mechanisms, but they are there. Anyone unfairly treated has some avenue of recourse.

To deserve their freedoms, the “old” media has mechanisms of self-regulation in addition to the code of ethics journalists are expected by their peers to live by. When, as in the Valley golf case, journalists and commentators were clearly misled, they apologize.

There is also the rule of equal space. Journalists as a matter of standard procedure should try to get the other party’s version of events. Or else, they are entitled to equal airing of their side when the main story if slanted to favor one side.

There are no such mechanism of restraint in “blogosphere.” Most of the bloggers hide under pseudonyms and are not answerable to editorial boards. Some have taken this as a license for irresponsible commentary.

But that should no be the case. The citizens of cyberspace should assume the responsibility for self-regulation either by criticizing an offensive and unfair commentary, by checking the facts themselves and by refusing to pass on irresponsible content. The freedom in this sphere can be deserved only if its citizens are vigilant on the side of fairness.

~ ~ ~ ~

Oh boy. Lesson learned. Blogging is a huge responsibility, after all.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Paying it back for Mang Meliton from The Philippine Star (A repost)

Paying it back for Mang Meliton 
GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc  (January 16, 2009)

This letter from Michelle Rivera is interesting (edited to fit):

“Meet Meliton Zamora, a retired University of the Philippines janitor and my hero.

“For 45 years he swept floors, watered plants and did odd jobs in campus. I met him while with the UP Repertory, a theater group based (then) at the Arts & Sciences building. He would mop the hallway floors in silence, venturing only a nod and a smile whenever I passed him.

“Back then, for me he was just one of those characters whom you got acquainted with and left behind as soon as you earned your degree and left the University for some big job in the real world. Someone whose name would probably ring a bell but whose face you’d have a hard time picturing. But for many UP students who were hard up like me, Mang Mel was a hero who gave them the opportunity to finish college.

“The year was 1993 and I was on my last semester as a Clothing Technology student. My parents had been down on their luck and were struggling to pay my tuition. I had been categorized as Bracket 9 in the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). My father had lost his job, and to supplement my allowance I worked part time as a Guest Relations Officer at Sam’s Diner (back when the term GRO didn’t have shady undertones) and took some odd jobs as movie extra, production assistant and wardrobe mistress.

“To be eligible for graduation, I needed to enroll in my last three courses. Since my parents didn’t have enough money for my matriculation, I applied for a student loan, hoping that one of my Home Economics professors would take pity on me and sign as guarantor. But those I approached either refused or were not eligible as guarantor. After two unsuccessful weeks of search, my prospects looked dim, and my future dark. So there I was, a downcast 20-year-old with a foggy future, sobbing at the AS lobby. I only had 24 hours left to get a guarantor.

“Mang Mel, mop in hand, approached and asked why I was crying. I told him why I could not enroll that semester. I had no hopes he would be able to help. After all, he was just a janitor. He asked to see my loan papers and said softly, “Puwede ako pumirma, empleyado ako ng UP.” He borrowed my pen and signed his name. With his simple act of faith, Mang Mel saved not only my day, but also my future.

“I paid my student loan the summer after that fateful day with Mang Mel, and it has been 15 years since. I am not rich but have a good job in the real world that allows me to support my family and eat three meals a day. A few weeks ago, a friend and UP Professor, Daki, told me that Mang Mel recently recorded an album which he sells to augment a meager retirement pay, I asked another friend, Blaise, who’s taking his Master’s at UP, to find out how we could contact him. My gesture of gratitude for Mang Mel’s altruism has been long overdue. As fate would have it, my friend saw Mang Mel coming out of the shrubbery behind the Main Library, carrying firewood. He got his address and promised him we’d come by to buy his CD.

“With Blaise and my husband Augie, I paid Mang Mel a visit (Sunday after Christmas). Unfortunately, he was out moonlighting as gardener for a prof. We were welcomed into their home by his daughter Kit. Pointing to a laminated photo of Mang Mel on the wall, she proudly told us that her father had just retired with recognition from the University. However, she sadly related to us, several students whose loans Mang Mel had guaranteed neglected to repay. After 45 years of service to the University, Mang Mel was only attributed 171 days of work for his retirement pay because all the unpaid student loans were deducted from his full retirement pay of 675 days. This seems to me a cruel repayment for his kindness.

“This is a cyber-call to those who overlooked settling their student loans guaranteed by Mang Mel. This would be a good time to thank him.

“Mang Mel is not asking for doles, although I know he’d be thankful for any assistance you can give. So I ask those who benefited from Mang Meliton’s goodness or for those who simply wish to share your blessings, please visit him and buy his CD (P350 only) at No. 16-A, Block 1, Pook Ricarte, UP-Diliman, Quezon City (behind International House), or contact his daughter Kit V. Zamora at 0916-4058104.

Baka kilala niyo.”

*      *      *

I recall Mang Meliton from my own days at the Diliman campus in the ’70s. His daughter clarifies that seven students did fail to repay, but the UP admin amnestied six of them. So only one unpaid loan of P5,784 was deducted from Mang Mel’s pension. That doesn’t diminish his kindness, though, for the Iskolars ng Bayan.

*      *      *

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Reader As Hero


            Let me start off by saying that this is one unforgettable book. Here’s the back cover intro:


            “You go into a bookshop and buy If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino. You like it. But there is a printer’s error in your copy. You take it back to the shop and get a replacement. But the replacement seems to be a totally different story. You try to track down the original book you were reading but end up with a different narrative again. This remarkable novel leads you through many different books including a detective adventure, a romance, a satire, a diary and a quest. But the hero of them all is you, the reader.”


            The first chapter had me hooked, what with its imperious instructions on how to read the novel:


            “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade...”


            I laughed out loud at the author’s very accurate description of my behaviour when browsing inside a bookstore, how one passes by the “Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered,”  how one ignores the “Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too” (Twilight?) , and go straight to the shelves containing the following: “The Books You’ve Been Planning to Read For Ages” and “The Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves.”   Calvino mentions other specific book categories, such as “The Books You’ve Always Pretended To Have Read And Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them,” “The Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They Go On Sale or When They Come Out in Paperback,”  and “The Books You Can Borrow From Somebody” (thank Heavens for book clubs and book-worm pals!).


            The thing about this book is that it’s actually a collection of beginnings of novels, with a back-story going on that is meant to have YOU, the reader, as the protagonist. It was a very novel experience to imagine oneself on the outrageous quest to find the original story’s continuation, but just like the mall culture’s conditioning us to search for happiness with that next purchase, I was never satisfied. I never did find the ending to the original story, and only found stories built upon themes present in previous stories. In between ‘story chapters’ was the sub-story of “myself” enlisting the aid of a Fellow Reader, falling in love with the Other Reader, going through a conspiracy-theory plot that involved the marketing of books by super computers that could produce brand new works that was faithful to a given writer’s style, and finally ending with... but I mustn’t give away the grand finale. :p


            I didn’t know a thing about Calvino before picking up this book, and didn’t know of its ‘literary stature’ beforehand. Using the author’s own description, this book falls under the category of “Books That Fill You With Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified.”


            With that said, I’m unsure as to whether I should sing praises about this book, or simply present it as one of the most original reads I’ve come across that others will certainly find edifying, if not fully satisfying.


            But then, the book itself raises questions about the different expectations we readers have. There’s Ludmilla, the “Other Reader,” who has a dozen statements on her book preferences, and seems to differ depending on her mood. First she says she prefers novels that bring her to an orderly world full of precision. Next she demands a book that gives “a sense of living,” of “going toward something that is about to be, and no one yet knows what it will be...” And then she asks for a narrative novel, one that doesn’t try to impose a philosophy on its reader, but simply wants the reader to observe the story’s growth... isn’t this what is known as “natural reading?” Bereft of intellectual analysis? I personally think this kind of reading is better than “reading with an agenda...” say, to discover the Marxist undertones present in a novel. I think too much intellectual analysis tends to reduce the pleasure of reading.


            Reading this book made me reflect on the role of reading in my own life. Here’s one excerpt that struck me:


            “Your house, being the place in which you read, can tell us the position books occupy in your life, if they are a defense you set up to keep the outside world at a distance, if they are a dream into which you sink as if into a drug, or bridges you cast toward the outside, toward the world that interests you so much that you want to multiply and extend its dimensions through books...”


            Here’s a great insight into the dangerous aspect of reading, purportedly on the nature of flying in airplanes:


            You realize that it takes considerable heedlessness to entrust yourself to unsure instruments, handled with approximation; or perhaps this demonstrates an invincible tendency to passivity, to regression, to infantile dependence. (But are you reflecting on the air journey or on reading?)”


            In the end, I think Calvino’s ultimate message is that reading is inseparable from life. It made me have a deeper appreciation for our own book club motto: Ad libris et ad vita (Of books and of life). Truly, of what use is reading if one cannot apply all the good lessons one has learned to practical terms?


            The more I read, the more I realize that reading is a huge responsibility. 

Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog