Chip Tsao Slur Reflects Geopolitical Realities

To weigh in belatedly on the Chip Tsao brouhaha, the piece was indeed limp satire. Nevertheless, it’s still painful in that it is uncomfortably too close to the truth. That’s why it raised a lot of hackles.

But are we missing the bigger picture ? Carl, commenting on Manolo’s blog post, correctly points out:

Chip Tsao is a nobody. A trying-hard writer who really doesn’t make the grade. Besides, I am not very fond of the caustic Chinese sense of humor. All this outrage about Chip Tsao will soon pass. And Chip Tsao will continue to be a Z-list writer.

The most important question for me is, after this furor dies down, will we become less of a nation of servants? When one sees those Filipino domestics congregating in public in Hong Kong, it does seem to project that image of our country. For many Chinese, who don’t know better, that is the image they have of the Philippines. I have also noticed how it makes many upper-class Filipinos uncomfortable, preferring to turn another way. They would much rather not be lumped along with those domestics.

I would rather focus my indignation on those who were responsible for making our country a nation of servants. Why are our people fleeing in droves, happy to just be domestics in another country?

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Recession Trends

Apart from the expected loss of jobs, drop in consumer spending, deflation and usual run-of-the-mill outcomes arising from the worldwide recession, there are other trends which may prove interesting to the idle observer. And their numbers are certainly growing everyday.

The hard times will of course impact fashion. Amando Doronila wrote a recent piece on the rise and fall of women’s hemlines which mirror the bleak global economic outlook. Expect a less flamboyant look for the coming year and for so long as the downturn continues. A more muted and conservative image would be in keeping with the difficulties we all face. Continue reading

Upholding the Right of Reply Part II

Another argument against the Right of Reply is that it’s equivalent to “censorship” and “prior restraint” on the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press.

Prior restraint is a form of censorship. It is a legal term referring to a government’s actions that prevent materials from being published. Censorship that requires governmental permission in the form of a license or imprimatur before anything is published constitutes prior restraint every time permission is denied. Prior restraint is an official restriction of speech before publication. The U.S. Supreme Court has rightfully found it to be “the most serious and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights“. Continue reading

Upholding the Right of Reply

There are many arguments against the proposed Right of Reply bill, Senate Bill 2150, all finely articulated, high-minded and most, perfectly valid. Read today’s Inquirer editorial and Amado Doronila’s column for recent and lucid examples.

Opposition against it is snowballing, and senators who previously endorsed the measure, like Chiz Escudero, the Chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and one of the bill’s authors, are flip-flopping. President Arroyo, never one to miss an opportunity to butter up to the media, is saying she is ready to veto the bill.

Everyone seems to be taking the side of traditional media which, predictably, has draped itself in the Constitution. Just to play devil’s advocate, being of a diabolical bent, allow me to argue for the adoption of the a law which allows the Right of Reply. Continue reading

The Jologs In Our Midst

“Violence is man re-creating himself.”
- Frantz Fanon

The riot at the U.P. Pre-Valentine’s Day Fair in which 18 were wounded, including a university police force officer who remains in critical condition, has provoked a lot of condemnation of those said to be responsible. A group of youths tried to enter a concert at the UP Sunken Garden during the fair, and became unruly after being refused admission. They literally “crashed” the affair, kicking down the fences surrounding the concert area, which prompted the cancellation of all further activities. Thwarted, they became even more violent and started throwing paving slabs which were then lying along the Academic Oval. Manolo Quezon’s blog pointed me to several interesting posts on the incident, notably that of The Construct and the compelling video in thisiscoy.net.

The perpetrators of the violence, disparagingly denoted as “Jumping Jologs”, apparently resemble what we would have called “punks” during my day. It is a superficial similarity, of course, as true punks are defined by their preference in music rather than their sartorial outlook or social status. Jologs are a different breed altogether. Continue reading

Why Scams Happen and Why They Happen Again and Again

Why do scams like the Ponzi schemes perpetrated by Bernard Madoff and Celso De Los Angeles’ Legacy Group happen with sickening regularity, particularly in the Philippines ? There are undoubtedly bad guys out there, pathological crooks who get their cash and kicks from ruining people’s lives by defrauding them. They are the financial equivalent of serial criminals, according to the New York Times in an article on Madoff, heartless killers who will cut your still-beating heart out and have it for breakfast:

“Some of the characteristics you see in psychopaths are lying, manipulation, the ability to deceive, feelings of grandiosity and callousness toward their victims,” says Gregg O. McCrary, a former special agent with the F.B.I. who spent years constructing criminal behavioral profiles.

Mr. McCrary xxx says Mr. Madoff appears to share many of the destructive traits typically seen in a psychopath. That is why, he says, so many who came into contact with Mr. Madoff have been left reeling and in confusion about his motives.

“People like him become sort of like chameleons. They are very good at impression management,” Mr. McCrary says.

But other factors are at play. Like all predators, they actively seek their prey. The sad thing is that their victims oftentimes come to them, like bugs to a Venus fly trap. Continue reading

The Pangandaman Libel Suit Against Bambee

Over the past few days, I have been queried by bloggers about the possibility of facing a criminal case for libel for something they post online. It seems their anxiety, in part, has been fueled by the reported filing of a libel suit by Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. against Bambee De la Paz before the Lanao del Sur Prosecutor’s Office in Marawi City. It was Bambee’s blog which brought public attention to the mauling incident at the Valley Golf Club, for which Mayor Pangandaman and his companions, including his father DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, Sr., are allegedly responsible.

I have previously written about the legal ramifications of libel on the internet, which can be read here and here.

The Unlawyer has also written a lucid overview on the nature of libel as it relates to the Pangandaman-De la Paz feud. Likewise, the Cebu Daily News previously carried a comprehensive two-part article on libel, it nature, remedies and venue by Judge Gabriel T. Ingles, which can be accessed here and here.

The legal aspects of libel having been covered extensively elsewhere, I need not repeat them here. But to address the question posed by some bloggers on whether there is possibility that they can be sued for libel for something posted online, the answer is yes. There is always the chance that they might publish something (blogging is a form of electronic publication) which will offend some person or institution for which they will be hailed to court. Continue reading

Alabang Before the Boys Gave It A Bad Name

I have a confession to make. I was an Alabang boy. Literally.

Before the now notorious Alabang boys were born, we lived in a still largely undeveloped Ayala Alabang subdivision, just one step removed from the mango orchard it once was. This was almost three decades ago, during the late 70’s. There were hardly any houses, and we were probably one of the first ten residents to move into the area.

Alabang then was “out there”, practically the boonies, and there was no small amount of grumbling and resentment when our parents uprooted us from our Makati home. It felt like we moved to a far-flung province, with the added hassle of a long commute to get to school. In fact, those of us in college had to take up residence in dorms. There was only one school around, Benedictine Abbey (now San Beda Alabang) across the national road, and there were no movie houses, shopping centers or even supermarkets. We had to go to Makati for almost everything.

The Alabang of my teen years and early adulthood was not the enclave of the rich and famous (and infamous) that it now is. The residents were mostly upwardly-mobile, mid-level executives working in Makati, with young kids, who took out a loans and mortgages in order to settle in what seemed to be, in our young eyes, a new frontier. It was almost leap of faith to move to Alabang. Continue reading

Blogging Comes of Age

No less than a dean of Philippine journalism and incisive political analyst Amado Doronila has acknowledged that bloggers have become a potent force for disseminating information and shaping public opinion. Writing in his regular Inquirer column, Doronila tackles “Blog Power” and what this “new” element has done to influence the direction of public discourse. He uses the example of the De La Paz – Pangandaman feud to point out the advent of a new era of citizen journalism which he considers an aspect of ” a new people power movement, lodged in the Internet, (which) has emerged and has intervened forcefully to seize the public opinion initiative“.

The encounter marked for the first time the clash between the denizens of blogdom inhabited by users of Cyberspace and the official holders of power in the formal structures of government. The golf club encounter unveiled the constituency of this new and powerful force in public opinion which was mobilized to join the fray by a blog report written by De la Paz’s daughter, Bambee, 18, who narrated the details of the assault. The report became the basis of the criminal complaint lodged by the De la Paz family ahead of the counter-complaints also alleging physical injuries and child abuse on the part of the family victimized by the Pangandamans. The counter-suit lodged by the Pangandamans, which came within hours of the complaint filed by the De la Paz family, was reduced to copycat versions after Bambee jumped the gun on the use of new technology and stole the initiative from the Pangandamans, whose experience in counter-suits has been defined by the nomenclature of old politics which favors people holding power. Continue reading

Why the Pangandaman Issue Refuses to Die or At Least Abate

Images from Komiklopedia

Images from Komiklopedia

L’ affaire Pangandaman, ten days after the incident at Valley Golf, refuses to leave the front pages. The Inquirer carries an item on page one in which Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman appeals to the public, particularly bloggers, “to stop vilifying his family” and says that he is “hurting“. He states that “the past few days have been very painful” to his family and allegedly refers to bloggers who have posted angry comments against them as the specific source of their distress. This is no doubt true, up to point. That the blogosphere played a key role in bringing the narratives of the parties to public awareness can hardly be disputed. But Secretary Pangandaman gives too much credit to the bloggers in explaining why the issue refuses to abate.

Even persons who have never heard of blogs and wouldn’t know a blogger from an illegal logger have been kept well informed of the incident and its developments, via the traditional media. Why so ? Apart from the fact that the story of the golf course fracas is compelling in itself and therefore newsworthy, there may be social and cultural factors which influence why such a relatively minor episode has grabbed a lot of attention. The factual and legal aspects of the incident are already the topic of much debate, pro and con against either party, and need not be discussed here. Just a few observations, though, on context in which the controversy rages. Continue reading