Friday, May 29, 2009

PCIJ report on press freedom in Timor-Leste

As Timor Leste turns 7, PCIJ's Ed Lingao takes a look at the state of the country's press and the challenges that journalists still face in the world's youngest democracy.

Read the full story here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Video: PCIJ report on access to information issues

The PCIJ’s Multimedia Producer, Ed Lingao, produced this short video on the issues surrounding the difficulty of accessing information from various government agencies:

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I got home early from work today...

...because I didn't go to the office. I was in the field the whole day, beginning with a press conference at Blue Wave. I wasn't there to cover the event, but as a show of support, as it involved a bill that would require government agencies to provide easy access to documents and other information to the public for greater transparency; the PCIJ was part of the civil society group pushing for the passage of the bill. As I was just there to look pretty (heh), I ended up in a photo-op for the different member groups, because my colleagues (naks, naki-colleagues ampucha) didn't want to be part of the picture.

Then we headed off to the Senate to get some documents for some research projects that the center is working on. I was with Ms. Tita, PCIJ's training director and a former beat reporter with the Congress, and it was fun seeing her in action and hearing her chitchatting with all the people she knew. I heard a lot of interesting things, unfortunately, stuff I couldn't share on this blog. But everyone working there was abuzz with what's going to happen tomorrow, as the plenary will be busy hearing the Katrina Halili case.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

I was MIA...

...for the past couple of days as I was in Pampanga to hold a lecture/workshop on blogging. The participants were teachers and students from various public high schools across the country. While I'm not exactly sure how the experience went for them (boses-puke kasi yung instructor nila), it was a very enriching experience for me, and I was just grateful to be part of the whole thing.

The teachers were more thrilled to be there than the students. It was a especially challenging trying to teach certain members of the class who were not at all comfortable with surfing the Web or even operating a personal computer, but everyone came through in the end. Everyone ended up taking to blogging, at siyempre, sila ma'am at sir, kinarir ang pag-upload ng pictures, kasama ang kanilang mga boypren, gelpren, asawa, at mga anak.

Most of the blogs ended up looking like your usual Multiply blogs, peppered with pictures, but they were happy with the result. It wasn't all just meaningless fun though. Some of them told me of plans to use the blogs to share their lessons for their students, others mentioned that they'll be passing on their knowledge to their students, while a couple even started blogs for their respective schools to be able to keep in contact with alumni who are already in Metro Manila or abroad.

Some of the other teachers, though, had to temper their excitement a bit. "Sir, we'll continue blogging," they told me, "once we finally get Internet connections in our town."


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Best article on the book blockade... Conrado de Quiros, natch.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Awesome news

Chuck has been renewed for a third season. Yay! Now we get to see our favorite nerd doing kung-fu. Now I'm just hoping he finally gets to nail Sarah. Also, I hope he does it with the lights on and for one whole episode.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hoops exchange

Fire Quinito gets some love over at the Basketball Exchange. Thanks Gary!


Did Espele Sales really say that novels and reading books are not educational?

By now you've probably heard of the hold-up of all imported books at the Bureau of Customs because of a new interpretation of officials such as Department of Finance Undersecretary Espele Sales. Book importers are now being levied duties by customs, which are apparently against international agreements.

Anyway, recently, a new meme has started over Facebook and the blogosphere because Sales said that novels and reading books are "not educational". All references to that statement can be traced back to this story from the Philippine Star:

Sales and the BOC agreed that “only books or raw materials to be used in book publishing” are to be exempt from taxes and duties.

Critics said their interpretation has violated the 1950 Florence Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, of which the Philippines was a signatory in 1952.

The treaty has provided for duty-free importation of books to guarantee the free flow of “educational, scientific, and cultural materials” between countries and declared that imported books should be duty-free.

But Sales reportedly brushed off this argument, saying novels and reading books are “not educational.”

(Emphasis mine.)

The word "reportedly" bothers me here. Who "reported" this? Apart from the McSweeney's report, all other stories about the issue do not contain any such quote attributed to Sales. In fact, the only time the quote appears in the timeline for the issue is during the Star report itself.

So if it was not a previous report, then it must have been the author's sources who reported the quote. If that is so, then it was irresponsible for the author to (1) not indicate that this was the case; and, (2) not make an attempt to contact Sales before attributing the quote to her.

I'm not saying that Sales did not really say that, what I'm saying is that with the Star report, there really was no way to know if that really was the case.

I know I'm splitting hairs here, but this should be a big deal. I agree with the cause, and I'm a big lover of books, so it is important for me to make sure that the facts that my side is reporting is absolutely correct

As Roger Ebert wrote about Michael Moore:

The pitfall for Moore is not subjectivity, but accuracy. We expect him to hold an opinion and argue it, but we also require his facts to be correct. I was an admirer of his previous doc, the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine," until I discovered that some of his "facts" were wrong, false or fudged.

In some cases, he was guilty of making a good story better, but in other cases (such as his ambush of Charlton Heston) he was unfair, and in still others (such as the wording on the plaque under the bomber at the Air Force Academy) he was just plain wrong, as anyone can see by going to look at the plaque.

Because I agree with Moore's politics, his inaccuracies pained me, and I wrote about them in my Answer Man column. Moore wrote me that he didn't expect such attacks "from you, of all people." But I cannot ignore flaws simply because I agree with the filmmaker. In hurting his cause, he wounds mine.

(Emphasis mine.)

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Sunday, May 10, 2009


This is a screenshot from an episode of Celebrity Duets. The bandana looks familiar.

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Friday, May 08, 2009


I've been doing a lot of coding lately, and just because I was in the mood, I hacked together my own URL shortener:

Wala lang. Nerd.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Kwentong barbero

My second day at new work today was interesting. I work a few feet away from Ed Lingao, who recently transferred from TV5 to PCIJ. Not only has he been to war-torn Afghanistan, Iraq, and Jolo, but tonight at the Jollibee drive-thru, he ordered a triple patty Yum. And that's only because they wouldn't allow him to order a double patty Champ. He is the man.

I also had coffee this afternoon with Howie Severino. Of course, we ended up talking about Ate Vi, Kobe Bryant, and Quinito. It's like Twitter, but in person.

What's odd was that both Ed and Howie were wearing the same outfit. It must be the uniform for TV documentarists. It's funny too, because back in college our choice for Monday night fare was usually either The Correspondents or i-Witness.

Yes, this is my brand of investigative journalism.

Speaking of Howie, a recent trip to his barber opened a thread on his Facebook account about his, well, barber. It reminded me of a scene from an old Tito, Vic, and Joey film, the name of which I can't remember.

Anyway, so nakatambay sina TVJ sa barberya sa kanto. Tapos yung barbero talak nang talak. Lahat ng tsismis alam.

(Pina-paraphrase ko na lang yung dialog.)

Tito: "Nabalitaan niyo ba yung si Boyong dyan sa may kanto? Yung nasaksak daw..."

Barbero: "Ah oo, nahuli daw yun na nag-aakyat bahay eh, (etc. etc.)"

Vic: "Eh si Aling Nene diyan sa kanto, alam niyo yun? Pinalayas daw sa bahay..."

Barbero: "Ah oo, di daw nakabayad ng upa yun kaya pinalayas ng kasera eh, (etc. etc.)"

Joey: "Eh si Aling Lydia, yung misis niyo, ang balita nangangaliwa daw ah..."

Barbero: "Ah oo, ang kasama yung kumpare kong si Pitong, doon sila sa bahay kapag nandito ako sa barberya..."

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009


This afternoon, I signed on to join the crazy gang over at the PCIJ. I'll be writing, research, blogging, webdesigning, webdeveloping, tweeting, facebooking and janitoring over there. Right now I'm just hoping I don't sink the damn boat.

Also, Fire Quinito's doing pretty well:

Fire Quinito traffic

I know the numbers are still pretty modest but the site's only been up three weeks. Oh, and the site already got some love from the best boxing blog on the planet. Nice.

Hopefully everyone comes back even after the Pac-fever dies down. Thanks to everyone who clicked, shared, re-tweeted, plurked, and otherwise tolerated my annoying hard sell. I still have lots of really cool shit coming up, including something insane for the college basketball season.

And watch out for some other projects I'm cooking up, which should be online soon enough.

Finally, there should be more updates to this blog soon, perhaps even some of those mushy stories I know y'all are waiting for. Hahahaha.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Watch the Fantasticks on July 12

My friend Mika's org is presenting this play along with Repertory Philippines, and I'm going. Come, let's join us!

The Fantasticks

One of the longest running shows in the history of the American theater. It opened at an off-Broadway theater in the spring of 1960, where it remained until the production finally closed in early 2002.

In a clever reverse of the Romeo and Juliet story, two fathers, Hucklebee and Bellamy, a pair of small town fathers who in a well-meaning attempt to spark a romance between their children, devise a scheme in which they pretend to feud.

As a carnival arrives to bring some excitement to the sleepy village, the fathers persuade a mysterious interloper named El Gallo to stage a mock abduction of Luisa, which will hopefully prompt Matt to come to her rescue. However, while El Gallo's plan succeeds, he also awakens his innocent charges to the darker and more disappointing side of love.

What unfolds is a timeless story of innocence undone, of illusion lost and wisdom gained; a story of growing up and facing the sometime cruelty of the real world and in the process, finding that love was waiting in your own backyard.

For more details, ticket sales or for iinterested sponsors, contact MIKA SARMIENTO at (0915) 926-39-65 or SAM DAVID at (0917) 803-08-01 or email or


Friday, May 01, 2009

Labor day

Yesterday was my last day at work. Hopefully this wouldn't be an annual thing. This time though, I have a clearer idea of where I'm heading, although the details are still fuzzy.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping to blog, a lot, over the next few days, here and in a couple of other places.

(Btw, thank you everyone for the clicks, and sorry for the hard sell.)


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