Monday, July 27, 2009

I didn't have...

...much of a weekend, after working on the formatting of the SONA articles uploaded on Saturday and Sunday, and the additional tweaks for the interactive graphic. I did manage to write a couple of things for Fire Quinito, about the last couple of games of Powerade Team Pilipinas and the UP upset over Ateneo.

Today was a fun day, with the SONA going on. I stayed behind at the office while most of my colleagues got to go out to cover on the field, but I had a fun time manning the PCIJ twitter desk. It was just me and our executive editor, Malou Mangahas in the office, and she actually got pretty into it with the Twitter thing. Awesome. I love how the updates weren't particularly different from the updates I do on the Fire Quinito twitter feed.

(Sample tweet from me: "Angelique Lazo to Sec. Peter Favila: 'Happy SONA!' Happy SONA?!")

Also loved how the media completely embraced the social networks for this event: SONA was second on the trending topics list this afternoon, while GMA News and Sun Star rolled out impressive streaming coverage of the event using different social media tools. Nice.

Oh, and I also spent the weekend researching and writing my first piece for the FHM website. I was hoping it would somehow involve boldstars, but alas! It was about political speeches, in time for today's events.

In the piece, I quoted an excerpt from a Ninoy Aquino speech (which is available on the Internet in nine parts, starting here). I would recommend watching the whole thing, if you have the time, but again let me post my favorite part here:

I am a human being, my friends. I have suffered eight years of imprisonment, I have suffered loneliness like no other man has suffered loneliness in my life, I have been away from my children and my family, and I am financially ruined after eight years. It is only instinctive for a man to look for his peace. I debated with my mind, and I debated with myself, and I debated with my wife and my children whether I should go back to the arena of combat. I felt that I have already earned my peace, I have done my best, I waited for seven years and seven months, and the Filipino people did not react, and they would even give me the impression that they love their chain and their slavery. What can one man do if the Filipino people love their slavery? If the Filipino people have lost their voice and would not say no to a tyrant, what can one man do? I have no army, I have no following, I have no money, I only have my indomitable spirit.

But the letters kept pouring in, and they said, We waited for you for eight years. Will you now abandon us?

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Grading Gloria

The PCIJ has been publishing stories ahead of today's SONA all weekend long. The past two days, it looked at her SONA promises and looked deeper into the numbers behind her economic record.

Today, Dr. Benjamin Diokno, former Estrada budget secretary and current UP economics professor, wrote a perspective piece looking at Gloria's record, and handed out grades. As most university professors are wont to do (heh), his piece is long and full of facts and figures. I stitched together this interactive graphic for Prof. Diokno's grades.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

A yellow ribbon for Cory Aquino

Yellow ribbonThe ‘yellow ribbon’ that became the symbol for the revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship is a takeoff from Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, a pop song by Tony Orlando and Dawn – the same group that gave us Knock Three Times. Former Talking Heads main man David Byrne noted the peculiarity of the choice during his 2005 visit to Manila:

Yellow was adopted due to the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” which was adopted in celebration of the return of Aquino to the Philippines — the welcoming crowd wore yellow. Surreal, these pop connections — a connection between Tony Orlando and Dawn and a grass roots uprising that overthrows a dictator — it makes my head spin.

Unfortunately Ninoy Aquino was gunned down at the airport…but Cory and her supporters kept with the yellow from then on.

Before it was co-opted by the revolution, the song belonged to Cory and Ninoy, their theme song while Ninoy was incarcerated. The tune about the return of a long-lost lover helped tide the couple over during more than seven years Ninoy spent in prison.

I remember reading somewhere, I don’t know if it was an interview or a book about Cory, where she related how she felt when her husband died (unfortunately, I couldn’t find the exact quote). She said that she wished that it was her who was killed instead, so that Ninoy could live. But then, she thought to herself, why in the world would anyone care if it were just a plain housewife who died?

It was the sweetest, most heartbreaking thing I'd ever heard.


Sunday, July 19, 2009


A few weeks ago, I went with a colleague at work to go to the office of the Total Information Management Corp., who were then embroiled in a controversy over their breakup with foreign partner Smartmatic, putting the election automation project of the Comelec in jeopardy. We staked outside their office building, and when we saw one of their senior officials alight a van, we chased him across the lobby all the way to the elevators.

I'm mentioning this because I caught the John Lloyd Cruz-Sarah Geronimo starrer You Changed My Life over the weekend, and I noticed that Sarah Geronimo's office building was the same one where we waited to ambush-interview the TIM official.

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Monday, July 13, 2009


As I mentioned last week, I missed the FHM 100 show to go out-of-town for work. The result is this report about the communities in Tanay, Rizal affected by the Laiban Dam project. It was a follow-up on a previous report by the PCIJ on the San Miguel Corporation's clandestine deal for the P52-billion dam project with the MWSS.

Coincidentally, I spent the weekend bitching about another San Miguel clandestine deal, this time about the Beermen acquiring superstar forward Arwind Santos from Burger King in exchange for a plate of roasted highland legumes.

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Last night, I trooped to Greenbelt along with Tseri to watch a musical, which Mika and her organization were presenting.

Anyway, I chuckled when I saw the poster for the musical and noticed that the male lead looked like one of Kuya Germs's alaga on Walang Tulugan with the Master Showman (no, not Shalala). And it turned out, it was him!

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

I had... for tonight's FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World Party, but had to give away my tickets at the last minute because I had to go out-of-town to do some field research for work. The town we visited wasn't that far away from Manila, but we had to go visit a couple of really remote villages. We had made preparations to stay the night, but it started to rain, so we decided to head back to the city because getting stuck might mean staying there for the next few days.

The places we visited had neither cellphone signal nor electricity. But they were not quite as remote as the place we had originally wanted to go to, which required a river crossing (ideally on a 4x4 vehicle). We did not end up going but we did make plans to go next time.

Overall, it was a fun day. Also, if it would make for a great excuse if I ever end up having an affair; I could always use the excuse that I couldn't reply to calls or text messages because, "Walang signal sa [name of remote village]."

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Friday, July 03, 2009

I wrote...

...a short sidebar for the PCIJ's latest two-part report on the automation project for the 2010 elections, and it made it to the front page of the Manila Times this morning. It's odd because I've been writing online (a lot!) for a long time, and I think this is the first thing of mine ever printed. Like, ever, ever.

The Times version was (poorly) cut, which is always a danger with print media. It's funny though, because the lopped off most of the meat of the story, but left in the Transformers joke.

The full version of the sidebar, which makes infinitely more sense, is online at the PCIJ site. Of course, you also owe it to yourself to read the first and second parts of the report.

UPDATE: Here's Ed Lingao's video on the story, drawing on the second part of the report.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009


A couple of months back, a friend and I were discussing the different trends of journalism on the web, and I shared with him a piece I found that featured a talk at Cal's J-school on the subject. Curiously enough, the resource person was Harvey Levin, the guy who runs the popular TMZ gossip site (and the centerpiece of the related TV show). While I am a fan of the show -- and Levin comes off as a smart guy on it -- I didn't really take him for the type who would be able to impart sage knowledge to J-school kids. But Levin was actually really good, and his stuff really was worth sharing. The guy gets it.

Levin and TMZ are now back in the spotlight after they broke news of Michael Jackson's death -- just the latest in their long line of accurate breaking exclusives. For all the flak it gets because of the tabloid sensationalism and the smug snarkiness, sites like TMZ, with smart guys like Levin at the helm, might be the future of journalism as we know it.

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