Manic Monday

Today was such a long day. I kinda got into a falling out with a really good friend but I really hope it’s okay now.

Anyway, I’ve been working on something that I will finally reveal on September 1. I’m quiet excited on the feedback. It took a month to have it done, and I hope we reach our goal. After that, I can finally go back to my quiet, facebook-less life. It was quite nice the few weeks I didn’t have facebook. Sadly to get my mission done, I had to return to facebook. It’s for a good cause anyway so fine.

I have so many things lined up for me. I guess I could do great use to my time as a bum until I finally complete my ultimate plan 🙂 So whatever that is, I shall pray for it. Please pray for me too 🙂

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On Journalism (a repost)

Given the recent unfortunate events that have been witnessed by the country, I think this piece I wrote in 2008 (and posted on my multiply blog)  is quite relevant to the state of the Philippine media. Apparently, in two years nothing much as changed. I still dream of becoming a Journalist, but maybe not yet.

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Ever since I was in grade school, I have always told people that I wanted to be a Journalist. I dreamt to be seen on TV giving live updates on what was going on in specific places, to be the first one to give a field report on the recent bombings in so and so, and to be seen as a person who is the defender of the truth. To this day, I carry that dream with me as I aim for my degree in Humanities with Specialization in Political Economy. It is exactly the reason why I took up Political Economy, to adapt that framework that I would need in pursuing Journalism.

Though I have been raving about Journalism for most of my life (around 10 years), it was only now that I realized the true reason behind my passion for journalism. This is to bring a change into the field of Philippine journalism. In my opinion, Philippine journalism is composed of shallow news from different parts of the country that speak of momentary life impacting, heart-warming occurrences. I give you three scenarios to demonstrate this:

1. A reporter is standing in front of a burning house, and as the residents of the baranggay gather around the burning house watching it go down in flames, with his pretty face and deep voice, he says “Nandito pa kami ngayon sa Baranggay Someplace at sa likod ko po ngayon ay isang nasusunog na bahay kung saan naninirahan ang Pamilyang Someone. Sa ngayon ay hindi padumarating ang mga bombero pero kung nakikita niyo nagtipontipon na ang mga kapitbahay at pinaguusapan na nila ang posibleng dahilan ng pagkasunog ng bahay. Then he goes interview one of the bystanders and then gives the screen back to the news anchor.

2. This time, a female voice over speaks, pictures of a girl are flashed on the television, apparently she had been raped and killed and found in an empty lot in a province neighboring her own. After disappearing a week prior to the discovery of her body, her family had been worried regarding her whereabouts. This information is extracted from interviewing the parents of the victim. The footage ends with a shot of the coffin of the dead rape victim.

3. After the commercial break, the anchor introduces one of the most recent and most talked about news in the Philippines, this piece of news seems to be perceived as so relevant to the Philippine society as a whole that it actually finds its way as part of the show’s “Nagbabagang balita”. Depending on what UHF station you watch, it still has the same tone into it. If you’re a “Kapamilya”, then the news “Angel Locsin, Kapamilya na!” is not something new to you, and if you’re Kapuso, “Heart Evangelista, kasama na sa casting ng this and that teleserye sa Kapuso Network”‘ will be talked about even more than the rice crisis.

Obviously, the third instance is irrelevant to the over-all development of the human person and the Philippine society. It is like the news of today has become a source of entertainment, and the entertainment industry has been bringing a lot of news. But I am not saying that a burning house or a raped teenage girl is too. It is just so disappointing and frustrating how Journalism has been equated to mere storytelling of the events that have happened, without even trying to analyze what impacts it has on society. Just as a diver who searches for gold at the shore, instead of exploring the depths of the sea, a journalist who just simply tells us what is happening loses all depth and substance. The news that is presented to us is mere facts, and it seems like the journalist expects us to formulate our own ideas from the facts that they had offered to us. We are asked to make a stand, when all that is given to us are the “What’s”, where are the why’s, how’s, how come’s, and what now’s? Not every Filipino is provided with the tools to understand what is truly going on in society, and how great an impact that snippet of news has on society.

Take the instance of the burning house. Watch TV Patrol or 24 Oras and you are likely to find at least one news report regarding an incident similar to such. Seeing as there are no fire fighters around and the neighbors are mere bystanders, what does this have to say about our society? The news is so centered on the burning house that people ignore what is going on around. Why does it take the firemen so long to get to the house? Has anyone really bothered to call? What is it in Filipinos that make them just want to watch a house go down in flames, by the mere resonance of “SUNOG”, they drop everything they were previously doing just to watch the house burn down. I once received an e-mail a long time ago which advised me to scream “SUNOG” if a mysterious person suddenly tries to do something bad to me. There is a greater chance someone will answer your call as compared to “HELP” or “RAPE” or “MAGNANAKAW”.

These are the things that I believe journalists should look into: The phenomena surrounding the rich Filipino culture. Journalists should provide a deeper understanding on what is going on, and not merely present what is going on, because anyone can do that. A street child can dictate to you a robbery he had seen first hand just as good as a journalist who just stood there and described a scene. We don’t need journalists to do that for us.

It just frustrates me how low Philippine journalism has become. Apparently their explanation is “this is what the people want”. This angers me the most. It removes the essence of being a true journalist. The fact that you present people with what they want show insincerity in your part as a media person, as your objective becomes one that pleases people. Such objective could be identified with the end of earning money in exchange for the “service” of current events. But true service should not involve money or merely what people want to know. There is a difference between showing the people what they want to know and showing the people what they ought to know.

As journalists, they should provide the people with processed information using the tools that they had acquired in order to give the public the information that they need to know, information that is relevant to society, in order to create a society with better judgment. It is the responsibility of the journalist to show the public what is going on, but he should not only leave it to that. To be a true journalist is to be able to qualify those events and analyzing them in order to use these events in trying to understand the world we live in a lot more. Through this, there will be a deeper understanding of our culture, of our identity, which will lead to greater bonds within society, and will prove beneficial in the long run.

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On other things, my dashboard tells me someone has reached my blogsite in with the search terms “Thesis on kwek-kwek”. This made me laugh a bit.

Raj Raj Raj Pilipinas

The Philippine bet for Ms. Universe, Maria Venus Raj,  got into the top 5 of the competition. She finished as 4th runner up. I honestly do not see her as one who would fit the conventional notion of Filipina beauty. She has this very… different.. kind of pretty. I can’t really point it out but there’s something that radiates from within as well. I think it’s her confidence that makes her so appealing.

Congratulations, Venus Raj, you are the Universe’s 5th most beautiful woman.

This is a breath of fresh air given the very serious mood that surrounded the country yesterday. This deserves a little dance.

He’s saying “Raj Raj Raj”

Hostage

Today, a tragedy has befallen a group of tourists in the Philippines. August 23, 2010 will forever mark the day when a suspended cop took hostage 22 tourists from Hong Kong. My sympathies go to those who have lost their loved ones.

I have so many things to say about the whole situation that I don’t know where to start. So I’ll just say this. No one wanted it to happen. I’m pretty sure Mendoza (the suspect and hostage taker) did not want it to end this way either. He wanted his job, ergo did not want to die. But everything went badly, and I think all events that happened prior to the bloodshed have contributed to it.

I think everyone, most importantly the police and the media persons, can learn something from what had happened today. For one, broadcast sensationalism of the whole situation has resulted in the increased tension between the hostage taker and the policemen. The first blow was when the policemen had taken in the brother as well as the interview of the parents. Perhaps the media thought that showing the family could soften his heart a bit, but I think if he was able to keep 15 innocent lives for hours, then they should’ve known that would not work.

Another thing is that they indeed did their “job” to let the people, which included the hostage taker, know EVERYTHING that is happening. So the hostage taker was well-aware of the actions being taken by the police. Of course this isn’t very smart for the media. But of course, media economics works that way. There is a demand, and therefore they supply it. It continues to feed the people’s addiction to wanting to know everything.

Sometimes I really believe the Filipino is addicted to gossip – 4 daily celebrity life shows (2 in ABS-CBN, 1 in TV5, 1 in GMA7, this is not considering the “Celebrity News” portion of the evening news programs), 5 Sunday celebrity oriented shows (Showbiz Central, The Buzz, Paparazzi, Sharon and Mel and Joey) and 2 Saturday celebrity news programs  (E-live and Startalk). I’d even go as far as saying “The Bottomline” of Boy Abunda fits in this category. I mean come on, who asks a bureaucrat about his sex life. No I don’t need to know that thank you.

I’ve drifted a bit. I’m just trying to say that the media would do whatever it takes to get information to people because they like saying they have the exclusive, even if it compromises police operations and the lives of those at risk in the scene. I read that one reporter sneaked from behind the police to get an interview with the brother of the hostage taker. I think the media should know when to draw the line. President Aquino is right in stating that there is freedom of the press. But there’s also such thing as prudence, which seemed to be poorly exercised today.

Of course the biggest government agency being hit with criticisms is the Philippine National Police. Even the SWAT could not redeem Philippine law enforcement. They say the PNP officers lack training. Sadly, it is quite true. The reputation of the PNP has been long tainted by corruption. Just recently, it was involved in the 21-M burger ordeal , the death of Ivan Padilla, and the torture video. Now this. They can’t catch a break can they?

But the lack of training is growing more and more obvious with every blunder they get themselves in. Although the lack of budget is a major factor as to why this has been happening, poor management is also at fault. Given that there is an already set budget at the start of the fiscal year, then the PNP officials should be able to allocate it properly to fund their activities rather than complaining that they don’t have enough. Money is like time. We never have enough yet we can do what we can to be efficient with it through proper allocation and management of what we have.

The hostage taker posted a note for all to read: “Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.” This is an extremely flawed perspective of decision-making. Only in arithmetic do two negative entities ever surely result in a positive one. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do. (unrelated but I like the play of words). There is nothing good in taking illegal and even extralegal measures in getting what you want.

Ultimately, I believe that this whole ordeal is a result of bad decision-making in the part of the media, the police, and of course the hostage taker. I think the biggest lesson that everyone can pick up from this whole… event.. is:

Killing won’t make people like you. It just makes them dead. – Voldemort (Joe Walker), A Very Potter Musical (It actually makes a lot of sense.)

Bahrain

Two weekends ago, my family and a family friend went to Bahrain to get my dad’s passport. Funny how another country’s embassy is much closer to us than the embassy here in Saudi. There was an offer for me to work in Bahrain, but I thought it was too far. But then it’s okay 2 hours away from the city we live in. Not bad. Anyway, Bahrain is beautiful, like a more modernized Saudi Arabia, where women drive hot cars, go out in flesh exposing clothing, and can eat pork.

The most amazing thing I saw in Bahrain was this:

They have a Coffee Bean. They only have Starbucks in Saudi, at least near where we stay. I have yet to see a Coffee Bean here. I wasn’t able to buy a drink because my mom was in a hurry. Plus she’s against buying overpriced coffee.

Here are some pictures I took while in Bahrain…

The highway to Bahrain, i think that’s the Gulf of Bahrain, since it’s the body of water that surrounds Bahrain (contrary to popular belief,  there are actually beaches in the Middle East)

Bahrain! To the toll gates it’s about 1 and a half hours. then another 1 hour going through the customs, immigration, etc. Not bad since we traveled by car.

Most of the pictures were taken from inside the car or in the mall. With higher than 40 degrees temperature, I don’t think anyone would want to be walking around outside. But it looks really pretty with all the greenery (Yet another Middle Eastern misconception that should be cleared: We have flora over here. And not just cacti and palm trees- although palm trees are very popular in the area)

Although the highways often look like this. Cities are often separated by deserts. This is why the mall is also an hour or so away from our town. (It’s worth it since they have H&M and New Yorker, which make me happy.)

This is me with my mom in the cinema in City Center Bahrain. We’re finally going to watch Inception! While the cinema near our place is probably still showing Dark Knight. My mom summed up her opinion of Inception with one word – “Pataka” (She said it was not based on truth, so it’s “pataka” [a bisaya word] I have yet to understand what it translates to but I know what she meant)

We passed these buildings going to the mall, but since it’s almost night time, they now have these pretty lights that change every few minutes:

Green lights

Blue lights

Red lights

I took all the pictures with my cellphone so they’re all lousy quality, but I *think* I can still appreciate the beauty of Bahrain through them. I plan to go back to Bahrain around November-December to watch Harry Potter 7 part 1. I can’t miss out on that and I won’t be able to wait until a DVD is released.

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On other things Harry Potter, I’ve fallen in love with “A Very Potter Musical” and “A Very Potter Sequel” . It is probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen. Kudos to StarKid productions. Amazing songs, great acting. I love the person who plays Draco Malfoy. Very unexpected choice but probably the most amazing choice. Any person who has seen the musical will know what I mean.

This is the first part of the first act. There are two acts. The first has I think 13 parts while the second act has 8. Definitely worth any Pothead’s time.

Harry Potter

Jude, Henry, and I are on a mission. This is to complete reading the Harry Potter series before the 7th movie comes out (which is on November na Yay!) As of today I’m on the fourth book. I forget how much longer it is compared to the first three books. But this is my 2nd favorite book. (5-4-3-7-1-6-2). There being the final movie of harry potter is affecting me very much. It’s like the end of my childhood. Harry Potter has been a good part of my childhood to teenage years. I even spent a good number of years in a harry potter forum discussing theories for the final book.

In my heart and mind the Harry Potter universe will always be so much more awesome than that of Twilight. I’m not judging anyone who is in love with Twilight. I just can’t get over the fact that Edward = Cedric. Plus he’s a sparkling vampire.

Harry Potter will always be a big part of my life. And even if the series is done, the magic won’t end.

Goodbye Facebook.

I was going to make this entry my “Goodbye Internet” one but I knew that was kindov foolish of me. I can’t survive without internet. I need to watch my shows as they get released, get updates from some friends, and write on my blog because this is the only medium I have left since I have no friends here.

For those wondering why I had to deactivate my facebook account (Ehem ehem Haeja, Ms Gruet), I have several reasons. And perhaps the March incident plays a small, very TINY part of why I had to deactivate for a while.

So that’s probably number one. I don’t think I can move on completely if I keep seeing his name on my inbox or people tagging us in the same picture/note. Sometimes it makes me feel like a bad person. For reasons I already explained in a previous post. But this is not even 5% of the reason.

There are two major reasons why I decided to finally deactivate. Since I already started with the percentage, I’d say it’s an equal 40-40.

1. (and enumerating them is very PolEco of me) I have been spending too much time on facebook. No really. I am too addicted to the games. I play family feud every day, for the past two months, and I have already reached the top five of the board (I don’t remember what part specifically).  I have a FIFA team which is right now the top with 300 wins (I even bought match points online just so I can play more.) I own a bakery, a restaurant, a hotel, a cafe, and I live in the frontier. Most of these I visit everyday. And I realized this took too much of my time. I never got into playing Pet Society or Farmville, but now that I have so much time in my hands, I got too addicted to those games. It’s no longer funny. Aside from games, I read my contact updates every day, and sometimes I even refresh it. It’s a sad sad life. Facebook has taken over my life now, and I have to show it who’s boss.

2. I realize that I’ve been too clingy to my friends on facebook. To the point that I have been dubbed as Nostalgia Queen by one of them. But really I have become too… present. It’s like I never left the country. I think Facebook has been helping me in my denial that things won’t change. Because things have changed so much these past few months and I have to accept that. Being omnipresent through facebook is only a temporary relief to what is about to come. So I want to stop pretending that things are the same. It’s my way of detaching from Manila, temporarily, so I can move on with my life here. And besides, I see it as a way for me to finally see who my real friends are. Facebook makes it too easy to reconnect, and sometimes it would be nice to know who will reach out without facebook. I think people did well without facebook, what’s stopping our generation. Besides, who can maintain 500+ friendships at the same time? There’s even a study that shows that the brain can only maintain 150 friends at a time. I honestly just want to know who will reach out and who won’t without facebook. 🙂

Those are the biggest considerations as to why I “quit” Facebook. There’s still a 5% left, which is mainly to remove the pressure of accepting some of the adults here who tried to add me. You’re my parents’ friends, not mine. My friends are your kids. Please understand. Plus, people here like to talk a lot, so I’ve been warned. So that lessens the chance of that too.

I really don’t know how long I will last without a facebook account since I like being in the loop. But I guess it’s my chance to feel how it is to be out of the loop (and have a quiet life). So goodbye Facebook, for now.

Mineral Water

When I was younger, my mom never let my drink water from the sink. I always had to drink bottled water, specifically mineral water. This was because my tummy was really sensitive and I would throw up if I would drink water that’s not mineral.

When I started college, I was still afraid of drinking tap or house water in restaurants, but some people thought of it to be a snobbish act. So I tried to adapt to drinking tap water. I still dont like how it tastes, but at least my stomach is no longer vulnerable to the bacteria in it.

So why am I talking about mineral water? The other day, I got thirsty while we were at the mall. When my mom went to the restroom, I bought a bottle of mineral water from the Italian Cafe near the exit. They gave me Italian mineral water (which if converted is around 60 pesos. RIP OFF). I do not like the taste of Italian water. It was expensive but I did not enjoy it. I know water isn’t supposed to taste like anything, but some brands really do.

One time my mom told me never to buy Evian water. It was expensive. But I wouldn’t even buy it if it were cheap. I don’t like the taste. The same goes for Summit drinking water. It has this aftertaste that I don’t appreciate.

Since I’m bored, I will rank my favorite mineral water brands:

1. Wilkins

2. Absolute Drinking Water

3. Al-Qassim drinking water

Other than these brands, I do not trust any brand of bottled water.