Shabby sheiks

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

For Halloween, two hosts of noontime variety show “Eat, Bulaga!” (Or Eat Beluga to our friends from Buzzfeed) dressed up like “Arab sheiks”, a costume that offended some Filipino Muslims, including Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, who called it “a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim.”

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Pacquiao’s tax case is about money, not feelings


A Facebook post from a former journalist and, recently, a shill for a mining company on Manny Pacquiao’s tax troubles:

Welcome to the apathy of the Philippine government, they don’t care how much joy Manny gave to the people as long as govertment [sic] has something to steal.

And that seems to be the recent general sentiment over the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s garnishment of P1.1 million in two of Pacquiao’s bank accounts.

How dare a government agency, people–including people in government–are saying, actually do its job? What, they say, is a few million (the tax case involves P2.2 billion) against the hope and joy that Pacquiao’s victory brought the Filipino people by winning a boxing match so soon after the tragedy that hit the central Philippines?

The simple answer, really, is that the BIR didn’t. It did dare to run after a boxing champion, congressman, and patriarch of a fledgling political dynast. But that was not after the Pacquiao-Rios fight.

Nobody stood by the window of the BIR National Office Building, smoking a cigar in the dark, and said “Let us fuck over the Filipino people even more by taxing their national hero. If anything like that happened at all, it happened in 2011, when the case was first filed. read more »

Lapu-Lapu City: Serious Business

Lapu-Lapu City is apparently up in arms over a TV commercial that shills diapers and also “gravely insults” the city named after Datu Lapu-Lapu, former ruler of Mactan.

The ad, for EQ diapers, implies the Battle of Mactan was not fought because Lapu-Lapu refused to  pay tribute to the King of Spain but because Ferdinand Magellan gave him inferior diapers as a gift.

Here it is in all its gravely insulting glory:


Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Razada said in a press conference that “distorting history and making the Battle of Mactan look funny on TV is a lame attempt to promote a product.” She has demanded an apology from the diaper company and wants the ad pulled off the air.

“I am disturbed to hear young children talk about the ad and consider it as a true reflection of history,” she also said, which, really, says more about the country’s education system than anything else. If our kids cannot tell the difference between make believe and history, parents and teachers are to blame, not advertising creatives who were only doing their jobs.

This isn’t the first time that EQ has gravely insulted history to sell its diapers, either. It has released an ad featuring Cleopatra, which sparked fierce protests across Egypt, and an ad with an Elvis Genie, which doesn’t even really exist.

In the past, the city also took umbrage at a local fish being referred to as a Lapu-Lapu. Since 1996, the Lapu-Lapu fish has been referred to–by virtue of an ordinance–as the “Pugapo”, its original and unappealing name. The city council passed the ordinance because it  “exposes Lapu-Lapu City to ridicule and embarrassment because more often the city is identified with the fish rather than with the hero.”

The council has yet to propose and put to a vote another true travesty against Lapu-Lapu, the 2002 Lito Lapid movie of the same name.

Sorry, guys

(Thx for the input, D.B.!)

Laguna Governor ER Ejercito ushers in the campaign season with Gangnam Style


That’s that bullshit right there. Rather, that’s Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito dancing Gangnam Style in a Boy Scouts of the Philippines uniform on national TV.

Now, we can’t prevent public officials from appearing on TV to plug their movie or whatever. We can’t prevent them from making movies that we can’t prevent them from appearing on TV to plug either.  We can’t even keep them from campaigning early by appearing on TV and putting out “advocacy ads” before the official campaign starts. But can we, somehow, try to stop them from dancing on national TV? Maybe switching channels whenever a politician whips out their special talent will have some effect.

There’s nothing wrong with dancing, per se. I mean, we do not live in some backwater town where dancing and rock and roll are banned. But that sort of dancing has been the staple of campaign sorties since people started getting bored of things like platforms and policy issues.

Sure, it entertains the masses and makes them feel they are close to a candidate’s heart. But politics should not be about entertainment, and if  history is anything to go by, the masses are rarely ever really close to a victorious candidate’s heart.

TV host Vice Ganda does not mince words when he tries to convince Ejercito to dance to Gangnam Style: “Gov, pag nasayaw mo ito, naku, lahat ng bagets ay boboto na sa iyo (Gov, if you can dance this, all the kids will vote for you).”

Maybe “convince” isn’t quite the right word since Ejercito begins dancing as soon as the music starts playing. He does it well, too. He has obviously put a lot of time, if not thought, into learning to dance that silly little dance. The thought is disturbing considering he should be attending to other things, like running a province that has the town with the highest income in the country, and had two high-profile murders in the same year.

His sons soon join in the dancing, showing people, as Vice Ganda calls it, “Gangnam Style, the Ejercito Way.” Clearly, they have also spent a lot of time rehearsing their moves. This will probably come in handy when the actual campaign season starts, or when they have to dance at their own campaign sorties a few years from now.

Same Old Story

Here’s a development that surprised few but disappointed many: The Makabayan Coalition, an alliance of progressive party-list organizations promising a new brand of politics, has admitted guest candidates to its slate.

None of them is a new name and Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño’s justification for the team-up is as old as Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia, who, at 86, is the oldest lawmaker in Congress.

Citing the principle of “politics is addition,” Casiño said he and the guest candidates would “mutually” benefit from the alliance.

Makabayan Coalition has thrown its support behind Senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Aquilino Pimentel III, former Las Piñas representative Cynthia Villar and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe Llamanzares, calling them, along with Casiño, the “Senate Champions.”

Escudero and Legarda are already old hands at the Senate while Pimentel is seeking his second term. Villar is the wife of Senator Manuel Villar Jr. and mother of Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar. Escudero, Pimentel, and Villar are from political families.

Escudero, Legarda, and Llamanzares are common candidates of the two big coalitions fielding candidates in the 2013 elections, the administration’s and the also-administration-but-not-as-much United Nationalist Alliance.

Villar is an official candidate of the administration coalition while Escudero and Pimentel are friendly to Malacañang. Casiño is not and has been critical of the Aquino administration, but that apparently doesn’t matter as long as everybody’s happy.

Casiño, before he officially filed his candidacy, promised an alternative to “basically the same names, faces and vested interests that have dominated Philippine politics for decades.” His challenge then: “Wala na bang iba?” Is there nobody else?

That question has apparently been answered.

Upper House of Hypocrisy

Vitaliano Aguirre


Remember this guy?

He was cited for contempt during the Corona impeachment trial for covering his ears while Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago railed at the prosecution for being gago and epal and all sorts of things. This, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said was “a sign of disrespect to a member in this court and that can’t be allowed to pass and must be dealt with according to the rules.”

He was escorted out of the Senate session hall and was banned from appearing before the Senate impeachment court again. All this for covering his ears because a senator was screaming her lungs out. But that is understandable. We must, after all, protect the dignity of the Senate as an institution.

But nothing at all from our esteemed senators over a clear and present danger to the dignity the Senate holds so dearly and guards so jealously: its own majority floor leader making a mockery of discourse, intellectual property, and of the Senate itself.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, ending his multi-part turno en contra (literally “turn against”) speech against the Reproductive Health bill, appears to have appropriated parts of a speech made by the late U.S. senator Robert Kennedy in 1966 and claimed them as his own.

His response to critics who said he had copied someone else’s words again:

I found the idea good. I translated it into Tagalog [Filipino]. So what’s the problem?” Sotto told the Philippine Daily Inquirer when asked about his reaction to the fresh accusations.

“Ano? Marunong nang mag-Tagalog si Kennedy? (What now? Does Kennedy now know how to speak in Tagalog)?” he added.

This, apparently, is par for the course at the Sotto School of Rhetoric. Last month, when he was accused of stealing content from a U.S.-based blogger for use in his speech, he dismissed the accusation as silly.

When his staff later admitted to copying from the blog but without Sotto’s knowledge, the defenses became doubly damning: That copying is normal at the Senate, and that it is all right because it is not a crime.

Despite that, there has been nothing but support from the Senate. Neither Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago nor Senator Pia Cayetano, who are pushing passage of the Reproductive Health bill have said anything.

Enrile has dismissed the plagiarism allegations saying the copying was done in good faith and what matters is whether the copied content was factual or not. Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada’s reaction is even more reason to damn the whole Upper House of Hypocrisy: “I have no business meddling in the affairs of other senators.”

This from an institution that holds hearings on the barest hint of corruption and the slightest chance of TV time. This from an institution that earlier this year voted to remove then Chief justice Renato Corona from office for lying on his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth. This from a Senate that actually did meddle in the affairs of Senator Manuel Villar Jr. when he was accused of getting rich on a supposedly diverted road extension project.

Overplaying the Victim Card

Here’s an interesting update on the brawl between Inquirer columnist Mon Tulfo, Raymart Santiago, Claudine Barretto, and their pal in pink:

InterAksyon, the online news portal of TV5,where Tulfo’s brothers work, has a video showing Raymart and pals threw the first blow. It was a wimpy blow worthy of men in pink who beat down senior citizens, but there you go.

The video shows a man in a pink shirt who was talking to Tulfo. The man was beside a woman in pink tops and white shorts, attire that is similar to what Barretto was wearing during the May 6 incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City.

The man in pink shirt was seen on the video hitting Tulfo in the head with his left hand.

The scene reportedly took place before the melee.

And here’s the video:

But allegedly throwing the first punch–or any punch at all–is not the worst that this celebrity couple has done.

After the scuffle, Tulfo’s  brothers Erwin, Raffy, and Ben made threats against the couple, threatening retribution and hinting at a rematch. They have apologized for that, and were suspended by the network. The show itself was suspended by government censors.

That did not stop Santiago and Barretto from playing the victim card in the media, and, in effect, pissing on people with legitimate concerns like human rights.

The couple, for example, approached Gabriela Women’s Party for counseling, support and sympathy because, as a celebrity, Barretto’s only recourse is to run to a legitimate mass organization and make it look publicity hungry. Gabriela cannot be faulted for supporting her, of course. How can they turn away a victim of violence against women?

While we do not condone Ms. Barretto’s manner of confronting the Cebu Pacific staff for the inconvenience that her family encountered, and how she might have reacted to Mr. Tulfo, she and her family do not deserve, as no human being deserves, the violence they experienced,” Gabriela said on

What rankles is that Barretto is–except for being a woman–unlike the women that are in, or need, Gabriela. She is a celebrity, and probably has enough money for counseling from a psychiatrist. She certainly has enough money to hire lawyer Alex Avisado, who counts Senator Panfilo Lacson as a client. This writer gets the sense, then, that the move was more for publicity than for anything else: Look at us, we’re so poorwawa, we need Gabriela to defend us. And, during the time Barretto was milking that visit to Gabriela accompanied by television cameras and reporters, some other woman who cannot afford counseling or a big-name lawyer might otherwise have been served.

Not content with that, and possibly because Gabriela was smart enough not to let themselves be used to sway public opinion in an incident that does little for its cause, the couple then sought a writ of amparo (Recurso de Amparo) or protection from the Tulfo Brothers.

Which, to be fair, they can under the law.

Which, to be fair, doesn’t mean they should have. The writ, adopted from Latin American jurisdictions, was not originally intended as a legal relief in airport scuffles.

According to the Supreme Court, the writ was meant “to protect against human rights abuses especially during the time they were governed by military juntas. Generally, these countries adopted the writ to provide for a remedy to protect the whole range of constitutional rights, including socio-economic rights.”

The same Supreme Court annotation adds: “The writ covers extralegal killings and enforced disappearances or threats thereof,” a problem that this country has been having trouble addressing.

Again, sure, Raymart and Claudine can certainly ask for a writ of amparo. They can also hire bodyguards or get their pink-shirted buddy to hang out with them more often for their protection. Or, you know, not pay the Tulfos any mind because, come on, they would have to be pretty stupid to make threats on TV and then actually carry those out.

The court granted the petition and they now have police protection, so hooray. We’re paying our Philippine National Police to babysit these two.

To illustrate how this is the height of douchebaggery and a mockery of what the writ of amparo was meant to be, consider who else has filed a petition for that writ: the parents of Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, two U.P. students who have been missing since 2006.

Guest Post: Sorry, I did not know American Idol is also the Olympics

Talent is something never to be taken for granted. It should be personally recognized, nurtured, and developed. To give the world a chance to witness something one has worked on for many years is truly a blessing.

TV shows have provided us a reasonable means to enjoy a multitude of individual and collective skills one has never thought were possible. We have countless variations of America’s Got Talent and American Idol, impressing us, the audience, and even their competitors.

Every time someone of Filipino ancestry comes out in a show like American Idol (AI), Filipinos go bananas, as if they’re related and are just one phone call away. Most of the time, the lineage of that person overshadows the talent she has.

Our brains work this way: If Filipino, then support.

Hey, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, this isn’t the Olympics. AI is not London 2012. If the other contestant obviously has more talent and is better at what she does, she deserves the attention. We tend to ignore that just because “the other one is Filipino.”

I remember seeing someone on my Facebook feed posting how she is pissed that Filipinos in America were not voting for Jessica Sanchez. Sanchez, who almost got the boot after failing to receive enough votes, was eventually “saved” by the judges who kept her in the show. The truth of the matter is, Filipinos aren’t expected to vote for her just because she is Filipino-American. That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard.

I, for one, am entitled to vote for who I think performs the best on that stage. Jessica is wonderful, but I may have a different opinion. I should not be crucified for that.

We get so excited that she might win it all, but the fact is she won’t even be marketable. I can’t even think of the last time an American-born Pacific Islander became a mainstream icon in a Western culture. Why else did former AI finalist Jasmine Trias, pop star Jay-R and others come to Philippines? We fail to recognize that the world seeing how great she is could be enough.

Ultimately, they are Americans. Filipino by bloodline, but, legally, they are American citizens. Why do we do this? Why do we feel like we need to attach ourselves to them?

The answer is the same reason people of the lower class are hooked on to Wowowee. It’s not them, so they’re happy someone else is doing it for them. That is fine, but when people are looking at it as some type of international battle and not a contest of individual talent, that’s when they have to think hard and look at themselves again.

In the end, it’s a money-making competition on  TV and the rest of the Philippines has some “reforming of the mind” to do.
(Thx, Ervin!)

Internet Research and How Not To Do It

The Internet is such a wonderful thing for the curious.

Anyone can go online and have almost any question answered by downloading free books from Project Gutenberg, or using Wikipedia as a jump-off point for further research. With the right kind of eyes, you can even gain access to entire peer-reviewed journals and scientific papers.

Or, you can do your Internet research the lazy way:

That's what the National Historical Commission is for, right?

I would not be the least bit surprised if “IVAN” actually thought he was sending a message to former chief justice Jose Abad Santos and that Abad Santos would rise from the grave, walk to the library, and look it up “faster cause this is IVAN’s report.”

That report isn't going to write itself, former chief justice Jose Abad Santos

Indolent Indio strikes a blow against public indecency

Indolent Indio‘s long and lazy campaign against pornography in advertising has paid off.

Our crusade against smutty Red Ribbon ads (See “Is This a Cake or a Cock?,” 11 September 2009, “Is This Going To Be The Last Show?“, 10 June 2010) has resulted in a victory that is as sweet as cakes that do not look like penises.

This cake is not a lie

“Finally, I can drive down Epifanio Delos Santos Ave. without seeing a giant cock covered in frosting,” Vincent Bartolome, a totally fictitious bus driver, wrote Indolent Indio. Without huge images of cream-filled tube steaks to distract him, Bartolome says he can focus on driving safely, not overloading his bus, and giving passengers the courtesy they deserve.

Valenzuela Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, who had a huge billboard of showing the Philippine rugby team in their underwear torn down earlier this year, was among the first to send us his congratulations. “Now, I no longer feel threatened,” he said.

John Rawlins, a black soldier in the movie Glory (1989), was overjoyed. “That’s right, Hines. Ain’t no dream.  Go tell your folks how kingdom come in the year of jubilee! ,” he said in that scene where they marched through a town and there were no cocks nor cakes in sight.

The Red Ribbon website is now 71% porn free