Fighting Words

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III has refused to engage in a debate with Akbayan on the Reproductive Health bill. He said the Senate has already begun floor debates on the bill, so there would be “no point in debating it outside.” He is right.

His critics have called him gutless for turning down thechallenge hurled at him by the Ateneo Debate Society, and he may very well be wary of tangling with the best debate team in the country. But Sotto is no slouch when it comes to fighting with words.

His arsenal of rhetoric has weapons that not even the ADS is ready for. Like a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face, for example. He has tangled with Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, author of the RH bill, and was able to give as much as he got. He was able to silence Santiago, for example, with the ultimate debate combo breaker of “Well, that is your opinion.”

Santiago, expecting a counter-argument that made sense, was speechless.

In an earlier tussle, Sotto tried to trap Santiago into agreeing that passage of the RH bill would mean millions in profits for contraceptive manufacturers and dealers. “So! The RH bill is about money, and not health!,” he said, hoping to catch the feisty senator unawares.

And that, she was. “Oh, that is unfair,” she sighed wearily, realizing that it would be easier to squeeze blood from a stone than to get Sotto, who has promised to expose the contraceptive-industry lobby backing the bill, to agree to the need for a reproductive health bill.

And that, no matter how silver-tongued debaters are, will be how any debate with Sotto, or indeed most of the Pro-Life camp, will end. To be fair, it is just as unlikely for Santiago or for Senator Pia Cayetano to abandon the bill after a debate with the University of Santo Tomas Debate Team (whom we assume with no basis are against the RH bill).

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who has yet to be sold on the bill, has said that the bill will be subject to long and heated debates at the Senate. In the end, however, each senator will have to vote according to their conscience, he said.

And there lies the problem. Consicence is a funny thing. It isn’t always logical and is not always informed. One might even argue that it doesn’t exist. But one cannot argue against conscience. Not even within the Church.

“Conscience is inviolable, and the individual Catholic has a right to follow her own conscience, even when it is erroneous,” Santiago said in one of her sponsorship speeches for the bill. It was to argue that individual Catholics can dodge dogma on this one, but it can also apply to Sotto.

Should we keep discussing the RH bill? Definitely. But there is little that can be gained from giving Sotto, or any other lawmaker, a public drubbing from university students trained to argue either side of a debate.

If anything, it will only further alienate the masses and the fundamentalists that Sotto stands with. If the middle class was offended by James Soriano’s elitist column on the English language last week, imagine how TVJ fans would feel seeing their TitoSen being mocked and baited in an actual debate. They might just riot.

Passing a law, as with running a nation, is about building a consensus. Pro-RH bill groups should continue to engage with lawmakers and to lobby for its passage. But this should be done through dialogue and not debate. Anybody who has seen any university debate team in action knows that when they talk, there is no room for dialogue.

[EMBARRASSING ERRATUM: We read it wrong. The ADS will host the debate, while Akbayan will do the actual debating. Akbayan’s Leloy Claudio who challenged Sotto is from ADS. So we are half right!]

Indolent Internet Weekly Digest 6

Every weekend, Indolent Indio tries to come out with a short and hastily-done roundup of things we’ve found on the Internet (pinoy chapter, of course.) Quality, quantity, content, and success may vary.

The Philippine military is considering a Cold War-era ship-lease scheme with the United States to help contain Red China!

An LGBT group believes there have been 28 deaths this year from hate crimes against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered Filipinos. Of 103 death since 1996, 42 have been in Metro Manila. Meanwhile, UP Diliman’s Oblation (it’s just a model) dressed in drag for a Pride march this week, but was still quite naked, really.

Journalist and blogger Raissa Robles on Mayor Sara Duterte, who punched a court sheriff in the face Friday: “She was on the wrong side of the law but on the right side of right. ” Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim (Motto: “The Law Applies To All Or Else None [Sic] At All”) says he would have done the same thing.

Meanwhile, BusinessWorld columnist Luis Teodoro writes about someone else who broke the law and who thought he was on the right side of right.

Meanwhile, PH Azkals play a home game against the Sri Lankan Other Dudes.

Story on actress Maricel Soriano’s maid on GMA News Online: ‘Dinirty finger niya po kami’
Also, she apparently beat her up.

And here is activist band Talahib singing “Bumangon ka, Igorotan” for the Igorots, who, as comedian Candy Pangilinan knows, are our common ancestors.

Anti-Social Media: Fact-check Fail

Here is something that we found on Facebook that shows national hero Dr. Jose Rizal is going the way of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.  In a few years, Rizal will be a cultural icon whom people will confuse with the lead singer of Queen.

"Adios, patria adorada...they call me Mr. Fahrenheit."

This article, published on Dr. Rizal’s birthday and to plug design house Team Manila, is either a case of lazy editing, or of time travel. You decide.

This article was written at 88 miles per hour

For those in the audience who need glasses, or do not click on the picture, the copy reads thus:

One hundred fifty years ago, he was shot to death. Today, he lives–on t-shirts, mugs, notebooks, posters, postcards, and various accessories.

Which, as you know, is wrong because Rizal was shot 115 years ago at the age of 35. And not, as this article from a national broadsheet’s Sunday magazine implies, at the moment of his birth, by a crack team of Imperial Spanish terminator robots.

But maybe there’s some secret backstory here. Some unconfirmed report from anonymous sources that says Dr.Rizal was in fact killed by time travelling Castillians and was replaced with some less-awesome (but already pretty awesome) version who advocated education and not armed struggle. Is it true? Inquiring minds want to know.

Thanks, Facbook account of Vic Torres!

Santo Tomas trumps State U

The University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas have had a friendly sort of rivalry that dates back to before #schoolwars was something that might trend on Twitter.

The two schools, perhaps envious of the Ateneo-De La Salle rivalry, have been competing against each other in everything from cheerleading competitions to pretty much every licensure exam in the country.

So, when UP commemorated its centennial anniversary with a special edition 100-peso bill:

Actual monetary value is still P100

It was inevitable that UST, which marks its 400th anniversary this year, would try to one-up UP with this:

The bill nobody wants in their wallet.

Well played, Thomasians. Well played.

Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres Gomez: legislator, TV host, magic fairy

In Worse Than Free (2005), journalist and personal superhero Vergel Santos scored Noli de Castro for shilling a brand of brandy in a television commercial while still a news presenter for ABS-CBN.

He said de Castro, by agreeing to endorse Emperador Brandy, “increased his television exposure, not to mention his
earnings” and ended up topping the 2001 senatorial elections. And it was based on a bald-faced lie.

The point is he got where he is partly by misrepresenting himself and breaching ethics: As one who never touched the stuff, he was less than truthful in his brandy commercial, and as a media person, less than proper.

Since then, the worlds of advertising and politics have overlapped so often that Philippine media is like New york City (Earth-616)in the Marvel Universe.

Except with less costumes, more barongs

Senator Francis Escudero’s endorsement of Technomarine is only among the latest, but Senators Loren Legarda, Panfilo Lacson, and former senator Richard Gordon have all appeared in ads for laundry detergent, a dermatologist, and for anti-bacterial soap. Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao falls in a different category altogether for endorsing every product ever made, and for being a part-time congressman.

Those ads, at least, were based on reality. Escudero wears a watch, Legarda wears clothes, and Gordon washes his hands (also, he donated his talent fee to the Red Cross, he said). Senator Lacson has nice skin, I guess.  Pacquiao is Pacquiao, the closest thing the Philippines has to an actual Thor (half god/half congressman). Not so these recent ads by Lucy Torres Gomez, Leyte representative and fairy of some sort.

In a series of TV commercials for a brand of detergent, Gomez is portrayed as some sort of fairy/superhero in the fight against mildew and laundry that smells of damp. She even has corny catch phrases like “Wash out!”, “Kaya ng powers ko (my powers can handle this!), and “More powers to you!”

"Wash Out!"

Sadly, she is not speaking of the powers of Congress to hold inquiries in aid of legislation and to craft laws but of the stain-beating, mildew-removing powers of this detergent of which she is the personification.

Listen, we get that politics is mostly a joke in this country, and we have very low expectations when we elect actors (and their spouses) to the legislature, but come on.

There is a certain gravitas to legislation and we expect our lawmakers to act a certain way. Sure, you can go ahead and steal our money, let your children act like beasts now and then, but at least do it with dignity. Save the silly costumes for the annual State of the Nation Address.

This is no basis for a system of government

By Jingo!

By Jingo! There is nothing like having a rich and heavily-armed neighbor sniffing around your backdoor to whip our politicians into a nationalistic fervor.

Although the Palace has officialy called for calm on the issue of Chinese navy ships cruising near the Kalayaan Island Group, Paranaque Representative Roilo Golez wants to hit the Middle Kingdom where it hurts: its international image.

We can deliver speeches and statements in Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), UN (United Nations), Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union), various parliaments especially the US Congress, Australia, Japan, South Korea. We should internationalize the issue in both official and unofficial channels,” Golez said.

Golez, who believes everything on Wikipedia  is true , said China’s image abroad is where it is “most vulnerable and where a credible attack can be launched and sustained.” He even suggested a “diplomatic alliance” with Vietnam despite that country also claiming the Spratlys as theirs.


The loose strategy seems to be to pressure groups like Asean and the UN (where China sits on the security council) to, I don’t know, say some pretty words about sovereignty and freedom.

"Good luck with that, guys."

Over the weekend, Albay Governor Joey Salceda, a former economic adviser to the Arroyo government, suggested a boycott of China-made goods. “Let us boycott ‘Made in China’ products. Buy Filipino. Let us hurt them where it counts,” he reportedly told his constituents on Independence Day a few decades too late. With no real industries to speak of, buying Filipino at this point will hurt us more, and where it counts.


Not keen on Filipinos basically not buying anything they can afford, the Palace was quick to reject the proposal.

“Governor Salceda, like many other Filipinos, has strong opinions regarding the issue of the West Philippine Sea and we respect that. However, a boycott of Chinese products is not administration policy at this point,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

If you grew up knowing that the Spratlys were in the South China Sea (and if you were born before today, that includes you), then more fool you. As every red-blooded Filipino knows, the Spratlys are in the West Philippine Sea, according to the country’s latest campaign to legitimize our claim over the islands.


(Palace spokesman Edwin NMI) Lacierda said the Palace was taking its cue from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which has been using “West Philippine Sea” in the series of letters and notes verbales protesting China’s incursions into areas that the DFA claims were well within Philippine territory.

The DFA earlier explained that using “West Philippine Sea” to refer to the waters where the disputed territories lie was “in keeping with our tradition and history as well as reflective of its proper geographic location.”

No longer can China use that foulest of the arguments  used by playground bullies: “I don’t see your name on it.” You can see it now, China. You can see it now.


Senator Francis Pangilinan also chimed in on the issue with a statement that on one hand is irrelevant, and on the other hand, isn’t true at all: “The Philippines has a long history of freedom and popular uprisings against tyranny and the arrogance of power. We will never allow any superpower to bully us into submission.”


Happy post-Independence Day, everybody.

Except you, Renato Pacifico, you fink.

Fuck you, guy. That is the Philippine flag.

Doroteo Jose station, LRT Line 1, Manila

Fuck you, guy. That is the Philippine flag that my grandfather spent most of his life fighting for. He did not survive the Death March and a Huk ambush and then ironically die from an incorrectly diagnosed stomach problem at Veterans Memorial Medical Center so you can use it as as a goddamned sun shade.

Fuck you very much.

Also, fuck you, Doroteo Jose station of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 for putting up a Philippine flag near wet paint and letting paint stain that flag so it looks like some guy used it to wipe his ass. If you’re going to put up a flag to mark our Independence Day, know that is not just some funky Pinoy Pride curtain.

Why don't you just set it on fire and pee on the ashes?

Anti-Social Media: bickering on the beat

This is both an illustration and a clue

It’s boys versus girls at one major news beat, an anonymous source tells us.


The conflict apparently started at a sponsored excursion (which is what people used to call junkets in the 1980s) where tequila (which people used to drink in the 1990s) and hormones combined in a cocktail of conflict.


To keep things wholesome, guys were billeted together in one room, and girls were supposed to sleep in another room. Reporters being a drunken and unwholesome lot, one guy reporter ended up sleeping in the girls’ room after they asked him to hang out for a while.


This, apparently, did not fly with the other guy reporters because a. ancient laws of propriety were broken, b. they wanted to hang out with the girl reporters too, c. they said that reporter was just faking drunkenness to sleep in the girls’ room. Not to, you know, get laid or anything like that. Just to get to hang out with girls. Which, I don’t know, should only piss you off for not thinking of it first.


So, the guys got pissed off at drunken reporter guy for being better at chicks (and being less married) than they were, and at the girls for falling for it, I guess.


The conflict has reportedly resulted in snide remarks being thrown around, passive-aggressive status messages on Facebook and other social media, and an actual shouting match between a hotshot guy reporter and a girl reporter, both from major broadsheets.


Another source says the conflict has even reached the people these reporters are supposed to be covering. They have been asking reporters about the conflict, possibly because they think they have the monopoly on petty word wars and easily-offended pride.


One one hand, it’s nice to know that the media has been practicing self regulation and respects family values. On the other hand, it’s sad that that self regulation is on something as silly as this.


From what sources have been telling Indolent Indio, being on the take is okay as long as you don’t act like you’re a chick magnet.

The Best Motel Discount Card Ever

There are two things that Filipinos love: fucking and saving money.

Unfortunately, nobody wants to admit wanting to either have sex or save money or worse, both at the same time.

Which makes the subject of motel discount cards particularly taboo. In a country where taking a girl to a motel is bad enough (versus bringing her home to meet your mother, say), saying “Relax, I can get us 20 percent off the room rate” won’t earn you any points. Even admitting that you have one will get you gasps followed by awkward silence.


Excuse me while I whip this out

The motels have had to be creative with their discount cards, with top-tier Victoria Court coming out with a plain black plastic card that doesn’t even have their logo or name on it. Semi-shady discount hotel Eurotel has a discreet little plastic tab printed with a vaguely European coat of arms ripped off from Fred Perry.

But Sogo Hotel beats them both with its strategy of hiding in plain sight.


This isn't even mine. I swear.

Perfect for those times when a. you’re horny and your chances of getting laid depends on naming each station along Manila’s train lines and b. you’re horny and accidentally kill someone/set something on fire.