Why trees are better on the ground

In the spirit of discourse in which the previous post was written, Indolent Indio is posting this piece from Michael Bengwayan of Cordillera Ecological Center. Although we can argue with prats who run away at the first sign of debate, we cannot argue with science. 

We assume good faith in this piece, as we assume good faith on the part of SM.

[UPDATE: According to the Internet, Forestry professor, arborist, and urban forestry practitioner Armando Palijon has a different take on the issue. He says balling the trees is useless and that SM should instead use the money on compensatory activities like planting more trees. Check it out here.]

The Lies and More Lies of SM About Their Tree Massacre

By Michael A. Bengwayan

For the past days, some articles have been written obviously by people who are on the side of SM but ignorant about trees and can’t even tell the difference of what a live tree is from a dead one. Some disinformation have also been written about me and our head legal officer Atty. Cheryl Chyt L. Daytec Daytec. SM is desperate as it has lost so much goodwill as well as income and it will do everything–even to maximize lies and distort truths –just to get into your pockets. But the people of Baguio are wiser than all of SM. They see through the facade of SM’s pride parade, arrogance and greed.

Allow me to let you see through the lies of SM’s so-called Green Expansion Garden in the Sky project. They say that their project is “certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the internationally recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the US Green Building Council.”

[Indolent note: The actual claim on SM’s website is:

The project aims to be the first mall in the North Region to be certified by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the internationally recognized standard for green building design and construction developed by the USGBC.

The project is designed to receive a LEED Gold Rating, which requires a minimum of 60 of the listed points, subject to the review and approval of the Green Building Council.]

However, Jennivine Kwan, Vice President for International Operations of USGBC denied this claim. She said they have never certified any project of SM and do not intend to work with SM.

[Indolent note 2: SM does claim membership in the US Green Building Council:

SM Prime Holdings has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council. As a member of USGBC, the company committed itself to the mission and guiding principles of the organization in fostering a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy saving green buildings.

SM Prime Holdings is on the US Green Building Council membership directory, though. We’re not sure what that means.]

LEEDS Philippines also said SM’s trumpeting of its so called Green Project is a case of Greenwashing, (Disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image) and called on people to sign the petition against SM.

And rightly so. Why? Because building a garden in the sky is only an artificial thing. There is no substitute to God-made woods, forest or natural gardens. An artificial Garden in the Sky has all the following disadvantages.

First, when you put soil on top of a building and plant trees on it, you are negating the carbon sequestration capability of the trees. The carbon absorbed by the trees accumulate in the few feet of soil on top of the concrete roof and since the trees are not naturally connected to the earth, the amassed carbon dioxide volatilizes back to the atmosphere through the surface soil as there is no deeper ground for the COs to leach. Thus, instead carbon dioxide being trapped, it is released continually to the atmosphere causing harm and danger.

Second, the natural capillary action of tree roots to raise water level to as high as 200 feet deep is totally removed because they are not in contact to the earth. With this, there will be more difficulty in water access.

Third, oxygen release by trees is lessened because a disequilibrium in CO2-O2 exchange. More CO2 are released while the trees, which can never reach their growth potential in terms of height, density and sprawl, will have limited capability to create and to release oxygen.

The problem is, SM wants to invent better what God has made. That is bullshit. There is no substitute to what God has made. Not even science can replace that.

Is this so hard to understand?

Does anyone from SM want to chime in?

It’s (Not) All Pine, Dudes

Let’s get this straight. We at Indolent Indio don’t hate the environment. We hate hate. Blind hate, anyway. And SM Supermalls has been getting a lot of that lately.

It’s not difficult to see why.

SM is so easy to hate

Not only are they an enormous corporation, they’re owned by a guy who invites ire simply by being both Chinese and the richest man in the Philippines. This combination of facelessness and figurehead makes it easy for people to lash out blindly at SM’s power while “[attaching] a face to the Baguio trees issue.”


Also applicable: "South Korea's Human Cloning Breakthrough"

The Sy family, this fake-ass TIME cover notwithstanding, is publicity shy and therefore easy to condemn and Photoshop.

Did we mention they're Chinese?

People working for SM have likewise been demonized, with their security guards being painted as Martial Law-era goons and their construction workers as environmental terrorists.

This, despite the fact that SM guards have standing and very specific orders not to touch any protesters. The most the malls have done is turn up their sound system so the rest of the 3.5 million shoppers in their 43 malls nationwide could do so in relative peace.

While many shoppers clapped as the protesters chanted, others were displeased.

“Excuse me, I’m shopping,” a woman shouted.

Focus, ficus

Much like the trees themselves, valid but irrelevant issues are being dug up.

Take, for example, SM’s labor practices: inducing fatigue by forcing their salesladies to be on their feet for their entire shift, and inducing unattractiveness by standardizing makeup regardless of skin tone.

This has been happening for years, and not only in SM. Where are the Carlos Celdrans for those ladies with their bunions and unflattering eyeshadow palettes?

Even if true, this has nothing to do with the trees, except that by boycotting the malls, those ladies will not have to stand around all day in horrible makeup. Hooray!

Actually, Celdran does make that point. Good for him.

Look at who is making the most money here and how does it trickle down? What’s the quality of jobs that they create AND support? Ethics? Practices? Policies? Carbon footprint? I think they’ll be measured and come wanting. And let’s not pinpoint here. The Ayalas, Gokongweis, Tans, Angs, and ALL others should be taken to task. This should be the beginning of accountability for ALL who take part in the PH economy. In the public and private sphere.

This is a valid point, of course. One can also argue that the worst quality job is the one where you don’t have one at all. But that has nothing to do with trees and everything with malling as the center of Filipino commerce and consciousness.

Counterpoints or, you know, basic information

Much has also been said about the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources, which issued the permits for SM to cut and ball the trees. Mainly that they have been paid off or value big business at the expense of nature.

This might be true, and is always the argument against all the other agencies that support dudes with fat wallets, e.g. pro-Corona, but we — and by that we mean you and I — don’t know if SM paid off DENR for sure.

General disapproval of the permits being given is in no way evidence of corruption. Saying that Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was bribed is unfair to him and hundreds of other people in the DENR who might actually know what they are doing.

Assuming that they’re all corrupt and incompetent because you disagree with the decision is a lazy argument and is disrespectful of Forestry, which is an actual field of study that our foresters spend their careers in.

Even balling the trees at night — SM’s supposed attempt to keep the people of Baguio in the dark — was more for the benefit of the trees than for anyone else. Did you know that? We didn’t, until we decided to find out. Surprise!

The fact is that night time earth-balling was a directive from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

According to DENR undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio, trees have greater chances of survival when it is re-balled in the cooler night environment.

He said that doing this during the dry, hot summer day, would mean greater possibility of death for the re-balled trees.

SM isn’t cutting down or balling 182 pine trees either. Ninety-seven adult pine trees will be transplanted and the rest are either saplings, which are easier to transplant, or alnus (alder) trees which, we have been told, is an invasive species.

Will some of those trees die? They might, but SM has already promised to plant 50,000 saplings, regardless of how many of the original 182 survive.

That makes your “mass murderer” argument invalid. In the next five years, SM is planting a total of 50,000 saplings, which is around 274 saplings for every tree “massacred.”

It's also about ANGRY RED TEXT.

Where the trees currently are, SM’s creating a stronger concrete structure to prevent erosion, and under that is a reservoir that can supposedly hold 6.9 million liters of water, or as much water as around 4,000 trees can soak up. So Ondoy-level floods look like a Metro Manila problem for now.

The floodwater, instead of going into Baguio City can instead be used for fire trucks, watering local parks, and other stuff for the water-starved City of Pines1.

All of these, really, are promises. We don’t know whether SM will follow through or not, but protesters and trolls alike are banking on the belief that all 182 trees will die. Pretty ironic that it’s SM who’s hoping the trees will live.

“Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction,” said Pablo Picasso, and, to a certain extent, Secretary Paje. And this is true. Unless you are living in a tree house and reading this on your banana-leaf tablet, you’re in on it too.

Angry people

We’re inundating you with information about how Baguio is far from inundation itself. So much useless and destructive rage has been leveled at SM precisely because ragefaces are best worn with ignorance, if not reductionist arguments.

SM Baguio’s woes went viral, and while it’s heartwarming to see that thousands of Filipinos suddenly care about the environment, it’s also evidence that going viral is the opposite of discourse.

Think of the children! And by that we mean KONY 2012.

Commentary on slacktivism aside, should you stop opposing SM Baguio’s development? Not at all, but make sure your rage has roots, because your opinion will hold much more water if informed. This issue raises questions about development, about the kind of culture that we have as a people, about local autonomy and economies. These are questions that deserve more thought than clicking on the share button and typing a trite comment that others have already made.

Don’t dismiss everything as corporate spin. It’s nice to think that this is as simple as protecting Mother Nature Magick from Big Bad Biznezzes, but spin goes both ways.

It is, for example, unfair to declare that you’re showing people “the photo of SM cutting trees in the dead of night,” without expounding on the photo, whether to fully say “OMFG SM SO BAD” or taking the informed route and acknowledging that it was a DENR directive. It’s unfair to say “Fuck SM!” and distribute angry links to angrier pieces while pimping some high-class hotel built on reclaimed land. It’s also unfair to dig up five-year-old development plans, i.e. SM Tagaytay, and post them without context. “Holy Shit” indeed, Mr. Celdran.

I guess we can safely say that most haters can’t see the forest2 for the trees.


1 As an aside, WWF’s Lorie Tan says Baguio gets the most rainwater in a year but also has the least access to it. One solution to Baguio’s lack of water is a water catchment system. Which is, ta-dah!, part of SM’s planned infrastructure.

2 SM said they complied with the requirements set by Administrative Order 2000-21, which includes studies, consultations with the community, and “an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) which shall be made as basis for the issuance of an ECC.” Assuming the DENR knows what it is doing–but probably not as well as the social media hive mind–then the issuance of the permit must mean SM’s proposal passed their guidelines.

NOTE: In case you’re curious, we aren’t being paid nor are we part of any international conspiracy. If you’ve been here long enough, you know we don’t play that way.

The Rocket’s Red Glare

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio has, as the newspapers say, hit the government for supposedly causing panic over the anticipated launch by North Korea of a rocket to send a satellite into orbit this month.

Part of the rocket may fall around 190 kilometers East of Luzon, and the Philippine National Research Institute has suggested that people stay indoors during the launch:

The Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) – DOST submits the ‘STAY INDOORS’ policy for the residents of Regions 1, 2, 3 4A, 4B, NCR and 5 during the 12-16 April 2012 period, particularly between 0600H to 1200H,” the PNRI said.

“PNRI will continue to monitor and issue periodic advisories and precautionary measures to the NDRRMC and the general public. In the event of a suspected radiation report, NDRRMC with the recommendation of PNRI will activate the Radiological Plan (RADPLAN),” it added.

That, and proposed no-fly and no-sail zones is a ploy by the government to create panic among the people, Rep. Tinio says. “They are spreading misinformation and sowing fear among the public. It’s outrageous and unacceptable,” he says in reports on Sun.Star and by ABS-CBNNews.com .

“The North Koreans are launching a satellite on that rocket, not a nuclear warhead. Yet Undersecretary (Benito) Ramos even refers to it as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM, evoking the doomsday weapon of the Cold War. Such exaggerated language is totally inappropriate coming from a bureaucrat in charge of ensuring public order and safety. Leave the rhetoric to the diplomats and politicians,” Tinio said.

But, you see, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) that Ramos heads does not actually say that on their advisory. There is no mention of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles or doomsday or the Cold War on the report, nor is there any “exaggerated language”.

[UPDATE: Rep. Tinio, through his Twitter account, has sent us a link of the minutes of the NDRRMC meeting where  Ramos reportedly referred to the launch of “an alleged non-nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) named “KWANGMYONGSONG-3“. The document has since been deleted from the NDRRMC website, he said.

From the minutes:

USEC Ramos emphasized, the meeting is not intended to cause alarm but rather educate, prepare and allay all fears that may arise from misinformation or disinformation. This is to avert panic as seen in the Fukushima Nuclear incident where betadine solutions/ products were sold-out locally and schools/ universities suspending classes.

To be fair to Rep. Tinio, the minutes have Ramos giving “a brief lecture on the types of (weapon) trajectories stressing how serious things will be if the rocket veers off course or maliciously intended to hit the Philippines.”]

In its advisory, NDRRMC said  the Unha rocket that will carry the satellite is “essentially the same as the Taepodong missile, which is being developed as a delivery system for Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

Which, you know, is a reason for worry.

But hang on, the same NDRRMC update says reassuringly that as far as anyone knows, “the missile does not carry a nuclear warhead.”

“[PNRI director Alumanda Dela Rosa] allayed fears about the possibility of it being a weapon of mass destruction. Accordingly, there is no reported radioactive material that will be carried on board.”

The “Stay Indoors” policy isn’t even a policy so much as a suggestion. The Army isn’t being called out and put on red alert, Martial Law has not been declared, and the government has not said much about the North Korean satellite launch at all since the long weekend.

But clearly, Rep. Tinio, says, this is fear-mongering and a blatant pandering to US imperialism as well as a negation of North Korea’s sovereignty

Tinio raised the possibility that the report was part of a calculated effort on the part of the Aquino administration to get the public’s support on increased presence of US troops in the country.

“After all, President Aquino has been the most vocal in echoing US foreign policy on North Korea in this part of the world,” he said.

This is probably true, since all the other countries who may have rocket debris land within 190 kilometers of their mainland have been so far very quiet about the North Korea Satellite Launch Question. Who’s launching into rhetoric now, Rep. Tinio?

The legislator challenged Malacañang to review the NDRRMC’s report and take responsibility for providing the public with an objective assessment of the situation and coming up with sensible recommendations.

Sensible, like taking North Korea’s word over that of your own country’s government.

Quite a Character

Guess what, Philippine Daily Inquirer? Funny faces are only funny when they’re made on purpose, and not when they’re the uncontrollable result of a debilitating cerebrovascular accident.

With all the elegance of a national broadsheet stooping to unethical levels that would make a tabloid blush, today’s PDI published incredibly tasteful photographs of witness Demetrio Vicente grimacing his way through a testimony. On the front page, even.

This isn't the picture we're talking about.

The photos have been called “unflattering,” “tasteless,” and “mean.” We don’t mince words. The decision to publish those particular photographs of the septuagenarian stroke survivor was downright cruel.

Inquirer’s instant statement amidst the backlash was the exact opposite of their usual coverage of the impeachment trial: on the defense. Their claim that the four-frame collage of Mr. Vicente’s facial expressions contained “the only photos available” is shut down by the fact that there are actually only two photos, with the other half of the quadrant being zoomed-in versions of the first two. What did you think that editorial call was, PDI? A stroke of genius?

As if the photographs weren’t funny enough — and by “funny” we mean “insulting to Mr. Vicente and stroke survivors and people with basic human values everywhere” — PDI couldn’t resist digging their elbow a little deeper into the side of ethical journalism. Which, by the way, isn’t ticklish.

Their caption:
“‘CHARACTER’ WITNESS The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand. He’s no ordinary witness after all. He’s the cousin of the Chief Justice whose wife sold him seven parcels of land in 1990, where he now grows bonsai.”

Oh, I get it! He’s a “character” because he can’t control his facial muscles! Also, he is a witness! So witty, Inquirer. “Character” is properly ascribed to vintage furniture and James Earl Jones’ voice, not disabilities. People who come up with quips like these are the same people who Photoshop Mickey Mouse ears onto pictures of hydrocephalic babies.

(Thx, Indolent contributor Lady Dada!)

Impeachment at Ateneo

It is often said that the university is a microcosm of society. Granted, this is usually said of the University of the Philippines, but it also applies to other schools, with slight modifications.

At any rate, it can be said that our universities mirror society since they have valid issues too. Valid to the students, at any rate.

Take the Occupy Job Fair at Ateneo de Manila University earlier this year as a protest against a job fair perceived to be aimed at finding jobs for people from the ADMU School of Management:

An unrepresentative and unaccommodating job fair is one more insult on top of all the SOM students who’ve discriminated against us in our very own classes whether out of malice or ignorance. We’re not saying that people mean to marginalize us through all of these things, but all we’re asking for is space and respect for non-corporate ways to make sense of our lives.

At the end of the day even if there is no giant SOMspiracy, students from SOSS and SOH unfairly feel the weight of the invisible hand. We’re making a perfectly legitimate choice offered by the institution and it’s only right that we expect the Ateneo institution to stand by us by validating our choices in the job fair.

Clearly, even though many of them are in the Philippines’ 1 percent (which, in no way means the global 1 percent), students from schools other than the School of Management felt they were in the 99 percent.

Here are photos from that protest:

Photos from Rica Facundo (senorica.wordpress.com)

Ms. Facundo adds:

In my four college years in Ateneo this is the most vocal I’ve seen the community. Perhaps the medium was radical, but if other people voiced their opinions sooner then maybe this could have been prevented. Although there are bigger issues to be concerned about, if you can’t speak up in your community now then what more when you leave it.

But the world has since moved on from the Occupy movement (except for people actually Occupying cities) and the flavor of the month is now the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Which brings us to the potential impeachment trial of an ADMU student council officer for “mismanagement, inefficiency,incompetence, and gross neglect of duty.”

An excerpt, with the respondent’s name redacted:


WHEREFORE, pursuant to the procedure laid out in Section 19, Article II of theSanggunian Constitution, the undersigned complainants, as students of the Ateneo deManila University – Loyola Schools, hereby file the impeachment complaint against Respondent [Redacted].Thereafter, undersigned Complainants respectfully pray that the Honorable Magistratesof the Student Judicial Court conduct trial forthwith and thereafter, render a judgment of conviction against Respondent [Redacted]. Other reliefs, just and equitable, are also prayed for

Indolent Indio doesn’t know whether the complaint, dated February 19, has been filed, or whether it will be filed by ADMU party Christian Union for Socialist and Democratic Advancement (Crusada) at all. There is a document, though, and it exists online.

In any case, this will not be the first time that impeachment proceedings have been initiated at the ADMU as a cursory Google search has found:

A lot of Ateneans do not know this but there is an Impeachment Trial going on right in their very own campus.

The plaintiffs are members of the Sanggu themselves including [Redacted] and the rest of the top officers in the council.

The Prosecution is headed by Joan De Venecia and William Panlilio.

These are the charges: Violation of constitution and abuse of power And Misrepresentation

On the first day of the trial, Jan. 15,2001, the President is off to a stumbling start. First, her motion for reconsideration and dismissal on the grounds that not all the plaintiffs were present at the start of the trial was shot down at least three times by the Judicial council. When she cited another Article for her reasons, it turns out that the Article was referring to the Judicial Council and JC chief Baldoria told her that they are complete.

It seems that the president is looking for a way out of this through technicality. It seems, however, that she is shooting herself in the foot in her oral argumentations.

It’s the greatest show in school!

That impeachment trial happened in 2001, when, coincidentally, the Senate was trying impeached President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The Pinoy Exchange thread was started on January 16, 2001, a day before Edsa Dos. It is unclear whether a proportionally smaller crowd later rallied along the Ateneo corridors against their impeached council president. [For accuracy’s sake: there was no such rally.]

(Thx, ‘S.O.M Mall Lady’)

I’ll Be The Judge Of That

One thing that seems obvious from the first two weeks of the Corona impeachment trial is that we do not seem to know much about the legal system. We seem, for example, to think that judges should be like the Judges of the bible, ready and eager to smite impertinent lawyers and/or Philistines.

The Internet (Pinoy chapter) was full of praise when former actual judge, quasi-judge, and future international court judge Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago berated lawyers from both sides for arguing when she wanted to speak:

Excerpts from the comments thread of a Yahoo! Philippines story on her outburst:’

Excerpts. The thread itself is more entertaining

That sure showed those pompous lawyers pompously doing their jobs and pompously arguing legal points what’s what. Shame on them for doing things like citing boring  laws and, in the case of private prosecutor Arthur Lim, making emphatic hand gestures.

Lim wanted BIR chief Kim Henares to testify on Corona’s income tax returns but Santiago, and the court, said there was no need for that.

Santiago said she wanted to keep the proceedings short. “Kaya tayo tumatagal, may oration pa eh! (This oration is what is delaying this) This is not a school on oratorical skills. This is a school on logic and experience,” she said before orating for minutes, spewing “at least 3 words per second.” After which, the court was suspended for a few minutes to give people time to calm down.

But what did that really accomplish except further cementing Santiago’s reputation as a lady with a sharp tongue and who speaks her mind never mind who gets offended? Henares testified anyway.

Santiago did it again the next day, shaming Lim in open court and on live TV, after basically saying the impeachment complaint is no good.

Entertaining TV, to be sure, but this is the gem in that long tirade:


Santiago: How many years have you been in trial practice, counsel?

Lim: 42 years, your honor.

Santiago: And what have you specialized in? Is it not true you specialize in maritime law?

Lim: In everything, your honor.

Santiago: What an impertinent answer. Let me get to the point because I might lose my temper with you.

Had that happened, I assume Santiago would have transformed into a primordial dragon beast and devoured Lim as the people at the Senate session hall debate on whether to applaud or scream in terror, and decide to instead go mad. After that, Santiago would disappear into the sea to commune with other creatures of Lovecraftian horror until the trial resumes next week. Basically, what I am saying is “What the fuck?

And So It Goes

And so we find the strongest political coalition before the 2010 elections reduced to a fractious faction who apparently will eagerly turn on each other at the drop of a hat.

Former political giant Lakas-Kampi-CMD this week lost one of the few members who actually did stuff: Albay Representative Edcel Lagman.

"Screw you guys. I'm going home."

Lagman stepped down weeks after declaring he still had the support of most of the 29 members of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives. The two Arroyo sons in Congress, who had earlier pledged loyalty to Lagman, have reportedly decided to back Suarez instead.

I cannot continue serving a political aggrupation which deliberately refuses to recognize competent, militant and responsible leadership and would opt to follow blindly the importuning of former President Arroyo,” he added.

Lagman earlier accused Arroyo of planning his ouster after meeting with (Quezon Representative Danilo) Suarez and several of her close allies in her hospital suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center two weeks ago.

With Lagman–veteran debater, foil to the administration, and principal author of the Reproductive Health bill at the House–gone, the minority is left with Suarez, who does not have much of a record of objecting to things except in the issue of taxes owed to his province by an energy company. He was a staunch ally of then President Joseph Estrada before switching to the Arroyo team. We hazard that given a choice, he would gladly jump this ship and join the Aquino administration if it will have him.

Other erstwhile allies have either joined the administration Liberal Party directly or, through the new National Unity Party that is part of the House majority.

At any rate, Lakas-Kampi-CMD has little strength left, and even less allies. With just 28 members left, a number that may yet dwindle as the 2013 elections loom, there is little that the minority can do now except make ineffectual noise, if that.

Anti-Social Media: Impeachment edition

While the cameras were trained on the clash between the two sides on the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona, there were smaller clashes among the media covering the event.

Which is understandable, really, given the emotionally-charged atmosphere of the whole thing. Tensions are so high, in fact, that journalists–both multimedia and traditional–were quick to see bombs when one of their own left a bag of equipment unattended for several hours.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team of the Pasay City Police had to be brought in and sniffer dogs had to check the bag for explosives. Senate security was not pleased, our correspondent says, because the scare made them look like fools. The radio crew who left their equipment were not too pleased either because they had to go without their equipment, will have to endure ribbing from their colleagues, and have to personally apologize to the Senate President.

Well, at least it gave everyone an excuse to whip out their smart phones and encourage discussion through this new thing called online journalism.

But more explosive is a brewing cat fight between a posse of reporters from a young media outlet and an existing clique of reporters with more experience both in front of the camera and on the beat. It does not help that the new reporters seem to still be undergoing birth pains. Covering an impeachment trial is, after all, not the easiest way to get your feet wet in journalism.

There was a shouting match this week after one of the new reporters, possibly harassed and treading water, pushed a bigger network’s camera aside. She accidentally touched the lens, which is apparently akin to slapping the Pope in the face, and so one of the veteran reporters let her have it (shouting, not the camera). To be fair, the newbie reporter had been hit on the head by a camera earlier that day (and who among us has not?) and she was just trying clear a path while protecting herself.

Another new reporter asked the defense lawyers why they were holding a press conference while the trial was going on. The lawyer, with a booming voice that would make a prosecutor quail, told her matter of factly that they were holding the press conference because the media had asked for one. “I thought we were doing you a favor,” he said as the reporter sank slowly into the plush carpets of the Senate before the Earth swallowed her up.

It was, to be sure, not the smartest question to ask a lawyer who used to be chief of staff to Supreme Court Justice Andres Narvasa. But it did not deserve the derisive laughter and the audible click of hundreds of eyes rolling in their sockets. Every journalist in that room began as a newbie, and the mean girls of the media have had their own share of booboos. It’s even debatable whether some of those in the old guard have learned anything in their many years in journalism.

A glaring example of that may be in this lady reporter with medusa locks who likes to take over press briefings with snide comments from the sidelines. “Give us the list!,” she shouted at the prosecutors from the House of Representatives, who were about to actually give the list of people they were calling as witnesses to the trial.

“It’s on the press release, honey!,” she screamed at a newbie reporter who had not, in fact, received the press release that would have answered her question. At any rate, the question was not addressed to her. With each comment, an ever widening circle as other reporters began cringing away in embarrassment.

We’re not saying that this same reporter has been harassing lawmakers for perks like food for the press office and free rides to and from the Senate. We hear, though, that other people are saying that.

Indolent Internet Digest 9

Manila tech start up Pencil Rocket has come out with taxikick.com, a website that allows you to report abusive taxi drivers. The complaints, or “kicks,” are forwarded to the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board.

Recent kicks on the site paint a picture of cab drivers who are rude, who short change passengers, give generally bad service, and serve cold pizza.

Photo from sofimi on Twitter

Indolent Indio is still verifying reports that Ver.2 will also give copies of complaints to the local TBS13 (and similar local gang) in the area so they can actually kick cabs.


And since we are on apps, Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez has an idea to pitch to developers: The Reality Check App (Recapp), for politicians and pundits who harp on about why X country has this but we don’t.

They can peer at the innovation or the thing or WHATEVER through their smartphones and voila! up pops information about how much that innovation would cost if it were to be implemented in the Philippines, how much money the organization actually has, and what they’re gonna have to cut spending on if they really want to see that innovation implemented.”


Diario Filipinas is our go-to source for news from the front and on the revolution. They live-tweeted the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal and have been keeping us updated on militarization in the countryside.

They are on Twitter, but may not be for long. Their latest exclusive: Polavieja may be preparing for an offensive against the rebels by February. Leaked rebel documents indicate they have been preparing against attacks since December.


Also in fighting the powers that be, somebody apparently defaced the Wikipedia page of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona, changing his title to ‘thief justice’ and implying a special relationship between him and court administrator Midas Marquez.

Militant gays were quick to condemn the gay-bashing, but apparently not the “Thief Justice” tag because although politicians and government officials can be persecuted, they are in no way marginalized.

We totally deplore this heinous way of using gay slurs for launching political attacks between the opposing sides in the impeachment trial,” declared Goya Candelario, spokesperson of ProGay, in a statement.

This was followed by an urgent appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to help keep the site running.


RELEVANT: The Top 10 grilled liempo (pork belly) in Metro Manila, according to Spot.ph
Like its distant cousin Pep.Ph, the comments section is all kinds of classy.

“Baliwag? Seriously?! haha. mas masarap pa dun sa ‘liempuhan’ beside SPUM”–Spot reader ‘dc’

“Their liempo are too crispy and are major rip-off. Now worthy for its cost. its not even crispy. Darn.”–Spot reader ‘skies’

Truly, if a Filipino can express a contrary opinion without any consequences, he will do it.

The Filipino will also eat pork belly despite the consequences


And since we’re on that, here is former Department of Tourism undersecretary Vicente Romano III* on people hating on the new tourism slogan announced last week:

You see the new DOT slogan trending and creating a lot of positive buzz. You tell yourself, “this is too good to be true.” So you google “It’s more fun in” and true enough, it’s been used before by Switzerland.

Never mind that Switzerland used it way back in 1951. Or that there was “Truly Tuscany” before Malaysia’s “Truly Asia”, Amazing Australia before Amazing Thailand, and Incredible Italy before Incredible India.

No. We can’t stoop down to their level. Iba ang Pinoy. Kailangan Orig!”

This was, by far, the classiest response to negative feedback to “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” The least classy was probably from one Twitter/real-life celebrity who, when some girl from the US dared say the slogan was “the stupidest thing ever” because it’s not true that it’s more fun in the Philippines, called her out with a “self-hating Filipino, much?”

It turns out the girl had had deep personal reasons for not liking the Philippines. Twitter/real-life celebrity backed off, eventually, after reminding the girl to “think before you click.” Lesson learned! Also, “Internet tough guy, much?”

Comelec’s Jimenez has this to say about that:

Just because someone disagrees doesn’t make them a downer – a negatron, someone tweeted. Doesn’t make them an enemy either, or a de-stabilizer. Very few people on twitter are actually anti-PHL, but nearly all are opinionated. This is a good thing.”

And finally, here is a strip from web comic/blog Cereal Saturdays that will never get old (unlike the experience of shopping with troll parents):

*For context: Former Department of Tourism undersecretary Vicente Romano III left government service over the last tourism logo and campaign, which was found to have been very similar to a tourism campaign for Poland. The DOT quietly dropped its “Obejrzyj prezentacje o Polsce” campaign soon after launch.

(Almost) Burning Down The House

Your correspondent would not have had anywhere to post from had a fire that broke out at the House of Representatives been serious, and not just trolling.

Although the House has its own firetrucks, much like many of the congressmen at the House, they do not work:

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., however, was dismayed after fire trucks inside the Batasan Pambansa complex which responded to the incident were (found) not functioning.

“I just want to find out why nobody is saying or even informed us that the fire truck is not functioning but I am unhappy,” Belmonte said.


Belmonte has reportedly summoned the House’s engineering department to explain. Fire trucks from nearby barangays Commonwealth and Fairview were first on the scene even though, technically, House fire trucks were already there.

House Secretary General Marilyn Barua-Yap said there was no actual fire.

In a text message, she said the smoke was caused by faulty wiring inside the electrical box near the building’s elevator.

As a result of the incident, House employees whose offices were affected by the power-line spark were sent home.

Barua-Yap said personnel from the House engineering department and the Quezon City fire department were fixing the situation as of posting time.

Members of the House, on vacation when the incident happened, cursed at the ill timing of the potentially convenient excuse to skip the afternoon legislative session.

(thx, House Indio)