Friday, December 31, 2010

WATCH! Splendide: The Grand China National Acrobatics Circus

After watching the political and media circuses in 2010, it occurred to me that there seemed to be no better way to either cap an ending year or start off the new one than watching a real circus.  And so I did with my wife, my three year old, and yaya in tow.

The Splendide: The Grand China National Acrobatics Circus was an ABSOLUTE THRILL to watch! (And you better line up at the Araneta Center to catch the show because they're going to be here TILL JANUARY 3 -- which is their FINAL extension date.)

ON JANUARY 3, 2011, 6:00PM
Photo found at
Having been conditioned by years of watching movies with lots of special effects and astounding real life videos on websites, I really didn't know what to expect.

I couldn't form a frame of reference because I couldn't even remember the last time I watched an acrobatic performance LIVE and in the flesh.  For that matter, I don't think I went to a show that featured just acrobatic performances EVER.  

My wife, on the other hand, had her expectations set.  When I told her that we were getting tickets to the Splendide: The Grand China National Acrobatics Circus, she said that when she was a kid, she had gotten used to seeing Chinese acrobatic performances in her home province Marinduque.  My wife, who is half Chinese (till this day I haven't discovered which half of her is Chinese), recounts that the local Chinese community would bring them in and have them entertain the towns people for free during fiestas.

But when the colored lights started to give the stage inside the Coliseum an other-worldly glow and the music started welling up in a tide of notes to shrill and so deep it felt like your organs were dissolving, that's when we felt our jaws drop and knew that the magic of the stage had suddenly transported us out into another world.

Photo from Tessa's Album on Facebook

It was a world where there seemed to be no gravity and time stretched in several different directions all at once.

If you were ever a fan of The Matrix (like I am), it would be easy to see that such acrobatic performances were really the basis for many of the mind bending stunts that you saw in the film.

Except, however, THE Splendide achieves all these seemingly superhuman acts without the aid of CGI, cuts, slow-mos, and other tools of electronic image wizardry.

Pole climbing acrobats
Take the pole climbing acrobats, for instance.  About a dozen of these guys climbed a thirty foot pole like spidermen and then started doing leaps between the poles that would make you gasp -- fearing they would fall.

A girl performing this same acrobatic act
fell in previous performance.
We felt our nails digging into our armrests
as we watched her twirl on the blue silk ropes.
What probably added more to our amazement were that the stunts they were performing could lead to serious injury or death. 

This is probably why it's a good idea for the show to issue a warning at the start of the show that people shouldn't perform these stunts at home.  

Then again, that is, if you assume that most people in the Philippines can actually have trampolines, trapeezes, and rope hanging from the ceilings of their houses.  (Sorry for that, I can't help but be a wise-ass.)

Don't live in this house without getting a tetanus shot first.

Then again, I think the warning shouldn't be issue to me, I consider a sit up a stunt even when it's to grab a beer off the table.

So, if you're watching out for something that is truly entertaining, you have to watch Splendide: The Grand China National Acrobatics Circus.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The year that was 2010...

At the start of 2010, I was fairly hopeful that the country's first nationwide Automated Elections would spark off substantial change in the country's political culture.

For once, with a fast and accurate count of people's vote, we would be assured of somewhat credible results -- despite the many substantial criticisms about the particular technology and the way it was implemented.

The thing is, a fast and accurate count of people's votes does not a mature democracy make and there was no evidence that a fair amount of critical thought was employed in making the decisions at the polls.

President Noynoy Aquino, who ran under the slogan "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap" (If there is no corruption, there will be no poverty), has so far revealed its failings on the anti-corruption front.

The much vaunted Truth Commission is nothing but a paper tiger at this stage and so far, nothing much has changed with the way things are done with the BIR, Customs, and even the bids and awards committees.

A businesswoman was recently harassed, yet again, by the same group of BIR scalawags who insisted that she had failed to pay the appropriate taxes.  A Customs Broker, whom I sometimes drink with, confessed that business was even better this year -- if you know what I mean.  The friend of a Manila City Hall Official professed more of the same.

On the anti-poverty front, much talk has surrounded Social Welfare Secretary's P21 Billion Dole Out fund but the current crop of technocrats have evaded giving credit where credit.

The plain truth is that Dole Outs won't save people from poverty, but a solid and growing economy will -- the foundations of which were built in the 9 years that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was in power.

Sure... She may be the epitomy of corruption, but then again, she did set up the country for the economic growth that it is experiencing right now.  

In the coming months, we'll see if the current administration will accomplish any of its vague goals despite itself.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This year, I am truly blessed.

Two years ago, I was wondering how I was going to make ends meet.  As this year ends, I am looking at the next year with assurance that I will not want for anything.

I thank God for all this abundance.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Should I believe Mister or Miss News Anchor? How about Mister social media expert?

Credibility subsists on the opinions of others, 
true expertise relies solely on the merit of its work.

Better Philippines wrote a pretty good article on his observations about the current state of Philippine TV News and having a similar frame of reference, I agree with most of what he has written.

Another word for credibility is believability and the point I want to make is that when people say that someone is credible, then that someone ought to be believed.  

Most take the easy road and just believe things outright.  Which is why, sometimes, I think that the problem isn't so much that we have people claiming to be credible, but that we have an inordinately large population of people who are GULLIBLE.

Only a few actually spend time and effort to really find out if there is any basis for believing what is claimed to be believable.

The important thing to really ask is this, 'Why should I believe what the News Anchor or Radio/TV Commentator is telling me?' 

For example, if Mike Enriquez or Kim Atienza tells people through his radio program that a herbal supplement is effective in relieving some kind of ailment or will make you healthier, you can guess right that a lot of people would go out and buy it.  

But the thing that most people who buy the herbal supplement would have probably overlooked is that neither Mike Enriquez or Kim Atienza are pharmacologists.  They're knowledge of the herbal supplements, even if it were extensive, does not make them experts in the branches of medicine and biology.  

And while we are on this topic, let me point out also that most reporters are not really experts on what they report on.  Some reporters, especially the young and news ones, merely record and repeat what is told to them by their news sources -- who may or may not at all know enough about what they are saying.  Some times, news reporters are just told to interview one person or another and they have no idea why.

So given the deficiencies of the some people in the news media in terms of actual, relevant expertise or ability to accurately assess expertise before turning them into a news source, what the Philippine news media is at its most basic is just a bunch of people parroting (repeating) what was said to them.

Which is why it was possible for Tim Yap to mis-tweet that an reporter from the Philippine Daily Inquirer had won the 741 Million Peso Grand Lotto Jackpot.

Tim Yap, in mis-tweeting, actually proved that he was NOT a journalist -- although he is a section editor of the Philippine Star.  What riled a couple of real journalists is that Yap even made reference to being a journalist by saying that next time he would "check the facts", but missed the fact that he shouldn't report who won the Lotto Jackpot since it would endanger the life of the winner -- a fact that the PCSO recognizes and is the basis for its policy of not revealing the identity of lotto jackpot winners.

If you want to realize how silly the Philippine TV News is, take a look at the Weather Report segment.  Can you please tell me what the Weather Reporter is really a meteorologist or a weather scientist?  

The weather reporter in this case doesn't even attribute the source of what he is reporting and therefore gives the impression that he is actually the one who interpreted the weather data.

Anyway, reflecting a bit more on Better Philippine's observation that some TV News and its anchors focus on self-promotion and popularity in a brazen attempt to don the image of credibility, it occurred to me that some people who are merely quite adept at using social media (blogging, multiply, Facebook, Twitter, etcetera) are presenting themselves as new media or social media "experts".

In fact, it was Better Philippines who first pointed out the sudden proliferation of 'social media experts' in the days leading up to the US election where Obama won and especially in the lead up to the 2010 Philippine elections.  

Like the roadside fare of Lechon Manok, suddenly, there were 'social media experts' left and right.  But what is or what should be a social media expert?  

(If you want to have a more entertaining and profound discussion of "expertise" and the word "Quality", read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)

The thing is, it would be hard to definitively define what social media expertise is unless you grasp blindly at what others merely claim it to be and that could be a whole assortment of things.

Anyway, here is what I think is a pretty good definition of an expert:
An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by their peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. 
An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. 
Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study. 
An expert can be, by virtue of credential, training, education, profession, publication or experience, believed to have special knowledge of a subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the individual's opinion. 
Historically, an expert was referred to as a sage (Sophos). The individual was usually a profound thinker distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment.
Interestingly, here's a section in the same page that points to a misleading use of the word 'expert' and 'authority':
“Expert” is also being mistakenly interchanged with the term “authority” in new media. 
An expert can be an authority if through relationships to people and technology, that expert is allowed to control access to his expertise. 
However, a person who merely wields authority is not by right an expert. In new media, users are being mislead by the term “authority”. Many sites and search engines such as Google and Technorati use the term "authority" to denote the link value and traffic to a particular topic. However, this “authority” only measures populist information. It in no way assures that the author of that site or blog is an expert. 
Now, knowing a collectively refined definition of an expert is, you can probably now try to figure out whether the person presenting himself or herself to be a 'social media expert' is really a 'social media expert'.

In order to be a social media expert, then, I would suppose that you'd know almost everything there is to know about social media.

Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. 
Social media uses web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues. 
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein also define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, which allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content."[1] Businesses also refer to social media as consumer-generated media (CGM). 
A common thread running through all definitions of social media is a blending of technology and social interaction for the co-creation of value.
The way I think of it, being a Social Media Expert should mean that you know a lot about the technology that supports social media, the actual social media platforms used, and a lot about human social behaviour.

To call yourself a Social Media Expert, you'd probably have to
know how to use each and every kind of social site there is.
(Image found at

Permission marketing guru Seth Godin, for example, "graduated from Tufts University in 1989 with a degree in computer science and philosophy. Godin earned his MBA in marketing from Stanford Business School. From 1983 to 1986, he worked as a brand manager at Spinnaker Software" according to Wikipedia.

Well, Godin is NOT a Social Media Expert. He's an expert at marketing his ideas.

Anyway, I'll cut this blog post short and leave you with this:

but even if one could argue that they have developed enough expertise to legitimately don this label, they would be wrong. Because social media is a general blanket term that encompasses a sea of various outlets, and no one person could be a master of them all at this point. A master of Twitter? Perhaps, but no one would entertain the idea of labeling themselves as a Twitter Expert for their business cards. They opt for the generic title, which in this case, is not merely misleading, but it is inaccurate. A jack of all trades, but a master of none never really hit with me as hard as it did when considering this post. Because I can see that fit here in the social media conversation.
Excerpt From Rob
Social Media Expert – noun
A person who has a reasonably high opinion of themselves and their grasp of an area of social interaction and communication and likes to demonstrate said opinions through fallacious, self applied labels.

(Next: Social Media Expert... Yeah right.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fedex, Air21, Bureau of Customs, and Bureau of Internal Revenue stick-up 78 year old woman

My 78 year old mother was the victim of a hold-up right in our own home and thank God she didn't suffer her third heart attack right in our living room in our home in Manila.

What happened was that she received a call from Fedex/Air21 yesterday to notify her that they would be delivering her medicines from the US (a benefit she receives as an American Citizen) and that she would need to pay a fee of nearly P1,800.  

Thing is, Fedex previously did not charge any additional fees for deliveries to her from the US and she was of the understanding that all charges for the package were settled Stateside.

Now, the person from Fedex/Air21 who gave my Mom a call couldn't explain well enough why she needed to pay P1,800 extra for a service that she understood was already paid for in the US.

If my mother doesn't pay the fee, she won't be able to claim the medicines (which are basically for her diabetes and heart condition).

This morning, I was able to get in touch with someone from Fedex/Air21 and that person at the other end of the phone line explained that she would have to ask their partner company here if the duties and taxes could be waived.  She couldn't give me an exact date as to when she would be able to come back to us as to whether their partner company could waive the duties and taxes or not.  

Thing is, with the Yuletide season upon us, it would probably take weeks to get an answer and that answer might probably be no.  In the meantime, my mother might run out of her prescription medicines while Fedex/Air21 finds out whether it can or cannot waive the additional charges for the delivery.  This could be fatal.

My mother clearly had no choice but to pay P1,800... It was either that or die.

Now here's the breakdown of what my Mom was forced to pay Fedex.

Duties and Taxes:
      Import Duty = P179
      VAT            = P846
      Customs Forms and Stamps = P315

Cargohaus charges:
     Storage Fee = P101.27
     Deconsolidation Fee = P283.50
     Documentation Fee = P15.00
     Vat = P47.98

There's something seriously wrong about this.

And in case Air21 didn't know about it... Senior Citizens are EXEMPTED FROM VAT! 
The Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 gives the elderly benefits and privileges not included in the Senior Citizens Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7432).
Some five million senior citizens, defined as resident citizens of the Philippines aged 60 and above, will get the following:
• A 20-percent discount and exemption from the value-added tax on the sale of goods and services (medicines, medical and dental fees, transport fares, services in hotels and restaurants, admission fees in theaters and other places of leisure)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Worse than Arrovo, New Philippine Bank Notes have more errors

The Inquirer points out the errors...

Geographically challenged Philippine maps and a rare parrot with the wrong-colored beak have perturbed the country after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rolled out error-filled new editions of its peso bills.
The new banknotes, scheduled to be rolled out this month and containing the signature of President Benigno Aquino III who took office this year, bombed spectacularly in the graphics department, according to critics.
The reverse side of the new 500-peso bill features a rare native bird—the blue-naped parrot, with its red beak incorrectly rendered in yellow and its tail feathers underneath colored green instead of yellow.
A map on the same bill—which also carries portraits of Mr. Aquino’s late parents—mislocates Palawan’s Saint Paul’s subterranean river that has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.

Image from

Image from

Blogger Lamang Lupa was the first to blow the lid off on the dubious BSP bidding for the production of the Philippine's new currency. 
Oberthur won the bidding for the printing of all six denominations
It posted a a bid of Euro 21, 371, 480 million (US$ 28.14 million). In pesos, this amounts to P1,257 billion 
With the winning bid of 21 million Euro, security experts predict that the total cost of the new currency to the country will be Euro100 million or US$140 million or P6.1 billion. This is because The BSP will need 3.5 billion pieces of the new banknotes over a three-year period.
Significantly, Oberthur is the same currency printer that made the hideous mistake of misspelling the name of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo in its printing of the Philippine 100-peso banknote. It misspelled her name as “ARROVO.”

As early as September this year, the Tiyanak blogger came out with a series of posts which described just how ridiculous the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or the Philippine Central Bank is when it comes to producing the currency that we all use.
Delarue has been the subject of controversy and concern because of quality problems in the printing of banknotes. Its stock has fallen in the stock markets, and its CEO has resigned.
Most alarming, not a single banknote of the new cutrrency will be produced by the Security Printing Complex of the BSP, which was built at a cost of billions for the purpose of showing the sovereignty of the Philippines in the printing and minting of its money.
Because of BSP neglect in the upgrading of the SPC printing facilities and technology, the SPC will just be an onlooker while Oberthur makes billions from the printing of the nation’s money.
Who benefits from this appalling situation? Obviously the printers.
And those who have a vested interest in their business.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Business World is falling apart... Or so it seems.

A old friend in the newspaper business told me about this a few days ago. Seems Business World (BW) is falling apart after coming under the management of Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP).

If you read BW, like me, you'd be a bit concerned that one of your favorite sources of business news may be going under.

Here's something that I received in my e-mail, read on.

MVP directors inactive in paper’s board meetings

Unusually, the three designated representatives of tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan sitting on the board of Business World Publishing Corp. have been skipping recent meetings of the board, eliciting suspicions from some employees of the Quezon City based broadsheet that their absence was their way of expressing MVP’s frustration on the paper, especially on the groups failure to wield their influence on the business daily.

MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., the media conglomerate owned by the Beneficial Trust Fund of the Philippine Long Distance Company owns 30% of Business World that they acquired from the Zobels. It also owns other media establishments such as Associated Broadcasting Corp., which airs TV 5, Cignal Digital TV and broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star.

The MVP representatives in the board of the Business World include Orlando Vea, president of MediaQuest Holdings and former Ambassador to the US, Albert del Rosario. Their absence from the paper’s recent board meetings have set off talks that MVP is deliberately distancing himself because of labor issues that could disrupt the operations of the company.

Early this year, Business World employees received the bad news direct from management that the company would no longer give the traditional bonuses and incentives due to them because of business reverses. In all, employees had been receiving 16-month bonuses from the company consisting of the anniversary bonus, Christmas bonus, the legally mandated 13th month pay and the mid-year bonus plus one sack of rice monthly subsidy.

Through its late founding President, publisher, editor-in-chief and chairman, Raul Lacson Locsin, formally committed these bonuses and clearly stated it in the company’s Employees’ Handbook. Glaringly, this was a preemptive move to dissuade early employees, mostly remnants of forerunner Business Day, from putting up a union. Management then even had to secure bank loans to answer these obligations to the employees.

Union busting

Latest events, however, have rocked the paper. With the company experiencing financial problems, fast employee turnover and dwindling circulation subscription figures, the newly installed management team had to sell its commercial printing equipment and laid off half of its printing plant man force. It sold the newly constructed RLL Building fronting E. Rodriguez Avenue in Quezon City to keep the company afloat and liquid. It is also currently reducing critical items of expense in running the com, primarily the granting of bonuses and incentives and delayed payment of sales commissions. But knowledgeable employees know better and think that this is a clear case of mismanagement from the new managerial team who doesn’t have the skill of running a paper.

The situation has alarmed employees, prompting some of them to meet clandestinely to discuss the idea of organizing a union. However, came to know about it and immediately moved against the suspected employee leaders. Identifying the allege prime movers they initially banned them from entering the printing premises as a preemptive action.

One Romeo Bachiller, head of the internal audit section, was constructively demoted to a lower position but justifying it as a lateral transfer, he eventually retired. Eric Clemente, Advertising deskman, was also effectively demoted and his monthly pay drastically cut.

Clemente has lodged a formal suit with the Labor Department but he was eventually discharged from employment last week for “tardiness during lunch breaks.” He is set to file another case with the Labor Department for illegal dismissal and union busting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Macau Tourism promoter to be awarded P15 Million bid for formulating Philippine National Tourism Development Plan

DoT Bidding for National Tourism Development Plan, LUTONG MACAU?

The Department of Tourism (DoT) is about to award or has already awarded a P15 Million contract to Indra Philippines/Asia Pacific Projects despite failing to pass the score requirement for the bid.

The DoT recently bid out a contract for the development of a 5-Year National Tourism Development Plan and required that the winning bidder should garner a score of at least 85 %.  The National Tourism Development Plan will basically tell the entire Philippine Tourism industry what areas will be developed for tourism and how it will be marketed to the entire world.  Read that as crafting the master plan which will mark out where billions of pesos of tourism development and promotion funds will go.

Suddenly, the P 5 Million spent on the non-launch of the failed "Pilipinas Kay Ganda" tourism slogan seems like a drop in the bucket. 

Indra Philippines/Asia Pacific Projects consortium scored 83.5 in the technical proposal submitted to the department’s bid and awards committee.  Palafox Associates, the architectural firm of Felino Palafox Jr., got a score of 76 percent.  SMEC Philippines/Tourism Resource Consultants, P-Square Associates and Woodfields Consultants participated in the bid and garnered even lower scores.

Asia Pacific Projects' key principal is Narz Lim, the  Macau Government Tourist Office-Philippines General Manager. (Refer to the last paragraph of an article by Inquirer Lifestyle columnist Maurice Arcache

What is funny is that after informing the bidders of the scores of their respective bids where in all failed to meet the required 85%, they were informed in another meeting that Asia Pacific Projects actually won the bid after the scores were "transmuted".

From a "raw score" of 83 percent, Indra Philippines/Asia Pacific Projects suddenly got a grade of 87 percent -- meeting the score requirement for the bid.


Under other circumstances, perhaps the other bidders would have asked for a re-bidding of the project and given themselves additional time to make the grade.  However, for some reason, all the other participating bidders just decided to walk away from the table.

And that some reason is Narzalina "Narz" Z. Lim -- who is of no relation to the current Tourism Secretary Alberto "Bertie" Lim.  But that is not to say that the two don't have a history, working together in the Freedom-to-Fly Coalition that advocated open-skies in the Philippines.  Both are also staunch Cory and Noynoy supporters.

According to the Asia Pacific Projects website, comprising the other part of the consortium 
Narzalina Z. Lim is a key principal who established APPI in 1992 after many years serving as Undersecretary and later Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines. Her areas of expertise are in tourism planning and development, policy formulation, and human resource development and training. She graduated with a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Narz Lim was Undersecretary of Tourism during Cory Aquino's time from 1986 to 1991 and then served as Secretary of Tourism in 1992.

In addition to this, word is that Narz Lim led Asia Pacific Projects in helping craft the previous National Tourism Development Plan which didn't fair too well.

A number of people have said that the previous National Tourism Development Plan was of dubious value since not many in the tourism industry knew about it and those who knew about it found it "unimplementable."

A tourism business operator opined:
I had been in the INBOUND Tourism business since 1984, more than 25 years now, and there had been TOURISM MASTER DEVELOPMENT PLANS galore. All these brilliant Touirsm Master Plans were just rotting away in file , even their old rusty filing cabinets cannot be found already! I had been looking for this in Boracay too but to no avail! Each Administration to each his own political agenda... or worse kanya kanyang kurakot so no solid long term SUSTAINABLE Development & Tourism plans are implemented! 

Apart from ignoring the dubious value of the previous NTDP, the more disconcerting fact perhaps is the tip off that Narz Lim is already working  as the representative of the Macau Tourism Office in Manila.

See this Google Search for Narz Lim and Macau Tourism here.

I don't know if the Department of Tourism took it into consideration that the head of the corporation that is going to create our country's tourism plan for the next five years is actually being paid a bigger amount to sell Macau Tourism.

The thing is, the news media ain't picking this up... Masarap siguro ang Lechong Macau.

Friday, December 03, 2010

On ABS-CBN Journalists being the most followed

Twitter followers are not real followers.

A brief conversation on Twitter between Noemi Dado and myself about Carlo Ople's post on Top 10 Most Followed Broadcast Journalists on Twitter (PH) led me to look for ways of more accurately gauge one's influence in social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, and what-have-you).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tim Yap is a nit-tweet (Updated)

(Note: Better Philippines chimed in to point out that while Tim Yap acknowledges the fact that he erred in failing to double check his facts before publishing it in the public domain, he overlooked AN EVEN GRAVER ERROR which is that HE SHOULDN'T PUBLISH INFORMATION THAT WOULD ENDANGER SOMEONE'S LIFE.

Now, Mr. Yap looks like a Julian Assange wannabe sans the intellect.

-- Paul Farol aka Pinoy Buzz)

Tim Yap has apologized to Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter Mike Morelos.

The gaffe? Yap, aka Papa Gucci and an editor of the Philippine Star, mis-tweeted that Mike Morelos had won the much sought after P741 Million Grand Lotto jackpot.

If a Twitter user with a few followers had mis-tweeted, perhaps not much would have come out of it.

However, Yap has 154,018 followers and being known as an editor of a major newspaper here in the Philippines, many of his followers believed his tweet.

As expected his Twitter followers re-tweeted it to others, spreading the false information allover the Filipino Twitterverse.

Morelos had the misfortune of being one of the first reporters to confirm that someone had indeed won the Grand Lotto jackpot.

As a result of Yap's mis-tweet, Morelos claimed that his life and the life of his family had been endangered.

In an article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Morelos recounts the first few hours of terror that followed being tagged as the winner of the 3 quarter of a billion peso lotto jackpot.

Stream of messages

I had over 100 people I never personally met asking me to add them as a “friend,” while a stream of congratulatory messages flooded my inbox. I told myself the situation was getting out of hand.

The first thing I did was to snoop around while replying to concerned friends who exerted efforts in trying to clear the miscommunication. The snafu even reached a couple of my friends based overseas who also tried to clarify the issue by sending retweets.

I discovered who the culprit was.

Tim Yap

Apparently, it was celebrity host Tim Yap who branded me the winner in his tweet a few hours earlier.

“Eto na, PCSO confirms one winner—his name is Miko Morelos. He gets to take home the P741.2M peso Grand Lotto 6/55 Jackpot! #magtagokana!” he said in his Twitter account (@iamtimyap Tim Yap)

The first thing that crossed my mind was how clueless Yap was on the subject. The PCSO does not disclose the identity of any winner for obvious security reasons.

What was appalling was the hundreds of people falling for the false information. They even set up a fan page on Facebook encouraging me to spend the money wisely, while not taking seriously the clarifications from the Inquirer Twitter account and “Mr. Bigshot socialite” (Yap) himself.

Yap continued with his tweets: “And guess what? Miko Morelos is on twitter! @mikomorelos I already sent a request. He protected his tweets already. #afraidforhislife,” @iamtimyap Tim Yap said.

He tried to clarify the matter when he tweeted: “Okay, ladies& gents excited about the winner of the lotto jackpot—I received reports that Miko Morelos is the Inquirer reporter who reported about the lotto. Not necessarily the winner. #sorrynacarriedawaylahat.”

(I personally find the hashtags contentious bordering on the malicious.)
Hours after learning that he had mis-tweeted Morelos as the lotto jackpot winner, Mr. Yap claims to have called Mr. Morelos personally and conveyed his apology.

In a report on ABS-CBN News dot Com, Yap claims to have merely picked up the erroneous tweet that Mike Morelos had won the lotto jackpot.

Filipinos on Twitter started tweeting that Tim Yap's apology was hardly enough and said that it was hardly sincere.

One funny quip about Tim Yap was "you're too old to be STUPID."

It was an honest mistake. My apologies to you if you were offended by the (sic) mistext, although I clarified it in my next tweets that Mr. Morelos wasn't the winner but the reporter who covered the lotto proceedings. I tweeted those messages without any malice or ill intentions. I am currently trying to contact Mr. Morelos to personally apologize to him for the matter. Point taken, lesson learned. Thank you for your tweet.

A Twitter user going by the name @pageman asked Tim Yap what he learned from the gaffe and Yap responded:
Fact check, & don't get carried away. Double fact check before tweeting.
Checking your facts before publishing something in the public domain is somewhat a reflex among real journalists and Tim Yap just revealed himself to be more of a rumor-monger than the editor that he is.

If he did have to fact check, one wonders if he'd call Manoling Morato or German Moreno.

Anyway, what's funny about his 'fact checking' is that ever since the Lotto was introduced by the PCSO, it has implemented a policy of NOT REVEALING THE IDENTITY OF LOTTO JACKPOT WINNERS. This policy, a wise one, was instituted in order to protect the winners of lotto jackpot winners from harassment or harm.

One wonders how this could have escaped Tim Yap whose popularity seems to be linked to a number of controversies surrounding the so-called Gucci Gang of which certain personalities in Philippine cyberspace believe Yap is the leader of.

More on the Gucci Gang in this account on the Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

#cablegate, where's the beef on Manila? Julian Assange hunted by interpol for sex crimes?

Woman shouts rape after assange
breaks condom. Funny.
Still, so far, only 220 out of the 250,000 plus confidential cables from US embassies around the world have turned up at

With the site supposedly downed by an anti-extremist hacker, people will perhaps have to wait for some time more before they find out what the embassy in Manila has been saying secretly.

That is, IF the interpol doesn't get him arrested on sex crime charges.

Here's an account from

The international police organization Interpol has issued a Red Notice for the arrest of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, in connection with a sex crime investigation in Sweden.
A Red Notice is kind of international wanted poster seeking the provisional arrest of a fugitive, with an eye towards extradition to the nation that issued the underlying arrest warrant. Interpol transmits the notices to its 188 member countries, though it has no authority to compel a subject’s arrest. Interpol issued 5,020 such notices last year for a variety of crimes.
A terse extract of Assange’s notice appeared on Interpol’s website on Tuesday, without a photograph, reporting that the 39-year-old Australian is wanted for “sex crimes” by the International Public Prosecution Office in Gothenburg, Sweden.
On November 18 a Swedish judge ordered Assange “detained in absentia” to answer questions in a rape, coercion and molestation investigation in Stockholm. A court approved an international arrest warrant for the ex-hacker two days later, and Sweden reportedly applied to Interpol for the Red Notice. Assange’s lawyer appealed the detention order to the Svea Court of Appeal, but lost. On Tuesday, Assange filed a new appeal to the Swedish Supreme Court.
The investigation stems from separate encounters Assange had with two women during his visit to Sweden last August, where he was applying for Swedish residency and attempting to secure the protection of Swedish free-press laws for his secret-spilling website. According to local news reports, the women told investigators the sexual encounters began as consensual, but turned non-consensual. One woman said Assange ignored her appeals to stop when the condom broke.
Assange has denied any wrongdoing, and hinted that the complaints are the result of a U.S. “smear campaign” targeting WikiLeaks — leading some supporters of the group to publicly investigate the two women and their families.

Anyway, a conversation with a friend yielded an interesting question and that is, "Won't cablegate just confirm what we already know about what the US really thinks of the Philippines?"

And then she went on to point out that even when she was a kid, it was already apparent that America didn't regard the Philippines with as much importance as it did Japan or South Korea.  Just by looking at the amount of money the US pays for its bases in Japan and Korea, she said, you can probably figure that the Philippines isn't worth that much.

The point she was driving at was that even if the US Embassy Officials called each and every Filipino government official shit-heads, nothing much would come of it.

The Philippines is still dependent on the US (whether it admits it or not) for defense, economic aid, trade, and now, even giving dole-outs to its poor.

Like the subservient neo-colony that it was during the early 1900s, Pilipinas kay ganda must and still kow-tows to Uncle Sam like the less favored kabit that she is.

In any case, I am just curious about what those cables from the US Embassy in Manila contain.  It's always better to know, than not know.

But, it seems the Aquino government has publicly taken the position that it would rather not know.  Here's a snippet from an article in

MANILA, Philippines - Malacanang said it is not in a position to comment on the Wikileaks controversy as the contents of alleged cables have not been verified and that those coming from the US Embassy in Manila have not been published.
But Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it is bothersome if contents of sensitive communication will be disclosed to the public. 
“Certainly it affects the privacy of communications and it bothers us if information of such a highly sensitive in nature will be disclosed to the public,” he said. 
Lacierda acknowledged that it is the role of embassies anywhere to generate intelligence information.  
“That is the role of embassies anywhere. Even our own. Number 2, again, we have not seen the documents and number 3, it was in the US embassy who leaked those cables so embassies are require to perform certain functions and one of them is really to observe the temperature of the place of your stations. So that is common,” he said.

Both US President Barak Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have already warned against people and organizations who might get involved with cablegate.

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