Current Affairs


1 Comment 31 October 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

More and more politicians, not just locally but around the world, are utilizing new technologies, particularly the Internet and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, to revolutionize the way in which they communicate and engage their constituents. No doubt, Barack Obama’s phenomenal victory in 2008, which was propelled in no small way by the use of the Internet and social media, has helped immensely in social networking’s popularity.

In keeping with his election promise of honesty and transparency in government, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III immediately instructed his staff to draft and implement an innovative communication program that maximizes the use and benefit of social networking in order for his new administration to better interact with and engage the Filipino people.

P-Noy, as the President prefers to be called by the people, said he was inspired by the way the much-beloved President Ramon Magsaysay had interacted with Filipinos during his time. He wants to reverse the traditional top-to-bottom communication approach where information flows one-way from the leaders to the people. Under this traditional set-up, the people’s sentiments on current issues and government policies are not given the prominence and importance that are today’s hallmark of modern and strong democratic countries.

Sabi ni Pangulo he wants an organization that will deliver messages effectively and provide feedback on what the government is doing,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

This is in contrast to the previous administrations that merely disseminated information “one-way” to the media and public without scrutiny or proper response, Lacuerda added.

Last August, the newly-formed Presidential Communications Operations Office launched the website www.president.gov.ph to update the public on official events and engagements of the President, as well as provide a venue wherein they can state their concerns, complaints and suggestions regarding current issues and the administration.

There is also the official website of Malacañang (www.gov.ph), which serves as the official “gazette” of the Aquino Administration, issuing official policies of the President and all laws of the Republic.

In addition, the President and Malacañang have their own accounts on Twitter, the highly-popular social networking and micro-blog service. There are also official Aquino and Malacañang pages on Facebook, Friendster, YouTube and Multiply.

Two-way communication

Secretary for Information Dissemination Herminio “Sonny” Coloma emphasizes that the role of the Internet and social networking is not simply to distribute information, but to gather quality feedback from users and provide a quick response to their concerns.

“New media are potent channels of communication,” he tells Planet Philippines. “Some studies show that Internet penetration in the Philippines has reached 21.5 per cent. Even cellular or mobile phones can serve as channels for conveying significant messages from the government to the people, as well as feedback from the people to the government.”

According to digital world watchdog comScore Inc., Facebook is the top destination of online users in the Philippines, with 93% of “netizens” in the country visiting the site last May.

Overall, the Philippines is the seventh-biggest market in the world for Facebook with nearly 16 million users (one-fifth of the population), according to Nick Gonzalez, an analyst who operates CheckFacebook.com.

Such is the popularity of Facebook among Filipinos that Aquino was voted the third most popular politician in the world, with 1.5 million fans who “liked” his Facebook page. He was ranked behind only US President Barack Obama and former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Even more impressive is the fact that Aquino’s fan page gained an average of 20,000 fans a day in a span of only six months.

Meanwhile, there are more than 4,000 (and growing) followers to date on Malacañang’s official Twitter page. Coloma also claims that Aquino himself personally answers some of the questions on his own account. “During the campaign, he had some time to do that. If not, someone else manages it. There’s quality control in that aspect to ensure that his views are reflected there,” says Coloma.

Some of these queries range from mere trivia (RacQueL0816: “Why is it Benigno S. Aquino, while his full name is Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III? Shouldn’t that be Benigno C. Aquino?” Answer: “The President follows the practice of his late father, Benigno S. Aquino Jr. in using his second given name as his middle name.”), to general consumer concerns (noypi_nuj asks, “whats the twit for BIR? just want to rport dat sam big stors are not giving the correct 12% VAT based on costumers’ receipts.”)

Malacañang intends to institute this instant feedback mechanism not only for its own use but for all government agencies as well. The official Malacañang website provides links to the websites of various departments and includes a page that allows users to post comments and complaints.

In addition, there is a page on the site called “Panata sa Pagbabago” that invites individuals and groups to make a vow for change, as well as a page titled “Tito Noy,” which encourages children to become active nation-builders by helping to bring back traditional Filipino values.

For those that have no access to computers or the Internet, i.e., the poor who, ironically, are those who need most to have a voice, the Presidential Communications Group plans on using different media channels, both traditional and nontraditional, to ensure a proper flow of communication that everyone can access.

“We intend to tap into the vast potentials of cellular or mobile telephony and thereby reach bigger chunks of the population across all socio-economic classes and all throughout the archipelago,” says Coloma. The handwritten message via snail mail remains one viable option to communicate with the government.

Online censorship

But while the Aquino Administration embraces openness in governance via the new social media, the administration found itself on the receiving end of a public backlash on account of its mishandling of the government’s response to a deluge of feedback – mostly negative – on its websites and social networking sites on the August 23 Luneta hostage fiasco. Faced with angry reaction from Filipinos and foreigners alike, the Palace Communications Group apparently panicked and proceeded to censor some of the comments on the President’s Facebook that were highly critical of the government handling of the hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead.

More than 250 comments were posted on Aquino’s wall within a few days after the incident, which ranged from mild disappointment to outright indignation at his leadership. “Shame on you and your administration. Tender your resignation,” wrote an HK resident, while a Filipino said, “You did not fail us. You are consistently clueless.”

Another user wrote, “Our president is a retard who has done nothing but smirk in front of the TV cameras after all this had happened.”

Other comments included complaints directed at top officials of the Philippine National Police and demands for their swift resignation or firing, as well as suggestions on how the hostage-taker should have been neutralized.

The Communications Group responded by blocking “slanderous comments, racial slurs and other below-the-belt attacks,” saying the President “reserved the right to block anyone who fails to follow the rules and report them as spammers.”

To soothe the ruffled feelings, Malacañang came up with this message on its website: “In Memory of the Victims: We offer our deepest condolences to the families of the victims whose lives were lost.”




No Comments 31 October 2010

How Manny Pacquiao rose from poverty to become boxing’s reigning superstar — and a congressman in his native Philippines — can get lost in the buzz of the sport’s marketing machine and the demands of his daily world. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 27 October 2010

“Chuvachuchu,” “Jologs,” “Krung-krung” at “Kikay.” Ilan lang ‘yan sa mga nakaaaliw na salita na madalas nating marinig sa mga showbiz personalities… na malamang ginagamit mo rin paminsan-minsan. Pero kagaya ka ba ng manunulat na si Pete Lacaba na nagtatanong kung saan nga bang lupalop nahugot ang mga salitang ito? READ FULL STORY


Current Affairs


No Comments 24 October 2010

We have to say it flat out. The highest court of our land seems headed for a fall on this one. Inter-related issues already weigh rather heavily on its integrity — while its sagacity, let alone common sense, appears to be taking a hit as well. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 24 October 2010

Pamalican island, more popularly known as Amanpulo, is one of the world’s most romantic islands, according to Travel and Leisure Magazine. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal said The Farm at San Benito, Batangas is one of Asia’s top spas for foodies. READ FULL STORY




No Comments 17 October 2010

By Mynardo Macaraig

Philippine comic books have nurtured talent for international TV and animation blockbusters, but the once-mighty industry is fighting to survive as it comes up against the Internet and other new media.

Comic books that dominated the Philippine publishing industry just a couple of decades ago are now largely relegated to photocopied titles sold in a few specialty stores and at conventions, lamented veteran artist Rico Rival.

“There are still a lot of good Filipino artists. They just don’t have an outlet anymore. They just photocopy their own works,” said Rival who has worked for local publications as well as US comic and animation companies.

The 72-year-old Rival is now retired but still indulges his passion by drawing occasionally for Philippine magazines and doing commissioned art at conventions.

Local comic books, popularly known as komiks, were once the most widely read periodicals in the country with dozens of titles sold on newsstands every day.

Terry Bagalso, editor of Atlas Publishing, once the country’s largest komiks publisher, recalled that in the 1980s, at the height of the industry’s popularity, his company was printing 30 titles a week.

Its top-selling titles easily sold 400,000 copies a week with total komiks circulation in the millions.

“We had to send out an armored car to collect our sales earnings,” she recalled.

These komiks — printed in black and white on cheap newsprint — presented serialized stories in a wide variety of genres, including romance, horror, superheroes, historical adventure, fantasy, comedy and fairytales.

Sold largely by street vendors, they appealed mainly to the poor masses and cost just a few centavos (less than one US cent), far cheaper than a movie ticket or other forms of popular entertainment.

Darna, Dyesebel, Panday

Komiks characters such as superheroine Darna, the mermaid Dyesebel and the monster-slaying Panday (The Blacksmith) are still household words in the Philippines and live on in TV series and movies.

The artists who worked on these komiks caught the attention of US companies such as Marvel and DC Comics, which started recruiting them in the 1970s to work on characters including Batman and Conan the Barbarian.

“They were amazed that Filipinos were very good illustrators. They thought there was an art school that trained us and then they came here and they found that we just influenced each other,” said Rival.

Many Filipino artists then went on to produce cartoons for companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Today, Filipino artists can be found working on big-screen animation projects such as the “Toy Story” series.

Despite that success, komiks have virtually disappeared from Philippine newsstands.

The consensus is that komiks lost their audience as Filipinos turned to more modern forms of entertainment such as television, videogames, DVDs and the Internet.

“It is the technology. With one click on the computer you can get anything. So instead of reading komiks, people like computers, cellphones and other things,” said Bagalso.

There have been various attempts to revive komiks in recent years but none have had much success.

Alexie Cruz, editor of PSICOM, a local publisher, said his company’s last komiks foray two years ago — a comedy title called Topak (Nutty) — fell victim to poor sales after just two issues.

“One of the main problems is the bookstores don’t cater to komiks by Filipino publishers. They give them very little space,” he said.

Ironically, PSICOM’s big sellers are magazines on “manga” or Japanese comics, as well as licensed reprints of DC Comics titles — which do get shelf-space in local bookstores, said Cruz.

Not giving up

But local creators won’t give up. Some publishers still come out with their own home-grown “graphic novels” — extended stories told in comic format.

Philippine publisher Visprint is producing one such effort next year: ‘Filipino Heroes League’, a semi-comedic tale by artist-writer Paolo Fabregas who puts superheroes into a developing world setting.

“They’re underfunded, unappreciated and generally unwanted… like Kid Kidlat (Kid Lightning). He’s super-fast and super-poor,” Fabregas, 32, said with a laugh.

Like many other aspiring Filipino komiks artists, Fabregas started out either putting his stories on the Internet or selling home-made copies.

His main job is in advertising and he describes his komiks work as “a glorified hobby”.

Komiks artist Gener Pedrina said he and other creators just drew the stories, printed them with a photocopier, stapled them by hand and then sold them on their own.

He described his products as “labors of love,” because they take so much time but make barely enough to break even.

Pedrina’s superhero title, Sanduguan, (Blood Brothers) and other komiks like Zombies in Manila and (Gerilya Guerrilla) Komiks, are sold at the handful of comic conventions held in the Philippines each year.

While these titles may not have the polish of their predecessors, Rival said they still kept the tradition alive.

Komiks is still here. It won’t go away. There may not be publications but artists can come up with their own komiks. You cannot restrain their creativity.” (Agence France-Presse)




No Comments 16 October 2010

By Pepper Marcelo

One of the premiere leading men of local showbiz, Piolo Pascual is a veritable cottage industry – with his movie and television roles, concerts, albums and product endorsements attesting to his popularity and status as an icon in Philippine entertainment.

Piolo’s last major projects were the TV soap Lovers in Paris, and the film Love Me Again and the independent project Manila. After months of absence from the screen, he returns in a big way in the ongoing dramatic television series Noah.

His current TV project marks a change of pace for the 33-year-old actor, departing from his usual suave, lovelorn persona. In a press conference promoting the fantaserye, Piolo said he was excited by the prospect of trying out a different role.

“I immediately said yes to ‘Noah’ because sa dami ng nagawa kong teleserye I want to do something new naman,” he said. “If it will give me challenge, I’m up for it. That way I can discover a different side of me not just an actor, but also as a person. It’s my responsibility to my audience to offer something na hindi pa nila nakikita sa akin.”

He compliments ABS-CBN for giving him a role befitting his evolving status and needs as an artist. “This is an integral part in my growth as an actor because I don’t want to be boxed up playing romantic leads. Nabo-bore na rin ako na paulit-ulit na love story ang ginagawa ko. Hindi na rin naman ako bata. After being in the business for more than 10 years I want din naman to offer my audience something new.”

A story of “love and family,” Noah is a fantaserye about on a young cop, Gabriel (Piolo), and his search for his missing son, Jacob, played by child star Zaijian Jaranilla. His journey leads him to a mysterious island called Noah where he sees his lost son, but in a different guise as Eli.

Recently nga lang nag-dawn in sa akin na bago pala yung concept na ginagawa ko,” he says. “It’s hard to mount and it’s an ambitious project so I am excited. Sana ma-enjoy ng viewers as much as we do because it’s contemporary. Noah is a family drama, pero siyempre hindi naman pwedeng maalis ‘yung romance. We just want to focus on more important elements of the story.”

The focal point of the show will be Piolo’s relationship with Zaijian, himself a “veteran” lead of the hit program May Bukas Pa. Piolo is all praises for the seven-year-old talent. “Sobra yung energy ni Zaijian kaya nakakatuwa. And his eyes are so expressive so it’s easy to draw emotions just by staring at him. Talagang makikita mo that he’s a natural and perfect for the role.”

To that end, Piolo relishes the opportunity to play up the father-and-son dynamic. “It’s a relief kasi walang burden na kailangang i-work out ninyo as a love team anddun pa lang, okey na ako kasi hindi ko kailangang i-playyung tandem. With Zaijian, I’m happy because it’s something different.”

Even off-camera, Piolo shared that he and the playful young actor have a great time hanging out. “Masyadong energetic at masaya kasama. Kulitan kami sa set. Dude nga ang tawag ko sa kanya.”

In a case of art imitating life, the show is also reflective of his role as a real-life father to his 13-year-old son, Iñigo. “Zaijan is half the age of my son. Malayo ang edad nila pero nakikita ko ‘yung mata ni Zaijan hawig sa mata ng anak ko.”

Piolo is most excited about spending the upcoming Manila visit of Iñigo, who lives in California. The single father hasn’t made any specific plans yet, but if anything it is sure to involve eating. “I just want him maybe to accompany me during my shoots. We love to eat out. I love to splurge on dining and try different cuisines.”

Piolo is wary of his son entering following in his footsteps, at least until he has finished school. “Sabi ko tapusin niya muna yung pag-aaral niya and then he can decide what he wants to do afterwards. As much as possible ayokong mag-artista siya kasi it’s a tough career. Pero kung yun ang hilig niya, my only request is for him to finish his studies first. He’s been in the States for five years already. I was there during his graduation. This coming school year mag-ge-grade seven na siya so mabuting dun muna siya mag-aral.”

Piolo wants to shield Iñigo from any media scrutiny during his brief stay in the country. “So he’s coming over but I don’t really want to expose him [to the media] because he’s still young. My son’s not from the business and I don’t want him to be corrupted [by the usual intrigues in showbiz].”

Speaking of intrigue, much has been made of the eligible bachelor’s rumored relationship with his Lovers in Paris co-star KC Concepcion. Though Piolo admits they are close, they are just friends for now. “Hindi naman namin ikakaila ‘yon kung ano man ‘yung mga developments. Lalabas at lalabas din ‘yon but for now, we enjoy each other’s company. When there’s a chance we go out, we’re beginning to know each other better.”

In the gossip-filled world of showbiz, Piolo is aware he has to be careful not to damage the special relationship they share. “Ang hirap ‘pag may issues na mahirap lusutan. Hindi naman sa sensitive lang, kaya lang kailangan mo ring protektahan ang ibang taong involved so mas nagiging sensitive.”

As to his career, Piolo says he’s prioritizing Noah over other job offers. He admits turning down a guest host in the defunct noontime show Wowowee. “Hindi pwede, hindi talaga kaya ng schedule,” he says. “I’m working everyday. Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I’m taping. Tuesdays-Thursdays-Saturdays, I’m either shooting a commercial, pictorial, doing an out-of-town show, or rehearsing for [the weekend variety show] ASAP. Wala na talagang oras. I guess marami namang ibang pwedeng gumawa nun.”

With his busy schedule, he also has to stop doing movies for the time being, although he says he’ll probably get back to it as soon as he can, out of necessity. “As an actor kailangan mo talaga maging visible sa movies, but I believe gusto mo rin ma-protect ‘yung track record mo sa movies. ‘Yung excitement na nakukuha ko sa TV gusto ko rin makuha sa movies.”

He says that henceforth he will accept only projects that are truly special in order for him to grow as an actor. “I’m already at the point in my career that you don’t want to just grab everything that comes your way. I don’t want to say that I have already proven myself but gusto ko kasi na nae-excite ako sa ginagawa ko not because of the quantity but of the quality. Gusto kong nage-enjoy ako sa ginagawa ko and hindi ko papagurin ‘yung sarili ko just because of exposure.”




No Comments 10 October 2010

Without OFW remittances, it would be difficult for the Philippines to sustain the annual GDP growth of 7 percent or more. It is fortunate that the outlook for the earnings of OFWs remain bright, despite the very slow recovery of the developed countries. Thanks to their unique traits and talents, OFWs continue to be the first to be hired and the last to be fired in some 200 countries all over the world. READ FULL STORY


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