IT was my first week as a reporter of the defunct Today newspaper when I got introduced to a chief executive who either thought journalists covering her event should walk away with cash or that slipping money to reporters ensures the story gets published.
But the CEO was stupid enough to ask the reporter sign a cash voucher, a proof he or she was greased.
Joseph Ramos, then a staff of a press relations firm handling the CEO's firm, got the hot end of the rod when my editor-in-chief, that time Jose M. Galang Jr., sent a letter by facsimile to Joseph's boss protesting the CEO's egregious behavior.
That was how Joseph and I became friends.
He was very apologetic and I can't help but sympathize with somebody who exuded such sincerity.
I still have a copy of my editor's letter but the incident crops up only as a laughing matter when Joseph and I chanced upon each other, especially at Pasay B of Makati Shangri-la Hotel.
Joseph was really affected by that incident but can't do anything about it since the company of that CEO remained their client up until he left the PR agency years ago.
Last month, a colleague of him told me Joseph put up an Internet cafe and focused on raising his kids. And his farm in Facebook, most of his friends in the industry may say.
The last time Joseph and I met was when I covered the same CEO's annual awarding event.
But she has stopped the practice of making reporters sign a receipt. At least, her staff neither asked me to sign a paper in exchange for something or give me anything aside from press materials.
As professional as he was, Joseph didn't take it against me for reporting the incident to my editor and for my editor's letter.
He even tried to appease me by treating me and Cathy Llanes to an open-air bar grill in Mandaluyong where I think he acquired the hepatitis strain.
I told him many times that night to lay off on the inihaw na pusit but the conversation was so animated we forgot how extra-rubbery the pulutan was.
The bright side of that illness was he was able to stop smoking and drinking beer, things most male PR I know do as part of their work.
But Joseph is different; he's a unique breed of PR man.
From out of the blue, he would call to pitch a story or event. But never did he press me for having failed to attend such event or for not seeing the story published.
He remained a Sancho Panza to the Don Quixotes of the media: ever reliable but one of the good people to journey with in this world gone mad.
Farewell, good sir, and good night.


TELLER Marvin is P7-poorer because his bosses at the MRTA refuses to apply a campaign by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) encouraging the use of .10 & .05 coins.
I have collected such iris-sized coins, the lowest denomination punched with a hole like a micro-donut, from supermarket cashiers and on pavements my scuffed shoes pound everyday. This proves the dictum that if you look where you're going, you'll stumble on money.
Apparently, the streets, really, are littered with cash.
Just last week, I picked up a crumpled paper on top of a walkway under the EDSA-Quezon Avenue flyover, aiming to throw it away properly. Lo and behold, it was a P20. Bought a couple of candies with it and gave them to street urchins thrusting boxes for alms to pedestrians.
I avoid giving them coins, especially the ones Marvin said he has to replace out of his pockets.
"Aabonohan po kasi namin yan, sir," he told me when I paid for a one-way ticket with the rust-colored coins I ceremoniously taped in groups of P1.
I asked Marvin why they don't tear down a poster, displayed on the glass window beside Teller No. 3, from the BSP encouraging the use of coins. He just shrugged. I was waiting for him to roll his eyes to make me feel like the loony I was as my mother told me I was sometimes, especially as a long line began to form at my back.
But maybe because I have white hair, Marvin may have just refused to show me a WTF-this-guy-thinks behavior. I got my ticket but I felt somehow guilty, like a pimply-teen caught sucking on a joint.
I checked with the BSP and was told the campaign encouraging the use of coins is still on and, in fact, extended up to February next year.
"It's our advocacy as part of our Tulong Barya program to support children's schooling," a BSP corporate affairs staff told me. I looked for the ever-cordial Tita Fe but was told she's in a meeting.
But the guy at the other end of the line was equally helpful, adding the monetary board even inked a deal with the Philippine Retailers Association to encourage the use of coins by their members. A circular was also issued enjoining all government agencies to support such cause.
The staff was surprised when I told him about Marvin's predicament. He promised they will look into it.
"That's unusual for the MRTA to do," he said when I shared the Metrorail Transit Authority (MRTA) bosses apparently pressure their underlings to discourage the public in using the coins.
Hence, I'm not surprised anymore why some consumers give the coins the worth of the sometime smelly thing that comes out of a human hole.
Marvin's whining means the coins are worth shit; equally so is their valuing of the BSP campaign.
I can't blame the public for throwing these coins like they were that 4-letter word synonymous to excrement.
Indeed, if MRTA people like Marvin whine to discourage its use, what's the point of keeping the coins?
I still do, even after that exchange with Marvin but only because they now look good inside a glass bottle, something BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. frowned upon in 2005.
That year, Tetangco said "roughly 10 billion pieces of coins [are] in circulation or about 100 pieces of coins for every Filipino. "
"This is double the regional average of 50 coins per person! And yet, the perception of a coin shortage persists," he said.
Notably, the MRTA was the source of that perception.
But I now doubt these coins can pay for an MRT ticket much less given as alms for the street urchins scattered like the coins in the metropolis.
I can only pray that the attitude towards coins by government employees like Marvin is different when it comes to street children in grime-covered and tattered clothes who sleep on the MRT concrete floors.


To make my daughters laugh, I conjured up this song. Warning: contents may be disgusting for some.

12 (disgusting) Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eight cans of worms, seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine million maggots, eight cans of worms, seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: ten carts of crap, nine million maggots, eight cans of worms, seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eleven drums of drool, ten carts of crap, nine million maggots, eight cans of worms, seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve pints of poison, eleven drums of drool, ten carts of crap, nine million maggots, eight cans of worms, seven bowls of booger, six spoons of snot, five rotten eggs! Four cockroaches, three millipedes, two packs of fart, and a steel chest called Pandora's Box.


I BELIEVE there's nary a bad day; today is a rare occurrence.
I should have sensed lady luck was in another dimension when I woke up at six in the morning. That's really early for some journalists like me who slept in his clothes after nursing a bottle or two or three, maybe more (who's counting?) as the graveyard shift began.
I thought waking up without a hang-over and with a warm body rubbing on mine: i'm the luckiest guy around.
I should have seen the curveball: the cuddling stayed only at that level and I lost in three levels of Plants vs. Zombies.
If there're omens, the latter is on the A-list.
Arrogant as I am, I went about my schedule for the day: a 9:30 a.m. coverage about Children's Hour in Makati City and an 8:30 a.m. coverage on contact centers at Sofitel in Manila.
I went first to Makati since the latter is scheduled up to 6p.m.
The game plan I had was to get to Makati on time, rush to Manila after getting the story, and go back to Quezon City to write.
The Makati coverage was the clincher: it was postponed to December 1. I learned that from Joy of Granvia Cafe and not from the host.
Brushing away my spider sense that a domino effect has started, I dropped by National Bookstore to buy a refill for my Cross pen. That should have also set out alarm signals: the branch only have blue.
I should also have seen the odds were against me when I took a jeep after waiting for 30 minutes for the bus going to De La Salle University in Taft Avenue. After paying for my fare, the bus I waited for overtook the jeep I was in.
I could have kicked myself but I knew that was impossible so I just uttered cuss words mentally. There goes my space in heaven.
Sensing the day is nowhere going right for me, I  gave a beggar P10 to appease whatever god is making things difficult. Then a young boy rushes by and swipes in less than a second the money off the palm of the frail old man who may have been so weak or blind he didn't notice.
I may have been praying on the wrong god.
The barker broke my reverie and said the jeep going to Sofitel would be taking off. So I chucked my half-smoked cigarette, boarded the jeep, and waited for 15 minutes.
Either I'm too gullible or the barker churns out lies like second nature.
Naturally, I arrived late because the driver waited for passengers and I went to Makati first.
Having achieved nothing, I decided to at least accomplish some things on my to-do list: go back.
Then it rained. Heavily.
When I thought getting a seat in the MRT reflects an upturn, I missed my stop as I slept during the ride, having been traveling since 8am.
Fellow journalist VG says this is not a unique experience and I was right to not getting angry.
I agree since I still feel luckier than the journalists in Maguindanao.
I can only wish lady luck will always be nearer them than me.




OR Burmese, it doesn't matter for H, a 24-year-old communications worker whom VG and I got to share in a universal ritual eternally practiced by pretentious few who call themselves journalists: beer drinking.

I'd rather hide H's real name as insurance when he goes home sometime in the coming months. H says the ritual is best enjoyed alive and outside prison.

He says his government frowns upon such lifestyle, which doesn't concern beer, as journalism, he says, is best only when any opposition is not mentioned.

But that is what H has been doing here in the country for the past months: going to websites that have become a voice against the military junta that has ruled Burma since 1967. That is aside from drinking beer.

H said visiting such websites within Burma is risky since the government monitors the Internet and its use by an estimated 0.4 million Myanmarese in 2007, according to the 2009 Unctad Information Economy report.

The Philippines, to note, recorded some 9.20 million Internet users that year, with a penetration rate of 10.39 percent. Myanmar's rate was less than a percent (0.82) that year.

I would've brushed aside H's Orwellian notion as something coming from a drunk X-Filesphile. Except that our drinks haven't arrived yet and H's face was like that of a losing poker player.

He explained that government can play Burma's Big Brother by controlling telecommunications access.

"We can't access the websites that say anything against the government or what's happening to a particular group of people," H said adding that proxy servers are being monitored, especially from Internet cafes.

He explained that even phone calls are being monitored. "You can hear an echo when you talk."

But since arriving in Manila, H said he's never felt so free. He's been surfing every website he wasn't able to visit while in his country. Porn maybe included but I didn't ask and he didn't say.

He read and copied everything that he can. But H says he has to diligently erase every file, even links, in the laptop he also bought here.

This may be construed as paranoia for some but it has kept H alive as a communicator. It has also gave him the short freedom, however ensconced in clear parameters, he's enjoying in our country.

This gave me a pause.

On one hand, I'm grateful for Filipinos whose actions in the past allowed me to enjoy the freedom elusive in a country like Myanmar.

On the other hand, I felt silly to sometimes take small things like press freedom for granted seeing how very important it is for people like H.

H may have noticed and, despite or maybe because of his youth, said what's important is the moment and what we both can walk away with something valuable from that moment.

At that moment, we savored the bottle of beer and grateful for its chill effect.



Internet Users (millions)


Penetration (users per 1,000 inhabitants)






CAGR (%) 2003-2007/





Change in penetration 2003-2007/





















bEstimates for 2007

dEstimates for every reported year


Source: United Nations Commission on Trade and Development Information Economy Report 2009: Trends and Outlook in Turbulent Times


ALMOST got a heart attack last week.

That's what usually ail people like me who label themselves journalists.

It's neither the Coors nor the pork sisig at Dinoy's, an exclusive enclave for the Quezon City-based enlightened spender. My heart flutters when I sense I may have gotten a story wrong.

The source of the palpitation was a message from a press relations executive I've known since my stint with the Manila Times.

I am rarely honored by getting this executive's attention so I was taken aback when he cited a story I wrote about a business process outsourcing (BPO) company's lackluster third quarter (Q3) performance.

The message said I should've compared revenue on a year-over-year (YOY) basis, and not quarter-on-quarter (QOQ) since the BPO's Q3 2009 resulted better than in Q3 2008.

While my hunch was the story is correct, fair, and accurate, I felt gravel roll on my innards.

My spider senses told me to acquire wisdom through the lofty ritual a select bunch of people called journalists engage in: beer drinking.

My hand was wringing a second bottle when I popped the message to these two esteemed members of the press.

"Yup, you were sorta' wrong there," the newspaperman from Palawan said in between bites of chicken adobo-sa-gata, which he became gastronomically enamored with that balmy night.

I turned my gaze to the reporter from the Kalookan Republic hoping to get a second opinion. But he agreed with the adodo-man.

Traitor, I almost blurted out, but he was also paying for our liquid diet that night.

"Usually, QOQ data is applied to macroeconomic stories, to show how healthy or frail the economy is. We don't usually do that for companies." The now-Sampaloc resident Palaweño added that a QOQ data would present trends of a company's performance.

After realizing I'm reluctant to go Dutch after two rounds, the two wise men of Manila relented and saw the wisdom of my story.

Both realized that comparing a company's quarterly performance is okay if it's in the BPO industry.

The adobo-lover said that a BPO's revenue source is relatively stable than other firms because this is presumed to be within a contract.

He added that a QOQ story is okay because we are living in extraordinary times, e.g., a US economy requiring enema.

I wizened up and presented my case to these wise men of the ink-stained realm.

I said my story stemmed from the BPO chief executive's candor to admit Q3 revenue was nearly a million-dollar short to match Q2 because of its client's faltering business.

I argued that the closure of the client's facility had a major impact on the revenue of the BPO servicing the principal.

Finally, realizing the liquidity of our wallets hobbled our ability to order a third bucket, we agreed that a BPO company's performance in Q3 2009 is important as the US economic recovery level remains in a stupor since recession kicked in in Q3 2008.

Having chucked out our lunch money as donation to a small business, the wise men assured me I got the story right and plopped me on a cab.

But my wife nearly had a heart attack when she realized it's breaking near dawn when I arrived home.

Disclaimer: Mentioning a specific brand of beer or establishment here doesn't preclude an endorsement. The blogger also neither benefited from nor received any material privilege from the owners of the brands cited in this blog entry.



Four Catholic men and a Catholic woman were having coffee.

The first Catholic man tells his friends, "My son is a priest, when he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'."

The second Catholic man chirps, "My son is a Bishop.  When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Grace'."

The third Catholic gent says, "My son is a Cardinal.  When he enters a room everyone says 'Your Eminence'."

The fourth Catholic man then says, "My son is the Pope.  When he walks into a room people call him 'Your Holiness'."

Since the lone Catholic woman was sipping her coffee in silence, the four men give her a subtle, "Well....?"

She proudly replies, "I have a daughter, slim, tall, 38D breast, 24" waist and 34" hips. When she walks into a room, people say, "Oh My G..."    

[Forwarded from email of Rolly Talampas. Sensitive graphic content removed by author.]


At the end of the tax year, the IRS office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital.

While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the chief financial officer (CFO) of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"

"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages."

"Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way.

"What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"

"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster."

"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO.

"Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"

"Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick."

[*Sent from Athens via email by Ding Bagasao]


SOMEBODY sent me an email chiding the method chosen by "two stage-4 cancer half-heroes" in the movie Bucket List, to spend the last few moments of their lives.
"In the movie, a great deal of time was spent on mundane sensual thrills. Except for family relationship perhaps and their new-found friendship, their bucket list lacked spirituality," the email went.
The email was forwarded by someone I knew who already had a bypass and just recently survived another attack on his heart.
I hoped that by forwarding an email about dying, it spoke less of my friend's physical health and more of another philosophical way of reminding me of my own march towards the inevitable.
The email, nonetheless, advises those who know they would "kick the bucket," or die, so to speak, to "strengthen your soul as your body ages and recedes…kick the bucket not with a bang but with quiet gentleness…go for enduring spiritual concerns…renew old songs, old movies, old friends, old places."
"Meditation, prayer, forgiveness, humility, giving, sharing…do not seek joy for yourself but for others which becomes your joy…give hope to the desperate," the email went on.
Finally, it advises that we "kick the bucket with a smile."
No shit.
This person maybe ignorant of the pain a cancer patient feels. Fortunately, I haven't been diagnosed as yet of having the big C. Unfortunately, I know people who did. One of those is someone dear to me and died after her ovarian cancer spread throughout her body.
Believe you me, I know it wasn't as painful to see her in pain as the pain she physically felt.
Besides, who are we to judge the "spirituality" of the dying?
Would it be less spiritual for people to choose Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson characters' methods of "kicking the bucket"?
I haven't died but I don't think I'd give a shit anymore to whether I had a smile or not on my face. Besides my health care plan and bank account can only afford me to watch Freeman and Nicholson's characters tick off their things-to-do-before-I-die list.
"He's drooling, doc, should we give another morphine shot?" I'd like to hear the nurse say.
But the things the email sender advises people to do before they "kick the bucket" should be done even if the doctor gives us a clean bill of health or hold off the psychedelic juice.
Don't make imminent death an excuse to suddenly call for a group hug and sing Kumbaya. Rather, I suggest make Life the reason for giving hope to the desperate, for seeking joy for others and making it a personal happiness.
I always believe that what matters most is not the days spent before death but the life lived from the first breath.
We are merely mute witnesses on the periphery of history's passage; the ones who can only meditate how we will also be judged by time.
Waiter, 'sang bucket pa nga!

[Photo by Dennis D. Estopace, October 2009)

F'd Companies

The book F'd Companies (Simon & Schuster, 2002) by Philip J. Kaplan "captures the waste, greed and human stupidity of more than 100 dot-com companies." His book sells for just under $4 in some BookSale branches. When asked if I can reprint this page, Kaplan, known also as Pud in twitter, said: "Sure".





I'd make smell like peas.

That was the thinking behind Digiscents' flagship product, iSmell.

iSmell was a peripheral you could plug into your computer that would make websites and other computer programs smell. The device contained a palette of 128 different scented oils. When triggered, iSmell would internally combine selected smells and expel a puff of scent.

So yeah, there's something that's both really cool while simultaneously intensely stupid.

The idea was that there would be smell-enabled games –smell the caverns, the sweat, the dead bodies...Problem is, even with their seventy employees and $20 million in funding, they never got around to releasing the thing.

Besides, potential customers weren't too keen on having a bunch of nasty-smelling chemicals pumped up their noses.

Another idea was that perfume websites would smell like perfume. Okay...just a thought here, but would a company like, say, Gucci, trust this little box to accurately reproduce their fragrance? And if so, wouldn't people then just use the fuckin' smell from the box rather than actually buying the perfume? Further still, WHO THE FUCK GOES TO PERFUME WEBSITES. We can't leave out the obvious...

Still, this is cool, but so far the only applications that anyone can think of don't translate to $$$.

That's until now. I propose BURNINGSHITBAG.COM. This is a virtual burning bag of shit, delivered right to the email box of your favorite fucked CEO. The synergies are "overpowering" and the market seems just right.

URINALCAKES.COM coming soon.


what the is this: my own shots of the pullman putrajaya lakeside hotel (daytime, auto digicam)
disclosure: Bayer Philippines Inc. spent for the 2-way plane ride to KL, f&b, and the f---ing P750 airport tax
what to bring next time: adapter for laptop, 60 ringgits for 24-hour broadband access, lighter, toothpaste, toothbrush
reason for posting: nice place, cool pix, need for content, wanted to brag


Photo shows two children checking a black plastic bag containing their catch of the day: trash from garbage cans and plastic bottled drinks from pedestrians at the shopping center inside the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. On the foreground is a plastic label the taller scavenger tore from a plastic bottle and threw on the grass. Photo by Dennis D. Estopace, Oct. 14, 2009/ Quezon City, Philippines

WombRock 2

GOT my free beer last night.

Yup, two bottles, in fact, and a dinner of mechado and tokwa’t baboy in tausi sauce. Yum!

Even got a free ticket for the official launch Friday, October 16, of “WombRock;” thanks to Tony Gutierrez, its main fund-raising man.

WombRock,” as the invite goes, is a year-long fund-raising campaign that mobilizes young people to take active role in reducing overall maternal mortality as well as pregnancy-related deaths of young mothers.

Wednesday night, October 14, some members of the media -including Gil Nartea and the QC Times publisher- were treated to a sneak peak of the whys, the hows and wheres of the campaign.

I wrote a story about the launch and, hopefully, it gets to see print in my paper BusinessMirror.

Hemingway, the campaign is aimed at raising P5 million, the surplus of which would help the 40-year-old Family Planning Organization of the Philippines provide services to poor young Filipino women and raise awareness on reproductive health.

The launch Friday starts at 1800H (6pm) at The ‘70s Bistro Bar and Restaurant (#46 Anonas St., Project 2, Quezon City.

Tony’s invite said they’ve asked the following musicians to perform for the launch: Color it Red, Bayang Barrios, DJ Alvaro, Luigi De Lara, Lynn Sherman Diyosa Espina, Tao Nono Aves, Chikoy Pura, Kevin Roy, Kez, Paraluman, and Live Mission Band are those mentioned in the invite.

An entrance ticket of Php200 (US$4.30 at P1=US$46) goes with one free drink. The rest of the ticket payment goes to the campaign, according to Tony.

For reservations or more questions, he advises calling Nestor Marayag at (02) 4343597.

Joseph Taylo, band manager of Brownman Revival band, announced the following schedules for the tour:

23 Oct - Mag:Net, The Fort
24 Oct - Mag:Net, Katipunan
30 Oct - 1002 Bar, Timog
31 Oct – Penguin Bar, Malate
31 Oct – Absynth Bar, Makati
07 Nov - Guerilla Radio, Pasig
13 Nov – Conspiracy Bar, QC
11 Nov - Bamboo Giant, Manila
17 Nov - Java Café, Los Baños Laguna
25 Nov - Bamboo Giant, QC
04 Dec - Naga City
05 Dec - Naga City
11 Dec - Baguio City
18 Dec - Pampanga
19 Dec – Palawan

Please call Mr. Marayag to confirm the schedule as this blogger just reported what Joseph announced during the press launch Oct. 14.


MAYBE I’ll get a free beer by posting this. But that’s a BIG maybe.

I'll probably get it from Ton, a good friend of mine since the GST-for-Men training days. He's also connected with Bistro70s, the 20-year-old Quezon City home of real Pinoy Rock.

Tonight, October 14, rock and roll will play there again but this time to kick off the year-long fund raising campaign of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).

According to the invite I got, this year, apparently, marks the 40th Anniversary of the FPOP. The group claims itself to be the “acknowledged pioneer of the family planning (FP) movement and of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) service delivery in the country.”

The gig at Bistro70s, the invite read, starts a nationwide bar tour to encourage “young people to take active role in reducing overall maternal mortality as well as pregnancy-related deaths of young mothers.”

As I gather, the money raised is expected to reach the poorest of our people through support services related to reproductive health.

Ton said in his letter they invited musicians “who have committed themselves to championing the same cause through their music.”

These musicians include: Aiza Seguerra, Cookie Chua, Bayang Barrios, Cynthia Alexander, DJ Alvaro, Skarlet, RJ Jimenez, Noel Cabangon, De Lara, The Jerks, Razorback, The Dawn, Color It Red, Session Road, amng others.

Ton added that women musicians who are also SRH champions will be the major performers of the bar tour.

The gig is only for journalists.

If you’re one of these insignificant denizens of this cosmos (like me), drop an email to Brayant Gonzales

If you’re lucky enough to have avoided this pitiful career called journalism, drop by the bars or restaurants the FPOP will host.

And give: it’s a fund-raising campaign, after all.

Hey, maybe I won’t have a free beer.

Ah, tough luck.

Oh, well, here’s to the music and the babies.


I’M going for the first time to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday (October 9), to cover the Asia Pacific Hemophilia Camp 2009.

The trip is sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Bayer Schering Pharma Asia Pacific. This means they are forking over the cost of my plane ride, stay in the hotel (Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside:, and my ride to and from where I stay and the airports of Manila and KL.

I and another journalist from the Philippines will meet, according to the welcome letter from Bayer, the 20 "Hemophilia Heroes" across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand who won the “Design-Your-Own-Hemophilia-Heroes” cartoon/video contest.

I was told local journalists will also be covering the 2-day event where “hematology experts will speak on the standard of care of hemophilia in Asia Pacific.”

The camp is expected to identify how this standard could be further improved “so that young people with the lifelong bleeding disorder can manage their conditions and grow up to lead normal and fulfilling lives.”

“Patient and parents support group dialogues/forums are also scheduled to discuss the standard of care of hemophilia in Asia Pacific and what is being done to deal with the situation, all in the hope of improving the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of children and young people with the disease.”

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services website, hemophilia (heem-o-FILL-ee-ah) "is a rare bleeding disorder" usually inherited -passed from parents to children through the genes, and "occurs only in males (with very rare exceptions)." []

According to the briefing letter, the Asia Pacific Hemophilia Camp is themed ‘Love.Learn.Live.’”

It has “fun-filled with activities intended to raise emotional quotient and deal with negativities (‘Love.’); inventions and entrepreneurship (‘Learn.’); health and nutrition (‘Live.’); as well as an ‘Amazing Race’ challenge (‘Love.Learn.Live.’).”

I will try to write from KL beginning tomorrow night, if I still have the energy since the program says we go back to our rooms 9pm after a day's worth of activitis. The time in the Philippines and Malaysia is the same, to note.

But I think I'll be staying up all night because, as I always experience whenever I travel overseas, I'll miss my wife and daughters Katha and Laya.

It won't help that I'll be with young people always searching in themselves the strongest will to remain victorioua over their illness.

This is a coverage that I hope can dispel the cynicism that tries to embrace journalists in their search for the next story.

As they would say in Malay: Jumpa lagi (see you again).

Searca Photo Contest 2009

The Los Baños, Laguna-based Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study in Agriculture and Research (Searca) announced in a statement that it extended the deadline for submission of entries for its Photo Contest on Climate Change 2009 until October 30, 2009 (Friday).

For photo contest guidelines, visit

The institute’s last statement said the contest is open to amateur and professional photographers and all Southeast Asian nationals, except Searca employees and immediate family members.

Disclosure: This blogger has in no way received any compensation of any kind in posting this information. This blog post should not in any way be construed as an endorsement of Searca or the contest. The blog post should be read as a for-your-information type. This blogger is in no way connected to Searca, the contest, or the people behind the institute and its contest. This blogger has currently no information that would negate the preceeding assertions.

Disasters, info

Here are press releases (PR) and statements to the media related to disasters beginning with tropical storm Ondoy/Ketsana.

World Vision ( said they began relief operations the evening of Oct 3 in Isabela Province. 3 Oct (Dateline: Isabela Province/PR)

Kansas City, Missouri-headquartered Children International (http// said it donated $2.1 million in relief -water, soap, shampoo, sandals, kerosene stoves, sleeping mats and cooking utensils- to poor families and children that CI supports. Survivors will also receive funding for basic home repairs and reconstruction. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/PR)

Hip-hop artist MC Hammer and precious metals buyer Cash4Gold said to support hunger relief organization Feed The Children ( 2 Oct (Dateline: Pompano Beach, Florida/PR)

Ayala Foundation sent an update on its relief operations last week ( 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via email)

Save the Children said they've put up food distribution and child friendly spaces in evacuation shelters as Typhoon Parma headed towards the Philippines. The group said to help victims of an earthquake in Indonesia, flooding in Vietnam, and a tsunami in American Somoa. 2 Oct (Dateline: Westport, Conn./PR)

The Hong Kong Taskforce Operations Relief for Typhoon Ketsana (Ondoy) Victims said they raised HK$155,468 (P0.94M at HK$1=P6.0211) in cash donations, pledges and from fund-raising activities of associations and individuals. Donations accepted, sorted, packed at the Sacred Heart Canossian College Sunday. 2 Oct (Dateline: Hong Kong, via email)

UN children's agency, UNICEF ( said they have pre-positioned people and supplies for typhoon Pepeng/Parma. UNICEF said preparing $1.3 million in supplies esp. for an estimated 1 million children displaced by Ketsana. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/PR)

ChildFund said its Philippines staff is providing food, water, medicines, shelter, cookware and tools to flood survivors building houses after leaving local evacuation centers in the metropolis. 2 Oct (Dateline: Richmond, Va./PR)

The American Red Cross ( said it’s contributing US$100,000 worth of supplies -including mosquito nets, jerry cans and blankets -- to the Philippines from the Red Cross warehouse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It added it is also sending a shelter specialist. 2 Oct (Dateline: Washington/PR)

Nashville-based group Soles4Souls ( said it’s sending 15 shipping containers full of Shoe Carnival and Keds branded-shoes, clothing, food, blankets and medical supplies to victims of disasters in American Samoa, Indonesia and The Philippines. 2 Oct (Dateline: Nashville, Tenn./PR)

InterAction said 20 of its total 187 US-based member-groups “are responding to the crises in Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines, preparing assessment teams and providing water, food, nonfood emergency items and health services.” It gives a guide on how to help at 2 Oct (Nashville, Tenn/PR)

A school sought a story about students doing relief efforts for ondoy –fil-am, lithuanian, Indian, chinese. "U myt want to ask ur editor to send u to intrvw …students. Good for ur good news section." 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)

Funded by the USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, the Center for International Disaster Information CIDI, ( encourages Americans to donate cash rather than clothing and canned goods. 2 Oct (Washington, DC/PR)

The Jesus is Lord Movement said it has called off its yearly celebrations to channel funds to relief operations. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via email)

Western Union Foundation said it gave US$50,000-worth of relief good to 500 Filipino families. Cash will be given to ABS-CBN Foundation. The statement said it's working with World Vision. 2 Oct (Englewood, Colo./PR)

The Paco Catholic School Batch '85 group said they distributed goods packed at the PCS Alumni Office. 2 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said through its PR that it has donated relief goods for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. It still asked for "any medicine requirements the community has." 1 Oct (Dateline: Manila/via sms)

US group AmeriCares ( said it delivered $3.2- million worth of antibiotics, pain relievers, water purification treatments, and other medicine to the Philippines. 1 Oct (Dateline: Stamford, CT/PR)

The International Fund for Animal Welfare ( said a water rescue team arrived in Manila Oct 1 to help "animal victims of the disaster," as requested by the Animal Welfare Coalition and the Department of Agriculture. 30 Sep (Dateline: Yarmouth Port, Mass./PR)

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) said it gave $1.1 million for the Philippines ( Also, it sent two disaster response experts. The US federal agency for disaster response added the Defense Department provided a helicopter and six Zodiac boats. 30 Sep (Washington, DC/PR)

Wells Fargo said it won't charge the $5-$7 fee to those sending money using to those affected by Typhoon Ketsana. The fee waiver would be lifted after October 12, 2009. Wells Fargo said it donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross. 29 Sep (Dateline: San Francisco/PR)

Binalot Greenbelt 1 accepting donations in kind 4 Ondoy victims. U may also donate cooked meals @50 pesos each 2 b delivered 2 evac centers. Spread the word! Tnx! -28 Sep (Dateline: Manila/via sms)

[Photo is of Quezon Avenue late morning of October 2, 2009, by Dennis Estopace]

Government study foresaw flood–Palafox


Government study foresaw flood–Palafox
Written by Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter
Monday, 28 September 2009 21:39

THE government was warned 32 years ago that ceding control of urban development may have adverse consequences, such as the devastation experienced by the metropolis on Saturday.

“Some are saying it’s [the flooding of key Metropolitan Manila areas] an act of God. It’s not. It’s neglect on the part of the government,” architect Felino Palafox Jr. told the BusinessMirror on Monday as casualties of Typhoon Ondoy grew to more than a hundred dead and thousands of people displaced.

In the document sent by Palafox, the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (Mmetroplan) already cited the Marikina Valley as among the areas deemed “unsuitable for development.”

The area that includes the city of Marikina were among those that sustained the most damage, according to news reports. In one hard-hit site alone, Provident Village, TV reports said 58 bodies had already been recovered, presumably people who never had time to leave their homes as floodwaters rose too quickly.

“Development should be restricted by the application of controls in three major areas—in the Marikina Valley, the western shores of Laguna de Bay, and the Manila Bay coastal area to the north of Manila,” said the report submitted in July 1977 to then-Public Works and Highways chief Alfredo Juinio.

“We’ve told government all along [that] this would happen because of the flooding [in] the same month in 1970,” Palafox said.

He said he was working for the government then when he and a group of researchers undertook this World Bank-funded study on a land-use plan that was finalized by Hong Kong-based consulting firm Freeman Fox and Associates.

Palafox cited a recommendation from the study that the government should monitor the Marikina Riverbank so that the water would not reach 90 meters. Likewise, no structure should have been allowed within nine meters from the riverbank, he added.

“Dahil hindi sinunod ’yun, parang massacre ang nangyari [Because the recommendation was not heeded, what occurred was virtually a massacre],” he said.

The three-volume report also noted that “urban development is spreading into [these] areas which are, in their present state, unsuitable for development—either because they are low-lying and liable to flooding, or because development is without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage [the norm in Manila] and so will continue to contribute to the severe pollution of areas, such as Laguna de Bay.”

The study added: “The unsuitable areas for development, where pressures are nevertheless considerable, are primarily the flat coastal areas to the north where extensive areas are liable to flooding and where increased pressures for reclamation are likely to further exacerbate this problem.”

Another is “the Marikina Valley, to the east, where the land is liable to flooding and where development with inadequate provision for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding is a problem in the adjacent areas.”

Finally, the study said the pressure for development, but requiring control, includes “the western shores of Laguna de Bay where development without adequate facilities for the treatment and disposal of sewage is contributing to the severe pollution of Laguna de Bay and where flooding is a problem in the adjacent areas.”

“In order to avoid development contributing to longer-term flooding and water pollution, it is necessary that the short-term development is restricted in these areas. Only when remedial measures to deal with the problems have been implemented, should the development of these areas proceed on a significant scale,” the study said.

“Lessons are to be learned, for sure, but these have been taught three decades ago,” Palafox said.


These are pages from the Metro Manila Transport, Land Use and Development Planning Project (MMetroplan) that architect Jun Palafox sent to journalists to point out government culpability in the flooding after typhoon Ondoy hit the metropolis.

The MMetroplan is a 1977 World Bank-funded study for the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications. It recommended that since Marikina Valley is prone to flooding, development there should have been strictly regulated.

Stepping back

QUEZON CITY-I stepped back to escape the wind-shoved rain on the balcony at the third floor of Bangko Mabuhay rural bank headquarters in Tanza, Cavite.

Messages of typhoon Ondoy's devastation flooded my mobile phone inbox Saturday. It was only three o'clock in the afternoon but sun rays stayed blocked by a curtain of rain.

The skies poured water equivalent to a month's rainfall. My wife Patricia's message said Manila's main thoroughfare, 33 kilometers east, has morphed into a river.

My two friends agreed there's no way the Nissan Patrol we rode on can beat the torrent of water gushing forth to reach the lowest level it seeks.

Drowned in whiskey and worries over my family and friends, I slept in the clothes I wore.

It was only nine o'clock but the weight of the day's events pushed me over to REM and the ocean of alpha waves. The singing of guests three doors from our room was also drowned out by the rain that slashed the glass window at the second floor of a second-class motel we checked into for the night.

The trip back to Manila via Binakayan, Bacoor, coastal road, and EDSA bared Onyok's strength. Piles of trash thrown into the water were pushed ashore. Borders that separated houses and rivers and creeks were erased. People waded in ankle-deep brackish water over side streets.

The sky was blue and the sight was clear as gigantic tarpaulin ads lay crumpled like wet tissue on the base of steel structures. The air that swept inside the SUV was refreshing -crisp like newly-ironed cloth, pure like a baby's breath, and soft like freshly-washed cotton linen.

Futher east of Manila, however, the air reeked of death, despair, and devastation.

Maybe that's why we were able to tolerate the loss of power in our house for 24 hours. Each member of the family in UP Diliman were accounted for and, except for my uncle, were spared the torment that fellow Filipinos suffered.

The irritation over cut power supply was only because we failed to turn on the television and share the grief, though marginal, clutching hundreds of families -father, mother, son, daughter- since Saturday.

At least, I thought, my two daughters were spared from the disturbing images of children pinning their hopes on a clump of garbage to survive. They didn't.

At least, I thought, the black out steeled me from what those images could have done to my psyche had I've seen them upon arriving from Tanza, Cavite.

It's been three days now, but the images of fellow human beings who have lost their lives and are at a loss over their lives remained haunting.

My mother still try to spare the children those images -she watches the news only sparingly. But we asked them to help gather the clothes they can spare for their less fortunate cousins in Marikina.

We also explain that while some things like nature's power remain daunting, there are some things like political will remain wanting.

If we can calculate that stepping back can help us escape the wind-shoved rain on a balcony, we can surmise that good planning can help us avoid tragedy that a typhoon like Ondoy innocuously brought to bear on our people.

Peyups & Ondoy

QUEZON CITY-University of the Philippines Chancellor Sergio Cao has advised that classes in UP Diliman campus have been suspended.

"All Deans: In view of CHEd announcement, classes in UP Diliman suspended accordingly," a message sent by mobile read.

The message added that the registrar will issue a memorandum "re: adjustments in calendar."

Chancellor Cao's message added that classes in UP Diliman will resume Monday, October 5.

Likewise, the activities of groups like the Cherubim and Seraphim are suspended this week, according to Dr. Elena Rivera Mirano.

News reports said Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) chairman Manuel Angeles announced suspension of classes in colleges and universities in the National Capital Region, Southern Tagalog Region (Regions 4A & B) and parts of Central Luzon during Tuesday's briefing of the National Disaster Coordinating Council in Camp Aguinaldo with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


Eleven possible reasons why passengers crowd at MRT train doors

1. They are or former security guards, fast-food crew, bell-hops, or valets assigned to guard or offer a greeting at an entrance. Maybe they are also afraid the door would get lost and they could be blamed. So they're really making sure the door won't get lost or stolen. Really.

2. They believe there's a prize for the best door guard or the first to step inside or outside the train door. The latter also belongs to the group of people who dashes toward the turnstile and be the first to slide in the magnetic card. Surprised at not getting a prize or being the first to do so, they will muster the same optimism for the next train ride.

3. They are claustrophobic and, hence, needs to be near a door opening and closing at regular intervals.

4. They either crave human touch or the press of flesh.

5. They have an urge to be first. In this case, first inside and first outside. Since there are stations where doors open on either side, this urge propels these persons to squeeze toward the left or right side of the train. They may also belong to the group in number 2.

6. They have a fascination for doors that open and shut automatically.

7. They either have an urge to be pushed or to push people, regardless of age or gender.

8. They are either pickpockets eyeing a quick exit or undercover agents wanting to nab pickpockets red-handed.

9.  They are either wary or lonely that they need to see the faces of people waiting for a ride. They either want to see a familiar face to warm their hearts or craft a good alibi. This group includes passengers wanting to make those still stuck behind the yellow platform line feel they're such losers. 

10. They're concerned with the train capacity as well as the comfort of fellow passengers so they block entry of more passengers, especially at the Cubao station between 7:30-9:30 a.m.

11. The train’s really a sardine can being passed off as a vehicle.