Hangover (and nope, it ain’t of the alcoholic variety)

5 Jan

Getting by with just as much enthusiasm as a deflated balloon.

I did something I’ve always wanted to try for the first time today. My hands were shaky as I dragged my cursor to the e-mail bearing tidings of my fate.

The outcome wasn’t what I was hoping-wishing-praying-offering-eggs-to-Santa-Clara for. But ah, well — you win some, you lose some. And it sure shan’t-can’t-won’t stop me from loving what pushed me to try in the first place, or stop me from trying again at all.

To more opportunities that drive us nuts, drive us out of our comfort zone, and ultimately drive us to realize what’s most important to us.

Manila Scoop: Rounding Up the Best 2013 Planners (Part I)

28 Dec

1. Design Your Life Photo Planner

Best for: The Girly-Girl Who Wants A Little Bit of Everything

Add color – splashes and splashes of it! – to your life this new year with the Design Your Life Photo Planner. This weekly tracker features a unique design each month, with eye-popping combinations of neon and metallic colors.

The creators of the DYL Planner have been at it since 2008, adapting not only the planner’s content but also its form. Its 2013 version comes with rounded edges, hidden wire-O binding to keep your pages nice and snug, and even a secret compartment for sticky notes and doodling.

Freebies: One black and one white bookmark that double as paper clips, stickers

Price: P530 each, P520 each for 2 pieces and P500 each for 3 pieces

How and where to buy: Course orders through the Design Your Life Planner Facebook page.


2. Eskwelahan

Best for: The student with an A+ sense of humor

Heading back to school this January? Add a skip to your step and a smile on your face everyday with the return of the handy EsKWELAhan planner. When the daily grind bogs you down, turn to each of the planner’s  bright, zany pages to remind you of the best things about being a student.

Who ever said learning ends in the classroom? Your daily Ka-(Es)Kwela is chock-full of trivia on the sciences, history, nutrition, economics and any other subject you can think of.

Keep an eye out for the jokes and pick-up lines to share with your classmates, blockmates and significant other, within school hours or otherwise.

Price: P350

How and where to buy: Course orders through a private message on the EsKWELAhan Planner 2013 Facebook page.


3. Clone Stamp

Best for: The animal lover

The sky’s the limit with Clone Stamp’s quirky 2013 offering. From the duo that brought you the 2011 Monthster Planner and the 2012 Lomo Planner comes a book of days that’s sure to keep your heart a-flutter.

The quirky owl cover opens to reveal an understated Aztec-themed design in shades of blue. Each spread includes vertical space for daily reminders, a monthly calendar and writing space for other notes. Keep your life priorities in check with each month’s panels for goals, expenses and things to do. The Clone Stamp 2013 planner also comes with a directory, a mini-pocket and a fuchsia feather bookmark.

Price: P410

How and where to buy: Course orders through the Clone Stamp Facebook page.


4. Writhink

Best for: The Palanca Aspirant (or Awardee)

Daily life makes for a dynamic, not-so-hidden spring of inspiration and information for the crafting of your literary oeuvres. Writhink – the planner for writers by writers – is perfect for all your precious lightbulb moments, or for bemoaning your fate in the absence thereof.

The no-frills, one-week-per-spread layout keeps your reminders and deadlines in check. Extra note pages are also at hand for your writing and doodling needs. Pages marking the turns of months are livened up with psychological trivia, puzzles and fragments of a story designed to be finished at the year’s end. Let the Writhink Planner be the liaison between you and The Muse as you write out the best story of 2013 – your own.

Price: P450, with a special mark-down to P420 if you buy 3 pieces

How and where to buy: Fill out the order form at the Writhink Planner 2013 Facebook page.


5. Planet Slate

Best for: The Renaissance Man/Woman, The Artist (starving, misunderstood or otherwise)

If the new year were a canvas, what would your masterpiece look like in 365 days? Riddle yourself this as well as other questions on life, art and everything else in between. Rid yourself of boredom and rev up your creative motor this 2013 with the Slate Planner, which comes in two designs: Classic Black and Limited Edition Teal.

Get your imagination on overdrive with Sloot Alert doodles, designs and games. Within this planner lies a library of works by local literary luminaries and a handy-dandy gallery of artworks by artists here and abroad. Keep your inner dilettante in c’est magnifique shape throughout the year with reviews of films, restaurants, books and activities. Map out your days in minimally designed weekly spreads that will have your paints, pens, pencils and what-have-you dancing across the pages in no time.

Price: P599 for Limited Edition, P499 for Classic

How and where to buy:  Fill out the order form here.




Join Manila Scoop‘s 2013 PLANNER GIVE-AWAY! Click here for details. ❤

Click the photo for details!

Click the photo for details!


Taming the Scrooge

25 Dec

We all have a little Scrooge inside.

Sometime, somewhere, we’ve all had our hearts broken at Christmastime. And no, I don’t just mean the romantic kind. December 25, after all, falls within the tail-end of the year — a period rife for reflection on regrets and its many merciless permutations.

Every year since I was eleven, I’d make the rounds in my mother’s office and ask for aginaldo (Christmas treats, usually in the form of money) from her colleagues and superiors. I remember my eyes growing round as saucers that first time, when I came home with four digits worth of Christmas money.

For this little girl who sold candy bars and biscuits at school to augment her allowance, the aginaldo rounds were a godsend cash cow.

By and by as I grew in height, my benefactors’ fists clenched tighter and tighter around their purses. I made the rounds as an eighteen-year-old, knowing full well that it would be my last. Most of the gifts I had received from Mama’s friends at that point were the same things they would give one another — make-up, little pouches, mirrors and the like.

My little Scrooge would have humbugged at the idea of this Christmas. This is my last Christmas as an undergrad student, supposedly also the last where I enjoy immunity from the compulsion to give gifts to godchildren and various other aginaldo-seekers (oh how the tables have will turned!).

But besides more responsibilities, the passing years have brought to me the kind of healthy ambivalence towards receiving gifts. I reach out to give little tokens of gratitude to those whose love, friendship, company and service have helped me grow in the past year(s).

As for the returns, I don’t think of them nearly as much as my entrepreneurial eleven-year-old self would have. What she would have considered the greatest Christmas heartbreak would be coming home empty-handed after an afternoon of pamamasko.

But I have come to realize that seeing people’s faces light up, or hearing how much they enjoyed or will enjoy what they’ve been given are gifts in themselves — one that no amount of red envelopes or bills can ever measure up against. And perhaps it would be the most awful Christmas heartbreak of all not to know the difference.


22 Dec

Mga plastik. In both human and non-human form.

Mga taong namamansin lang pag may ipagyayabang o pag may kailangan sila.

Mga truck driver at pasahero na nakaka-bastos kung makakatitig, maka-hiyaw at maka-“Hi, Miss!”

Mga tao na hinuhubaran ka sa tingin.

Mga driver sa likod ng sasakyan mo na karipas pa rin ang pag-overtake kahit kanina ka pa naka-left/right turn signal.

Korupsyon sa bureaukrasya, mapa-lokal, panlalawigan o pambansa.

Yung nagpa-xerox at bind ka ng isang buong libro, tapos pagkabasa mo, may isa o higit pang baliktad na page.

Mga bus o taxi o eni-eni driver na feeling Vin Diesel sa daan (pwera na lang siyempre kung may buntis o isusugod sa ospital na sakay).

Basang rim ng toilet seat.

Yung buong araw ka nag-crave ng isang uri ng pagkain, tapos nung ikaw na yung pangalawa mula sa cash register, narinig mong huling piraso na yung in-order ng nasa harap mo.

Mga group mate sa school o sa trabaho na madalang pa sa multo magparamdam.

All we want for Christmas

3 Dec

Spotted in the UP Journalism Club‘s Secret Santa wishlist:

  1. Mahalin nyo lang ako at wag nyo kong saktan 😥
  2. Contact Lens: either red (na vampire-ish ang dating at hindi adik)
  3. Film 100 readings
  4. End world hunger
  5. Mahinto na  yung gulo between Hamas and the Israelis
  6. Mahalal ang mga tamang tao sa gobyerno
  7. Marriage equality
  8. Love/what comes close
  9. School supplies na worth 200. Haha.  Or dumbells kasi ang laki ng braso ko. hehe
  10. Peace on earth. Love in all our hearts. But then, it’s a futile effort, like paghahanap ng jowa. (andaming sinabi)
  11. 2 MRT Stored Value Cards. Make me believe na di SVC ang laman ng gift ko (e.g. lagay mo sa garapon, etc.)
  12. 200-peso worth na peras o mangosteen. Pakilagay na lang sa basket. Bumili sa palangke. Humingi ng written receipt na may “Merry Christmas, ***!” note. Isama ang resibo sa gift.
  13. Mamahalin. Yung hindi nang-iiwan.
  14. A large bottle of sunblock SPF 70 or higher. Nagsiswimming kasi ako and I don’t wanna look like Malibu Ken in a barong in April!
  15. Swimming trunks (shorts type, HINDI yung Olympic men’s diving type)
  16. Swimming goggles. maraming mura dyan. hanap-hanap din. may below-400. utang na loob, walang Little Mermaid/Spongebob Squarepants na designs.
  17. Running shorts…pwede nang Quiapo/Divisoria/Baclaran. thankful na ako sa Greenhills. sasambahin kita pag galing ng Nike Factory Outlet
  18. Lovelife for JCers
  19. Freshness sa mga hindi na freshie
  20. Justice for the victims of (broken hearts) unsolved crimes

Salamat sa tradition of critical thought and action, lalo na kay anonymous “Mrs. Santa” wisher ng huling tatlong items. HAHA.

Note: All items listed are verbatim and were edited only for capitalization and/or anonymity.


Encircle all that apply

28 Nov

Beating the deadline (n. or v.)

– the writer’s (  equivalent of  / supplement to / substitute for  ) an orgasm.

Soft focus

14 Nov

“Smile!” he said.

You came to mind.

It made all the difference.

A long-running joke

1 Nov

A tweet from the Inquirer today brought to mind a documentary I watched close to two months ago. Entitled Give Up Tomorrow, the film centered on Paco Larrañaga, son of a landed Spanish father and Filipina mother, who was convicted of double murder charges along with seven others for the disappearance of Cebuano sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997. Below is a review of the documentary as written for my J 103 (Interpretative Writing) class.


It has been a long-running joke that the Philippine justice system is best described in two words: just tiis (“push on” in Filipino). For all the description’s merits as an exercise in wordplay, it belies the disturbing reality of cases that await resolution for decades, if at all.

“Just tiis” also paints a picture of restless complainants twiddling their thumbs in trepidation, as time and resources (i.e. legal fees) needed to sustain the case runs out.

One would be remiss to assume, however, that only plaintiffs suffer the brunt of lapses and delays in judicial proceedings.

Accused parties, after all, are movants as well. What separates them from petitioners is the converse burden of proving innocence, by emphasizing the impossibility – logistical or otherwise – of their involvement in the crime.

What happens, however, when a person accused and subsequently convicted of a crime cries out foul and clamors for justice?

This is the central predicament presented in the 2011 documentary “Give Up Tomorrow”, helmed by Michael Collins and produced by Marty Syjuco. The film chronicles the case of Paco Larrañaga, son of a landed Spanish father and Filipina mother, who was convicted of double murder charges along with seven others for the disappearance of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997.

The Chiong sisters were abducted from a commercial complex in Cebu on July 16, 1997. A corpse believed to be Marijoy’s was found in a ravine, showing conclusive evidence of rape prior to the murder.

At the time, Paco – the 19-year-old great-grandson of former president Sergio Osmeña – and his group of friends from similarly influential families were deemed the neighborhood bad boys of Cebu. He also had a juvenile criminal record due to a scuffle at his high school’s parking lot.

Thelma Chiong, mother to the murdered sisters, also proffered that Paco was Marijoy’s suitor.  Ten months after, a Davidson Rusia confessed to being an accomplice to the crime, and pleaded for blanket immunity in exchange for becoming a state witness. Paco would firmly deny knowing either the Chiong sisters or Rusia.

As the trial of the “Chiong Seven” went underway, inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case began to surface. 35 witnesses testified that Paco was in Quezon City, Manila the night the Chiongs were abducted. This ran counter to Rusia’s claim that he accompanied Paco and his group as they raped and murdered the two girls.

Rusia’s credibility as state witness was questioned not only because of inconsistencies in his sworn statements, but also due to reports by his fellow inmates insinuating that he was tortured as the trial wore on.

Then president Joseph Estrada called to expedite the case. The film credits this political maneuver to the Chiongs’ connections in Malacañang – Thelma Chiong’s sister Cheryl Jimenea was at that time Estrada’s personal secretary.

Judge Martin Ocampo of the Cebu Regional Trial Court meted reclusion perpetua on the Chiong Seven. Lawyers for the prosecution were promoted to regional and national government posts. Members of the police force who were involved in the investigation likewise rose in rank.

The Larrañagas filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, citing violations to Paco’s human rights and his being subject to an unfair trial. The Supreme Court responded by elevating the sentence from life imprisonment to death.

The highest court of the land adjudicates based on the merit of cases presented and not on the conduct of courtroom trials as a lower court would. Thus, the resolution to aggravate the penalty was passed even as no new evidence was presented before the Supreme Court en banc.

Local media did not fall short of passing its own judgment on Paco and his fellow accused. Men and women of the press were all too pre-occupied with sustaining a stereotype of Paco and his friends: rich kids gone wild, now left with no choice but to swallow the bitter pill of the penal system.

The media harped on the prominence angle, always emphasizing how the accused were “delinquent” scions of historically and economically powerful clans.

Journalist Teddy Boy Locsin produced a news segment with a voice-over emphasizing how drug use altered the state of minds of Paco and his friends. This, despite reports that all the accused tested negative for drugs at the time of their arrest.

In a similar segment, Locsin would deliver a stand-upper explaining the crime scene. He cupped his hands together and says to the camera: “Ganito karaming semen ang natagpuan sa bangkay ni Marijoy Chiong (“This much semen was found in the corpse of Marijoy Chiong”).

It would later be known that only a single sperm cell was found in the corpse’s undergarment and admitted as evidence, a grossly far cry from the cupful Locsin reported.

Justice delayed is justice denied. But denying an accused person’s right to a fair trial – both in court and in the public’s eye –  makes a farce out of democracy.

Injustice is never doled in isolation. Injustice is societal in that if something of this magnitude happened to Paco, it can happen to any of us. The documentary serves to reinforce that the Larrañaga’s nightmare is our society’s reality.

To have the courts and the media remain unreceptive to criticism on their handling of Paco’s case would be the last nail in the coffin of justice. The long-running joke will no longer be “just tiis”, but the integrity of the Philippine justice system.

Much ado about merging

1 Nov

Last June 4, a breaking news item by Philippine Star showbiz columnist Ricardo “Ricky” Lo got tongues wagging and cursors hovering in the local internet sphere. The article discussed the green-lighting of a “landmark” merger between media outlets TV5 and GMA7, to be formally launched November this year.

According to Lo, TV5 head Manny V. Pangilinan — popularly known by his moniker MVP – ”virtually confirmed” the merger at a June 2 presscon in San Francisco, where he was inking a separate deal with satellite broadcaster Dish Network in behalf of TV5.

Dish Network also provides satellite services for the streaming of GMA7 shows in the US.

After a few hours, TV5′s online news arm Interaksyon published an article disputing the Philippine Star scoop. Interaksyon cited exclusive correspondence with MVP, who explained how he was misquoted by Lo.

“You know, all I said was: Please support TV5 here in the States. And by the way, please support GMA7, too, since Dish carries GMA. That was all. No mention of merger, investment, combination.

“Certainly no mention of a November deadline or any deadline at all. Sure, some people speculated, and all I said was I can now say we are under discussion but nothing has been finalized at this time,” said MVP. The absence of finality in the merger talks was corroborated by TV5 chief executive Ray Espinosa.

In the following months, buzz of the alleged merger remained. ABS-CBN, the last player in the triumvirate of leading Filipino media networks, even released a PR article online detailing how chairman Eugenio Lopez III was “not threatened” by the proposed GMA7-TV5 deal.

Come October, both parties released statements confirming the fall-through of the controversial merger. MediaQuest Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of the MVP-helmed PLDT group, said that both networks were “unable to arrive at mutually acceptable terms despite the continual discussions and efforts exerted in good faith.”

For his own part, GMA7 CEO Atty. Felipe Gozon proffered: “The issues that the parties were not able to resolve had nothing to do with the price.”

Even if the deal has fizzled out for the time being, this is hardly a case of much ado about nothing. It has opened the minds of media executives, producers and audiences alike to the previously far-fetched possibility of a media merger and its underlying – albeit unrealized – repercussions.

The privatization of media is a double-edged sword. In their landmark text Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel explore this duality by dedicating a chapter to the characterizations of who journalists work for.

In the operations of any media corporation, two divisions find themselves both cooperating with and contradicting one another: the newsroom and the network’s corporate arm. As the competition stiffened among different corporations and different channels of media besides, news producers worldwide adapted to various extents a paradigm of the citizen as a customer.

Such a mindset ultimately leads to the corrosion of the integral values of justice, freedom and independence in reportage. Justice in news coverage engages three aspects: fairness, balance and objectivity.

Fairness entails airing both or every side involved in an issue. Balance demands that equal space and equal time be given to all parties. Objectivity, meanwhile, is the avoidance of words and phrases that imply judgment to avoid unduly influencing audiences.

One aspect of freedom in journalism concerns upholding the constitutionally-protected freedom of expression and of the press. This freedom is necessary for the press to adequately and competently perform its functions of citizen advocate and watchdog of power.

Freedom, however, is not only limited to the absence of stifling government control or intervention. Its second aspect entails journalistic autonomy: independence from pressures both internal and external to the newsroom that may impede judicious reportage and editorial judgment.

How do we see these journalistic values lived out or undermined in our most influential news networks? The Philippines alone provides a notable case study.

All three of the largest television networks are owned and operated by businessmen. Affluent families control the publication of the most widely-circulated newspapers and magazines. Such managerial hierarchies lend themselves to what Kovach and Rosensteil dubbed the “bureaucratic inertia” of corporate media ownership.

This presumes that the business, political and even personal interests of head honchos snowball into newsroom decisions to pursue, discontinue or modify certain stories. The danger lies in private interests holding a greater mandate over the public’s right to know.

There is much to be desired and to be enraged about when the priorities of a newsroom shift from producing stories that matter to producing stories that sell. Running a media organization as a business-minded individual or family already brings with it a plethora of conflicts of interest. To imagine the consequences of a merger between two of the largest news networks, both ran by businessmen to boot, would be to multiply the propensities of bureaucratic inertia twofold.

While it is initially reassuring to know that irreconcilable factors not concerning money weighed in on the GMA7 decision, audiences and media practitioners alike ought to be vigilant for the likelihood of another think – and another deal – coming, especially when these could compromise the impartiality and integrity of local news operations.

Getting physical

19 Oct

Make-up activity for my Touch Rugby class. Anyone care to join me suffer exercise?