Monday, September 30, 2013
Inspired by a true character
By Bernie Lopez - firstname.lastname@example.org
Blumentritt is the lechon (roast pig) capital of Metro-Manila. The 50-odd stalls in an eight-block area sell an average of 300 to 400 lechons a day. That’s about half a million pesos gross a day, not bad for a strange place where affluence and poverty see each other eyeball-to-eyeball. One day, a spiritual event descends on Blumentritt.
Richard is a five-year-old Filipino. He has no parents, no brothers, no sisters, no family. He lives alone underneath a small bridge, except when there is a storm, when he would ask the priest in church to take him in. The priest gives him a plate of hot steaming rice for breakfast daily. At break of day, Richard roams the lechon stalls, clutching his plastic plate of steaming rice. By that time, the pigs which are being roasted since 3 to 4 a.m. are hot and ready for the first buyers. At Mang Kiko’s stall, five lechons are standing vertically on bamboo poles, leaning against the wall, deep red-brown, glistening like sports cars.
Richard places his plate of rice underneath the biggest and lets the oil from the lechon drip to his plate. Mang Kiko knows Richard and ignores him. After 15 minutes and 20 drips, he takes his plate, puts some patis (liquid fish salt) from the table, goes out, and starts to eat with bare hands on the sidewalk, standing. When he finishes, he goes to Mang Kiko, places his hand on his forehead, saying, “God bless you, Mang Kiko”. Mang Kiko would shoo him away. It is Richard’s way of thanking people.
At mid-day, he has a plan on how to get lunch. He spots a new egg vendor. So he pretends to limp exaggeratedly towards the woman vendor and just stands there in front of her, hoping to get some sympathy. The woman vendor stares at him. He does not even put his palm out. He just stands there and smiles, irresistible to any decent soul, and he knows it. Finally, the woman gives her two salted eggs. He jumps with joy and hugs her, who quickly pries herself loose from his dirty grasp.
Richard – My name’s Richard. What’s yours?
Aling Fely – Fely. Okay, just go.
Richard – God bless you, Aling Fely.
Aling Fely – I know you’re not lame. Stop pretending.
Richard – I know you know. I was trying to be funny.
Aling Fely – Get out of here.
He puts a hand on her forehead, giving her a God-bless-you, and she yanks it away. Next, he goes over to a sidewalk mini-eatery. A mother and son are just standing up after eating. Richard quickly grabs the left over rice from their two plates and puts it in a plastic bag from his pocket. Nobody notices. He goes over to the eatery owner and gives her a God-bless-you before she shoos him away. Outside a dirty barbershop, he sits on a bench. He peels the two salted eggs, puts them in the plastic bag together with the rice, and pounds the bag against the wall – a feast with bare unwashed hands.
After resting a bit, he goes over to the coconut juice vendor, and drinks left over juice from two plastic cups before they are thrown into the garbage. He puts the empty cups on like slippers, and hangs on the rear railing of a passenger jeepney, and as it moves away, he slides on the pavement, using the cups as his ‘skis’ - ingenious but noisy. He ignores people shouting at him to get off. The burly coconut juice vendor picks him up with one hand. Before he leaves, he gives the coconut vendor his God-bless-you.
In the evening, Richard stalks another lechon stall, the biggest in the area, which displays as many as a dozen lechons at any given time. Hiding within the forest of lechons, he takes a pair of mini-scissors from his pocket and cuts off two 6-inch pig tails of lechon. Aling Donna, the owner, sees him at the corner of her eye but pretends she does not. Richard goes over to her and gives her a God-bless-you hug, for which he is rewarded a plate of rice. That is one sumptuous dinner, two 6-inch pig tails on rice.
The next day, after his breakfast of lechon fat on rice, Mang Kiko confronts him.
Mang Kiko – Hey Richard. Do you know I sold ten lechons yesterday? That’s a record. As soon as you left, a lady bought all five lechons. So, I ordered five more which were all sold before noon.
Richard – That’s because I told God to bless you. You give to me, He gives to you. Haha.
Mang Kiko – I give you twenty drips of lechon fat and He gives me P12,000 income in one day? That’s a bit lopsided.
Richard – You don’t know Him. He didn’t take up Accounting. He’s poor in Math. As long as you give, He gives back. You better believe it, (proudly) God gave to you because I asked him.
Mang Kiko – Maybe so. (Richard begins to leave.) Hey, hey, bless me first.
Richard puts a hand on Mang Kiko’s forehead and blesses him. Onlookers begin to laugh.
Next day, Mang Kiko sells 14 lechons. Richard’s image spread like wildfire. He is giving God-bless-yous to vendors left and right. The mini-eatery quadruples its income. The juice vendor consumes a record 44 coconuts instead of the usual 15. Aling Fely quintuples her egg sales and is now diversifying into balut (fertilized duck’s egg). Aling Donna, the lechon tycoon, sells a staggering 46 in one day. Mysteriously, buyers are coming from nowhere. Richard is getting fat, eating all the lechon he can, no longer drips or tails, but the real mccoy.
And so Richard becomes the legendary God-bless-you kid of Blumentritt. And so, Blumentritt flourishes to this day, sanctified and blest by God through His messenger, Richard, the lechon kid. Bernie Lopez email@example.com
Further proof that Filipinos have a very flat learning curve. Congressional pork barrel thievery is nothing new. It’s been going on since its re-introduction into Philippine governance back in the late 1980s by former President Corazon Aquino, mother of current President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III.
Even back in 1996, the Inquirer had already published an “award-winning exposé” on pork barrel thievery. Interestingly, the secondary top-panel headline on the 13th August 1996 issue opened a report on violence in Zamboanga perpetrated by the Moro National Liberation Front. This was highlighted by Inquirer publisher Raul Pangalananan in a recent speech…
[...] Pangalangan, in his introductory speech, showed an old issue of the newspaper with the headlines “Congress kickbacks how much for whom?” and “MNLF occupies four more towns in Zamboanga.” An infographic of a roast pig also showed the parts of the pork barrel or the PDAF supposedly reserved for kickbacks for politicians, contractors and other involved groups.“The date is August 13, 1996. You would think these were the headlines for today,” he said.
An image of that Inquirer issue has been making the rounds in social media recently…
The beginning excerpt from the report authored by Carlito Pa[b]lo under the headline “Congress kickbacks: how much for whom” may as well describe the questions everybody is asking today:
How much kickback do members of Congress, local government officials, and executive and audit officials get from projects funded with the pork barrel?And how much of the taxpayer’s money actually goes into the projects assuming they get implemented at all?A [congressman] yesterday detailed what [what is] called SOP, for standard operating procedure, but actually referring to [illegible text] that go to legislators and other officials in the disbursement of the Countrywide Development Fund and the Congressional Initiatives Allocation.
Seventeen years separate today and 1996. You’d think something will have been done about that in-your-face stealing by Filipinos’ “honourable” representatives within that long period and the banditry perpetrated by armed terrorists roaming Mindanao with impunity. That puts a bit of perspective around any “hope” being drummed up by Malacañang and the President’s henchmen in the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman that actual accountable people will end up behind bars anytime soon or that “peace” will be seen in Mindanao in the next several years. Certainly expecting results by the time BS Aquino steps down from the presidency in 2016, the 20th anniversary of that original Inquirer exposé may be a bit too much to ask.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
One major problem in Philippine society is not so much the flawed system like what some have claimed. It is actually the fact that most Filipinos don’t have foresight or are unable to see problems that might arise in the future as a result of their actions. It most likely has something to do with our “come what may” attitude or in the Filipino vernacular bahala na mentality. This is especially true with Filipino public servants.
Most of the senators who convicted former Chief Justice Renato Corona for instance, exhibited bahala na mentality during his impeachment trial. Despite the human rights violations committed by the prosecution and some agencies who gathered damning but false “evidence” against Corona, the men and women of the senate who acted as “judges” turned a blind eye to these. Obviously, in their haste to provide a “guilty” verdict, they did not think their decision would create a problem for them or anyone in the future. But now we see that it is, of course, creating a problem.
Unfortunately, it is not only the senators who will suffer the consequences of their actions. The rest of Philippine society will have to bear the cost of the damage to the country’s institutions as a result of Corona’s unfair and undignified removal from office. If the laws of the land could not protect the country’s Chief Magistrate, then ordinary citizens do not have a chance if they get in trouble with any of the powerful people in the land who can manipulate the system.
To be sure, the Philippine lawmakers’ total disregard for the rule of law and disrespect for the country’s institutions then had set a precedent for the continued mockery of the country’s democracy in the years to come, because they had shown that the system in place failed to protect an individual from abuse of power. Since Corona’s impeachment trial was a very historical event in Philippine society, a lot of Filipinos saw how the system could be corrupted and are probably thinking that it is acceptable. That gives people a license to emulate the behavior of the characters involved in that event.
Over a year after Corona’s removal from office, the senators have admitted as true Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s claim that those who convicted Corona received Php50 million extra priority development assistance funds (PDAF) or pork barrel funds from the office of the Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino. Now we know why lead prosecutor, Congressman Niel Tupas could not wipe the silly smile off his face even when he received regular berating from Senator Miriam Santiago. He knew that Corona’s conviction was already in the bag and it was just a matter of going through the motion of the trial.
While Senator Estrada in his recent privilege speech may have given us some “explosive” revelations, one still gets the feeling that he and the rest of his colleagues are still telling half-truths. He may have confirmed that the Senators received extra funds for convicting Corona but he still insisted that he voted “guilty” independently from what he said was a cash “incentive”. It was as if he was incriminating himself and others in the scam but also absolving himself and others from their decision to remove Corona. Evidently, he is another one of those who think that the Filipino people are stupid. Estrada’s disclosure says a lot about his lack of remorse, indeed. He didn’t even have a defense; he probably thought that since he is going down anyway, he might as well bring every body else down with him.
Even Senator Franklin Drilon maintains that Senators voted according to their conscience. One wonders though if the senators do have a conscience at all. Where does someone like Drilon get his credibility even when he has a face and an arrogant attitude that’s hard to trust? How did someone like him make it to the Senate in the first place? His pork barrel funds must be quite the voters’ magnet.
Since Estrada claims that members of Congress need cash incentives or bonuses to do their jobs, one wonders as well if some of the senators in the Blue Ribbon Committee investigating the P10 billion scam likewise received additional bonus or “incentives” for crucifying the senators who have been implicated in the scam – those who happen to be from the political opposition. It seemed so strange the way Senators Teofisto Guingona III and Allan Cayetano acted like mad dogs during the hearing. It’s as if they are exaggerating their disgust over revelations made by whistleblowers involving some of their colleagues in the Senate. It’s as if they do not receive pork barrel funds themselves.
Senator Guingona also felt outraged by Senator Drilon’s decision not to “invite” alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, Janet Lim-Napoles herself to the hearing. While it’s understandable that some people might consider Drilon’s decision as quite suspect considering he has been seen partying with Napoles on several occasions and also allegedly received a Mont Blanc pen from her, one can agree with the notion that calling Napoles to the Senate hearing “would prejudice her investigation into plunder charges against the alleged brains of a P10-billion pork barrel scam.”
If there is anything we can learn from the appearances of “persons of interest” in the past in front of senators is that it is never a good idea to accept their invitation in the first place. For one thing, many senators ask silly questions that will make you look guilty in the eyes of the public. Who can forget the way Senator Antonio Trillanes humiliated Angelo Reyes during one of those senate hearings, which compelled the latter to commit suicide? Trillanes was a disgrace, indeed.
Second, whatever you say in the Senate hearings can likely be used against you in a court of law and since people who get invited to senate hearings are not actually on trial, they shouldn’t have to answer any questions. Most of these senators don’t know how to conduct themselves, specially when in front of a camera. They just act like braggarts and show-offs trying to outdo each other. Their worst behavior was when the then senator-judges acted like prosecutors during the impeachment trial of Corona. When the prosecutors were failing in their “duties”, the senators took over.
Third, Senate hearings hardly result in prosecution and jail time for alleged criminals. It’s just another opportunity for Senators to earn points with the viewing public. They can’t even claim these hearings are in aid of legislation because no new legislation of consequence comes out after every hearing. This again lends credence to some calls for the Senate to be abolished for wasting the people’s time and money.
Some people think that we should move on from Corona’s impeachment trial. They don’t seem to understand that the violations committed against Corona’s right to due process is a slap in the face of true democracy – that Filipinos will never achieve success as a society if they don’t regard their laws as sacred. Unfortunately, that concept is just too difficult for most Filipinos to understand. They simply shrug off the cycle of retribution as part of the system or what they refer to as pana-panahon lang because that’s what they have come to accept as part of Philippine society’s dysfunctional culture.
So what would it take for the Philippines to move forward? The country’s political leaders need to rise above the bickering and put the needs of the people first before their own. The grandstanding and posturing in front of the camera needs to stop along with the padrinosystem that favors only allies of those in power.
Sadly, the incumbent President BS Aquino does not want to put an end to the cycle of retribution. He reinforces it instead with the way he uses all his available resources, which includes giving away people’s funds as “incentives” to help crucify his enemies. Now that Congress has approved the 2014 budget, he’s got an estimated presidential pork barrel of P964 billion to dangle in front of the people he wants to control. But if there ever was a person with lack of foresight, his name would be BS Aquino.
Filipinos: a picture of tragic gullibility as Malacañang reneges on promises to scrap the pork barrel
The way Philippine society is responding to the political crisis unfolding today is not too different from the campaign months leading to the 2010 presidential elections. Despite mounting evidence that the administration of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III is moving heaven and earth to go into damage control over the fire they started around allegations of pork barrel thievery in Congress, it seems the Yellow mob remain beholden to the hollow pedigree of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos.
Similarly, even back during the earliest days of the last presidential campaign, BS Aquino and his campaign team had already exhibited an astounding dishonesty too blatant for smart people to ignore but, unfortunately, too subtle for the sensibilities of ordinary Filipinos to look past. From an empty but song-and-dance-filled campaign rhetoric that effectively shrouded a lack of any substantial platform underwriting his bid for the presidency, to a shameless use of Goebbelian mass persuasion techniques to appeal to the taste for melodrama of the typical Filipino mind, as well as a penchant for liberally drawing from the political capital of his parents’ pedigrees, BS Aquino did it all. He was the “Reluctant” One and, thus supposedly lacking a traditional politician’s agenda. He was the “Prayerful” One and, as such, infallible to the Filipino eye. The presidency was seen by many as his birthright on account of the notion that his father Ninoy was the president Filipinos never had and his mother the president every Filipino prayed for.
The Aquino administration’s talent for teflon politics is as potent as ever. Perhaps, it is because there are many business interests at stake. For his bid for the presidency, there was the reportedly insolvent Hacienda Luisita Inc (HLI) estate and, presumably, its vast network of crony creditors who are loath to write off what could be billions of pesos of HLI debt from their balance sheets. Indeed, as we speculated a while back, an HLI collapse could potentially drag down many businesses and possibly cause a mini economic collapse — which is probably why the business community, led by the pompously-named Makati Business Club rallied behind the Reluctant One’s campaign.
Now as BS Aquino takes efforts to sweep the pork barrel scam swirling around alleged ringleader Janet Lim Napoles under the rug, the Philippine business community seems to be noticeably cooperative as well — no longer stepping up to the plate as stalwart of “social justice” within the circles of the Philippines’ so-called “civil society”. Just like HLI, the pork barrel gravy pot is likely to be already a key component of this year’s financial forecasts in many Philippine businesses. As such, there just has to be some form of pork barrel in the Philippine Government. Businesses need it. Social parasites sit around with their mouths agape at the heavens chirping for it. Politicians’ mistresses salivate over it.
The Philippines simply won’t be the Philippines without the pork barrel. Indeed, if there is one sentence that could summarise Philippine history, it would be this:
A fool and his gold are soon parted.
For what other people supposedly “blessed” with an abundance of natural resources, a treasure trove of physical, cultural, and social infrastructure left by its former colonial masters, and, more recently, a “freedom” that was “won” in what was once a globally-admired non-violent “revolution” would remain so wretchedly poor nonetheless? Who else but the Filipino people.
Perhaps it is simply Filipinos’ lot in life to be stolen from. The world, after all, wouldn’t have any thieves if there was nobody to steal from. Filipinos seem to have a talent for filling that role in the scheme of things. They’ve had their natural resources, chiseled away from under their feet as they danced the years away in their colourful fiestas and paid their taxes to kleptocrats they themselves elected to office with glee.
By all accounts, even as the obvious outrage of vast and profound thievery unfold before their eyes on national television and even as evidence of how no less than President BS Aquino himself dangled pork before these thieves to achieve the goals leading to the securing of the family jewels of his larger clan, Filipinos remain a picture of tragic gullibility. Just like many other instances of obvious mass deceit perpetrated by duly-elected officials, this is but the most recent case that goes to further proving that Filipinos deserve their government.
Plagiarism is personal to me, having been a victim myself, unfortunately many think plagiarism is a none issue.
Well sorry to say that, plagiarism has one big repercussion that should make each Filipino conscious and cautious about and it is losing our credibility and the respect of the international market. Fact is, we are already a dime a dozen abroad, and issues on credibility does affect our market value.
Just compare the contracts of other Third world nationals against that of our OFWs and see how short changed most of our kababayans are, and that’s just because of how we are currently being exported as cattle and nothing but cheap labor. It is now up to the OFW to prove his worth. What happens when the branding of dishonesty is synonymous to our nationality, won’t that be an issue we should all be concerned about?
Let’s go beyond the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which dictates that everything is copyright protected once a material hits a server therefore making individuals who copy and paste, improperly quote, or intentionally plagiarize online material financially liable for their actions.
Let’s go beyond the plagiarism of Mark Joseph Solis and the manifestations of a victim psychology because fact is, being poor or hard up didn’t prevent any true achiever from attaining success and their goals.
Let’s just forget all that and just focus on the accessible opportunities to graduates of any of the country’s top calibre schools.
It appears that plagiarism has become in vogue within the very halls that are supposed to craft laws.The Senate reverberate with plagiarism, the most sensational of which was that of Sotto, that gave birth to the term “Sottoism”. Yesterday’s news it is but the stink permeates and latches on.
The stench is emanating from a culture of impunity, where even the revered of legal positions have become oblivious of fair game, recall when SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo got away with plagiarism, excused with “accidental removal of proper attributions”. Let’s not leave out Marcos, Gloria, Bolante, Garcia, Ligot; Our history is pock marked with the deplorable statistics on plunder cases.
Many times, I have written that the miasma is reeking from the very dysfunctions of our culture yet many are too deluded to see that the problem is when institutions are consumed with self-entitlement.
An “uno”, a title or an award, regardless of how it was attained, are given the highest premium.
Superficiality has been the norm, most have forgotten the essence of passion and service. Worse of all, we have forgotten our humanity and we only see commodity.
The indecency and the abuse of privilege has become a template for a people who would rather buy popularity than substance.
After 27 years after People Power and we have re-invented a nation on a house of cards.
What Mark Joseph Solis did, is nothing new in my lifetime. He obviously took after our “beloved” politicians and public servants. We’ve seen this act so many times with our “leaders”, the only difference is that Solis got busted and being held accountable unlike with our politicians who don’t get busted or if they do get busted, they are never held accountable.
Woe to high education, titles and awards when all are diminished to “froth and bubble”, when all that it has given back to a nation is power with expiration and achievement confined to applause. All “honor” devoid of the responsibility to uphold the greater good. The returns, all “toil and trouble”.
In my country, all are in want of change but only a scruple want to take part in the solution. Such is a people ingrossed with selfies than with immersion.
Blinded by the glitter, lured to the flames.
Mike is the author of "Minsan may Isang Puta", an allegory which has been circulating since 2004 and with over 30,000 likes and shares in social media alone. It won a film grant in 2010 to be included in the multi-narrative Indie film "Ganap na Babae" (International title: Garden of Eve). The teaser, reviews and commentaries are here. The movie was honored as Cinemalaya 2010's opening film and has won international and local recognition. Mike's first sole authored book "The Dove Files", available at amazon.com endeavors to pay forward.The royalties from the initial 150 copies first went to a Project Malasakit scholar who graduated Cum Laude in April 2013, the rest was also paid forward to baby Mark who underwent a liver transplant in March 2013. The royalties from the succeeding prints of "The Dove Files", now go to a deserving Mangyan scholar who despite having been laughed at and nicked as "Taong-bundok", prevailed and recently graduated from High School.
The recent news of Filipino photographer Mark Joseph Solis plagiarizing his entries in international competitions has the social media chattering classes up in arms and in a state of “outrage”. Particularly noticeable is that since Rappler broke this story with the headline “UP student plagiarizes prize-winning photos”, the focus has been on the premier state university. I’ve seen a few statuses decry the use of such a headline that makes it prone for people to blame the University of the Philippines for Solis’ doing what he did. Well, tough luck and too bad for UP, and tougher luck and even worse for Filipinos; that’s just human nature for you. A misdemeanor of one group or individual will reflect on the entire institution it associates with.
What Rappler did, that’s sensationalism for you; it sells, and thus feeds the bottom line of any business. I guess it’s ironic that outfits like Rappler that claim to be a “social news network” that “delivers uncompromised journalism and a thirst for change” wind up doing the very same things traditional media does, but I digress.
Several social media personalities and “bloggers” have been calling for sanctions to be implemented against him and for him to seek help and his mental health to be ascertained. Like, yeah, whatever. Are we seeing an irrational angry mob mentality like what we saw with Robert Carabuena and the Amalayer girl? True enough that he shouldn’t walk away scot-free from this, but punishing Solis alone will not prevent others from doing it. He certainly wasn’t the first to do this and he definitely will not be the last.
To have a better understanding of this issue and to make better sense of it, we need to analyze a few things:
First, we ask why plagiarism should matter to Filipinos.
Plagiarism is defined as the “appropriation of another person’s work as one’s own without crediting the original author”. In short, it is theft, of intellectual property. It is often referred to as intellectual dishonesty; not that Filipinos collectively value intellect highly, nor do they collectively come down hard on dishonesty in their daily lives, anyway. Though one may not see something being carried away like you would in an actual robbery, the fact is an idea, concept, paper, or in this case, photograph, was taken without permission from the source.
Filipino society, unfortunately, is one wherein even bigger and more visible acts of impunity are routinely tolerated, and sometimes encouraged. The current issue surrounding the pork barrel is one that has been allowed to go unchecked and unabated for years. Sulpicio Lines, Inc., now known as Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (PSACC), found itself in the newsrecently, and as a result its track record for maritime disasters was highlighted again, yet no one is raising a hoot for the victims of what are considered preventable tragedies. One can see illegal or pirated DVD’s still being sold on the street and in certain enclosed areas, and people buying them. Filipinos still throw their trash and everywhere, and haven’t done much except cope to adjust to the seemingly worsening rains every year.
As it turns out, the natural thing to ask is: doesn’t plagiarism seem small compared to the robbing, looting, gross negligence, killing, and the general bruising of fragile egos that happens in Filipino society? If Filipinos see nothing wrong with stealing actual objects for one reason or another, I doubt that they will find anything wrong with stealing non-material things. Which aren’t as visible and obvious, by the way.
Fellow GRP writer Mike Portes makes a point worth considering: such actions affect our credibility and our ability to command respect internationally. Tough luck for Filipinos as a people, because we have come to depend on other countries not only to host our overseas foreign workers for jobs that they couldn’t get at home, but for validation that we as a people possess good qualities and are important to the world. There is no escaping the reality that when any one Filipino is caught doing wrong, it reflects badly on ALL Filipinos. Trust, once broken, is very difficult to get back; wherever Filipinos are in the world, this reality will not change.
What should Filipinos do? Prove that they can collectively learn from the mistakes of one of their own and adjust accordingly.
Next, we ask why those who do wrong would become habitual or repeat offenders.
Is there anything about the environment Filipinos find themselves in that is conducive to not only committing offenses, but to keep committing them over and over again? Well, Filipinos are not known to follow simple guidelines. As fellow GRP writer Ilda has mentioned in the past, Filipinos have this baseless sense of being more important than anyone else. They tend to put their own interest first before other people’s.
Let’s face it, we all get a kick or a high from doing something illegal or immoral. Unfortunately, it also becomes easier the more we do it. Combine that with a society like the Philippines, where the enforcement of and compliance to rules and regulations are both weak. One has no impediment to doing things over and over again because he/she is emboldened.
Intellectual property theft is an obscure, almost alien concept here in the Philippines. Even until now, there doesn’t seem to be any law that penalizes it. GRP colleague benign0 has described before what I think is an accurate representation of how Filipinos view it:
In any case, most ordinary Filipinos won’t be able to grasp intellectual property theft and copyright infringement anyway. Recall the question I posed at the start: Is anyone really harmed by intellectual property theft? To the ordinary citizen of a nation not exactly known for originality, innovation, or bold creativity, copyright infringement does not compute. Ownership of original work quite simply does not make sense to an unoriginal people.
The above discussion reflects two dimensions to the concept of repeating offense: “It is not illegal anyway”, and “Nobody is going to notice or care.”
As it turns out, Solis not only plagiarized pictures once, but at least three times.
Finally, we ask why people who get caught say sorry.
Are people truly repentant and regretful of the wrongdoing they did, or are they just sorry they got caught? In the case of Mark Joseph Solis, some Filipinos think it is the latter. Watch this video of him being interviewed by GMA7 and see for yourself which one it is. Take note, though, that he attempted to justify why he did what he did: because, supposedly, he needed the money.
Read also in this link his letter of apology to Gregory Smith, an owner of one of the pictures which he passed off as his own. Of particular interest is this passage:
Unfortunately, I was driven by my youth, lack of experience, and the inability to see the repercussions of my actions. The sheer amount of the prize, the stiff competition, and the unique opportunity to be abroad blinded me from undertaking what is supposed to be an honest and a rightful conduct. It was a regrettable lapse on my judgment, and no words can express how sorry I am for taking your photo as mine.
And he’s still trying to justify what he did. Typical of a Filipino to make excuses.
To end this article, think about the following comment made by GRP webmaster benign0 in another article of his:
Indeed, youth excuses us for our transgressions. But to learn from said transgressions, the consequences must be experienced. So in this case said consequences need to be applied.…Whether one is a child or a grown up, the experience of getting burned when touching a hot kettle is the same — which is why EVERY normal person learns to avoid touching a hot kettle.Such natural consequences do not discriminate on the basis of age. So when man-made consequences are consistent and blind not only to age, but also to race and social class, then the learning borne out of said consequences becomes more effective and more embeddedin the psyche of both individuals and the collective.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
My colleague Paul Farol, on the mark in his usual form, had earlier cited what is likely the most recent case of the underhanded manner with which the administration of Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III deals withrevealing information circulating amongst its constituents. An articlepublished by Francisco S. Tatad earlier this week on the Manila Standard Todayhad revealed details about President BS Aquino’s prior dealings with alleged pork barrel scammer Janet Lim Napoles that contradict Malacañang’s official position that the President did not know nor ever consorted with Napoles in the past.
Here is an excerpt from Tatad’s article…
Contrary to what the nation and the rest of the world have been led to believe, President Benigno S. Aquino III spent several hours in “closed- door conversations” with Janet Lim Napoles, the suspected mastermind in the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam involving selected opposition lawmakers, before showcasing to the media her formal “surrender” to “the only person she trusted,” on the evening of August 28, 2013, authoritative sources have revealed.This incredible detail was completely left out of Malacanang’s official statement, which had sought to present Aquino’s meeting with Napoles as no more than a 10-minute affair that ended an otherwise fruitless manhunt of a celebrated fugitive from justice, and was witnessed by several Cabinet members and duly recorded for posterity by the Malacanang press office.The revelation is certain to be denied, for obvious reasons, but it comes from highly authoritative sources whose loyalty to Aquino is exceeded only by their loyalty to the truth and who shared the story with extreme pain and sadness. They just could not bear what to them is a “grand deception,” a deliberate and cold-blooded attempt to mislead and deceive the people on Malacanang’s real role and interest in the Napoles case.To them, it affects the whole fabric of morality in government, and ultimately Aquino’s moral fitness to remain in office.
[Full article here.]
Netizens attempting to share the article on Facebook at the time were greeted by an alert message from Facebook that said that the link had been flagged as material inappropriate for sharing over their social network (or something to that effect). Considering the damage to the credibility of the Malacañang Communications team that Tatad’s article could cause, it did not take much to convince netizens that Malacañang’s fingerprints were all over this heinous crime against free speech. Thanks to efforts to mount what are really just elementary measures that any 10-year-old could take to thwart Malacañang’s alleged attempts to prevent such “politically-inappropriate” messages from being circulated, Tatad’s message got good airtime anyway. In its ensuing lame “official denial” of Tatad’s allegations, the “Office of the Presidential Spokesperson” made it a point to highlight Tatad’s links to the administration of former President Ferdinand E Marcos and as such one who is “not accustomed” to the “truthful and transparent reportage” upheld by the Second Aquino Administration. The statement also included the following rather adolescent ad hominem…
This grandiose conspiracy theory peddled by Tatad is symptomatic of the old order that has been swept away. He represents what is wrong with our politics, and over the last decade, the Filipino people have made that abundantly clear by denying his return to public office twice.
The “communication” henchmen of President BS Aquino are ones to talk.
The Malacañang of President Noynoy Aquino has a long history of making use of unscrupulous practices in its public relations efforts. Recall an even bigger outrage perpetrated by the Yellow Forces of the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan back when the smoke from the infamy of the 2010 presidential elections was just clearing when the privately-owned Facebook.com/Noynoy.Aquino “BSA3″ page (owned by Califorinia-based Ben Totanes and Betty Abrantes, but now defunct) that at the time claimed 1.5 million “fans” (now known as “likes”) was seemingly hijacked by Malacañang. The page was allegedly shut down by Facebook admins (some say under pressure from the Philippine Government) and its subscribers apparently re-subscribed into the now “official” Noynoy Facebook page at Facebook.com/PresidentNoy.
Vicente “Enteng” Romano III, the head of the “New Media Bureau” of then presidential candidate BS Aquino enlisted the support of Abrantes and Totanes in the campaign lead up to the 2010 presidential election. The treachery that followed BS Aquino’s win was reported by GMA News TV…
[...] after the election, Romano allegedly recommended that the fan page be shut down. Instead, Totanes and Abrantes offered to turn over administration of the page to the then newly-formed Presidential Communications Group on the condition that comments critical of the administration would not be removed.“Sinabi ko sa kanila na pwede pa rin nila gamitin ito, nguni’t dapat pamalagiin itong ‘Feedback Forum’ ng sambayanang Pilipino, at huwag tatanggalin ang mga comments —pro or anti— ng mga tao,” he said.(I told them that they can still use the fan page, as long as it’s maintained as a venue for feedback from the Filipino people. No comments must be removed, be they negative or positive.)Coloma allegedly disagreed with Totanes’ conditions, and decided to set up a new official fan page, PresidentNoy at Facebook.com/PresidentNoy, in August this year.
An official statement from Malacañang issued by Presidential Communications Group head Sec. Herminio Coloma declined to comment on whether Malacañang had a hand in the sudden closure of the original BSA3 page. According to AllFacebook.com, the number of “likes” on the fan page of the new PresidentNoy Facebook page suddenly jumped in number from about 100,000 as of the 8th of November to almost 1.6 million as of the 11th of November .
The PresidentNoy Facebook page now boasts about 3 million “likes” which, suffice to say does not necessarily mean that the President has that number of supporters on Facebook. Unlike Noynoyist netizens, online activists critical of the President are not ones to shy away from heated debate. As such, many of them subscribe to pro-Aquino forums and online communities in order to directly engage in healthy discussion with their pro-Noynoy counterparts. Indeed, it is well known in the online political community that admins of the PresidentNoy Facebook page have had to disable commenting on the site in many instances when comments critical of the president being posted there got “out of hand”.
Considering how the manpower bloat in Malacañang’s communication team sticks out like a yellow spot in a black background, one can easily conclude that these folk are fully appreciative of the powerful role the Net plays in 21st Century politics. Unfortunately their ability to manage that power fails to impress.
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One of the questions I ask myself is: How tolerant or democratic do I want to be when I engage people on the Net? I do not mind seeing comments I do not agree with on my timeline so long as they are not disrespectful or insulting. The biggest lesson I still have to master though is when to engage and when not to. I really want to come from a place of openness and rational discussion but it can get very tiring discussing with people who can’t tell reason from imagination and suspicion, and are dismissive of facts.
The above was wistfully written by top Aquino celebrity apologist Jim Paredes in a recent blog.
Ironic, isn’t it?