August 2009

Old and New Media will Join Hands in Covering the Elections in 2010

“In the end, sites that blend professional journalists with amateur, citizen journalists will probably do well,” Jay Rosen

(I have a perfect excuse why this blog has not been updated for almost a week. Holed up in the mountainous area of Laguna, internet connection was just painfully slow to do anything except check email, whine in Plurk , Facebook, Twitter. But I am back.)

I always feel stumped whenever I get invited to meet the “presidentiables”. These politicians don’t impose a definite agenda for these blogger meetings except perhaps to be known to our community or searchable in online media. I have talked to the likes of Senator Manny Villar, Senator Mar Roxas, Mayor Binay, Bayani Fernando, Erap, Loren Legarda but I still don’t know much about them. Just to veer away from the usual overplayed news by old media, I try to be more meaningful by delving on concrete platforms. Not just what? but how?

The next question I ask myself is, why am I doing this anyway? My blog is mainly a parenting blog yet I care a lot about the future of the country because my children are part of the voting population. Yes, I love my country and continue to hope that a leader will bring us forth to prosperity and a bright future for my children. The least I can do is to share my hope to all of you. As a blogger, my resources are limited to commentary, opinions and observations. I know I need to surpass myself than just being a mom blogger. I believe voter’s education is crucial at this point because an automated election (If supreme court decision does not stop it) is the first in Philippine history. There is so much to learn. Technology can be intimidating to the technophobes.

The 2008 USA election has been called the YouTube election, the Facebook election, the new media election and so on. I can see that our local politicians are also making use of the same strategy. I see them scrambling ways to make the most of blogs, bloggers, Facebook, online video, plurk, Twitter and all of the new tools out there. My initial belief was that it is high time for the new media, including bloggers, to take over where traditional newspaper, radio broadcasters and television journalists have failed, well until I received a training invitation.

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Dear Diary…

I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart. Anne Frank

The aftermath of the Best Friends Forever Reunion left me in a contemplative mood for days. Friends remarked that I was quiet, conservative and feminine in the past so the revelation of “a true confession” caused jaw-dropping looks. At a high school reunion, I laughed when former teachers thought I was Lorna, my elder sister. What a forgettable student I was! I don’t blame them. It was true anyway. Looking at myself today, I don’t recognize the person I once was. Still, I thought of checking out that forgettable person and affirm the good that is happening in my life today.

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Best Friends Forever Reunion 2009

I unearthed my “baul”, a box full of treasured memories like old photos, memorabilia and diaries written since I was 10 years old. During the reunion, I confessed to the ex that I still kept the diary during the years we were together. Horrified, he told me to dispose of it. I shrugged. It was the past, nothing incriminating and everything written was pure and innocent. For some reason, I should have thrown it when I got married. I dumped all the letters, gifts and photos in the trash bin but I kept the diaries. Now I know why I didn’t throw the diaries. No, it was not to reminisce the memories of first love and that of my ex-boyfriend now my husband.

I pulled my diaries out from the cobwebs of the musty “baul” and began to leaf through the pages, now yellowed after 34 years. For the next few days, I poured over the poignant memories. I’m not a very profound writer and I scribbled about things I did that day or week with my family, my boyfriend or my groupies. Both things of significance and not. My diary detailed the life of my family when we were still complete. My mom, already sick of breast cancer in 1975 suddenly came alive in the stories I wrote about her. My departed siblings, Oscar and Ruben ,the clowns of the family and my dad sprang to life as I read the “Dear Diary” entries. I felt a tugging in my heart,a deep longing for my departed loved ones as I got transported back to 1975. For one brief moment, images of their smiles and antics kept me in a cheerful mood.

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The Violent Dispersal of Students in the Mendiola Lightning Rally

““The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.” –Pearl S. Buck

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courtesy of Romeo Ranoco
unarmed protesters are no match for a baton, steel barrier, concrete barrier, and a metal signpost

Once upon a time, I was a student who joined lightning rallies in the seventies. But in the days of Martial Law, we knew that anyone caught in such rallies meant torture and immediate imprisonment in the military stockade for months. Lightning rallies entailed being with a buddy of the opposite sex. We ended up pretending to be steadies just strolling in the park. At a pre-arranged signal, the buddies converged towards the center of a busy place such as Luneta Park and chanting “Marcos , dictator , tuta” in front of a startled public, similar to what you would see in this Flash mob dance. Instead of dancing, we yelled , marched then scampered away as “love-struck steadies” on a date, even before the military or police authorities arrived. Our leader knew the dangers of such rallies and warned us to be careful at all times. I knew my limits but even then I got some close calls.

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courtesy of Danny Boy Pata
A member of the Presidential Security Group kicks a protester in the face even after he is subdued

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Reflections on the Best Friends Forever Reunion

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

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UP College Cebu , 1974

My mediocre grades in high school were not enough to qualify me to the UP Diliman Campus. I was determined to take up college in Manila to gain independence from my sheltered life in Cebu and of course, get the BS Food Technology that was only offered there. I studied in UP College Cebu (UPCC) in 1974 for one year before moving to UP DIliman campus in my sophomore year where I finally got a 1.75 grade to qualify. I look back to my freshman year with a smile and a soft spot in my heart. Indeed a memorable year for me because it was the first time I gained a little freedom to be with friends and to socialize with guys after graduating from an all-girls school since kindergarten. I felt I finally belonged to a group that truly cared and loved me and by fate (via Dicoy’s Cupid machinations), my best friend became my first boyfriend, my first love for the next 3 or so years.

Reunions are inevitable and I declined the invitation just as I did with my high school reunions. My attitude towards reunions changed in the recent years after I evolved into a better person. I then became curious of my friends. What had become of them? I felt something missing in my life and wanted to reconnect with my past. This change of heart did not augur well with my husband. He didn’t understand why I needed to see my old friends (when he himself does not attend reunions) and in the process, “meet” my ex-boyfriend. Hugging my husband, I reassured him that it is all in the past. I cannot help it if he was my classmate, part of my barkada but I am there for my other friends. For goodness sake, it’s been like 31 years? I rolled my eyes as “Batman” retreated to his cave.

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Freshman Year, UP College of Cebu 1974. Guess where I am?

I know it sounds like a cheesy Sharon Cuneta movie, but our group coined “Best Friends Forever” as the group name for the UP Cebu College 1974-1978 alumni.
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Save our Children from Death Due to Pneumococcal Disease

I encounter all sorts of stories about children’s death in the course of my advocacy work in The Compassionate Friends, a grief support group for those who have lost a child. I often hear the word “if only”, “what if?” and so many words of regret and guilt. I can’t help but cry along with their heartbreaking stories. Sometimes, cause of deaths are accidental, congenital or some complication of a disease. In the Philippines alone, the statistics are alarming.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), up to 1 million children under the age of five die from pneumococcal disease every year. Pneumococcal disease includes serious, invasive diseases such as meningitis, pneumonia and blood infection (bacteraemia), to less severe, but highly prevalent diseases, such as otitis media, sinusitis and bronchitis. The WHO estimates reveal that over 90% of children’s deaths caused by pneumococcal disease occur in developing countries. Philippines is listed in the top ten of countries with this high mortality rate.

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Each year, around 1 million succumb to Invasive Pneumococcal Diseases (IPD); including 82,000 Filipino children. WHO and UNICEF further underscores the importance of IPD by identifying its bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, to be the leading cause of Pneumonia. In the Asia Pacific region alone, 98 children die from Pneumonia every hour – more than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. My friend lost her 4 year old daughter due to this type of pneumonia. Thinking it was just high fever and bad cold, she didn’t know that one of her lungs was already filled with water. At that time, she wasn’t aware that there was a vaccine against pneumonia or it was even there.
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A Test of Patience at the COMELEC Voter’s Registration

““Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” George Jean Nathan

The rooster crowing from afar reminded me that it was time to wake up. What an unholy hour 5:00 AM was, as I grumbled and struggled to get off from bed. I was doing this for my daughter, M as it was her opportunity to register at the barangay center over the weekend since she works during weekdays. The previous saturday, she was unable to register because the barangay cut-off was 500 registrants. The Commissions on Elections (COMELEC) staff advised her to come as early as 7:00 AM to fall in line. I also thought it was time for me to reactivate my voter’s registration. My name was delisted because I was out of the country during the past two elections (before the 2007). M and I were pleased with ourselves for arriving at the barangay hall at 6:00 AM but what did we discover?

Two hundred people were ahead of us. I groaned. I learned that the early birds queued as early as 3:30 AM. Why oh why did it have to be this complicated? If I didn’t love my country enough, I would have left right there and then. My experience in the barangay voter’s registration was truly a test of patience and determination to be a registered voter. Imagine the whole registration process lasted from 6:00 AM till 2:00 PM.

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Let’s see COMELEC’s Registration Procedure and how it applied to me and my daughter’s experience.

FIRST STEP A qualified applicant need only to appear personally at the local COMELEC office.

It does not say that you might queue for hours so be ready to bring a small stool (which we did. M went home to get more papers), water and snacks. For the next two hours, I didn’t want to remain idle and bored. I voluntarily guarded the queue from latecomers who might insist on cutting in. Filipinos can be so nice to the point that they are abused. A woman pointed me to a man who jumped the queue beside her. I asked the person if it was true but he just ignored me and left the line. It was at that point that I called the barangay workers to moderate the line. The line soon became orderly when the people were told that they shouldn’t allow anyone to cut into their line,

Being a responsible citizen starts at simple tasks and good manners like ” fall in line and don’t cut in”.

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President Cory Aquino’s Funeral Procession

““I believe that during these times, we should not forget that many sacrificed to regain our democracy.” Corazon Aquino
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My legs dangling from the makeshift platform of the media truck. I couldn’t stand up because I don’t have balance after I broke my ankle 4 years ago.

President Cory Aquino is an extraordinary woman that I risked my limb just to take photos of the funeral procession. Never did I imagine that it would take 9 hours. Just the other day, covering the transfer from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral took 5 hours which I thought was already a long drive. Never, ever will I ride on an open truck for half a day under strong rains, soaking pants, hunger, thirst, huge cameras hitting on my head, and being shoved by media just to take photos of an event. Unless of course, a president as great as President Corazon Aquino will come along. Maybe not in my lifetime.


Hear the outpouring of love and sympathy from this video I took from Manila Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park

The people who lined the streets for hours were just in the same position as myself. Drenched by torrential rains brought by Typhoon “Kiko” and enduring hunger and thirst as they waited for hours for the Philippine flag draped casket of our beloved President Cory to pass by, I can see it as a small sacrifice for a woman who restored our democracy. Our sacrifice is nothing compared to what Cory and her family endured to save our nation from the tyranny of a Marcos dictatorship. It was a small sacrifice for me as well to sit for 9 hours on an open truck because my balance to stand up on the makeshift platform of a moving truck seemed unstable for me to take snapshots of the unfolding scene.

I know it’s cliche to say that there are no words to describe the incredible outpouring of public sympathy today. I also have another reason: I am dead tired but I will update this entry as soon as I get enough rest. You will see photos of people rich and poor who stayed for hours on the streets to bid farewell to a great woman until her final resting place. The scene is reminiscent of the burial of former Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. who was assassinated in 1983.

Here are the Photos of the 9 hour ride from Manila Cathedral to Manila Memorial Park. Dressed in a raincoat, holding on to an umbrella and removing my shoes, here is my labor of love, my tribute to a woman I admire.

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Manila Cathedral at 7:00 Am just before the mass started at 9:00 AM

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The funeral convoy started from the Manila Cathedral at 11:30 a.m. Here are mourners along the Anda Circle as they waved ““L” signs with their forefingers and thumbs to denote ““Laban” (Fight) . I do hope we Filipinos continue with the fight.

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Coverage of Cory Aquino’s Memorial Sevices: La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral

Update (August 5)– View Photos and Video of the President Cory Aquino Burial

Faith is not simply a patience that passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit that bears things – with resignations, yes, but above all, with blazing, serene hope. Corazon Aquino

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That’s me in yellow taking video footage as I held on to my dear life on the iron railings of the truck. Photo credits to Liyam

The stirring scene that unfolded before me as President Aquino’s cortege passed all the way from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral is just overwhelming. I had no idea that a huge number of people would show up. Traffic stopped. People got out of their cars, clapping, calling out “Cory Cory”. All people from all walks of life, either threw confettis, balloons, held placards “we love you Cory”. I got goosebumps just hearing the people cry out “cory cory”. Here are the photos I took as I joined photographers and media on an open truck which was positioned right in front of President Aquino’s cortege. I endured 5 hours of heat, thirst and cramped space just to take photos and witness the outpouring of love along the streets. Mind you, I usually don’t join traditional media for current affairs but this is a historical event. If you see the photos, I don’t think there will be anything like this in the near future.


Video Footage I took from La Salle Greenhills to Ayala Avenue

Here is a labor of love , videos and capture of 300 photos for those who couldn’t be there for her memorial services. These are just a preview of these photos.(videos after the photos)

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At La Salle Greenhills just before leaving for Manila Cathedral

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At 11:00 AM, President Aquino’s cortege left La Salle Greenhills. Our media truck was right in front of their truck but I was unable to get a nice shot from this angle except when the truck turned into a corner.
Read More »Coverage of Cory Aquino’s Memorial Sevices: La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral

Covering Cory Aquino’s Wake

(Update : Read my entry on Cory’s Funeral Convoy from La Salle Greenhills to Manila Cathedral)

It’s my husband’s fault. He woke me up at 6:00 AM and said that if I wanted to attend the Cory Aquino’s memorial services, I should queue by 7:00 AM. I arrived at La Salle Greenhills before 7:00 AM and the long queue outside the gates looked frustrating. I took my chance and requested for media accreditation from the Secretariat at Gate 2. Armed with my Media ID card from Philippine Online Chronicles I got my yellow colored media ID card. So here I am live-blogging, and covering Cory Aquino’s wake in La Salle GreenHills. Taking photos inside the gym had certain guidelines and I wish to respect that. I couldn’t take much of the President Cory Aquino’s casket but I took snippets of the people and activities that transpired today.

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Cory T-shirts for sale by vendors at 120 pesos each

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The line before the public viewing opened at 7:00 AM
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Grief over Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s Death

““I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.” Corazon Aquino
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“Our mother peacefully passed away at 3:18 am of cardio-respiratory arrest” – Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.

Her son Sen. Benigno ““Noynoy” Aquino III confirmed that Former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino died of cardio respiratory arrest at exactly 3:18 a.m. Saturday at the Makati Medical Center after battling colon cancer for more than a year. She was 76 years old.

According to two political analysts interviewed by abs-cbnNEWS.com /Newsbreak, Mrs. Aquino will be missed for what she symbolized.

““She’s most powerful as an icon. Like Cardinal Sin. No one else can play that role. No one,” said Alex Magno, a political science professor of the University of the Philippines.

I feel sad over her death and at the same time relieved that she didn’t have to suffer for long. My husband wrote a few weeks ago that we should “Let Cory Aquino die in Peace“. After having given so much of herself to God, country and the cause of democracy, why not give her this one last wish and let her die with dignity and grace ?

Her legacy as president is very precious to me. At the height of people power, I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, Lauren. It was a precarious situation with the massive cheating over the snap election.

Read More »Grief over Corazon “Cory” Aquino’s Death