Willing to be Illuminated and Pierced

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Great Restaurants For the Holidays!

Christmas is the best time for family bondings, but it can even get better when we all get together with food!

So, it’s a privilege to have this assignment of featuring special restaurants that are unique in its kind. As a foodie myself, it’s an amazing
experience to feature (and taste) Galileo Enoteca and the Old Oven Cafe.

Let me give you a peep to these one-of-a-kind restos:

Galileo Enoteca:

You don’t need to leave the Philippines just to get a taste of authentic Italian dishes. Everything’s here in this restaurant in Mandaluyong City! Take a bite of their risotto (their rice recipe), frutti di mare (their pizza), and real Italian cold cuts and cheese. It would be better when paired with vino rosso (red wine). But it wouldn’t get better without lively chatting, laughter, and fun — and our interview was thus memorable!

But just because the air of Europe fills this place means you have to very careful in eating. Eating Italian food means you have to be yourself! Don’t cut up the spaghetti strand, or you’ll miss half of your life! ūüôā

A memorable dinner with the general manager of Galileo Enoteca, Wilma Valbuena. For the first time, I got to learn all these Italian dishes

A memorable dinner with the general manager of Galileo Enoteca, Wilma Valbuena. For the first time, I got to learn all these Italian dishes

The Old Oven Cafe:

Get a bite of Italian-American-Asian fusion with that Baguio feel in this restaurant in Katipunan, Quezon City. With its classic facade and vintage-feel, it reminds me of pubs in Ireland brimming with country music. But the food is not really old, but it gives you a fresh feeling of good company. Try their Three Cheese Pizza, Swiss Mushroom Burger, and Chonburi Spicy Wings (my favorite!). For this holidays they have Lamb Chops with Black Rice, and tasting it for the first time is a treat for me!

But what I appreciate more in this place is their appreciation for real Pinoy talent. Take a tour to their mini-exhibit of artworks made by deaf artists. For art enthusiasts who would like to buy their works, proceeds would go to the artists themselves.

Having a chat with the owner and chef of The Old Oven Art Cafe, Kay Mangibin-Torres, who made all these food herself.

Having a chat with the owner and chef of The Old Oven Art Cafe, Kay Mangibin-Torres, who made all these food herself.

For my report on these amazing restaurants, watch Newslight on December 25, 7:30-8pm (Manila time), on Light Network channel 33. Also, it is on channel 93 (Cignal cable), 5 (Sky cable analog), and 161 (Sky cable digital).

20150117-151342.jpg

Learning From the Power of the Pen and Paper

I once thought I could eliminate the use of pen and paper after school. Being a reporter for more than three years already, I’ve been used in jotting down my notes on my phone or laptop. But it’s just recently that I have to rely¬†on the classic way of recording notes.

When I started to cover court hearings for the pork barrel scam case at the Sandiganbayan (the courts when public officials are tried for cases like graft and plunder), they required the media not to bring phones into the court room. Thus, I have to bring a pen and notebook. So, while I listen and take down notes, I wonder how I get to understand my writing which has turned steno.

But then, I realized there are more advantages in taking down notes by hand.

Taking aside the odd handwriting, having¬†a hard copy of words is safer than those being recorded in electronic. There were a few¬†times that my phone would delete all my notes before an ambush interview ends or my laptop shutting down at the end of the press briefing. Now, such instances devastates me…literally.

When writing down by hand, it’s easy to review the past notes and leave markings as I rewrite my story. Adding markings to my past notes in electric gadgets only complicates them and adds more time. Besides, I tend to remember them better by hand. I realized that by marking notes, I can remember more the significant words from a coverage.

Now compared to touch screens, I can get the right spelling of words when writing on paper. Oh, yes, I can get the words correct when I type on my laptop, but I can’t write there¬†all the time when we run after interviewees in the middle of the street, right? Now when I thumb in the words unto the screen, I’d get 40% of the words wrong in spelling. This¬†only confuses me. But when I take down my notes on paper, I tend to understand the words better.

It’s amazing how I understand my own handwriting when I review my notes. Maybe because my brain can remember what was discussed better when my hand writes them down.

I learned never to discriminate the power of the pen and paper. Our high-tech gadgets can help us in our everyday routines, but sometimes, it is the traditional way that saves us from the odd-balls of innovation.

Well, not unless the ink of your pen vanishes even before the court hearing has ended. O.o20131226-215922.jpg

From Selfies to Frontpages

I was caught in a surprise this morning when a fellow reporter tagged me with this frontpage photo from a prominent newspaper.
Miriam Selfie
This was when I was attempting to take my own selfie with Sen. Miriam Santiago. Right after her press conference, the reporters flocked around her for pictures. I thought of taking a chance to have my own memoir. Pushing through the crowd, I did not mind the photogs and the other journos who flocked for her attention (and were taking our photos!).
I have always looked up to Sen. Santiago as a respected, outspoken politician. Fearless, she’s never hesitant to criticize or to be criticized. And she made sure to remain as sharp as iron in mind and heart despite of her condition. Her announcement that she had stage 4 lung cancer was a shock to most. But despite of this, she appeared undaunted as she took her time to pose for a smile with the media.
I have always been careful to take pictures with popular personalities. I don’t usually ask for a pic with them though I personally interview them. I try to be discreet much as I can. Though it is not against ethics, I as a journalist should remain my¬†distance to ensure that the¬†image of fairness is not discredited. Pictures can betray even a group pic has no deep, background story.
But there are times when we journos can sense that taking pictures with them is ok. For me, it is to remember them, the respectable and interesting people who earned a reputation for who they are.
And one of them is this brave senator. She has made very rare public appearances nowadays. Right after the reporter in her left finished her own selfie with her, I took the chance to have my own selfie with the senator.
It’s a bit blurred though, but I’ll cherish it. I tried to take another but I became too shy because the other reporters wanted to take their turn.
Yes, even reporters can become shy when taking pictures. ūüôā
IMG_20140702_120459

Leveling Down the Contention of Words

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

This is what Typhoon Yolanda left in this once thriving city of Tacloban, Leyte. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

“There has never been anything at the magnitude of what we are trying to do now,” Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras told palace reporters at a press briefing last Nov. 13, “Not in size, not in volume, not in even the breadth of it.”

As the national government admits being appalled at the disaster left by Typhoon Haiyan (or Typhoon Yolanda as its FIlipino name) ten days ago, the rest of the world feels mutual. It’s like watching a horror movie, except it is in the primetime newscasts. However, being in the very scene of it still feels surreal to me.

I would have loved to tag along with one of our teams assigned to Tacloban City last week. Tacloban, Leyte was one of the greatly devastated places left by Yolanda. But considering the place’s limited necesities for a woman like me, only an all-male team was sent.

As first hand witnesses to a storm’s aftermath, I tried to understand the hardships they experienced. They had no place to stay, no food and water to sustain them (as they have given their provisions to the Tacloban people), and they have to endure the stench of the dead and of human waste. But how much more I tried to feel the heart break for the people who endure the loss of what they have owned and the loss of their very loved ones. What was left was their very existence, coping with the last strain of humanity nearly being snatched from them. They try to survive in a desolated town unfit for living.

It might be easy to say that the rest of us who stayed wish to come to

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes --- and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

The people of Tacloban almost at a loss as they have lost their homes — and even their loved ones. Photo by Carlo Damalerio

Tacloban just to give out a hug…or maybe a small act of kindness through food and water. But how far are we willing to go? How far would we be willing to sacrifice time and your comfort zone to feel their pain. Living there sounds too inhumane for most of us. Helpless, all we can do is sigh and speak out our thoughts and symphathy.

As I watch from afar, it’s a pain to hear criticisms and politicizing at all sides. There’s this underlying contention between the main government bodies, the private entities, and the vox populi. We can talk too much. It’s easy to give blame. But can’t we just shut up and try to feel the pain of the victims themselves? Perhaps, it’s easy to make conclusions in what goes on in their everyday life. But can’t we think of focusing at their basic needs first? These people, are just like us — human, limited, and in need of one another.

Perhaps, most of us can never understand how it is to be in their shoes. For us living far from them, we try to comprehend what flashes through our screens or what blares through our airwaves. But we can never see the whole picture. Who are we to judge conclusions, then?

Perhaps, some of us can never get the chance to reach them personally. Perhaps, most of us might never understand the whole picture of what’s happening and why it happened. But setting aside our own conclusions and criticisms might help rebuild a new future. A little grace, a little love, through our what-we-have can uplift their spirits. Behind the camera, must be a more drastic story beyond words.

Vetoed

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pres. Aquino at the media press conference after his inspection of public terminals, Mar. 26, 2013. Follow-up questions on the Magna Carta of the Poor were released to him, following his confirmation of vetoing the law yesterday

Pwede kong pinirmahan itong batas na ‚Äėto, pogi tayo, pero alam ko hindi mami-meet ng gobyerno. (I can sign this law. I’d look good but I know that the government cannot meet this).”

Such was Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s honesty when he was asked yesterday on why he vetoed (or “voted against”) the Magna Carta for the Poor. He straightforwardly told us reporters that the law sounded good, but the government still does not have the means to meet its demands.

I’ve appreciated his stand on why he vetoed it. As he said, he did not do it because he was anti-poor. He cleared that the law was good, as it is his administration’s priority to look at the welfare of the poor. Only, he said, this law lacked “progressive realization.” Let me explain his take.

As the Philippines is a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic Culture and Social Rights of the United Nations, this treaty realizes that the government, if it can have the ability, to meet all the rights of the poor.

While leering over his copy of the Magna Carta of the Poor, the president read to us Section 4, which states:

“The poor shall have the following rights, the enjoyment of which is an essential step towards poverty alleviation:

a) the right to food

b) the right to employment and livelihood

c) the right to quality education

d) the right to shelter

e) the right to basic health services and medicines.

The government shall, as a matter of duty and obligation, provide the requirements, conditions, and opportunities for the full enjoyment of these rights of the poor and which the poor can demand as a matter of right.‚ÄĚ

There’s just one problem — our budget cannot meet all of these rights. At this point, about 26 percent of the 95 million San Juan City-20121226-00480Filipinos belong to the poverty line.

In order to meet the right to housing and shelter alone, the president cleared that the government would need P2.320 trillion pesos to build housing units to every poor families.

This estimate is larger than the very national budget itself, which is at P2.006 trillion.

The president added that if he had signed it, it might end up government agencies being sued due to lack.

As I read and reread the transcript of his ambush interview, I appreciated how he had saved our fellowmen from another felony and from dire consequences.

Talking with fellow palace reporters, we agreed how this law would have been another burden to both government and the people. One of them said that government should not just give away “perks” to the poor easily to spoon feed them — it’s better to teach them to work for it.

And so, the saying goes, “Give a man to fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

This is not just said in schools. This should be true in our society. It’s easy to give to please anybody, but it doesn’t help all the time. Giving out these basic rights sounds good. Yet, there are setbacks in just distributing them without teaching society how to be good stewards of these rights. My fellow reporter even said that it would have better if the government uses the funds to focus on the education of every men. I agreed, adding that the mindset of many today is to depend on the feeder without getting off the table to get his own food.

Besides, what are your rights if you do not know how to use them? It’s like giving an extremely expensive, brand new toy to a reckless little kid who would just wreck it completely after a few hours. It would be a waste. Until all in society is ready to be responsible to these rights meant for them, the government should not succumb to the thought of giving it away.

After the vetoing of the law, the president ordered a social cluster group to study and come up with a substitute law for the poor.

A law may sound good, but it should be balanced with the realization of the targeted needs. The law is not meant to label one a hero, without realizing it would be a liability to many.

I just hope that the substitute law would be realistic and would be more strategic in meeting the needs of the poor without plunging anybody to the gutter. To make such a law is complex, and it would take a thorough study for an absolute poverty alleviation in our society.

Behind the Yellow Confetti

I know it’s a week late but let me share how memorable it is to be a part of another historic moment.

Twenty seven years after the first EDSA People Power Revolution, a law to compensate every human rights victim under

Pres. Aquino signing the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 at the People Power Monument at EDSA last Feb. 25, 2013

Pres. Aquino signing the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 at the People Power Monument at EDSA last Feb. 25, 2013

the Martial Law has been signed. The Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 has been signed by President Aquino at the very People Power Monument last February 25.

To give a brief description of this law, this enables the compensation of the human rights victims under the Marcos regime between 1972 to 1986. This is for thus to restore not only their memory but to recognize the agony they endured and for the later generations to remember the ordeals of this era. A more detailed description of this law can be found under the Official Gazette website: http://www.gov.ph/downloads/2013/02feb/20130225-RA-10368-BSA.pdf

I have heard various accounts of when the state was under the Martial Law. Some claimed tough and terrible times. Others said it was just as normal as it was. While there were people who claimed that being under the Marcos regime was peaceful and generally did not want to take into account the horrible part. I wouldn’t conclude at this point who’s right, though. But it was a¬†privilege¬†for me to have had a short encounter with the Martial Law survivors last Monday.

One of them was Boni Ilagan, vice chairperson of the anti-human rights violence group SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detention at Aresto). For a short moment, I asked him to recount a bit what he experienced during the Martial Law. By 23, he was arrested, tortured, and kept in a secluded place in almost a year. He cried injustice on what was done, as he was not put in a regular detention facility, being an activist against the regime. Yet, what happened to his sister, Rizalina, was more tragic. After being arrested with ten others in Southern Tagalog, her body was never found. Some of those with her were found dead in separated areas in Luzon.

An army tank at the reenactment of the "Salubong", when civilians and soldiers "met" in a peaceful clash that made the 1986 revolution a memorable and a historic one.

An army tank at the reenactment of the “Salubong”, when civilians and soldiers “met” in a peaceful clash that made the 1986 revolution a memorable and a historic one.

Twenty seven years lapsed; the signing, Ilagan said, was a success. After the Marcos regime, four administrations passed and yet no such law was taken into effect. Ilagan mentioned to me that this act was filed in the legislative for more than a decade and only until now it was a dream for those who yearned justice. Yet, it was only the beginning, he said. There’s more to battle. This is just one step to end impunity and human rights violence.

Commission on Human Rights Chairperson and also former human rights victim Etta Rosales agreed with this statement. The Philippines is the first in Asia to sign such a law in recognition of human rights victims. She hopes this would become a model for the world to push through to end impunity.

As I then talked to young people after the celebration, I observed how most of the younger generation do not understand the ordeal that these older activists must have gone through. I asked a few (rowdy and pretentiously shy) students how would they fare if we don’t have this freedom we’re getting. I got generally general answers: we’re not free. They tried to get details on how it would have been but on the general note, they can’t move the way as they do now.

I don’t blame them. I don’t understand the Martial Law ordeal either. I was already existing on the face of the earth for only a year when the sea of yellow fighters stormed the streets ready to sacrifice their red blood for freedom. These young people are decades apart from the time a renewed constitution was forged for them.

I remember how bleak it was to “witness” history through textbooks (that keep on being updated) alone. Museums try to recreate accounts dramatically to make sure we will not forget. Survivors would tell us in pain and tears for us to feel what they felt then. But if we take our present for granted, we will never remember. It is up to our generation to remember and recount the ordeals of history.

History never repeats itself. It is up to us to repeat history. Most of us find this subject in school boring because we were not a part of it. Yet, we don’t realize that we are living in historical times. Historical accounts became legend because it was either destroyed or was totally ignored. If there’s one way to warn the younger generations of the mistakes of the past, it is only through a¬†re-account¬†of history. But it is up to us, and for the younger generation, to heed the cries of the past and those who lived in the past.

After the "salubong" took place.

After the “salubong” took place.

My heart felt bad for some of the young students who kept on picking flowers from the army tanks and taking pictures while Pres. Aquino was speaking. Perhaps, they were not briefed about protocols and respect to the leaders of our nation. I wonder what would it be if we were threatened by nearby soldiers to shut up and listen to the president? They must not have understood that this freedom should never be taken for granted to the point of showing nonchalance to figures of authority. I wonder what difference one would react if he came from a threatening environment to a freed atmosphere. What character he must have exemplified!

As the yellow confetti showered the streets of EDSA, I hope everyone would not think of the People Power as merely a celebration or a sensationalized propaganda. Behind the yellow brand that is being blasted in public every February 25 are stories doused in red blood. We celebrate so as not to forget. We celebrate so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past anymore. I hope every young person would realize this. I hope every young ones in my generation would remember and listen to the voice of the past.

Deafening the Political Word War

Noisy, crowded, brightly colored, and tense. That’s how I can describe a kick-off campaign rally. Yesterday, marked the beginning of the campaign season for this year’s elections. As mono-

People flood Plaza Miranda for the Team Pnoy Kick-Off Campaign

People flood Plaza Miranda for the Team Pnoy Kick-Off Campaign

colored groups poured into the rally site, so did the huge tarps and placards bearing the names of the senatoriables. It was a tense moment…maybe because of the atmosphere of the crowd hype then.

I was assigned to Team PNoy, the admin block. I felt like being drowned in a sea of yellow while the giant tarps tried to block our view.

All twelve candidates were given eight minutes to speak to the crowd. Some laid a glimpse of their platforms, some their dramatic life story, and some, as expected, gave their enemies some good bashing. One called the past administration as thieves, the other ranted on him being cheated in the past elections, and another emphasized on not to believe the “others” who were “pretending to ride with their platform”.

But during the days before the start of the kick-off campaigns, the word war between parties was already at bay. From “new opposition” claims to “racist” remarks, the media noted them all. Not one from both sides missed to answer the rant of the other.

It was sickening. The battle of politics has turned into a sour word war. And for me it’s a dirty game.

When I talked to a spokesperson of an election-regulating body in the Philippines, he mentioned that they cannot stop these parties or candidates from making personality-bashing at their campaign. Nothing in our law prohibits such campaigning. Besides, our constitution itself upholds the freedom of expression as we belong in a democratic country. He warned candidates to be mindful of such a campaign strategy. Not everyone buys it.

True enough, in all the five or more people we interviewed from the public, nobody likes the idea of personality bashing. All talk but no work, one of them says.

The dangers of negative communication. I wonder how far will such a war of words go.

It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to show the ugly side of your enemy. It’s an effective way to make the crowd see you’re in the right standing while the other is not. But such a strategy is the downfall of both sides. Not only will his rival get a bruise from his words; the one who threw will get a bad score from the public.

Such a strategy is as immature as kids who fight back when being teased for having a bad hairdoo.

How desperate can one become just to get into power? This is how far we have gone in our brand of politicking. Aside from empty promises and dramatic stints, we’ve resolved to picking a fight through words and ego-lambasting. But by doing so, it does not uplift who a candidate really is. Besides, one should be campaigning for himself, not¬†embarrassing¬†another.

I just hope that the public would realize that words alone are not the basis for choosing the best candidate (or the “lesser evil” as someone called it). Words do not make up who are worth to lead this society. Besides, while it’s still election season, all voters must choose who are fit to execute the roles a government position demands. Does the personality of that candidate fit the role to be a senator, a congressman or a local government leader? Do they have the skill, wits and political will of a lawmaker and leader? Do they have the heart to lead the public through their unique roles in the government?

Those word wars can’t reveal the answers for those questions. I hope every candidate will just be honest in their works. No more personality-bashing, please. It’s time to prove integrity by works and character alone.

Tag Cloud