Thursday, January 31, 2013

PLDT Doesn't Know How To Do Viral Social Media In Good Taste

My friend Jepoy Bengero of GameOPS showed me PLDT's Facebook Page of what looks like a viral campaign.

I think it's tasteless.

I rant with him, in his blog: Social Media In the Wrong Hands

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nightmare In Bali

 Image by Wedding To Be

This just in: two young ladies flew to Bali on the 28th of May, possibly to enjoy their Summer by experiencing the sights and sounds of another country. What better place than Bali, right? Dubbed an "Island Paradise" by travel aficionados, for the beach-loving Pinoy, Bali is one great summer getaway choice for those who want to explore what the rest of the world offers.

Alas and alack, however, these two girls did not just get to experience a moment to remember in an island paradise, they also ran into a situation that may have scarred them for life. Well, with their Filipino resilience, they may be able to overcome and forget about it in a year's time, but there is no doubt that what happened to them was something that no innocent vacationer should have to go through, at all.

Let me let the story speak for itself: My Traumatic Experience as an Alleged DRUG TRAFFICKER in Bali Indonesia

Done reading? Okay. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

I feel sad for both Chyng Reyes and Dyan Sapaden. I believe that no tourist would want to be put through that kind of treatment, more so decent, hardworking women such as these two. But while I am deeply grieved at the treatment that they had gone through, I would also have to admit that some things had been set in motion that put them on the very spot they are in.

For one, it seems like they've been "set up" by circumstances. Just a few months ago, Filipino drug mules had been executed in China. This had certainly tipped off the International community about how Filipinos had been willing to work as drug couriers.

Second, Filipino drug mules have actually been found out and prosecuted in Bali. More than one perpetrator had been brought to jail, so the Balinese government seemed to have gone the route of racial profiling.

While racial profiling is definitely unfair, it has been used on people from Muslim countries already. While the US does a better job of being more fair to people and giving them the benefit of the doubt and the "innocent until proven guilty" stance, they actually do use racial profiling. What makes us any better than the Al-Qaeda types, and what keeps the Balinese government from practicing exactly that?

However, the way the Balinese government executed it is admittedly crude AND rude. And terrifying and traumatic.

It was even sadder for the two girls because they were beautiful; and to me, it makes sense for a drug cartel to use good-looking women, because in the past, it was not likely that women who are good-looking and who look decent, would be carrying drugs.

I don't have the side of the Bali police in order to make a better, more informed judgment. But it is clear to me that this seemingly random incident has a precedent that was sadly wrought out by our own countrymen.

More than the cruel Bali police, I am degrees more disappointed in the people who made this horror a possibility, the REAL drug mules. Those are the ones who should be hanged. Yes, we understand the poverty that must have driven these people to accept tasks like carrying drugs. BUT it is still clear as crystal that drug trafficking is illegal. Drug trafficking will still get a drug mule caught and jailed -- or hanged, if they happened to pass through countries that are getting tougher in fighting it. Worse, because of these individuals' choices, innocent tourists like Chyng and Dyan get treated this way.

We can always rail at how the Bali government did things crudely and in a cruel manner, but let's face the fact that some Filipinos also made this possible. So what can we do about it?

  1. An appeal to government officials: Stop coddling the guilty. When a highranking public official sided with the Filipino drug mules, he wasn't doing anything for the country; he was making things worse. If a Filipino is guilty, apologize and let the other country cut their heads off. They did illegal things, why should we tolerate these errant individuals?
  2. If, by a long shot, you are being invited to work for a drug cartel, think twice. You could set in motion another series of circumstances like these. While you will roll in money for a while, you could implicate innocents like Chyng and Dyan. And eventually, the government/s will get you.
  3. If you are a casual drug user, a party drug user, stop what you're doing. Either you'll die from what you're doing anyway, or it'll mess up your brain some. And even if the drugs will have no effect on your body right now, still, you are fueling an industry that has just affected the lives of two innocent tourists.

It's easy to shrug off these issues as things that may never affect us. In fact, it's equally easy to not care even if you're doing stuff that allows these things to happen (i.e. casually use drugs in parties), because you may try to rationalize: "So what? I don't know these two anyway. How would what I do affect people I don't even know?" And yet, for every single tablet that a casual drug user will take, you are funding the drug cartels a few hundred to a few thousand pesos more. And with that funding, you allow them to operate a few days more. And with that, they will hire desperate people, including Filipinos, who could get caught, and then cause another country to put us in their racial profiling list. Maybe the next tourist who will get roughed up is an actual casual drug user. Who knows? That would surely be a very funny act of cosmic farce, indeed.

The point is that with tragedies like these, it may be easier to just point fingers at whodunit. It is easier to just slather all the blame on the Balinese government. When honestly, we have our own countrymen to blame for this.

Is it useful to find someone to blame? Definitely not. But what you can do is be like Chyng: NEVER EVER take drugs. NEVER EVER even consider an offer to carry drugs or an unidentified item in exchange for a lot of money. And if things like these happen again, especially to you, blog about it, like Chyng did, so that the whole world will know that this country or that have done you an injustice and will change their policies and possibly sack people like that rough policeman.

Yes, there are some things that the government should do: like talk to the offending government about how they treated our citizens. But more things rest on the individual. Had Filipinos NEVER said "yes" to carrying drugs for a living, I bet you Chyng and Dyan would have had a great Bali getaway without the nightmare.

And if, in all truth, these two women were just the victims of a lascivious, abusive official, then here's hoping that the Bali government will do something about him and make sure he never gets to rough up women at the airport, ever again.

Update: Chyng and Dyan have been assisted by Ms. Susan Ople, and a case has already been filed at the Department of Foreign Affairs as of 6/3/2011.

A thoughtful note by GMA's 24 Oras: If you're traveling outside the Philippines, take note of the contact details, especially the phone numbers of the Philippine Embassy in the country you're visiting. It would be handy in case you get into a situation like this.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

PLDT: Monopolizing Again?!

 Image by

It started with Globe. Then Smart. And with the wave of Filipinos learning to text and text like crazy, the Philippines soon became the Text Capital of the world. We were texting waaaaaaaaaaaay before the Americans even discovered the addiction. I daresay we were ahead of them 10 whole years! 

It wasn't uncommon for teens and adults alike to go through Php 300 in just a day, consuming cellular phone "load." It was an expensive addiction, but Filipinos were willing to pay. Then suddenly, this newcomer Sun Cellular turned the tables on the cellular giants Globe and Smart and introduced unlimited texting, even unlimited calling! The Philippines' mobile service landscape was never the same, since.

Thanks to Sun Cellular's entry in the market, the mobile network competition caused the three major cellular service players to keep upping the ante in giving their subscribers value for money. While the unlimited promo offers caused some users to maintain up to 3 cellular phones or just SIM cards to ensure connectivity (other Unlimited offer users won't reply to other people unless they are in the same network), certain cellular brand loyalists would stick to their networks. Thus, offers like unlimited texts or value-added texts to all networks started appearing on the market.

But just before all the offers could reach a crazy price drop in favor of the consumer, PLDT, who also owns Smart Communications, decided to raise its stakes and bought out the majority shares of Digitel, a.k.a. Sun Cellular, effectively neutralizing the third player and the table-turner in the industry.

Now, the Philippines essentially has only Globe Telecom and Smart Communications playing the mobile network field. What does this spell for users?

There was a time that I thought it would be great to have just one cellular company operating in the country. Frankly, I hated maintaining too many SIM Cards and effectively funding the Dual SIM/Multi-SIM cellphone market. But there is also another major worry in this big move by PLDT: This could mean that they could call the shots and shortchange the subscribers once more.

Remember those days when applying for a landline would take you a gazillion years before it gets approved? Okay, not exactly the time span from the Paleolithic to the Neolithic eras, but you get the picture? I recall an acquaintance of mine lamenting that it took 10 years for PLDT to approve their landline application. Ten frickin years! Imagine that! So it came as a relief when Bayantel and Globe Telecom (then Islacom) came into the picture. People started getting better service and even better value for their money as the ruling network giant became pressured to give better, faster service because of competition.

And yet here they are again, vying for a way to be the telecoms giant once more. What could this mean for Philippine subscribers?

  • The threat of being shortchanged. That's high on the list. Because they won't need to compete anymore, PLDT can damn well do whatever the hell they want with their services. Though we hope they won't abuse to that level, there IS a real threat, and measures should be undertaken to ensure that they would NEVER do this.
  • The threat of commanding rates that aren't favorable to the users. While that is a relatively remote possibility because users could well boycott or cut back on their mobile phone use, if PLDT buys out Globe as well, this possibility won't be so remote anymore.

The consumer is taken care of and catered to in a competition-based, capitalistic, free economy. Monopolies benefit only one entity: The Man. And unless the government stops kissing ass and listens to The People instead of The Man, the very benefits we enjoy today could be gone tomorrow. Protect consumer rights. Be informed, form a position, and promote moves that support free market economy. The rights you will campaign for will be your own.


This post was written in favor of the formulation of the Philippine Anti-Trust Law.

For more information:

What are Anti-Trust Laws? 
More on Competition Laws
Pro-Choices Against No-Choice: A Big NO To Monopoly

Friday, April 15, 2011

Of Willie Revillame, Sexualized Advertising And The Future -- An Appeal To Our Moral Compass

If you were born and live in the Philippines, or if you subscribe to The Filipino Channel (TFC) elsewhere in the world, chances are, you've heard of the name "Willie Revillame." A household name in his own right, Willie Revillame had risen to super-stardom from humble beginnings as a mere "sidekick" to bigger stars in the 80's. His claim to fame was a series of noontime shows which played to the masses of the Philippines. The underprivileged loved Willie's on-screen generosity and heart for the poor in his noontime game shows. It was the masses' chance at an instant rescue from their economic situations. Off-cam, Willie Revillame was also known to help people; his generosity was something he carried from his shows to his private life, it was said.

However, his noontime shows carried a dark underbelly. Time and again, Willie had been called out for his vulgar ways. He can never seem to kick the habit of sexually harassing his staff. He was also known to embarrass people and say tactless, even crass things to people, in the name of humor and entertainment. Yet despite this rough, even evil side of Willie, the masses still loved him. And since the masses loved him, so did his advertisers.

Many a time, Willie Revillame has gotten into scandal after scandal. If it wasn't his vulgar speech and ways, it was his arrogance that got him in trouble. Yet nothing has irreparably put him out of commission just yet. When he parted ways with his former network, ABS-CBN, his arrogance was fanned aflame because ABC-TV5 was there to give him another break, happy that a superstar would now be their asset and pull traffic towards their previously stale programming. Seemingly to Willie, nothing can pull him down; as it seemed that when God closed a door on him, He opened a window for Willie.

True, God is a God of second chances. God is a God of a million chances, even. God is a God of patience. And as patient as God was even to a mass murderer like Saul of Tarsus, who later became Paul, surely God would have patience and mercy even for superstars with boorish behavior.

However, as they say, "You can take a boy out of the country but you can't take the country out of a boy," because, true to his form, Willie Revillame did the unthinkable yet again. And this time, it may well be the first of the final fissures that could prove to be his empire's undoing, unless he repents, of course.

His advertisers should have been tipped off at the first few controversies he got involved with. Heck, they should have watched his shows and seen for themselves how the defunct Wowowee dumbed people down, and at times, demeaned them. But everything was still within legal bounds, and nobody could question the viewer ratings of the show. How could the masses stay away from a show that could be their ticket to a better life?

Maybe things really do need to come to a head for humans to finally sit up and take notice. But does it take the shock that comes from watching a young boy be virtually pimped for sake of entertainment, on daytime TV, before people take action?

Christian authors have stated that the nature of sin in man is such that it asks: where's the "line" (of Moral Law)? And promptly dances as close to it as it possibly can without getting caught. It seems to me like the people who should be flagging Willie we're telling themselves: as long as he hasn't broken any law, he can very well go around demeaning people, debasing them, all in the name of entertainment, and in exchange for easy money.

So Willie finally crossed the line, and we all finally reacted. Though honestly, it should have happened a long time ago. The guy was embarrassing people, making light of their economic background, laughing at them, even, and nobody got offended. After all, it was all in the name of fun. It was all in the name of entertainment. As they say, "Pikon talo."

The long-overdue sanctions for Willie's arrogance, demeaning of other people, and downright evil has finally woken up the Philippines to a need for moral policing.

To bring you up to speed, around a week ago, news of a viral video clip of a segment in Willie Revillame's ABC-TV5 show Willing Willie caught the eye of several bloggers, journalists and mothers. As soon as mothers and citizens who were sensitive enough to realize that the video was actually depicting a child being abused, a public outcry ensued. People who didn't even watch the show finally saw how lurid Revillame could get.

The video depicted Jan-Jan, a young contestant for a game segment, dancing in a lewd manner, not unlike the type of dances that women, even men who are in the flesh trade, do for a living. According to the clip, it was Jan-Jan's parents and aunt who taught him the moves.

What was chilling was the fact that Willie was laughing manically to the child's public display of self-debasement. At one point, he even danced with the child. The sight was beyond horrid. And to top it off, the child was crying all throughout his dance. And Willie even pointed that out.

To reward the child's provision of entertainment, Willie gave him double the money he usually gave to contestants. And he kept kissing the kid's cheeks at several points in the clip.

Let's say that the kisses on the cheek weren't malicious or sexual at all. That was fine. However, since Willie also gyrated in the same lewd manner with the kid, what other thought would scream in a morally-conscious onlooker's mind than "PEDOPHILIA!!!"?

Since we are on the subject of connotations and implications, if you watch the video closely, you would note that Willie was aware that his own moves were connoted with something perverse, as evidenced by his declaring, "Ayoko na!" at some intervals. He was yelling "Ayoko na!" because he knew for a fact that he was pushing some moral envelope somewhere. And let's not sugarcoat or pretend to be innocent here. All the adults who watched that scene knew very well that those moves were meant to be sexually enticing. But just because a child was dancing it, some people were claiming that "Walang malisya." There was no malice to something arbitrarily, culturally, even inherently defined as sexual, because a child was the one delivering it.

What was more horrifying was how the most of the studio's adult onlookers were cheering both Willie and the child on. Some were covering their faces, understanding what an embarrassing, lurid spectacle was before their eyes. But for those who cheered, were they blind? Were they so morally dense that they did not recognize an act a few shades shy of outright pedophilia?

As the clamor rose to a crescendo, private citizens and civic groups were denouncing Willie and demanding his resignation from the show. People wanted justice, and sanctions had to be imposed upon Willie as a perpetrator of daytime debauchery. Thankfully, some major advertisers finally sat up and took notice. No longer was this a matter of ratings, traffic and money. This is a moral crisis on the Philippines' hands, and something has to be done.

It was a commendable move for Jollibee to immediately pull out its advertisement slots in the Willing Willie program in reaction to and condemnation of the filth that transpired. Soon, Del Monte and Procter & Gamble followed suit and withdrew their advertising from the show. DSWD also filed a case against the game show host. Finally, Lady Justice has taken off her blindfold.

It is about time that advertisers become responsible for what they communicate to the public. True, sex sells a lot of things, but if it crosses moral boundaries, if it hurts and degrades a society, in the future, there would be nothing to sell too but a bunch of lawless, Id-driven fools. Man was gifted with the capacity to think and a moral code to abide by. Take the law away from man and chaos results.

Dr. Sigmund Freud was among the first to advocate that man is an animal, and his driving force is Libido, or the sexual urge. That man's ultimate freedom will come from casting off all moral "chains" that bind him. But what did that bring his advocates but an ever-increasing measure of licentiousness and debauchery? Lawlessness will not break Man free. Rather, Lawlessness will only debase Man to the level of rutting sea-slugs.

Likewise, if we let Lawlessness prevail in our media, if we keep casting aside that innate moral code written in our hearts, we will increasingly become nothing more than blobs of urges. Is that what we want our children to learn? Is that what we want them to live by?

If you hardworking success-obsessed tycoons are wondering why your children run amok living lives that you are not proud of, think back to your executive advertising decisions. Did any of you approve the Globe Tattoo ad campaign that sexualized the use of broadband? Then that's it. That's why your children ran amok. Because we live in a highly sexualized society that was made possible by people giving the go-signal to filth that plays to man's basest desires.

C.S. Lewis said that man's problem is not in the fact that he desires far too much. Man's problem is that he is satisfied with so little.

Are we satisfied by entertainment that stirs our animalistic instincts alone? Are we satisfied by humor that makes light of a child's dignity? Are we happy just following urge after urge? Then we are satisfied with nothing but the basest. We are satisfied with far too little.

This latest controversy sparked by Willie is a barometer of how sick we are as a society. Maybe we needed to be shocked awake that we are headed for a moral cesspit. There is time to turn around and start answering a higher moral call. Start by making better decisions for your ad campaigns.

If Jollibee can succeed with Aga Mulach's wholesome Chickenjoy ads, so can the others. Globe Tattoo does not need to tickle the sexual senses. Frankly, we do not need a sexy broadband. We just need broadband that works and doesn't tank every single day that we're subscribed to it. If Bayantel can succeed with wholesome Lola Techie and GREAT service, I'm pretty sure Globe can and will succeed, if only it improves its product and finds an innovative ad angle.

I'm saying this for all the other products and advertisers out there, too. You need to provide great service or offer a great product. Something that people will be satisfied with. And as for your ad angle, take the cue from C.S. Lewis. Play to man's higher senses. You owe it to the Philippine society. You owe it to the Filipino youth. You owe it to your children.

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