A proposal lacking a consensus

My column for today is A proposal lacking a consensus. I’m going to dissect Senator Pimentel’s Federalism proposals on Inquirer Current once I get a complete copy of the Senate’s resolution, but my initial thoughts are that the proposal’s a messy one. My column today provides some initial thoughts along this line. See, also, my column Gerrymandering from August 5, 2007.

The Inquirer editorial yesterday, The Garcia gambit , looks at . See Newbsreak’s Gov’t, Lopezes in battle for control of Meralco.

This is a mental image we really don’t need: Cabinet revamp striptease as Amando Doronila puts it. Actually, the time for a massive overhaul of the cabinet, as one former official told me, was in the wake of the May 2007 elections. Cabinet members like Ermita, Gonzales and Gonzalez, should have been axed with the dismal showing of Team Unity in the Senate.

Richard Spencer, blogging for The Telegraph from Beijing, says Here is China’s master plan concerning Tibet. A kind of small opening’s been offered for an accomodation with the Dalai Lama.

In Malaysia, even as Malaysian police raid blogger over murder article there’s Malaysia and its Blogolution, with this digest of the issues confronting Malaysian society:

There are numerous reasons to explain this dramatic decline in support for the ruling BN. Firstly, like many parts of the world, Malaysia has been rocked by rising prices, especially for food, over the last year. The ringgit in the pocket has not been able to retain its value, and even in a country which likes to portray itself as a modern industrial nation, the many Malaysians who have not benefited from its rapid development have been hurt by the rising prices.

Then there is corruption. Malaysians feel particularly despondent about what they see as the broken promises of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi after his landslide 2004 election win, when he was re-elected promising to address corruption. Unlike other countries, what has been so upsetting to people is not the corrupt cop on the street corner but the seeming collusion within political and business circles that have seen lucrative contracts awarded to a small set of favored contractors in a closed tender process.

Furthermore, Malaysia’s judiciary was also rocked with the release of a secret tape-recording in early 2008, purportedly between a former Chief Justice and a politically well-connected lawyer in which the two were discussing the appointment of judges. This seeming interference in the judiciary, long-suspected but always denied, touched a raw nerve amongst the public.

Finally, there seems to have been an unraveling of the race politics that has for so long dominated Malaysian politics. After the riots of 1969 and the New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced in 1971 designed to boost the economic standing of the Malays in Malaysia, in late 2007 many in the Indian community took to the streets to protest their inferior economic position and the benefits heaped on the Malays through the NEP and follow-up programs. Meanwhile, the Chinese have continued to resent the ongoing pursuit of economic rebalancing which has supported the Malays in a way not commensurate with their contribution towards business development in Malaysia.

Because of this,

Inspired by the space created by the Internet for individuals to express themselves, the 2008 elections saw political control of news and information wrested away from the government for the first time, creating the conditions for a new political activism amongst ordinary Malaysian citizens to take root. Even the prime minister conceded “We thought that the newspapers, the print media, the television were more important, but young people were looking at text messages and blogs. We didn’t think it was important. It was a serious misjudgment” (New Straits Times, March 26, 2008).

Malaysian blogger SlowCatchUpKuan is amused by the wrangling of Malaysian deputies in parliament, at least ever since parliamentary proceedings started being broadcast live; and points out that Badawi’s old mentor and now nemesis, Mahathir, has weighed in by planting his flag in the blogosphere:

My Singapore News notes that Mahathir, who used to enjoy the advantages of having an iron grip on Malaysian media, and has established a presence in cyberspace out of necessity.

Hard-T explains where Mahathir’s online nom-de-plume came from and what it means (and that Mahathir’s daughter has been blogging for some years now):

C.H.E. Det, was Dr Mahathir’s pseudonym for his articles submitted to the Sunday Times between 1946-1950, which mainly touched on Malay economic and political predicaments then.

Simply Puteri writes,

I think now that he is no longer in the government he realizes that anything he has to say, carries as much weight as any other ordinary citizen. I may not always agree with what he has to say in his blog but he has as much right as any other blogger to voice his opinions.

There are signs already that the government is paying a lot more attention to the alternative media and bloggers. Other government higher ups, like the chief minister of Malacca and former MB of Selangor, are also jumping on the blogging bandwagon.

The results of the last elections have proven beyond a doubt the power that can be harnessed from cyberspace. If the present government wants to remain competitive in the information war, it has to get involved and pay attention to what is going on with the mood of the rakyat via the internet.

Malaysian blogger-parliamentarian Jeff Ooi (in his blog, Screenshots) visits Vietnam and points out that even as Malaysian worry that Vietnam will overtake them economically. Contrast what Ooi notes here:

What’s more, business registration processes had been expedited even in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai — investment licenses can now be issued within six days!

There must be some magic in Vietnam that helped pump-prime the country’s economy. So I decided to give it a closer look and landed on Ho Chi Minh City on Vietnam’s Liberation/Reunification Day (April 30 evening), and witnessed the celebration of Workers’ Day (May 1).

Doubtlessly, HCM City plays an important role in the country’s socio-economic development, accounting for 22% of GDP, one-third of the State’s budget and 40% of the country’s export turnover.

Yesterday, teamed with a group of Malaysian investors, I toured the Saigon Hi-Tech Park (SHTP) and Vietnam Singapore Industrial Park (VSIP), and the Phu My Hung area in Saigon South.

The SHTP is where the new Intel mega-site is being developed, with US$1 billion investment for the company’s digital ASEAN (d-ASEAN) programme. Key tenants now are Jabil from USA and Allied Group from Singapore. It will need another five years or so to mature but most of the outsource services have virtually set up camps in Saigon to capitalise on Intel’s supply chain. Capturing Intel into Ho Chi Minh is a coup for Vietnam, and a severe threat to Penang as a base for the Electrical and Electronics industry.

The VSIP, near Song Be area, is about 14 years old, set up in March 1994 during the time when Vo Van Kiet and Goh Chok Tong were both Prime Ministers of the respective countries. It now houses full occupancy of tenants with manufacturing as a strong base. I could see earthwork for Phase II being carried out. It has the signature of Singapore-conceived facilities, clean, systematic and natural vegetation-friendly.

Phu My Hung is basically a Taiwanese investment when Kuomintang ran the economy before Chen Shui-Bian came around. Having endured the Asian Financial Crisis, the far-sightedness of the Taiwanese investors had finally paid off, and Phu My Hung, a former swampy area that needed massive earth-fills, is the jewel of the crown for Saigon South. Land prices now fetch US$4,500 per square-metre! Hip names in retail sector are now located here, including the sleek HQ for Unilever.

With what vaes9 wrote some weeks back in Intel Cavite Closing Down, for Real?

Searching around the blogosphere, an Intel employee recounts in his LiveJournal blog that the “official” statement for the planned closure is:

“[Intel Philippines needs to] find another building so that structural abnormalities in CV1 [Cavite Plant 1] can be remedied else Intel will cease all future Manufacturing operations in the Philippines…”

If this is true, and I think it is (Numonyx officially became a company last March 31, 2008 making the timing extremely uncanny), it is a sad day for the Philippines as an investment site. Intel started its operations in the Philippines in 1974, a mere six years after Intel itself was founded, and after 34 years Intel will likely cease operations here having moved to places like Vietnam and China, which are apparently more manufacturing-friendly.

Back to Jeff Ooi, this is interesting (once again, from his entry, Vietnam is hungry):

Despite the glittering outlook, some of the old hands among Malaysian expatriates I met up with expressed their concern that Vietnam’s economy may be headed for a bubble burst by August. That’s the date when the financial sector’s monetary credit squeeze policy comes into full effect and speculators in the real estate industry may be the first to burn their fingers, and domino effect see in.

According to media reports, State-owned corporations, which had invested 37% (US$8 billion) of their capital into real estate, banking and the stock market, are now trying hard to maintain solvency.

At last month’s meeting with officials from the national government, Viet Nam News said representatives from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told State-owned corporations and groups need to focus on their major businesses, and warned that the local financial market is being hurt by small banks.

It is said that State-owned corporations active in the coal, electricity and petroleum industries have made huge profits in telecommunications, finance and banking, but are facing sharp reductions in their own productivity. This could have major repercussions for the national economy and security.

Blogger Gulf Stream Blues looks at that horrifying story of an Austrian father who imprisoned his daughter, and the question Austrians have been forced to confront: how did the man get away with it for so long?

The punditocracy provokes the blogosphere: veteran journalist Luis Teodoro, as quoted in Journalists urged to blog, set examples online and gets shrieked at by Philippine Commentary (seconded by stuart-santiago) and Journal of the Jester-in-Exile. A sober analysis is provided by The Warrior Lawyer in FilipinoVoices.com. As does Abe Margallo, also in FilipinoVoices.com.

Jeff Jarvis, the New and Old Media observer, points out a couple of interesting things. First (see More writers than readers), a Pew study showed that as of 2004, in the USA, 53 million Americans published online while only 50 million bought daily papers: the writers, Jarvis pointed out, quite possibly now outnumber actual readers. Second, in Newspapers: a minus-sum game, he argues that newspapers won’t regain the advertising revenues they’ve lost; and they stand to lose even more revenue as online advertising gets even more specialized, because the microniche marketing that works online is unsuited to the way newspapers work.

On the other hand, Jeremiah Owyang asks (and answers his own question), Who do people trust? (It ain’t bloggers): he points to research that suggests people trust people they know, but that bloggers shouldn’t think that as a category of writers, they enjoy a particularly high level of trust.

There is also, as I told the Jester-in-Exile, a generation-derived element at work here, and this is true even among journalists. The Blue Pencil Chronicles well, chronicles a typically intense debate going on between professors in the UP School of Journalism, for example.

Let me weigh in. Personally (in answer to Philippine Commentary’s question), I am more comfortable with the classification “Opinion Writer,” because that’s really all I’ve ever done; a journalist to my mind, is someone with experience in reporting the news, like John Nery. A columnist really has to make a minimal adjustment to blogging, whether in terms of so-called ethics and without the overarching need for whatever “objectivity” is. A journalist with background as a reporter or full-time editor, on the other hand, who’s used to subsuming his or her personal identity to the report he or she is tasked to write, will probably have a difficult time adjusting.

This is a debate then close to my heart, because I’m basically self-taught and am brazen enough to write on subjects (and be in a profession) for which I lack the academic credentials (and therefore have my own biases: history is more an art, a branch of literature, than a “social science” though it benefits from the handling of facts according to widely-accepted standards).

An analogy I suggested to Jester-in-Exile was the Protestant Reformation, a revolt against the dogmas and established hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The dividing line is, to my mind, institutional affiliation, and that includes professional affiliation. The difference between a profession and an avocation, though both subscribe to the view that what they are doing is more than work, it’s a calling, a vocation. Another analogy? It is the clash between medical doctors and healers; of subscribing to the Hippocratic Oath as a licensed professional, and subscribing to the norms of that oath but as someone outside the fraternity of medical professionals.

This is a distinction that, to my mind, will disappear -or become obsolete- when we have professional, full-time, bloggers who only cover and comment on, current events (particularly politics) and derive a livelihood from it. In the Philippine context, blogging on political and current events as an exclusive, full-time occupation is still on the horizon, though it’s become possible when it comes to other topics.


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    • cvj on May 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I think it is worth noting that in Vietnam (as in China), the Communists are in charge. Over here, we’re still trying to kill them (or at least make them disappear).

  1. The Philippines enjoy the distinction of being the 20th country in terms of size of internet users (14 M). A blog monetization scheme -PayPerPlay even report its surprise at the 1 Million Filipino blogs that registered a few months ago.

    It won’t be long before we will have our own TalkingpointsmemoDotCom in our midst.

    • Nick on May 5, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Yep, Manuel, as I’ve told DJB, blogging in The Philippines is still in its infancy stage, especially with respect to Political Bloggers, because The Philippines hasn’t had the opportunity as had American bloggers, to find a wider audience due to lack of individuals with internet connection.

    As I’ve said, our economic situation in The Philippines is an actual hindrance to our growth in influence as political bloggers, and thus maybe Luis Teodoro can still say what he says now, but probably not years from now.

    • Nick on May 5, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    JD Cruz, we’re working on that already. Filipino Voice dot com..

    A few individuals are already on board who will be key to such a growth.. including reporters such as RG Cruz, A columnist from Davao, DJB who will be joining real soon…

    As you can see, the future is now, and Luis Teodoro will have to live with that… I respect his views and opinions and all, but not on this topic, especially not this topic on blogging..

    • PhilwoSpEditor on May 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    @nick and everyone interested to reply

    So, while we’re in the topic of political blogging, how would you place political blogging (or campus significant issues) it in a campus setting? On the outside world, it’s the future… But on the secluded recesses of a campus, how do you intend to strengthen it? Any proposals?

  2. @PhilwoSpEditor

    If we are to believe that the internet is making waves and is increasing in ‘reach’, it won’t take that long to encompass the campus setting, if it isn’t already doing so.

  3. PhilwoSpEditor,

    There are so many campus political blogs already in the blogosphere. And based on the comments coming from students with blogs, it is glaring that a lot of kids are now using the internet to read and post opinions.

    Campus bloggers have continuously bared their fangs during the past few years. In the last UP elections, incidents that occurred 4 or more years ago were “Exposed” to look like current events in order to smear the reputation of candidates. The timing of the supposed exposes were also great. The issues exploded one or two days prior to the election. The result? The target candidates won via land slide. The campus pretenders lost.

    • Nick on May 5, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    PhilwoSpEditor, I have to agree as to the assertion of JD Cruz..

    And I have to add, that I am not sure about campuses being “secluded”.. Everything is connected nowadays.. With the advent of 3G technology, most students having cellphones, access to the internet these days is not that hard to accomplish..

    And posting to a blog these days can be done simply through text message..

    Now, if that isn’t conducive to a Filipino Student life, then I don’t know what is.

    And with internet connection comes the bloggers, and the audience for those bloggers..

    I’m not saying that the future is now, but “secluded” has never been more far from the truth.. connected, that is the truth that is becoming more and more, the reality.

    With an audience, influence is not far away..

    • baycas on May 5, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    …with internet connection comes the bloggers, and the audience for those bloggers…

    with Distress comes Blogging???

    • BrianB on May 5, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Blogger: Don’t have to work for a boss, though some do only that they still don’t think they work for a boss.

    Journalist: works for a boss.

    Blogger: stupidity doesn’t get edited
    Journalist: stupidity sometimes doesn’t get edited
    Blogger: able to correct stupidity at the speed of light
    Journalist: sorry, but once you’re stupid you’re stupid

    Manolo, try McLuhan. He, he


    • UP n student on May 5, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Buyer Beware!!!

    Above many other issues, the youth of today (and the old) who blog should be aware that blogsites (like newspapers, the radio, even lectures and sermons) are filled with:
    (a) half-truths and blatant lies;
    (b) advertisements, soft-sell and hard-sell propaganda;
    (c) a smattering of truth

    • UP n student on May 5, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    But Luis Teodoro is right — every journalist should blog. Then people will again be reminded that (unlike the great majority of bloggers :razz:) many of these journalists care absolutely zero diddly-squat about the opinion of their readers.

    • UP n student on May 5, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    But Luis Teodoro is right — every journalist should blog. Then people will again be reminded that (unlike the great majority of bloggers 😛 ) many of these journalists care absolutely zero diddly-squat about the opinion of their readers.

    • UP n student on May 5, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Folks should take a quick glance at the ranking provided by Jeremiah Owyang (from SanFrancisco Bay Area, USA) regarding how much online North American consumers trust sources of information about products or services. Bottom of the list are ‘info in online chat rooms/discussion boards’ and ‘online review by a blogger’. Much higher is ‘information provided by the manufacturer’ (this is akin to “Malacanang Press Releases more believable’), ‘a review of the product presented on TV or a newspaper (half-truths from deQuiros is more believable to more)’. And then, there are friends or acquaintances who have had first-had experience with the product.
    This suggests that the Sunday sermon (especially if all the bishops and all the priests coordinate and “stay on theme”) has a lot more clout ( and will have a lot more clout) than a blogswarm.

    • UP n student on May 5, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    By the way, that same “owyang”-blogpost has a hint on why Q3 is more believable than, say, Ellen Tordesillas.

  4. seeming collusion within political and business circles that have seen lucrative contracts awarded to a small set of favored contractors in a closed tender process.

    this should teach the commenter who thinks that it is only the pork barrel which attracts the people to aspire for political posts.

    it is this clout to become influential in deciding who to get the pie in the government contracts which is one of the reasons why people want to become senators, congressmen, mayor and governor despite the small paycheck as government officials.

    • jakcast on May 5, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    “…it is this clout to become influential…” – The C at

    Politics is all about power.

    • cvj on May 5, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    UPn (re: Owyang’s survey), as far as matters having to do with the Arroyo Admin is concerned, i consider Manolo’s (and Ellen’s) blog to be the “opinion of a friend or acquaintance who has used the product or service“. As for you, i consider your opinion as “an online review by a blogger“.

    • UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 12:06 am

    cvj: I am not surprised by your reaction, but your vote is not equal to the votes of fifty folks from Las Pinas or Tondo, and Luis Teodoro has a wider reach than you.

    • Bencard on May 6, 2008 at 12:52 am

    the strength of a blogger’s opinion lies in its credibility, reliability and ability to persuade. a point of view from a perspective of hate can never be reliable or persuasive except to a mind that harbors the same hatred.

    some blogs may be read once or twice but, depending on the integrity of the blogger, as judged by the reader, it may never again see the light of day with respect to the latter. it will just become a cyber debris, floating around the infinite cyberspace – a despised monument to a pretentious fool.

    • manuelbuencamino on May 6, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Malaysian DPM Razak’s denial of his involvement in the high-profile murder case involving his close associates, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, and the security guards of his wife, is incomplete. He forgot to mention what every Malaysian knows: the murder victim was his mistress.

    Malaysia is at the point of implosion. Badawi does not seem to have what it takes to hold it together. It’s too bad. There was a lot of hope riding on him when he assumed power. He was fondly called Pak Lah by Malaysians and seen as Mr. Clean.

    The Malaysian oligarchy want Razak to take over but Anwar Ibrahim is very popular with the masses. Only problem is the BN controls all the coercive instruments of the State and they are not going to give it up without a fight,

    Malaysia might implode and it might be the opportunity we need to get Sabah back.

    • rego on May 6, 2008 at 3:08 am

    The closing of Intel Phil operations is really really sad news for me. Kawawa naman yung mga empleyado.

    I owe a lot from Intel. I would say if not for this company I will never be where I am today.

    • UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 4:02 am

    “Blogging”, “opinion writing”, and “reporting on the news” are quite different from each other. From the URL that MLQ3 posted above, here are statistics (USA statistics) that quantify the relative popularity of each:

    …the total number of Americans who now read blogs at approximately 57 million.

    But to put that in perspective, a February 2006 Gallup survey found that reading blogs (20%) is far less popular than e-mail (87%), checking news and weather (72%), and shopping and travel (both at 52%), and is still behind some online activities that are generally considered to be fringe use: instant messaging (28%), auctions (23%), and videocasts and downloading music (22%).

    • supremo on May 6, 2008 at 4:02 am

    ‘Malaysia might implode and it might be the opportunity we need to get Sabah back.’

    The Philippines needs a buffer so include Sarawak and make it an independent state right away.

    • cvj on May 6, 2008 at 5:20 am

    UPn (at 12:06 am), that is as it should be. Anyway, i can get a feel of the ‘fifty folks from Las Pinas or Tondo’ by reading Ellen’s blog.

    • leytenian on May 6, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Blogging can be established by politicians and political candidates to express opinions on Federalism, Transparency of Financial Data, Amendments to Consitutional Code, Corruption and other issues. Even politicians not actively campaigning should begin to blog to bond with constituents, build his credibility and showcase his skills, and talents to the people.

    Just like what Manolo is doing. It is safe, ethical and professional. I wish our politician will defend themselves from public especially if they are not the person that people may think they are. It opens communication and should be the way in the future.

    For campus communication, a forum (password protected) with ready made topics is safer for the students. To avoid attacks, rules and regulations must be followed.

  5. Trouble with blogs is that they rely on frequent updating to remain relevant. Whereas – ehem – websites organised like a hierarchical knowledge store remain relevant as timeless references. 😀

    • JC on May 6, 2008 at 8:44 am

    CVJ: The very few times that I’ve been to Ellen’s blog, I read nothing but hatred and very “unjournalistic” approaches to issues. For instance, he quoted Koko Pimentel’s words against Zubiri and took it as gospel truth to declare that Zubiri has been beaten already.

    In another instance, she declared the ramming of an armoured vehicle into the Peninsula lobby as absolutely unnecessary since a SWAT team can easily do the job. If only she interviewed people with knowledge in combat, she would have been told that the “duck and shoot” method that she sees on 1970’s movies is far from reality. And if she looked at the lobby of the Peninsula, she would have known how big it is and how vulnerable cops would have been without armoured cover. How I wish that she was behind the squad that stormed the Pen and I am there to see her pee in her pants because of fear.

    You see folks, thank God for blogs because somehow, there is finally a way of fighting the tyranny of those who wield the Pen.

    • BrianB on May 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

    “Malaysia might implode and it might be the opportunity we need to get Sabah back.”

    Manuel. You know a “WIN” like this could finally bring Filipinos together. You do mean a sneak attack, don’t you, while KL burns?

    • hvrds on May 6, 2008 at 10:01 am

    “The globalization paradigm leads people to see economic development as a form of foreign policy, as a grand competition between nations and civilizations. These abstractions, called “the Chinese” or “the Indians,” are doing this or that. But the cognitive age paradigm emphasizes psychology, culture and pedagogy — the specific processes that foster learning. It emphasizes that different societies are being stressed in similar ways by increased demands on human capital. If you understand that you are living at the beginning of a cognitive age, you’re focusing on the real source of prosperity and understand that your anxiety is not being caused by a foreigner.” David Brooks NY Times

    In certain civilizations way before Copernicus a heliocentric earth was already known by early observers. From Copernicus to the Lutheran reformation process to the Enlightenment age.

    Brian Arthur was the first economist observer that declared that the digital age we a seminal shift as profound as the invention of the steam engine.

    In his last known letter celebrating the anniversary of American Independence from Britian, Jefferson wrote,

    “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”

    Cognitive edge is what separates winners and loosers in the market place. It is not supposed to be that way.

    The entire thesis of comparative advantage rests on the premise that both are comparable in stature and cognition.

    In the Philippine setting mainstream media is generally bought and paid for. Short term profit goals are the norm.

    In this setting blogs offer a wide open avenue.
    In more mature settings in the West where media has been corporatized blogs become the avenue for independent journalists and others.

    They have become a force to reckon with.

    • hvrds on May 6, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Beware the Terrible Simplifiers
    By Bill Moyers
    Bill Moyers Journal
    May 3, 2008
    I once asked a reporter back from Vietnam: ‘Who’s telling the truth over there?’
    ‘Everyone,’ he said. ‘Everyone sees what’s happening through the lens of their own experience.’

    That’s how people see Jeremiah Wright.

    In my conversation with him and in his dramatic public appearances since, he revealed himself to be far more complex than the sound bites that propelled him onto the public stage.

    More than 2,000 people have written me about him, and their opinions vary widely. Some sting: ‘Jeremiah Wright is nothing more than a race-hustling, American- hating radical,’ one of my viewers wrote. Another called him a ‘nut case.’

    Many more were sympathetic to him. Many asked for some rational explanation for Wright’s transition from reasonable conversation to the shocking anger they saw at the National Press Club.

    A psychologist might pull back some of the layers and see this complicated man more clearly, but I’m not a psychologist.

    Many black preachers I’ve known-scholarly, smart, and gentle in person-uncorked fire and brimstone in the pulpit. Of course, I’ve known many white preachers like that, too.

    But where I grew up in the South, before the civil rights movement, the pulpit was a safe place for black men to express anger for which they would have been punished anywhere else. A safe place for the fierce thunder of dignity denied, justice delayed.

    I think I would have been angry if my ancestors had been transported thousands of miles in the hellish hole of a slave ship, then sold at auction, humiliated, whipped, and lynched.

    Or if my great-great-great grandfather had been but three-fifths of a person in a Constitution that proclaimed: ‘We, the people.’

    Or if my own parents had been subjected to the racial vitriol of Jim Crow, Strom Thurmond, Bull Conner, and Jesse Helms.

    Even so, the anger of black preachers I’ve known and heard and reported on was, for them, very personal and cathartic. That’s not how Jeremiah Wright came across in those sound bites or in his defiant performances since my interview.

    What white America is hearing in his most inflammatory words is an attack on the America they cherish and that many of their sons have died for in battle – forgetting that black Americans have fought and bled beside them, and that Wright himself has a record of honored service in the Navy.

    Hardly anyone took the ‘chickens come home to roost’ remark to convey the message that intervention in the political battles of other nations is sure to bring retaliation in some form, which is not to justify the particular savagery of 9/11 but to understand that actions have consequences.

    My friend Bernard Weisberger, the historian, says, yes, people are understandably seething with indignation over Wright’s absurd charge that the United States deliberately brought an HIV epidemic into being.

    But it is a fact, he says, that within living memory the U.S. public health service conducted a study that deliberately deceived black men with syphilis into believing that they were being treated while actually letting them die for the sake of a scientific test.

    Does this excuse Wright’s anger? His exaggerations or distortions? You’ll have to decide for yourself, but at least it helps me to understand the why of them.

    In this multimedia age the pulpit isn’t only available on Sunday mornings. There’s round the clock media – the beast whose hunger is never satisfied, especially for the fast food with emotional content.

    So the preacher starts with rational discussion and after much prodding throws more and more gasoline on the fire that will eventually consume everything it touches. He had help – people who, for their own reasons, set out to conflate the man in the pulpit who wasn’t running for president with the man in the pew who was.

    Behold the double standard: John McCain sought out the endorsement of John Hagee, the war-mongering, Catholic- bashing Texas preacher, who said the people of New Orleans got what they deserved for their sins.

    But no one suggests McCain shares Hagee’s delusions or thinks AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. Pat Robertson called for the assassination of a foreign head of state and asked God to remove Supreme Court justices, yet he remains a force in the Republican religious right.

    After 9/11, Jerry Falwell said the attack was God’s judgment on America for having been driven out of our schools and the public square, but when McCain goes after the endorsement of the preacher he once condemned as an agent of intolerance, the press gives him a pass.

    Jon Stewart recently played tape from the Nixon White House in which Billy Graham talks in the Oval Office about how he has friends who are Jewish, but he knows in his heart that they are undermining America.

    This is crazy and wrong — white preachers are given leeway in politics that others aren’t.

    Which means it is all about race, isn’t it?

    Wright’s offensive opinions and inflammatory appearances are judged differently. He doesn’t fire a shot in anger, put a noose around anyone’s neck, call for insurrection, or plant a bomb in a church with children in Sunday school.

    What he does is to speak his mind in a language and style that unsettles some people, and says some things so outlandish and ill-advised that he finally leaves Obama no choice but to end their friendship.

    We’re often exposed to the corroding acid of the politics of personal destruction, but I’ve never seen anything like this – this wrenching break between pastor and parishioner played out right in front of our eyes.

    Both men no doubt will carry the grief to their graves. All the rest of us should hang our heads in shame for letting it come to this in America, where the gluttony of the non-stop media grinder consumes us all and prevents an honest conversation on race.

    It is the price we are paying for failing to heed the great historian Jacob Burckhardt, who said, ‘Beware the terrible simplifiers’

    • PhilwoSpEditor on May 6, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Thank you for the responses.

    I mean, UP, Ateneo or LaSalle does have that advantage of using blogs as a medium and are quite effective at it, because there is no hindrance (if any at all)… But here in PWU… Well, that was my basis for seclusion I was mentioning about in making the statement.

    As a student writer, I am responsible for my writing, but there seems to be a barrier or ‘iron curtain’ for us writers here to really publish and discuss about the truth due to sensitivity. As writers, should we truly exercise free speech, the way MLQ3 did here or should we somewhat neutralize the blog entries?


    I honestly agree with the race issue. No matter how we put it, there is still animosity between the two… Jeremiah maybe outspoken, but sometimes people don’t like to hear the truth. And sometimes the media can distort information to suit the needs and wants of the readers [or the administrators for that matter], based on my experience as a campus journalist.

    • jude on May 6, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    ‘Beware the terrible simplifiers’

    Americans do have a tendency to oversimplify everything and to view the rest of the world from a one-dimensional perspective. For most Americans, America is the center of the universe.

    Jeremiah Wright’s statements may at times be outrageous, but what is most hurtful to Americans about what he says is that he cuts down Americans to size and tells it like it is.

    For example, Wright has mocked President Bush and Vice President Cheney by claiming moral ascendancy over the two when it comes to patriotism. And Wright correctly points to his six years of honored service as a U.S. Marine in contrast to the two draft dodgers. Unfortunately, Wright has been made to look mean and disrespectful by bringing this up.

    Wright may have terribly offended Americans when he advised them to be more introspective because American arrogance and insensitivity may have brought 9/11 upon themselves. That idea may be outrageous to many Americans, but that only shows the disconnect between most Americans and the rest of the world. World-wide hatred for Americans and for America has never been greater than it is now.

    There is also a deep-seated suspicion about Barack Obama among the religious right and the pro-Israeli establishment. Obama has made public his refusal to continue the arrogant, unilateral foreign policies of recent American Administrations. He has revealed his preference for diplomacy over aggression and saber rattling. This inclination for dialogue and understanding is not well-taken, especially by the Hawkish establishment in Washignton. There is apprehension that Obama may secretly be a Muslim sympathizer, a “stealth” Islamist, as it were. And this does not go down well with the Jewish lobby in America.

    Jeremiah Wright has become a tool to try to bring down Barack Obama. Although Wright has given the Jews and the Hawks ammunition to shoot down Obama, there has been a malicious conspiracy to blow his statements out of proportion in order to discredit Obama. As pointed out by Bill Moyers, politicians like John McCain haven’t been castigated in media for associating with the likes of Jerry Falwell or other warmongering preachers of the far right.

    And, the opportunistic politician that she is, Hillary Clinton is trying to fan latent fears by associating Obama with Osama bin Laden and by maliciously bringing up Obama’s second name, Hussein, in order to invoke a connection with Islam.

    Hillary Clinton may also be persuaded to keep the pressure on Obama by the extremely powerful Jewish establishment which is firmly entrenched in her home state of New York. The Jewish establishment not only controls the American financial system, it has a large say in entertainment and media as well. Hollywood and Madison Avenue are controlled by Jewish moguls. So the vicious assaults on Barack Obama won’t let up just yet. Of course, Hillary, who would have been confined to the sidelines had Obama captured the Democaratic Presidential nomination, is only too happy to be the stalking horse for the warmongering establishment.

    • cvj on May 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    JC (at 8:44am), my personal belief (as stated at 5:20am above) is that Ellen’s blog reflects the sentiments of the Filipino people more accurately than any other blog (including this blog where pro-Arroyo’s and elitists are disproportionately given a louder voice). That sentiment includes the hatred that is expressed towards Arroyo (and the entire political class) which you are now complaining about. In any case, i agree with Ellen regarding Zubiri’s cheating as my own analysis bears that out.


    I’m also with her as far as Trillanes is concerned and i believe that it was a botched attempt by the Arroyo Admin to try to kill the Senator.

    • cvj on May 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    On blog monetization, i’m a bit ambivalent since the smell of a blog shaping its views according to revenue stream turns me off. It detracts from that bloggy-feel that i normally look for. However, i think it’s still possible to make money out of blogs, in an indirect fashion. As I mentioned two years ago (with reference to the Web in general)…


    Capitalists see the web as just an extension of free enterprise with its push for ‘e-business’, ‘e-commerce’ and the like. The web’s original creators see more – a means for self-expression and productive exchange, an emerging gift economy where Marx’s ideal of ‘from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’ will eventually be realized…

    I think the above Gift economy model all the more applies to blogs. In this way, i think blogs are more like the Open Source movement.

  6. Manolo,
    As you know I’ve been there and done all that in the MSM. As such, I am acutely aware of the fact that 99% of the MSM is as corrupt and immoral as so much of the government itself. Which is why I am also disdainful when its hypocritical representatives make deceitful claims of the holier-than-thou variety. But I note your characterization of the MSM as a “professional priesthood” …if only there had been a trace of irony to it and a tad less sincerity it might actually have achieved a kind of Rizallian humor for being so much truer than you seem to have intended. In some sense, the Mass Media have become a New Frailocracy…the parallels being drawn with a stark obliviousness by the likes of Luis Teodoro and Vergel O. Santos. The only bloggers who don’t see this are the ones with some illogical ambition to join the MSM themselves. Pity them!

    • UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    to Jude: Jeremiah Wright may feel moral superiority, but I doubt that all Americans will not give him/Wright ascendancy. VP Cheney sure won’t, I am sure. Ascendancy means “governing or controlling influence”.

    What many American voters fear is the ascendancy that Jeremiah Wright has over Barack Obama and/or Michelle Obama.

    • UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    ….I doubt that all Americans will give him/Wright ascendancy. VP Cheney sure won’t, I am sure.

    • jc on May 6, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    CVJ: A journalist quoting the statement of only one party in a case and using it to lambast the other speaks of irresponsible journalism and should not be allowed to flourish. Journalists shape people’s opinion and by being biased, they are leading this country towards its collapse.

    In regard to Zubiri, she may actually be right but definitely not because she used sound journalism. Read her posts. It will fail high school journalism class. As for Trillanes, I was only writing about her forceful assertion about the use of one SWAT team (without armoured support) to assault the Peninsula lobby. That speaks of so much ignorance, for a journalist at that.

    • NOT a UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    to PhilWoSpEditor, who has an internal debate about “.. a barrier or ‘iron curtain’ for us writers here(PWU) to really publish and discuss about the truth due to sensitivity. As writers, should we truly exercise free speech, the way MLQ3 did here or should we somewhat neutralize the blog entries?”

    Read again MLQ3’s blog entries (and the entries, especially by the “regulars” at Ellen Tordesillas’ site) and you will quickly sense the self-restraint (e.g. lack of curse words) that he exercises.

    My thought : write to communicate (although writing to irritate is a good objective, too). And you are a college student — a privilege of a college student is to push against the boundaries of the system. [You may want to check how PWU’s computer-system works. In particular, maybe you can post some opinions behind a pseudonym/using a bogus logon-ID or something.]

    So for this particular entry, I can “choose not to be” UP n student.

    • cvj on May 6, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    jc, aside from being a journalist, Ellen is also (like Manolo) an opinion writer, in her case, for Malaya so in that role, it is her job to voice out her honest opinion. In addition, she is also a blogger so just like the rest of us bloggers, is free to put whatever in her own blog. Her being a ‘journalist’ should not limit her as a blogger (or an opinion-writer).

    Even as a journalist or reporter, she (and other reporters) are under no obligation to give equal time between truth tellers and liars (and cheats like Zubiri). That would be doing the public a disservice. Instead of a false veneer of ‘objectivity’, our press owes us to be more sensitive to bullshit. One thing about Ellen is that she does not suffer fools gladly which is why a number of them have no choice but to take refuge in Manolo’s blog.

    I’ve read a number of Ellen’s pieces and she clearly distinguishes between reporting news and opinion writing. What is leading us to ‘collapse’ is the actions of the Arroyo administration and not those who report it. Don’t shoot the messenger(s).

    As for Trillanes, she is an eyewitness whom i trust so i defer to her first hand account. Certainly, she has more credibility than the PNP under Razon who are now reduced to being the First Couple’s henchmen.

    • cvj on May 6, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Sorry, just to clarify the last paragraph above (at 8:19pm) should read…

    As for the Trillanes issue in Manila Pen, she [meaning Ellen] is an eyewitness whom i trust…

    • justice league on May 6, 2008 at 8:38 pm


    If a website still contains articles with ideas already debunked but still trumpets the ideas in it; a website can indeed remain relevant as timeless reference of one’s folly.

    • NOT a UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    to PhilWoSpEditor : (and to JC, too) Here is a cut-and-paste from an article on Advocacy Journalism:

    Before speaking about advocacy journalism, we should probably define our terms. An advocate speaks or pleads on behalf of another, giving the other a face and a voice. Advocacy journals – sometimes called alternative publications – have a declared bias, a publicly acknowledged editorial point of view. They are upfront about their editorial position even on their masthead.

    Mass media – sometimes called mainstream media – have biases which are often hidden or implicit. Because their editorial viewpoint supposedly reflects what the majority values, no one thinks much about it. Everyone seems to agree, so there is no apparent bias. Only those holding a minority point of view are seen as biased.

    Being an advocate journalist is not the same as being an activist. No matter how dear a cause is to journalist’s heart, there are lines which should never be crossed by a professional journalist.

    If you only spout slogans and cliches, and rant and rave then you are not doing honest journalism. You need to articulate complex issues clearly and carefully. If you are only a polemicist, you won’t educate or persuade anyone, and those “on side” will find you boring and repetitious. They will not learn the most current information they need to engage in effective debate in the public square. Slogans alone won’t cut it in public discourse.

    Can a journalist have a declared bias and still practice journalism in a professional manner? Yes. In fact you may be seen as even more credible if your perspective is acknowledged up front.

    A journalist writing for the advocacy press should practice the same skills as any journalist. You don’t fabricate or falsify. If you do you will destroy the credibility of both yourself as a working journalist and the cause you care so much about. News should never be propaganda. You don’t fudge or suppress vital facts or present half-truths.

    You shouldn’t take something wildly out of context or treat an extremely nuanced subject as a sound bite. There must be a general fairness and thoroughness. Verify your facts and quotes. Use multiple sources and try to cite neutral sources for statistics.

    You use your eyes and ears when you are news gathering. If you are covering a protest and a demonstrator hits a police officer or shouts profanities, you are obliged as a journalist to report those facts, embarrassing though they may be to a cause you personally support.

    If your editor won’t print such facts then you should seriously consider whether to continue writing for that publication. Even if a media outlet’s philosophy agrees with yours, if the tone is too inflammatory, you shouldn’t work for it.

    A good journalist must play devil’s advocate. You must argue against your own convictions. In an interview, you still have to ask the hard questions of possible heroes, the tough questions, even of the people you admire. You are not writing public relations for them and they will not be vetting your piece.
    Advocacy journalism does not generally give equal time to opponents, but neither does the mainstream press. . . . .

    The Interim is not likely to give an op-ed platform to Henry Morgentaler(an opponent), since the major media have already covered him at length. The Interim, however, should refer to THE OPPONENT’S best arguments, not his worst, quote him directly, accurately, at length and in context. In opinion writing, as in debate, you must be able to answer your opponent’s best arguments. Does your opposition, moreover, have some valid criticism you should hear?

    Even when a juicy story or outrageous statement emerges from your opponents, you don’t rush to print it until it is confirmed. You should even put on the brakes and give your opponent the opportunity for a disclaimer, the benefit of the doubt.

    The writer of above cut-and-paste is Ms. Sue Careless, a professional member of both the CAJ and The Periodical Writers Association of Canada and who is also an associate member of the Canadian Church Press.

    • vic on May 6, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    When get caught, wiggle, wiggle out..here is The Privacy Commissioner got caught with his hands in the cookie jar and now trying to wiggle out and we’ll see if he was observing the tricks of some from “somewhere”.

    I was ambushed, former privacy watchdog says
    Challenging charges, Radwanski testifies he was unfairly targeted
    May 06, 2008 04:30 AM Joanna Smith
    Ottawa Bureau
    Ottawa–Former federal privacy watchdog George Radwanski blames his fall from grace on being unfairly targeted by the auditor general’s office and the RCMP over allegations he used public funds for his personal benefit.
    Radwanski, 61, testified yesterday that he felt like he was under “unrelenting attack” by members of Auditor General Sheila Fraser’s staff who had already concluded he was guilty as they prepared a scathing report that accused him of lavishly spending public money on restaurants and travel.
    He also suggested a feud with former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli over the use of surveillance cameras in Kelowna, B.C., corrupted the police investigation that led him to be charged with fraud and breach of trust


    • mlq3 on May 6, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    ellen, i think, is careful to respect the limitations of her various roles -reporter, columnist, blogger.

    • NOT a UP n student on May 6, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Above is one point-of-view from one journalist. She seems to require for the writer to (of course) tell them what they (the audience) wants to hear but she also requires the writer to tell the audience what they do not want to hear.

    To me, these words are worth repeating : “You don’t fabricate or falsify. … You don’t fudge or suppress vital facts or present half-truths.” And this very difficult challenge — “You must argue against your own convictions.”

    • BrianB on May 6, 2008 at 10:15 pm


    If Ellen Tordesillas thinks her blog can be segregated from her journalistic work in print, she’s way wrong. Even her style is similar. It’s not as if she uses a more personal tone in her blog entries.

    • nash on May 6, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    I can’t believe this msm vs. blogging is even worth debating….hello?

    Blogs, newspapers, books, journals, magazines…of course they are all biased! And there is always something for everyone! It’s 2008!

    What we should focus on is to keep our freedom to choose!

    • BrianB on May 6, 2008 at 11:18 pm


    FYI, include an NSFW warning next time you post a photo of your cumqwat. 🙂

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