I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Schools can’t take all the blame

I’ve got no argument with people who say that our educational system is quickly disappearing down the drain like so much dirty dishwater. I mean, it is. From infrastructure – or the lack thereof – to the dismal quality of instructions kids are receiving. But as bad as the schools are, they can’t take all the blame. 

It’s a confluence of factors, really. Factors that contribute to the dumbing down of my generation. And some these most insdious factors I found neatly encapsulated in this ad:


Don’t get me wrong. I think Mark Herras is as cute as a button. He has that roguish glint in his eye that can make a girl’s knees go weak. But, in this ad, he represents a major disease of our society: the disease of putting too much emphasis on physical beauty.

By emphasizing physical beauty on the scale that we are doing now, we are creating in the youth this mistaken belief that physical beauty equates with all things good and wonderful; thereby creating by necessary implication that the lack of beauty equates with everything NOT good and wonderful. This unconscious molding of the youth’s minds leads directly to the creation of a poor self-image which in turn leads to an entire cesspool of problem, including promiscuity. It’s not just the pretty girls that get knocked up, ya’know. In fact, I’d even hazard a guess that there are more not-particularly-pretty girls who get preggers than their prettier counterparts. Us not-so-pretties are easy prey to lotharios who flatter us with attention only to get into our pants. Lepers, like Thomas Covenant loved to say, are particularly susceptible to beauty (or to being told that they are beautiful). 

And this isn’t just me talking either. Take a gander at American cartoons nowadays. They’ve got yellow skinned people, kids with heads shaped like footballs, little girls with ginormous teeth and coke-bottle specs. In other words, ordinary people. American psychologists realized long ago that bombarding kids with images of beautiful children would wreak havoc on their self-image. As a result, modern children’s cartoons strive for ordinary-ness in their characters – with Kim Possible perhaps being the notable exception. 


Hataw sa video games? I’m not too young to remember when my mother used to say that video games rot the brains. Now, my brat brother – not even seventeen – has a PSP courtesy of …. yep, mom. Whatever happened to video games rotting brains, ma? LOL! Maybe she just thought it wasn’t particularly ladylike for girls to contort themselves into epileptic dances just to get a FATALITY at Mortal Kombat.

Ah, but whatever the truth is about my mom, her changing attitudes reflects a troubling slackening of standards; prolly courtest of that drivel spouted by salesmen about how playing video games improves hand-eye coordination. What a load of bullshit. Michaelangelo never touched a Nintendo and he managed to carve a David out of a piece of marble that other artisans had given up on; heck! David never had PSP and he still knocked out Goliath with a single (sling)shot. Or conversely, me and my brat brother have been exposed to video games since we were little and we still can’t thread a needle to save our lives!

But all of that seems to be water under the bridge now, because apparently being good at video games and dancing is being promoted as the ultimate good. Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing wrong with being good at games and dancing, but it just doesn’t rank up there with being well-read and being articulate, ya’know? Call me old-fashioned, but I’d take a good conversationalist over a good gamer anyday. Sorry fanboys.

Make no mistake about it. This ad promotes the concept of fun as being an end-all-be-all. People who see things that way end up doing anything to be called fun – to live up to some screwy notion of what it means to be cool. Like putting out and spending hours cutting class just to be able to play WOW.

Now there are those who would argue that times have changed and that people get rich playing video games. Yeah. Right. Like people get rich playng in the NBA too. Video games and dancing as the route to future success is a realistic option for only a few people. For the vast majority, being glued to a game console only means you’ll eventually end up a loser who’ll never get laid.


The problem here is that we’re being raised by a generation of parents who are riddled by guilt. They’re guilty that they were so busy making a living and putting food on the table that they didn’t get to spend enough qualitime with their kids. To compensate; to assuage the guilt, they throw money at us – under the guise of equipping us to face a hyper-technological world. 

As a result, my generation feels no guilt at all spending money we haven’t earned. Instant gratification without the maturity to prevent that sort of indulgence from damaging us. Cellphone companies capitalize on this by expanding their business in ever more creative ways. 

From simply providing telephony, they branched out to text messaging. COmpared to calls, SMS makes peanuts per transaction; but the damned thing is addictive. So, SMS makes up in bulk. And now, SMS revenues account for more than telephony revenues. From text messaging, they start pushing e-wallets and e-cash, making it even easier for kids to waste their money, and for parents not to realize that they’re haemorraghing cash. Remember when you had to scratch a card so that you could burn more money? 

By making ‘load’ so incredibly accessible, the telcos are repeating the SMS play: make up in bulk. I bet that if anyone were to check now, we’d prolly see that there is more money in electronic loading than in card-based loading. When people don’t realize they’re spending money, they end up spending even more.

And now, apart from pushing all sorts of modern innovations like 3G or 4G even, telcos start pushing content. We don’t spend enough time and money on their phones, they now have to actively engage us with their computers. Who needs friends, after all, when you can chat with Mark Herras P2.50/text? That’s phone sex, that’s what it is. People just don’t realize it. 

Wake up

So wake up, folks. Let’s reform schools by all means. But no matter how good the school system gets, the fact remains that kids spend more time outside these schools than they do in them. So whatever good is in there, is too quickly overwhelmed by what’s out here. 

So, I’m gonna go Gautama on you and tell you that out here, hedonism rules the day. And anyone whose been a kid will realize that the pleasure principle trumps study habits 9 times out of 10. Since that’s the case, how effective will uber-excellent schools be at uplifting the intellectual plight of an entire nation’s youth? Puh-leeze. 

Outside those ivory walls, far too many kids are being predisposed to not caring about learning or bettering themselves – except maybe at video games and dancing. And if you’re good at Grand Theft Auto, who cares if you can’t recite the table of eights?


Filed under: pop-culture, sex, society, tech, television, , , ,

On tantrums

I once had the opportunity to see a diva throw a tantrum.

Story telling time …

The taping was set for a certain hour. 30 minutes before the appointed time, everyone involved is present and ready … ‘cept the star of the show. The Diva everyone calls Madame.

The hours comes and goes, and still no Madame.

Half past the hour, she comes. She strides in through the door with a frown on her face, berating everyone for standing around. “We’re behind schedule, come on, come on!” Everyone is bewildered. Wasn’t she the one who came in late?

She takes her seat and brushes a stray hair from her face. “Where’s my camera?” she asks in an irritating nasal whine. Then she turns her attention to the floor director. “Why didn’t you fix the lighting?” she demands. You could see the director start to answer – how can we fix the way the light hits you when you’re not there to be hit by the light? But apparently being a veteran, he wisely decides to just shut up and fix her light.

She gestures wildly at the teleprompter. “That’s wrong! I’ve edited that!” She is near hysterics. The director mumbles into his mouthpiece and waits for a reply. “Madame, they don’t have an edited version.” For a split second, Madame looks flabbergasted. Then she realizes she has the edited copy in her hands. “Here, here! Why didn’t anyone take this from me earlier?” She rounds on her gofer. “You, Ruel! You really have to be on your toes.” Poor Ruel looks stricken. He obviously does not know what he’s done. “You know, this isn’t working. Maybe I should replace you. Direk! If this happens again, I’m walking out and never coming back.”

Ruel is rooted in place, unable to do do much more than crack a weak smile. “Well,” Madame asks. “What are you still doing here? We’re late! Roll tape now!!!”

Of course, you’d never see this episode on the news. Jove Francisco would certainly never report on it, even if the Diva – a presumptive first wife – is a much bigger public figure than the President. The difference, I suppose, is that the Diva aint the President, and the Diva isn’t as much the subject of public criticism as the President is. We all have have the tendency to kick people when they’re down, don’t you notice? And a President already unpopular is such an easy target for petty criticism.

Jove defends:

And I must say, our decision to use the footage of the angry president is justifiable, because it is news. Debatable? No. As a story it has in fact lots of layers in it. An unpopular and less than trustworthy president, waging a battle for her political survival, who by the way got sick before the weekend, was incognito during most of last week, was hit by criticisms regarding charter change and was shaken by the twin “pambabara” or non support from the leadership of the El Shaddai group and the Catholic church on her aim to amend the constitution. Plus the fact that she’s not feeling well until now, because as PDI reported, she visited 32 hospitals before being active again.

It is news that a head of state experienced a moment – however prolonged – of pique at finding things to be not ready for her scheduled taping? Or is it a story simply because she’s a woman? I imagine that if the President were a man, her “angry quest” (as Jove puts it) for a teleprompter would have been just another display of assertiveness and the determination to get things done right and on time. But let a woman do it, and suddenly, she’s whining.

Whining, contrary to popular opinion, has less to do with the tone of voice one uses as it has to do with the reasonableness of the anger being exhibited and the demands being made. Was it unreasonable for the President to expect everything to be ready for her the minute she got there? Were her demands for rectification unreasonable under the circumstances?

And Jove says the story had layers. What layers? The layers Jove mentions are an obvious attempt to frame the story as “President breaks down under strain of unpopularity and constant battle for political survival!” Puh-leeze. How about “Pissed-off President?”

Jove goes on to say:

Lastly, we are not being arrogant and we are not saying we have all the right to cover everything and anything under the sun, but what happened inside the halls of the NEB, happened right before our eyes and we can’t just close our eyes and pretend it didn’t happen.

Well, there’s really no debating that. Of course it happened, and it’s stupid to even consider pretending it didn’t happen. But that isn’t the point, is it? The point is that broadcasting this information and pretending it’s news is nuts. It wasn’t news – it was gossip. It was a juicy tidbit of what the pressure of the presidency does to a person, salaciously played out to an audience hungry for every least reason to heap criticism on an already reviled figure, meant first and foremost not to deliver news (I mean, what news? that the president is a bitch? everyone knows that already) but to rake in the viewership.

Bottom line: So, her iron mask of determination and steely control obviously slipped; so the fuck what? Happens to the best of us. We should all be thankful that we, at least, don’t have to see our private anger plastered all over the news and the ‘net for everyone to use for ridicule and criticism.

Still, if a public figure losing control behind the scenes is as newsworthy as he says, I challenge Jove Francisco – or any other journalist – to do a story on the DIva and her legendary tantrums.

Filed under: media, television, , ,

Shouting the news

Bencard, in a comment on a previous post, reminded me of a pet peeve: shouting newsreaders. You know? The Mike Enriquez types, and the Henry Omaga Diaz stylings.

Then, I also remembered that there are some countries in Europe where some newscasts have the newsreaders doing a strip tease as the broadcast progresses.

So apparently, we don’t have a monopoly on ridiculous. But the fact that, on opposite sides of the globe, station managers are choosing to adopt these strange methods gave me pause and awakened the non-purist in me. Now I understand that we have time-honored notions of how dignified news readers ought to be and all that. But I’ve just got to ask: is there really an established aesthetic for newsreading?

It is a changing world, after all, where people who watch the tube generally have the attention span of a fruit fly.  SO, although personally I still prefer Coop’s laid back style of sober reporting, maybe – just maybe – even these annoying gimmicks serve a laudable purpose, i.e., to keep the audience interested enough to listen to the news.

Filed under: journalism, news, television, , ,

Like melt water

You gotta admit it. Meralco’s Judy Ann ad comparing systems loss to melting ice was a stroke of genius – for First Philippine Holdings Corp., NOT Judy Ann. But now, some idiots are threatening her as though it were her idea.

Come ON, you morons. She’s a paid endorser, first of all; and so what if she actually believes what she said?  And even if she didn’t, so the fuck what?

Gabriela Rep.Luzviminda Ilagan said that Judy Ann should have not let herself be used by the alleged abusive Lopez-owned electric company.

“She allowed herself to be the tool of Meralco. She should have known better,” said the lady solon.

Ilagan is a moron.

In fact, Rep. Abante already ordered the legal officers of the House Committee in Public information to investigate on the possible consequences of Judy Ann’s infomercial.

“I join these cause-oriented groups in denouncing Judy Ann Santos, who I don’t think understands the situation with Meralco. This is what money can do,” said Rep. Abante.

And so is Abante.

The common thread running through the ear-holes and empty-braincases (that’s just in case you dint get the illustration! LOL!!!!) of these two morons is the presumption that Meralco is wrong; or conversely, that the GSIS attack on Meralco is somehow right. Hell, bitchez, no one can say for certain yet! SO why demonize Judy Ann and throw all these accusations at her?

The answer to that is pretty simple: these mercenary morons prolly have marching orders from somewhere to try to contain the damage that Judy Ann is doing to their cause. See it that way and you realize just how shrewd the ad – with Judy Ann in it – is when it comes to winning over the public. I mean, Judy Ann’s magic is tried and tested. After all, didn’t she send a loser to the Senate and didn’t she manage to win a horde of rabid passionate fans even with that idiotic movie of hers?

And naturally, the biggest moron of all is the rebel-in-search-of-a-cause Dante Jimenez who is now calling for a boycott of the actress.

Now, me – I don’t have any love for morons. But if there’s anything I hate more than morons, its rats.

Alarmed by the negative reaction generated by the infomercial, Judy Ann’s manager Alfie Lorenzo had an interview with dzBB’s Mike Enriquez yesterday, June 3.

“Hindi ko alam iyan. Hindi ako kinausap. Kasi paalis na sila Juday noon nung nag-text na lang yung secretary niyang si Jane. Sabi niya, may humabol pong komersyal. Pabaon daw sa Europe,” revealed Alfie to Mike.

Time to get a new manager, Judy darling. Maybe you can get lorie – at least you know she’ll never drop you like a hot kamote when sailing gets rough.

Filed under: politics, pop-culture, television, vacuity, , ,

Something smells fishy

I truly wanted to give Dyesebel a chance. All day, I obsessed about the damned thing; couldn’t wait for it to come on. And when it finally did, here’s how it happened.

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Filed under: musings, pop-culture, science, television, vacuity, , , ,


Ok. So this is like the umpteenth version of Dyesebel, and I think Marian Rivera may be the prettiest yet. The girl actually has me considering turning lez. I admit, tho’ that I’m not really too knowledgeable about the Dyesebel mythology. A quick check of wikipedia, on the other hand, reveals that I really don’t need to worry about it. Apparently, Dyesebel is just a variation of the Hans Christian Andersen tale.

This is as close as we can come to a canonical version of the story:

Dyesebel was born of a human mother who, during her pregnancy, obsessed on mermaids. Wanting to hide their deformed daughter – after an unsuccessful attempt to ditch her – the couple move to where they can raise her in secret. Dyesebel eventually meets up with other mermaids and – at some point – with a sea-witch called Diangga.

Dyesebel also fell in love with a human man, Fredo. After an idyllic time during which she is somehow able to hide her nature, Fredo’s ex captures Dyesebel and dumps her in a carnival. Eventually, Dyesebel is rescued and gets her reward – feet.

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Filed under: musings, science, television, vacuity, , , ,

What’s the connection?

Something a noted blogger wrote early today caught my eye and totally piqued my interest.

jakcast, i actually think the lopezes are being extra prudent, because gma has them by the balls over meralco. ever wonder why christian monsod is so ardently pushing the keep her until 2010 movement?

This in reply to a commenter who asked

I agree with you hvrds. Found this in the abs-cbn site. I’m truly amazed on how media in this country spins things without giving their sources. Besides the ratings wars, is abs-cbn under instruction from the Lopezes to keep this alive for some score to settle with the Macapagals? Just asking. Don’t throw me out Manolo.

“Noli ‘all set’ to assume presidency. The vice president is in close contact with personalities who will advocate constitutional succession in case of a power vacuum
Exclusive to
By Aries Rufo”

Gloria has the (ABS-CBN) lopezes in a bind so chris monsod is pushing for her retention til 2010. Is there a quid pro quo situation here? What’s the connection? And is Chris Monsod on the other side of the fence now? Heh. Goes to show I truly don’t know everything, eh uncle?

Filed under: politics, television, , , ,

Much ado about nothing

So he called her a bitch. So the fuck what? It was funny as all hell – watching him squirm like that – but c’mon. It isn’t quite on the same level as Neri calling the prez evil (i suspect with a capital “E”).

Joey Salceda is a typical young (or not so young) turk who throws these Americanisms around. Like Nereus Acosta said, it would be over-reacting to actually take offense at that. In fact, I kinda think that the President may have found that funny. Remember the way she spun Gloria Labandera? Well, she’s prolly thinking, “yeah man, I’m a bitch, but I’m your boss-bitch. So suck it.”

Seriously, even Joey Salceda’s reaction was soooo theater. He was hamming it up there, milking the alleged slip-of-the-tongue for all it was worth. The fact is, put-downs of the boss are a common presentation tool. It gets the crowd on your side and provides welcome relief from all the propaganda information you’ve been spouting.

And besides, apologizing to the president via text messages? No way would he do that if he was really in hot water.

Filed under: politics, pop-culture, television, ,

The making of a hero

Watching Jun Lozada on tv tonight being faced off against all his counter-accusers, it kinda felt like ABSCBN has plans to buy the movie rights and is doing everything it can to sweeten Lozada’s stock. Heck, maybe ABSCBN’s bought the damned rights already.

It was, clear as day, a set-up. Kinda like that Einstein story. Lozada looking a little peaked in a white t-shirt, forced to face a phalanx of well-dressed newly made-up government men. The message was clear: here is David, forcibly taken from the simple life of a shepherd, to face the gigantic Goliath in a battle with nothing less than truth, justice, and motherland at stake.

What a steaming pile of bullshit.

I didn’t see the whole thing, but the parts that I did catch clearly showed that Lozada was in his element. He was cool and wisecracking all over the place, while the g-men were all getting hot under the collar and red in the face. He knew his story and he stuck to it like supahglue. That was when he was strongest. He had a moment’s slip up that I saw … after he riffed about how terrible it was that our very own negotiators were influencing foreign lenders to insist on tied loans in order to circumvent bidding rules. He goes on to say that it is the borrowers that should dictate the terms of loans.

Excuse me?

His reasoning goes: as borrowers, it’s our money that we’re using to pay back the loan, so we can dictate how we’re going to pay. He then cites China as an example.

First of all, if I were an economic behemoth like China and I was going to lend some ass-backwards filipinos some money, why the fuck would I let them tell me what to do? “You don’t like my terms, filipino, you go take a hike off my gorgeous Three Gorges Dam. When you’re drowning, try telling me how I should make sure that the fucking rescue rope I throw you should be made of egyptian cotton.”

Second, if I were a bank like the ADB, and potential MONSTER CONSUMER like China wanted some of my money so it can pump more money back into the fucking market, I’m gonna bend over backwards for it and thank it’s human-rights violating ass for patronizing my fucking bank. “You don’t like my terms, ADB, you go shoot yourself in one of my bajillion sweat shops and think about the money you’re never gonna see when I take my fucking business to some other usurer.”

Get the difference?

Obviously, Lozada was truly playing to his adoring masses, plucking at their heartstrings by playing the patriotism card.

Then there was that other moment where he wails on and on about using his credit card in HongKong for several days, being thankful that he received money from the government, and feeling oppressed that he tried a little retail therapy. “I wanted to see what it was like to live like a king, so I went shopping,” he said. “But when I got back to my room, I still felt empty. You just can’t get satisfaction from money you haven’t actually earned.”

That was laying it on thick. He wanted to know what it was like to live like a king? He plays golf at Wack-fuckin-Wack! His credit card is able to absorb several days of international spending! He’s being waited on hand and foot by his adoring nuns and living at a bloody retreat house that costs La Salle parents almost a million a year to maintain! I daresay he knows what it feels like to be a king. Hell, he even bragged about being asked by Cabinet over and over to present project proposals. Is he saying that was all gratis et amore? And if it was – if he were one of those one-peso a year consultants – how could he have managed to live if weren’t independently wealthy to begin with? Puh-leeze.

He can’t get satisfaction from money he hasn’t earned? Right. Can you say sweetheart loans from his agency to his own company? Can you say imported goats? Hypocritical much?

Then, in what seemed to be a moment of pique, he goes: “I’m giving the money back.” Half-a-second later, as if realizing what he’d just said, he goes: Oboy, I’m gonna be in trouble; I was saving that money to pay for my credit card bills. Oboy. Woe is me.

What a steaming pile of — well, you get the picture.

Still in all, it was the weasel whistle-blower’s night through and through

Jun Lozada’s bravura performance tonight served one purpose and one purpose only: to cement in the minds of the public his status as giant-killer; a brave David in the face of all the nasties in government. It was a public relations move that should never have been participated in by the g-men. If they thought they could convince the public of their honesty, ABSCBN’s vaudeville was not the place for it and yet they walked straight into the trap in an excruciating display of awesome stupidity. Razon saw it eventually, but too late. Worse, Razon lost his cool and started whining about how he sacrificed an evening just to come. Whatever points he scored when he correctly called ABSCBN’s play fizzled away into the hot lights when he turned petulant.

Formoso, ordinarily so cool, lost it too and started sniping at Lozada’s upbringing. He even retardedly muttered “well, you started it” when Lozada criticized him for the personal attack. The last word belonged to the unavenged aggrieved party; Lozada definitely scored mucho sympathy points for that.

As for Abalos, he was his usual oblivious self – hearing only what he wanted to hear, and going over and over the same tired old whines we’ve all heard about a million times. BooOOoooring! Nothing compared to the drama Lozada is capable of pouring out.

About the only laudable performance tonight, apart from Lozada of course, was Donald Dee’s refusal to say anything other than he was going to court. All those others should have followed Dee’s lead.

I’ll say it again: tonight’s face off between Lozada and the g-men served only to boost Lozada’s credibility exponentially. Nothing the public loves more than an underdog victory and that was exactly what ABS CBN provided tonight. Whoever is handling Lozada’s p.r. is worth his weight in gold. He’s just turned his boy into a bona fide hero.

Filed under: politics, television, , , , , , , , ,

Attn: Philippine Media

Isn’t Maria Ressa some kind of top-honcho over at ABS-CBN News? And wasn’t she some kind of local reporter for CNN? Yeah. Well, with Filipino penchant for elevating to the status of demi-god anyone who has been used by foreign whatevers (including youtube post-ers), Maria has managed to rise to dizzying heights of power in local media. To the point, actually, where she feels she has enough moral authority to actually challenge that most basic postulate of society: don’t break the friggin’ law.

But this post isn’t about that. This post is about journalistic responsibility and self-restraint – the former referring to the need for journalists to stick to news and not traffic in idle speculation; and the latter referring to the ability to refrain from capitalizing shamelessly on someone’s personal tragedy by using that tragedy as a springboard for ratings-generating discussion.

So, in that sense, this isn’t just about Maria and her news team. It’s really a shout-out (as in, I’m shouting but no one seems to be hearing) to all media in the Philippines.

Enough intro.

You know Heath Ledger, yes? And you know he’s dead. Well, nowadays, people have been given to delving into various speculations about him, his life, his loves and whatnot. At least one American news anchor (and by extension, news program) has decided to draw the line.  Here’s what Coop said:

For the last two nights we have reported on actor Heath Ledger. His shocking death is clearly a story a lot of people are interested in, but tonight we will not be reporting more on it. The truth is there is not really anything new to report.

The full results of the various tests done on Mr. Ledger will not be ready for perhaps a few weeks and there is very little new information. I have no doubt other networks will spend a lot of time tonight discussing his death and the various rumors about what might have caused it, but I am not a fan of speculation, so unless there is something really new to discuss we probably won’t be covering it anymore anytime soon.

If I had a peso for every time I’ve wished local media would exercise the same kind of responsibility and self-restraint …. I’d have a lot of pesos by now.

Filed under: international, journalism, musings, television, , ,