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Archive for the ‘Philippines’ Category

My head is aching right now. I could not write a single word for work. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping here in Singapore because martial law has been declared over the southern region back home. And just as I suspected, the president has been wanting to declare it since November. Now he has the perfect excuse to do it.

All I can think of right now is Plaza Miranda.

I don’t think I’ll be sleeping well for quite a while.

Martial law on Duterte’s mind as early as November —Lorenzana 

Published May 24, 2017 6:43pm

President Rodrigo Duterte has thought of declaring martial law as early as November to combat ISIS, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Wednesday.

“Actually, matagal na iyan pinag-iisipan ni Presidente iyan. Matagal na naming pinag-uusapan iyan,” he told reporters in NAIA after Duterte gave a press briefing.
Lorenzana said they advised the President against it.

“In fact, iyong pumunta kami sa Butig last year, sinabi niya na, ‘You prepare for martial law. Pero saan ba ito? Island by island ba or whole Mindanao or Philippines?’ Sabi namin hindi pa naman dapat. So the thought process niya nangyari na eh long ago pa,” he added.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday while he was on an official visit in Russia.

He cut his trip short and arrived in Manila on Wednesday afternoon. —NB, GMA News



No, this is not an issue of “hurt” feelings of one journalist. We are made of sterner stuff, so one f*ck you is just the many f*ck yous we will receive in the course of our professional lives.

This is about how a public official sees and treats people around her, how she belittles people who are not within the same social and economic circle. Makes you wonder if her “concern for the poor” is really genuine or her “passion for the environment” is really true or is just a means to glorify herself. I don’t know the answers—these are real questions of an inquisitive mind.

I’m neither pro nor anti-mining (you can see from my background, who my parents are) but if a public official, an environmental crusader, wants genuine change, she should look inward. Then she should go through the legal and right processes so the directive and department orders that she implements are fool-proof or have legal bases so these won’t just get thwarted by technicalities used by the lawyers of the entities she wants penalized. Because long-lasting institutional change cannot be achieved by shortcuts.

Post-script: And this is what I’ve learned in my short stint in UP Pahinungod. Pahinungod = offering; dedication. Not outreach. Outreach means you come from a different place and will still be in that different place. But offering = dedication means you are not separate from the people you serve…you are one of them.

There lies the difference, Madam Lopez.

Quizzed on mining directive, Gina Lopez vents ire on BW reporter: ‘You’re just a f—ing employee’

By: InterAksyon
April 6, 2017 6:08 PM

MANILA – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez on Wednesday unleashed a tirade on a reporter of BusinessWorld, whose questions about mining she resented, in the process describing the journalist as “bought by the greed and selfishness.”

Sec. Lopez had earlier on made known her impatience in responding to questions from BusinessWorld reporter Janina Lim, calling her out as she started asking: “You know, you’re just a f—ing employee” and then saying that Lim had “no heart for the poor.”

Lim, however, pressed on with her questions, asking the twice-bypassed secretary to elaborate on her new order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “Rehabilitation Fund” for formerly mined lands.

Lopez said she wants miners to draw from their profits and pay hard-up farmers “out of the rehab zone”.

Lopez told Lim: “All I am asking is to give 2 million pesos to every farmer of a farm that’s out of the Rehab Zone. What’s wrong with that? They’re disadvantaged, it’s out of the rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it? Why don’t you have a heart, you know? All I am asking is to put money for a farmer who has been disadvantaged by the mining, what’s wrong with that?”

Told by Lim that miners have appealed to the Office of the President questioning the “additional requirement” and sought for her reaction, Lopez cut her short: “What questioning? They disadvantaged all the farm lands, they should f—ing take care of it. What’s wrong with that? They’re making so much money from the stock pile. Don’t you think, they should take care of the farmers that they disadvantage? You in your heart, don’t you think they should? Who’s gonna take care of the farmers? It’s out of rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it? The money that they have for rehab doesn’t take care of the farmers out of the rehab zone. Who’s gonna take care of it?”

Read the rest of the story here.

Gina Lopez recorded telling reporter: You’re just a f—ing employee

Published April 6, 2017 10:07pm
Updated April 7, 2017 1:17am

…Sought for comment, Lopez said it was “tabloidish” for Business World to publish her “private conversation” with the reporter.

– See more at: http://www.gmanetwork.com/…/gina-lopez-recorded-telling..

Sidenote: It was an ambush interview with five reporters that time. It was not a private conversation and she is fully aware that there were recorders.

DENR’s Lopez defends new mining directive as she accuses BW reporter of ‘being bought’

In the process of defending the proposal — which is being questioned by miners — however, Ms. Lopez lost her composure and suggested that reporters covering the matter had been “bought.”

The Environment secretary told BusinessWorld reporter Janina C. Lim: “You’re just a fucking employee,” Ms. Lopez blurted out the line as she was stopped by Ms. Lim and another reporter on the landing of the second floor of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) office in Quezon City.

At that time, Ms. Lopez was taking the stairs on the way up to her office on the fourth floor.

The exchange between the official and the reporter took place minutes after several DENR employees supposedly called off a rally against the secretary that was set for nine that morning. Just a few days before the incident, Ms. Lim filed an exclusive report, saying that the Civil Service Commission rejected the temporary appointment of Mr. Philip G. Camarra, who was appointed by Ms. Lopez as DENR undersecretary.

The incident on Thursday morning began when Ms. Lim, who has been covering the environment and agriculture beats since January last year, asked the secretary whether she was attending a meeting of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council that afternoon at the National Economic and Development Authority office in Pasig City.

Read rest of the story here.

[Statement] No excuse for Sec. Lopez’s treatment of Businessworld reporter

April 7, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s totally unjustified behavior toward Businessworld reporter Janina Lim, who she cursed and maligned Thursday for simply doing her job.

It is doubly unfortunate that Ms. Lopez, the scion of a family intimately involved in media, should justify her boorishness toward Ms. Lim by blaming one of the qualities indispensable to being a journalist – persistence.

A recording of Ms. Lopez’s tirade captured her berating Lim of being “just a f—ing employee” and asking the reporter why she did not have a “heart for the poor.”

Ms. Lim was simply asking Ms. Lopez to elaborate on her order for miners to set aside more funds apart from what they are required to contribute to a “rehabilitation fund” for formerly mined lands but the DENR secretary berated Lim and another colleague, telling them: “You know, you guys should do your work, but why don’t you have a heart for the poor? Where’s your heart?”

When Ms. Lim tried to follow up, Ms. Lopez turned on her and said: “You know you are so young and you’re already bought by the greed and selfishness.”

It was at this point that Ms. Lim finally answered Ms. Lopez squarely, saying: “I was not bought, Ma’am. I was not bought. Thank you. Thank you.”

Ms. Lopez subsequently sent a message to Businessworld attempting to explain her side. If anything, however, she only helped indict herself even more.

She claimed she was late and rushing to a TV interview when accosted by Lim in a stairway and was piqued because she had “often been irritated” by the “line of questioning” of the “young and persistent reporter.”

“She was not the best person to meet while rushing for an appointment. So I lost my cool with her,” Ms. Lopez said in her message to Businessworld.

She also attempted to blame Lim for recording “a repartee that took place in a stairway” that, she claimed, should have been “left in the privacy for which it is meant,” even hinting the whole incident seemed to be “like looking for some kind of hole to punch.”

When does being “irritated” by a “persistent reporter” give a public official or anyone else for that matter the right to verbally abuse them?

If, indeed, Ms. Lim had consistently and persistently shown objectionable or offensive behavior in the course of her work, Ms. Lopez could easily have communicated this with the reporter’s superiors and asked that the situation be rectified.

And no, Ms. Lopez, what happened was not “repartee.” It was a legitimate attempt by a journalist to interview you on an issue related to your work and, thus, of public interest.

If you were, as you claim, in a hurry because you were late for an interview, you could have simply said so or even ignored the question. Instead, you actually took the time to stop and insult Ms. Lim and, worse, belittled her for being “just a f—ing employee,” as if honest toil were something to be ashamed of.

Ms. Lopez, your zeal for the causes close to your heart can never justify your despicable treatment of Ms. Lim. If anything, such a mindset, which brooks no questioning or dissent, is anathema to democracy.

We demand that you apologize to Ms. Lim and pledge to be more open to questioning. This is the least you can do.

Ryan Rosauro, chairperson
NUJP Hotline 09175155991

For several quarters, car sales in the Philippines has grown by double-digits. Thanks to very low interest rates and down payments, car ownership has become so easy in a country that has managed to expand above 5% for several years. Unfortunately, roads have not expanded at the same rate as car sales. Add to that the incompetent MMDA chief who has made election campaigning his top priority. Metro Manila roads now are hopeless.

It’s carmageddon all the way until the end of Christmas holidays. 

The 3-hour travel time from Makati to Quezon City used to be just a one-off thing–something you will encounter during really bad traffic situations like last-week-before-Christmas-break rush or during freak events like huge rallies in some parts of the metro.

But no, 3-hour travel time now is the norm. I encounter this at least once a week. It’s better to drive from Makati to Los Banos, Laguna on any given day because it’ll only take you 1.5 hrs compared to Makati-QC, which can take you 2-3 hrs after 5 pm. 

If only the effing trains really work. Not the kind of sh*t you encounter at 6 am-7 am: the kilometer-long lines leading up to the train platforms. Not the kind of crap you have to face when the trains break down because maintenance work could only salvage a small part of the whole system. Because the government has been dilly-dallying for so long, pandering to populist noise. Because officials had been milking the rail system for heaven knows how long.

Because people refused to pay up as well. You want convenience, you pay for convenience. Train rides are not free. 

I used to take public transport because I can. Now it seems like it can kill me in so many ways.

Already declared my desire to move back south. It’ll keep me sane for a few more years, I think.


One of the massage places in Chinatown, Singapore

Because I often wear uncomfortable footwear whenever I am in Singapore, I always end up paying for expensive foot massages to ease my aching muscles. SGD 50 (PHP 1,673) for 60 mins is already considered ok for foot massage in Singapore but highway robbery in Manila. More so in the provinces. For that price I could have 60 mins of Karada massage in Makati or full body massage with foot reflexology for 90 mins.

Sigh. You pay pretty money for some comfort.

So for this reason I still love Manila–the drama queen of Southeast Asia, where everything seems to happen at the same time: trains colliding, bus bombing, parking altercation shootings, riots, earthquake scaremongering, epic traffic jams, and Biblical floods.


I took this photo during one of my walks in Singapore. Reminded me so much of our Old Post Office in Liwasang Bonifacio and the potential of that old Neo-Classical building. In fact, the company behind this Fullerton Hotel in Singapore had talked to Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima about wanting to develop the decrepit old building into a hotel similar to what they have done in Singapore.

The thing here is the Old Post Office is sinking, i think. Its foundation is already lower than sea level/ Pasig River and I’ve been traversing the road behind the building going to Intramuros for years. When it rains, vehicles cannot pass through that road anymore because of flood either from trapped rainwater or the overflowing river.

But then, it would be nice to put the old building back on the map. One of the old beautiful buildings that survived the massive bombing after World War 2.


I remember my journo cousin asking me why Pacquiao is very popular here in the Philippines and why is he revered as a national hero (Interview became an article for a US publication).

Clash of the Titans: Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally fight Photo: GETTY IMAGES

I told her that Manny is the epitome of rags-to-riches story that all Filipinos can relate to and aspire for. He literally fought his way out of hunger and rose up the economic and power ladder with sheer determination without having to earn a college degree. His English is stilted at best but he manages to grant interviews even in monosyllables.

Pacquiao embodies every Filipino’s hopes and dreams. He represents the downtrodden–the underdog that overcame the odds. He is a reminder that good things happen to the poor and the oppressed. To maids being maltreated by their Saudi employers; to the seafarers away at sea for 9 months; to the caregivers receiving pittance of a salary washing bedridden old people; and to boys hitching their carabaos to carts in the ricefield at dawn before walking to school on empty stomachs.

Manny is not only fighting for himself but for a whole country that looks up to him for inspiration, for citizens that seek reasons why we should be proud to be Filipinos when it seems like there’s nothing for us back home except corruption and poverty. And that is a very heavy burden to bear.

No, Westerners cannot understand. Rich people cannot understand.

So, go Manny! May God be with you always.


life in business journalism

crazy. exciting. boring to some but hey, you get to understand the world better when you're a business journalist. you learn to be patient with tons of documents, make sense of numbers and charts. all geeky stuff. this is my story, behind the scenes.
March 2019
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