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“Bloggers’ Hour” at the NCCA

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The first ever "Bloggers' Hour" organized and hosted by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES and ALAS FILIPINAS are honored to have attended the first ever “Bloggers’ Hour” this morning. The event was organized by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Click here for the story.

♪ So long, farewell, I hate to say goodbye… ♫

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So I guess this is it for this blog. The final curtain, so to speak.

I hate to say this, but I have to give up blogging. I want to explain why, but somehow I don’t feel that I need to. It’s awkward, y’know. I have never written a farewell message before. So pardon me for the stiffness of this blogpost.

To my faithful readers (perhaps three or four of you, whoever you are, wherever you are): thank you, thank you, thank you. To my countless haters, screw you, screw you, screw you… but I have to thank you as well for fueling my sarcastic wits to no end.

I won’t prolong this. It’s breakfast time for most of you…

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES is now signing off…

*******

Naaah, I guess I have to lift the curtain this soon. :-)

I was just playin’ around, broskis. I won’t stop blogging. As long as my fingers cooperate with my cerebral cortex, I won’t stop playing as a stubborn iconoclast for Philippine History, LOL!

But seriously, I have to leave blogging. But not for good. It’s just temporary. I have a very important project to accomplish. There’s a freaking deadline, and I don’t want Asiong Salonga’s reincarnate to feed me with uzi fire. So I really have to keep myself busy in the coming months (there’s not even much time for the Black Nazarene blogpost which I promised last month to write).

Yep. For now I speak in riddles. I am contracted to shut up about this for a while. At sacá (ica ngá sa Tagalog) bacá mausóg, ¡hehehe! But if this project comes into fruition, I will, of course, make an announcement. If it doesn’t, well, I will still announce it, LOL (that would no longer be an announcement but a sorry explanation that perhaps only bored netizens would care to read about)! There won’t be much Facebook nor Twitter for me as well. In the meantime, I will try to update this blog at least once a month. But you can catch me in ALAS FILIPINAS because I am contracted (I’m beginning to hate that word) to post there at least twice a month. Freaking contracts. But hey, at least I get to earn a couple of salted peanuts with roasted garlic. Not bad, not bad…

Wish me luck. Better yet, pray that this project materializes. =)

¡Hasta luego!

Internet community on strike against SOPA and PIPA!

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I live in the web. I feel compelled to write about this issue…

Several weeks ago, I got heroically delusional by attempting to battle local pornography access in the Philippines (yeah go ahead; call me St. Pepe, the patron saint of sinners). And I did just that by launching a blog which I pompously entitled as the Philippine Online Movement Against Pornography. Ironically, as a person who supports freedom of expression and of the press (i.e., “online press”), I was somehow inspired by certain countries’ lordship over the internet. In China, for instance, Facebook is inaccessible. North Korea practices the same kind of censorship towards particular websites that its government deems to be pro-South Korea.

And I remember a few years ago from my Dubai-based friend Weirdonextdoor that she could not access my Spanish blog from there! I wonder what legal or perhaps moral issues blogger.com (my Spanish website’s host) may have with the UAE’s top honchos. However, I’m not really sure now if blogger.com is still banned from that Middle Eastern country.

But my point back then is this: if governments can block websites from being visited by its citizens, then why couldn’t our own do the same with porn sites? I thought it was a splendid idea.

Now, I am not about to discuss my moral standpoint regarding pornography (that would be for another blogpost). The issue right now is internet censorship. During those days that I was toying around with this anti-porn blog inside my “saintly head”, I naively thought that I’d do my country (and my faith) a great service. Little did I know that I might conveniently harm this wonderful man-made universe called the internet. Let me expound.

When fellow Filipinistas Señor Guillermo Gómez and Arnaldo Arnáiz learned about my new blog, I was surprised that they didn’t support it. Worse, they were even vehemently against it. I was dazed and disappointed. I didn’t understand from the onset what they really meant. For Señor Gómez, it was a total waste of effort. He cautioned me that it will only take away what little time I already have for our online advocacy, which is to defend and ennoble the Filipino National Identity. Arnaldo shares the same view, but he added more syllogisms and deductions to Señor‘s preoccupations…

Internet censorship is something that simply shouldn’t be. Difficult to accept/understand, yet easy to be left behind. In the internet, one can do virtually anything his mind wishes. One can satiate the desires and pleasures of the mind by visiting a preferred website: a site about books, automobiles, social networking, blogs about local insects, heritage conservation websites, stuff about communism, money-making tips online, and yes, pornography. Truly, the internet has become a global vegetable bowl wherein everyone can participate in the feasting, and that no one is shunned from doing so. But if you do not want the ingredients, then you have the option not to partake of the feast. It is really all up to you.

And in the internet, one is able to showcase perhaps one of God’s most puzzling and oft misunderstood “gifts”: freewill. In real life, we always use it without realizing that we have already decided on something. But the internet actually makes you realize that you should decide, for many different reasons, whether or not you should visit a particular site. Pornography is the best example. One might laugh off those “before-entering-click-yes-if-you’re-over-18″ disclaimer because virtually any pimply teenager straight out of puberty can visit the site. There’s no physical internet police to guard each and every netizen regarding what site should be visited in accordance to one’s moral laws and ethics. And so that’s where freewill comes in. And not only that but the intellect as well.

The intellect. It was the main reason why the late great Nick Joaquín, sitting as a member of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures during the 1960s, refused to cut nor ban controversial films because he believed in the intelligence and good sense of moviegoers. That is why former Senator Tito Sotto received a lot of flak during the mid 90s when, using his senatorial powers, he tried to censor several local and foreign rock bands (Eraserheads, Yano, Slayer, etc.) due to what he described as disturbing lyrics. Remember the memorable Eraserheads song Alapaap? Sotto tried to read between the lines of the song’s lyrics and decided that it was about a cracked-up junkie with notions of flight due to a meth high. But whether or not Sotto’s poetic intrusions are true (only the E-heads know for sure), the youth back then were not convinced by the song’s popularity, nay, lyrics to visit the nearest underground pharmacy. Actually, no song from hell ever convinced anyone to steal his dad’s gun and fire at his physics teacher. I should know; I belong to that generation when the E-heads gave us Ligaya (happiness).

In view of the foregoing, the key here is trust. Censors should refrain from being cynical about the public’s intellect. They always put the blame on the performer, on the medium. They should realize that the audience, the receptors, are not always stupid, are no longer stupid, especially in today’s age when ignorance is fast becoming obsolete. And we have the internet to thank for.

But the problem that the internet community all over the world —and not just in the US— is facing right now is not about internet censorship due to morality issues. Reportedly, the main target of the internet censors in the US Congress and the Senate is the alleged mercantilist threat towards the music industry as well as property rights. I’m talking about…

SOPA and PIPA

Today (Manila time), several big-name websites are blacked out in protest of these two controversial US bills that are pending legislation; its legislation will have a profound effect on the future of cyberspace. FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES is no big-name website (I’m ready to moon at the first one who readily agrees), but I blacked it out nonetheless to join the protest. Because this is not just a problem among the netizens of the United States of America. It will soon be a global threat once the US House of Congress’ “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and its US Senate companion bill, the Protect IP Act” (PIPA), are passed into law.

The purpose of these bills is to make it difficult, if not impossible, for websites —especially those located outside the USA— to sell or distribute pirated copyrighted material such as movies and music as well as physical goods like counterfeit purses, shirts, watches, etc. At first glance, you might think that the objectives of these bills are good. Perhaps they really are. The problem is they were not well thought of. And it should be noted that most of SOPA and PIPA’s strongest critics applaud the intentions of the legislation WHILE AT THE SAME TIME deploring what it might actually accomplish.

And what might that be?

Censorship, of course. It’s because the SOPA and the PIPA will definitely set a precedent in future internet censorship legislation. As wisely stated in Wikipedia (a vehement opponent of the said bills), the “SOPA and PIPA (will) build a framework for future restrictions and suppression”.

If SOPA and PIPA succeeds, there is a big chance that my blogs (and virtually anybody else’s blog) will be silenced in the near future on the grounds that, for instance, these websites are extremely anti-US and (‘gasp’) anti-”ABAKADA PINOY”, and that they might endanger the teaching of Philippine History, etc. Yes, it could get that worse (and I thought only Filipino legislators are stupid). And sooner or later, morality issues will come into play. And we’re not even talking about politics and religion yet.

Censorship is not always good. I’m wondering now if censorship could be another reason why Filipinos during the final years of Spanish rule were very rebellious. Think of Rizal and del Pilar and Jaena. All were good Catholics but they readily rebelled against the status quo. Is it a result of “centuries of living inside a convent”? The Catholic Church during those times was twice or thrice as strict as they are nowadays. One couldn’t simply read a book from another country for it might be listed under the Index of Forbidden books. Even the teaching of Spanish was stifled because the friars feared that when the natives learned the language, they will easily take hold of Masonic ideas that the Church abhorred for centuries. Spanish was fast becoming a vehicle of Freemasons in Europe, that is why the friars never preferred the natives to speak the language. Therefore, when the more liberal white guys from North America invaded us, our top leaders who were against Spain easily joined them. Could it be something psychological in our genes which we inherited from our ancestors during the turn of the last century that has made us allergic whenever we hear the word “censorship” nowadays?

Admittedly, the polemic discussion of censorship is still something that I do not fully understand. It has its good points as it has its bad ones because there are so many arguments to hear from both anti- and pro- groups, both of which can be passed as valid. And I still have my reservations for and against censorship. But what I know is this: if your right to be heard (and to be creative) has been stifled and jeopardized, then that is fundamentally wrong and unjust. Freewill is “divine”. Therefore, it should be accepted, if not respected. God will never stop you from liking my blogs’ Facebook fan pages. So why allow mere men to do so?

And what about the fate of the Philippine Online Movement Against Pornography? Forget it. If you suddenly feel like you want to see María Ozawa in action, then it’s all up to your intellect and sound judgment to decide whether or not it’s a good idea. Other than that, I already forgot my login credentials. So it’s no use even if I change my mind about what I think now of censorship. :D

Say no to SOPA and PIPA!

Premio Zóbel Facebook page

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Please click here to join the Premio Zóbel group on Facebook.

This year, 2012, we will bring back our true literature: Literatura Filipina. More about this in future posts!

33 ways to stay creative

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And if I may add a 34th: if it’s impossible to avoid #4, at least don’t allow Facebook and Twitter to eat up most of your reading and writing/blogging time. :D

From MY MODERN MET.

FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES: 2011 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2011. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Batangas City’s basilica was vandalized on Christmas Day!

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Last Sunday, Christmas Day, the parishioners of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Batangas City were shocked to find out that a seemingly crazed man, armed with a metal candlestick, attacked the altar and the image of the Santo Niño. Photos (with captions) of the carnage were immediately posted by Fr. Leonido C. Dolor, the basilica’s Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, on his Facebook page and has since become viral on the said social networking site.

As of this writing, the album already has 103 shares.

The description on Fr. Dolor’s album reads:

At around three in the afternoon, Christmas day itself, a man for reason not yet assessed, took hold of one of those big candelabras at the altar of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Batangas City and laid waste the marble altar (see photos) and then took a swing at the altar of Sto. Nino, breaking the glass panel and deforming the crown of the Child Jesus! Is this his way of saying “Happy birthday, Jesus?” He later fought the “tambays” outside the Basilica who tried to apprehend him.

This crime is a concern not only for the Catholic faithful of Batangas City and elsewhere but for heritage advocates and travelers/tourists as well. Whenever me and my wife visit an old town, we make it a point to stop by the town proper’s old church. And although no religious services were held during the times that we get to visit these churches, we almost always gain easy access to their interiors, including the bell towers. Many of these churches’ caretakers are hospitable and accommodating whenever we request entry for photograph sessions. But this crime which happened in Batangas City’s basilica last Sunday is not just a case of vandalism but can also be considered a security breach, thus it might set a precedent: future church visits might become a pain in the neck for tourists. Many churches might even have their doors locked after a Mass.

And to make matters worse, it coincided with the gruesome bombings of about five churches in faraway Nigeria.

Via Facebook, I inquired for more details from Fr. Dolor. He replied immediately, saying that the vandal had a “brief psychotic reaction due to deprivation of food and sleep”. It was later learned that this man walked all the way from Macati City to Batangas for five days without food nor sleep! Further inquiries also revealed that this man was a Pentecostal, but that he was “angry at God”; Fr. Dolor did not elaborate further. What is sad here is that one of the “tambays” (bystanders) who tried to apprehend him was injured during the commotion (he was hospitalized; please pray for him).

On a positive note, we should still be thankful that this crazed man was in no way a terrorist, and that the damage he had wrought upon the basilica’s altar was minimal compared to what had happened to those churches in Nigeria. But as mentioned above, this might set a precedent regarding security measures. There is no problem to that. The Catholic Church as well as all the other religious denominations should really plan more about this (especially during these days when not even banks are in danger of being attacked by mindless scum). But hopefully not to the detriment of a social-networking-starved and a digital-camera-wielding public. Why, even Fr. Dolor himself has a Facebook account.

Check your email everyday — you might get a big surprise

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Because of several online accounts that I have (not to mention Facebook eating up most of my online time), I hardly check my emails nowadays. That is why when I opened them up yesterday morning, I was in for a big surprise:

I didn’t even know I was nominated, LOL! Yeah. LOL. But this time around I didn’t get to have the last laugh.

Another LOL to that.

This blog, FILIPINO eSCRIBBLES, was nominated for “Society, Politics, and History” category.

My other blog ALAS FILIPINAS, on the other hand, was nominated for two categories: “Filipiniana” and “Bloggers’ Choice

I was elated and disappointed at the same time. My blogs made it to the finals, but lost. On a lighter note, being nominated in The Philippine Blog Awards is already a huge feat. What more if your blog is chosen as a Finalist? Truly, it’s a great honor. And I thank the organizers of this annual event for having given my blogs a chance to shine even for just a brief moment.

Too bad my wife and I weren’t able to attend the ceremonies. Lesson learned: always check your emails everyday because we’re now living on a fast-paced online world.

Congratulations to this year’s winners! More power to Filipino blogging, the new journalism!

Pacquiáo wins! However…

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…many who have seen that match, even fellow Filipinos, doubt Pacman’s victory. Pacman won via majority decision: 114-114, 115-113, 116-112. But it was clear in Márquez’s every move that he had thoroughly studied Pacman’s fighting style. To his credit, the Mexican’s battle plan was evenly calculated and impressive.

It should be noted that all Pacquiáo-Márquez matches are not without any controversy. On their first meeting, in 2004, the match ended in a draw; Pacquiáo was believed to have won that match especially since he knocked Márquez three times in the first round. They fought again in 2008. Pacquiáo won via split decision that time, but many (including yours truly) believed that it was Márquez’s moment.

Now many are crying a screwjob. If true, who’s fault then? Definitely not Pacman’s. Besides, Pacman still fought like the champion that he is. Unlike Floyd The Chicken (and Victor Ortiz), Pacman fought cleanly.

As of this writing, the local internet community is disappointed with the win. But what shines here is their honesty. Even if we Filipinos were all rooting for Pacman to win, we didn’t want it to end that way — in doubt. But why doubt that win? Are we all boxing experts? Aside from what we saw in that match, what do we really know about how a boxing match should be scored?

At any rate, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiáo is still the world’s best pound-for-pound prize fighter. But a Pacquiáo-Márquez IV should be in the offing. Make it happen.

A famous theologian will be Manila’s new archbishop

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Finally, one of Asia’s leading theologists will soon occupy the throne of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila.

MANILA, Philippines — The Vatican has appointed Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle to succeed Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, after the latter’s resignation was accepted by Pope Benedict XVI.

Tagle’s appointment was announced by charge d’affaires Gabor Pinter of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila and by the Manila Archdiocese.

A known theologian, Tagle is currently the chairman of the Commission on Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle is now Manila's newest archbishop.

The announcement was made just a few hours ago (6:00 PM, Manila time) at the Vatican. The Most Reverend Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle will soon replace Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales as Manila Archbishop following the latter’s resignation in accordance to canon law. As of this moment, there is still no announcement on when the formal transition will take place.

Like the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, the Most Reverend Tagle is a renowned theologian. He currently chairs the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines’ Commission of the Doctrine of the Faith. This is like a branch of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (of which Pope Benedict, before becoming Pope in 2005, was its prefect).

In my opinion, having a theologian for an archbishop is a welcome note to the Catholic faithful not only in Manila but in the whole country, especially during these crucial days of RH Bill squabbles that have already divided the nation. It is high time that we have a verbose theologian who can and should explain to pro RH Bill Catholics the reason why the Catholic Church is adamantly against it.

Catholic theologians such as the new Manila Archbishop should deftly explain that the Church’s stand against the RH Bill is not solely rooted in faith and morals alone. In the end, it all boils down to logic. And this is one of the first challenges that the latest Prince-Cardinal should tackle.

Speaking of logic…

Many young Filipino “intellectuals” today who love to make a punching bag out of the local Catholic Church claim to be “lovers” of ideologies and “champions” of liberalism. And that the Church is “out of logic”. They love to “philosophize” and display the many witty quips that they learn from tomes of books they claim to have read. They proclaim themselves as “the new Rizals”. They claim a hatred for mediocrity and “religious superstition”, clamoring for a more intelligent and “freethinking” Filipino. But many of them do all this for the mere heck of it, and not for the purpose of a better society. And now we have social networking. Through these new media they rant and multiply and increase, and they spend hours upon hours in front of their PCs than they do with their pet lizards because they could not get a real job nor could they maintain contact with physical friends (but to them, the words “contact” and “physical” could mean something else). Unfortunately, these kids, for all their intellectual hogwash, have already revealed their characters and self-worth by the choice of words that they use in various online forums. Wittingly or unwittingly, what these bunch of “sucks-to-be-you” kids are doing will only lead this country to anarchy. If they ever win, within a decade or two we will certainly have a transsexual president who will legitimize pole dancing as a school subject. I dare say all of this because I used to think like them — been there, done that. I’ve mingled with so many of these book-toting crybabies back in the 90s. And just thinking about it makes me supersick.

What these “lemme-give-y’all-an-iota-of-my-superb-brain” jactanciosos claim to know about the Catholic Church is so superficial to say the least. All I can say is this: looking back at my brief anti-Catholic self, I just couldn’t believe how stupid I was (a long story that I’ll share one day).

I’m glad that I dealt a lot with logic whenever I flip a page out of a dusty book. Gracias a Dios por este regalo de sabiduría.

So here’s hoping that Manila’s new archbishop will also tackle the increasing number of “pseudo intellectuals” from elsewhere. Not for the Church’s sake actually, but for these proud but hapless kids’.

Enough of my rant. This is about the special Vatican announcement. So please click here to proceed.

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