Wednesday, 17 December 2008
My average friend distance is 3,473 km
I would have to travel 1,135,076 km to visit all my friends
That Ambassador Elmer “Boy T.” Cato, who is now serving at the United Nations mission in New York, is one of my farthest friends at 14,140 km
That my grade school and college buddy Albert Molina, who is in Texas state, is one of my farthest friends at 13,985 km
That my friends are in 5 different continents (Asia, North America, Europe, Oceania, Africa)
That I have friends who are based or are from 19 different countries (Philippines, United States, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, India, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Thailand, Singapore, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, Cambodia, Indonesia, South Africa, France, and The Netherlands)
That my US-based friends are scattered in 12 different states (MN, CA, GA, TX, NY, NJ, NV, AZ, SD, IL, MA, OR)
That my friends are in 124 different cities or towns (Manila, Apple Valley, Dubai, Sagada, London, Quezon, Goa, Glendale, Infanta, Mandaluyong, Atlanta, San Juan, Cebu, Carmona, Vladivostok, San Diego, Olongapo City, Makati, Malaybalay, Candelaria, Isabela, Quezon City, Houston, Iloilo, Cagayan De Oro City, Mexico, Diliman, Sydney, Pasig, Los Angeles, Wellington, Palawan, Olongapo, Newmarket, Bangkok, Valenzuela, Cainta, Bangalore, Singapore, Antipolo, New York, Hyderabad, Lawrenceville, Stockholm, Sharjah, Tagbilaran, Rizal, Cebu City, New Leyte, Cagayan De Oro, San Pedro, Abu Dhabi, Balagtas, Bacoor, Dinalupihan, San Leonardo, Anaheim, Bacolod, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Al Ain, Davao, Phnom Penh, Baguio City, Cubao, Jakarta, Lipa, North Shore, Daly City, New Manila, Las Vegas, Barrie, Muntinlupa, Toronto, Pasay City, Lakewood, Sioux Falls, Angeles City, Diliman District, Durban, Bulacan, Cagayan, Tubungan, Milton, Tarlac, Oakland, Teresa, Staines, Nasugbu, San Jose, Iloilo City, Bayambang, Pearland, Gumaca, Chicago, Muntinlupa City, Las Piñas, Riverside, Parañaque, Pagadian, Surigao, Caloocan, Balara, Lake Grace, Gerona, Springfield, Laguna, Paris, Tondo, Aurora, Temecula, Cranbury, Lancaster, San Jose Del Monte, San Pablo City, Worcester, Calamba, Utrecht, South Port District, Modesto, Solano, Hillsboro, Davao City, Somerset West)
That my friends live or are based in countries with 12 different governments (republic, Constitution-based federal republic, federation with delegated specified powers, constitutional monarchy, federal republic, federation, federal parliamentary democracy, parliamentary democracy, constitutional monarchy that is also a parliamentary democracy, parliamentary republic, limited democracy, multi-party democracy under a constitutional monarchy)
That I have a friend who is less than 2 km away (Although my nearest Facebook friend from where I am now – in the office – is just seated behind me)
That I have 270 friends in unknown locations (pa-mysterious effect)
That my ancestral hometown of Dauis in Bohol has a population of 2,553
That my beloved country, the Philippines, is a republic (though run like a family-owned corporation)
That because of the number and diversity of my friends, I have achieved GeoFriend level 12. (whatever)!
But this info made me smile . ..
That I have most friends in Manila (indicating that there is really where I belong).
Perhaps, it’s about time to sing the classic Hotdog ditty which to me is the pioneering OFW anthem……..
Maraming beses na kitang nilayasan
Iniwanan at iba'ang pinuntahan
Parang bababeng ang hirap talagang malimutan
Ikaw lamang ang aking laging binabalikan
(Quiapo Quiapo Quiapo, isa na lang ah, aalis na. Para!)
I keep coming back to Manila
Simply no place like Manila
Manila, I'm coming home
I walked the streets of San Francisco
I've tried the rides in Disneyland
Dated a million girls in Sydney (how i wish)
Somehow I feel like I don't belong
Hinahanap hanap kita Manila
Ang ingay mong kay sarap sa tenga
Mga jeepney mong nagliliparan
Mga babae mong naggagandahan
Take me back in your arms Manila
And promise me you'll never let go
Promise me you'll never let go
Miss you like hell, Manila
No place in the world like Manila
I'm coming home to stay
Wish ko lang!
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Thanks to the magic of Facebook, friends whom I’ve not seen or heard of for over 25 years sprung back to life – and all of a sudden, we’re back to the “carefree days of our boyhood” – back to the time when San Beda was still a bona fide all boys school.
Thanks to Facebook . . .
Lovell Marcelo and I have resumed our “dirty finger draws” ;
Multi-awarded firm director Aris Solito (Sorry mate, I still can’t spell your screen name) now knows he was the reason why I was not able to use my real nickname as I was forced by our Grade 1 teacher, Miss Nelia Santos, to use my father’s first name because teachers would get confused;
Reggie Aguda was reminded that he was once called Senyora Agueda (the contravida in the 70s soap Flordeluna) ;
Eduard Arevalo’s boredom in Saudi was eased a bit now that the “kabayo” was able to run around the old ranch – though just virtually;
Christopher Joseph S. Orozco forgot that he’s now a “respected” surgeon at FEU Hospital and professor at the San Beda College of Medicine;
Anthony De Leon’s puppy romance with (no I won’t tell here) was somewhat rekindled….with an additional revelation from Arnold Villanueva that the budding affair nearly had fatal results… (Eeeew!);
We saw Robert Castillo’s ears still sticking out….but now more prominently;
We were able to see “her” pics and congratulate Willy “Gigi” Beltran for placing 3rd in the Miss Mundo 2008 pageant;
Thanks to Francis Ampon, we’re still poking fun at each other after he scanned and posted the individual pics of the members of SBC GS Batch 83 …. and again, Chaka (Willy San Pedro), Sleestak (Edward Rellosa), Tilapia, Change (Neil Mag-Iba), Malone (Ramil Espina) and it still goes on as I write this.
It was also through Facebook that my batchmates were able to quickly organize a get-together last Nov 29 --- and another on December 16 (di pa rin ako makakasali…pakshet!)
Got to end this entry….need to reply to Lovell’s message which I will surely append with a C=========8 UPYOURS LOVELL!
This trip down memory lane also prompted me to Google a declamation piece which our Grade 1 teacher “forced” us to memorise.
The opening line of that piece is perpetually stuck in my mind…”Ikaw? Sino ka ba? Malamig na bungo. Matigas na mukha”
Jay-V (Labayo) and I were trying to recite that line while chilling out at their former place in Data St. We’ve been repeating that line again ad nauseam that his kid brother, James (then around 4 years old) was able to memorize the line himself.
And here’s the Ang Bungo classic….thanks to the wonders of the world wide web:
Ikaw! Sino ka ba?
Malamig na bungo, matigas na mukha.
Dati kang maganda, ano’t ang mata mo’y nagkauka-uka?
Dati kang marunong, ano’t ang noo mo’y nagkasira-sira?
Kinakausap ka’y ayaw mong sumagot,
ayaw magsalita, at ang katawan mo’y nasugpong na butong sinlamig ng tingga.
Ikaw ba ang wakas ng lahat ng taong sa mundo’y nilikha?
Iyan ba ang matang nanglumiligaw ka, balana’y tiningnan?
Iyan ba ang labing katugon ng ilong, balana’y hinagkan?
Iyan ba ang tengang kung makikimatyag, lahat, pinakikinggan?
Ano ka na ngayon?
Nahan ang puso mo, diwa’t pakiramdam?
Kahit na laitin, kahit na purihin, ayaw nang gumalaw.
Parang sinasabing ang lahat sa mundo ay may katapusan!
Kay sarap ng buhay kung may kabuhayan at taglay ang lahat!
Ibo’y lumilipad hanggang kalangitan kung buo ang pakpak!
Tao’y sumasagwan hanggang karagatan kung buo ang lakas!
Mundo’y umiinog at kumakalansing sa tugtog ng galak, ngunit ang tadhanam kapag ang sinulid ng buhay binaltak, lahat, tao’t ibon kakita-kita mo’y butong nakatambak.
Ikaw nga, ikaw nga ang nang isang araw, itong buong mundo, ay kinakaladkad mo’t iyong inilipad hanggang maging iyo!
Ngunit nang matapos, papuri’t tagumpay, ang natira’y abo. Katawang mabulas, makinis na balat, ang natira’y buto.
Hinagkang bulaklak, sa hinalik-halik, nawalan ng bango. Bulwagang sayawan, sa sinayaw-sayaw, naging libingin mo!
Ngayon bangkay ka na, nahan ba ang iyong mga minamahal?
Mga kaibigan na kasalu-salo, ano’t di-minasdan, at sa pagkasawi’y sila pa ang unang parang nagtagumpay!
Matamis na ngiti, masayang papuri’t mahigpit na kamay, ay naging halakhak at naging paglibak, sa sawi mong bangkay!
Kaydali nga namang magbago ng takbo ng sangkatauhan!
Kaya ba’t kung ikaw ay may nakagalit, huwag palubusin, ang gunitain mong lahat naman tayo ay namamatay din!
Taong nakairap at uod sa lupa na ayaw pansinin, buti pa ang uod sa himpilang hukay, una pang darating! Ang taas ng hari’t lungkot ng pulubing hahali-haliling, kakita-kita mo, magkapitbahay lang, kapag nakalibing!
Monday, 1 December 2008
To non-footie fans, it’s a non-story. No big deal. But to people who know, understand or love the game – it’s the BIG THING.
The Premiership trophy is the Holy Grail of the football world -- if I'm not mistaken -- the second most sought after crown next to the World Cup.
It was such a revered icon that a burly Brit with surgical gloves was close by, warning everyone not to touch the over two-feet high silver trophy currently possessed by Manchester United.
As my roommate, Rod Ocampo, a card-carrying member of the Los Borachos (a ‘fraternity’ of Bedans who once suited up for the Red Booters) has said: “only the gods of football get to hold that trophy.”
This is what the ever-reliable Wiki had to say about the Barclays trophy:
The current Premier League trophy was created by Royal Jewellers Asprey of London.
It weighs 4 st (25 kg/56 lb),
and is 76 cm (30 in) tall, 43 cm (17 in) wide and 25 cm
(9.8 in) deep. Its main body is solid sterling silver and
while its plinth is made of malachite, a semi-precious stone.
The plinth has a silver band around its circumference, upon which the names
of the title-winning clubs are listed.
Malachite's green colour is also representative of the green field of
The design of the trophy is based on the heraldry of Three Lions that is
associated with English football. Two of the lions are found above the handles
on either side of the trophy—the third is symbolised by the captain of the title
winning team as he raises the trophy, and its gold crown, above his head at the
end of the season.
The trophy has borne several names on its face since it was first created,
when it read "The F.A. Premier League".
The one Manchester United lifted in 2006–07 read "The Barclays
Premiership", while the 2007–08 trophy simply read "Premier League". From the
2008–09 season onwards, the trophy will read "Barclays Premier League".
And here’s moi, grinning like a Cheshire cat, with an unimpeded access to the most-coveted one.
Sunday, 30 November 2008
JeanPaul Marat was one of the leaders of the French Revolution (1789-1799).
Eto pic ni JPSpanish historian Wenceslao Retana called Andres Bonifacio the "Filipino Marat’’ because, like Jean Paul Marat, Bonifacio was an uncompromising foe of despotism, defender of the sovereignty of the people, and supporter of the poor and the downtrodden.
Eto naman si Andy
Born in Tondo, Manila, on November 30, 1863, Bonifacio witnessed the struggles of the masses and vowed to do something about their misery. His association with many patriots nourished his desire to fight for his people’s freedom. Like Dr. Jose P. Rizal, he first tried to pursue his goal through peaceful means but Dr. Rizal’s arrest and exile to Dapitan led him to abandon peaceful means.
He co-founded the Katipunan on the night of July 7, 1892. The Katipunan became the instrument that ended colonial dominance in the country.
In May, 1896, Bonifacio and several Katipuneros trekked to Montalban to establish a headquarters for the revolution.
At Pamitinan Cave, he wrote on its walls: "Mabuhay ang Kalayaan ng Pilipinas!’’ And at nearby Makarok Cave, he wrote: "Naparito ang mga Anak ng Bayan. Humahanap ng Kalayaan!’’
After the discovery of the Katipunan by the colonial authorities on August 19, 1896, Bonifacio and his fellow Katipuneros launched the revolution.
In the yard of Apolonio Samson in Kangkong, Balintawak, Bonifacio shouted at his comrades: "Kalayaan o Kamatayan? Mga Kapatid, ang Kalayaan ay inaagaw sa dulo ng patalim!’’
In battle, Bonifacio’s words animated his comrades to fight on: "Mga Kapatid! Mapalad ang bayang linitawan ng mga bayani, sapagka’t ang bayang iya’y walang kamatayan!’’
A sincere man, faithful to his land of birth, Andres Bonifacio met a tragic death but history vindicated him.
Historians have called him the "Father of the Philippine Revolution.’’
The historian and revolutionary hero Isabelo de los Reyes called Bonifacio the "Arm of Divine Providence’’ for he transformed the lowly Katipunan into a powerful "weapon of the weak.’’
Andres Bonifacio was one of those who kept the flame of freedom alive through the dark years of foreign dominance.
The Filipino race is fortunate for having had a son like Andres Bonifacio.
May our observance of this true patriot make our people emulate his faithfulness to the land of his birth.
As I was reading that piece from the Bulletin website, I couldn't help but chuckle as I recall an on-air debate sometime in the mid-90s between then Caloocan City Mayor Rey Malonzo and former mayor Boy Asistio on whether the city should be spelt with a "C" or with a "K".
Asistio argued that the "K" was patriotically correct as there was no "C" in the Filipino alphabet ( Abakada) ..... yada ... yada ...
An obviously incensed Malonzo fired back that if we go by Asistio's argument, then Andres Bonifacio's name would've been spelt Bonifakio and the resulting soundbite was enough to silence his arch rival.
A rare master stroke indeed from the karate kid!
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
There are stars whose light only reaches the Earth long after they have fallen
apart. There are people whose remembrance gives light in this world, long after
they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we
The run-up to All Saints Day or Todos Los Santos or All Soul’s Day (Dia delos Muertos, as the Hispanics call it) makes me miss home the most.
For every year since I was 11 – except the time when I headed a local government task group that manned the help desk in public cemeteries and when my late boss Joe Burgos sent me on a mission to Mindanao – I was on top of preparations when the fam hies off to Papa’s final resting place at Loyola. Since transforming into an expat worker close to three years ago, I’ve become incapacitated to perform this task.
My Papa died on the first hour of September 3, 1980 at the Philippine Heart Center for Asia. His death certificate says Papa died of cardiac arrest. Seems simple, but the road to Papa’s passing was a long painful route.
My father – a lawyer – worked for the government. He was involved in the management of housing projects of the GSIS and at one time was even in charge of the demolition of the Manila Hotel. His work required him to travel a lot, visiting many places in the provinces. I’ve gotten used to seeing him fly in and out, coming home with baskets or crates of fruits and all sorts of stuff like live giant blue crabs and souvenir items.
Then one day, he got sick. He was shivering that night. When he got a bit better, we went to the Cardinal Santos Hospital where he was supposed to undergo further checks. The nurse at the hospital was rubbing people the wrong way. She talked to patients like they owed her a favour. She wanted Papa to wear an identity bracelet, but he refused. She was rudely insistent and that got the goat of my old man. He pulled off the white bracelet that was forcibly strapped on his wrist and stormed out of the hospital in a huff (Had he submitted himself for a check up, his ailment could've been detected early and diagnosed before it got out of hand).
Several months after, my usually energetic father started slowing down. Later on, I learnt that he had a “kidney problem”. I was clueless. I was too young to even know what a kidney was. I didn’t care much as my own world was revolving around how the earth’s machine “heroes” where faring in their battle against the Boazanians, the Brahmins, and Dr. Hell.
My father tried to live as normal as possible. We’d still go out and travel like we used to. We’d curl up in our sofa as we watch late night movies on TV, go to Recto or Avenida to see new films on the big screen or eat hotdog waffle at Jopson’s in Bustillos. He and Mama would still bring me to school on their way to their office in Makati.
Papa’s meals, however, changed. He was no longer touching the sumptuous nilagang baka or pork humba specially prepared by Ate Isa every Sunday. His food was prepared separately -- bland, no salt. A big, tall glass of “banaba” tea has also become standard together with a fistful of medicines of all shapes and sizes.
Once a week, an entourage would escort Papa to the Heart Center where he’d undergo dialysis. The procedure – I was told – was very painful. Long needles are inserted into the veins on each arm where blood is drawn and passed into a dialysis machine for cleansing and injected back into the body. The session would zap Papa’s energy and he had to lean on my cousin Awe or whoever is at hand in climbing the flight of stairs at home.
One day, Auntie Evie – Papa’s sister – came over and they had a serious talk. They were speaking in Bicolano (or whatever was the lengua franca in their hometown in Masbate). I couldn’t fully understand what they were talking about, but I remember hearing them discuss “transplant” and “organ donation”. I’d later find out that they entertained the possibility of Papa getting a kidney transplant, but the operation could only be done overseas as the technology was then not available then in the Philippines. Auntie Evie was willing to donate her kidney to his kid brother, but she was understandably edgy until the option was abandoned.
Summer of 1980, Papa, Mama and I embarked on our usual summer trek. We went to Bohol for the Holy Week then visited Papa’s pet project – an hacienda named after me – in Pilar, Sorsogon. It was my first trip to Bicol and I was awe-excited to see the majestic Mt. Mayon, thrilled to cross the sea between the Sorsogon mainland and the island where “my hacienda” was located and feel gung-ho taking my first horse and carabao-ride. Back in the capitol of Legazpi, we spent several nights in a hotel as my father had to meet some old friends (I’d say it was his farewell call) before flying back to Manila.
Soon after returning home, Papa was back in the hospital for his “regular check up” but this time, he was not allowed to go home anymore. He stayed at the Heart Centre until his condition deteriorated. My once spritely father – the source of strength and guiding light of the entire clan – was helplessly strapped to his bed with a countless number of tubes and a life-support system by his side.
One fine night, I was whisked to his side as my Papa had insisted on seeing me. Hard of speaking as he had tracheotomy to help him breathe, Papa struggled as he talked to me in whispers, telling me to be good and to take care of my Mama. Several weeks later, he was gone.
Years have passed and I still talk to my Papa. Going to Loyola was not a once-a-year exercise to follow the pack. I’d go visiting whenever I can to talk to my Papa.
Like Forrest Gump – but in silence – I tell him what I’ve been up to, how I feel, what I need, what I want. I still snuggle up to him and seek his guidance just like when he was still physically around.
Papa has never failed me and has remained my source of strength. He still talks to me in whispers from above just as how King Mufasa explained to Simba, what the stars from above are doing.
Simba: We're pals, right?
Simba: And we'll always be together, right?
Mufasa: Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.
Mufasa: Yes. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I
Saturday, 1 November 2008
"Eternal rest grant unto their souls. And let perpetual light shine upon them"
When you come inside, make sure you can still come out -- alive!
There's another cemetery on the hilly side of Dauis -- on the roadside leading to Panglao -- which residents refer to as the "menteryo sa ibabaw". It was originally designated as the final resting place for non-Catholics. Eventually, even Catholics had to be admitted into this "holy ground" as the church-run cemetery has become too congested.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
But somebody has to break the sad news.
Wuz playing around with Facebook when I got alerted by Dana Batnag’s status feed that she’s “sad that another writer is dead”.
Before getting her reply when I asked her who was it this time, I found a feed from gmanews.tv that it was my former boss and colleague Joegar’s turn to kick the bucket.
Joegar or Jose Garcia was one of my editors at the defunct Manila Chronicle.
He was the chief sub in charge of putting the front page to bed. If I’m not mistaken, he succeeded the late Mike Rocha in manning the slot.
Joegar was a no-frills guy who just does his stuff without much fanfare. He just does his job at the Desk unlike some power-tripping cretins who derive pleasure in bullying reporters, announce to the whole wide world what he found on a poor cub’s copy or show everyone that he’s the fair-haired boy of whoever was the ruling demigod at the newsroom.
The Manila Chronicle was a highly-charged newsroom. According to Raul Rodrigo’s book – The Power and the Glory – it was where the best and the brightest of Philippine journalism can be found.
Joegar was among the handful who survived the Chronicle's transition from the Lopezes to the Cojuangcos to the Coyiutos. He was loyal to the paper till the very end.
The always smiling Joegar is no blabbermouth, but he'll turn into one whenever his favourite sport – tennis – is on the table. And unfortunately, he apparently died while enjoying the game.
I can just imagine Boss Vergel Santos and Sir Fort Yerro missing their old match partner.
After the Chronicle’s unceremonious demise in January 1998, Joegar and I would again work together at the Journal Group when we joined the Joe Burgos takeover team seven months later.
Sir Fort, one of the original brains behind People’s Journal, Tata Cris Martinez, Butch Hilario and my friend Porky were the other ex-Chroniclers on that team.
Years later, he resurfaced as head of the Senate media office. It was at the halls of the Senate where I last saw him alive and well.
Joegar is the third ex-Chronicle to join the Great Newsroom this year – after Bert Castro and Tita Giron.
A day before the news of Joegar’s exit was announced, I was surprised to learn about the passing of another former colleague, Ric dela Cruz.
Tata Ric was our sportswriter at Taliba. He was the half-brother of our former boss, Arturo “Uncle Bob” dela Cruz, who was the last government-appointed chairman of the Journal Group.
Tata Ric is best remembered in the Journal not for his flair in sportswriting, but for his uncanny presence in the newsroom.
He was a “favourite” of our executive editor, Senyor Zip Roxas. Sir Zip once told me how Tata Ric would make heads turn as he drives around town in a vintage car that have seen better days.
Tata Ric – I was told – was an original Press Club “rabble rouser” during the NPC’s heydays.
A grinning and "aromatic" Tata Ric would always make it a point to make “pa-pogi” at Taliba’s angels – Anne Tiangco, Jet Antolin and most especially to his statuesque editor – Anna Federigan.
Paired with TJ Jurado, Taliba sports was “special”.
Tata Ric will be sorely missed at Taliba. And I’m pretty sure, he’ll continue to make his presence felt before Anne, Jet and Ana.
On a serious note, the hard-to-impress Sir Zip once said that Tata Ric is probably the only sportswriter then around who knows baseball by heart.
Tata Ric was posthumously honoured by the NCAA and UAAP Press Corps at the 2008 College Basketball Awards.
Completing my “death comes in threes” entry is the final roll out of the Journal Group’s INsider magazine.
Without fear of getting contradicted, I dare say that the INsider was my baby.
Now that INsider is history, the real inside story on how the trailblazing magazine was born has to be told.
People’s Journal INsider or simply INsider (note the capitalized letters) was born in August 1999, supplanting the Journal (originally, the Times Journal) – the erstwhile flagship newspaper of the Journal Group.
The Journal management deemed it right to just shut the broadsheet down as it was draining the revenues generated by its sister papers – People’s Journal and People’s Tonight.
The late world press freedom hero, Joe Burgos – who was publisher, president and EIC of the PJI for just over two months – had lofty dreams for the Journal.
He wanted to put the fire back into the paper. Tito Boy assembled a powerhouse cast to inject life into the broadsheet. He conscripted the likes of Bing Torres -- one of the Journal’s original editor – out of retirement to join Fort Yerro, Butch Hilario, Bobby Tuazon, Sonny Fernandez (now news producer at ABS-CBN), Gerry Baldo among others in beefing up the Desk.
When the team took over in September 1998, all PJI papers hit the ground running. For the first time in years, newsboys were carrying the Journal.
People who knew the legend in Joe Burgos bought the paper to see if the firebrand is really back.
Tito Boy’s frontpage columns were hitting the likes of “Marcosa” -- his way of referring to the Imeldific one whose family is now in control of the Journal.
But Tito Boy’s gung-ho management approach – which was perfect in the old mosquito press days of Malaya and WE Forum – was a square peg in the PJI’s imperfect round hole.
But wait, we’re supposed to be talking about the INsider.
When Tito Boy left the Journal in November 1998, the dream journey was abruptly cut. The planned total redesign of the broadsheet was scuttled and the Journal was back to its lethargic ways. It came to a point that we were producing the paper for the sake of just putting it out. There was no proper page planning, no story conferences, lay outs in disarray and reporters just file whatever stories they feel turning in.
No amount of motivation and bullying could prompt the PJI’s marketing people to pull in ads for the broadsheet. Circulation was down to 5,000 – and even with such low print run, the returns were high.
And so the decision to put the mother paper to pasture was made and the Journal had its last
run on June 31, 1999. Except for a group picture taking of the people who are putting the Journal to bed for the last time, no bottle of champagne was uncorked that night. No fat lady was called in to sing.
The suddenly orphaned Journal staff – around 20 or so – we’re distributed to the surviving papers. Manny Ces – the last editor of the broadsheet – Gwen Reyes and Tere Orendain retired. Bobby Tuazon, Leena Calso, Stephanie Asuncion and I were shipped to People’s Journal while Tess Lardizabal and Nixon Canlapan were moved to People’s Tonight. Others like Francis Riva, Vangie Bolinas, Nonoy (sorry I forgot his family name) and editorial assistant Lorena de Luna were displaced.
Ferdie Ramos, then PJI general manager and Tonight EIC, came out with a plan. He proposed the putting up of a “scandal sheet” – another publication featuring investigative reports, gossip pieces and paparazzi shots. His pet project was initially dubbed as the “Enquirer”.
Boss Ferdie – the true and tested Erap loyalist – would often call me and Porky for an impromptu watercooler chat to see if his idea would fly.
Later on, the top brass decided that the “Enquirer” should be showbiz-oriented as it is much easier to produce and sell compared to a political scandal sheet which could easily be saddled with libel suits. Just between us – the weight of the decision was more skewed on giving an Estrada publicist his own kingdom at the PJI.
Even before I was to report to Sir Roy Acosta for my new assignment at People’s Journal, my much higher boss, Raymond Burgos – the publisher – seconded me to the “Enquirer” project.
My marching order was to scavenge from the carcass of the Journal and put flesh and bones to the “Enquirer”.
The project’s working name drew flak from who else, but the Inquirer!
Even before we sat down for our first brainstorming session. The Inquirer blew the lid off the “Enquirer” in one of its business columns.
Before our first meeting, we were told to come up with a name for the new magazine. I think I had 10 names on my list, but none of us got the chance to bring out our notes as our chairman, Direk Eddie Romero – a national artist for film – drew his one ruler-length list of possible names. And the name Insider – the first on his list – was the hands down choice.
Capitalising the letters I and N in Insider was the idea of my handpicked creative director, Norbert “Bones” Calleja.
From a scandal sheet idea, the INsider concept evolved into a hip entertainment mag with sports added to balance showbusiness.
Bones and I fashioned out “studies” based on page designs adapted from US mags like Entertainment Weekly, People and of course, the National Enquirer.
Jie Flores, whom I managed to lure out of Supplements, was giddy on the idea of an in-depth, news-feature approach to presenting showbiz stories We were looking at the way entertainment stories were made by Parade magazine, TV Times and Jingle in the 70s and 80s.
Zean Macamay, the defunct Journal’s sports ed, was working on a lineup of sports features to be crafted by his able lieutenant, Reira Mallari (now sports editor of the Manila Standard Today).
Pictorial essays on celebrity lifestyles and events were also being planned with “real” photographers -- not the Luneta-types that was a dime a dozen at the PJI -- to give INsider readers the real inside view on their favorite stars.
Staff morale pumped up further when Raymond designated the I.T. server and gameroom to be the new home of the INsider team.
While all these things were happening, the designated kingpin of the INsider was doing his own sweet thing in his cubicle. He was just waiting to be served.
Behind our backs, he managed to sneak in a “chief correspondent” who’d work in his cubicle.
When the green light for the INsider to produce its launch issue was made, the “editor” threw all the fantastic ideas out of the window and did everything his way. It turned out that he couldn’t hack the concept. Hindi sya marunong magsulat ng English!
From an envisioned hip quality entertainment magazine, the INsider became a “Kislap”.
PR shit disguised as legit stories from paid hacks found its way into the magazine.
The INsider’s saving grace was in its design. The stories may be bakya, but the page designs were brilliant.
For our launch issue, we had the “Tatlong haring bastos” – Randy Santiago, Willie Revillame and John Estrada – hosts of the noontime show Magandang Tanghali Bayan – on the cover while sex kitten Priscilla Almeda was on our first centerfold.
The INsider had a grand coming out party at Club Filipino with the cover boys as hosts.
Some “Who’s Who” of showbiz, politics and sport were there.
The late doyen of the movie press, Inday Badiday, was there. Then PNP chief Panfilo Lacson and Presidential Adviser on Flagship Projects Robert Aventajado were there. The entire brass of the Philippine Sports Commission seemed lost among a band of screaming faggots lumped in one table.
President Erap was expected to come, but failed to. I think Jinggoy and Jude Estrada – the president's sons – were there.
Chairman Eddie gave a speech outlining the vision – based on the original concept – of the INsider.
The proceeding were aired live on a radio program hosted by the lucky publicist.
I did not last long at INsider. I was supposed to be named the mag's Managing Editor, but some insecure faggots blocked my appointment papers.
I left the INsider after three months and finally reverted to hard news via People’s Journal.
The INsider – being a new format in tsismis mags – was well received. In a short time, it became a revenue generator for the PJI.
But the editor at the helm at that time underestimated the intelligence of the Filipino reading public. Soon, they too got tired of all the crap.
The INsider’s credibility sunk to its lowest when at the height of Erap’s impeachment trial, the magazine became a scrapbook of the publicist’s relations with the president.
The once-promising magazine became a laughing stock when on the week that EDSA 2 was happening, the INsider boldly proclaimed that Erap will not be abandoned by his friends, especially Nora Aunor.
As that issue was being sold on the streets, the Superstar was at the EDSA Shrine denouncing her allegiance to his once leading man.
I believe that was the turning point for INsider. The magazine lost whatever headstart advantage it had.
At that time, Robina Gokongwei’s Summit Media had rolled out YES! – and followed the real INsider concept. ABS-CBN Publishing also joined the fray and came out with Starstudio and the showbiz magazine market once again became vibrant – thanks to the trail blazed by INsider.
Monday, 13 October 2008
October 13 is the 286th day of the year (287th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 79 days remaining until the end of the year.
54 - Nero ascends to the Roman throne
409 - Vandals and Alans crossed the Pyrenees and appeared in Hispania.
1213 - Battle at Steppes-Bishop Pierrepont and Louis II beat Henry I of Brabant
1307 - Hundreds of Knights Templar in France are simultaneously arrested by agents of Phillip the Fair, to be later tortured into "admitting" heresy.
Sir Peter O'Toole as Pope Paul III in The Tudors
1870 - Gustav Mahler (10) gives his 1st public piano concert
1871 - The Delphic Fraternity is founded as the Delphic Society at the State Normal School in Geneseo, New York.
1914 - Pro-German Boers begin opposition of British authority in South Africa
1963 - "Beatlemania" is coined after Beatles appear at Palladium
1971 - World Series: The first night game in World Series history is played at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium between the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
1981 - Vice President Hosni Mubarak elected president of Egypt
1994 - Nobel prize for literature awarded to Kenzaburo Oe
1995 - Joseph Rotblat awarded Nobel Peace Prize
1996 - Annika Sorenstam wins Betsy King LPGA Golf Classic
1997 - Andy Green's Jet-powered car reaches record 749.69 MPH
1162 - Leonora of England, Queen of Castile (d. 1214)
1474 - Mariotto Albertinelli, Italian painter (d. 1515)
1949 - Patrick Nève, Belgian racing driver
1952 - John Lone, Hong Kong actor
1965 - Rob Schneider, Filipino-American actor
1965 - Derek Harper, American basketball player
1969 - Rhonda Mapp, WNBA center and forward, Charlotte Sting
1969 - Tim Crabtree, pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays
1969 - Ares Gutierrez, Filipino journalist
Holidays and observances
Roman festivals - Fontanalia: festival dedicated to Fontus