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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Jessica Soho on Vice Ganda’s apology

The controversy about Vice Ganda’s gang rape joke about veteran news anchor Jessica Soho shows no signs of cooling down. The comedian, Jose Mari Viceral in real life, publicly apologized to Soho yesterday in the noontime program Showtime. Watch the video below:

In his remarks, he recounted that he called Soho personally a few hours earlier but the multi-awarded journalist refused to speak to him. “Sorry, hindi maayos ang timpla ko ngayon,” the comedian recalled Soho as saying to him. When asked if they can talk some other time, the journalist retorted: “I don’t think so.”

In a statement made in response to the comedian’s public apology, Soho said: “I sincerely hope and pray that this was done with the purest intentions and determination to put this issue behind us.” The journalist added that Viceral’s number is not registered in her phone’s directory.

“I told him I wasn’t feeling well and I wasn’t sure I was ready to talk to him. But I clearly remember thanking him for his call,” she explained, apparently aware that the comedian’s narration of events might put her in a negative light.

Women’s groups slam comedian

Meanwhile, a prominent women’s right group and a government agency also criticized the comedian for his comedy skit about Soho. The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said Vice Ganda’s jokes are “tasteless and revolting.” Rape, the group said, “should never be a material for a comedy concert.”

jessica soho vice ganda

Vice Ganda, Arnold Clavio, and Jessica Soho (Credits: http://www.examiner.com)

“The repercussions of rape jokes are serious and damaging. In the pursuit of humor, women’s and even men’s vulnerabilities are exploited,” the PCW reiterated. The commission also called on entertainment and media professionals “to practice censorship, sensitivity to feelings, and gender responsiveness.”

Joms Salvador, secretary-general of women’s rights group Gabriela, stressed that rape “should never be trivialized nor made into a joking matter in everyday conversations and even in shows, comedy or otherwise,” regardless of whom the joke is directed.

“That personalities make rape a laughing matter and the public even laughs at such jokes reflects a deeper problem in our society, a society where violence against women and children occur and flourish despite the utter inhumanity of it,” Salvador said.

She called on media networks to provide gender sensitivity trainings to their employees, noting that the media “plays a big part in educating the general public on what is right and what is not proper regarding treatment of women and children in particular and human rights in general.”

My take: What do people say when they see a girl who looks stressed? “Mukha kang na-rape.” What about to a woman who’s wearing skimpy outfit? “Parang gusto mo ma-rape.” Does it mean they are belittling the experience of rape survivors? Not necessarily.

Those remarks are insensitive, but admit it, those had become part of people’s normal conversations. Vice Ganda’s ‘gang rape’ joke on Jessica Soho is tasteless and crude. But I would neither pass judgments on him as a person nor read too much behind this situation.

Also, criticizing Vice Ganda’s mean joke against Jessica Soho should not be a license for anyone to use homophobic insults against him.

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Wally and Jose – World Thyroid Day Philippines 2013

Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo, two of the country’s well-loved television comedians, will headline a fundraising show for indigent thyroid disease patients on July 6, Saturday. The show, titled “Juan Night with Jose and Wally,” is spearheaded by the Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine (PSNM).

The event will be held in Crossroad 77 Convenarium in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City. The PSNM officially began promoting the event last May 25, known internationally as the World Thyroid Day. Also performing with Wally and Jose that night are celebrity impersonator Anton Diva and sexy comedienne Ethel Booba.

wally and jose - world thyroid day

The comedic duo of Wally and Jose will do a show for the benefit of thyroid disease patients this July 6 (Credits: PSNM Facebook page)

Speaking to The Filipino Scribe, Dr. Lourdes Taylan, a nuclear medicine specialist and PSNM president, explained that the activity aims to raise funds specifically for patients that are in need of radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy. “We want to help more, but as a non-profit entity, the PSNM can only do so much,” Taylan said. One session of RAI therapy can cost as much as P15, 000, she added.

She added that the PSNM also needs help in conducting awareness campaigns on thyroid diseases throughout the country. “This is relevant for Filipinos because we have high incidence of goiter here. Thyroid diseases are endemic in the Philippines,” she explained.

A Philippine Thyroid Disorder Prevalence Survey conducted in 2008revealed that of the nearly 5000 Filipinos who underwent thyroid function tests, 417 or 8.53% had thyroid function abnormalities. “Thyroid problems can affect both men and women, even new-born children,” Taylan said.

She appealed to the public to support the upcoming benefit show. “I hope people patronize this event for our patient-beneficiaries. It will also help us in our effort to raise awareness about thyroid diseases in far-flung provinces nationwide,” she said.

Interested parties may call or text Michael Go of iConceptualizeYourEvents, Inc. at 0917.9159406 or 0922.8437628 to buy tickets. Visit the Facebook page of PSNM for more details.

Must read:Thyroid disorders with no symptoms are common to Filipino adults, according to survey” by Richmond Q. Acosta

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Vice Ganda vs Jessica Soho

Stand-up comedian Vice Ganda had a field day mocking GMA News anchor Jessica Soho during his concert last May 17. During a two-minute monologue, the comedian, Jose Marie Viceral in real life, said if Soho would star in a bold movie, it will be titled “Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Sobra,” a reference to the anchor’s rotund figure.

Vice Ganda also joked that Soho will have a hard time using a weighing scale. See the clip here. “Ang hirap nga lang kung si Jessica Soho magbo-bold. Kailangan gang rape lagi. Sasabihin ng rapist, ‘Ipasa ang lechon.’ Sasabihin naman ni Jessica, ‘Eh nasaan yung apple?'” the Showtime host continued.

jessica soho vice ganda

Vice Ganda, Arnold Clavio, and Jessica Soho (Credits: http://www.examiner.com)

Four days after the concert, Soho and her GMA News subordinates have finally reacted to the matter. Saksi anchor Arnold Clavio fired the opening salvo through his morning program in DZBB. “Bakit mo binibiktima ang mga taong seryoso sa trabaho nila? Huwag mo silang kasangkapanin para lang makapagpagpatawa. Bakit hindi taga-diyan sa inyo ang gawin mong subject ng jokes mo? Bakit hindi taga-ABS-(CBN)?” he said.

Shortly after Clavio’s remarks, other GMA News reporters including Bam Alegre, Maki Pulido, and Jiggy Manicad took to Twitter to defend their voice and condemn the comedian. Their criticisms of the comedian center on his alleged insensitivity to gang rape victims. It is not clear though why it took eleven days for anyone from GMA News to react on Viceral’s insults against Soho.

Soho herself has reacted to the issue through a statement sent to GMA News Online. “Rape is not a joke and should never be material for a comedy concert,” she said. She added: “I thank all those who shared my hurt and expressed their support, but this should not be about me but about rape victims who suffer tremendously from this terrible crime. The horrors they go through are unspeakable and should never be taken lightly, especially by way of a cruel joke.”

The comedian has not responded to the issue in today’s episode of Showtime, but he might do so tomorrow. He nevertheless turned emotional when he talked about his latest visit to his ailing grandfather in Pangasinan, a fact that ABS-CBN dutifully reported as news.

PERSONAL: There’s no issue about Vice Ganda making jokes about Soho’s weight. It seems to be human nature to ridicule people for their appearance. I’m guilty of that too frequently. Remember the issue years ago when Joey de Leon jokingly referred to Pokwang as “mukhang aswang” and all the indignation that followed it?

The issue is, did he cross the line in using gang rape as part of his material? As I mentioned in a previous post, the media for the longest time has been guilty of trivializing rape, a heinous crime. He probably meant no offense against anyone, but he’s guilty of making a distasteful joke. How will Vice Ganda address the issue? Will it affect the ratings of Showtime? Abangan.

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Dan Brown, Manila, gates of hell

By now, the facts had already been oft-repeated. In his latest mystery thriller novel titled “Inferno,” American author Dan Brown described Manila, the Philippines’ capital city, as the “gates of hell.”

Over the weekend, a world renowned writer weighed in on the issue. Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, writer of “The Alchemist,” said via Twitter that Brown made the description unintentionally. “Dear Filipinos, your souls lead to the gates of heaven,” Coelho said.

paulo coelho dan brown

Paulo Coelho said the soul of Filipinos lead to the “gates of heaven” (Credits: Coelho’s Twitter page)

“When the group settled in among the throngs in the city of Manila–the most densely populated city on earth–Sienna could only gape in horror. She had never seen poverty on this scale,” Brown wrote in Chapter 39 of his book. Read this Wikipedia article for more.

The controversial author also characterized Manila as suffering from “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, and a horrifying sex trade, whose workers consisted primarily of young children…” A day after it was first reported, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino sent Brown a letter to express his personal disenchantment.

Brown hasn’t said anything yet about Tolentino’s complaint (will he even read it?), but the Professional Heckler (TPH) already has an idea how he will react. TPH’s blog post has gone viral, indicating that many Filipinos share his sentiment. That is, we should stop being overly sensitive on what is clearly a work of fiction.

As avid followers of Brown’s works knows, the author is capable of weaving together fact and fiction in a way that will make it hard for most readers to know which is which. In other words, if you are not particularly knowledgeable about the things he is talking about, you will probably take his word as the truth.

Only last March, movie giant Warner Bros. released a teaser photo from the film “Pacific Rim” which shows Manila as being contaminated by the excrement of Kaiju. The shot, however, bears a strong similarity to the dump sites scattered around the country (see the photo here).

Brown has made a career out of making controversial books. Two of his books, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, were particularly critical of the Roman Catholic Church.

If you are a commercial author, you want your works to get as much publicity as possible (whether good or bad) to increase your sales. Negative publicity is better than none at all. Who knows, in describing Manila in an overly negative way, Brown is aiming to have bigger sales in the Philippines.

With our new sets of elected officials due to take office by next month, may this serve as a wakeup call on what more needs to be done to address the situation in the Philippines. Instead of fussing about Dan Brown, here’s a tip for MMDA Chair Tolentino.

Why don’t you focus on cleaning the sidewalks? Vendors are now occupying sidewalks without any regard for pedestrians. They have to be regulated in a humane way. I understand that they have to earn a living, and that we should practice “live and let live,” but lest it be forgotten – sidewalks are for pedestrians more than anyone else.

PS: Brown provoked a similar backlash in 2005 because of his unflattering descriptions of Seville, Spain on his book “Digital Fortress.” Read this article from The Independent“We understand that Digital Fortress – which was not very successful when it came out – is not a socio-political essay or a tourist guide. It’s a novel, a work of fiction, which bears no relation whatever to the truth,” a spokesperson for the Seville local government said. Maybe our officials can take a lesson or two from that?

dan brown seville spain

Dan Brown was criticized by officials from Seville, Spain in 2005


Kapuso stars serenade single moms

Hunk stars from GMA Artist Center (GMA AC) serenated single moms during a post-Mother’s day event in Quezon City recently. Actors Aljur Abrenica, Ken Chan, Enzo Pineda, Steven Silva, Mike Tan held a program for mommies sheltered in Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) last May 17.

Organized by GMA AC’s Events and Publicity Unit, the two-hour program was warmly received by the moms. After delivering their respective song numbers, the Kapuso stars also held a gift-giving activity for the moms. They also gamely posed for photos with them throughout the event.

aljur abrenica

With hunk actor Aljur Abrenica

“This event is really heart-warming since we know that in our own way, we can help them (the single moms) become happy,” Aljur said, adding that his closeness to his mom made the event more significant to him.

For his part, Mike recalled how his mom has been supportive of him from the start of his Starstruck days. “I always come to her for advice especially when times become difficult,” he said.

steven silva

With actor Steven Silva

Steven, another Starstruck alumnus, credited his mom for making the adjustment to the Philippine way of life easier for him. “She also helped me keep my feet grounded,” he stressed. Several bloggers and entertainment journalists also witnessed the event.

Ken, 20, related that his mom is not spared from his occasional naughtiness. “Despite that, my mom has always been there for me. No ifs, no buts. Just pure motherly love,” he said.

ken chan

Ken Chan posing with moms sheltered in Kaisahang Buhay Foundation

Jacqueline Duma, one of the foundation’s social workers, said she appreciates that the said celebrities took the time to visit their center.  “I hope they can bring attention to what our organization is doing,” Duma said.

 

Established in 1975, KBF provides a wide array of service for single moms including educational assistance and livelihood programs. The KBF is also accredited by the Department of Social Welfare and Development to facilitate local and international adoptions. The KBF was featured in the 2007 movie “Foster Child” starring Cherry Pie Picache.

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Download UPCAT 2014 forms

Prospective takers of the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) this August, take note! The forms you need to fill out and submit by June are now available for download in the university’s website. You can also download them by clicking the links below. This year’s UPCAT will be on August 3 and 4.

UPCAT Form 1 (PDS2014)

UPCAT Form 2 (HSR2014)

UP General Information Sheet 2014

UPCAT Form 2014

UPCAT Form 2014

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download the files. The forms must be printed on a long bond paper. Form 1 is your personal data sheet while form 2 should contain your high school records. The second form should be accomplished by your school registrar and signed by the principal. Keep in mind the following deadlines:

14 June 2013      –             Deadline for Metro Manila Schools

21 June 2013      –             Deadline for Non-Metro Manila Schools

According to the UPCAT web page, late applications may be accepted but additional fees may be charged.Contrary to rumors, there’s actually no minimum grade required for UPCAT takers. My research teacher in fourth year was obviously misinformed (LOL). Another thing: you can only take the UPCAT once. If you fail, you cannot retake it, but you can always try to shift. 😉

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Doris Bigornia slammed for insensitive reporting on Muslims

Included in the long list of violence that happened during this year’s Election Day is the shooting incident in Manila’s Rosauro Almario Elementary School. Police officers promptly arrived in the scene of the crime to arrest armed men that may have links to the fatal shooting. Check this article from Vera files for more details on the crime.

Doris Bigornia, a returning journalist for ABS-CBN, repeatedly stressed in her report (aired during that night’s broadcast ofTV Patrol) that the 14 supposedly armed men arrested were Muslims. She added that they have ties to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Watch the video on this link, as shared by Abdur Rashid Santos via Facebook.

Nasawata ng mga pulis ang 14 na Muslim at sinasabi (ng mga pulis) mga MNLF sila. Hindi natin alam kung ang insidenteng ito ng panghuhuli sa 14 na mga Muslim na sinasabing kailangan daw nila ng proteksyon (clip ends here-TFS),” the ‘Mutya ng Masa’ said in her report.

Santos, radio program host and president of the Caloocan City-based Islamic Guidance and Student Center, pointed out Bigornia’s insensitive reporting through a series of posts on his Facebook page. The posts have been shared a total of 5,000 times as of writing time.

Santos dared reporters to show their fairness by also highlighting the religion of other law offenders, like if they are Christians.  “Bakit napakadali para sa inyo na ilakip ang pagiging ‘Muslim’ ng suspek sa isang krimen samantalang kapag ‘Kristiyano’ ang nakagawa ito, pangalan lamang ang binabanggit ninyo?” Santos asked.

doris bigornia TV patrol muslims

Doris Bigornia’s report in TV Patrol during Election Day was criticized for being insensitive to Muslims (Credits: Abdur Rashid Santos)

Bigornia’s mishandling of her report is glaring. As Santos stressed in his posts, there is absolutely no need for her to emphasize the religion of the apprehended men during the coverage. Saying that the 15 men are allegedly MNLF members would have sufficed.

To be fair, Bigornia is not the first (and certainly won’t be the last) reporter to commit this mistake. Media persons have to be mindful that whenever they unnecessarily use “Muslim” in their reporting (as in the case with Bigornia), they are reinforcing the negative stereotype of Filipino Muslims as violent people, etc.

In this case, Bigornia is in clear violation of existing media industry guidelines. According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of ethics, reporters should “avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social status.”

Bigornia’s offensive reportage also goes against Article 22 of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas’ Broadcast Code (2011 version). It says that “a person’s race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, and physical or mental disability shall not be used in a way that would embarrass, denigrate, or ridicule him/her.”

*Read this 2006 article from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility about Bigornia’s firing from ABS-CBN at that time.

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