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Category Archives: commentary

Reviewing WordAds earnings

I am frequently asked if I earn from maintaining a blog. I do, but it’s very minimal.

Before going into that, let me share with you a bit of The Filipino Scribe (TFS)’s history. I launched it March 31, 2011 as www.rightonthemark.wordpress.com. For two years, it stayed that way. In May of last year, I bought my own domain.

TFS though is still hosted by WordPress.com, which is like me renting a house. If you’re only renting a house, there are many things you cannot do. The same logic governs web hosting. For example, I cannot really customize how TFS looks (don’t ask me though if I am knowledgeable about web development. LOL).

More importantly, WordPress offers very limited opportunities for its users to earn. By its own announcement, it “does not allow third-party advertising networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media.”

WordAds is the only advertising system that WordPress allows, and it is only open for those with their own domains. In short, prior to May 2013, I did not earn anything from blogging.

Is there really a potential to earn big from WordAds? On their website, they explain that advertisers pay more for page views from North American and European users. Based on my statistics, 90% of my readers are Philippine-based. Earnings are updated monthly and users will only get a pay-out (made via PayPal) if they earn $100.

WordAds earnings

A table showing my earnings through WordAds

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been running WordAds for eight months now and so far, there had been two pay-outs. It was made last November and December. The pay-out for November covers a five month period. It’s like earning a measly $20 per month!

There was a pay-out for November because during that month, I had over 100,000 page views thanks to two blog entries about super typhoon Yolanda that became viral. For three days, TFS was the number one in Top Blogs Philippines for all categories. I earned $100 for getting 100,000 page views? Sayang!

With my blog’s third anniversary coming soon, I felt this is already the right time to finally make the move. It won’t be easy and cheap to be sure but moving forward is the only way TFS can grow. Plus, it is something I have to do to have more time for my other goals like finishing my master’s degree.

Thanks to my friends from Ask Pinoy Bloggers and Filipino Bloggers Worldwide for their valuable insights. If I’m a college student writing a thesis, I’m still on the data gathering stage. I’m doing my best to get as much information as possible about my options.

While pondering on these things, I can’t help but this saying: “A ship is always safe in the harbor, but that is not what it’s meant to do.” Instead, it should travel the turbulent seas and oceans ahead of it because that’s the essence of its existence.

Indeed, we should never fear leaving behind our comfort zones to explore bigger things. The year 2014 promises to be a big one for this blog.

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Korina Sanchez leaves DZMM – Here’s what it means

Veteran broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez has resigned from her DZMM radio show Rated Korina, ABS-CBN executive Eric John Salut confirmed over the weekend via Twitter.

In the same post, Salut added that Sanchez will remain anchoring the news porgram TV Patrol and her weekly magazine show Rated K. She will also remain as ABS-CBN’s chief correspondent. Sanchez’ previous time slot will now be occupied by “Sakto,” to be hosted by Marc Logan and Amy Perez.

To preempt speculations from the public, Sanchez promptly released a statement saying that her  desire to focus more on her graduate studies from the Ateneo de Manila University is the reason behind her exit.

Muntik na akong ibagsak ng dalawa kong propesor dahil sa absence at late submissions kaya talagang hindi ko mapagsabay,” Sanchez said. Anyone out there who is juggling work with the requirements of a master’s program definitely agrees with her, including this writer.

However, there’s definitely more to this than what they’re saying in public. Sanchez has been part of DZMM’s morning block for over a  decade now, with news and commentary shows like ‘Korina sa Umaga‘ and ‘Tambalang Failon and Sanchez.’ However, her longtime relationship and eventual marriage to Mar Roxas in 2009 directly affected perceptions of how she is handling her job.

korina sanchez resigns

Korina Sanchez is leaving her longtime DZMM radio show (credits: http://www.DZMM.abs-cbnnews.com)

As noted in a previous post here, Sanchez has for years been accused of turning her position into a  platform by which to attack her husband’s political rivals. On separate occasions, Sanchez was said to have attacked Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros, ABS-CBN reporter RG Cruz, and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

In fact, some suggested that Sanchez’ series of investigative reports in 2008 about glutathione whitening products was really all about ruining the presidential prospects of Senator Loren Legarda, a one-time endorser of Lucida-DS. In short, Sanchez’ role in ABS-CBN News has long been problematic.

What appears to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in this case is Sanchez’ offhand criticism of CNN’s Anderson Cooper at the height of the relief efforts for the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda last November. During a live report, the American journalist noted that there’s ‘no organized relief effort’ from the government.

Hindi yata niya alam ang sinasabi niya (He’s not really aware of what’s happening on the ground),” Sanchez said of Cooper through her commentary program last November 13. Cooper’s observation must have hit a raw nerve for Sanchez. After all, her husband was the designated point man of the administration for the relief efforts at that time (ex-Senator Panfilo Lacson has since been appointed the rehabilitation czar).

The top honchos at ABS-CBN for sure knows that with Roxas now being positioned for the 2016 presidential elections, Sanchez’ active role in the news department is becoming less and less tenable. The official campaign period may still be two years away, but expect the candidates to begin campaigning in earnest by mid-2015 at the latest. In other words, expect Sanchez to leave TV Patrol within the next year and a half or even earlier.

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Sulpicio Lines, Don Mariano bus, and the culture of impunity

Many Filipinos will probably associate the term ‘culture of impunity’ to the ever-lengthening list of extrajudicial killings of journalists and activists in the country.  As defined by Oxford dictionary, impunity happens when individuals or institutions are “exempted from punishment” or if they are enjoying “freedom from the injurious consequences of (their) action.”

On this day exactly 26 years ago, an estimated 4,000 people died when the passenger ship MV Doña Paz collided into M/T Vector oil tanker near Marinduque province. Given the death toll, the incident is now referred to as the worst peacetime maritime disaster in world history, surpassing Titanic.

Despite being the subject of intense public backlash, the tragedy didn’t force Sulpicio Lines, the owner of MV Dona Paz, out of business.

In the quarter-century since the MV Doña Paz tragedy, more vessels owned by Sulpicio Lines became involved in deadly sea mishaps. In October 1988, MV Doña Marilyn ferry sank off Leyte province after being battered by a typhoon, killing more than 250 people. In 1998, 150 people were killed when the firm’s MV Princess of the Orient sank in a port near Manila also because of bad weather.

Another ship owned by Sulpicio Lines is the MV Princess of the Stars. Its journey from Manila to Cebu was cut short when it capsized off the waters of Romblon during the onslaught of Typhoon Frank.

philippine sea tragedies

A list of Philippine maritime tragedies (Credits: http://www.SunStar.com.ph)

Only about 57 of the 850 people on board survived. This prompted Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz to quip that the said shipping line should consider entering the mortuary business.

Instead of being held accountable for its negligence, the company merely changed its name to Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation (PSACC). Despite the name change, the curse continued to hound Sulpicio Lines.

Just this August, MV St. Thomas Aquinas and MV Sulpicio Express 7 collided in a Cebu port. Nearly 100 people died in the tragedy. At the height of this latest tragedy, The Filipino Scribe reached out to Levi Samuele for comment. His brother Roy and three-year old niece Jacqueline were among the passengers of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars. He serves as the de facto spokesperson for their group.

In his response, he noted that their group decided not to issue public comments about the MV St. Thomas Aquinas mishap lest they be accused by Sulpicio Lines of grandstanding.

Syempre nararamdaman namin ang kanilang damdamin noong lumubog at nawala din ang aming mga kamag-anak. Syempre pinaka-masakit yung ‘di na talaga nakita ang mahal mo sa buhay,” he said.

He also challenged the assertions made by Sulpicio Lines officials that the company is losing money. “Kung nalulugi na sila, bakit patuloy pa rin sila sa pag ooperate? (If they are really bankrupt, why are they still operating),” Samuele asked.

Last April, a division of the Court of Appeals junked charges of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide, physical injuries, and damage to property lodged against Edgar Go, vice president for administration of Sulpicio Lines.

This decision only highlights just how tough it is for relatives of those who perished during the sea mishap to achieve justice. Losing a loved one unexpectedly is in itself a very heart wrenching experience. The lack of accountability aggravates the pain tenfold.

Sana nagsara na nga lang sila para wala nang maaksidente pa ulit na sila na naman ang sangkot, at pagkatapos tatalikuran na naman nila ang obligasyon nila!” Samuele told The Filipino Scribe. What company, regardless of their clear neglect for human life, will shut down given that they can easily get away with their crime?

*Don Mariano Bus Company is dominating the headlines this week after one of its buses fell while traversing the skyway toll road in Taguig City, killing 22 passengers. Like Sulpicio Lines, this particular bus firm has also been involved in another accident before. Will the owners be held accountable, or will the culture of impunity persist?

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INC event causes massive traffic jam in QC

I was among the thousands of commuters who got gravely inconvenienced by the sudden heavy traffic along Elliptical Road in Quezon City (QC) as well as its connecting roads last Friday night. The traffic jam which lasted until Saturday midnight.

While heavy traffic is expected during Fridays especially when it is a pay day, an outreach mission dubbed ‘Kabayan ko, Kapatid ko’ by Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) held in QC Memorial Circle is really the reason behind that night’s traffic congestion in the vicinity of Elliptical Road.

Coming from a friend’s birthday party near the ABS-CBN compound, I walked to the MRT Quezon Avenue Station, a distance of about ten minutes.  You have to cross the station to get to Eton Centris, which serves as a terminal of sorts for Fairview-bound jeepneys. The time then is 8:30 PM.

Upon descending the station, I immediately saw hundreds of people queuing. I’ve been familiar with the area for several years now but I haven’t seen that many people waiting for a ride home. It’s as if there’s a lightning demonstration taking place in the area at that time.

I walked until I reached a spot not too far away from the mall’s entrance. Shortly before I reached Agham Road, a pedicab offered me a ride. The charge is P30 for a trip from Lungsod ng Kabataan to Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife and vice versa. I accepted it.

kabayan ko kapatid ko iglesia ni cristo

Thousands of people flocked to QC Memorial Circle for Iglesia ni Cristo’s ‘Kabayan ko, Kapatid ko’ outreach project (Photo credit: Eagle News PH Facebook page)

From there, I walked all the way to PHILCOA. The entire ‘walkathon’ must have taken me an hour. You’ll see jeepneys with four ‘extra’ passengers (or ‘sabit’) as well as buses with passengers who are literally hanging by the vehicle’s entry spot. Taxi drivers must be having a heyday too!

This grave inconvenience could have been avoided in two ways. First, INC should have scheduled their activity on a weekend. Then, QC Mayor Herbert Bautista should have anticipated the impact of this to his constituents. Who remembers him or Chairman Francis Tolentino of the Metro Manila Development Authority going to the media to discuss alternative routes?

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not against INC’s outreach activity here in QC. That’s commendable. My issue is, they should have timed it on a weekend. Instead of having the media focus on their outreach work (which no doubt is something INC would have wanted), the reports focused instead on the plight of affected commuters.

More importantly, our local government must have laid out alternative routes in advance for us commuters. Whatever happened to proactivity?  If Mayor Bautista can’t be decisive on simple issues like implementing traffic rerouting schemes and suspending classes during bad weather, how can he be expected to deal with complex issues like the relocation of informal settlers?

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Video of Roxas-Romualdez meeting goes viral

A forty-minute video of a meeting between Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez has been been circulating in the social media since yesterday. The clip was uploaded by Philippine Star columnist Cito Beltran on video-sharing website YouTube. Watch the entire clip below:

In his article today, Beltran said the video was recorded in November 14, six days after Super typhoon Yolanda hit Eastern Visayas, by someone from the Romualdez camp. The writer claimed that he first learned of the video in November 26. “I actually wanted to stay out of the squabble except when it reached a point when Mar vehemently denied asking for a letter of resignation and anyone who claims such was a liar,” Beltran explained.

alfredo romualdez tacloban

Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez (Credits: http://www.CorrectPhilippines.org)

 

Why is this video so crucial? Remember that last November 17, The Filipino Scribe and other news websites first reported that Roxas asked Romualdez to submit to him a letter stating that since he can no longer function effectively as a local government unit, the national government already needs to take over.  The video confirms this, with Roxas telling the Tacloban mayor: “Aquino ang presidente, Romualdez ka.”

 

 

Apparently, it’s Roxas who understood that there can be political implications if the Aquino administration is seen as moving against the city administration. As we have noted in a previous post that has since gone viral, President Benigno Aquino III and Mayor Romualdez has been at loggerheads since the election season.

 

Will this spell the doom for Roxas’ angling for the presidency by 2016? Abangan. (Curiously, Beltran once had a show with Korina Sanchez, Isyu 101, Roxas’ wife.)

 

 

 

 

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Aquino’s animosity toward Tacloban mayor hampering relief efforts?

Speaking to CNN International’s Christiane Amanpour last November 12, President Benigno Aquino III repeatedly reiterated that super typhoon Yolanda (international code name ‘Haiyan’) wrecked so much havoc especially in the Eastern Visayas region because the “local (government) response failed.”

He told Amanpour that “two or three” local government units (LGUs) were “simply overwhelmed” by Yolanda. Watch Amanpour’s entire interview here. Even without being mentioned by name, Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is certainly one of those Aquino is referring to.

A day before his interview with Amanpour, Aquino was said to have walked out of a briefing with Tacloban City officials after he got irked by the said LGU’s unpreparedness (Malacanang later clarified that he merely went to the bathroom).

With Aquino seemingly bent on putting all the blame on him, Romualdez played defense. In an interview with GMA News, the mayor complained about what he described as insufficient aid from the national government.

Wala namang giyera, bakit hindi magpadala ng tatlong batalyon dito para hakutin na natin lahat ng patay?” Romualdez said. He also explained that relief goods are not being transported to devastated communities because of the lack of usable vehicles.

alfredo romualdez tacloban

Tacloban City Mayor Alfredo Romualdez (Credits: http://www.CorrectPhilippines.org

In relation to this, a point-by-point report (the author cannot be determined as of this time) on what is happening is now going viral on the Internet. In a nutshell, the post explicates that Romualdez sought as much help as possible from the national government both before and after Yolanda rammed the city. And in all those instances, Romualdez received decidedly inadequate assistance.

Here are some of the items listed. Check CorrectPhilippines.org for the entire post:

1. After Typhoon Yolanda struck, the Mayor of Tacloban requested the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) to make a “RESPONSE OVERKILL” on the rescue and relief operations. Unfortunately, the response from the National Government was very cold and half hearted.

2. On Day 2 of Typhoon Yolanda aftermath, the Mayor requested the NDRRMC to deploy 2 Marine Battalions to help immediately establish peace and order and rescue/relief operations. Unfortunately, this plea for help was unheeded by the National Government.

5. The Mayor requested the National Government to put more vehicles and personnel for cadaver retrieval but up to now only 4 trucks from the National Government are doing this. Only 8 trucks from the National Government are doing relief work. Tacloban is now reeking from the smell of death and relief operations are still moving at a snail’s pace.

7. To add insult to injury, the Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary (Mar Roxas) wants the Mayor of Tacloban (Alfred Romualdez) to write a formal letter to Philippine President Noynoy Aquino supposedly to inform him that he could no longer function as Mayor, thereby surrendering authority to the DILG Secretary (Mar Roxas).

To say that there’s a personal animosity between Aquino and Romualdez would be an understatement. For starters, the mayor of Tacloban is a nephew of former First Lady Imelda Marcos. Even until now, Aquino and the Romuladezes are on clashing sides of the political spectrum. The mayor’s cousin, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Romualdez, is currently the president of Lakas-CMD, the party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The administration made a vigorous bid to unseat Romualdez during last May’s polls. In fact, Kris Aquino, the president’s youngest sister and television superstar, personally campaigned for Florencio ‘Bem’ Noel, the president’s bet. “If Bem wins (for mayor), I will give whatever Tacloban needs in just one call,” Kris quoted the president as telling her during a campaign rally.

Despite all these, plus the president’s sharp criticism of Romualdez’ tenure as the city chief, he won re-election handily. In hindsight, Kris is perhaps right. Aquino would probably be more decisive in dealing with the disaster in Tacloban if the city is being led by his anointed candidate.

(PS: Is it possible to set aside political differences when it comes to disaster response? In dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year, United States President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie showed remarkable ability to work side-by-side for the greater good. Christie, a top supporter of Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney, repeatedly noted how he and the president remained in touch throughout the calamity. Read our post about it here.)

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Iglesia ni Cristo and Regghie Orpiada

Instead of dedicating their time and effort to help out the survivors of super typhoon Yolanda, some individuals would instead use the opportunity to stir controversy involving people of different religions. In recent days, a series of Twitter posts by someone named ‘Regghie Orpiada’ has gone viral.

The said user presented himself as a member of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC). In his posts, Orpiada is gleefully noting that INC worship houses remained standing even though much of the community where it is located was washed out by Yolanda. There were also accusations circulating online that non-INC members were shooed away when they sought shelter in the said group’s worship houses at the height of the storm.

regghie-m-orpiada-iglesia-ni-cristo

Regghie Orpiada is not an Iglesia ni Cristo member

Naturally, many unsuspecting netizens, including some of my students, became aghast upon reading the said posts. Not surprisingly, they directed their anger at INC. However, the truth eventually came out. The real Regghie Orpiada came out and claimed that his account was hacked.

Nevertheless, some netizens are arguing that Orpiada intentionally made the inflammatory posts to gain public fame. Meanwhile, accusations that non-INC members were refused shelter inside INC facilities were also debunked.

While the Internet is a very useful tool in information dissemination, erroneous reports also gets shared just as easily. Because of the easiness by which we can “share” online content, the need to verify things gets lost in the process. This isn’t really a stunning development. In fact, it has been discussed in The Economist as early as 1999.

Making the problem worse is the fact that those who commit these shameless acts can get away unscathed because they can stay anonymous. This is a useless distraction from the relief and evacuation efforts that everyone should be focusing on. The most important lesson from this incident is to learn to ignore online BS.

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