MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
THE INQUIRER is 28 years old today. Dominant is a word often used to describe us even at 28. We like it. And we think it’s a rep we deserve. The extent, depth and impact of our news and opinions are unequaled across the nation. Innovation, on the other hand, is helping us use new, instant ways of telling stories. We like it, too. And we think our readers deserve it. It’s great to dominate and innovate at 28. And to be inspired by you.
HOW ‘THE PORK’
THE PORK BARREL SCAM• COVERING A SUPERTYPHOON•
WE HAVE worked hard to master the art of the news scoop. Cultivating sources, unlocking secrets, cutting through spin, mounting a series, holding wrongdoers to account—all in hopes of bringing about change that will do good. Evidence of this hard work is what editor in chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc calls “the Grand Dame of all scoops.” For her inside story on the unraveling of the pork barrel scam, turn the page.
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MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
INNOVATE AND DOMINATE @ 28
HOW ‘THE PORK’ was lost BEHIND the bylines are the smiling faces of Nancy Carvajal and Gil Cabacungan as they cut into the pork-decorated cake, specially ordered from Penk Ching, at a get-together for the PDAF scam news team.
What the NBI knew, and was willing to share with the entire nation, was dangerous to its health, so they had to tell the INQUIRER
bogus Napoles NGOs and their (ghost) projects. I tapped INQUIRER Research headed by Miner Generalao to assemble a timeline of events that led to the detention of Benhur, his ordeal and rescue. Miner and her team were also told to scrutinize the whistle-blowers’ affidavits. All were instructed to work quietly. Of course, managing editor Joey Nolasco was in and out of our cloak–and-dagger preparations. He, too, was convinced we had underfoot one of the biggest stories in the 28-year history of the INQUIRER, next only to the Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986. With all the documents under safekeeping, the meetings and interviews needed at that point done, we allowed a month for the “Grand Dame of INQUIRER scoops” to percolate and to test the NBI’s intention and resolve to bust the pork barrel syndicate for good and “for country.”
By Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc Editor in chief
ANCY Carvajal, an INQUIRER veteran of 23 years, eight of them as a reporter, has a way of getting my attention in the office while at the same time trying not to be bothersome. But early last May, Nancy indulged herself, which is for sure a reporter’s occupational habit. She sort of inserted herself into my working hours. Though it was close to midnight, I wasn’t quite done yet. Anyway, I looked up from what I was doing. I sensed she was excited about something big. Nancy came straight to the point: She wanted me to meet a top agent of the National Bureau of Investigation who was part of the task force that rescued a man named Benhur Luy who had been detained in the various homes of his employer named Janet Lim-Napoles, who was also the detainee’s cousin. Benhur told the NBI a most shocking story. Thus, did the NBI accidentally discover the wholesale and institutionalized looting of P10 billion worth of the people’s money from the pork barrel over a 10-year period? And who were the looters? They were a veritable Who’s Who from both Houses of Congress in conspiracy with Napoles. Nancy outlined to me what the NBI guy was going to say, most of which was hard for me to swallow. As my secretary during her first years at the INQUIRER, I had noted that Nancy was developing a strong nose for news. Terrific! But sometimes she was just plain nosey without being newsy. And that got her and me into trouble. We were both learning on the job. She went on to become a reporter. She had learned her lessons well. These days, editorial assistants, as a matter of course, talk among themselves about how to become a reporter like Nancy. On the NBI beat, where she has been assigned, Nancy has apparently earned the trust of its key people. Exactly what INQUIRER reporters are instructed and trained to do: to develop and cultivate news sources in their respective beats, gain their confidence, give them a fair shake in their reportage and befriend them without, however, breaching the tenets of journalism. The true INQUIRER reporter knows where and when to draw the line. (INQUIRER reporters are rotated every 18 months to avoid so-called “sweetheart” deals from developing
Smart, sharp boss
between newsmaker and newsperson.)
NBI agent breaks down I agreed to meet with the NBI man who does not want be named to this day. Except for Nancy, no one knew about our first meeting. We decided to meet after hours in the editors’ lounge of the INQUIRER main office on Chino Roces Avenue. His narration of the massive pork barrel scam streamed out of his mouth nonstop. He neither paused nor groped for words. He rattled off facts and figures and names. All of a sudden, in the middle of his narrative, he broke down. I was caught off guard. I tried not to notice. But it was hard to ignore an NBI agent tearing up in front of you. I had not seen anything like it. He seemed overwhelmed by the massive, long-running corruption and plunder committed by the so-called honorables in Congress and elsewhere in the government in cahoots with a serial con artist like Napoles. Or, was the NBI simply scared silly of the explosive information it had gotten on the high and mighty? Our “Deep Throat” and his fellow agents had in hand truckloads of evidence to back up the whistle-blowers’ allegations not only from Benhur but from at least six others (at that point, but more came forward later) whom Napoles had made presidents of the nongovernment organizations (NGOs) she had set up as depositories for the legislators’ pork. What the NBI knew was indeed dangerous to its health.
Why tell the INQUIRER? One other question bothered me most: Why was this NBI agent talking to the INQUIRER? He himself had said the Department of Justice (DOJ) had
ordered the NBI to investigate the systematic robbery of taxpayer money. Why not wait for the investigation to be completed and for the appropriate charges to be filed? That done, then call a press conference maybe. And why hold a one-on-one presscon right now? In the dead of night yet? As usual, our meetings and what we talked about were held after (newspaper) office hours. Our man from the NBI said in so many words that he had feared big time pressures from some of the country’s hot shots in and out of the government would be brought to bear on the DOJ and the NBI, and consequently, could possibly lead to a whitewash. The story had to be out there at the soonest possible time to preempt the powers-that-be who had been caught with their dirty hands in the pork barrel from messing up the NBI investigation. Hey, wait a minute, not so fast. There was a whole lot of fact-checking to be done. It couldn’t be done in a snap. “Give us time, give us the evidence,” I told the NBI guy.
For country “This is for country,” the NBI man said, without the tears. He was entrusting the INQUIRER with the story! That’s huge! I would like to believe the INQUIRER was given first crack for its track record of credibility, fearlessness and fairness. The man didn’t say it but I, being INQUIRER proud, presumed he meant to say just that. The INQUIRER could not disappoint the guy. And the country. I swung into action without fussing. On separate occasions, I met with the whistle-blowers and their amazingly unflappable lawyer, Levito Baligod, each time at the INQUIRER office and in secret. Each meeting with them convinced me more and more of the
sincerity of Benhur and the other whistle-blowers. There was nothing put-on about any of them. They talked straight but were soft-spoken, assured and consistent. Their simplicity was magnetic. I couldn’t tell where their single-minded unity, strength and determination were coming from.
Cloak-and-dagger prep I read and reread their affidavits, letters and documentations, including flow charts tracing the movement of the pork from the proposed project legislators identified and wanted funded to their handpicked implementing agencies and bogus NGOs. I let INQUIRER editor Fernando del Mundo in on the confidential series we were preparing. He’s the head of the INQUIRER investigative team. He met with the whistle-blowers when they came to the office for yet another meeting. In the meantime, I advised INQUIRER publisher Raul Pangalangan about the epic plunder. I instructed Nancy and senior reporter TJ Burgonio to brief the publisher on the specifics. We pulled Burgonio out of his Palace beat to help Nancy write the series that we were planning. It might prove too much for one person. But Nancy surprised us with her multitasking skills. It turned out we got plenty of assist from the enterprising Gil Cabacungan who diligently dug up and wrote a series of pork scandal-related stories. Learning section editor Chelo Banal-Formoso got into the act, interviewing Napoles’ couturier friend and ex-business associate Eddie Baddeo. Chelo got 44 letters that had been written by mayors requesting funding from the Department of Agriculture but which funding, it turned out, they never received and ended up under the disposition of
I went on my annual leave. Upon my return, I informed INQUIRER president and CEO Sandy PrietoRomualdez about the make-or-break series that we were going to run in July. Sandy has respected and trusted the editorial group’s judgment all this time. As usual, she left it up to us editors to make the final decision. Which is fortunate for us independent freaks in the newsroom. The downside is that Sandy, without ever cracking the whip, doubles our sense of responsibility and accountability. That Sandy is one smart, sharp boss. More consultations with Boy del Mundo, other editors and Nancy and her NBI sources followed. I made an outline for a six-part series, with as many sidebars and Fast Facts features and charts to explain, flesh out and contextualize the series, with good-sized news holes to accommodate the “other side” of the stories. The INQUIRER pork series is still the talk of the town five months after its publication. The nationwide outrage is undiminished despite the successive, destructive interruptions of the siege on Zamboanga City, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Bohol province and Supertyphoon “Yolanda’s” attack that made a wasteland of Eastern Visayas.
Solid validation The INQUIRER’s pork barrel exposé was a solid validation of the long-held, collective suspicion of the rampant corruption across all branches of the government, of the rotten system that allows, nay, entitles lawmakers to identify and allocate funds for their favored projects in their endless pursuit of fat commissions. We had the documents, the testimonies, the wide-eyed sincerity, the sacrifices, the constancy of the whistle-blowers and that of their lawyer Baligod, the relentless work of the INQUIRER staff and the scrutinous probing of the NBI and its incredible tenacity under the direction of the DOJ. We had the respect and trust of Sandy. And there were, too, my gut feel and instincts that cried, “Go OMG!” Best of all, I prayed for guidance. We decided to publish. And the INQUIRER, up and down its grand, winding landmark stairway, turned electric.
BENHUR Luy takes his oath at the Senate blue ribbon WOMEN whistlers Merlina Suñas, Marina Sula and THE INQUIRER conference room becomes a hot spot with the visit of the whistle-blowers in the committee hearing on the pork barrel scam. Seated NIÑO JESUS ORBETA beside him is lawyer Levito Baligod. PDAF scandal. The guests’ ex-boss JLN visited earlier. EDWIN BACASMAS Gertrudes Luy RICHARD A. REYES
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
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THE REST is Twitter history Social media have changed the way we break the news— short, swift but not necessarily sweet By Fe B. Zamora Social Media Editor
ANCY Carvajal’s breaking tweet was posted at 10:53 p.m. of Aug. 28. It said: “JUST IN: Napoles now in custody.” Eight minutes later, Malacañang confirmed the surrender of Janet LimNapoles, alleged brains behind a network of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) that collected an estimated P10 billion in public funds. By the time the Palace issued the statement on Twitter, Carvajal’s tweet had already gone viral, recording a total of 1,600 retweets for a total reach of 3.7 million. Carvajal became a woman possessed after receiving a tip about Napoles’ impending surrender earlier in the afternoon of Aug. 28. But where? When? How? Her sources at the National Bureau of Investigation were uncertain. By 9 p.m., she had camped at the editors’ round table. “It’s going to happen,” she said. “But don’t tweet it. Not yet.” Past 10 p.m., she seemed more confident. “Janet is there na,” Carvajal said, reading from a message on her cell phone. “But no tweets. Not yet.” By 10:45 p.m., Carvajal had already encoded on her Twitter account that Napoles was in custody.
PROFILE of @inquirerdotnet It was a scoop, a great finale to the INQUIRER running reports on the P10-billion pork barrel scam that Carvajal broke on July 12. The pork barrel queen was at the end of the road. And yet, not a whiff about it on media—whether radio, TV or social. But tweet it? Not yet, Carvajal was adamant. “Baka masunog. Kailangan sigurado,” she insisted. At 10:53 p.m., Carvajal hit “send.” And the rest, as they say, is Twitter history. Social media have changed the way we break the news. Short—not more than 140 characters—and swift, yes. But being journalists, we aim for more than just speedy, shock-and-awe impact. We also want to be accurate. Carvajal’s stories on Napoles, the group of whistle-blowers lead by Benhur Luy, the senators to whom Napoles allegedly assigned the code names “Tanda,” “Sexy” and “Pogi,” the congressmen and their pork, and the cast of characters allegedly involved in the scam seemed tailor-made for social media. Adding hashtags to their tweets, netizens pro or against Napoles engaged each other in running conversations and debates. So one finds
words such as #Napoles, #BenhurLuy, #Tanda, #scrappork, #PDAF and #porkbarrel peppering Twitter timelines as well as Facebook updates. Even the landmark #MillionPeopleMarch, a peaceful people’s protest that called for the abolition of the pork barrel at the Luneta, was initiated on social media. Finally on Nov. 7, the woman dubbed the “pork barrel queen” faced the Senate blue ribbon committee for a public hearing. #Napoles, the INQUIRER’s hashtag for the event,
landed among the top 10 trending topics of the day. #Senmiriam for Sen. Miriam Santiago and #JPE for Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile also made it to the top 10 topics on Twitter. How long can a topic last on social media? Will it just be a burst of information that’s quickly set aside as netizens shift their focus to the latest in technology, fashion and music? The Napoles saga indicates that tweets will only be as good as the topic tweeted.
It’s been five months since Carvajal broke the story of the P10-billion pork barrel scam in print and online. The story has spread on social media and it continues to incite and inspire lively virtual discussions among the youth and their parents, the media, the academe and a broad cross section of society. In fact, even Carvajal is open to the idea of conversing with netizens via Twitter. Anyone interested, please follow @carvajal_nancy on Twitter.
HOW THE PORK BARREL ROLLED DOWNHILL in fo Oct. 2. The INQUIRER reports that whistle-blower Luy says Napoles received advance information in July 2009 that the Arroyo administration was planning to release money from the multibillion peso worth of royalties for the gas project off the west coast of Palawan. Napoles was allegedly informed she could get the funds through former DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman and Undersecretary Narciso Nieto.
Aug. 12. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima summons the 97 mayors (after whistle-blowers confirmed the list published by the INQUIRER) whose signatures were allegedly forged by JLN employees to secure funding for agricultural kits, purportedly coursed through DAR, to help farmers recover from losses caused by Typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” in 2009.
Aug. 16. The Commission on Audit (COA) announces that a special audit showed that funds totaling P6.2 billion from PDAF allocations of 12 senators and 180 congressmen from 2007 to 2009 were transferred to 82 bogus NGOs “in clear violation of the law.” Ten of the NGOs, with links to Napoles, allegedly received over P2 billion in PDAF during the period.
Aug. 28. Napoles
Aug. 19. The INQUIRER reports that July 12. The INQUIRER publishes the first of its five-part special report on allegations that businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles channeled some P10 billion in government funds into ghost projects in over 10 years. The funds were allegedly sourced from the • Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of
the COA is probing disbursements by the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo amounting to P23.6 billion from the Malampaya Fund, 60 percent of which was released during a spending binge before the May 2010 presidential election.
28 lawmakers and the Malampaya Fund. The PDAF, or pork barrel, finances pet projects of senators and members of the House of Representatives.
surrenders to President Aquino in Malacañang after disappearing for two weeks following the issuance by a court of a warrant for her arrest for serious illegal detention of Luy, who was reportedly threatening to reveal her alleged scam. Mr. Aquino brings Napoles, who says she fears for her life, to Camp Crame in the middle of the night.
Napoles, MacapagalArroyo and 20 others including three members of the former president’s Cabinet are charged with plunder in the Office of the Ombudsman for allegedly stealing P900 million from the Malampaya Fund. Baligod, chief lawyer of the whistle-blowers, says no mayor will be charged as their signatures were all forged.
Oct. 3. A petition questioning the constitutionality of the DAP is filed in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago says the release of millions of pesos to senators and representatives to convict Corona made President Aquino impeachable for bribery and culpable violation of the Constitution.
Aug. 30. After validating her security concerns,
Oct. 4. The fifth mass protest against pork barrel
a Makati court grants the petition of Napoles’ legal counsel to transfer her from Makati City Jail to Fort Sto. Domingo in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
is staged in front of the monument of Ninoy Aquino on Ayala Avenue in Makati City. Organizers hope to get workers in the financial district to participate.
Napoles, chief executive officer of JLN Corp., • allegedly created some 20 bogus nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to be the recipients of the state funds, according to affidavits of her former employees.
Sept. 3. In its weekly en banc session, the Supreme Court asks Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to explain the legality of the PDAF, giving them 10 days to comment on the petition filed by the Social Justice Society led by former senatorial candidate Samson Alcantara.
July 16. The INQUIRER reports that whistleblower Merlina Suñas said in her sworn affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation that at least P900 million from the Malampaya Fund “all went” to Napoles, alleged brains behind the P10billion pork barrel scam.
Sept 10. Prompted by growing public outrage, the Supreme Court, acting on three petitions calling for the scrapping of the pork barrel system, stops the release of the remaining PDAF allocations.
Suñas, who told the INQUIRER that she acted as project coordinator for JLN and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the Malampaya gas project, said 12 NGOs received gas project funds.
Aug. 23. In anticipation of a massive protest rally against pork barrel, President Aquino announces in a surprise press conference that it is “time to abolish the PDAF.”
Sept. 11. To sustain the momentum of the Million People March, a prayer vigil against pork barrel, “Edsa Tayo,” is held at the Edsa Shrine attended by around 1,200.
Oct. 7. The INQUIRER reports that Baligod says he will amend the plunder charges filed in the Office of the Ombudsman to include two Napoles children, Jo Christine and James Christopher, whom Baligod says have “direct involvement in the falsification and liquidation of documents involving the P900 million from the Malampaya Fund.” Sen. Ralph Recto says President Aquino may • face charges after his term ends, unless Malacañang accounts for billions of pesos in the government’s share of revenues from the operation of oil and gas wells in Palawan.
Oct. 8. In the first oral arguments on the legality of the PDAF at the Supreme Court, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio raises questions suggesting the illegality of pork barrrel. Focusing on the provisions in the General Appropriations Act 2013, he asked if they could be regarded as unconstitutional.
Oct. 13. The INQUIRER reports July 29. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, incoming president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, releases a pastoral statement calling on lawmakers to shun the pork barrel, which has made “public governance a system of patronage.”
Sept. 16. Charges of plunder, malversation, bribery, graft and corrupt practices are filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada, and 34 other people. Sept. 19.
The INQUIRER reports that the release of P900 million from the Malampaya Fund to the DAR had already been “fixed” even before officials asked for quick response money from Malacañang. The allegedly overpriced agricultural kits were reportedly used by Napoles’ NGOs to access the Malampaya Fund.
Aug. 8. Napoles visits the INQUIRER main office for a roundtable discussion with editors, columnists and reporters and to answer questions on the alleged pork barrel scam. In the five-part verbatim transcript published • from Aug. 11 to 15, Napoles insists that her wealth came from a coal trading firm in Indonesia (which she cannot name) and claims that lawyer Levito Baligod, the chief lawyer of whistle-blowers, has asked for P38 million in exchange for not filing an illegal detention case against her brother Reynald Lim. She denies she is the boss of Benhur Luy, the first person to make allegations of the scam.
Aug. 26. Around 100,000 protesters gather at Manila’s Rizal Park to call for the abolition of the pork barrel and the prosecution of those involved in the racket. The Million People March is the largest protest action since President Aquino was elected in 2010.
Sept. 20. Malacañang announces the Malampaya Fund’s current balance is P130 billion and President Aquino only used P15 billion from the fund in 2011 and 2012 “for energy-related projects.” Sept. 24. The Office of the Solicitor General urges the Supreme Court to either partially or totally uphold the temporary restraining order on the remainder of PDAF, P12.2 billion out of the allocated P25 billion, for the rest of the year.
Sept. 28. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad confirms that 20 senators received a total of P1.107 billion in additional pork barrel through the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) a few months after impeaching former Chief Justice Renato Corona last year. Some members of the House of Representatives received between P10 and P15 million last year, he added.
that six administration senators each sought the release of P100 million for “priority projects” in 2011 through the controversial DAP, according to copies of letters they sent to Sen. Franklin Drilon, then finance committee chair.
Oct. 14. The INQUIRER reports that Assistant Secretary Salvador Salacup, Napoles’ reported contact at the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the Arroyo administration, allegedly continued to channel pork barrel funds under the Aquino administration to dummy NGOs through the National Agricultural and Fishery Council, a DA subsidiary. Oct. 14. Reacting to the INQUIRER report, Drilon insists that the DAP is a program to accelerate public spending, saying it is based on the President’s constitutional power to realign items in the budget of the Executive Branch.
Oct. 15. Drilon dares the COA to investigate allocations for lawmakers’ projects through DAP and to initiate charges if there is evidence of misuse.
Oct. 21. Treasurer Rosalia de Leon and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima say the P136 billion balance of the government’s share in the Malampaya Fund is in a special account in the general fund. However, both admit there is “no cash” to speak of.
Oct. 22. Sen. Francis Escudero, chair of the Senate committee on finance, says the Senate has no record of the DAP, adding that it is the first time lawmakers heard from Abad of such mechanism that pools state savings to fund crucial projects under the Aquino administration.
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our months Oct. 30. The INQUIRER reports that Rene Villa, chair of the Local Water Utilities Administration, served as lawyer of Napoles for four years, making him the top government executive and Liberal Party (LP) official with direct contact to Napoles. Villa, however, said he did not know if Napoles contributed to the LP campaign funds.
Anniversary Supplement STAFF BOX Supervising Editor Jose Ma. D. Nolasco Editors Chelo Banal-Formoso Emmie G. Velarde Staff Linda B. Bolido Jenny S. Santiago Juliet Javellana Bayani San Diego Jr. Rima Granali Jodee Agoncillo Photos Edwin Bacasmas Grace Pagulayan IT Support Jaime O. Lorenzo Art Lynett Villariba Jerito dela Cruz Belen Belesario Steph Bravo Albert Rodriguez Elizalde Pusung Aileen Casis Editorial production assistants Mary Ann Ayos Kirstin Bernabe Vanessa Hidalgo Sara Isabelle Pacia Tere Cruz-Tenorio Jun Veloria
• • • •
Oct. 30. President Aquino makes a 12minute public address on primetime TV to defend the DAP whose constitutionality has been questioned in the Supreme Court. “The issue here is theft. I am not a thief,” he says, vowing to go after those who pocketed millions in pork barrel funds. Nov. 3. The hacker group Anonymous Philippines attacks 38 government websites, mostly those of local government units, posting a message calling on Filipinos to join a protest against corruption at the House of Representatives on Nov. 5.
Nov. 6. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma says Mr. Aquino plans to embark on a nationwide “dialogue with the people” to explain his stand on the controversial DAP.
Nov. 7. Napoles appears before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, but refuses to answer questions, invoking her right against selfincrimination.
Nov. 7. The INQUIRER reports that the Aquino administration channeled a third of the P142.23 billion DAP funds it spent in the last two years to off-budget items, belying the government’s main defense that the economy pump-priming funds were used for projects approved by Congress in the General Appropriations Act. Nov. 8. The INQUIRER reports that the Office of the Solicitor General defends the DAP in its consolidated comments against nine petitioners in the High Court and calls it not a fund or an appropriation but a “program for accelerating disbursements.”
Nov. 19. The Supreme Court, voting 14-0, declares unconstitutional past and present congressional pork barrel laws and orders the criminal prosecution of lawmakers and individuals who personally benefited from the system.
Nov. 19. After declaring unconstitutional the PDAF, the Supreme Court proceeds to the oral arguments on the legality of the DAP, also known as the presidential pork barrel. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio says there is no written document on the creation of the DAP in 2011. Nov. 21. The INQUIRER reports that Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is the “unseen hand” in the alleged pork barrel scam and not Napoles, quoting from a memorandum prepared by Assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon submitted to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Nov. 11. Rafael L. Antonio, Inquirer Research Source: Inquirer Archives
• • •
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HOW THE INQUIRER MADE 37 wishes come true Compiled by Pennie Azarcon dela Cruz Editor, SIM
Photos by Eugene Araneta
IFE, it has been said, is too short for regrets. Instead of regrets, why not dwell on the possible, on the good stuff of dreams and wishes that even seriously ill children, bless their honest hearts, tuck into their nightly prayers in the belief that someone out there might be listening?
As it turned out, the I NQUIRER was listening. In partnership with Make a Wish Foundation, it set about fulfilling the wishes of 37 children and enlisted an enthusiastic corps of employees as volunteers to source the gadgets, Barbie dolls and other toys that the cancerstricken children had wished for, as well as track down the basketball star one boy had dreamt of meeting. No wish was too mundane nor too grand for kids running out of time. As a media company always in pursuit of deadlines, the INQUIRER knows the full value of every hour and how to make every minute count.
HAVING A BALL Rabot enjoys an exhibit at the Mind Museum.
MANDAL enjoys the view of Taal volcano from her room. TOMES at the balcony of her room at Taal Vista
TOMES (left) and Mandal with their Taal Vista hosts, GM Walid Wafik and SM’s Elizabeth and Felicidad Sy
Have dreams, will fly HAVING seen her mother cope with constant stress too many times, Remelyn Mandal wished they could fly out of the ER (emergency room), where they would sleep on top of cartons as they waited for the results of her latest laboratory tests. If she had wings, she would definitely soar above it all, the 17-year-old leukemia patient thought. Another girl, Dona Tomes, 16, wanted to go to “a cool, breezy place to breathe some fresh air,” as the city’s pollution aggravated her already frail health. In the countryside, she was at ease and carefree, said the Catanduanes native who has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The two teens had their wish granted recently, thanks to Make a Wish Foundation and INQUIRER volunteers, who brought them to Tagaytay City as guests of the Taal Vista Hotel.
Looking wan but happy, the girls were given the honors of turning on the Christmas tree lights on the hotel’s lush grounds. Mandal, who has been battling acute myeloid leukemia for the past five years, said anywhere she could go with her family was “fine.” But a family trip was out of the question, given the high cost of the girl’s eight daily medications. Although her father, a construction worker, could not take a day off work and her identical twin Recelyn had to help out in an aunt’s salon in Bulacan province, Mandal found the Tagaytay trip with mom Mercy “a great experience.” “I’ve never been here,” said the incoming third year high school student who plans to resume her studies, which chemotherapy sessions interrupted. Tomes also looks forward to seeing her friends and classmates
again. “I tell them to study hard because when you have an illness like mine, only then will you realize how important education really is,” said this teen who, like Mandal, dreams of becoming a high school mathematics teacher. While the worst is over for Tomes, her mother, Lilia, a widow with eight children, worries about the bills that continue to pile up. It is not unusual for them to spend P67,000 a month on medications, said Lilia, 60, who added that the proceeds from a lot they sold were almost gone. But Lilia remains hopeful. “There are people who say chemotherapy is futile,” she said. “But I remind them that only God can speak of hopelessness and death. Even when doctors are pessimistic, I don’t lose hope. As other cancer survivors would tell Remelyn, “Kapit lang (just hang on)!” Kathleen T. de Villa
Giving back their childhood LIAH NICOLE RABOT, 7, whizzed through the Mind Museum in Taguig City like a girl possessed, pausing just a few seconds at one exhibit before rushing off to touch the next. It was like she was trying to save in her memory in a short afternoon every sight and sound she knew she would miss at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center where she is confined. Like the 15 other children brought to the Mind Museum for an early Christmas party, Rabot is seriously ill and missing the ordinary perks of childhood, like toys and playtime. But thanks to Make a Wish Foundation, the INQUIRER and the Mind Museum, she and the other kids forgot about their illnesses for a while and enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun, prizes, science exhibits and—easily the highlight of the event—having their wishes come true. Little Liah, for all the wonders of science around her, could not wait for “the grand surprise” they were promised after their museum tour. “Is it 4 o’clock yet?” she would ask, pausing from tinkering with the exhibits. The wait proved worth rewarding, judging from the squeals of joy that greeted the unwrapping of each mystery package. A cellular phone that played music. A Barbie doll and her own house. Tablets galore. A remote-controlled toy car. An Angry Birds stuffed toy. A giant Dora the Explorer doll. A Spiderman costume and toys. A remote-controlled toy helicopter. And for a forlorn-looking Mark Joseph Bolosan, who celebrated recently a lean fifth birthday, a huge cake decorated with Plants vs Zombies figures from his favorite computer game. The memorable Christmas party made the sick children feel like ordinary kids again. But while the children’s wishes were easy to grant for the INQUIRER’s “Wish to Have” volunteers, what their parents hoped for were more difficult to achieve. Eruel Romantico, father of 8-year-old Krisha Marie who has ovarian cancer, said, “If
Santa could put a miracle treatment for cancer in a box, wrap it and hand it to my daughter, that would be the greatest Christmas gift my family could receive.” Added the 34-year-old farmer from Infanta, Quezon, “We spent [the last] Christmas in the hospital because she had to undergo several cycles of [chemotherapy].” Each session, he said, cost them P45,000, money that took him two days to raise by standing in line at the Senate and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Krisha Marie, a consistent honor student in her school, got the tablet she wished for to help her do her homework. Her other wish was to get well, she said, adding it had become her “constant prayer.” Mary Jane Francia who came with daughter Angela Mae, a V. Luna Hospital patient from Iligan City, was pleasantly surprised by the gifts. “We expected a party but when we saw familiar faces from Make A Wish, we were thinking, maybe there was more,” the mother said, happily glancing at her daughter’s brand-new tablet. Patrick Flores, who took the day off to accompany his sister Samantha, considered the event a godsend, with or without the Barbie toys that his sibling got. “We have to grab every opportunity to make her happy because we do not know how long she will be with us. “[But] as long as we celebrate Christmas together, no matter how poor we are, we’ll be happy.” Rico Bautista, 16, had always dreamt of becoming a basketball player until a simple injury put an end to his dreams. In October this year, Bautista had a bad fall in a basketball game. A small wound in his leg grew bigger. Diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the muscles attached to the bones, he had to lose half of his left leg. “I felt my whole world crumble,” said the James Yap fan. Receiving a tablet fitted with a keyboard from the INQUIRER, Bautista’s eyes glowed again. Maricar B. Brizuela and Vaughn Alviar
Reaching for the stars CHRISTIAN GALANG has probably never heard of Van Gogh’s words: “…I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” But when the 16-year-old cancer-stricken youth met Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) star LA Tenorio, it seemed that Van Gogh had him in mind. Galang was one of 37 kids whose wishes were granted by Make a Wish Foundation, INQUIRER Corporate Affairs and employee volunteers. His one wish, said the fan of the National Basketball Association team San Antonio Spurs, was to watch a game between the Alaska Aces and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings. INQUIRER PBA reporter Musong Castillo arranged the meet-up between Galang and his idol Tenorio, a Ginebra player who used to play for Alaska. Wearing a jersey given by Tenorio, the boy watched the game, seated in the dugout where he had a courtside view. He received another gift from his idol after the game— an autographed basketball. “I can’t forget the smile and the happiness on his face. It
was priceless. I felt really happy, too,” said Tin Tin Asuncion of advertising, one of the INQUIRER volunteers. “This made me realize how fortunate we are,” added fellow volunteer and INQUIRER advertising head Kenny Nuyda. “We are in good health and capable of making a difference. Experiences like these remind me to be thankful to the Lord and never forget to share.”
LA TENORIO signs Christian Galang’s basketball. In the next few days, INQUIRER volunteers will make the
GALANG beams as he shows off the authographed ball. AUGUST DELA CRUZ
(CLOCKWISE, from top) Birthday boy Bolosan blows the candles on his cake; Shane Ubando meets an “astronaut” (story on next page); a boy seems unable to believe his brandnew cell phone is real.
dreams of five more kids come true. Two of them wish to meet television-movie star Marian Rivera while the other three hope to meet actor Coco Martin. The group wished they had also fulfilled the wish of Lovely Symajo, 14, who was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Symajo had wanted to meet her favorite “Pepito Manaloto” star, Jake Vargas. Entertainment reporter Marinel Cruz
AUGUST DELA CRUZ
arranged a meet-up between the girl and the actor that included a possible guesting in the popular TV series. But a day before the meeting, the volunteers got a text message from Make a Wish’s Frances Oco: “I’m sorry but Lovely has passed on.” If they could have a collective wish, the INQUIRER volunteers said it was to hold time in their hands, tame it and give Symajo and other seriously ill children an extra day or two to enjoy life. Jodee A. Agoncillo
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
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Suspending time SHANE UBANDO, 13, and Raven Cagsawa, 13, wished to go places, to step into an alternate world where they could forget all their troubles even just for a while. Ubando, who dreams of becoming a doctor, was diagnosed with stage four Ewing’s sarcoma in February. By then, the disease had spread to her lungs. She was about to finish Grade 7 when she learned of her illness. With the help of Make-A-Wish Foundation and the INQUIRER, Ubando fulfilled her wish to visit the country’s world-class Science museum and not think about her ailment for a few hours. At the Mind Museum in Taguig City, she traveled through time and space, and defied gravity. Ubando, who was accompanied by her family, said, “It was really exciting. My favorite part was when we were in space,” she said. She said she wanted to go to the Mind Museum because she loved science. She thanked Make-A-Wish and INQUIRER for bringing her there. Mind Museum’s Alexandra C. Limcaco gave complimentary tickets to Ubando and her family, the INQUIRER and Make-A-Wish teams. Ubando said her love for Science made her aspire to be a doctor. “I find it easy. I excel in it,” she said. Her mother, Flora, has been her rock, bringing Ubando to the hospital for radiation therapy sessions five days a week, even going on leave to care for her daughter. “When we first learned of her sickness, I cried and cried. But ... I had to look tough for her,” Flora said. Ubando needs 30 sessions of radiation therapy. She completed chemotherapy a few months ago. Her father Richard is a factory worker in the United States. She has two younger sisters, Fatima, 12, and Chloe, 4. No matter how bad the odds are, Ubando is not one to give up. “Challenges can be overcome, as long as we are strong,” she said, and “have a strong faith in God.”
Discipline is helping Cagsawa fight her illness. “I learned to be disciplined (in what) I eat. I (cannot) eat frozen foods because they contain preservatives and food color additives,” she said. The teenager has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She undergoes chemotherapy three times a week. Cagsawa advised other youngsters to watch what they eat. “Always eat vegetables and fruits,” she stressed. Cagsawa said, when she learned of her diagnosis, she feared the family would drown in debt because treatment would be expressed. When asked her wish, she first said she wanted to go to Splash Island to enjoy the cool waters and fun slides of the resort. But her doctor did not want her to go to a public pool because of the high risk of infection. The INQUIRER and Make-A-Wish teams brought her to Timezone in Glorietta in Makati City where she played games in an arcade for a few hours. As she thanked her sponsors, she expressed the wish that they would help other young people like her. Cagsawa also received a tablet, her second wish, and enjoyed her favorite food, pork sinigang. Cagsawa hopes to become an engineer so she can go abroad. “I’ve seen engineers working in other countries on TV and it inspired me,” Cagsawa said. Regina dela Paz, advertising deskperson who led the “wish” group, said, “I have a soft spot for children who go through life-threatening diseases because I’m a cancer survivor (myself).” She underwent treatment five years ago. She said the project was inspiring because it sent the message that everybody could help in big or small ways. Lisette Villanueva, external relations and communications associate for Make-A-Wish Foundation, said to screen beneficiaries, their volunteers went to public hospitals, sometimes disguising themselves as students doing a thesis to be able to enter the premises. Kathleen T. de Villa
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
INNOVATE AND DOMINATE @ 28
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REPORTING THE NEWS despite the odds Compiled by Pergentino B. Bandayrel Jr. National Editor
UPERTYPHOON “Yolanda” not only slit the country’s midsection like a giant scythe on Nov. 8, but also overwhelmed INQUIRER news planners, who had hoped that a reporter and photographer flying to Leyte from Manila, another reporter in Iloilo and at least five correspondents in the cities of Tacloban, Cebu, Calbayog and Roxas would be enough to cover the disaster.
The storm quickly immobilized three correspondents who lost their homes and had to look after their families. The whereabouts of the Manila-based team would not be known until two days after. The rest were too far from the scenes of devastation, isolated by toppled telecommunications towers and power lines and obstructed roads. In the ensuing days, other reporters, photographers and correspondents would fly or ride on government rescue and relief trucks to reach Leyte, Eastern Samar, Aklan and Palawan. They would hitch rides on military and private helicopters to remote islands and villages, scenes of destruction and relief efforts.
Two teams of correspondents and photographers from Northern and Southern Luzon later traveled in two INQUIRER vehicles to Leyte and Samar. In all, 27 reporters, photographers, correspondents and drivers covered Yolanda. One of them said, “There were still countless stories of tragedy and horror waiting to be told, but there were just as many stories of survivors trying to rise above their predicament and of the hundreds of volunteers and local and international organizations that came to help them do that.” Here we share a few pages from our reporters’ notebooks and from the impressions of our correspondents. REPORTING/ 2
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FROM OUR reporters’ notebooks From page 1
Before, during and after WITH photographer Niño Jesus Orbeta, I arrived in Leyte 24 hours before Yolanda made landfall. We got a rare, if dangerous, opportunity to document the typhoon before, during and after it happened. Before the typhoon, I asked some half a dozen people how they were preparing for the storm, if at all. Now I wonder if they are they still alive. After Yolanda came roaring into Leyte, Niño and I found ourselves stranded in the ruins of Tacloban. We went to work, documenting stories and capturing images, then left for Manila when the chance came. Back in Manila, I thought of what might have happened to Elegio Altis, the first person I interviewed, who lived in Palo and who, along with his nephew, refused to move to higher ground. The answer came two weeks later, serendipitously. When Niño covered survivors in the tent city at Villamor Airbase, a man tapped him on the shoulder. He was Elegio’s nephew, Romnick Abadines, who happily reported that his wife and children survived. But when asked about Altis, Romnick stopped smiling. “The sea swallowed him,” he said. Although I had half-expected it, the news still stunned me and gave me an uncomfortable, indescribable feeling. Yolanda had become even more real and personal. It brought back the uneasy feeling I had when I first arrived in Tacloban—that I was like a vulture waiting for people to die. DJ Yap
CALAMITY Janes and Joes, with INQUIRER managing editor Jose D. Nolasco (left): DJ Yap, Niño Jesus Orbeta, Niña Calleja, Nikko Dizon,TJ Burgonio, Mike Lim Ubac and Marlon Ramos
A tear fell
I AM not the kind who wears his heart on his sleeve. But Yolanda made me a crybaby; my heart of steel melted as I witnessed hell in Tacloban City and heard tales of misery. When I arrived in the city, several survivors, mostly in muddy clothes, came asking for water and food. I managed to keep my emotions in check with the first four or five persons, but broke down when a woman in her 70s came to the ruined office where I spent my first night. In a faint voice, she asked me in Filipino, “Can you spare me a bottle of water, even just for my grandchild? We have not eaten since yesterday. I know you have water in your bag.” Grudgingly, I filled her plastic bottle and gave her two packs of crackers. “Thank you very much, sir,” she said, holding my hand firmly. When she smiled, I could no longer hold back the tears. I decided to open a bag of biscuits and discreetly gave them to at least 10 persons who approached me. Marlon Ramos
THE ARRIVAL of President Aquino on Nov. 17 hastened roadclearing operations in Tacloban City. Lacking manpower and left with only a few trucks and backhoes, the local office of the Department of Public Works and Highways was fighting a losing battle reopening blocked highways and secondary roads. Reinforcements from Manila—mainly garbage trucks and pay loaders from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority—led to round-the-clock clearing operations. Mr. Aquino and his long motorcade were able to move around with greater ease. Boxes of doughnuts also appeared during the 7 a.m. meeting of Task Force Yolanda attended by government officials, aid workers and reporters. The smell of the doughnuts briefly covered the stench of dead bodies and rotting garbage. Nobody cared where the doughnuts had come from as everyone enjoyed the treat, eyes glowing. Given the circumstances, it was almost like having a taste of heaven. Michael Lim Ubac
THE NEWLY renovated cathedral, centerpiece of the Palo diocese, was celebrating its diamond jubilee when Yolanda struck.
TACLOBAN City, after Yolanda, made me experience living with the barest minimum. Meals consisted of biscuits, bread and canned goods. Only occasionally did we enjoy hot rice. Water was sipped, never gulped. A bath was a luxury. I learned the term ligong pato—you wash your face, use a little shampoo in the hair, wash the underarms and neck and ta-daa! You’re done! A towel lent to me by a junior military officer became a tapis and something to dry myself with after the ligong pato. It served as a blanket during the cold, windy and rainy nights at the airport. It also made the piece of plywood, which was my bed, a soft crib for a baby. The next day, although I knew the towel was dirty, I used it again to dry myself and as a tapis. Nikko Dizon
MY IMPRESSIONS of Guiuan, a town in Eastern Samar that is a popular surfing destination, changed in the three days I stayed there. I saw the town’s goodness and admirable strength, eager to stand up and start anew. I did not see helplessness and chaos but heard stories of people striving to help neighbors, like Chinese-Filipino grocer Susan Tan who lost P10 million worth of goods to starving residents but still chose to remain to help in the relief efforts. Retired government engineer Tootsie Sabulao opened what remained of his house to relief workers and journalists like me and allowed us the use of his water pump and comfort room. The good deeds and kindness of the beautiful people in this town, who were also devastated by the typhoon, warmed my heart. Niña Calleja
THE PALO municipal hall pre- (left) and post-Yolanda (right) NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
INQUIRER reporters were no longer just reporting the news—they almost became the news.
LUIS Antonio Cardinal Tagle celebrated the Mass, which concluded the diamond jubilee celebration, in the roofless cathedral.
Photo narrative I REMINDED myself why I was there—to tell stories through my photos. What was harder than taking shots of the daily scenery was my interviews with victims. But there were also good stories depicting a strong bayanihan spirit. I was inspired by acts of kindness from complete strangers distributing relief goods, feeding of children and assisting the injured. Andrew Tadalan, photo correspondent
TEACHER Virginia Piedad, 48, shows her appreciation to their benefactors with this sign near her house in Barangay Opong, Tolosa, Leyte. INQUIRER PHOTO/RAFFY LERMA
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COVERING “Yolanda” was by far the toughest and most difficult assignment I’ve had as a journalist. I was part of the unfolding story. Everything familiar—homes, buildings, churches, roads, bridges, crops and lives—collapsed like playing cards. Everything I held dear—my home, watering holes and streets—was reduced to rubble. With eight other members of my family, I climbed to the roof of our house to escape the rampaging waters. We had to crawl to the next house and on to the next higher one, staying there for what seemed like an eternity until the water subsided. After making sure that my family was safe, I went around asking neighbors how they survived. I couldn’t breathe. I had a lump in my throat and had to stop. I could have answered those questions myself. I cried with fellow survivors. I felt their pain when they spoke of lost family members. I, too, lost so many friends. For three days, I was out of touch with the rest of the world. No phone, no computer. And no roof. I stopped thinking of anything else and just cleaned up what was left of our house. I kept telling myself, “We all survived Yolanda. Thanks be to God.” Joey A. Gabieta, Inquirer Visayas
THE EERINESS and desolation around were enough to make you cry and think about families like yours that suffered and endured the brutality of nature. Yet, you see rays of hope in volunteers who began working even before the sun rose. It was amazing to see hundreds of survivors clearing Tacloban’s Calle Real of debris. Their faces showed the dignity labor brought to their lives, as they were partially freed from dependency. You marvelled at the generosity of the Tzu Chi Foundation, which paid each of them P500 a day for the job of cleaning up. Foreign volunteers praised the resiliency of the survivors and expressed empathy and compassion. A physician from Harvard University could not control his emotions as he described the devastation and its effects on the children. I cried as I recalled the stories while writing my reports. We left a city in ruins but were assured our compatriots would rise in time. Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon
Lessons in humanity I AM not one to be easily moved emotionally, but I was touched by how the people of Leyte, who were not as used to such losses and damage as Bicolanos, struggled to comprehend what had happened. How humanity cuts across differences in nationality, culture and distances, to selflessly help others rebuild their lives! On the streets, Korean, American and Filipino firemen and soldiers worked hand-in-hand, collecting dead bodies and getting rid of the rubble. I met children and women who lost fathers and husbands, talked with men and women who lost homes but who remained hopeful. Their stories were both sad and inspiring. They had learned a lesson. We all did. Shiena M. Barrameda, Inquirer Southern Luzon
Important role I WAS pulled out from Bohol and sent to Tacloban to cover the devastation there. Nothing could be worse than the aftermath of the earthquake in Bohol, I thought. I was wrong. In Leyte, destruction was everywhere. I realized journalists played an important role during disasters. They brought out stories of the community, especially when it seemed like it had no voice at all, called the attention of the government and informed the outside world of the situation on the ground. Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas
FROM OUR correspondents circle
More than a journalist SEEING dead people on the streets for the first time was so traumatic that, after four days in Tacloban, I became emotional, stressed and unable to sleep at night. The coverage made me realize that in tragic times like this, I could not be just a journalist, gathering information for news stories. I could also be a good listener to the tragic and heroic stories of survivors, and even cry with them to lighten their hearts. Jennifer Allegado, Inquirer Visayas
CORRESPONDENTS Escandor and Gascon write their stories inside a tent in Tacloban.
THE INQUIRER TEAM IN TACLOBAN. (from left) Driver Marvin Isorena, Northern Luzon correspondent Melvin Gascon, Southern Luzon correspondents Juan Escandor and Shiena M. Barrameda, photo correspondent Richard Reyes, Northern Luzon photo correspondent Richard Balonglong and driver Jerry Jano.
We shall recover I WATCHED helplessly as the roof of my new house in Roxas City, Capiz, was blown away by Yolanda. I thought about the safety of my wife and two children. It was actually only our eighth day in the house. When I returned from our temporary shelter, the first thing that came to mind was to file reports on the typhoon. But communications were down and power was out. It took three days before I could send my first report to INQUIRER Visayas, using the laptop of a media friend. I thanked God for saving me and my family. We lost most of our personal possessions, but I promised my family we would recover. Soon, I hope. Felipe V. Celino, Inquirer Visayas
Look of desolation
Inspiring grit NEWS gathering was relatively easy. We did not have to look far for survivors with interesting stories. Everyone we met was a victim. We hopped from one devastated town to another, but time was limited as there was a wide area to cover and too much devastation to record. We traveled for hours on badly damaged roads, often reaching our base at night. Perhaps the worst part of the experience was coming face-toface with the victims, listening to their stories, watching them silently weep and grieve over lost loved ones and property, and able to give them only a gentle tap on the shoulder while recording details that the mind and heart can’t bear. It was painful, yet inspiring, to see the grit of families trying to rise and rebuild shattered lives. Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon
Focused THE THING that stressed me the most was the three-day travel to and from assignments. The massive destruction and corpses that littered the roads did not really affect me psychologically. I showed and felt sympathy, but I did not lose my focus. Richard Balonglong, Inquirer Northern Luzon
TRAVELING to the devastated areas in northern Iloilo, Antique, Aklan and Capiz was exhausting. Even more draining was the look of desolation, the unspoken plea for help of the victims, most of whom were already mired in poverty even before the typhoon. Unclaimed bodies were brought to a morgue in Estancia, Iloilo. I covered my face with a handkerchief but was still overwhelmed by the stench of 10 bodies on the tables and ground. A woman was looking for her husband, and a boy for his father. Nameless bodies were to be buried in mass graves at the municipal cemetery. In Concepcion, I consoled the hysterical widow of a school teacher who had died helping others to safety. It was the most anguished cry I had ever heard. I held back my emotions as I covered the news and beat deadlines. I let the tears flow at home so I could be a listener and a storyteller again the next day. Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas
THE TACLOBAN Convention Center pre-Yolanda (below) and after the typhoon struck (right). NIÑO JESUS ORBETA
SECOND SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY to Tacloban By Ramon Tulfo JAMES HARRIS, a classmate in high school, was one of the thousands of people who perished when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” struck Leyte province on Nov. 8. James’ death diminishes me because he was one of the closest friends I’d ever had. James and his family drowned when tsunami-like waves, spawned by the strongest storm on record, engulfed their house, located a few meters from the seashore in Tanauan town, less than half an hour’s ride from the capital Tacloban City. Most of the people in James’ coastal village drowned because they had no idea what a “storm surge” was. The government warned against a storm surge as Yolanda approached land, but did not say that storm surges could be tsunami-like waves. Had the government made that clear, people would have fled to higher ground and
the casualties from Yolanda would have been fewer. That’s what I gathered from the survivors I interviewed. Two weeks after I conducted my first medical mission to Tacloban, from Nov. 11 to 13, I returned to Leyte for another medical mission from Nov. 25 to 27. I divided my second medical mission, composed of 20 doctors from the Chinese General Hospital and 17 from St. Luke’s Medical Center, into two groups. The Chinese General Hospital doctors, led by surgeon Nelson Lim, worked in what used to be the St. Paul Hospital on the first day of the mission and in San Miguel town on the second day. I joined the St. Luke’s doctors, led by surgeon Sammy Tanzo, on the mission to Tanauan, which was as badly battered as Tacloban City, because that’s where James Harris lived and I expected to see him there.
I learned about his death from people in Canramos village, several blocks from the Tanauan municipal hall.
Body recovery As I got off the three-truck convoy to the municipal building to pay a courtesy call on the town mayor, I saw 13 body bags spread out on the town plaza. The bodies were recovered that day, Monday, Nov. 25, or 17 days after Yolanda, from the rubble of houses in the town. The townsfolk, now inured to the sight of so many corpses, went about repairing what was left of their homes and belongings. In normal times, curious people would have made a big crowd and jostled one another to get a glimpse of the bodies. The bodies would later be buried in a mass grave in the town plaza, which had been turned into a mini cemetery. Yesterday, before I wrote this story, I
called up Navy Capt. Roy Trinidad, chief of Tacloban City airport operations, to thank him for providing our medical mission with trucks and security men. I learned from Trinidad that around 100 bodies were spotted from the air also yesterday in the vicinity of the San Juanico Bridge, which links Leyte and Samar provinces. Up to yesterday, 21 days after Yolanda battered Eastern Visayas, bodies were still being recovered.
Stench of death In the three places where the St. Luke’s doctors conducted medical missions—Tanauan and Palo towns and Tacloban City—the stench of rotting corpses filled the air. On Nov. 25, the day we landed in Tacloban City, most of us were retching from the stench of death and uncollected trash, but we had gotten used to it by the second day, Tuesday. On our way back to downtown
Tacloban, after finishing the mission in Palo, we saw five bodies in bags, one of them that of an infant, being examined for identification by policemen from Manila at a crossroad. As usual, people waiting for a ride paid no attention to what the policemen were doing. But we could not get used to the devastation and smell of putrefying bodies all around although some of us, like Dr. Tanzo and me, had been to the city two weeks before. The 12-man nonmedical members of the mission were myself, my staff on “Isumbong Mo kay Tulfo” and some Americans from Hollywood who recorded the devastation for US audiences, Richard Skaggs, Robert Mayon and Peter Goldman. Skaggs, a former movie producer, said he would make a documentary on what we had seen so that he could solicit more relief from Americans. “I can’t believe this happened to SECOND/ 7
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SECOND SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY to Tacloban From page 6
such lovely people. Everything seems surreal,” Skaggs said. Like the rest of us on the mission, Skaggs was physically and emotionally drained after three days at ground zero. While the doctors and the “Isumbong” team were having dinner each night after a hard day’s work, Skaggs would be asleep, as he was completely exhausted—emotionally.
‘It’s unsafe here’ The sight of so much devastation, the stories of survivors who spoke to us and the reports of looting were too much for Skaggs, a former US Marine. A businessman whom we met during the mission told us he shot dead two men who tried to break into his store at the height of the looting in the city on Nov. 10. “That’s my boy!” Skaggs told the businessman, one of the very few who decided to remain in the city. Unofficial estimates place at 5 percent the businessmen who stayed in Tacloban despite the looting. “You can’t blame the majority who left because it’s not safe here,” said the businessman, who asked that his name be withheld. The businessman’s family, however, left and is now in Manila. On Tuesday, Nov. 26, there was still looting in the city, the businessman said. Policemen and soldiers patrolling the streets just watched as a group of men pushed a cart with a new freezer on it. The security forces apparently had gotten used to seeing people carrying away their loot. The businessman said that when he asked the cops and the soldiers why they didn’t arrest the looters, they told him that they didn’t see them in the act of looting. It would take many, many years for
Tacloban City, the center of commerce and education in Eastern Visayas, to recover financially, the businessman said. Eastern Visayas is composed of the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar and Biliran.
James Harris Now, about my friend James Harris, whose death has affected me emotionally. James, a half-Caucasian American, was my classmate in third and fourth year high school at Tacloban’s St. Paul’s College, which later became the Divine Word University. He grew up without knowing his father, Lt. James Harris, a member of the US forces that landed in Leyte, the springboard for the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese in World War II. James once told me he felt like he was a “nonentity, a nonperson” because he didn’t know his father. The Red Cross and the US Embassy in Manila were of no help in James’ search for the American soldier whose affair with a Filipino laundrywoman had produced him. In my desperation to help James, I went to the American War Memorial in Fort Bonifacio to look for the grave of a James Harris. I found several graves of American soldiers named James Harris.
US fighter pilot But one name drew my interest: Lt. James Harris, a pilot whose plane had crashed into the Pacific Ocean in December 1944, two months after the Leyte landing and many months before James was born. I told James his father probably drowned in the sea in Philippine territory. James drowned in the seawater that engulfed his house at the height of Yolanda. Father and son, who shared the same fate, are now together.
We congratulate the Philippine Daily Inquirer for 28 years of Excellence in Journalism for being the most modern, visually
dynamic and environment friendly newspaper in the country.
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COME READ ALONG WITH US: Inspiring the young with tales of heroism By the Inquirer Read-Along Team
LOSE to a thousand children listened to new awardwinning stories about Filipino hero Andres Bonifacio and other tales of heroism during the 3rd INQUIRER Read-Along Festival held recently at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay City. INQUIRER president and chief executive officer Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez led this year’s roster of storytellers, which included reading ambassadors Catherine Untalan-Vital, Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Kim Atienza and Nikki Gil. They all read “Ngumiti si Andoy,” a story written by Xi Zuq and illustrated by Dominic Agsaway. To be published by Adarna House, the story won the grand prize in the recent Philippine Board on Books for Young People-Salanga Awards (PBBY-Salanga Awards). With the theme, “Makisaya, Makibasa: The Filipino Child and the Culture of Excellence,” this year’s festival, copresented with the CCP, was part of the observance of Bonifacio’s 150th birth anniversary. Other books read included “Ang Supremo at ang Kuweba” and “Si Andoy, Batang Tondo,” both runners-up in the PBBY-Salanga Awards. “Sometimes we need to be reminded about and re-inspired by our heroes. Often the stories we hear are about the bigger things, like how they give their lives,” said Romualdez. She expressed the hope that kids would realize that simple acts like kindness to strangers could also go a long way.
“It is touching to think about the journey of read-along. Now it has come to a point... where people recognize and realize what this program does. It gives me hope that we could build a nation of readers. That can’t happen overnight. But there were some things we thought we couldn’t do before. And look at us now—we are in CCP,” added Romualdez, who read during the second session of the festival’s first day along with the INQUIRER Read-Along team. Other readers were reigning Miss Earth 2012 Tereza Fajksova of the Czech Republic, Miss Philippines Earth-Air 2013 Kimverlyn Suiza, actor Alfred Vargas and Ronald McDonald. Read-along professional storytellers Rich Rodriguez, Posh Develos, Dyali Justo and Ann Abacan of Sophia School told the children stories about Bonifacio and about ordinary people doing extraordinary acts of heroism. Tanghalang Pilipino opened the first session with an excerpt from its production “Sandosenang Sapatos.” Award-winning illustrator Agsaway attended the festival’s second day.
Storytelling queen Candy Joy C. Tan of Chiang Kai Shek College was crowned Festival Storytelling Queen after winning the storytelling competition that capped the two-day event. Jeremy Matthew Mercurio of Optimus Center for Development was first runnerup; Maria Catrina Chan of A. Regidor Elementary School, second runner-up; Timothy Bernardo Salacup of the School of St. Anthony, third runner-up; and Rafael Bennett Lamasan of the Diliman Preparatory COME / 2
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COME READ ALONG WITH US : Inspiring the young with tales of heroism From page 1
School, fourth runner-up. “These days, you don’t have to die to be a hero; we can also be like modern-day Andres Bonifacios in our own ways,” said CCP president Raul Sunico during the festival’s opening ceremonies. Other opening day guests were INQUIRER chair Marixi Prieto, Bryan PrietoValdes and Rotary Club of Makati’s Jay Savage and Rodrigo Segura. Students of Pasig elementary schools in Districts 1, 2 and 3; San Sebastian College, Good Shepherd Montessori School, Tuloy sa Don Bosco, First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities and Cembo Elementary School, St. Scholastica’s College, Goodwill Elementary School, Camp Asia, John Dewey School for Children, South Cembo Elementary School, Sophia School, TMA Home School, Optimus Center for Development, Chiang Kai Shek College and F. Guerrero Elementary School attended the six festival sessions. Also represented were Makati Book Club, Virlanie Foundation, Service for Peace and Laura Vicuna Foundation. McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts donated snacks and Rotary Club of Makati’s Books across the Seas program gave books. Prizes for winners in the question and answer portions came from Adarna House and Vibal Publishing. A book fair featured titles from Adarna, Anvil Publishing and Tahanan Books. Readalong partner United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Climate Change and Clean Energy (CEnergy) Project set up a climate change exhibit and distributed flyers and freebies. “Bonifacio has been my idol since I was young and it’s refreshing to read a storybook about him,” said Vital, Miss Earth Foundation executive director. “I hope that, through our reading, the kids realize how important it is to know our history as Filipinos. It is by knowing our history that they can appreciate the freedom that we are enjoying today.” “We want to encourage the kids to read as much as they can. Even I had trouble when I was younger to get myself to read books. I hope, through read-along, we can teach kids to love reading,” said CurtisSmith, who capped the festival’s Day One.
INQUIRER president and CEO Alexandra Prieto-Romualdez was among the storytellers at the 3rd INQUIRER Read-Along Festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
INQUIRER chair Marixi Prieto joins some of the kids before the opening ceremonies of the festival.
PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ALMACEN
THE INQUIRER president and CEO with the read-along team (from left) Kate Pedroso, Minerva Generalao, Connie Kalagayan, Bianca Kasilag, Chito de la Vega and Rich Rodriguez
CURTIS-SMITH reads “Ngumiti Si Andoy.”
STORYTELLING competition winners: (From left) Tan, Chan, Lamasan, Bernardo and Mercurio, with judges Rodriguez, Abacan and Justo
Atienza’s surprise “I have always enjoyed talking to and relating with kids, but this time it is more fulfilling because it’s my first time to do it in the CCP,” said Atienza, who surprised the audience on Day Two by showing a live ball python after his reading. “The story I read should instill a desire to know more about our country and our heroes. I hope it instills a sense of nationalism among children at a very young age.” “My experience as a reader today reminded me of when I was younger and I joined expressive reading competitions like this one,” said Gil, who sang her song “Glowing Inside” and later awarded the winners of the storytelling competition along with Rotary Club of Makati president Carlo Rufino. “I hope the kids were able to learn more about history and about Bonifacio himself. There’s more to him than what they already know.” “After attending today’s session, we hope we can start our own mini read-along at our library every lunch break,” said Zen Santiago Borlongan, program director of Camp Asia that brought 10 pupils and their teachers from Marangal Elementary School in San Juan del Monte City in Bulacan province.
RODRIGUEZ does an animated reading of “Uuwi na ang Nanay kong si Darna” by Edgar Samar to the kids’ delight.
GIL calls on a participant, who has a question after her reading.
VITAL, Suiza and Fajksova take turns reading “Ngumiti si Andoy” by Xi Zuq. ATIENZA reads “Ngumiti si Andoy.” He also gives the kids a big surprise by showing a python after the reading. Camp Asia is a Korean nonprofit organization focusing on the urban poor who have been relocated to provinces near Metro Manila. Justin, a Grade 5 student from Marangal, said he liked “Ngumiti si Andoy” because of the illustrations. He said he wanted to learn more drawing tips from book illustrator Agsaway, who gamely responded to questions from the kids.
The festival was hosted by INQUIRER Libre editor in chief Chi-
to de la Vega, Junior Inquirer editor Ruth Navarra, Louie Bacani of INQUIRER’s information technology department and Eds Garcia of the marketing department. The festival was also in cooperation with Cherrie Rose Rosuello and Stars and Events, Jaja Castro-Hernaez of TV5, Miss Earth Foundation and CCP’s
Bing Tresvalles, Jocel Pacada and Mark Medina. More than 50 INQUIRER employee-volunteers participated. Most of them also volunteered for the 2011 and 2012 festivals at GT Toyota and Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, respectively. With reports from Kate Pedroso and Marielle Medina, Inquirer Research, and Vaughn Alviar and Maricar Brizuela
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ONCE AGAIN, awards and honors AS IN years past, allow us to toot our horn and share our pride in the awards we have garnered in the field of journalism in 2013.
June 23 Ruben V. Nepales Third prize for personality profile, “Charlie Sheen after the Meltdown,” which appeared in his INQUIRER column “Only In Hollywood” Los Angeles Press Club’s 55th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards
Aug. 2 Philippine Daily Inquirer Outstanding Newspaper of the Year Nancy C. Carvajal Newspaper Reporter of the Year Volunteers against Crime and Corruption
Oct. 18 Philippine Daily Inquirer Business News Source of the Year Riza T. Olchondra Reporter of the Year for the agriculture beat
Reporter of the Year for the trade beat Doris Dumlao Reporter of the Year for the capital markets beat Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (Ejap)-Globe Telecom Business Journalism Award
Nov. 15 Francis Ochoa and Jasmine Payo Best Special Feature, “3 triathletes rise above pain, obstacles, disability” Randy David Best Opinion Column, “Public Lives” Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA)
Dec. 2 Inquirer Read-Along Silver award for Enduring Excellence World Young Readers Prize World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-Ifra)
Dec. 3 Motoring section Best Motoring section among all broadsheets Henry Ford Awards
INQUIRER Motoring editor Jong Arcano receives the Henry Ford Award for Best Broadsheet Motoring Section of the Year.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
Anniversary Supplement INQUIRER.NET
THE PLATFORM is the story By Abelardo S. Ulanday Associate Editor for Online
HREE days after Supertyphoon ‘‘Yolanda” pummeled Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, INQUIRER reporter DJ Yap wrote a stirring story about a teacher in Tacloban City who survived the disaster but lost her daughter to the surging seawater. The mother tried to hold on to her injured daughter, but eventually let go when the girl told her to save herself. To date this story posted on INQUIRER.net has generated more than a million page views and almost half a million shares. It is the most read single story online this year so far. Other Yolanda-related stories written by INQUIRER.net reporters Tetch Torres-Tupas, Julliane Love de Jesus and Nestor Corrales, as well as online editor Totel de Jesus, made it to the Top 5 list of viral stories this year (See Chart 1 on Page 2). Two words best describe what catapulted them to the top—compelling and engaging. The big stories that shocked and rocked the nation this year made compelling and engaging content for the INQUIRER world. Written and delivered in excellent storytelling
form, these events—both natural and man-made—kept millions of readers and netizens glued to the INQUIRER Group’s various touch points—print, online, digital, broadcast and social media. The stories gave the INQUIRER a wider reach and a bigger audience.
Big numbers INQUIRER.net, the group’s online arm, drew big numbers from these stories. Web traffic grew mainly due to a hefty 29-percent increase in unique visitors and a 12-percent rise in page views. The number of shares received by stories also went up, as I NQUIRER .net made use of social media to reach new readers. The time spent by readers on the site also rose. Based on statistics from Google Analytics, INQUIRER.net had a monthly average of 9.8 million unique visitors and 84.3 million page views at the end of November. Metrics in the site’s other vital points were up as well, with a 14.5-percent growth in visits (the number of visitors who regularly access the site as opposed to UV, readers accessing the site from different locations) and a 9-percent decrease in bounce rate, or time spent on the site. The decrease means readers are now staying longer on the site and reading other stories. The biggest rise in web traffic was
registered between July and September, when some of the year’s big stories were reported. The P10-billion pork barrel scam, allegedly orchestrated by Janet Lim-Napoles and the INQUIRER’s biggest scoop so far, provided the big push, especially for INQUIRER.net. Other equally big stories propelled the site to its highest level of page views in just 51 days—from July 12 to Aug. 30. During this period, INQUIRER.net had 121 million page views, according to data from Google Analytics. Aside from the pork barrel scam, other stories that contributed to the THE PLATFORM / 2
6 THINGS INQSNAP makes possible How to use your smartphone to make your copy of the INQUIRER bristle with bonus content By Penelope P. Endozo Team INQSnap
EOPLE may not be able to take other newspapers everywhere they go but they sure can bring the INQUIRER with them from breakfast to bedtime. All they need is a smartphone. Readers now have a new way to get INQUIRER news with INQSnap, the augmented reality (AR) feature of the INQUIRER Mobile app that can be downloaded for free from the iOS App Store or android Google Play. With over 30,000 downloads and some 2 million views since it debuted in May, the INQUIRER Mobile app, with breaking news, official tweets, classifieds and INQSnap, is a habit-in-the-making for INQUIRER readers. INQSnap allows readers to launch digi-
tal content to “leap” from page to phone. This includes videos, audio clips, exclusive documents, photo galleries and zoom-able maps, among other applications. Unlike other AR apps, INQSnap needs only one “capture” on the page to get the bonus content. INQSnapping is easy because readers do not have to hold onto the page while viewing additional files. The app can unlock multimedia content by scanning even as little as 30 percent of the page. The content can then be accessed again any time of day; readers can even share it with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter, too. Here are the top six applications that INQSnap makes possible: Videos - Reporters, contributors and even readers can share exclusive outtakes, backstage interviews or contributed reports while syndicated news wires show micro-movies (e.g., the NBA finals), a preview of some of the hottest bands’ concerts and international news coverage. Photo galleries - See the picture in today’s newspaper? There’s more where that came from. INQSnap gives readers a daily dose of visuals—from style guides to Top 10 images from around the world. Interactive maps - From the continent down to the barangay level, INQSnap can
NERY (in purple shirt) with (from left) Yee , Hidalgo, Verayo, Louie Bacani of the support unit, the author and Roger Filomeno of the INQUIRER MegaMobile (abov of INQSnappable content (right) that readers can access with their smartphone track, via Google Maps, new “in” spots, remote provinces and hole-in-the-wall establishments to guide the reader. One recent map was of companies and nongovernment organizations accepting donations for Yolanda victims. PDF files - Readers want the real deal so INQSnap brings copies of exclusive court documents, full texts of speeches, copies of historical texts and any file of interest right at their fingertips. Audio clips - “Did you hear that from the INQUIRER?” With INQSnap, that is possi-
ble. Sound bites of personalities and soundtracks of celebrities are featured, like the exclusive interview with Jason Mraz where he sang for the INQUIRER. Sidebars - Want that recipe in the food review? Do you know “what went before” in the dispute between China and the Philippines over parts of the West Philippine Sea? Some sidebar stories are featured on INQSnap, too. Other applications provide movie trailers of the week, daily answers to the crossword puzzle, additional column pieces
from Project Syndicate authors gree panoramic street view and on special topics such as the mi tions and post-Yolanda guide o ers can help victims. INQSnap is powered by Mega its multimedia content is curate torial staff—Penelope Endozo, V dalgo, Frances Katigbak, Nastas and Jovic Yee—with John Nery See that blue INQSnap logo o page? Snap away to make your from page to screen.
e-Paper comes into its own By Javier Vicente D. Rufino Director, Inquirer Mobile THIS year, INQUIRER Mobile, the INQUIRER Group unit that handles INQUIRER content for over 100 million mobile users in the Philippines, hit a significant milestone. By the end of the year, paid digital subscriptions to the INQUIRER Group’s premium e-paper newsstand for tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices (http://bit.ly/Inquirer-digital) will, for the first time since the product was introduced, exceed the number of INQUIRER print home- or office-delivery subscribers. The milestone not only means a boost to the group’s paid circulation (each paid e-paper is a replica of the print copy and thus counts as part of paid print circulation) it also shows that charging for content is a viable digital strategy in addition to purely advertising-supported revenue streams. The e-paper also allows
the INQUIRER Group print editions to reach areas where delivery is hampered by inadequate infrastructure and geographic remoteness. Previously, readers in these areas had to put up with late, even sporadic, newspaper deliveries. Now, thanks to the wide availability of tablets and smartphones and the INQUIRER e-paper apps (http://bit.ly/inqepaperapps), subscribers in far-flung areas can enjoy complete, reliable and early access to all the INQUIRER Group’s publications, a case study that got a warm reception at the recent Digital Media Asia conference of the World Association of Newspapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While for many readers the INQUIRER e-paper’s main purpose is to deliver the complete “lean back” print experience on a tablet or smartphone, it is also a digital product in its own right. Stories can be viewed in either the traditional print layout or in SmartFlow, a form that organizes content
THE PRINTED newspaper has to be physically delivered to different points in the country, but sometimes an emergency situation, like a landslide in Baguio post-Typhoon “Pepeng” in 2009, can make distribution difficult. Not to worry, our INQUIRER dealer (in yellow shirt) still managed to carry copies of our newspaper over the eroded area and deliver our paper to Baguio readers. (Above, right) The tab accesses the news effortlessly in its second edition while the printed newspaper is first edition. into a stream of stories similar to such tablet apps as Flipboard or Zite.
Stories can be shared on e-mail, tweeted, posted on Facebook or even “clipped” on
services such as Evernote and Instagram. Some aspects of digital life
are deliberately dropped, though: No flashing banner ads, intrusive pop-ups or anonymous comment trolls are found in the e-paper. The INQUIRER e-paper aims to deliver an uninterrupted reading experience as befits a premium
THE PLATFORM is the story From page 1
huge rise in the site’s traffic included the sex video scandal involving musician Chito Miranda, the Fiba Asia basketball league that featured the Smart Gilas Pilipinas team, the ship collision off Cebu City, the devastation wrought by the habagat (southwest monsoon) and Tropical Storm “Maring,” the State of the Nation Address (Sona) of President Aquino and another sex video scandal involving popular television personality Wally Bayola. The publication of the verbatim transcript of the round-table discussion between Napoles and the INQUIRER staff in the newspaper’s editorial office in Makati City also contributed to the dramatic jump in web traffic. The first part of the five-part series drew close to 11,000 shares within the first two hours of posting.
Bigger stories Bigger stories unfolded in October and November. A 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked Bohol province and parts of Cebu province, destroying centuries-old churches and displacing hundreds
of thousands of residents. And before the victims in Bohol could recover from the disaster, Yolanda came and devastated Leyte and Samar provinces and other parts of the Visayas. Stories on these disasters were published on the various INQUIRER platforms. But those posted online were given more depth and drama with the use of videos, photo slideshows and infographics. Well-written articles dotted with good photos had always been winners, but the addition of moving images and sound bites to such stories significantly boosted their chances of being read, shared and commented on. For any website, that spells increased traffic and viewership. Another feature employed to keep readers on site is live blogging as in the case of the Oscar awards, the Sona of President Aquino, the Napoles appearance at the Senate and the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight. It provides a blow-by-blow account, so to speak, of unfolding events. I NQUIRER .net has also created special sites for big events, compiling news stories as well as other pertinent information on those events. Among these
sites are those on the pork barrel scam, Pacquiao, the Bohol and Cebu earthquake and the Yolanda aftermath. These features have made INQUIRER.net the top Philippine news website. Alexa, an online firm that ranks websites based on daily traffic, ranked (as of Dec. 3) INQUIRER.net No. 11, behind global brands such as social media giants Facebook and Twitter, search engines Google and Wikipedia, search and news aggregator Yahoo and video powersite YouTube, but ahead of other local news sites (See Chart 2 on Page 1). Of course, bigger things go beyond numbers. The statistics are only as good as the news and issues that get posted on the site. If the content is dry and wanting, no amount of technical innovations and promotional plans could convince readers to visit a site. Or even search for it. Thus, the need to continue producing quality content that would not only compel and engage people to read but also empower them to act and make the right decisions. At INQUIRER.net, the platform is only a part of the story.
subscri The comple Mobile tandem develo MegaM INQ
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scription product. he e-paper is also a natural plement to INQUIRER bile’s other innovation, in dem with the group’s mobile elopment arm, gaMobile: INQSnap. NQSnap provides additional
“augmented reality” interactivity to both print and e-paper issues of the INQUIRER through the use of a mobile app (http://bit.ly/inqsnap) and a mobile phone’s camera. Use the camera to “snap” at items in the paper and additional photos,
video, website links and other content become available. The app is also useful on its own with breaking news updates from the group’s online arm, INQUIRER.net, tweets from the social media desk and reporters and the latest job openings from JobMarketOnline, the group’s multiplatform job portal. While innovations for tablets and smartphones have been at the forefront of INQUIRER Mobile’s efforts, the Philippine mobile landscape nonetheless remains dominated by phones used mainly for calls and the ubiquitous social network formed by SMS texts. It is for this market that INQUIRER Mobile continues to focus on its 4467 breaking news SMS alerts, a service that hit record high opt-ins this year (text INQ ON BREAKING to 4467 to join). What is next for INQUIRER Mobile? As the mobile landscape continues to shift, expect more mobile apps, more multiplatform options and new ways of interacting with mobile users, as media consumption increasingly goes mobile.
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Breaking biz stories can win awards By Daxim L. Lucas
VERY now and then, an odd year comes along when the Philippine Daily Inquirer does not dominate the annual business journalism awards given by the Economic Journalists’ Association of the Philippines (Ejap).
Like the INQUIRER’s political news section, the Business section is often the first to break big stories that impact significantly the lives of Filipinos
CHAMPS The INQUIRER Business news team at the Ejap awards (from left) reporters Miguel Camus, Michelle Remo, and Riza Olchondra; assistant business editor Corrie Narisma; desk editor Tina Arceo-Dumlao, and reporters Daxim Lucas and Paolo Montecillo But those years come few and far between the ones when the business news team of the country’s No. 1 broadsheet takes home the most number of trophies from the only award-giving body dedicated to recognizing excellence in the reporting of economic and business issues. This year was no different. PDI was once more recognized as the Best Business News Source—the second year in a row—by Ejap, the umbrella organization of the country’s economic reporters. Of the seven trophies for seven reporting beats and categories that were up for grabs last October, PDI’s Business section took home three, thanks to the prowess of two reporters, namely Doris Dumlao and Riza Olchondra (who won for the coverage of two beats in one year). The awards represented Dumlao’s 12th Ejap trophy since she started as a business journalist in the mid-1990s, and the fourth for Olchondra. (Tying with the INQUIRER for the Best Business News Source award this year was Malaya, whose reporters also received three awards.) Like their counterparts in the political news section, INQUIRER’s business reporters have a penchant for being the first to break big stories that impact significantly the lives of the Filipino reading public.
Nose for scams Apart from being quick to the draw when reporting spot news stories, the journalists of the Business section also have a penchant for uncovering scams. Indeed, many of the biggest business stories of the last two or three decades involving corporate malfeasance were first revealed to the world in the pages of INQUIRER’s Business section. These include the P900-million Bancap scam in 1994; the blow-by-blow reportage as the 1997 East Asian Financial Crisis ravaged the country; the collapse of Urban Bank in 2000, and the corporate accounting anomalies in the wake of the financial crisis. Also receiving prominent attention from the Business team was the 1999-2000 BW stock market scandal that rocked the local financial market and became one of the catalysts for the fall from grace of then President Joseph Estrada in 2001. More recently, the Business section broke the story of the P14-billion Legacy insurance and banking scam, which resulted in the closure of several financial institutions ran by the late Celso delos Angeles and the criminal prosecution of those involved in the elaborate operation. The story was recognized by the Society of Publishers in Asia with an award in 2009. The INQUIRER’s Business team is led by editor Raul Marcelo and assistant business editor Ma. Socorro Narisma. The other members of the group are editors Tina Arceo-Dumlao, Margie Quimpo-Espino and Eric Olona, and reporters Michelle Remo, Ronnel Domingo, Amy Remo, Paolo Montecillo, Miguel Camus and the author, and editorial assistant Princess Ominga. Most of them have been award recipients in previous years.
Impressive roster Looking farther back into the history of the group, one would see an impressive roster of journalists, all of whom helped build the reputation of the INQUIRER as one of the most informative business news publications in the country today—even if the broadsheet is not, strictly speaking, a business newspaper. The Business section counts among its past and present journalists the likes of Narisma, Arlene Chipongian, Elena Torrijos, Clarissa Batino (now the head of Bloomberg News’ Manila unit) and Gil Cabacungan, all of whom regularly produced big “scoops” and have been recognized numerous times for the positive impact of their journalistic output. Going forward, as the business news landscape evolves toward more real-time reporting, readers can continue to expect nothing but the most accurate and up-to-date stories from the group—all made with the goal of providing the public with “actionable information.”
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
Indie Bravo! 28 for PDI’s 28th: For the fourth time, we proudly celebrate the unwavering, innovative indie spirit
true talent transcends time. The needs no confirmation is the continuO NOW we call it INQUIRER quite busy, indeed. Newsbreaks of in- awards in the past 12 months. We have both returning and first- honorees represent Philippine cine- ous expansion of this universe once dies’ triumphs abroad go straight to Indie Bravo! Awards.
On the third tribute event for independent film artists—directors and, for the first time, actors—last year, we launched their own corner in the Entertainment section. That corner, Indie Bravo!, has been
No stranger to recognition NORA AUNOR, ‘Thy womb’
ORA Aunor, hailed as the country’s superstar, is no stranger to international recognition. She won in 1995 at the Cairo festival for Joel Lamangan’s “The Flor Contemplacion Story,” 1997 in Penang (for Lamangan’s “Bakit May Kahapon Pa?” and 2005 in Brussels for Maryo J. de los Reyes’ “Naglalayag.” Many thought 2012 was her banner year. She bagged the Venice festival’s Bisato D’Oro award and the best actress trophy at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in Brisbane, both for Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Thy Womb.” But she won two more international awards this year, still for “Thy Womb.” In March, she was named best actress at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong (Eddie Garcia was best actor, for “Bwakaw”); in August, at the Sakhalin International Film festival in Russia. Variety’s Guy Lodge said of Aunor, who turned 60 in May: “[Her] softly crinkled face beautifully registers the pain of her every decision.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Neil Young took note of “her elfin features, so powerfully expressive of both happiness and sorrow.” There’s talk of a major national citation soon—and she knows that indies boosted this return to the limelight. She tells the INQUIRER, “If indies had more government and audience support, we can make even better films.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
that little box, which has become a virtual signature. This year, quite by chance as PDI celebrates its 28th anniversary, there are 28 honorees. On the list are, again, filmmakers and actors who won international
time honorees—which seems to underline the fact that, even as the indie community expands, its proponents consistently produce acclaimworthy films. On the other hand, the composition of the actors’ roster is proof that
ma’s first golden age in the 1950s, second golden age in the 1970s1980s, and the third wave, the present crop. We leave it to future film experts to decide whether or not this resurgence ushered in a third golden age. What
dubbed “alternative.” That is what the INQUIRER is honoring: The unwavering indie spirit. It thrives on commitment to innovation, daring and truthfulness in telling the Filipino story. Batch 2013, take a bow!
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Staunch indie supporter EDDIE GARCIA ‘Bwakaw’
DDIE Garcia was a staunch supporter of independent filmmakers long before it became trendy for mainstream stars to go “indie.”
In 2000, the veteran actor-director gamely took on a role in an “alternative” film, Raymond Red’s “Anino,” which went on to win the Palme D’Or for best short at Cannes. Thirteen years later, and after almost seven decades in local movies, Garcia, 84, was accorded much-deserved accolades abroad for an indie, Jun Robles Lana’s “Bwakaw.” In December 2012, he won his first international best actor award at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Macau.
Three months later, he received the best actor plum at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong (with compatriot Nora Aunor as best actress for “Thy Womb”). Last year, he received an Indie Bravo! for championing the indie film movement. This year, he joins the illustrious honor roll. Always a gentleman of few words, he says of his second Indie Bravo! award, “I am elated. It feels great. I am deeply honored.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
Truly a national treasure ANITA LINDA ‘Santa Niña’
HE IS PROOF that it is never too late to reap international In March this year, she won best acclaim. At 89, Anita Linda continues to win acting tro- supporting actress for Emmanuel Quindo Palo’s “Santa Niña” at the first phies here and abroad.
She bagged her first best actress trophy at the 1952 Maria Clara Awards for Gerry de Leon’s “Sisa,” and proceeded to win at least one major award every decade. When the indie film movement rediscovered this national treasure, the winning streak resumed with more vigor. In
2008, she was Cinemanila’s best actress for Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Adela.” For Brillante Ma. Mendoza’s “Lola,” she brought home trophies from the 2009 festivals in Fajr (Iran) and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain), and from the 2011 Asia Pacific (Taiwan) fest. She was an Indie Bravo! honoree last year.
Asean International Film Festival Awards in Kuching, Malaysia. She says of this second Indie Bravo! citation: “To be honest, I feel deeply honored and blessed to receive this recognition again… and at my age! Thank you to the INQUIRER.” She hastens to add, “I’ve been a subscriber since Day One.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
Proud to be part of the indies JOEL TORRE ‘On the Job’
OEL Torre, who debuted in Peque Gallaga’s “Oro, Plata, Mata” in 1982, finally cinched an international award this year, for Erik Matti’s “maindie” genre flick, “On the Job.”
In 2001, he shared the Cinemanila fest best actor plum with Yul Servo, Art Acuña and Ruben Tizon, his costars in Lav Diaz’s “Batang West Side.” In 2011, he merited glowing reviews for his role as a village chief caught in the crossfire of the Philippine-American War in John Sayles’ “Amigo.” The New York Times’ AO Scott singled out Torre for his “sly, hangdog brilliance.” Last July, Torre won best actor for “On the Job,” at the Puchon Fantastic
International Film Festival in South Korea, his first international recognition after three decades in the biz. He was widely praised by foreign critics for his portrayal of a convict-assassin in Matti’s thriller. He tells the INQUIRER: “I’ve always felt I’m part of the indie scene and I am proud that indie movies have gone a long way. It is the triumph of the indie spirit amid tragedy.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
A bold prediction
JERICHO ROSALES ‘Alagwa’
HE LOCAL indie scene is “thriving” and will soon “gain the recognition it deserves, critically and commercially,” predicts actor Jericho Rosales. His work in the Ian Loreños thriller “Alagwa” won for him his second trophy for best achievement in acting at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival in the United States. The first was for the Hollywood indie film, “Subject: I Love You,” in 2011. Rosales bagged the best actor trophy at the 2013 Guam International Film Festival, also for “Alagwa.” Locally, the role fetched a best actor Urian. “Alagwa” was screened in the Busan IFF in South Korea, Asean IFF in Malaysia and Palm Beach IFF in Florida. “The indie community is bustling,” Rosales says, “though it is under-appreciated [here]. Abroad, Filipino indie films are well-received. [This] could change the landscape of our movie industry.” Marinel R. Cruz
A taste for radical roles
A voice for constant experimenting EUGENE DOMINGO ‘Barber’s Tales’
ALESSANDRA DE ROSSI ‘Santa Niña’
ER BIGGEST concern was, would she get another Guyito stuffed toy? Comedienne Eugene Domingo was kidding, of course. She sure is excited about her second Indie Bravo! trophy—and yes, the Guyito that comes with it.
The character actress, who started out at 16, is known for radical roles. In the 2012 drama “Santa Niña,” she plays Madel, whose child died and who, people now believe, can heal the sick. For this Emmanuel Quindo Palo movie, De Rossi bagged the best actress trophy at the Asean International Film Festival and Awards in Sarawak, Malaysia, in April. Even here at home, her talent has not gone unnoticed. She won the 2013 Gawad
She was in the first batch of actors honored last year, for winning people’s choice best actress at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong and best actress at the Pau International Film Festival in France, both for Marlon Rivera’s Cinemalaya comedy, “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank.” Proving her versatility, she won best actress at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October for an indie drama, Jun Robles Lana’s “Barber’s
ILIPINO-ITALIAN actress Alessandra de Rossi is pleased that “indie filmmakers are now experimenting with styles that even mainstream audiences can appreciate.”
Urian best supporting actress award for Adolfo Alix Jr.’s “Mater Dolorosa.” She was similarly cited for her work in Carlos Siguion-Reyna’s “Azucena” in 2001; and Joel Lamangan’s “Hubog” in 2002. She was last seen in Keith Sicat’s “Woman
of the Ruins,” which premiered at the Cinema One Originals fest in April. She describes the local indie scene as “prosperous,” noting, “It already has a market of its own … we’re getting there.” Marinel R. Cruz
Tales.” She tells the INQUIRER, “At this point, I just want to urge other artists to experiment, to challenge themselves.” Precious rewards—including a Guyito—await those who dare, she says. For now, she enthuses, “It’s lovely to be honored again for promoting the indie spirit. Indie Bravo! is the only award of its kind and I am deeply touched.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
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Talent as responsibility SANDY TALAG ‘Lilet Never Happened’
HE WAS discovered in 2004 at age 6, via the GMA 7 talent search “StarStruck Kids,” but when she hit the dreaded “awkward phase,” projects were suddenly limited and limiting.
Then came the role of Lilet, a streetsmart child prostitute, in Dutch filmmaker Jacco Groen’s “Lilet Never Happened.” She was only 11 when she played the “insane” part. This year, at age 15, she received the best actress award at the Oaxaca International Film Festival in Mexico. The “Lilet” cast received the best ensemble citation at the International Film Festival Manhattan in October.
Now a junior high school student, she regards the Oaxaca award as a reminder of her responsibilities as a role model for other children. “It is an honor to know I [can] inspire people.” She is “thankful and flattered” to be included in this year’s Indie Bravo! roster: “I can’t believe that, though I am young, I have achieved something that not all artists attain.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
International awardee at 9 BARBARA MIGUEL ‘Nuwebe’
HE USUALLY plays young contravidas in GMA 7 soaps. Barbara Miguel got to venture out of her comfort zone via Joseph Israel Laban’s Cinemalaya entry, “Nuwebe,” where she portrayed an incest victim and child mother. She won best actress at the Harlem International Film Festival in September. The triumph also made the Grade 3 pupil from Quezon City the country’s youngest international best actress awardee, at 9 years old. Dedicating her victory to fellow child
actors and “all Filipinos,” she tells the INQUIRER. “I feel blessed, honored and thankful that, although I am a newcomer, I was noticed by the INQUIRER Indie Bravo! Awards.” Bayani San Diego Jr.
This boy’s advice: Work hard BUGOY CARIÑO ‘Alagwa’
AKING an indie is so much fun,” says young actor Bugoy Cariño, star of the award-winning thriller “Alagwa.” The 11-year-old plays Brian, who is kidnapped in a mall. His father, Robert (Jericho Rosales), begins an anguished search, and stumbles upon human trafficking in Manila. Cariño recalls working on the Ian Loreños film: “Unlike in big productions,
the indie staff is so small, that it really feels like family.” For his role, the boy won best supporting actor at the 2013 Asean International Film Festival and Awards in Malaysia. “I didn’t expect this other award; I’m so happy,” he says of his Indie Bravo! recognition. He has won a total of six awards for different projects, including Child Performer of the Year at the 29th PMPC Star Awards, also for “Alagwa.” To kids who look up to him, Cariño says: “Work hard if you want to succeed. Never neglect your studies.” Marinel R. Cruz
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THE FILMMAKERS Promoting progressive thinking PAUL STA. ANA ‘Oros (The Coinbearer)’
S A FILMMAKER, I wanted my work to be as real as possible and just let the phenomenon and milieu speak for themselves,” relates “Oros (The Coinbearer)” writer-producer-director Paul Sta. Ana. “‘Oros’ is a disturbing tale about exploitation that need not be sensationalized,” he explains. “All I did was to be sincere and sensitive in telling the story of these two brothers in the dead-for-rent business.” Sta. Ana is writer-director of GMA News TV’s docu-drama series, “Wagas.” His previous
screenwriting credits include the acclaimed “Huling Pasada” (2008), “Mayohan” (2010) and “Bisperas” (2011). Sta. Ana also wrote for GMA 7’s “Amaya” and “My Husband’s Lover.” In 2012, he helmed “Oros,” which won best feature at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival in March. The film
Spare time put to good use JOEY AGBAYANI ‘Lola’
PASSION for filmmaking cultivated in his teenage years led Joey Agbayani to a career in directing movies, television commercials and music videos. Fueled by self-expression, Agbayani, in his spare time, makes it a point to focus on personal film projects. Like his acclaimed animated shorts, “The Ghostwriter” and “Lola.” In 2012, “The Ghostwriter,” about a ghost trying to reclaim his work from a vampire, won best animated short at the Puerto Rico International Film Festival; the Diamond Award at the California Film Awards in San Diego; as well as best international short at the Kidz Film Festival in New Jersey.
In the same year, “Lola” won—among several other honors—the Corman Award for best animated film at the Fright Night Film Festival; best animated comedy short film at the Las Vegas Comedy Film Fest, and best foreign film at the Los Angeles Film and Media Awards. The winning streak started
early. His very first short, “The Eye in the Sky,” won first prize and best student film at the 1984 Experimental Cinema of the Philippines Short Film Festival. His second, “Kidlat,” was best short feature at the 1989 Film Academy of the Philippines Awards and at the Gawad Urian. It was the Philippines’ official entry to the foreign student category of the 1990 Oscars. He hopes mainstream studios soon begin producing big-budget movies with the sensibilities of independent films. “We can offer more daring and unique ideas, stories and styles,” he says. Allan Policarpio
has been exhibited in nine festivals abroad. Sta. Ana observes, “The audience of Philippine independent films is steadily growing. Indies are becoming more accessible in terms of venues made avail-
able for public screenings.” Independent cinema encourages progressive thinking, he says. “It allows difficult truths to be revealed and unique styles of visual storytelling to emerge.” Oliver Pulumbarit
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‘No more excuses’
got to freely maneuver our film in the direction that we wanted, with few restrictions.” The future has become “brighter” for indie filmmaking, she points out. “We live in a visual age, where equipment and platforms are household-accessible. This has fueled the growth of Philippine independent film-making. Inspiration is just a click away. There are no more excuses!” Her inclusion in this Indie Bravo! batch makes her feel at once “honored and humbled,” she says. “It’s a long list, with filmmakers that I look up to. It inspires me to do more and be more.” Oliver Pulumbarit
DWEIN BALTAZAR ���Mamay Umeng’
HE FOREMOST quality of ‘Mamay Umeng’ is its charm,” director-screenwriter Dwein Baltazar says. “It is a very meditative film; it will test the viewer’s patience—I take that as a compliment… I am very happy that its final cut is very similar, if not absolutely faithful, to my original vision.” In April, “Mamay Umeng,” about an old man pondering the end of his life, won best picture (the “Woosuk Award”) at the Jeonju International Film Festi-
val in South Korea. Baltazar says “Mamay Umeng” brought unique challenges, but also opportunities: “Independence is a huge advantage; we
‘Some kind of addiction’ LAWRENCE FAJARDO ‘Posas’
While he would like to do more mainstream movies like his 2012 Metro Manila Film Festival entry, “The Strangers,” his heart will always be in independent filmmaking. What challenges him the most, he says, is finding unique stories and telling them in a gripping, realistic fashion—while working around budget constraints. “We go back to the basics and try to capture audience attention by offering them something new, yet relatable,” says
Fajardo, who reaped awards for his films “Amok” and “Posas.” “Amok” came away with a special prize at the International Festival of Detective Films in Moscow, Russia, in 2011. The following year, “Posas” was hailed best film in the 2nd Hanoi International Film Festival in Vietnam and at the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts recognized Fajardo’s achieve-
ments by naming him among this year’s Ani ng Dangal awardees. Fajardo believes independent artists are raising the bar in filmmaking. He points out,
“The outlandish comedies and melodramas that Filipinos love are still around, but now there are also more socially relevant films being produced.” Allan Policarpio
OR LAWRENCE Fajardo, “Filmmaking is some kind of an addiction.” He considers it “my calling to present the audience with a film that not only entertains, but also enlightens.”
Bliss in breaking the rules SIGRID ANDREA BERNARDO ‘Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong’
ILM and theater artist Sigrid Andrea P. Bernardo likens filmmaking to life: Without challenges, she says, both would be “boring, predictable.” As someone who thrives in taking risks, she finds bliss in innovating and breaking the rules to create art, in storytelling to weave magic.
KIMBERLY DE LA CRUZ
That, she most certainly did in two films that recently gained recognition. In 2012, her short, “Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong (Waiting to Whisper),” won best screenplay at the Cinemalaya and honorable mention at the Exground Film Festival in Weisbaden, Germany. Her first full-length feature, “Ang Huling Cha-Cha ni Anita,”
was best picture in the last CineFilipino Film Festival, and bagged best actress (Teri Malvar), supporting actress (Angel Aquino), and ensemble trophies. More than the triumphs, what pushes her to continue making indie films—despite the difficulties—is the chance to touch hearts and souls. “It’s the biggest reward,” she says. Allan Policarpio
Challenges as opportunities HANNAH ESPIA ‘Transit’
HANKS to the steady influx of mainstream actors in independent cinema, the thin line separating the two worlds is slowly getting blurred, says director Hannah Espia. Independent filmmaking, she points out, gives industry people—actors, directors and producers—a new venue to showcase their works. Such was the case for young actress Jasmine Curtis-Smith, who bagged her first acting award via Espia’s acclaimed directorial debut, “Transit,” which she also co-wrote with Giancarlo Abrahan.
KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ
A film about the life of Filipino migrants in Israel, “Transit” won nine awards in this year’s Cinemalaya, including best film, director, actress (Irma Adlawan) supporting actress
(Curtis-Smith) and ensemble acting. Abroad, “Transit” was awarded a special prize by the New Currents jury of this year’s Busan International Film Festival in South Korea. Just recently, “Transit” won the Student Jury Award at the 2013 Tokyo Filmex. “Transit” is likewise vying to become the first Filipino movie in the Oscars’ best foreign language film category. It’s a long and tough road ahead, but Espia is not one to back down. “I always see challenges as opportunities to improve myself,” she says. Allan Policarpio
New cinematic potentials GUTIERREZ MANGANSAKAN II ‘Cartas de Soledad’
AGUINDANAOAN filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Mangansakan II sees the local independent movie scene “expanding, with the discovery of new cinematic potentials even in far, obscure reaches of our vast nation.” He defied family expectations when he decided to make movies midway through PreMed after watching the works of Japanese Yasujiro Ozu and Italian Federico Fellini at a festival. His “provincial eyes” were opened, he relates, “to the vast cinematic possibilities” that his homeland’s rich stories offered. In 2000, he made his first short docu, “House Under the Crescent Moon,” which won the Gawad CCP for best documentary in 2011. His first fulllength feature, “Limbunan,” premiered at the Venice Inter-
national Film Festival in 2010 and was screened in over 20 festivals here and abroad. His second, “Cartas de Soledad” received the Netpac Prize for Best Asian Film in Jogjakarta. His third, “Qiyamah,” won the grand jury prize at the 2012 Sineng Pambansa and was named the Young Critics Circle’s best film for 2012. His latest, “The Obscured Histories and Silent Longings of Daguluan’s Children,” won best film and best director at the 2012 Cinemanila. “I’m deeply moved by this
honor,” he says of his Indie Bravo! Award. “It seems the periphery is moving into the center and becoming part of the national consciousness.” Marinel R. Cruz
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Antidote to the daily grind EMMANUEL QUINDO PALO ‘Sta Niña’
MMANUEL Quindo Palo works full time for television, directing soaps as a primary source of income. But like many other filmmakers, Palo joined the indie movement to replenish his creative energies and satisfy other artistic cravings. Directing and producing independent films, he says, have become his antidote to the grueling daily grind.
More than a mere exercise in self-expression, “Sta. Niña,” a drama that explores faith and religion, has become a source of pride for Palo. The Coco Martin starrer won the Suvarna Chakoram (Golden Crow Pheasant) award, the most coveted at the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala (India) in 2012. It bagged three trophies at the first Asean International Film Festival and Awards earlier this year— best picture-drama, best actress (Alessandra de Rossi) and best supporting actress (Anita Linda). “Independent films have become a force that propels Philippine cinema to new and greater heights,” Palo asserts, adding that the advent of digital technology has democratized movie production, thus inspiring a new breed of Filipino filmmakers and free spirits. Allan Policarpio
Changing audience behavior IAN LOREÑOS ‘Alagwa’
BOUT 85 percent of my original vision [for ‘Alagwa’] came out in the film—but surprises and limitations I discovered while shooting molded the film into what it is now,” filmmaker Ian Loreños tells the INQUIRER. His thriller-drama “Alagwa” won best narrative feature at the Guam International Film Festival. The movie was released by Star Cinema in October. Loreños says making an indie film requires,
aside from heart, a sturdy financial backbone. “But I love the freedom and the idea that what we’re doing is all passion.” He has high hopes for the indie film scene. “These small films with big hearts made international audiences take notice. This
has changed the behavior of Philippine audiences.” On being an Indie Bravo! honoree, Loreños enthused: “It’s a dream come true to be recognized for my work right here in my country.” Oliver Pulumbarit
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AND DOMINATE Anniversary Supplement
Like a running stream, not stagnant water Coming to terms with learning and not learning, as the Inquirer Training Center marks its full year of operation By John Nery Director, Editorial Special Projects SOMETIMES the breakthrough comes very early. In Iloilo City, the preliminary session gave the participants a pair of powerful metaphors to guide them. Learning, according to one correspondent to much appreciation, was like “a running stream.” Failing to learn, said another, was like becoming “stagnant water.” Sometimes it comes well into the seminar: In the Science City of Muñoz, in Nueva Ecija, a late-afternoon comparison of byline-less drafts in a session on common errors made a young, promising correspondent cry out, “Oh no, it’s me again!” Sometimes it comes as an aside, a sharing of confidences over a meal. In Legazpi City, a veteran correspondent pointed to a worrying online report (it was bookmarked on his tablet); it slowly became clear over breakfast that he had merely crystallized the group’s concern about the need for greater vigilance in fighting media corruption. Sometimes it comes in a way no one expects. In Davao City, a presentation on the possibilities the InqSnap augmented-reality app opens for INQUIRER journalists stumbled on basic protocol: Links expire earlier than they should. (Lesson learned. That has since been fixed.) The INQUIRER Training Center (ITC) marks its first full year in 2013. The year before, its five trustees led by National Editor Jun Bandayrel organized two preparatory courses to discover prospective trainors among the INQUIRER’s 200-plus editorial complement and then, with the help of consultants from the University of the Philippines, to train them. This year, the ITC’s new training team conducted seven seminars, including four outside Metro Manila. These four seminars dwelt on the basics of reporting. The rest were all multi-part seminars on photography (two sessions), on slideshow applications (two) and on grammar (three). All together, 127 participants attended, including several from INQUIRER.net and INQUIRER Radio.
Learner-centered The INQUIRER Group has invested in training for a long time. What makes the ITC seminars an advance—or at least that is the hope—is a set of new emphases: The ITC itself is a structural response to the group’s training needs, no longer an ad hoc one. And the seminars are no longer teacheroriented but rather learner-centric. In other words, the seminars now depend on the central intuition that the learners are often the best sources of learning. So a module on interviewing skills, for instance, is best learned when practiced interviewers (in the Iloilo seminar these included radio journalists from both the Visayas and from Metro Manila) serve as resource persons. To be clear, this is not touchy-feely, anything-goes stuff. Each session relies on the expert help of accomplished facilitators like Ruel de Vera, Sunday INQUIRER magazine associate editor, and Chito de la Vega, Libre editor in chief, and on seasoned speakers like Francis Ochoa, Sports assistant editor, and Pennie de la Cruz, Sunday INQUIRER magazine executive editor. Each training session must also align with a general curriculum dictated by the INQUIRER Group’s objectives and is ultimately based on a rigorous training needs assessment (TNA) conducted by the participants themselves. It may be truthfully said that each seminar begins several weeks before the scheduled date, with the comprehensive needs assessment. The TNA (collated and then analyzed by INQUIRER Research chief Miner Generalao and her team) helps provide a profile of the strengths and weaknesses of the seminar participants. The profile, in turn, helps deLIKE / 2
THE MINDANAO bureau, led by Nico Alconaba (in dark blue shirt), meets after a seminar.
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“CLASS PICTURE” of participants in the two-part slideshow workshop.
Like a running stream, not stagnant water From page 1
termine which modules in the general curriculum to emphasize and which resource persons to tap.
The one question The training process is still a work
in progress. The lessons learned this year (including the mistakes that we hope will no longer be repeated) will help shape next year’s training sessions. The long-term goal is to get everyone in the INQUIRER Group so committed to learning that the learning pro-
cess truly becomes that running stream, a continuing source of nourishment and renewal for the INQUIRER’s distinctive brand of journalism. This much can already be forecast. In all the reporting seminars to come, one question will be asked again and again. How does editor in chief Letty
Jimenez-Magsanoc choose the news? Is there, to quote a variation on the same theme, an INQUIRER angle? There is no hard-and-fast answer to this question but, done right, done with previous lessons learned in mind, each seminar can be for its participants an exercise in discovery.
GRADUATES proudly display their certificates after completing the two-part seminar on basic photography conducted among INQUIRER employees. ITC also conducted a three-part seminar on grammar.
INQUIRER Southern Luzon bureau chief Edra Benedicto (left) cites reporter Maricar Cinco for meritorious work after the seminar on reporting in Legazpi City, as facilitator Chito de la Vega looks on.
Politics happened on the way to the forum
EIGHT “fresh-faced” candidates link arms at the University of Baguio gymnasium during the second INQUIRER Senate Forum. The series started in UP Diliman and ended at the Cebu Cultural Center. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON
IN A LETTER to the INQUIRER (right), Grace Poe, the lone woman participant in the 3rd INQUIRER Senate Forum, lauds the newspaper’s initiative to bring together candidates to present their positions on certain issues. But she clarifies that, contrary to the INQUIRER report, she believes no limits should be imposed on radio and Internet ads “because they’re a more affordable way to reach voters.” JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS
SEVEN incumbent and former senators wave to the audience at the UP Film Center before the start of the first INQUIRER Senate Forum. Organized according to themes, the series started with a discussion on the inner workings of the Senate.
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Letters to Rizza E
LEVEN-YEAR OLD Rizza Flores was trapped for six hours when their house in Burauen collapsed at the height of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” With the help of Philip Romualdez, trustee of the Doña Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foundation and husband of I NQUIRER president and CEO Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, and the INQUIRER Visayas team together with Cebu Daily News, she was airlifted to Cebu for surgery at the Chong Hua Hospital. Upon learning of Rizza’s condition, some students of the Learning Tree School wrote letters to rally her toward a speedy recovery. The school is headed by Francine Castañeda-Lacanilao. The grade school students also wrote letters to Dr. Leopoldo Jiao III, who treated the little girl, as well as the soldiers who have been helping in the areas devastated by the typhoon.
THE MANY WAYS that Inquirer cares From page 4
Adoracion San Pedro, Angelina Lim of Pao Ong Kong Temple, Gigi and Ging Montinola, Angela Roy Boyblue/Tisa Tan, Laurel family, Dawn Feliciano, Tokie Tantoco Enriquez, Maribel Ongpin, Toni Parsons, Miguel Tabuena, Isa Lorenzo, Rachel Rillo, Frey Sullivan, Riana Trajano, Monica Climaco, Lyceum of the Philippines University, BDO Philippines (Alba Romeo and Co.), NU SKIN Enterprises Philippines Inc., Unilab Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Eugenio Soberano, Lex Digital Corp., LRP Foundation, Philip Cu Unjieng, Tan Yan Kee Foundation, Aileen Corales, Francisco and Benedicta Ferreria, Raech Rimonte, Paul Bautista, Marcos Roces Jr., Print Town Group of Companies and INQUIRER’s own officers and employees.
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Every time we have to ask for donations to help victims of flooding, landslide, earthquake, and other calamities, the response has been tremendous. It was no different when we once again appealed for help for victims of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
Task Force Tabang Visayas The INQUIRER is a member of Task Force Tabang Visayas that seeks convergence in initiatives of the government and private sector to ensure well-coordinated, strategic relief and rehabilitation efforts in areas affected by natural calamities in the Visayas. Other members of the task force are Metrobank Foundation, Ayala Foundation, Assisi
MODELS showcase creations of 100 Filipino fashion designers for “Filipino para sa Filipino,” a fundraiser for provinces in the Visayas devastated by “Yolanda.”
ATURAL disasters draw out the best in people. We know this for a fact in the INQUIRER.
Development Foundation, Philam Foundation, Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, Kaya Natin Movement, Unilab Foundation, Zuellig Family Foundation, CBCP-NASSA, Hands on Manila, PEF, PDAP, Habitat for Humanity, Food Bank Philippines, Association of Foundations, Gawad Kalinga, Peace Tech, HOPE and IOM Unite. Tabang Visayas is also organizing a donor registry to facilitate matching of benefactors and recipients. The task force handles three phases of support: Relief and medical, recovery and rehabilitation. With the help of the Kaya Natin Movement and the Ninoy and Cory Aquino Foundation, the INQUIRER was able to deliver relief to towns that had not been reached yet by government agencies and other donors. To achieve its goals, Tabang Visayas remains focused on
RACE FOR ‘YOLANDA’ Fun run participants wait for the signal to start. (above); Dr. Michelle Lavina (right) at Villaba Elementary School in Leyte province during the INQUIRER medical mission creating a synergy of efforts between private and government sectors.
Relief and medical missions Every day brings more donations in cash and kind to the INQUIRER Corporate Affairs office for victims of Yolanda. In partnership with the Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Foundation, the INQUIRER team conducted several relief distributions and medical missions in areas most severely affected. Truckloads of relief were
RICHARD A. REYES
By Bianca Kasilag
THE MANY WAYS that Inquirer cares
distributed to more than 500 families in Jordan village, the town center of Villaba and other towns in Leyte and Samar provinces. Tents and blankets were distributed to several families whose houses were completely destroyed by the typhoon. The INQUIRER brought medical teams to Villaba, Leyte, to attend to victims suffering from different kinds of illness.
Fun run On Nov. 10, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the INQUIRER organized a mini fun run attended by over 500 employees and their families. The event was dedicated to victims of the earthquake in Bohol province and Yolanda. The INQUIRER was able to raise P50,000 in cash from donations of participants.
‘Filipino para sa Filipino’ On Nov. 29, the fashion show “Filipino para sa Filipino: The Filipino Fashion Industry Bands together for the Rehabilitation of the Visayas” was held at the Samsung Hall of SM Aura in Taguig City. A total of 100 designers presented the same number of designs. They, like the producers, models, makeup artists, production staff, cashiers, photographers and writers offered their services for free. People got tickets in exchange for donations of at least P1,000. From the sale of tickets and the auction of clothes, the fashion show collected almost P1 million for the victims of the supertyphoon, which was coursed through Tabang Visayas and the INQUIRER Help Fund.
Christmas tree for a cause At the INQUIRER main office lobby is a big Christmas tree with small colorful parol as decoration. INQUIRER employees bought
the parol for P100 each from the Employee Services and Development Center (ESDC) to hang on the tree. All proceeds will be deposited in the INQUIRER Help Fund account and donated to the typhoon victims.
Simple ‘salo-salo’ For the company’s 28th anniversary celebration, a Mass and a simple salo-salo (get-together) will be held at the INQUIRER main office. Every year, the INQUIRER invites bands and performing artists for its anniversary, which is also its annual Christmas party. This year, the budget for the party will be donated to Yolanda victims.
Our thanks The INQUIRER wants to thank the generous donors who have helped us raise millions of pesos in cash and kind: Carlos Chan, Metrobank Foundation, Tan Yan Kee Foundation, Mediacom Equities Inc., Doris Ho, Magsaysay Transport and Logistics Group, Joey and Marissa Concepcion, Paolo and Pilar Lorenzo, Jean and Bea Lhuillier, Rebisco Foundation, Nanette Po, Roberto Antonio, Gerard and Teresa Coscolluela, Ma. Lourdes Gamboa, Mary de Leon , George Salud, Sheila Ramos, Maria Asuncion Uichico, Manuel Tanjangco, Monaco Express, Jay and Joy Lagdameo, Martel Minana, Jojie Bautista, Lorna Tabuena, Ma. Kristine Mabulac, Necie, Vina Concepcion Monasterio, Joy Eco Vullag, Nicole Marie Arce, Myla Jasmine Bantog, Jean Leslie Wong, Janice Ian N. Uy, senior deputy administrator Nilo Aldeguer of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, MJLS Catering Services, Joshua and Patricia Gatmaitan, Holy Family Chapel, Anchor Land Holdings, MTD Philippines, Inc. (c/o Eng. Isaac S. David), Menzi Trust Fund, Inc., Augusto and THE MANY / 3
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
Is peer approval enough?’ ERIK MATTI ‘On the Job’
RIK Matti says his greatest wish is for directors like himself to tell stories that are “relevant, not only to the filmmaker but also to a wider audience.”
The “On the Job” director elaborates, “We are now at a stage in indie cinema where everyone who has a story to tell can find a way to get it produced.” But, he cautions, “The industry still has to see the day when its films find an audience that brings profit to the hopeful financiers it taps.” Matti, whose work as a director began in the 1990s, adds that the independent movie scene “has been like this for almost a decade.” He explains, “We’ve seen new, fresh, crazy stories, full-packed venues during week-long festivals. What’s next? Is getting the approval of our peers enough?” He urges filmmakers to “tell stories, not within the boundaries of a P1-million grant but beyond the limits of [the] imagination.” Erik Charles Seminio Matti has taken on many hats—writer (13 titles), producer, actor, and director. His first movie was the sex-thriller “Scorpio Nights 2” (1998). He went on to make feature films in various genres, the most recent of which are “The Arrival” (2010), “Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles” (2012), “Vesuvius” (2012), and “Rigodon” (2012). Most were screened in festivals in the United States, Hawaii, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Asia and the Middle East. The crime-thriller “On The Job” premiered at the 2013 Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. It landed the biggest distribution deal ever scored by a Filipino film. Marinel R. Cruz
For a civilized society BENITO BAUTISTA ‘Harana’
HE MOST important quality of ‘Harana’ is its music and the masters who preserved them,” said filmmaker Benito Bautista of his acclaimed documentary. “The concept was to highlight the quest for the old harana songs, and to discover the masters of that tradition. I made it into a celebration of those masters and their final collaboration with (guitar player) Florante Aguilar.” Last March, “Harana” won the audience award for documentary at the Center for Asian American Media Film Festival in San Francisco. One of last year’s Indie Bravo honorees, Bautista is grateful for making the cut anew. “I FOR A/ X3
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MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
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Revitalizing Philippine cinema
UN ROBLES Lana observes that, with the creation of new local film festivals, independent filmmakers are slowly but surely expanding their audiences and exposing the youth—especially students—to a wide range of cinematic styles and perspectives.
This exciting development, along with the collective success of our
movies on the world stage, is a testament to the fact that independent filmmaking revitalizes Philippine cinema, Lana says. Written and helmed by the decorated playwright, screenwriter and director, “Bwakaw” has definitely done its share in bringing honor to the country. The Eddie Garcia-starrer won for Lana three awards at this year’s Vesoul International Film Festival of Asian Cinema in France—the Emile Guimet award, Grand Prix de Jury and the High School Award. And it was the country’s
JUN ROBLES LANA ‘Bwakaw’
entry to the best foreign language film category of the 2012 Oscars. Lana, who straddles the mainstream and indie worlds, is the youngest in-
ductee to the Palanca Awards Hall of Fame. He says he has a lot of other scripts gathering dust in his room, those that wouldn’t see the light of day
in mainstream cinema. “To truly express myself as a filmmaker, I have to go the indie route,” Lana says. Allan Policarpio
portant in my career, especially now that I have fully embraced my heritage by using my tribal name,” he said. “Independent filmmakers realize our visions in full freedom; the disadvantage is, the ratio of speed of ideas to speed of film-financing is not directly proportional,” the filmmaker added. “Film-financing competitions like the Cinemalaya and Cinema One Originals have given way to more indie productions. A growing regional cinema has empowered filmmakers from remote parts of the country. What we need now is a concrete venue for these films, for the growing audience of this kind of art films.
We should produce DVDs, anthologies and compilations so Filipinos abroad will get to see these great films.” He lauded the INQUIRER: “PDI has given value to our work. It has seen and understood the importance of these times, when Philippine cinema is being recognized around the world. Thank you for seeing the great renaissance of Philippine cinema!” Oliver Pulumbarit
Embracing his heritage KANAKAN BALINTAGOS ‘Baybayin’
HROUGH cinema, we see who we really are,” said Kanakan Balintagos, the filmmaker formerly known as Auraeus Solito (who directed “Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros”). Along with the name change— “Kanakan” means “hunter of truth” in Palawanon—comes a renewed sense of purpose. “My films are the interwoven images of our culture, myth, ritual and modern
issues that are threatening this way of life. The ‘Palawan Trilogy’ is not a trilogy of plot, but of thought. ‘Busong (Palawan Fate)’ is Palawan’s philosophy. ‘Baybayin’ (The Palawan Script)’ captures its culture. ‘Sumbang (The Palawan Deluge),’ will present my people’s history.” The first two parts were recognized in two international film festivals this year. “Busong” won best international indigenous film at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival in New Zealand; “Baybayin” was awarded best indigenous language film at the ImagineNative Film Festival in Canada. “These two awards are the most im-
A taste for the peculiar
HERON Dayoc’s “Mientras Su Durmida (As He Sleeps)” is about the situation of a woman caring for a paralyzed husband which, according to the filmmaker, is akin to “a cage of marriage.” “The film deals with perception of ‘morality’ in relation to women’s struggle for identity and freedom,” Dayoc
says. “In a traditional and patriarchal society, women are [just] child-bearers, subservient to their husbands.” “Mientras Su Durmida” won best short at the 2nd International Short Film Festival in Gornji Milanovac, Serbia. The film, Dayoc notes, poses questions that viewers can identify with: “Is it a sin or immoral for the woman … to leave her husband to find herself and determine her worth?” Working on the film revealed some
truths about the medium, the writer-director says. “The foremost advantage of producing independent films is the freedom to choose peculiar stories [and execute them] with alternative treatment. The greatest challenge is financing.” Dayoc is elated to be a second-time Indie Bravo! honoree. “I appreciate the
fact that, after my older film ‘Halaw’ (2011) PDI is now recognizing my short film,” he said. “I have high regard for the newspaper, for consistently giving recognition to independent filmmakers.” Oliver Pulumbarit
SHERON DAYOC ‘Mientras Su Durmida (As He Sleeps)’
COURTESY OF VINCENT SANDOVAL
Annus mirabilis VINCENT SANDOVAL ‘Aparisyon’
HILIPPINE independent cinema has never been as prolific, nor its sensibilities more diverse than it is this year,” says New York-based director Vincent Sandoval. Sandoval’s second feature film, “Aparisyon,” won the audience award at the 15th Deauville Asian Film Festival in France and received a positive review
from The New York Times for its weeklong run at The Museum of Modern Art in New York. The film, featuring Jodi Sta. Maria and Mylene Dizon, bagged the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NetPAC) Award at the 2012 Hawaii International Film Festival after competing in the 2012 Busan IFF (New Currents category). Additionally, “Aparisyon” was hailed by Gawad Tangi as the best picture of 2012. In 2009, Sandoval founded the IndioBravo Film Foundation in New York that
screens independent Filipino films to US audiences. That same year, he wrote, directed and acted in his first short film, “Señorita,” which was later shown in 20 international festivals, most notably in Cannes’ Short Film Corner in 2010. In 2011, he developed the short into a narrative feature, also titled “Señorita, which competed in the 64th Locarno film festival. Sandoval says being one of this year’s Indie Bravo! honorees is a “genuine”
honor. “It’s particularly meaningful, considering that this year is annus mirabilis (notable year) for independent Philippine cinema in terms of the sheer quality and ambition of films produced.” Marinel R. Cruz
THE FIRST THREE YEARS
TWO GROUPS were honored for the second tribute in 2011: Pioneer filmmakers Mike de Leon, Kidlat Tahimik, Roxlee, Butch Nolasco, Nick Deocampo and Ditsi Carolino. New Breed filmmakers Loy Arcenas, Alemberg Ang, the tandem of Monster Jimenez and Mario Cornejo, Eduardo Roy Jr., Ferdinand John Balanag, Remton Siega Zuasola, Marlon Rivera and Jade Castro.
THE FIRST honorees were Adolfo Alix Jr., Alvin Yapan, Ato Bautista, Auraeus Solito, Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Chris Martinez, Ellen Ongkeko-Marfil, Erik Matti, Francis Xavier Pasion, Jeffrey Jeturian, Jerrold Tarog, John Torres, Jon Red, Khavn de la Cruz, Lav Diaz, Mes de Guzman, Mike Sandejas, Milo Sogueco, the tandem of Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos, Pepe Diokno, Ralston Jover, Raya Martin, Raymond Red, Rico Maria Ilarde and Sherad Anthony Sanchez.
CITED last year were filmmakers Auraeus Solito, Adolfo Alix Jr., Brillante Ma. Mendoza, Jun Robles Lana, Will Fredo, Jet Leyco, Vincent Sandoval, Ron Morales, Benito Bautista and Chris Martinez; and (for pioneering work in indie movies) actors Eddie Garcia, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Anita Linda, Rustica Carpio, Gina Pareño, Nora Aunor, Jaclyn Jose, Cherry Pie Picache, Shamaine CenteneraBuencamino and Eugene Domingo.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2013
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Relentless visionary LAV DIAZ ‘Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan’ ISIONARY filmmaker Lav Diaz’s nonconformist ways have challenged viewers and distributors of his socially-aware works, which often run considerably longer than “traditional” movies. Some of Diaz’s acclaimed films include “Batang West Side,” “Death in the Land of Encantos” and “Melancholia”—all winners in film fests abroad. His most recent victories include the NETPAC Award for “Florentina Hubaldo, CTE” at the Jeonju International Film Festival last year; and the top prize at the Nuremberg International Human Rights Film Festival for “Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan” this year. He observes that the local indie scene continues to show progress: “Bawat region, naglalabas ngayon ng pelikula. May deluge. It shows that maganda ang nangyayari.”
KIMBERLY DE LA CRUZ
He is currently filming “Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon (From What is Before)” in the Babuyan Islands. It’s a particularly tough shoot, Diaz admits. “Arawaraw, umuulan, ang lamig, maputik!” One of the original Indie Bravo! honorees in 2010, Diaz acknowledges his inclusion this year: “Mabuhay ang Indie Bravo! It’s another forum for Philippine independent cinema.” Oliver Pulumbarit
For a civilized … am joyful and, again, inspired to continue my contribution to Philippine cinema,” Bautista told the INQUIRER. The filmmaker revealed a singular challenge that plagues independent endeavors: “The gathering of financing. We tend to create unique, sometimes untested, concepts for the sake of discussing issues that general audiences may not be ready for. This translates to lower viability for financing and ROI (return of investment).” But it has inimitable rewards, he added: “Limitless and non-
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formulaic expressions in the medium, that translate to growth, betterment and a more culturally civilized society.” Currently working on a project titled “Mumbai Love,” starring Solenn Heussaff and Martin Escudero, Bautista conveyed optimism for the indie scene: “We are heading into another realm of growth for Philippine cinema as our filmmakers tell stories with good intentions, with the aim of crossing regions beyond not only physical boundaries, but also within.” Oliver Pulumbarit
for years of bringing balanced news and fearless views to the Philippine nation
More power and years to come!
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‘First tell me what your cinema is revolting against’ KHAVN DE LA CRUZ ‘Mondomanila’
He adds: “Independence is borne of frustration, anarchy and some good old apple-cart-upsetting. You call your cinema independent? First tell me what it is revolting against.” “Mondomanila”—a peek at the Filipino underbelly—exhibits his rule-breaking sensibilities in filmmaking. Canadian
movie website Twitch described it thus: “Gutter poetry at its finest … a parade of humanity at its strangest.” Based on Norman Wilayco’s novel “How I Fixed My Hair after a Rather Long Journey,” the film premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in Netherlands last year.
treal, and two more honors at the Bangalore Queer Film Festival (India) this year—best feature and best director. “I make films for lack of better things to do. I do it because I can,” De la Cruz says, adding that his oeuvres thrive in discontinuity. “I stop when I find other things to occupy my time … I am a man of many interests.” Allan Policarpio
COURTESY OF ROMMEL TOLENTINO
ROM birth to spirit, independent filmmaking, Khavn de la Cruz asserts, is “a takeover, a revolt.” The award-winning filmmaker-poet-musician insists independent cinema is not merely producing movies outside the studio system. “Independent films are made in opposition of the studio system and its reIt received special mention at the Fanlentless need to soften blows and sex up everything,” says De la tasia International Film Festival in MonCruz, who has made 38 features and hundreds of short films.
Cited for childfocused films ROMMEL TOLENTINO ‘Nono’
ILMMAKER Rommel “Milo” Tolentino is certain that the local indie scene is on a “firm footing” and has a “very promising future.” Tolentino’s optimism is reflected in his works, particularly the feature film “Nono.” It follows an outspoken and opinionated 8-year-old boy born with a cleft palate, who joins a declamation contest. Starring Axle Samson, it won the special jury prize at the 9th Skipcity International DCinema Film Festival in Japan. “Nono” competed at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany and was screened in festivals in South Korea, India, Italy, Taiwan, Denmark and Indonesia. In 2010, Tolentino was cited by the National Council for Children’s Television and the Department of Education “for creating child-friendly and child-focused films.” He has 11 acclaimed shorts, among them “Andong,” “Nino Bonito” and “P.” He is the first Filipino filmmaker to win at the Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France, and to take the Sonje Award at South Korea’s Busan IFF (for “Andong”). Tolentino, who writes, directs, edits, designs and produces most of his films, says of his Indie Bravo! Award: “It makes me feel my work is truly appreciated.” Marinel R. Cruz
Monday, December 9, 2013
H H 15 SECTIONS / VOL. 29 / NO. 1
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INNOVATE AND DOMINATE
ILLUSTRATION BY: JESS ABRERA
THE ANNIVERSARY SUPPLEMENT IN 8 SECTIONS
South Korea’s new air zone overlaps with that of China SEOUL—South Korea on Sunday declared an expanded air defense zone that overlaps with one announced by China and covers a submerged rock disputed by the two countries, further raising regional tensions over competing territorial claims. Beijing’s declaration last month of an air defense identification zone in an area that includes islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan has triggered protests from the United States and its close allies, Japan and South Korea. The South Korean defense ministry said its new zone would take effect on Dec. 15 and would cover Ieodo—a rock in waters off its south coast which
House to probe Meralco increase Solons urge ERC chair to take leave of absence By Gil C. Cabacungan
THE HOUSE committee on energy will investigate starting tomorrow the rate increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the utility firm’s highest rate hike that will result in a P830 rise in the monthly bill of households using 200 kWh.
Households using 300 kWh will have an increase in their monthly bill of P1,245 while those consuming 400 kWh will be charged P1,660 more. The increases have drawn the ire of consumer advocates who describe it as “insensitive” and “callous” amid the destruction wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” the huge profits of Meralco, and rising prices of cooking gas and petroleum products. Meralco said its generation charge
Japan seeks int’l action against China air zone / A21
1994 election of Mandela remembered
By Joey A. Gabieta RICHARD A. REYES
MISS EARTH 2013 Alyz Henrich of Venezuela celebrates as she is crowned Miss Earth 2013 by Tereza Fajksová, Miss Earth 2012, during the final night of the beauty pageant on Saturday at Versailles Palace in Alabang, Muntinlupa City. (See story on Page A6.) INQSnap this page for photos.
TACLOBAN CITY—The public market and commercial center are back in business. So are several restaurants, banks and remittance centers, gasoline stations, stores and groceries. Water, public transportation and telecommunications services have returned. A month after Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) drastically changed the land-
Task force formed in new media killing By Christian V. Esguerra in Manila
and Chris V. Panganiban Inquirer Mindanao THIS TIME, there’s no downplaying the killing of another Filipino journalist.
HOUSE / A20
Signs of recovery appear a month after ‘Yolanda’
By Amando Doronila AS WORLD leaders mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, international media are replete with recollections of that historic moment in history, on May 2, 1994, when in an all-race democratic elecSouth ANALYSIS tion, Africa voted Mandela as its first black president, dismantling its globally loathed apartheid policy of racial segregation of blacks, coloreds and whites in a society dominated by the Afrikaner white minority who were descended from Dutch-based European settlers. The watershed election is widely credited for ending years of oppression
would go up P3.44 per kWh because it would be buying more expensive power from producers due to scheduled and forced power plant outages, and the shutdown of the Malampaya gas field for maintenance from Nov. 11 to Dec. 10. Malampaya supplies natural gas, a fuel cheaper than diesel or liquid condensate, to the Sta. Rita, San Lorenzo and Ilijan power plants.
Malacañang yesterday vowed to get the killers of a radio broadcaster, who was gunned down in Surigao del Sur on Friday. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the Philippine National Police had
formed a “special investigation task group” to focus on the case of Michael Milo, 34, a radio station supervisor in Tandag City. “We condemn the killing of Mr. Michael Milo, a broadcaster of Prime Radio FM in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur,” Coloma
announced in Filipino over Radyo ng Bayan. “The PNP has been ordered to do everything needed to capture and bring to justice the killers of Mr. Milo.” Milo was driving his motorcyTASK FORCE / A20
Fake Saros also involved bogus beneficiaries By Gil C. Cabacungan NOT ONLY forged signatures but also bogus beneficiary towns. These were found on the spurious special allotment release or-
ders (Saros) that a syndicate believed to be operating in the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) produced for P879 million worth of farm-to-market road projects.
In an affidavit, Maria Karisma Rea B. Agarao, a special technical assistant handling projects implemented by the Department of Agriculture (DA), said it was FAKE/ A8
Gov’t, MILF agree
PH’s Oscar bet
unites in prayer for Mandela / A26
come together for Guiuan / C2
on power-sharing annex / A21
opens 1st PDI Indie Bravo! fest / G3
scape of the once progressive city and other towns of Leyte province with practically all of their structures destroyed, signs of recovery are showing although the people and their leaders are still coping with tragedy. Tacloban accounted for almost half of the total number of dead and missing across the Visayas. As of Dec. 5, national authorities placed the typhoon’s toll at 4,959 deaths and 1,761 still missing, while city officials estimated damage to property at P18.1 billion. SIGNS / A20