Recommended Reading:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This week, we will find out the fate of Willing Willie. I haven’t written about it for so long because his retaliation video perturbed me. Don’t get me wrong. I want these kinds of shows to stop. But I’ve realized that there is truth to what Willie is saying.

On Palm Sunday, exactly a week ago, a hard wave of pure guilt washed over. Willie’s query flooded in my brain, “Ano bang nagawa ninyo para sa mahirap?” I asked myself if I was doing my share. I donate to charities. I give to the less fortunate.  I even tried to reform a wayward cousin to help him graduate from college. But still, I felt guilty. The truth is, the problem of poverty in the Philippines is abysmal. There is no bottom and thus I can never do enough.

Depressing huh?

Not really. It simply means that I have to be more vigilant and more proactive about my contributions to society. Look at what happened with Jan-Jan. I’ve always thought that show was inappropriate, but I waited for a macho dancing child to show up before I started blogging about it. I’m sure it is the same way for a lot of people.

That video was gross though.

The combination of the macho dance, the boy’s crying, and the audience laughing just assaults you. Watching that episode made me feel disgusting. It triggered the shame of a nation and the wrath of the upper and middle class. Willie might be on to something when he started making this class war. Truth be told, all his loyal viewers see is the loss of a beloved show and the chance to make money. We are not really explaining our to the innocents.

Yes, his viewers are innocent.

Innocent because just like Jan-Jan they are being exploited day in and day out, yet they welcome it. Innocent, because it’s not their fault. How can you begin to talk of dignity and self-worth when you’re hungry? When you’re down in the dumps and P10, 000 will save your life? When everyone has a TV but your family? In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, self-actualization is the last to come. There are so many more rungs to climb before they start valuing the things we do. Willie truly believes that by giving a helping hand on the 1st level, he is doing what needs to be done. But we believe differently so we have to take responsibility to provide for those levels.

The question now is, “How?”

Honestly, I don’t have any answers. Some rough ideas but nothing concrete. But I’d like to thank Willie for posing that question, “Ano bang nagawa ninyo para sa mahirap?” It is a very a good question. I hope that this Holy Week, Willie Revillame took the time to read what was being written about him. I pray that question will lead him to lend his popularity to a show that’s truly helpful to Filipinos.

We all have to seek out a solution. In the meantime, let's put a stop tio Willing Willie. 

Veejay Villafranca's black and white photographs have always been powerfully captivating. He did a series on a Baseco gang that won him the Ian Parry Scholarship. He's the first Filipino to have done so and he did it at the age of 26. Here's a series he's been working on that stemmed from his friendship with the Baseco gang members. Apparently a lot of the hardened men are Black Nazarene devotees. 

He has more photos on his website and on GMA News. But if you're interested to hear him speak about his love for photography, click this to go to a Ted Talk's recording on Estancabigas's blog. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy week is just a couple of days away so naturally, the work is just pouring in. I have no time to post even if there are so many things marinating in my wee brain. So, I'll just plug a site that was done by my agency for Fedex. It's a very interesting look at our changing world through interactive infographics.

This is how our world would if country size was based on the population living in cities back in 1975.

 Now, it's based on the happiness of the people living in the country. Lookie, we're larger than Australia!

Whattup?!?! Japan is larger than the entire continent of Africa.  

It's a great way to learn a thing or two about our world and yes, it was made right here in the Philippines!

If you have 5 minutes, please please vote for it at the Webby Awards. Click that link. You'll have to register, but if you tick the right box, you'll also get updates on a wealth of cool sites, apps and other online experiences. Oh, and if you want to see more of the FedEx Changing World website and hear my supposedly dulcet voice-over, you can check it out here -


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Last week, I got to check out an exhibit curated by Brian Tenorio. Ambassadors of the Philippine Brand is a feature on 18 personalities who represent the Philippine Brand to the World, as illustrated by several of the country’s emerging and established talent in illustration and visual design. Kudos to all the artists who worked on the portraits. AJ Omandac, Bren Baclan, Jose Daniel Castillo, Laraine Gazmen, Lawrence Anataran, Louie Lee, Meneer Marcel, and Valerie Chua. Brilliant stuff.

Scroll down to see who made the cut.
 Journey songster Arnel Pineda
 Filmmaker Brillante Mendoza
 Little diva Charice Pempengco
  Mother and son politicians Cory and Noynoy Aquino
My friend Mia with the dashing tycoon Jaime Zobel De Ayala
 Furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue. Gotta love a sourpuss.
 Songbird and broadway muse Lea Salonga
 No need for introductions for this one
 My friend Mia kissing male model Paolo Roldan
My personal favorite, the Filipino Healthworker. 
A shout out to my mom and pops, both in the medical field. 
I feel like this deserved a less cartoony rendition though.

I'm happy that people like Brian Tenorio are coming up with events such as these. At first glance, it is a list of famous people whose names have circumnavigated the globe. I was going to brush it off as a mere popularity contest, but then I realized the impact of the brand ambassadors around the world. Ignorant people are innumerable. Some people don't even know where the Philippines is. Some think that we all still live in Nipa huts and wear loincloths. Their image of being a Filipino is painted through interactions with domestic helpers, japayukis, Filam boys and girls who grew up in the hood. On the news and in movies, we are constantly portrayed as poor, dirty, and malnourished. KAWAWA ang dating natin in the international media arena. But slowly, with the help of the people listed here, that impression is changing.

Through these Ambassadors we are understood. Through them we live our dreams and aspiration as they bring us to the hearts and minds of people from all over the globe.  

Overall, the Ambassadors of the Philippine Brand Exhibition is a refreshing new way of looking at our country-- a brand that we all have to take responsibility for. Someday I hope that we can start introducing more homegrown talent who may not be known to the world. But they embody the best of us Filipinos. At the top of my head, I have names like: Street performer and activist Carlos Celdran, RockEd Philippines founder Gang Badoy, and the T'boli dreamweavers. 

The exhibit will be going to Trinoma on April 13-27 and Alabang Town Center on April 28-May 12

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I stumbled upon this video from my Twitter feed. It seems like a lot more people out there are clamoring for changes. Good to know the momentum is building. For the longest time, I've felt that there is something monumental on the way, a paving of the roads for a better and brighter Philippines. Team Manila said it in this shirt-- the first thing I ever bought from them.

Manila Renaissance Movement

There is a current running through particular individuals and certain groups. This electricity possesses them to ask questions like, "Why do a majority of Filipinos want to leave the country?", "Why can't we be the no. 1 tourist destination in Southeast Asia?" or "Why do we keep getting lame politicians to run our beautiful country?"

Recently, the big question for me is, "Why have our noontime shows looked the same since the 1980s?". After the whole Willie Janjan Macho Dancing Debacle, the real issue for me is not that they put a kid on to dance lewdly for money. It's the fact that it is tolerated and even enjoyed. This is the norm for our television viewing public.

I was disturbed to hear the opinions of my neighbor. She's a well-meaning housewife, who despite knowing the wrongness of the situation sided with Willie. She said, "He still gives the most money amongst all of them!". I wanted to say, "Yes po, he does. But that's not his money. Moreover, that show perpetuates the idea that you can get rich quick by sharing your sad story, making fun of your flaws, or worse sending your child to gyrate for laughs."

Where's our pride?

That's why I'm happy to see videos like the one from Meeting of the Minds Manila. It shows that the current is running wild in a lot of people. Fueled by their experiences and their desire to make a difference, they band together.  And when they do, you can feel fireworks in the room. It reminds me of the Mabuhay Guides and how when we first got together, we were stunned to realize just how many of us wanted the same thing for the Philippines. This video gave me hope.

With that I also have to applaud efforts from individuals such as Monique Wilson who is calling all artists to support better programming in lieu of the Willing Willie debacle. I'm proud of influencers like Emily Abrera who retired an advertising legend but remains active on issues such as these.

Everywhere, I see pockets of hope--people coming together and finding common ground to spark a change. It's uplifting. People feel something amazing is on the way. They feel that way because they want it badly. They see the potential of the country and they're asking why it can't be.

Now it's time to ask yourself, "Do you feel it? Are you part of this?"

For the Fallen / A Poem by Ruby Veridiano from Arriane Serafico on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New York based Filipino illustrator and designer, Pepper Roxas, created these prints to help raise funds for the victims of the recent tsunami and eartquake in Japan. On this drawing are the words Ganbatte Kudasai or “Do your best/Don’t give up!”


These are so touching. If you want to help the injured Godzilla, 
the prints are available on this website:

I feel a little guilty that I haven't kept abreast with what's happening in Japan. In the back of my mind, I have a strong feeling that Japan has it got it covered. They are a strong, self-sufficient society that's used to picking up the pieces. My friend who was recently in Tokyo told me about how shoppers in the grocery store did not panic after the massive earth shaking. They stayed calm and when the rumblings subsided, the crowds simply returned all the goods they were supposed to buy and filed out. Truly admirable discipline.

100% of all profits from the sales of this tee will be donated through the Japan Society of New York.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kanta Calls is something I'm very proud of. It's a heartwarming and funny digital effort made by BBDO- Guerrero for our 10 million Pinoys working abroad. It's also an easy way for the millions of OFW kids (like me) to send some love to their hardworking parents abroad.

So what is a Kanta Call
Bayantel had us create an application where Filipinos in the Philippines could send a musical call to any Filipino overseas. Just go the site. Pick a genre: Hip-hop. Traditional ballad or Power ballad. Personalize your lyrics. Type in your loved one’s phone number. Then at a time of your choosing, their phones will ring and they’d hear their very own personalized song. And yes, it's absolutely free!

When we were conceptualized this, I really thought of my parents who have been working abroad for more than 25 years. My dad is a pharmacist who moved to Saudi Arabia as a young man. There, he met a bewitching nurse who captured his heart. Eventually, they wed and had me and my brother. Now, they're based in the States and I see them once a year. People who have never lived abroad can take for granted the sacrifices our overseas Filipino workers make to be able to support their families. I'm glad that I grew up in Saudi Arabia because I've experienced those things firsthand. I'm so grateful to my folks Ruben and Emma. This one's for you Poppy and Mumsky!

Try it out. My friends have been cracking up to the crowd-pleasing Rap version. But being a little old-fashioned, I prefer the Kundiman.

A big shout out to the talented people in our agency who made this possible: Pia Roxas, Corey Cruz, Karen Gosingan, Racquel Narciso, Paul Guadalupe, and Sheena Siao. I hope I didn't miss anyone.