Archive of ‘pop goes the world’ category

PGTW: Advice to Krisel

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 26 March 2015, Thursday

Advice to Krisel

High school salutatorian Krisel Mallari gave a speech not heard around the world, for the reason that she was cut off midstream by the member of the faculty.

Instead of delivering welcome remarks, she discussed the alleged unfairness of the Sto. Niño Parochial School in not considering her for valedictorian honors and the need for the school to revisit their systems.

A video of school officials preventing Krisel from finishing her speech went viral. Netizens stormed cyberspace to support her, saying under the principle of freedom of speech, she should have been allowed to finish.

School officials said Krisel’s message was not appropriate. The valedictorian told Krisel, on a TV interview, to accept that she did not get the top place, and that her speech “tarnish[ed] the school’s reputation.”

The Department of Education is investigating the matter.

Was Krisel really cheated out of the top spot? We do not know that for a fact. Were any of her rights violated when she was not allowed to complete her speech? That’s for lawyers to say.

What is clear is that Krisel was moved by strong emotion – disappointment, frustration, anger, bitterness, which may have been justified. However, she was asked to give welcome remarks, which she did not do, and thus failed to consider the thoughts and feelings of the other attendees at the graduation ceremony, while focusing on her own.

Krisel believed she should have graduated as class valedictorian. She worked hard and sacrificed much to achieve that goal, as all other honor recipients have. But not being valedictorian is not the end of the world. If she was cheated out of what was rightfully hers, that is not her burden to bear, but that of those who did.

As someone who’s been in similar situations, here’s my advice to Krisel – take ‘Frozen” as your peg let it go.

Krisel, those much-vaunted honors will not guarantee success or happiness. Academic awards, even intelligence, are not always highly valued IRL – in real life. Our society values social skills more than knowledge, relationships and connections over test rankings.

If you want to be successful, learn how to hobnob, press the flesh, kiss babies – in short, the traditional politician shtick.

Grow a strong stomach for rich food and liquor. Much relationship-building with principals and suppliers takes place over late-night inuman. Know your wines and whiskies, your fine dining and private hang-outs.

Observe your boss’s habits and find out how you can serve her with ‘extras.’ Competence is a requirement for the job is a given. Set yourself apart from the herd by performing those little attentions that mean so much – checking in her luggage when you go on official travel, getting her a glass of water at meals before she asks, driving her around when her driver is off duty.

Develop your networks. As I was told by a classmate in MBA school, “We’re not here to study – we’re here to make connections.” Befriend everyone – judges, mayors, celebrities; the lady in accounting who issues the checks, the guy who signs the licenses. That way, when you need a favor for yourself or for your boss, you have contacts who can help.

You don’t need to be a salutatorian – much less a valedictorian – to do these things.

In the real world, no one really looks at your school grades or awards, Krisel. In the end, that’s just information on your resume or personnel data sheet that goes into a filing cabinet. Earn them, enjoy them, use them to gain what points you can, but in the end, what matters is that you can deliver the goods and the ‘extras’ if need be. Be resourceful, make do with what you have. Work with grace under pressure and by golly deliver on time or even earlier.

So let it go, Krisel. You may have a right to be aggrieved. But you won’t carry the burden of having done an injustice. You can hold your head high and move on. There is much more to life than school and grades.  ***

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PGTW: In support of Filipino knowledge

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 19 March 2015, Thursday

In support of Filipino knowledge

Does the Philippines have a reading culture?

Arguments may be made for both yea and nay, with the former pointing to the growth of the chain bookstores as an indicator of the steady sale of books, while the latter will grumble at the overwhelming consumption of television as a medium over the printed word.

It certainly is a fact that the country is far behind in its reading habits compared to, say, Japan or the United States. Yet the government, through the National Book Development Board (NBDB), is looking to promote Filipino authors and publishing by providing grants to those who would not otherwise be able to finish a manuscript or transform a research work into a book for the general public.

Last March 13, NBDB Trust Fund grants for 2014 were awarded to Darwin J. Absari for his “Pag-tuhan: Tausug Gnosis as a Living Tradition” in the field of Islamic studies, and under the field biodiversity/health and wellness, to Amado C. Bajarias Jr. for his “The Birds of Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College, and UP Diliman,” Grace Quiton-Domingo for her “MPA for Teachers: A Fun Activity Guide that Illustrates the Science Behind Marine-Protected Areas,” and Rosario I. Tañedo for her “Come Back to Me: Lives Taken, Shaken, and Changed by the Lack of Reproductive Health Rights.”

NBDB was created under Republic Act No. 8047 (1995), the Book Publishing Industry Development Act. Its mandate is to be “the leading catalyst for building a culture of reading and authorship as well as an environment for the growth of the book publishing industry toward making it globally competitive”.

RA No. 9521 (2009), the National Book Development Trust Fund Act, sourced funding for a trust fund for NBDB’s programs and activities from the General Appropriations Act and from government-owned and –controlled corporations Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The NBDB Trust Fund provides grants of P200,000 to an individual or organization for the completion of manuscripts or research works for publication, especially in the field of science and technology, “and in subject areas where locally-authored books are few and non-existent.”

Each year, the agency puts out a call for manuscripts in certain subject areas. A panel of experts assists the NBDB in evaluating submitted manuscripts.

This year, the topics are local history and culture; traditional medicine; integrative medicine and tropical medicine; food science and technology, organic agriculture, sustainable agriculture, and agritourism; and popular science, for example, robotics and inventions.

Among the subject areas in previous years were documentation or codification of any traditional knowledge; habitat rehabilitation and social impacts; new technologies in entrepreneurship; livelihoods; and fiction and non-fiction book-length literary works.

Authors and organizations applying for grants must submit at least 25 percent of their manuscripts or research works that will be turned into books. Check out the agency’s website at for application forms and other details. The deadline for submission of applications is May 31.

According to NBDB Executive Director Graciela Mendoza-Cayton, “We tend to broadly interpret the categories, so we advise writers to just apply, because there are so many unexplored research areas.”

She cited as an example a dearth of documentation of the history and folklore of Mindanao, and suggested that more authors concentrate their efforts in identifying and exploring similarly under-researched areas.

Right after the grant-awarding ceremony, Cayton dashed off for the “Booklatan sa Laoag” event over the weekend, where author and illustrator Adam David taught fanzine writing and other activities were conducted.

Upcoming agency events include a copyright clinic on March 28, “AK/DA: Araw ng Aklat at Copyright” on April 23, while the whole month of April is “Buwan ng Panitikan” (Literature Month) as provided for by Presidential Proclamation No. 968, signed last 10 February 2015. Major bookish activities are scheduled for the second half of the year.

The agency, Cayton says, can also help authors publish their works through both traditional and non-traditional means.

Usually printing is not the difficult part – it’s distributing the books. “We have contacted distributors,” she said, “who can put the books in outlets other than the chain bookstores, to get them to a wider audience.”

I’d say NBDB’s efforts not only promote and embed a reading culture, they also support the collection, preservation, and creation of kaalaman – Filipino knowledge. For we never stop doing and learning; the thing is to write it down, and to get those writings in as many minds as possible.

The development of a country and its people is possible only when ideas are allowed to flourish and proliferate; and a society that values books and authors and knowledge has the advantage over those that do not. ***

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PGTW: The Palanca Awards: changing the rules

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 March 2015, Thursday

The Palanca Awards: changing the rules

The writers’ beehive is buzzing with news about the revised rules for the 2015 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the oldest and most prestigious recognition program for creative writers today.

The Foundation, as the contest sponsor, has every right to change its rules as it sees fit, and they have done so the past several years.  After all, no one is being forced to join the contest.

However, it is disturbing that some of the new rules seem to confer advantages to the sponsor that may be considered unfair to the author, one of which is the waiver of the author’s moral rights over their work.

Republic Act No. 10372 (2012), The Intellectual Property Code (IPC), which amends some provisions of the Code’s earlier incarnation, RA No. 8293, provides in Sec. 198, “Term of Moral Rights” that the right of an author…shall last during the lifetime of the author and in perpetuity after his death…the moral rights shall not be assignable or subject to license.”

In RA 8293’s Sec. 193, among the ‘moral rights’ is the requirement “that the authorship of the works be attributed to [the author]” and that the author’s name “as far as practicable, be indicated in a prominent way on the copies, and in connection with the public use of his work.”

The author also has moral rights to alter their work, withhold it from publication, object to any sort of modification or “other derogatory action” in relation to their work, and “to restrain the use of his name” in connection with a work not their own or a “distorted version” of it.

Under 2015 Palanca Awards Rule No. 21 (posted on their website), these moral rights would be handed over to the Foundation, so that in theory they may alter the author’s work, publish it without attribution, and perform other related acts:

“21. … In the case of a winning Work or Works, the Contestant further grants and assigns to the Sponsor the concurrent and non-exclusive right to exercise the full copyright and all other intellectual property rights over such Work(s), as well as all intellectual property rights over the Contestant’s previous Palanca Award prize – winning work(s) if any, (collectively, the “Work(s)”), and waives all moral rights over all his or her Palanca Award prize-winning Work(s) in favor of the Sponsor.”

Not only will the Foundation have the moral rights to the work – this when the IPC states that moral rights are perpetual and “shall not be assignable” – they will also claim “all intellectual property rights” over the author’s previous Palanca Award-winning works in what looks like a bid to retroactively assert a type of control they did not seek in previous years.

Granted, the phrase “concurrent and non-exclusive” means the author still holds the same rights as well. But let’s say the author refuses to allow a publisher to include their work in an anthology; the publisher could then approach the Foundation for the same thing.

Some writers point out that it’s the waiver of moral rights that is a new rule this year, while the assignment of worldwide rights and copyright over all past winning works was already included in the 2014 rules, something that slipped under the writers’ radar then.

It’s unlikely that the Foundation has any intention to hand authors a raw deal, but it looks like there was some over-eager tweaking of the rules.

I have won a Palanca Award and deeply appreciate the honor and prestige it bestows (at least in the public eye – we writers know the truth, that we’re only as good as our last work), but the new rules are worrisome and could make some writers reconsider entering this year’s contest.

There’s nothing to stop people from joining under these circumstances; it’s an individual decision to make. Many write pieces specifically for this contest, hoping for a shot at literary glory. It’s up to the writer to weigh their chances of winning or placing, and the pros and cons of abiding by these rules should their entry receive an award.

Only read the fine print first. Caveat emptor.


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PGTW: Numbing down

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 5 March 2015, Thursday

Numbing down                                                  

The day the Internet broke wasn’t when Kim Kardashian bared her bum for the world to see; albeit it was a nice, squishy bum glistening with oil, it was the controversy about #TheDress, #LlamaDrama, and more that had social media raging for hours in all time zones.

This all went down last week.

First, someone posted a photograph of a dress and asked: was it black and blue, or gold and white? The photo was obviously one taken in poor lighting that served to create an optical illusion. However, arguments for one or the other broke out among netizens who seemed to have forgotten their basic high school science lessons on optics.

#LlamaDrama was intensely more fascinating. Sun City, Arizona, was the scene of a high-stakes caper involving runaways. There was adventure! and comedy! and an exciting high-speed chase across the city! with cops in cars and choppers trying to round up two llamas escaping on foot, er, on hooves, from no one knew where. Zoo? Private home? Animal sanctuary? That was another puzzle – who would be keeping captive llamas, and how did they manage to break loose from confinement?

One llama was white, the other black; both were captured on camera running on pavement, away from the people chasing them, away from all the angst and stress of modern urban living. Local television gave massive coverage to the incident. It went viral.

The renegades were eventually rounded up, and the memes broke out: “I bet the #whitellama gets off with a misdemeanor,” tweeted one wag.

“#Whitellama and #blackllama are the new #leftshark and #rightshark,” said another, referencing the dorky shark-costume-wearing dancers at a recent Katy Perry performance.

Other memes mashed up references to the two incidents: in one cartoon, two llamas were depicted, one striped blue and black, the other white and gold.

While people were wrecking their retinas over The Dress and the llamas were fleeing, Leonard Nimoy was quietly expiring in his Los Angeles home, bringing a graceful end to the living legend that was Commander Spock.

“He played an alien, but he was the most human soul I knew,” said co-star George Takei. Nimoy was not only an actor, he was also a director (Three Men and a Baby and two Star Trek films). He also wrote poetry and recorded songs.

Dying at 83, he lived a full life. In the last Tweet he posted a few days before his death from lung disease, he mused: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” He ended with his trademark “LLAP” – “live long and prosper”.

The extraordinary hubbub over these happenings – on an order of magnitude that perplexed even jaded netizens – pushed to the side more important news, among them the massacre by the Islamic State of Christians in Syria, the destruction also by IS of valuable antiquities and other objects of art and history at the Mosul Museum, and the threat of a death sentence for Saudi atheist blogger Raif Badawi, a crushing blow to the struggle for freedom of speech and religion in the Middle East.

Even the SAF 44 issue wore thin. “Got tired of Mamasapano,” commented a reader about my column a couple of weeks ago about the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon. “Found this refreshing and funny.”

A media effects theory posits that prolonged and frequent exposure to violence on media desensitizes the viewer, numbing their reactions and emotions to the suffering and pain of others.

The result is that issues with a significant impact on society will fall off from the public radar and thus receive no resolution. Without constant and ceaseless public monitoring, abuses will be perpetrated, crimes committed, rights trampled upon.

#TheDress and #LlamaDrama? They’re funny, but not important. Have your chuckle, but don’t waste an inordinate of time on whatever’s new that claims to “break the Internet”. Buying into the global dumbing down won’t help while we are at a point in history that we need all our wits about us.

When consuming media content, sift and screen all the information. Ain’t nobody got time for all that. Let’s not forget to care about what really matters – and that’s what we should break the Internet for. ***

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