Ellen Tordesillas Goes Anti

Even good friends occasionally need a whack upside the head.

Ellen Tordesillas is actually not my friend. I don’t know her. Never met her. But she is a blogging colleague, sincere in her work, pro-Philippines day and night. Her heart is good. She writes about opera and the passing of good people. I read her blog regularly.

But I fear she has gone anti. Anti Aquino.

What does “anti” mean? It means packing an agenda, with the agenda being the lens through which facts are digested and commentary is spewed.
I’ve written in the past that it is easy to drift to the negative (“Bemoan or Build“). We all tend to look at the flaws rather than the things that are in order. We are removed from the playing field so have a rather sanitized, unreal view about activity that is dirty, unplanned and bone-crunching.
Her blog is called, simply, “ellen tordesillas“. What is disturbing to me is the opening line in her self-description:
  • “I’m Ellen Tordesillas, a journalist.”
Ellen’s second site, “The Vera Files“, touts itself as an investigative journalism site where “Truth is Our Business”.
I do not provide links to Ellen Tordesilla’s blog sites because my Google Chrome security service on November 23 advised me that “The Vera Files” issues malware harmful  to computers. I suspect the sites are under attack by hackers, as her comment thread has also been knocked out of order.
Hmmmmm. I thought there was a difference between a journalist and a commentator. Now journalists are entitled to opinions, too. But those opinions ought to be clearly separated from the business of reporting the facts about events.
Here are Ellen’s recent headlines and opening lines on articles about President Aquino:
  • “PH should face up to the reality ‘When China rules the world’ “

    • “When President Aquino was making waves in the summit of Asean leaders and their dialogue partners in Cambodia with his statement urging the United States to speak up on the South China Sea conflict which was anathema to China . . .” (November 22)

  • “Aquino living up to the role of U.S. dummy
  • “In a United States-written script, President Aquino performed his role very well as the American dummy in Southeast Asia at the 21st Asean summit in Cambodia.” (November 20)
  • “Aquino berating media is becoming boring”
  • “Why am I not surprised that the Freedom of Information bill in the House of Representatives has been declared dead in the 15th Congress by press freedom advocates? Simple: President Aquino does not support it. (November 15)
  • “Concrete evidence, not snide remarks, needed to convict Gloria”
  • “The day that President Aquino talks about his accomplishments without snide remarks at Gloria Arroyo, is the day I can say that he has matured as a leader of this country. As of now, his penchant for snide remarks about people he doesn’t like gives the impression of being juvenile.”  (November 7)
  • “Edith Burgos on Aquino’s ‘leftist propaganda’ remark”
  • “Still searching for her missing son, Edith Burgos, wife of press freedom icon Jose Burgos Jr. and mother of Jonas Burgos, who was never seen since he was abducted by persons suspected to be members of the military on April 28, 2007, issued a statement yesterday in reaction to President Aquino’s remark dismissing criticisms about the dismal human rights records of his administration as leftist propaganda.” (October 25)
  • “Making sure we got the President correctly on internet libel”
  • “This is what President Aquino said at the forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association in the Philippines Wednesday on internet libel in the Cybercrime Law which he signed last Sept. 1.” (October 18)
  • “PNoy, Padaca don’t get it”
  • “What is it in being in position of power that dulls the mind and blurs the comprehension of people we thought were sensible?” (October 7)
  • “If PNoy believes Puno’s Israel trip story, pity the Filipino people”
  • “I wish President Aquino would stop talking about “tuwid na daan” anymore. It’s adding insult to injury with the way he protected Rico Puno, his shooting buddy whom he appointed undersecretary in the Department of Interior and Local Government. He accepted Puno’s resignation last Sept. 11.” (September 16)
  • “President Aquino accepts Puno’s resignation”
  • “Last Friday, former DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno submitted his letter of resignation to the President, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. The President has accepted Mr. Puno’s resignation effective immediately.” (September 11)
  • “PNoy’s buddies: ‘they are different from you and me’”
  • “Pnoy inducts his shooting buddy. After days of deafening silence on the issue of his favorite undersecretary,Rico Puno,in-charge of police matters at the Department of Interior and Local Government,attempting to get hold of the documents in the possession of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, President Aquino finally spoke and revealed that it was upon his orders that Puno did it.” (September 9)
Now I have absolutely no problem with opinions being registered on a blog site. But I have trouble with opinions being registered as “journalism” and I have trouble with agenda being labeled objective.
If I follow the articles, I am to believe that President Aquino did absolutely nothing constructive for the Philippines during the three month period from which these headlines were drawn. Instead, I am to believe that he is characterized by:
  • ” Deafening silence” (about a delicate issue).
  • “Adding insult to injury” (because he did not agree with critics of Puno or their recitation of events).
  • “Being dull of mind with blurred comprehension” (because he advocated Padaca, a feminine Robredo, for a COMELEC position).
  • “Having a dismal human rights record” (because he disagrees with those who think he is doing nothing about extra-judicial murders).
  • “Being snide and juvenile” (because he did a funny wheelchair joke at Gloria Arroyo’s expense).
  • “Being a dummy” (for advocating international engagement in the West China Sea rather than China’s bilateral engagement strategy).

  • “Making waves” (for advocating US engagement “in anathema” to China)
I’d swear I’m on Get Real Post, that manipulative, agenda freak of a blog site that bans readers who have opposing views. The notorious thug-site that encourages personal insults against commenters who disagree.
And I actually agree, as a highly opinionated blogger myself, with some of the opinions Ellen Tordesillas registers. But where are the accolades when the President gets it right? Where is the balanced weighing of two sides of a controversial issue before rendering judgment?
These articles are hack jobs.
I can’t imagine a patriotic Filipino not being proud of President Aquino’s work at the ASEAN summit. First of all, he was sick as a dog, but pulled himself out of bed to get to this important confab. Second of all, he did not roll over to Cambodia’s “consensus” statement, which was nothing more than a sly political move to try to push the Philippines and Viet Nam aside. Only President Aquino had the forthright courage to stand firm and state the Philippines did not agree to the Cambodian “consensus” statement.
For this, he is called a “dummy”?
You want him to roll over and accede to China, say so. Articulate why.
I no longer trust the objectivity of this “journalist” right now. Ten articles. Two neutral. Eight critical. Zero complimentary. Lots of unkind, loaded words.
The trend of criticism of the President is so pronounced, that I have determined the correct placement of the blog on The Philippine Blog Center  is with other “anti” blogs like Get Real Post. It is not necessarily a permanent assignment, as I review these blogs regularly to see if they have gone mainstream. But that seems to be the proper assignment.
I am also moving the blog “The Nutbox” to the mainstream “Top Blog” column. This blog does not have frequent commentary, but what is there is superior in form and content, and it is intellectually honorable. The writing is from the perspective of a younger Filipino and points in a direction that Philippine blogging would be well served aspiring to: intelligent, objective and devoid of emotional “win/lose” esteem battles.
45 Responses to “Ellen Tordesillas Goes Anti”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Why is it so easy nowadays to sound anti-Pnoy? My answer is-I'm gettiing impatient because Pnoy promised a lot and kept our hopes up. The Commgroup is not helping by being transparent about how Pnoy intends to accomplish those promises. Exhibit A: FOI.DocB

  2. Yes, I agree. If you look at some of the "loyalties" he seems to attach to, it is friendship and favor over liberty and justice. Libel and right of reply over FOI. But it is necessary to work to hold on to objectivity, and not look to turn his good performance into bad. Like the Asean meeting when he represented the Philippine case forthrightly rather than bowing to Cambodia, as China's mouthpiece. Or his court appointments, both of whom look like they will bring integrity to the Supreme Court, and a judiciary sorely lacking integrity.The problem I have with the "antis" is that their agenda, to paint the President as a "loser" is inherently deceitful. He is like most of us, well-intended but with some flaws in execution. On balance, he has made the Philippines a better place. But he has to do more to seal that progress in as permanent. Like push FOI.When we get angry about something, it is possible to lose our objectivity, and as I read Ellen's work, that is what I think has happened.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Give the credit when due, throwthe punches when necessary!Ihae read Ellen blogs and columns sporadically. On analysis shewasbasically opinionated, fair to PNoygeerally sinceherun for president. Her flaws lie mainly on her compassion and emotions on subjects close to her heart like the Burgos case when she is prone tosubjectivity rather than being objective mainly. Who does not fall on the pit on very emontional maater close to your heart?Even JoeAm shows it when the subject is about America and its worldwide influence? such is thefrail of humanity. Lately, I have been critical of many PNoy decision especially with his last SC appointment and how he has treated his friends publicly. Overall though, he is doing a good job realigning good governance. Point is he could do more which is wanting by being more objective rather than subjective to his allies.Again, that is my opinion, an expression of freedom of speech like everybody else is entitled including anti-PNoy.Johnny LinEveryone s entitled to his/her opinion. Like what Joe is exercising on Ellem

  4. There you go, being wise again. Indeed, one of my emotional flare-up points is America's worldwide influence, when people are critical of America's actions from their vantage point, rather than from an American's, which is different. Neither is the whole picture, Americn or critic, and if the discussion is forthright, both will educate the other, and both will gain enlightenment.On ellen's blogs, her comment thread is inoperative, so she is working without other views able to provide balance. So no one is able to get through to defend President Aquino. I wrote this blog because I can't get through on hers to tell her essentially what I've written here.

  5. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I don’t normally follow Ellen.2. Looking at the piece “PH should face up to the reality ‘When China rules the world’”, I make the following observations:2.1 The piece consists mostly of quotes from Martin Jacques’ speech. Of 22 paragraphs, more than half were full quotes and the others contained partial quotes.2.2 The other paragraphs were prefatory or transitional statements of facts citing Jacques biographical data and credentials.2.3 There was hardly any personal insightful analysis or commentary by Ellen.2.4 NONE, with the exception of the title: “PH should face up to the reality…” and the characterization of Pnoy as “making waves”.3. Looking at “Aquino living up to the role of U.S. dummy":3.1 Again, mostly quotes and a few statements of facts.3.2. The exceptions are in the (a) title; (b) middle paragraph stating Pnoy “sounded like a small boy running to a bigger guy for help after an encounter with a neighbourhood bully”; and the last two paragraph essentially saying the same thing as the middle paragraph: “The little boy will soon find out the bigger guy will not cross the path of the neighborhood bully to protect him. He will have to learn to protect himself.3.3 That conclusion is patently slanted and untrue. Obama has urged the easing of tensions over maritime disputes. And America has re-established naval presence in Subic.4. So these are reportages with “spins” in the titles and one-liners or a small phrase on the characterizations of immaturity and wasteful gestures on the part of the President.4.1 These pieces are as deep as a dent in a bronze coin.4.2 Journalist or commentator? I'd say bi. And for these two pieces of bronze, I'd say hack.

  6. Word of the day. Rhymes with lack.

  7. Edgar Lores says:

    1. I'm a bit puzzled by the state of the State. Why is it that the President has to certify a bill as urgent for Congress to act on it?2. Isn't Congress a separate and co-equal branch? Are congressmen relying on the apple of the pork-barrel to spur them into action? Aren't they already paid to "serve the people"?3. In both houses, there are (a) specific committees to review pending legislation by subject matter and (b) roles responsible for the scheduling of the reading of bills in the plenaries. Why take the President to task for the inaction of these congressional entities?4. Filipino definition of "purgatory": torment brought about by inutile officials in a dysfunctional governmental system ruling over a lackadaisical populace.

  8. Edgar Lores says:

    One other piece of illogic: If America is the bigger guy who "will not cross the path", how can you label the President as a proxy, an "American dummy"?

  9. You are asking me? Let me give my impressions and others can correct them.The house follows the President around like puppies looking for a suck on an available teat, with the flow called pork, and the pork meaning re-election. The Senate is more independent, but in the pal/buddie/favor-trading Philippines, the president can lean on party members much as the US Pesident and Democrats in congress march around in lock step.They are paid to serve the people, and the Constitution says they will, but service is filtered through a huge screen of self advantage.I'm not sure how the dynamics work in the case of committees, but it is clear, when the President speaks up on responsible parenthood, things get done. When he goes quiet, they stop getting done. FOI the same way. In the US the president influences legislators by "jawboning" them, as Obama did regarding Ambassador Rice and the Republican congressional attacks on her. They softened at once, being embarassed by the President's spotlight on their knee-jerk attacks.President Aquino is inert on FOI. That silence says a lot. What is interesting to me is that I think the Fifth Estate, bloggers and social media, is bringing a new form of spotlight into the behaviors of congressmen and they must now add that into their thinking. If we shout loud enough, FOI could get dislodged.

  10. Yes, and if the President is a dummy for wanting internationalization of the Seas dispute with China, does that mean Ellen advocates the China plan, bilateral dialogue? And I understand the credentials of the guy who wrote the base material for the article "When China rules the world" is flakey, not really respected as an authority.So if the President is a dummy, what is Ellen? Pro-China?

  11. Anonymous says:

    So your complaint, if accurate, is lack of access to voice your personal opinion on Ellen blog. Maybe it is beyond Ellen's ability to please everybody? You should have elucidated it. Some columnists in many newspapers still don't have comments section but it does not mean we could not be educated on their point of views, acknowledging or disagreeing with it despite lack of access to express each personal opinion. Time will come in other medium for there are different blogs/columns overlapping each other.Transforming to a true blooded Filipino, Joe, impatient, me first? Hope, non spiteful in presented form. Just talking loud!Johnny Lin

  12. Anonymous says:

    "What does "anti" mean? It means packing an agenda, with the agenda being the lens through which facts are digested and commentary is spewed."Why do you think everyone criticizing PNoy must have an agenda? An opinion could be just that: an opinion, period. -ricelander

  13. Anonymous says:

    DocB,When the president certifies a bill to Congress he is telling them what laws he needs enacted to carry out his agenda. Why does he need to do that? Because like you said Congress is independent and it has its own agenda and priorities. Now although separate Congress and Executive belong to the same engine, government and for that engine to function efficiently the moving parts have to move together. And so bill certification tells congress what are the president's priorities and to please take them up first so he can get on with the job. If Congress is with the president they will pass his priority bills, if they are opposed then they will put them in the back burner or flat out reject them. – MB

  14. Anonymous says:

    sorry wrong send. my reply was for edgar lores -MB

  15. Anonymous says:

    Joe, I noticed that too and it made me sad to see a fine blog like Ellen's turning into Get Real. Now s peaking purely from a writer's perspective, the thing that gets me even more riled is her critical columns really do look like template hack jobs. Someone with her talent and experience can do better. And the irony of it all is that in trying to destroy the president through lousy writing, she ends up destroying herself because she rendered herself unreadable.

  16. Anonymous says:

    "An opinion could be just that: an opinion, period."This is like saying an apple or any fruit for that matter is just an apple/fruit without any nutrients. What a waste…reply to @ricelander –sandman

  17. My complaints are: (1) claiming the label journalist whilst writing commentary, (2) one-sided portrayal of the President which is not accurate and undermines his credibility and ability to represent the nation strongly (China must read Ellen and slap their hands with glee), and (3) inability to respond within the blog thread. Her "Vera Files" site claims "truth is our business" and I think that is not a correct label. The suggestion is the site does investigative journalism. Raissa does investigative journalism.

  18. Yes, it could be. Don't slap the tag "journalism" on it, then, or what is an ethic for? And if I believe an opinion undermines the credibility (and international reputation)of the Philippine president, I would be negligent to keep quiet. I am entitled to an opinion also. I do not claim to be a journalist, although I have a masters degree in broadcast journalism. I am an opinion monger, seeking knowledge, and advocating for a quality Philippines.

  19. Yes, thank you for letting me know it was not just my imagination or some kind of hyper-sensitivity. A few months ago, I had her on the top five blog list, but something turned her negative. I would add that I think a blogger's credibility is only as good as his or her fairness.

  20. Anonymous says:

    May be Ellen's just waiting for Pnoy to get a wife and then who knows it'll all be positive from there. Hehehe(Strangely, Ellen defended Trillanes and Casiño from media mishaps)DocB

  21. Anonymous says:

    I prefer the word transparency to fairness in the context of a blog that pretends to be objective when in fact it is pushing an agenda. Many blogs out there are one-sided and that's okay as long as they don't pretend to be balanced. Faux news is faux news don't call it Fox although that could be a fox's way to sell faux as authentic. -MB

  22. J says:

    1. Ellen is a friend of mine. She once helped me out when I and my mom had some troubles with extortionists. I can vouch for her sincerity, and people who know her (like some of my ex-diplomat professors who knew her back when her beat was the DFA) can vouch for her patriotism. However, I have to agree that her opinions have become too critical of the administration lately. I suspect the reason behind this is that the President, whom, judging by her earlier blog posts, she had supported, has failed her on issues that are close to her heart, like the Jonas Burgos issue (the President, I think, had been insensitive when he dismissed this issue as leftist propaganda), cybercrime, and FOI. I see where she is coming from.2. Thank you very much for the special mention. Added pressure for me to come up with good blog posts, and to publish often. 3. I noticed that Manuel Buencamino's Uniffors (http://www.uniffors.com/) is not on the Philippine Blog Center. I think it should be there. While at it, you might want to check out the blogs that Manolo Quezon likes to read: http://mlq3.tumblr.com/post/19447909073/some-blogs-to-check-out

  23. Anonymous says:

    A sign Ellen is doing something right-her blog gets hacked. Hehehe Seriously, I follow Ma'am Ellen's blog warts and all, she has the common touch, like a big sister. Even when she hammered Pnoy's blurting on about US spy planes. I don't think she has any particular nasty agenda like Tiglao or Belinda Cunanan, both journos. May be she makes for a writerly Juana Change. Of course, that's just me.DocB

  24. Anonymous says:

    "I am entitled to an opinion also."Of course. But would it be fair to suspect you have an agenda too, other than your stated good intentions? -ricelander

  25. Anonymous says:

    #1. Simultaneous claim of being a journalist and columnist- I don't see anything wrong, woman has got to eat and be independent. Raissa is investigative journalist and a blogger. Same banana, got to make the dough. #2 that is "right to reply opposed in FOI and you are demanding from Ellen. Respond thru other means like the latest Raissa blog was about Maguindanao massacre and political dynasty. I posted the latest stupid remarks of Bishop Arguelles about RH advocates. We have been doing this with Raisssa and she is so kind to allow almost everyone since off topics are relevant to common cause. When she says enough, we will follow because it is her blog. #3. Inability to respond to her thread might be beyond her technological ability. Vera Files is composed of many investigative journalists, if my memory serves me right. I have not really read one in a year but I always read them with an open mind. Coors ad says that their cans turn blue ice when ready to drink. that's for the beer drinker to believe on the ad.No harm, no foul!Johnny Lin

  26. Well, you are free to read my blogs and if you can find an agenda other than inspiring thought in an entertaining way, expressing my education and perplexity in dealing with a new culture, and advocating for the Philippines, kindly let me know what it is. It certainly is not mindless pro-Aquino, the label attached to me at Get Real. It is anti bad ethics of Sotto, that has been pretty intense. For a reason. If you find that my views have changed from a year or so ago, please don't call it "inconsistent", call it "learning".

  27. Yes, transparency is a better word. Thanks.

  28. Thanks for the background on Ellen, and the sincerity endorsement. I'll take that under advisement. Thank you as well for the referral to uniffors and III's bloglist. I'll look.You have earned your credentials. I do hope you publish regularly. I can't imagine you doing anything sloppy. Maybe I can get Angry Maude to do you a guest blog if you find work is getting your writing backlogged.

  29. That fits with J's observations above.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hahaha. "Learning". This reminds me of Rita Mae Brown saying: Good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.DocB

  31. Anonymous says:

    JoeAm, would you go so far as to say that Ma'am Ellen writes bitterly about Pnoy because she feels "betrayed" or dismayed by Pnoy's actions?DocB

  32. Coors can be trusted. Loyal Republicans. I grew up about 15 miles from their huge brewery in Golden, Colorado. My mother worked for them, making porcelain flack vests for the army, and porcelain computer parts, a little side business the subsidiary porcelain plant had going at the time. She got cases of beer at a deep discount. If you toured the brewery, you could drink beer from a drinking fountain.

  33. Okay, MB's blogs on uniffors duplicate what he publishes at Pro-Pinoy, which is also a home for Cusp, for his Philippine articles. I think I'll just keep that one.MLQIII's recommended sites are excellent. Cerebral. They don't publish often and don't have a lot of comments. But they are high quality. I think I need a "Graduate School" section to collect these deeper thinking sites. Pissed me off that he didn't have me listed, but I forgive him because I'm not stupid. I know where he works.

  34. Edgar Lores says:

    MB, Thanks.Pnoy initially endorsed the RH Bill (in the SONA) and FOI (in later remarks) but they're still pending. Then recently Miriam comes out and says that Pnoy needs to certify the RH Bill.Now Pnoy is getting criticized for blowing cold – as Congress waters down both bills. And Pnoy takes the heat from columnists and bloggers.So Congress is not with the President on the RH Bill because of Church influence? And Congress is also not with him on the FOI because Evardone has made up all kinds of lame excuses? And the President is not with himself on the FOI because of the Right of Reply addendum?There are vast exhibitions of mental disturbances in the psyche of the nation's officials – schizophrenia, multiple personalities and sociopaths.

  35. Bitterly is too sharp a word. I would say angrily, and I agree with the betrayal. But I've tried to identify the reasons for his disappointing acts: his loyalties to friends and failure to see how transparency and freedom energize democracy and are an extension of good governance. Instead, he has an authoritarian bent, as do most people of his class. So I'm working at breaking that down.

  36. Edgar Lores says:

    DocB,So to be good we have to bad first? I can vouch for that. 🙂

  37. Well, it is true we learn more from screw-ups. Somehow she said it more eloquently.

  38. J says:

    I'm not sure but I think MLQ3 came up with that list before you came up with this blog (or when you were just starting).

  39. Anonymous says:

    Knew, I could stir childhood memories with homebrew from Colorado spring water. Another example of subjective opinion, basically biased. Yeungling sounds chinese but it's local brewed in Pennsylvania. Who would have thought it was made in keystone state? Try it. Better than Tsing Tao but the chinese will protest.Johnny Lin

  40. Anonymous says:

    Edgar,Congress is afraid of the Church on the RH Bill. If they could vote secretly, it would pass faster than you can say Go!As to FOI there are two things I noticed that happened to the president:1. Before he became president he was a strong advocate of FOI. In a way that's like Obama who as a candidate wanted to shut down Guantanamo and to do all sorts of things to reverse many of Bush's tactics on the war on terror. Once president the two men had a different perspective. A friend once told me, it's like when you were a kid you always kept saying that when you become a parent you would do things differently. And the one day you become a parent. You're in charge now, you are responsible for the family and you find yourself doing the same things your parents did to you which you found very objectionable.2. Right of Reply is something he believes in. I do too. I don't see why a person who is the victim of shoddy reporting ir a demolition job cannot have the right to reply in the same forum where he was victimized. So I think that until you have been victimized yourself you will only look at the right of reply from a theoretical perspective. -MB

  41. Anonymous says:

    JoeYour picture avatar on the right, more of Van Helsing pose rather than doppelganger gunfighter Robert MitchumJohnny Lin

  42. Edgar Lores says:

    So Ellen believes Pnoy has failed her, and she is now exhibiting Johnny's characterization of the "spiteful" Filipino?

  43. jcc34 says:

    Haven't I forewarned you my friend that Ellen Tordesillas is a deadbeat.

  44. jcc34 says:

    Actually, that's the old guy from Home Alone, Johnny Lin.

  45. Your prognostications are stunning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.