People powered journalism

Twitter pageI’ve been noodling on an idea, and that’s a potentially troublesome thing. It causes me to lose sleep. Maybe it will also cause readers to stop what they are supposed to be doing to think about it as well.

Here are the premises to my noodling:

  1. Today’s media are disappointing , especially in the presentation of news. They are sensationalist, not investigative. Reports are aimed for emotional sizzle, not quality of information. Issues are often one-sided to create conflict and assure another combative report tomorrow from the other side. Producers and publishers are desperate for audience or circulation so they can charge advertisers more. Some have sold their editorial policy to the highest bidder. They sacrifice fairness, information and even good journalism ethics to the altar of titillation, gore and conflict . . . and profit. The result is that Filipinos are poorly informed and wired emotionally by erroneous information. The nation suffers from a lack of unity and has a negative, complaining, critical mind-set.
  2. Most Filipinos spend a lot of leisure time on Facebook or other social platforms. That is where they read, laugh, share, interact and find out what is going on. They may look at a newspaper if they are in Manila at the coffee shop, but they more often get their updates on news filtered through their “friends” or the people they follow, on line. It is a massive, unorganized sifting and filtering of information, raising up those stories deemed popular. Information is often top-line, a little beyond headlines, perhaps, but not detailed. Boring but informative stories are seldom passed along.
  3. Blogging in the Philippines is a collective of individuals doing their thing. It is not all that it can be because it is a lot of separate publications, each with a circulation of maybe 5,000 readers tops. It is not 10 blogs integrated into one platform with circulation of 50,000. Most readership is gained through Facebook. Articles generally are pushed out when a blog is published and are picked up and shared by a number of  readers. Every once in a while, an article goes “viral”, attracting thousands and thousands of reads.
  4. We see news outlets like Rappler that have done away with paper. Their focus is on a steady stream of articles . . . news and features . . . some with depth, others just keeping up with current events, and explicitly tapping into the emotional quality of the news (they have a “mood meter” for each story). I suspect “circulation” is far below that of, say, the Inquirer, but they run cheap, make their mark and are often quoted or shared in social media.
  5. The Society of Honor by Joe America has a sound and growing readership among homeland readers and opinion-makers (politicians, business executives, professors, attorneys) as well as overseas Filipinos. It is characterized by informative, insightful or provocative articles and the accompanying discussion threads that are among the best in the Philippines. Reach is around 2,500 reads for a typical article, 15,000 for a “resonant” article, and 40,000 to 150,000 for a “viral” article. The blog has no advertising, no agenda, and no affiliations other than to promote the well-being of the Philippines. It is considered objective, but with a pro-Aquino leaning (explained by the judgment that President Aquino has been very good for the well-being of the nation).

If we mush these premises together and run them through the synthesis strainer, we can come up with the following conclusions:

  • Newsprint is a dying business and radio and television are highly commercialized or politicized, which explains the sensationalist angle of news reporting aimed at raising circulation and drawing audience. Journalistic reporting is not done, in the main, in the Philippines. Journalism requires objective and informational reports and it is expensive. News is emotionalized in the Philippines, and the audience likes it that way.
  • A certain segment of the population wants news and information that is straight and helpful, rather than articles that are shallow or “playing” them as subjects or puppets. That’s why many readers go to The Society of Honor. They want help with the development of their own objective insights and concept formulation.
  • Facebook and other social media are the untamed wild lands of information transmission. This is a huge accumulation of audience not going anywhere, really. Just thriving.

The process of news publication

If we step back a pace, we can ask: “What are the crucial elements of news reporting?”

  • Content: the stories themselves.
  • Distribution: the readership or listening/viewing audience.
  • The business: costs out, revenue in.
  • Quality: Timeliness, thoroughness and objectivity for news, quality of insights for analysis.


Question. “Is there a place for a totally different news distribution outlet?”

What if we design a new news organization, a place for people to go to get informed objectively:

  • Organize content and collect it at one point; a loose union of bloggers and news reporters.
  • Distribute articles through social media. Build a roster of dedicated distributors. Seek to raise readership to an upper end of 500,000 or more.
  • Throw away the business component and rely only on volunteers.
  • Provide news on the go.

We can forget the commercial aspects of the venture and focus on content, distribution and timeliness. This must be a volunteer effort free from any bias or preference.

So let’s “What if” this egg to see if it might hatch. Let’s incubate it with visions and speculations.


Let’s say we develop a roster of certified contributors, building it to include bloggers and news reporters across the nation. This may or may not require contributors to give up their own name blog or news venture as they become subordinate to, or a part of, the united effort. For example, the Society of Honor becomes a part of the bigger, united effort and JoeAm drops his own blog. Or maybe he keeps it. (Does it matter?) Can you imagine a publication that has as its contributors MLQ3, Raissa Robles, Cocoy, JoeAm, “J”, The Professional Heckler, Irineo B. R. Salazar, Edgar Lores, FilipiKnow, CMFR, Chempo, Yvonne, Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, Cha, and other known and as-yet-undiscovered contributors? Plus news reports filed from field reporters, with aliases allowed to certified contributors (who may work for other news outlets)?

  • The new news organization needs a way to attract and certify quality writers, researchers and reporters. It needs formal “sign on” by contributors.
  • It needs a format and a way to headline articles, with multiple articles coming in daily, discussion threads attached.
  • It needs a way for contributors to self-publish their articles.
  • It needs editorial standards and guidelines as well as publication policies and procedures.
  • It needs a single master-editor responsible for the whole shebang.


Without question, Facebook is the medium that generates the most reads for articles at The Society of Honor. Twitter is also influential. An article goes “viral” when it is picked up by the “Big Names” of each medium. For example, when Jim Paredes on Twitter mentions an article (which he does on occasion), it goes to 954,000 of his followers. When Cynthia Patag on Facebook shares an article (which she does frequently), it goes to about 40,000 followers who, themselves, have thousands and thousands of followers. She is a major reason for the success of the blog. Leah Navarro (Twitter, 18,000 followers) is another major producer of reads for the blog.

The goals of the venture we are discussing would be:

  • Formalize the association of these “Big Names” with the project. That is, gain their endorsement and willingness to actively promote articles they deem as particularly meaningful.
  • Recruit more “Big Name” distributors, or people with 10,000 followers or more. Go beyond the “LP list” that is attached to the Society of Honor.


This idea crystallized as I was typing a recent blog “Enrile’s Mamasapano hearing an ‘epic fail’“. It went a bit viral, with 27,000 reads during the two days after the hearing. I was typing as the hearing was still going on and I pushed “publish” as Trillanes was still at the microphone and before the AFP started their slide show roast of General Napenas.

It struck me that I had an advantage over the mainstream press and even Rappler because I did not have to go through an editor. Type it, edit it, slap in a photo for the home page, and get it out. The social media followers of the blog would act as a real-time editor and decide if it was worth sharing.

It apparently was.

Maybe that is the style we are looking for. Quick, rolling content. Not a daily publication. Steady flow of material. Relying on quality contributors to publish quality content. Relying on the distribution team to decide what should be passed along. They would represent the editorial filter. An article either passes muster, or it does not.

Audience and name

The goal would be to push beyond opinion makers and avid readers to reach the Facebook and social media crowds. The upside is tremendous, as the push-out would be much more active than, say, the Inquirer’s pull-driven sensationalism. The goal? Nothing short of becoming the People’s primary “news and insights” publication.

The name should reflect that ambition:

The Philippine Peoples’ Chronicle, a collaboration. News and insights for a rising nation.


132 Responses to “People powered journalism”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    I am thinking along the lines of a news aggregator, similar to HuffingtonPost, or the Blog Watch Citizen Media. The former is going strong, the latter is nearly dead. Is it similar to that? Or something like the Atlantic Review? It will have a slant towards something, but nothing’s wrong with that.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, almost exactly like Huntington Post, but more modest at the outset. The slant would be the accumulation of different views earnestly presented, with the well-being of the Philippines the central theme.

  2. josephivo says:


    But, questions and ideas keep popping-up in my mind:
    1. Farmers market, bartering ideas. Two levels, the active one of contributors where the bartering happens and the passive one of observers.
    2. Readers investment? 1min for one one-liner or 10 hrs for 10 articles, comments and corresponding research/verifications?
    3. Investigative journalism? What is missing in the Philippines, but how can this be a solution. Most of the contributions are spontaneous, top of the head ideas.
    4. Scope: entertainment, science, education, art, real estate, cars, do it yourself… or only politics?
    5. Language? English, Tagalog, local, mix with or without translations in full or abstracts.
    6. Push/Pull? Do we have to push or is there a pull somewhere on the web, in society?
    7. Social circles. 10 close friends, 200 names of distant friends, rest outsiders. The current strength is the “little group of friends”, will it work when it expands to the anonymous outsiders?
    8. Other examples on the web? How to avoid reinventing the wheel.

  3. Joe,

    Have you seen “Nightcrawler”? I think this is what you’re envisioning here. In Socal, the closest to this people-centric news production is in the Weather, ie. people report weather and post pictures or videos, and everyone is better informed with weather events live— with that, also traffic news also.

    With weather and traffic you don’t really need to vet the source of the news, ie. you see if it’s windy, or snowing, or rain, or traffic conditions/accidents in real time by way of videos and photos uploaded to news sites, then featured in the hourly news.

    “Nightcrawler” could’ve done with out all the sociopath (to psychopath) side drama and just focus on citizen reporting, but that’s Hollywood— could’ve been a better movie. I was more interested in the possibility of more and more “Nightcrawlers” out there, generating news.

    For this to work, you’ll have to expand to more videos and photos, with future articles, or by-pass articles all together and just feature videos/photos— vimeo or youtube and just link it on here, I guess, or have your own video/photo upload capability,

    like how the news solicits personal video/photos on weather and traffic over here, you can solicit videos/photos on top of or to supplement future articles, or as stand-alones.

    But for this to happen you’ll need tech-support and a staff, no?

    • Joe America says:

      I’ve not seen Nightcrawler, but the effort as I envision it would be without participation from psychopaths. 🙂 I have mixed feelings about video, although I know that is the trend for news outlets. Is the goal a daily read? Or hit the hot buttons? For sure, having a unique platform is going to be a challenge. I see a lot of talent here and there in blogs, and I suspect the core would be a blogging platform with investigative work done, as in Chempo’s MRT article. And a simple news headline scroll from local and international press. Tech is an issue.

      • On second thought, videos like the anti-Planned Parenthood hidden camera “investigation” which recently landed the “investigators” in indictment hot-water (and by extension all the conservative blog and news outlets that featured it), can be problematic.

        I’d personally like to see younger Filipinos’ take on things. How about partnering with journalism departments across the country?

        • Joe America says:

          Superb idea. Absolutely superb.

          • With the youngsters on board, ideally they’ll generate buzz (by virtue of being young). Means less reliance on these “Big Names”, with the potential side-effect of making “Big Names” of these up and coming student-journalists– we’d produce our very own “Big Names”. Win-win.

            • I am just wondering how far the culture already is among the young. I already mentioned the fear of being labelled “yellow”. In the Philippines there is as yet still little appreciation for such a thing as an independent viewpoint. You are either one tribe/group of the other.

              Honest and sincere opinions are totally alien to many – you are either a paid hack or a subservient lackey of one group or the other. One will have to overcome the fear that some young journalists might have of ruining their future career chances by being too associated with a medium that some perceive as “yellow”. Social pressure back there is also quite harsh, pressure for conformity of views and tastes, isolation can be something which hurts in a country where life is harder without a network that gives your favors etc.

              • They can always opt for anonymity (right, Joe?). And it’d be the readership’s role to encourage independence of mind, as they hone their craft. Joe will essentially be the steward for a bunch of young Filipino journalists (and indirectly, us).

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, anonymity in a culture of impunity and favor is conducive to one’s good health and prosperity. It’s the ideas that count.

                I’m still in the realm of ideas right now, and haven’t made any commitment on such a project.

          • “Superb idea. Absolutely superb.”

            LOL! I hope this makes up for the previous thread. 😉

  4. Joe, it is a good idea…. but given the Filipino incapability to cooperate, to accept 90% agreement as good enough, it will be very hard to implement… just a few comments from me:

    1) Mindanews is exceptional. It is a cooperative of journalists that work together. That means they are committed to true information and knowledge not just data.

    2) I do some aggregating on and share stuff from a number of blogs, mostly from the Philippine blog center, plus some selected Facebook pages including PNP, DSWD, DOTC (yes!), Old Philippines, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines… occasional articles as I see them in blog comments but not the daily news from Rappler and Interaksyon for the moment because the sheer volume is a bit too much for me at this time. Almost 4000 subscribers – it started as a promo tool for my blog but has become another animal.

    3) Possibly a common FB group would do the trick. “Philippine News Alliance”. The group could be open for readers, only members could post, and all members would go by a certain charter that binds them to a common code of conduct and common standards of dealing with things. All postings would have to conform to that charter, each member could also make articles outside that charter but would not post them. Subscribers who like the page can see the stuff as it comes. Since everybody posts his stuff, no need for a chief editor, only a moderator who watches things.

    It is a bit of a Swiss Confederacy approach to things… I know why Rizal liked the Swiss way, he might have understood that a tribal culture needs a confederate or “comrades-in-oath” approach where every party keeps its independence but gives up some for the common weal like in the first Swiss Constitution. The whole thing can be with the goal of a “more perfect union” like the United States in the beginning. It won’t always be easy but a good laboratory for practicing cooperation, and letting a thousand flowers bloom while applying self-discipline. Rules always by consensus…

    • Joe America says:

      I appreciate the views. Facebook is hard for me to deal with due to the volume of chatter and tags. It is good as an ancillary outlet that runs by itself, but I think I’d have a hard time anchoring the whole effort there. Thanks for the tip on Mindanews, which I know you’ve mentioned in the past. My idealistic vision shuns advertising or profit venturing. That may make it impractical. A lot depends on the volume and quantity of content, on a contribution basis.

      • Facebook could be the aggregator and distributor… the content still in respective blogs. What I like is the idea of LCPL_X about harnessing young students not just in journalism… school paper types who could do a few things like daily news summaries with links?

        There is the Philippine Blog Center with its blogs and the Society of Honor. What could still be enhanced over here I think is the participation level of the local Filipinos… josephivo, chempo and you are local foreigners, Edgar, Juana and cha are all Filipinos abroad… Will is the only constant contributor who is a local Filipino. One article by giancarlo and one by Karl that’s it… occasional stuff by LCPL_X and Bill who have had some local exposure… but to get local Filipino cooperation trust is what you have to win and that is not so easy. The fear of being painted “yellow” is huge among those for whom local face is important, Poe and Bongbong rising among ABC does not surprise me if I look at my FB friends, remember what happened to Heneral Luna – someone doing too well, Filipinos don’t like.

        • Joe America says:

          We could have a section reserved for “leftist whackos” and another for “advocates of dynasties, impunity and theft”. The color yellow will be banned from the publication.

          • karl garcia says:

            Why do I suddenly remember Primer. 😳 and RHiro 🙄. When Primer was rampaging,I was not here,maybe that was for the better.RHiro is fine as long as he is not trolling on Micha and Joe.

            • You just need to build an alliance with sensible people from the “other side” like for example Tordesillas – if she isn’t sensible then someone else – and work together.

              But not to misunderstand what I am saying – I think the project can be very successful, what I am looking at is the major risks. Trillanes for example is independent but works together with Aquino at times, I have seen what some people have called him for that.

              • karl garcia says:

                I have met Ellen,at camp Crame when I visited Senator Trillanes together with my dad.I frequented her blog,once upon a time,before I used to visit many blogs,now I only visit Joe’s ,Irineo’s and sometimes,I take a look at Raissa’s.

            • Joe America says:

              Primer and Johnny Lin both went attack dog on poor old JoeAm’s integrity. Johnny Lin went ballistic because I had a contact in the Palace, one of many nodes in the spider web spreading across the Philippines, listening posts all . . . with videocams on order. I think our publication will have a moderation function, loosely applied but keeping discussions centered on issues.

              • Quite a few Filipinos have a problem with an American having such influence…

                But then again, as long as they aren’t able to get their own act together – which includes supporting good people – not crucifying the earnest and freeing the shameless, they will have to live with that. Sorry to say that to my folks back home, but they do seem to love their heroes DEAD or as iconic statues – Rizal, Robredo, Noynoy and Cory Aquino, or even kill their best people like Bonifacio or Luna. Hope they learn sometime and this project here succeeding with a lot of locals in it would be a sign of true change. But then again, the Philippines under American coaching (Commonwealth) worked very well. Americans left and old habits returned – so I remain hopeful but with some skepticism.

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, they do, but that is more than offset by people who appreciate the efforts made here. If any nation ought to understand that it is a global planet, it would be the Philippines.

              • Ninoy and Cory Aquino… but Noynoy so many would like to crucify.

              • Joe America says:

                Well, if your benefactor is in jail, it does tend to incite bad feelings.

              • karl garcia says:

                Oh yes,Johnny.He really was adamant and relentless.He wants to be the only one with sources.Even when the sources was claimed to be from unreliable ones,( he called copykoy)he still got hurt,like something was taken away from him.Now, if he can’t beat him,then join him.He is back at Raissa’s blog.

              • Joe America says:

                One of the things that was a culture shock to me is the level of hostility that can arise when people feel upstaged. When President Aquino mentioned me in his SONA, it was if I had committed some mortal sin by getting mentioned. WTF, I’m just here writing diligently and the President read a line he liked and so all of a sudden I am evil? That is rather like crab on steroids, and it is thick here locally, too. Thus, election murders. I link it to the big bogeyman, poverty and lack of opportunity, but in the class of impunity, it is a psychological derangement.

              • karl garcia says:

                Irineo,our instant anthropologist noticed that crab on steroids behavior too.It can be seen,by the way we drive,as if it is a mortal sin to over take.Man,when i was still driving,I got the scare of my life when one pulled badge on me.,that was just because I overtook him.i thought that was my last day on earth.

                Election murders, We,I mean my dad almost got involved in one during 2010,good thing he was stuck in traffic. The Abayas had Issues with Lani Mercado and the Revillas,it ended ugly with the comelec assigned uniformed personnel and the Chief of staff of Plaridel Abaya getting killed,due to a heated argument with the police.

                Too much information once again,I just agree with the crab mentalty in steroids,impunity,poverty,psychological derangement and the whole shebang,

              • Joe America says:

                Yes, the roads, I should write about them. Although there is aggressive and crab-like behavior, there is also a lot of consideration on narrow roads or busy intersections to get everyone squeezed through. In our area, a lot of roads have been widened, so the drives are faster and safer. The tricycles are off in the right lane. I confess I enjoy driving here, and have been known to engage in a little mountain racing to try to outpace other cars. But I don’t shoot them when I lose.

  5. karl garcia says:

    On death of print.They say the demise is exaggerated because of the adverisers who prefer lomg lasting print,than the now you see it,now you don’t internet ads.
    I read about death of twitter,death of facebook before,still they remain standing.
    Notwithstanding my one-liners,Instill have not tried twitter.

  6. NHerrera says:

    I can sense problems on the implementation side (the devil is in the details), but I am very excited about the concept and the sound premises on which it is anchored because of the BIG BIG upside. The Filipinos can get crazy on things. I hope they can get “crazy” on this and make the concept and implementation viral and sustained. Hope springs eternal.

    (Just saw the new blog topic, and the good wife is beckoning church — through tricycle; the starter of the 15-year old car gave way; brush-work or solenoid I believe. Will come back and savor the ideas generated later.)

  7. edgar lores says:

    1. Without going into the business side of news media, I would differentiate among three functions:

    o News gathering
    o News dissemination
    o News interpretation

    2. Traditional media perform all three functions. They have regional branches and news reporters that gather content. They have a central in-house facility that organizes content and disseminates it non-electronically and/or electronically. They have regular or occasional columnists who interpret content.

    3. Bloggers mainly perform the third function.

    3.1. Bloggers, as a general rule, do not perform the first function. They rely on traditional media to provide input for their output.

    3.2. Also as a general rule, bloggers do not perform the second function. As noted, blog dissemination is a function of regular readership and endorsements on social media (Facebook, Twitter).

    3.3. JoeAm generating a blog while watching a live event on TV is performing the three functions all at once (or rather serially), but this would be the exception to the above two rules. Note that his input is a news medium.

    3.4. Another point, bloggers do not generate output on a regular basis. Most blogging is done irregularly and intermittently. Very few are “professional” full-time bloggers – with the possible exception of JoeAm and GRP (?).

    3.5. Investigative journalism is few and far between. News media have the resources but are loath to do it. Bloggers have the desire but do not generally have the resources.

    4. On the readership side, people have different tastes. People will aggregate to similar-minded circles. It is easy for commenters here to cross-post between The Society, Raissa Robles and the Filipino-German Learning Center, but next-to-impossible to do so at GRP. Like most commenters, lurkers will generally favor just one blog… I think.

    4.1. The process of selecting one’s input sources is what I would call “filtering.” This process is subject to many variables. One great variable is subject matter, and it just so happens we are in election season. I expect curiosity and interest will die out post-election… if Mar wins. Expect fireworks – and more popcorn munching — to continue if another contender wins. Especially Duterte.

    4.2. For me – and I suspect for many others — two other great variables are Energy and Time. That is, the lack of these. Life beckons, and living demands more interaction with non-virtual than virtual reality — no matter how urgent I feel in updating my Facebook status and learning what’s going on with my BFFs.

    4.2. Personally, I must confess I rarely click on the “Philippine Blog Center.” My main inputs are a handful of news media and, blog-wise, The Society and Raissa Robles. (Do we have volume statistics on “Philippine Blog Center” clicks?)

    5. The goal of providing and attracting bloggers and readers to a central agora is definitely worthy.

    5.1. However, a Huffpost buffet-type presentation is problematic. One would need regular staff, and not just volunteers, to perform the aggregation. This means ads.

    5.2. As a visitor, I tend to ignore the blog offerings. I quickly scan the news items and only drill down into those that take my fancy. I note that there are a lot of cute stuff – children, dolphins, cats and dogs. (This might be a problem if one wants to emphasize blog content.)

    5.3. As the “go to” site, the presentation would have to be slick, offering diverse types of items and formats, and give a sense of immediacy. The immediacy would be largely dependent on regular updates (and, again, regular staff).

    5.4. Another problem: the headlines and items tend to be clickbaits. This brings us back to the problem of sensationalizing of the news by traditional media.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Edgar I find myself agreeing with every point you make here..

      .I understand the reasons why Joe’s putting this forward..And agree there is a real problem in the media now not just in the Philippines but in many countries..

      I remember until 10-15 years ago buying a daily broadsheet and reading it for the important news and the investigative journalism and opinion pieces…Now I buy just one on a Saturday morning.The rest of the week I read online..So the print media are indeed dying.

      I don’t have any bright ideas to put forward here to help achieve what Joe is suggesting.I rarely go to Facebook or Twitter….But I suspect that the ‘news cycle’ is far faster than in print which means that news loses importance very quickly.

    • Joe America says:

      A very helpful assessment. The Blog center is low-volume, about 2,000 clicks per month, slowly edging higher. I think all your points are pertinent, especially the matter of how to maintain a consistent quality output when there is no money to be made. It takes a set of obsessed madmen to pound out the articles for no tangible reward, and I confess to hitting the wall for several days at a time when the psychological rewards are also not there. And, frankly, I rely on volunteer submissions because I don’t like to impose on people to ask for articles. But it is very helpful that we have now a number of regular writers, and I hope that continues.

      One thing that we have today is reach that did not exist in the old days (two years ago). So Chempo’s article on MRT does have influence, and an edgy article like Cha’s Sotto piece can power out. I’d love to get more local writers, and LCX’s idea about going to the universities may generate some of that. I’m inclined to think that the way forward is not some big splash introduction of a new medium that can’t live up to its hype, but to build thoughtfully on the JoeAm core, widening, deepening, adding more Filipino content and less JoeAm, and building the followings that today pump articles out to 5,000 people when a blog is published.

      I confess I write some articles for reach, and jazz up a headline in provocative fashion. But we also publish works that are for a select few, but add to the dialogue.

      It’s all good.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Another thought Edgar..Or rather a question..As a Philippino living here what do you think of the way the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ( ABC ) operates here in Oz ? Does that model have anything to offer in this discussion ?

      I am two minded about it and biased in both directions positive and negative…Slightly schitzophrenic I know :- (

      • edgar lores says:

        I wish the Philippines had something like the ABC — a government-sponsored media outlet that is not pro-government (that is, the government being the party in power).

        I understand the Philippine government has several media outlets — one for radio (Philippine Broadcasting Service (PBS)), another for TV (People’s Television Network (PTN)), and a third for print (Philippine News Agency (PNA)). There is also the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

        I have no idea how these outlets are performing from the standpoint of performance, objectivity and audience. Perhaps someone inside the country can provide the info. Offhand, I would hazard these outlets are underfunded and not as popular as their commercial counterparts. I would hazard they play an important role in raising typhoon signals.

        As a Filipino, I find the ABC (and SBS) remarkable. ABC is truly independent, editorial-wise. Their programs rival commercial media in output and quality. I do not watch much TV now, but I was a regular viewer of the “7:30 Report,” “Q&A,” and “Four Corners.”

        The antagonistic style of political interviews of the “7:30 Report” is excellent. I used to watch Kerry O’ Brien and Leigh Sales with great interest. The questions are tough, and the attitude unrelenting. Members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister rarely leave unscathed. I understand that TV interviewing in the Philippines has adopted this style on occasion, but I would guess the ongoing style is deferential.

        There are probably equivalents of the “Q&A” program locally, where politicians in the government of the day exchange opinions with their shadow cabinet counterparts, and with subject matter experts. There is “Kapihan sa Maynila” from my faint recollection; I believe columnist Winnie Monsod conducts a regular TV program (“Bawal Pasaway”; and Rappler does present regular one-on-one interviews. I find Filipino politicians intellectually shallow. 🙂

        I have seen nothing like “Four Corners” anywhere, an investigative program of great depth and intelligence. The closest IMO would be “60 Minutes” which has a broader subject range, a lighter treatment, much, much shallower, and is not as focused as “Four Corners” is on national affairs.

        I imagine “Four Corners” investigations on death squads and rigged biddings would have political careers ended on the spot.

        Overall, I would say that ABC the programs I have mentioned greatly contribute to transparency in government… and keeping citizens well informed. I am aware of the criticisms that the ABC is left-leaning. I do not find it to be so. Consequently, I am not schizophrenic; simply paranoid and a tinge OCDic.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          Yes Edgar..Those are the strengths that I see in the ABC here…But at times the journalists get bees in their bonnets about particular left wing hot button issues….And then balance goes out the window…Also I the ABC’s Drum (Opinion & Analysis ) website comments dominated by the same group of extreme left wing commentators no matter what the issue…

          • Bill in Oz says:

            I guess establishing anything like the ABC in the Philippines would run into the problems of a genuine lack of funding ( greater needs elsewhere in a limited budget ) and the fact funding would be dependent on approval by the same Congress members who would be interviewed & questioned ..

  8. cha says:

    1. Great idea.

    2. Big job

    2.1. Major hurdle : how to get big name bloggerss/ reporters (Raissa et. al.) on board
    2.2 Needling question : how to sustain commitment when everything runs on voluntary basis

    3. How to approach: Evolution vs Creation?

    3.1. Build on the current platform (The Society of Honor), go slow, target small victories
    3.2. Or create a new launch pad with other big name collaborators already sharing control

    4. If Joeam is Jerry Maguire, who will be his Rod Tidwell? 😊

  9. karl garcia says:


    I saw Nick go around the blogosphere gathering bloggers to form a huffington post type of a collaborative blog.
    they were Cocoy,patricio mangubat,deanj. bocobo,jon limjap.romany sedona,caffeine sparks,noemi dado,abe margallo and a few more.

    It got its readership turbo boosted on Mlq3s endorsement.

    Add to that the controversy benign0 created criticizing mlq3s style of linking to the whole blogosphere in his articles.

    Somehow they got divided.

    Romany Sedona left because she got pissed off with the new guy in town called Primer Pangunuran.

    Then the anti pinoy cliique went out of control,then moderation happened.
    Then anti pinoy group was formed.

    the rest is history.

      • Joe America says:

        Ricelander gets on my case a lot, but I can’t really object. He is like the only guy who stuck up for me at GRP, saying the ban of JoeAm there took an important voice out of the discussion. So I stick with that rather than his insistence that I am a slimeball foreign coward hiding behind a fake name, with no right to splatter my opinions across the Philippines. No need for me to take it personally. The name is just a marketing platform, after all . . .

        • ricelander says:

          I have stopped trying to sneak in a comment since a long time ago after you banned me here for whatever reason but I take exception to your saying I was insisting “that I am a slimeball foreign coward hiding behind a fake name, with no right to splatter my opinions across the Philippines.” You can review all my comments here and elsewhere about you. No, Joe, that was never the content of my criticism of you.

          I hope you would allow even just this one through.

          • Joe America says:

            Literary exaggeration, ricelander. It’s a style that one ought not take overly seriously. It’s like satire on steroids and requires some degree of nuance, of humor, of comprehension that there are many meanings to water under this bridge or that. I have no interest in tracking your comments here or there.

            • Joe America says:

              I don’t recollect having banned you. The comment history says you were actively participating here in 2014, with no problem. I would add that I don’t ban people. I suspend them or put them in moderation so I can see what they have to say.

            • It’s just like nobody ever called ricelander a riceball or ricecake hiding behind an alias.

              Latino to FilAm: que puto! Filam answers: yo man, why you callin me a bread?

              • karl garcia says:

                Parang si Tito Sotto naman yung Filam.

                Never disagree with Tito Sotto
                Tito Sotto might sue you for disagreeing with him.

              • I am a child of the 1970s, raised on Bee Gees as well as Tito, Vic and Joey.

                kaahit ko lang, magpapagupit na rin ako. Ayoko nang magmukhang bakulaw.

                Pero boses ni Barry Gibb kaya ko pa rin. “Blame it all, on the nights on Broadway”.

              • sonny says:

                Irineo, NIGHTS ON BROADWAY, my all time favorite from the BGs! 🙂 Yesss!

      • Joe America says:

        That roster of FV players is classic. Brings back fond memories of being a newbie and engaging with them. I learned A LOT. You should do an update of “Where are they now”. Publish it here as a blog. I know J is working for DFA. One of the smartest guys around. MB is puttering about being a nuisance to the bad guys. MLQ3 is perhaps about to go into retirement if Poe is elected.

    • Why does every Filipino collective effort seem to end as a Bonfire of the Vanities?

      Groucho Marx said: I would never join a club that would want me as a member.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        We have a saying here about ‘rugged individualists” By nature they can never work together for long..Has happened to me as well in another incarnation. : -)

      • sonny says:

        trivium: Groucho’s resignation line to Friars Club of Beverly Hills. Seems to have antedated Groucho around 50+ years (acccording to Wiki). Still enjoy old reruns of Marx Bros, the 3 Stooges (nyah nyah 🙂 ) and John Cleese & the gang.

    • Joe America says:

      Reads like an “end of the earth” scenario. A real picker upper.

      • karl garcia says:

        United,we stand.Divided,we fall.
        Even Anti-Pinoy splintered which made Benign0,Ilda,and ben kritz reform GRP.

        • Joe America says:

          When the only way is “my way”, it can’t last long. I note that Ben is still carping away for one of the newsrags here. Six years of bitching and moaning. That’s almost a 10th of a lifetime. I wonder what it does to a person’s character.

          • Joe America says:

            Bong V is still cranking out stuff at antipinoy. I see the most recent article is from rafterman.

            • karl garcia says:

              Bong V,
              He started Anti-Pinoy because his contribution took a week to publish,come on,he is one who preaches that we should fall in line.

              • antipinoy was a page I liked to read before… a FilAm who got badly burnt going “home”… now what did Rizal write in the Noli and Fili? Its basic message was don’t go home to help Filipinos they will just try to destroy you for doing so, for trying to “upstage” them…

                As for “My Way”, singing my way the wrong way is allegedly an even surer way to get killed in the Philippines. The nice thing about blogging is that you can’t get killed and people can’t let out their “butthurt” (c) benign0 on you by shooting, but have to deal with it. Some can and some can’t… those who can improve in some way, those who can’t moan and bitch and just become useless – in the sum total I think blogging has contributed a lot to fast-tracking the Filipino learning process, by breaking the silence caused by impunity.

              • karl garcia says:


                I hope this never happens in the Philippines.


                BongV is still in Jacksonville,Florida.
                He just visits his home town, Davao once in a while

          • karl garcia says:

            My way or the highway never works.
            Especially if you don’t want to let go of the mike. Bang,bang,your dead!

  10. Joe America says:

    This comment was sent to an older blog and, in the interest of transparency and objectivity, I repeat it here.

    Cricket players stand funny, like they have a bad case of hemorrhoids and are swatting at flies. Baseball players stand like lumberjacks, swinging an axe. Paul Bunyan played baseball, and so did Yogi Berra. No one ever brags that he played cricket as a kid because people might think he is a girl.

    I’m channeling Louis Jenkins this morning.

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Yes Joe they do indeed stand hunched that they can defend the wicket from the ball..If the ball hits the wicket ( also called stumps ) the batsman is out ! It’s also a way of being a small target…Fast bowlers have been clocked bowling at 160 Ks. an hour…

      As for boasting… well that’s country issue..Not in the USA or Canada it’s true but in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bangla Desh, New Zealand, The UK, Australia, Trinidad and the Caribean, cricketers are sporting heros…It is an obsession Joe…

  11. NHerrera says:

    Joe, the article entitled, “Empathy in modern society,” by Randy David will warm your heart as an American:

    The article spoke also of the kindness of both Filipino and Non-Filipino staff of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in West Los Angeles.

    It relates too with the current blog topic: journalistic piece that “warms the heart.”

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, my, such a touching article. It is a reminder that, when we look at incidents here or there that paint either the Philippines or US in broad, negative strokes, we are doing a disservice to a lot of very kind and very good people. Thanks for the link and warmth of heart.

      • The fact is, you can find what you want to find anywhere. I could find enough stories in Munich to make it look like a druggie hellhole full of unruly migrants and vicious racists.

        For the big picture you have to see in what proportion you have the good and bad stuff. Looking at an archipelago of 7000+ islands and a hundred+ languages you will find everything, almost like looking into a kaleidoscope. Beautiful tourist spots with the people who are happy to have found a job in the growing tourist industry – it is even back on the map of German tour operators who shunned it for so long. German factories in all kinds of places – in a country long shunned as a place full of untrustworthy, rude assholes. Well, that could be an article by me… including Lambanog making it in high-class German bars.

        • karl garcia says:

          My prof in Marketing, raised the idea of the Indonesian way of tourism.
          He gave the Bali example.
          He asked us if we know any other beach resort in Indosia,we said,no!
          It was like stick to one,or focus on one.
          I do not know if that really is a good suggestion.

        • sonny says:

          Irineo or nephew Karl, a quibble if you please. At various times, I could only find some references to our island count. My best estimate was 5,000+ islands. Help!

          • My memory – which may sometimes not be that credible as I am 50 now so it is not as pornographic as it used to be – tells me faintly that the island count was done in the 1930s.

            Just like the Philippine census was done in the mid-1910s… there is even an Irineo Salazar from Albay among the census clerks I did look at the record, now if that was my grandfather he must have been a teen helping out or something, or it could have been a tukayo, a namesake.

            • The coming Diwata microsatellite of DOST, to be launched in April, has high-res cameras.

              The island count may finally be truly accurate – including the islands that are occupied.

              The Diwata in the sky sees everything… there are rumors that AFP/DND is in on it.

          • karl garcia says:

            @Uncle Sonny,

            Answer is at 2:00 mark

            • sonny says:

              Nephew, the 7,102 hi/lo tide number is standard figure given by books and guides. I’ve been trying to verify sources for that count, viz searching for who did the counting also. I found references to the Sulu archipelago and Palawan plus the Calamianes. Those were the sources. I’ve lost them since. Maybe a satellite tally could be requested by an appropriate PH agency to put the figures to rest, as Irineo mentioned. From the US maybe and your sleuth-like research methods. 🙂


                can’t find the 1930s count on the Internet, but I do remember it was there. 7107 is what many say, probably there never was a recount after the exhaustive American-era count I recall.

              • sonny says:

                Irineo, nephew, I found (2nd hand book shops) 2 Annual Report to the Philippine Commission (1907, 1915). In it they identify the US Geodetic boats that performed charting of Philippine waters for the US War Dept. No mention of island counts. I don’t know why.

              • My sources – mentioned in the history part of my blog – mention that the Moro areas were only turned over the the Interior Department in 1920. This is for me the time full state control was established over the islands, so I guess some places (Sulu?) were not yet safe for counting.

              • karl garcia says:

                Uncle Sonny,
                A book published in 1903
                Census of The Philippines Islands

                George Putnam, of the US coast and geodetic survey


              • just over 3000 islands, so the real counting must have been done later I am sure.. but thanks…

                on Page 581 I found these passages:

                The dato is, as a general rule, and with very rare exceptions, a semisavage when he is not entirely a savage; he is as haughty as he is ignorant, embruted by the blackest passions, polygamy and other vices. He is held by his sacopes, and represented by his panditas or priests, to be an extraordinary being, a demigod, against whom he who dares to raise a hand or to despise shall be held in disgrace before man and cursed by God.

                Thus it may be explained that in spite of their continued and horrible cruelties not a single case is recorded in which any one of the sacopes has attempted to do the least harm to the person of the dato; and thus also it is explained how they scarcely ever try to escape their tyrannical power; because they believe (and the panditas take care to assure them of it) that if they flee, doubtless a greater misfortune than the slavery or the maltreatment they suffer will overtake them.

                Thus the dato is a veritable lord over the lives and property of his subjects, and these he is able to turn to his own account without reserve, without the rightful owners being able to complain, much less to have recourse to another authority, when they are despoiled, exploited or chastised with inhumanity and arbitrariness beyond imagination; and finally the dato is the only one interested in the maintenance of slavery, as we stated above.

                What estimate of the civilization offered to him will a man have who finds himself satisfied with his pride and brutal passions, a man who does not realize the existence of things better than those he possesses?

                How will he accept willingly a social state ordered and rule according to the demand of the greater good of the public, he who is the law and who rules according to the dictates of his own passions?

                Now this passage is about Moro datus… but could apply to many a Filipino politician of the more archaic sort.

              • sonny says:

                Nephew, Irineo all great finds from both of you!! Thank you. These are now more than I had. The data about the islands of Sulu archipelago and Palawan + Calamianes I came across reading previous issues of National Geographic Magazine. Will keep in tune always. Also will spend time at Ayala Museum and the Philippine National Historic Society on next visit to our country. Soon I hope.

              • Cool… Page 400:

                As has been stated already by Mr. Pardo de Tavera in his historical sketch, the Spaniards on their arrival in the Philippines found the people “divided into town groups, each having its own government”.

                These groups or clans, called barangayes, were governed by a chief of barangay called a dato, raja, or sultan, whose office was hereditary, and who exercised despotic control over the barangay.

                Whenever a crime was committed, or there were differences between members of the barangay in respect to property, or other interests, the chief made investigation, heard the witnesses, and judged the case according to ancient usage or precedent.

                When the litigants belonged to different barangayes, or the controversy was between two chiefs, arbiters were chosen, who gave judgement according to custom.

                There were no written laws, and fines and death were the usual punishments. If a fine was not paid it resulted in the slavery of the delinquent and eventually of his children, if he had any.

              • sonny says:

                I feel the Philippine history by Pardo de Tavera became part of PH socio-political DNA dduring the beginning of American colonization (post-Rizal to Commonwealth).

              • You may be right… those were the times when the barrio replaced the barangay and bayanihan (civic engagement and community spirit) replaced the “datu” system for a while.

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  13. I have said it before, and I say it again… now those two phrases are the only part of Quirino’s famous speech on Philippine elections that I hereby copyleft, not sottocopy, copyleft is like reblogging you copy but give credit to the original creator… comes from open-source…

    the principle that made Eat Bulaga so successful for decades was “Walang Sapawan”, meaning no one-upmanship, no upstaging. They worked with the grain of Filipino nature which is vain and ambisyoso (presumptous not ambitious) and regulated its weaknesses.

    Now ANY group that is to succeed in the context of Filipino nature must I think adhere to this principle. The Swiss have a seven-man Executive – every year one of them is President, and none of them gets to be too well-known. They are an old tribal federation, formed out of an oath that became the basis for their first Constitution, and all that followed. Now if the Swiss, who used to be unruly and feared mountain tribes – think Igorots and Moros combined – managed to unite, why can’t we? We just have to follow the principles, work with the grain of nature, not against it.

    The Filipino Youth Association we once headed started that way upon my father’s advice – we had a seven-man Lupong Tagapagpamahala. I refused to make it Presidential upon his advice, even if all wanted me to be President. When we incorporated I gave in to popular pressure of so many…

    What came about in the end was Bonfire of the Vanities… the Federalism we tried with chapters in different German cities led to splitting off groups, but the main fission happened in the Bonn chapter and an ambitious/ambisyosyo VP with crab on steroids… just sharing some keen lessons.

    • a few years later, I had a look at the club registry records in Bonn Municipal Hall.. there is a law that one may have a look at them in the office… the original bylaws we had all agreed upon had been completely bent when I left… the Bonn chapter had held elections by itself without even consulting the chapter in the industrial Ruhr area which had become the Barangay Youth as a reaction to being simply ignored… instead of one President and 1st/2nd VP they just had voted a President and a VP… the registrar had scrawled a note saying “2nd VP vacant”… the club lasted about 1-2 years after throwing me out / me resigning… some told me there had been a quarrel about caroling money and one family had just put it in their pockets… Filipino politics.

      BUT forming a federated group might be a way of learning how to cooperate and put aside petty differences for the greater good, a learning process that could benefit all Filipinos.

      Defining GENERAL WILL is not that easy… the Swiss had own civil wars until the 19th century.

      • This is how the Swiss started defining their own General Will:

        IN THE NAME OF GOD – AMEN. Honor and the public weal are promoted when leagues are concluded for the proper establishment of quiet and peace.

        Therefore, know all men, that the people of the valley of Uri, the democracy of the valley of Schwyz, and the community of the Lower Valley of Unterwalden, seeing the malice of the age, in order that they may better deffend themselves, and their own, and better preserve them in proper condition, have promised in good faith to assist each other with aid, with every counsel and every favor, with person and goods, within the valley and without, with might and main, against one and all, who may inflict upon any one of them any violence, molestation or injury, or may plot any evil against their persons or goods. And in every case each community has promised to succour the other when necessary, at its own expense, as far as needed in order to withstand the attacks of evil-doers, and to avenge injuries; to this end they have sworn a solemn oath to keep this without guile, and to renew by these presents the ancient form of the league, also confirmed by an oath.

        Now if the three first cantons of people power journalism are to be the Society of Honor, Cyber Plaza Miranda, and the Filipino-German Learning Center, what shall be our preamble? Or even before that, what shall be our common oath?

        Let us remember that a confederation like that would mean Parekoy and Joe in one place, among other things. What is our definition of free speech? Is it Raissa’s, which is more like the US First Amendment, or is it Joe’s, which is more like the German version of free speech? 🙂 Just to get some real discussion on this started. How are fouls defined? Do we play cricket rules, do we play baseball, American basketball, Filipino street basketball, Filipino bulakbol? Or do we go really rough like in Canadian ice hockey? Moderation rules, leadership etc… it’s hard.

        • sonny says:

          Irineo, I vaguely remember Orgetorix and the Helvetii in Caesar’s Gallic Wars. I wonder if any one still reads Caesar in the Latin with some socio-political context.

          • I did not get to Caesar’s Gallic Wars… having done the “Kleines Latinum” which was three years meaning from Grade 11-13 to meet the requirement of a second foreign language in the German K-13 system. The school director put me on “trial enrollment” for one semester and got a reprimand from the State Ministry of Education for informing them only after the fact, but recognized my enrollment retroactively because my grades in German were good. English was recognized because I had of course taken it in the Philippines, my teacher did not even grade my American spelling as mistakes in essays and test papers, just noted “Am.” on the papers, my oral exam in English I did with a 1+ (straight A) – but my Filipino could not be recognized as there was no one to certify it in Germany then, my French purely conversational not written… anyway Latin it was, but the “Großes Latinum” or “Big Latinum” with a year of De Bello Gallico was five years so impossible to take… but like Joe wrote that he learned more about English than Latin learning it was true for me with regards to German… the only phrase I know from that opus is the beginning: “Gallia est divisa in partes tres”. Very simple, I guess even Erap would be able to get the meaning. Now what do I mean even Erap – his Spanish I heard is very good. Latin vocabulary is not that hard for Filipinos – the grammar helped me with Spanish..

            I have an article out in my blog by Bill in Oz about McArthur… controversial.. hope for your comments because it is scathing… but well-researched… look forward to the discussion.

            • That stuff is of course people powered scholarship.

              I recognize Xiao Chua’s contribution to popularizing history in “It’s Xiao Time”… and his seminal work on torture during Marcos years.

              But a lot of the Filipino academic (and literary) elite stays too much in its ivory tower instead of contributing to significant national discussions and educating the people.

            • sonny says:

              Irineo, wrote a response of sorts to Bill of Oz at your blog. Just a footnote to Latin: I took courses as “interno” at San Beda. Got as far as Gallic Wars (Caesar), Orations of Cicero vs Catiline, a little Aeneid (Vergil) and Ovid. Read RCC history as much as 16-yr old could absorb.

  14. NHerrera says:

    Well, what do you know. Even the family of the most powerful country in the world has wi-fi problem in the White House.

    The Obamas have lamented patchy wi-fi coverage in the White House during a TV interview.

  15. I and many other Pinoy patriots would certainly love to see this idea blossom. Joeam and his Society can certainly get this concept going. My “Sangkusing” will only be too glad to join in.

  16. – this article mentions why I think that “People Power” is a thing of the past… and why I think we should let people develop their own initiative and coach them (Robredo style) instead of going Noynoy style – not needed anymore.

    Just like my article: just gives some points for people to think about when they make THEIR OWN decision. Filipinos at home should be helped but also learn not to rely too much on imports and migrants – and make their own way.

    What I propose now is a simple platform where many bloggers can do their own thing, something like a “palengke” of ideas. Not a mall owned by Irineo or Joe or Raissa, or all three together.

  17. 16 billion reasons not to vote for this thief!


    Could this be true? I this where they kept what was withdrawn from their account specified by the AMLC?

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  1. […] Source: People powered journalism […]

  2. […] via People powered journalism — The Society of Honor: the Philippines […]

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