March 28, 2009

20 minutes with Tony Blair

Q: Could you say that Iraq may have been the biggest mistake of your political career? How would you assess the way former President Bush handled it and what lessons have you learned from it?

A: Well, I think the basic issue when you look at Iraq today—and actually there is progress now being made—[is that] they’ve just had successful local elections and you come back to the same issue which is, if Saddam Hussein were running Iraq, would the world be safer? My answer to that is no. I think people will carry on making a judgement about it for a very long time, but it’s interesting if you talk to people who’ve just come back from Iraq now and they see the change and its progress; and in the end it’s been tough because the same forces we’re fighting everywhere are the same people we’re fighting in Afghanistan who want terror, who want violence, to stop countries having the right to elect their government. And I think when those types of people are engaged in terrorism we should stand up firmly against them and say, “you’re not going to succeed. We’re going to fight for the future.” And so, I think no doubt it will be a controversial decision for a long time to come but it’s necessary I believe. (Read the rest of our press Q&A with Blair here.)

Sawa na ba kayo? If not, read my kalokohan piece on Blair here.

March 27, 2009

Dinelli at The Fort

"ECONOMIC crisis or not, people need to eat good food. This thinking is what drives many food companies to continue expanding despite the gloomy outlook for the economy this year.

Meehan Cellars, a three-year-old firm supplying wines to restaurants and hotels, has invested some P50 million in butchery equipment and facilities to be able to process their own delicatessen meat products.

The company has also invested about P12 million to open its flagship deli and restaurant called Dinelli Gourmet on Timog Avenue, Quezon City, and One McKinley Place at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig." (Read the rest here.)

March 25, 2009

A warning to beef eaters

OF course, I just had to read this right after I ate steak for dinner. Ugh.

"The analysis of more than half a million Americans between the ages of 50 and 71 found that men in the highest quintile of red-meat consumption — those who ate about 5 oz. of red meat a day, roughly the equivalent of a small steak, according to lead author Rashmi Sinha — had a 31% higher risk of death over a 10-year period than men in the lowest-consumption quintile, who ate less than 1 oz. of red meat per day, or approximately three slices of corned beef. Men in the top fifth also had a 22% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 27% higher risk of dying of heart disease. In women, the figures were starker: women in the highest quintile of consumption had a 36% increase in death over a 10-year period compared with women who ate little red meat; eating lots of meat was associated with a 20% higher risk of dying of cancer and a 50% higher risk of dying of heart disease." (Read the rest here.)

March 24, 2009


(Blair at the press interview. Photo by Roy Domingo)

I'M still quite euphoric about meeting and interviewing former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. I am absolutely "starstruck" (borrowing a term of Campaigns PR's managing director Richard Arboleda who moderated the press briefing) at as Mr. Blair was just absolutely charming and oh-so-gorgeous! And he was such a sport donning the jacket of De La Salle University after he was presented a signum meriti award by the university before his speech at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza. (I hope to get this photo soon and will post here.)

The details of the meeting in a future blog entry. In the meantime, here's my story which appears today in the BusinessMirror. Details of his speech here.

(P.S. Correction: In my haste to beat the paper's deadline, and grappling with low blood sugar - no lunch! - I wrote that Mr. Blair is the Middle East envoy of the Quartet which includes the United Nations, the United States, the UK, and Russia. Instead of UK that should have been "EU" (European Union). Apologies.)

March 22, 2009

Chaka khan!

Since Chikkatime's real identity has been revealed, mag-chaka khan nalang tayo!

• LOTSA things are happening over in our favorite media outfit. We hear that the head of the lifestyle channel/publishing group was recently asked to go on a "sabbatical" because he did not meet the group's financial targets. This must really hit Mr. Sabbatical pretty hard. After all, this was the same issue he had raised against his predecessor, who by most accounts, was actually the one responsible for establishing the publishing group and expanding its titles.

After Ms. Predecessor's departure, Mr. Sabbatical implemented a lot of radical changes, among them fusing a cable TV endeavor with the publishing group. He reportedly caused the flight of several top editors from the publishing dept. who could not comprehend the changes in the editorial direction (e.g. advertising dictating editorial content). Also, he canned a few magazines one of which was the "baby" of the son of the media outfit's owner.

We hear Ms. Predecessor is extremely jubilant over the news though we dare not publish her juicy quote that puts Mr. Sabbatical in the same category as the media outfit's ex-PR gal who had unjustly fired two of her staff right before she decided to run for political office. Well, she lost. Long-time observers of the goings on in the media outfit were quick to conclude: "What goes around comes around." Arayko.

• Anent to the above, the one said to be replacing Mr. Sabbatical beginning tom, March 23, is the current marketing head of the media outfit's broadcasting department. The guy is said to be top notch and had been pirated from a very large advertising company which he was connected with for about 20 years before leaving as its managing director. While some publishing guys are wary if he has the smarts to oversee the editorial direction of the magazines, Mr. Replacement's fans say that one thing that he has going for him is that "he listens." We've heard about all the awards Mr. Replacement garnered while he was in the advertising biz, and how he was able to hit the financial targets of the broadcasting department last year. We await with bated breath if Mr. Replacement can weave his magic for the lifestyle channel/publishing group as well.

• But these economic times are just difficult for the publishing business. With too many titles out in the market and declining readership, as well as reductions in advertising budgets by many companies, expect more changes in store for several publishing companies. One of these companies, owned by Filipinos of Chinese descent, is said to be dropping two of their imported titles – one dealing with career women, and another, teen-agers. One editor of another giant publishing company told us that this will probably be the trend for most magazine publishers, i.e. to give up their franchised titles and focus more on the homegrown brands. It actually makes a lot of financial sense.

• Over in the art world, who's this well known Filipino artist reportedly charging over P50,000 just to conduct painting lessons for one day? A friend who attended Mr. Artist's workshop felt shortchanged bec. of the level of artistry of the students. Our friend, who's had advanced lessons in sketching, drawing and painting, was surprised to find himself in the same workshop with an eight-year-old who was just attending his first painting lesson. Perhaps finally realizing his other students were discomfited by the beginners in the group, Mr. Artist approached our friend and taught him a few 'advanced' techniques then hung around for some drinks after to talk about art. Referring to the workshop fee he paid, our friend says, "That was a really an expensive bottle of wine."

• The supposed latest wedding date of this newsgal to her politican beau is August. We don't know what year though. Well she's the one who keeps talking about it!

Yun na!

Cry rape

Something Like Life
March 20, 2009

"Standing on the stage, I felt his hands on me. I felt the blade next to my neck, then next to my chest. I felt the scrape of the concrete wall on my bare back.

“But that was my body. The rest of me had slipped away, and was up in the rafters, suspended—out of place, out of time.

“From up above, I watched my body with a strange detachment. I didn’t feel fear, or panic, or any of the other emotions I would expect. I knew I was watching myself but, at the same time, I felt like I was watching someone else. Someone in a play.

“For her, I felt—I guess the word is concern. And pity.

“Down on the stage, the guy had pulled down my skirt and pantyhose and underwear. They puddled at my ankles. Then he started taking off his own clothes. He still had the scissors at my neck, so he was fumbling at his pants, trying to get them unzipped with one hand.

“When they finally were down, he pushed me against the wall and tried to have sex with me, standing there. When that didn’t work, he turned me around, my face to the wall.

“That didn’t work, either, so he pushed me down to my hands and knees. That worked. After a couple of minutes, he turned me over and pushed into me again. He moved fast, with a mechanical detachment. As he did, a gold cross hanging from his neck dangled in my face.”

The above account is by Joanna Connors, a reporter from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who finally told her story to the public last year. In Telling the Story I Tried to Forget—Beyond Rape: A Survivor’s Journey, Connors gives a full account of her rape by a stagehand in a theater in 1984. She was supposed to interview some actors in a stage play, but when she arrived late, they were gone. But the stagehand lulled her into believing that the actors would return. She also narrates how she lived with the shame and guilt of what happened and why she finally decided to tell her story. (Read it here.)

(Artwork by Spider Kiss)

As I write this piece, the news of “Nicole” recanting her testimony about her rape by US serviceman Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith has just hit the online newspapers. All at once, women exploded and quickly began to vilify her. A friend immediately commented on her Facebook link to the story, calling Nicole a “loser” and a “p*** in every sense of the word.”

One fellow journalist was even more upset: “Tatratuhin ka talagang baboy ’pag pumayag kang tratuhing baboy. Sana ikaw lang ang mabastos, ’wag sana kaming madamay sa pagpayag mong bastusin ka.”

Female politicians, unsurprisingly, came to Nicole’s defense. They asked the public to try to understand what she did, and blamed the government for not giving her enough support in the case. Before Nicole’s about-face, the Arroyo administration was being urged to assert its custody over Smith and remand him to a local jail cell instead of being allowed to stay in the US Embassy, where, many believed, he was being treated well. The administration was criticized for its impotence in renegotiating the Visiting Forces Agreement with the US government, especially after a phone call from President Barack Obama.

I’m sure by the time this column comes out, most women will have yet to recover from this latest slap on our faces. I believed and supported Nicole, and with her recant, it will now make it even harder for other rape victims to come forward and make their cases heard.

But can we really blame her?

When Nicole’s case was first made public, there were many who doubted her story. Typically, there were men who thought that she was lying about being raped, and even if she was, they felt she was at fault because she flirted with Smith.

Surprisingly, other women I spoke with at the time also felt the same way. After it was revealed that Nicole had danced with Smith while in a rather seedy bar in Clark free port and had drank some liquor, a few women automatically branded her a “loose woman.” So she probably deserved what she got. Good girls don’t get raped, only flirts and loose women do.

But we hear of men getting raped, homosexuals being sexually violated, fathers raping their daughters (google “Fritzi the Austrian rapist”), children being molested and old women getting raped. Clearly, there is nothing sexual about the act. Whether a woman wears hot pants or a duster looking dowdy like a fishmonger’s wife, both are equally in danger of being sexually violated.

Psychologists tell us that rape is about power, not sex. It is about aggression against another person. It is about taking control over another human being.

Of all the crimes that can be committed, it is rape that most women dread. In a robbery or fire, you can replace the material possessions lost. With rape, how can you replace your soul?

Rape rips through the core of a woman. The essence of her being is taken away from her. An assault of this magnitude changes one’s life overnight. When it happens, one is flooded by a confusing rush of emotions—fear, hopelessness, anger, self-loathing and self-doubt. You cannot believe it has happened to you, and even if you do, you torment yourself with questions about what you might have done to attract such a despicable act. This is why many women still prefer to keep quiet about it. It is the unspeakable crime.

The victim tries to forget it, but she really never does.

In her account, Connors says: “I might have buried this story, but it was not dead. It was still alive, and it grew in that deep place I put it, like a vine from some mutant seed, all twisted and ugly. And as it grew, it strangled a lot of other stuff in me that should have been growing. It killed my trust, my confidence. It almost killed my sense of who I was.” She was always distressed over what might happen to her daughter and son. She wanted them to live life and be bold in their actions, but she had taught them to live in fear, constantly hovering over them.

Telling the gristly details of one’s rape takes a lot of guts, especially when one has to identify the rapist in a police lineup. When the case goes to court, the victim has to face the rapist and feel his eyes boring into her being. Questioned and probed repeatedly by lawyers who will try to raise doubts over what happened, make it even worse. The victim feels victimized all over again.

I am writing these words because I am trying to put myself in Nicole’s shoes. I am trying very hard to comprehend why she recanted her testimony. And while this may sound naïve and foolish to others, I still believe she was raped, because I cannot imagine anyone would torture herself and go through that kind of drama and public humiliation for a lie. If it was all about marrying an American serviceman and securing a US visa, she could have made her accusations earlier enough by hooking an unsuspecting American while tending her mother’s eatery down south.

I’d like to believe that Nicole had reached her rope’s end. She is desperate to move on and have a better life. She is trying to forget and bury the past so that she could go on and live for what most women dream of. A good job, a husband and kids, and the house with the white picket fence. She no longer feels it possible to do so here where she is constantly reminded of her pain and suffering, where it is hopeless.

This is exactly what a rape achieves. The victim feels powerless and unable to move. By fleeing to another country, Nicole is trying to regain control of her life, and recapture what she has lost. Her soul, her spirit, her sanity.

Nicole has been judged enough. We must let her go. Wherever she may be, I pray that she is able to find the peace in her heart that she desperately longs for.

(This piece appeared in BusinessMirror, March 20, 2009. My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday.)

March 21, 2009

March 19, 2009

Rapist Jalosjos walking free

Here's another blow to rape victims everywhere:
(Photo from Manila Times)

MANILA, Philippines - Convicted child rapist and former Zamboanga del Norte congressman Romeo Jalosjos is expected to walk out of prison a free man today after completing a commuted 16-year sentence.

“I signed the conformity of the computation of his jail term since he has already completed 16 years of his sentence,” Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez told reporters yesterday. (Read the rest here.)

March 17, 2009

'Nicole' recants rape charge

“My conscience continues to bother me realizing that I may have in fact been so friendly and intimate with Daniel Smith at the Neptune Club that he was led to believe that I was amenable to having sex or that we simply just got carried away,” she said. (Read the rest at here.)

I'M sorry. I'm still letting all this sink in. I think 'Nicole' has been under severe pressure to do this in exchange for a better future. I hope that's not the case, but if it is, it's a shame.

I'm trying very hard not to condemn her action for she has been judged enough. I just hope she finds peace in what she has done.

(UPDATE: 9:27 a.m. 03/18/09) The rumor mill is grinding away. 'Nicole's' sworn statement was supposedly written by Smith's lawyer. No doubt about it. It reflects much of his lawyers' contentions all along as well as the testimonies of Smith's friends, who had all tried to cast doubt on her allegations.

That she accepted P100,000 as settlement which is only equivalent to $2,009 at the present exchange rate shows how desperate 'Nicole' was to get away. Were there powerful people behind the scenes who tried to exploit her weakness? That's a certainty. In fact the revelation of Nicole's sworn statement so soon after a phone call from U.S. President Barack Obama to the presidentita was made public now sounds even more suspicious. VFA or not, there was just no way in hell that the presidentita would let this rape case get in the way of her newfound 'friendship' w/ Obama.

As for Smith, even if the decision on his case is overturned by the higher court, and he is allowed to return to the U.S., he like Nicole, will not be able to bury the past completely. He too has been changed forever by this case. And it will never really give him rest.

March 16, 2009

Warning: Mad Moneyman up ahead

(Never trusted this guy. Lagi syang ma-OA sa TV. Photo from

IF you still haven't watched Jon Stewart's recent interview of Mad Money host Jim Cramer, I suggest you do so. It is possibly the best piece of financial journalism thus far, on the financial meltdown in the U.S., and to think it was courtesy of a comedian. The full episode is available on The Daily Show web site.

Since the subprime credit mess took its toll on the U.S. economy, comedian Jon Stewart has been taking potshots at CNBC and other similar financial news organizations for their lapses in reporting the true state of major financial institutions. Jim Cramer, a former journalist, lawyer, and hedge fund manager, is a class A1 entertainer. He jumps around the set, makes funny faces and loud gestures, but basically only knows how to give bad financial advice to televiewers. On the other hand, he personally benefits by issuing stock analyses to 'Money Honey' Maria Bartiromo. Tsk, tsk.

An indictment of Cramer's shoddy activities in The Gawker. Let's see how long CNBC will keep this joker around.

UPDATE: Similarly, Ben Cohen of The Daily Banter rages against the Money Honey on HuffPost.

Ateneo parents on 'open parties'

"We all know that going to parties is a way for teenagers to develop their social skills. So these parents are not trying to be killjoys. They are just concerned about their kids’ safety and welfare.

I fully support these parents and suggest that perhaps some kind of consultation be held between the students and the school administration, including faculty members and parents, about social activities like these. Maybe an agreement can be reached where these parties organized by the students would be required to have some adults present. Hey, we survived chaperones and parents at parties, the kids today will, too." (Read the rest of my column here.)

(The STOYA boys' open letter to their supporters in Chuvaness.)

March 13, 2009

Ricky Gervais and Elmo

AND you thought Elmo was irritating. This is super hilarious! I'm surprised CTW allowed this to be posted on YouTube.

March 11, 2009

Manila 1938

THIS is precious footage of Manila in 1938, before World War II wreaked havoc on the city. My parents have told me stories about their lives then, and how Manila looked, but I was very removed from their experience. Now I actually have an idea of what they had been talking about. Thanks Prandy for sending this video. (Happy birthday!)

March 10, 2009

The customer is no longer right

Apparently, here in the Philippines, that is the norm. I mean how many times have you felt frustrated by how stores, restaurants or companies ride roughshod over customer complaints these days? (Maybe it's partly our fault. Many Filipinos know very little about their rights as consumers and think it is just a waste of time, and a nuisance to file complaints and follow them up.)

(Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala is now Globe's chief complaint dispatcher. Tsk, tsk.)

We're happy for Gerry Kaimo that he got his iPhone/Globe billing problem solved (see previous blog post). But he had to email Globe chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Jaza) just to get a satisfactory response because none of the telco's customer service people nor their bosses were willing to make the right decision about his problem! Doesn't Jaza have better things to do than attend to customer complaints? Why can't Globe just revamp its customer relations department to make the staff more people-oriented?

This inability to empathize with clients and customers' woes appears to be a growing trend among companies here. In a bid to make humongous profits, companies will sacrifice customer service. Many of them have grown insensitive to their customers' needs and issues. Most of the time, we are directed to a call center where agents will give you robotic answers as per the script given to them by the company they answer to.

If you remember, last month, my friend, businesswoman Ruby Gan, complained of the lousy treatment she received from Sony Ericsson after she bought a used/second-hand Xperia from one of its major dealers, Memo Xpress. By the time SE officials realized they could probably explain their case better to Ruby by just meeting w/ her personally, it took three weeks of back and forth unproductive emails, and my shoutout to another SE publicist. (Apparently SE's main PR gal Jingjing Romero couldn't even be bothered to use her free SE phone to call Ruby and get to the bottom of the issue. Last I heard, Ruby ditched the Xperia and is tossing it back to the company as soon as she gets her money back.)

(Beware of roaches!)

Another case of poor customer relations is Zest Airways. Remember Marge Polintan and her roach problem in Zest Air? She wrote emails to the airline customer service dept., its management, resort owners in Boracay who have tieups w/ the airline, and heads of government agencies. When a top dog in the airline finally decided to meet her and her group of disgruntled customers, three months had already passed! (This is funny considering I forwarded Marge's emailed complaint to one of the airline's VPs as soon as I read it. Tsk, tsk.)

According to Marge in her email to me last Feb. 28, the issue has been settled to her satisfaction. I'm glad. Her email below:

Dear Ms. Arnaldo:

If you recall, our experience with Zest Air was posted in your blog sometime ago. There was a relentless barrage of emails and letters I sent to them, the Boracay Chamber of Commerce and other agencies concerned.

Finally after three months, Ms. Jo Trinidad Customer Care of Zest Air finally contacted me and had lunch together with some of my co-passengers. She could not believe the stories we told her. Apparently, they have only one person handling all these complaints and the poor girl is simply overwhelmed.

I also had the chance to meet their CEO, Mr Salvador Ramirez. Zest Air is inviting the 15 passengers concerned to fly Zest Air again to any of their local destination and promised first class service. (Me: The airline CEO is actually Amb. Fred Yao of Zest-O. Ramirez is SVP for Commercial Affairs, and former president/CEO of TAIR Airways w/c was supposed to start flying from Clark to the Middle East in 2007. I don't think TAIR every lifted off.)

Thank you for all your help.


One girl just handling customer complaints? That's what I call efficient!

I wish companies invest more in their customer service departments. These departments are the front-liners of their business and are also responsible for maintaining the company's image in public. No matter how much money a company pours into PR and advertising, its image will still suffer when clients are dissatisfied with how they are treated. Lousy customer service=lousy company.

Look, all that customers really need is an understanding person in the company, who can give us simple, direct, and reasonable answers to our plaints, as soon as possible. We just need a helping hand, that's all.

Update on iPhone/Globe billing issues

FOR those wondering what happened to Net activist Gerry Kaimo's complaint to Globe's Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Jaza) regarding his phone charges, I'm posting Gerry's email to our yahoogroup re: the resolution to the problem:

Hi Gang,

I brought my problem to the top, and got my problems solved the next day.

Also, I was given a tutorial for the blackberry i replaced the iPhone with. (Actually my GF won the BB in a raffle so I just sold the iPhone. She gave me a BlackBerry that cost nothing. It's a Curve model at that). What a relief.

Globe and I also agreed on an amount, not the P27,000 on my bill, far from it.

All's well that end well. But John (Silva) was right. Unless you bring it to the top, it is very difficult to get things moving.

In my case I felt that things could have been handled at a manager's level, but apparently a lot of phone calls around their network by their head honcho got my problem resolved. My faith in Globe restored, am enjoying the BB. It's easy to operate and can handle up to ten emails, though a caveat- remember that you will be paying for airtime for ten email accounts. I set mine to my ***** and will probably use that and that alone for my BB. I wonder when the time will come when things get settled at that level as it should but I think many people, even at a VP level, are afraid to "overplease" the customer (as if there was suck a thing) and opt to let clients hang out to dry rather than make a decision like giving the customer a rebate. Hopefully one day we shall get somewhere better in terms of customer service. Also, Globe has lost a few really good people like Gracie Khoe and Lance Agudo (head of customer service). And those were real customer oriented people.

As for those who still have the iPhone, congrats for being able to keep your bills down.


March 09, 2009

Public service

Good news! Here's GlaxoSmithKline's list of its medicines whose prices have been reduced, some as large as 50 percent off. Common antibiotics like Amoxicillin and cough medicine like Ambroxol are among them. Also, there are some anti-hypertension drugs included; unfortunately, my mom's Bipreterax and Lifezar are not among them. Rats!

Download Price list, or click the images below.

Starting 'em young

THIS was my pang-gising this morning, thanks to Chuvaness. Natawa ako, pramis. Talbog ang WEA Twins!

Eto naman mejo cute na scary. Can you say Little Miss America?

Thank you Beyoncé, I now have LSS (Last song syndrome).

It's late, do you know where your kids are?

All I know is that alcohol, plus raging testosterones, make quite the lethal combination. So I am curious why the homeowners’ associations who oversee these exclusive villages’ clubhouses allow alcoholic beverages during these open parties? The law is pretty clear—alcohol should not be served to minors, meaning those 18 years old and below.

Let’s not get cute here, parents, and reminisce about sowing one’s wild oats. Should we just allow the kids to booze up and screw every guy or girl they like? (My thoughts on the Celine Piezas story.)

More from Mrs. Piezas in this Friday's column in BusinessMirror.

March 08, 2009

U2's song of praise

I was watching Good Morning America two days ago and when Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer announced that U2 was going to perform, I just had to stay up! (GMA is shown at 1 a.m. on Velvet TV.) U2 has been promoting "No Line on the Horizon", the band's new album (strange to call it these days considering these no longer come in LP form, haha) in the U.S. and its first public stop was Fordham University in the Bronx. Gads, these kids are soooo lucky! What an experience to be watching U2 perform live, huh? Kakainggit!

Anyhoo, here's a clip of that "Magnificent" performance on this great Sunday, and I'm so glad Bono isn't ashamed of his faith. This is the kind of uplifting music we all need these days.

I was born to sing for You
I didn't have a choice
But to lift You up
And sing whatever song You wanted me to
I give You back my voice
From the womb my first cry
It was a joyful noise...
Justified until we die
You and I will magnify

March 07, 2009

Blown away by Watchmen

I was very curious to watch Watchmen after seeing the fantastic visuals in previews last year. I knew it was one heck of a graphic novel and had a fan base even here in the Philippines, but I never got around to reading it, not being a comic book fan. (Although I was reared on a small diet of DC Comics and Marvel superheroes, the storylines then were still happy and uncomplicated.)

As the credits rolled at end of the film, I just had to clap my hands in appreciation. Watchmen didn't disappoint. It's a film where you don't need any prior background knowledge about the characters and the storyline to appreciate it. To that Zack Snyder (who also directed the awesome 300) should be congratulated for not alienating moviegoers who didn't read the novel. (I'm not sure about how the novel's fans feel though. I read somewhere that there's some point in the film's ending that was changed from the original.)

Of course, it's not an easy narrative to follow, and with the theme so dark, and some characters immersed in their own psychoses (most people still think of comic book superheroes as one-dimensional good guys all around), there will be some moviegoers who might be turned off by it. I, however, bought the whole film hook line and sinker. Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon as president for three terms? Sure why not! You can just smell how bad this story is supposed to end. The U.S. winning the war in Vietnam because of the blue superhero Dr. Manhattan, okay, bring it on! Superheroes getting retired, aha. Who woulda thought? (Writer Alan Moore is a genius. It's unfortunate he felt the film was not good enough to warrant his name being credited.)

Sure there were some parts that didn't work for me, the almost cheesy love scene between Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) and Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and the Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) character whose portrayal was very flat and uninteresting in most of the film. But over all, Watchmen was mindblowing. I left the movie theater mildly disturbed by the ending w/c begs the question, how far should we go to achieve world peace? So it's definitely not your ordinary superhero movie. Which is why I loved it. And why I needed a stiff drink after.

There are no big name actors in this movie which is fortunate because they don't distract from the real celebrity here w/c is the story itself. My favorite character is the sinister Rorscach/Walter Kovacs (played by Jackie Earle Haley, remember Bad News Bears?) who plays narrator in the film and is the one who pushes on to investigate The Comedian's death. He wears a mask with an ever-changing inkblot, very cool. But his character is so menacing and depressing, you wonder how he ever became a super hero.

(Off tangent: About 20 minutes into Watchmen I was thinking, Jeffrey Dean Morgan should change his manager. Playing The Comedian this time, he winds up dead. Again. For those who don't know, Morgan played heart patient Denny Duquette in Grey's Anatomy, Dr. Izzie Stevens' love interest who dies and comes back to haunt her. Weird. He also had a short stint as Judah Botwin in the first season of Weeds. Married to Mary Louise Parker's character Nancy, Judah dies in an accident even before the show starts and is seen mostly through flashbacks. Hay.)

Before I spill the beans on the rest of the film, just go watch it and be open to the entire experience. I'm ready for my second turn at Watchmen. And yeah, I am buying the book.

March 05, 2009

For iPhone users/Globe subscribers

MY old friend Gerry Kaimo has been tearing his hair out over his Apple iPhone/Globe Telecom service because his phone bill had skyrocketed to P27,000 in just two months, all because of the default Internet settings.

I've checked the Philmug site and apparently this problem of overbilling by Globe has been happening since the phone was introduced last year. So if you're still thinking of buying such a unit, please be warned. Globe's customer relations system isn't exactly the most efficient in the industry, so you may want to ask a lot of questions about your unit first and Globe's charges before making that final purchase. It also helps to make friends w/ the techie guys. (The Philmug site does have suggested procedures to adjust your Internet setttings and thus protect yourself from getting overbilled. So check that out, too.)

Let's hear it from Gerry:

To all of you out there who may have bought the Mac iPhone. Please consult your nearest Globe Tech Support. There is no manual, so it's a guessing game mostly. I was at Globe Towers today and found out that I was not the only one who had a problem with this Mac iPhone.

My month's first bill came up to a whopping P15,000+. Second month seventeen I think. Basta the total was P27,000 FOR TWO MONTHS!! It was because of the settings. You all know that this iPhone lacks a manual. Mac does not give out manuals. You have to source a third party manual to learn about your Apple product. Thing is, Globe COULD HAVE given their buyers lessons, even if they had to charge them for it. Consider this: If you had a choice between paying a thousand peso seminar fee to save tens of thousands, that's still a good deal.

Thing is, they knowingly sold a phone with no manual and NOT ENOUGH techies to help the customers who paid almost forty thousand pesos for the iPhone. What happened to me also happened, according to a Globe employee who shall remain unknown because they could fire him for being honest to me. At any rate, I was told that my fifteen thousand and then seventeen thousand bills were NOTHING compared to the other customers who ran up bills of 37,000-forty thousand peso monthly bills. They should have warned us. They COULD at least have warned us. But no, it is apparently more important that Globe sell tons of iPhones before more people learn that if you are not INFORMED (caveat emptor, remember?) before people find out that they will be paying thousands more than their usual bills.

FOUL by GLOBE. A deed MOST FOUL. A warning that if you don't set the phone right, you can end up paying thousands monthly. I wonder what Globe will do to let me have it. I wonder if they will... After all, messengers are apt to get punished in this country, just ask Jun Lozada. But no matter. Do what you must. But hey, do the right thing and call your iPhone buyers. And please stop telling your tech support people to encourage your customers to switch their plans from per kilobyte to 5 PESOS FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES. because the fifteen minutes keeps going and going and going. FOUL PLAY by GLOBE, in my opinion, they should clarify. CLARIFY and inform your customers of what may may ahead of them.

That's all from me. Globe's turn. If you had the same problem, please pass this on. Help the others who may just now be getting the shaft. Thanks.

Last I heard from Gerry, he has written Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, chairman of Globe Telecom, about this issue. I hope Gerry gets an answer soon.

March 03, 2009

Mercy, mercy me!

Got this from Leah Navarro:

I don't think it's Botox though. Looks like Thermage to me. But in fairview, gumanda sya anu? (I bet she and the presidentita share the same doctor.)

The case against the Ombudsgirl.

March 01, 2009

Pinay accused of stealing from Saks

OUR 15 minutes of fame are up. Goodbye No Reservations, hello New York Times.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s jewelry department is lined with items like $3,000 David Yurman bracelets and $1,600 Anthony Nak earrings, and Cecille Villacorta was good at getting customers to buy them.

From 2000 to 2006, she brought in more than $27 million in sales, more than any of the other sales associates at the luxury department chain’s flagship store in Manhattan. In fact, she was the highest-grossing saleswoman in the store’s history, according to her lawyer, and was paid nearly $400,000 in her last year there.

But exactly how Ms. Villacorta, 52, of Manhattan, managed to rack up such sales figures is up for debate — and at the heart of her trial on charges of grand larceny and falsifying business records, which began Thursday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. (Click here for the rest.)

Adversity becomes her

(Discovery Shores Boracay, one of the many properties managed by Raintree Partners Inc., in partnership with the Tiu family of the JTKC Group.)

The Fajardos also owned the famous Luau restaurant along Roxas Boulevard, and which Mrs. W said was actually her feasibility study of a Polynesian restaurant for Cornell. “Can you imagine? My mother built my master project just so I would come home?”, Mrs. W laughingly recalls. Although she stayed for a year-and-a-half to help run it, the young Annabel returned to New York to complete her graduate studies, much to her mother’s consternation. Without her mother’s financial support this time, she had to juggle several jobs just to pay for her tuition and living expenses.

“I had to be an assistant professor in the undergraduate school. And I had to be a graduate resident in the dorm. In other words you had to supervise all these giggly young freshmen. You have to make sure everybody’s in by midnight. Then I worked as a restaurant cashier so I can get my meals for free, so I’d get extra money. Magtitipid ka, panay window shopping walang binibili. Pero masaya naman kami. So you learn. In distress times, you have to be creative.” "(Read the rest of my profile on Annabella Santos Wiesniewski.)

(Another Raintree property, the Hotel Venezia in Legaspi City, Albay.)