Lessons learned from former 'Darlings' of the Media

Ellen Tordesillas found the appropriate title for her recent blog There are still those left behind. In an act of hollow-headed banditry on February of 2006 a renegade group of military personnel stormed the Manila Peninsula with the apparent hope of using it as a base for inciting wider-scale mutiny across the military establishment. The subject of the “crusade” in this instance was supposedly around a “withdrawal of support” from President Gloria Arroyo on account of the whole “Hello-Garci” cheating scandal that surrounded her at the time.

Twenty-eight men were accused of being complicit in this act of rebellion, detained, and subject to the justice system. For one moronic reason or another, half of these have since been set free. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that those poor sods remaining in detention are perhaps those at the bottom of the pecking order. They are most likely the sorely unconnected latak of the group with no strings to pull and no influential advocates to back their plight.

From my comfy armchair overlooking the leafy terrain of suburban Sydney, the only hope of the 15 men still incarcerated in Camp Capinpin lies in Jolog Central monarch Ellen Tordesillas.

Not a very good ending for a group that was once the darling of the Philippine Media, isn’t it? So much for real “hope” guys. Merry Christmas in advance — for the next ten years.

This is where I get to that part of discourse Filipinos tend to be averse to:

Lessons learned.

This one is easy, because there is only one lesson to be learned here:

If you think Media adulation will get you anywhere, think again.

This poignant picture painted by Tordesillas of 15 imprisoned men now looking more like wet kittens than the dashing soldiers they once were is a far cry from the time that self-important reporters dished out the battle cry “Media kami!” in their defense back in 2006 while facing an assault conducted on these would-be mutineers by a contingent of legitimate government troops…

When the fully armed, fully masked SAF pushed the door open aiming their high-powered firearms at us, they were greeted by TV cameras as we shouted “Media kami.” They went to another room but finding it empty came back. They wanted to bring us out but we complained about stinging tear gas. One SAF member said, “Okay na, okay na.” One of us said, “Why don’t you remove your mask. Let’s see if you can say, ‘ok’. ANC’s Ces Drilon went on air to appeal to the authorities to stop the tear gassing so we could all go down.

After a while, the SAF came back. They first grabbed Trillanes and Lim. Then they herded the rest of us out. They ordered us to raise our hands. Most people ignored the order reasoning out, “We are not surrenderers.”

Funny how such “important” things come across as rather quaint in retrospect, don’t they?

What was once an “important” initiative now pales in in favour of the “important” issues of 2010 Aquinoism. What was once something worth risking life and limb over is now at the bottom of the Darling Scale of the Abunda-eque Philippine Media. I wonder now what is going on in the minds of these once young soldiers as they languish in prison over their participation in a “crusade” that — again, in retrospect — didn’t really matter to them in the overall scheme of the rest of their lives.

Hey wait… they’ve still got Ellen Todesillas on their side!

I feel better already.

Here’s the guy
you need to thank
for your troubles…

nyek nyek


About benign0

benign0 is the Web master of GetRealPhilippines.com
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37 Responses to Lessons learned from former 'Darlings' of the Media

  1. J.B. says:

    With Noynoy at the helm, these “darlings” will given their free ride. Again!

    That’s one “good” thing about da Pilipins. You revolt, stay in prison, run for congress and senate and eventually goes out of prison and become filthy rich as political climate change. Ask Gringo.

  2. Ryan Bosco says:

    I like “killem’s” username 🙂

  3. Morga says:

    Many journalists (but not all, I must stress this) are in love with their own image, and in love with the idea of being journalists. They see themselves as heroes in their own story. They love the idea of being “celebrities”. To feed that fantasy, they need to feel that they are constantly in the middle of the action, so they follow the action wherever it goes. When the heat of an issue dies down, as it always does because the public has a short attention span, the journalist who is in love with his own image will also move on because his turn-on comes from being the center of attention, not really from the substance of the issue he is reporting about. Now if you combine this with the commercial motivations of the corporations that employ these journalists, you end up with a media that does not really serve its purpose in a democracy (to provide quality information to the public so the government “of the people, by the people, for the people” will function properly). You end up with the tabloid mentality where the news content being produced is designed to shock, titillate, and entertain, but not really to inform so the public can exercise its democratic rights wisely.

    This is reality, and to some extent I don’t think it’s right or wrong (though more responsibility should be imposed on media companies that operate under a government franchise). Media owners are businessmen, journalists are human, so it’s natural for them to be motivated by self-interest. The onus is on the public, the people who watch and read the news. It is up to the public to wise up so they can filter crap out of the content the media produces. Not everything is crap. There’s good stuff too. But the public has to have the wisdom to know the difference, and this is their own lookout. Walang manloloko kung walang magpapaloko. For this, the country needs to have a good educational system, and that’s where it all goes to hell. Majority of Pinoys get their education from soap operas and “musical variety shows”. Current affairs are served up to them like TMZ. So they get stuck with this shallow, gossipy showbiz mindset where even national issues are seen in terms of who’s mad at who, who broke up with who, he said she said, etc, without any deeper understanding of the details, laws, processes, principles, and institutions that lie behind the things that happen in government.

    We saw this in the handling of the Chief Justice issue, then Imelda’s jewels, then more recently, in the reappointment of Genuino as head of Pagcor. The whiny media are again making a fuss over the Pagcor reappointments, but no law has actually been broken. Genuino was reappointed on March 9. He took his oath on the same day. The deadline for executive appointments was March 10. But because it was Gloria who did the appointing, and Gloria has been built up as the number one kontrabida of the evening news, Genuino’s reappointment became material for another big drama.

    I wouldn’t say this latest development is absolutely no cause for concern, but the excessive paranoia and deficiency in facts in most of the reports we’ve seen on this issue are prime examples of the tabloid thinking that rots people’s minds. Instead of launching another string of emotion-driven, personality-driven, alarmist reports on this issue, can someone please just analyze whether or not Genuino should stay as head of Pagcor based on his performance? When will the media graduate from being tattletales to actually being part of the solution?

    • Miriam Quiamco says:

      I like your articles because they focus on the single-most problematic institution in our country that has been responsible for our underdevelopment. You are right in saying that there are journalists with respectable track records, but on the whole, the media culture is gossipy and unconscious of its role as a medium to promote democracy. People should filter the info. they get from the mass media, but because our educational system does not promote critical thinking and also because the masses are pretty uneducated, they are defenseless against the loud intrusion of mass media into their minds and daily thoughts. A commenter or blogger on FV said it is simple-minded to attribute mind-conditioning powers to the mass media. This guy is apparently a regular columnist or writer in a paper with mass circulation, considering his stature, he seems unaware of the damage a blind and ignorant mass media could inflict on our polity. Imagine that in one survey, over 79% of our people have complete trust on our mass media, many Asian countries I suspect are the same, whereas, in the West including America, people’s trust on mass media is somewhere around 30%. This simply shows how a mass media that favor a particular candidate could easily get that candidate elected, as what happened in the recent election. Scholars even go to the extent of describing the mass media as the fourth branch of government. Oftentimes, it destroys people’s trust in our institutions and government, and thus every government action is viewed with suspicion.

      In Japan, the mass media for the longest time were quite tame and the government-run NHK TV station was the most trusted until the 1980s, this means the government had had time to unite the country behind its programs of reconstruction after the war without a hyper-critical and sensationalistic media. NHK provided news with their stone-faced newscasters without much commentary and government policies got to be aired to the general population without malice or favor. Documentary programs about national policies and political events have been a common way to connect the government with the governed. The TV station would consciously shun away from sensationalism, and would not broadcast corruption allegations, as they are merely allegations, without proof. The commercial stations of course were different, but the government-owned media set the standards for the media culture, and even the scandal-mongering commercial outfits are tame in comparison to ours.

      Government agencies are serious about implementing laws that take media businesses accountable to their responsibility of unbiased reporting and educating the public. When LDP lost the elections in early 1990s, one TV reporter bragged at a meeting that it was their goal to bring the ruling party (35 years in power) down, the executives of his TV station were then called into parliament for questioning, and they were given a hard time renewing their permits for operations. Why can’t we have the same strictness in standards for our mass media? After all, they need permits to continually operate, they could be called to be responsible for their line of programming. I am more concerned of course with TV and radio, since these are the primary sources of info. for the majority.

      I really think we need to establish a public service TV, radio and broadsheet media that can compete with the commercial ones. We need this in our country, because we are too lax with our media practitioners, as a result, we have created a very important sector in society that is irresponsible., arrogant and self-serving.

      • thenashman says:

        Is this the same Miriam Quiamco, the imbecile who predicted a Gibo Landslide?

        The same idiot who supported the statistics of mathematics guru Aniceto Abbey Canturias?

        ZOMG, where have you been? Are you still counting votes for Gibo?

      • ChinoF says:

        Ahem… bringing your ad hominems here is pretty brave… but still meaningless.

      • thenashman'sdad says:

        thenashman! stop trying to scare the lady with your tiny little birdie and go back to your room!

      • BongV says:

        Nope, she’s counting the number of gaffes that the Tarlac Hillbillies are committing every day, the number of Kamag-anaks and incompetents that the Balut Penoy is appointing to the Cabinet of the Failippines 😆

      • miriam quiamco says:

        Thenashman, stop stalking me, my avatar is just an avatar, I don’t look as hot in person, so go back to FV , that is where you belong. Ha, ha, ha, nice to be in friendly territory. . .

    • J.B. says:


      How do you resolve the fact that the Philippines is one of the most, of if not the most, dangerous place for journalist and hundreds were killed during the reign of la Gloria?

      Does death indicative of who’s willing to die? And the living the selfish ones?

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        In our country, anyone who dares speak out against an individual who has access to guns and the class of professional killers for hire will die. The extra-judicial killings are not only unique to the members of the media, only the killings involving media personalities have been documented and are talked about more than other killings. In Davao alone, a class of professional killers for hire has been steadily developed due to the way the mayor has imposed peace and order in that city. Only a few members of the media got killed, that is because most have learned to defer to the powers that be. Many more were killed in the name of maintaining peace and order. This is not surprising in the face of the fact that 800 million pesos is made available to the mayor every year to spend for peace and order without audit. The city has achieved peace, so they say, petty criminals are summarily killed, but the proliferation of arms has not completely eliminated crimes involving guns.

        I would say the rise in extra-judicial killings under Gloria could be attributed to years of weakening of the power of the state. Gloria literally worked her butt off to generate economic growth and tried to bribe everybody to survive as head of state. You have to credit the woman for her political survival, despite her Machiavellianism. Without surrounding herself with ex-generals and without paying off people to stay in power, she would have been booted out just like Estrada. Under Gloria, there was literally more corruption due to our growing economy, and with a weak state, media personalities who tried to dig out dirt exposing local politicians and corrupt businessmen, got killed. Gloria’s main preoccupation during her presidency was to stay in power, she had no coherent policy to combat corruption and to strengthen our state institutions. She is truly Machiavellian. . .

      • Jay says:

        Well, your piece certainly makes sense as to why she was forced to get as much money through seedy means. No political allies means you have to make them.

      • Morga says:

        @J.B. The media we are discussing here is Big Media. Journalists who are in love with their image because they have a public image. The journalists who were killed in the Maguindanao massacre were not the celebrity journalists that we are talking about here.

        An incident like the Maguindanao massacre is not new. It is the norm in parts of the country that are controlled by warlords. But the Maguindanao massacre received extraordinary media coverage because many members of the media were among the victims.

        The coverage of that incident by establishment media also leaves much to be desired. They highlight the gore and the violence, they focus the blame on Gloria Arroyo, but they do not explain the socio-political factors that gave rise to warlordism in the 1960’s and continue to sustain it today. They do not discuss solutions. There are some attempts, but they are very few compared to the overwhelming amount of “Blame Gloria!” content that was spun out of the Maguindanao massacre.

      • Miriam Quiamco says:

        I totally agree with you on how the established media covered the Maguindanao massacre, there was no thorough analysis of what happened and why it happened and what should be done to prevent such massacres from happening again. The state of things in Mindanao will continue as it is now, until another big violent event like that will happen again. Mindanao is a war-torn country, and warlords are the ones given the authority to keep the precarious peace. The local politicians like the mayoralty in Davao behave like warlords too, hiring goons to eliminate undesirable elements and scaring people into subservience. I am afraid that the insurgency problem there is growing because part of the peace and order funds given by the national government to the mayor is given to the NPAs just so they will leave the city alone. There is no clear policy from the national government to strengthen its presence there, and to hold the local politicians accountable. So long as there is pseudo peace in Davao, the military and the police defer to the mayor’s every wish. I suspect, part of the peace and order fund is also used to buy the loyalty of the police and the military, not sure about this though. But again, the media have been impotent in leading discussions on how to solve the intractable problems in Mindanao. Morga is right in how the Maguindanao coverage was centered on gore and violence, and no substantive exploration of policy issues.

      • J.B. says:


        The maguindanao case was given due media attention and the analyses by Big Media were fairly accurate in terms of “substantive exploration of policy issues” .

        FPJ lost big time there and the Ampatuans lord over the area like gods in return favour of la Gloria’s sure winning in the regions in 2004 elections.

        What other “substantive exploration of policy issues” you possibly referred at?

    • brianitus says:


      I had a similar discussion with my friend in media over a few drinks a couple of weeks back. We sort of agreed that media today is focused too much on the bottom line performance of their companies. As a result, we get the news as “entertainment.” I think it’s a pretty sick system. The way it is served, gossipy, as you described it only affirms that view. NEWS is entertainment. The broadsheets evolved into glorified tabloids. Give the people blood on the boob tube and gossip on print. Sheesh.


      • miriam quiamco says:

        I am referring to sustained analysis by the media of the incident that could lead to a determined policy to solve the problem of warlordism. This is a problem that is centuries old, but apparently, no government has been able to solve it. Gloria has been blamed for the failure of the policy in Muslim Mindanao, ARMM is a complete failure to address development problems in muslim Mindanao. Has any analytical and detailed presentation of this policy been a part of media coverage of Maguindanao? Sure, it was predictable that Gloria would get blamed as the Ampatuans cheated for her to win, but with or without Gloria, the Ampatuans would be just a daring in committing violence. Even during the time of previous administrations, they were already in the business of abusing power, had anyone ever gotten them to answer for their crimes? It took a martial law just to get them arrested, and the clueless Manila people cried in unison, fooouuuullll, another Glori’as attempt to perpetrate herself in power. What lunatics! Attacking Gloria has become the selling point of media outlets, without a demonized Gloria, it seems no interest could be generated in their existence.

        How pathetic, the Maguindanao massacre is a symptom of a deep problem facing the nation. Will the mass media please discuss policies to solve this problem? They shouldn’t stop at just publicising opinions of this or that pundit, there should be documentaries exploring solutions to warlordism. The interest on pursuing workable policies should be sustained. During the elections, candidates’
        ideas to solve this problem should not be relegated to debates and then forgotten after pundits give their opinions on them. We should keep the analysis on the problem part of media coverage, this is a big problem, and requires big solutions, the country has to come up with a consensus on how to deal with the issue. If the solution is to professionalize the military so that its members will not be pawns anymore to serve the interests of the warlords, then, the increase in defense budget and how this could be accomplished should be part of sustained media coverage.

        The massacre as a manifestation of failed governmental policy should not disappear from media radar now that the new president-elect is drawing too much attention on himself to the disregard on the issues and how his government intends to solve them. The media should keep pressing on what workable policies could address this problem. They shouldn’t stop until a determined government policy has been identified to solve this issue. This is what I mean by a critical and issue-oriented media, it should engage all sectors in coming up with solutions to our problems and push the government to solve our pressing problems. And mind you, we have many, the media should lead the discussion of these issues in a sustained manner until the governmnet is compelled to abide by the public’s wishes, this is democracy in action. In this ideal environment, the trivial and petty should be relegated to the stupid world of celebrities. . .

  4. ChinoF says:

    This over-angelization of the media comes from imagining them as “defenders” of the freedom of speech. In fact, they are the exploiters of this freedom. Most of the Antipinoy.com bloggers really see the media as a deceptive, twisting element that corrupts people’s views of the truth. Mainstream media really needs to be challenged.

    I admittedly used to admire these “darlings” since what prompted them is their indignation at government corruption. Then I realized that the end does not justify the means. And that if the government is corrupt, it doesn’t mean that you have to be corrupt in response.

    • famous wolf says:

      Fake News Programs could actually work here. The US already has a successful hit with the Daily Show and its regular butt monkeys, Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. If they want sensationalized media, a fake news program designed to be controversial by pissing off other networks, is a good proposal, but then again, I don’t see Filipinos seeing this kind of humor.

  5. RainSantiago says:

    I think it’s about time that we declare all out war with the mainstream media, (ABS-CBN) is just as bad as the state-media of North Korea in league with the Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi era, which I’m sure today if that man was alive he would easily give ABS-CBN a perfect grade when it comes to spreading lies and propaganda. Until we take on these Goliath monsters, our country will never progress.

  6. J.B. says:

    In 2003, there was one case where I had a total misgivings about Philippine Daily Inquirer. Right on their editorial front page, they published the brutal killings of activists and seemingly their main opinion to the grisly crime appeared as if they’re the virtual mouthpiece of Joma Sison.


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  8. Hung Hang says:


    Dude, batang Sydney ka pala. Whereabouts?

  9. benign0 says:

    AS Morga already mentioned, the deeper issue is that much of our Media or overarching information dissemination infrastructure is in the hands of profit-driven private enterprise with shareholdings controlled by members of the oligarchy. They will simply go where the money trail leads them.

    I too agree that the solution, as Miriam and RainSantiago observed lies in building a big enough and credible alternative and challenger to Big Media. News reporting alone has already become a circus in the Philippines. The way it is done is the single biggest affront to the journalism profession. The “village crier” format of delivering the news in jeepney-like programmes such as ABS-CBN’s Bandila provide stark contrasts to the relatively sober “stone-faced” delivery of most other news programmes from other countries. A reflection of the patawa mentality of starstruck ignoramus Pinoys.

    The best way readers here who are outraged by the moronism of Big Philippine Media can help is to get as many people as you know to subscribe as followers or “fans” at the following social networking sites:

    AntiPinoy.com on Facebook
    GetRealPhilippines.com on Facebook

    When subscribed to the above, they will be continuously updated on content published on AP and, in the case of the GRP.com page, across the whole network of “Certified GetRealist” sites and blogs.

    Regularly tune in also to Sentro ng Katotohanan!
    8.30 – 9.30 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays (Philippines)
    DWBL 1242 KHz AM Band
    For overseas listeners SnK streams live here.

    Spread the word guys. We can win back the Filipino mind from the primitivist forces of Big Philippine Media! 🙂

    • Jay says:

      You know even negative publicity helps. Certain people on facebook who announce their disdain for this site will look it up and maybe, just maybe, will believe the facts and the truth laid out by you guys.

  10. famous wolf says:

    Fake News Programs could actually work here. The US already has a successful hit with the Daily Show and its regular butt monkeys, Fox News, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. If they want sensationalized media, a fake news program designed to be controversial by pissing off other networks, is a good proposal, but then again, I don’t see Filipinos seeing this kind of humor.

  11. Miriam Quiamco says:

    I think your suggestion will work, I was also thinking along the lines of a John Stuart Show kind of programs, eventually, the majority will get it, and the more informed class will understand it at first. It will be a hit I think. Something similar is being attempted on Channel 5, but it lacks the bang of its counterparts in the U.S.

    • famous wolf says:

      Now this I got to see, what time is the show? We need hard hitting writers for that kind of show that have a cynical and wacky sense of humor.

      • Jay says:

        Well Lourd has his own segment, maybe he can contribute.

        I’m thinking more to Colbert than Stuart. He also showed up O’Reilly in his own show, so maybe if he does get into it with the likes of MLQ3 or others, he can show them up under their own forum.

      • famous wolf says:

        Ah, I forgot Colbert, it would be a nice match up between the two though (Fake News + Fake Opinion Show). Let’s see if a fake pundit in the Philippines can garner enough infamy to be hosted on a legit news program.

      • Jay says:

        It would most likely land in TV 5. They already caught the American fake talk show syndrome akin to Jerry Springer.

  12. Miriam Quiamco says:

    Dapat in Tagalog para mainitindihan at makuha ng masa and of course, there should be an English version for other segments of society to appreciate the humor in our moronic news coverage in the broadsheets.

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