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  • Commentary

    What is a blog Universal McCann

    By Harry L. Roque, VERA Files

    Bloggers enjoy the same protection as journalists.

    This was the recent ruling of the US Court of Appeals in the case of Obsidian Finance Group v. Cox. In this case, Crystal Cox, a blogger, claimed that Obsidian finance company was guilty of tax fraud. The US District Court earlier found Cox guilty of defamation and awarded the finance company $ 2.5 in damages. The lower court issued its ruling anchored on the assumption that since Cox is a blogger and not a journalist, a complainant in a defamation suit is entitled to the presumption of” legal malice or a presumption that the defamatory statement is presumed malicious.

    Further, Cox, as a mere blogger is not entitled to invoke the definition of actual malice established in the New York Times vs. Sullivan case. The 1964 US Supreme Court ruling set the precedent for the rule that journalists can only be held liable for false information if they knew of its falsity or in utter disregard of the

    Read More »from Bloggers equally protected as journalists
  • PNoy, Ramon Ang and Zenaida Ducut


    By Ellen Tordesillas

    ERC Chair Zenaida Ducut ANC yahooTwo lawmakers who are allies of President Aquino last week filed with the Office of the President a complaint against Chairperson Zenaida Ducut of the Energy Regulatory Commisssion accusing her of failure to protect the interest of the consumers when it approved last December Meralco’s application for a staggering P4.15/kilowatt-hour increase.

    “Respondent is guilty of gross neglect of duty by tacitly approving, without the barest hint of due process, the unprecedented generation charges Meralco sought to pass on to consumers in the months of December 2013, February 2014 and March 2014,” Akbayan Partylist Representatives Walden Bello and Ibarra Gutierrez said in their complaint.

    It would be interesting to see how Malacañang will handle the complaint considering that last December in Tokyo, Aquino confessed being powerless about the unconscionable increase because he said, “ERC does not report to us, they are independent of us.”

    Feeling the public’s anger

    Read More »from PNoy, Ramon Ang and Zenaida Ducut
  • Members of watercolor group each working on their portraits of model Loren Burgos.

    Text and photos by Elizabeth Lolarga, VERA Files

    Even seasoned painter Jonahmar Salvosa admits that watercolor is a medium difficult to master.

    The Agos Kulay Maynila president said, "It is the hardest of all the media. If you make a mistake, that's it. You can't paint over your mistake or erase it. You have to start with a new sheet of paper. A mistake can be spotted, unless you're developing a new style or venturing into the abstract."

    He described watercolor as having "a mind of its own. It takes awhile before you can tame it." When would-be painters ask him for lessons, he starts them off with watercolor. After a few sessions, even only three days, depending on their interest and commitment, they can level up to oil or acrylic. He said, almost jokingly, "Instant artist agad. They learn three media in one setting."

    Agos Kulay (Watercolor Society of Manila) has been around since 1992. Its on-spot portrait sessions used to be held weekly at the Army and Navy Club in Manila before the

    Read More »from The challenges of watercolor and live portraiture
  • Wanted: Tagalog word for “human trafficking”


    From the MTV "Enslaved"

    By Ellen Tordesillas

    In an informal survey conducted by a civil society group working to stop human trafficking, they asked people in the streets what comes to their mind when they hear the phrase “human trafficking.”

    Everybody answered:“Traffic.” As in vehicular traffic.

    Such is the level of public awareness about human trafficking- the trade in human beings for several purposes, most commonly sexual slavery, pornography, forced labor , extraction of organs or tissues, surrogacy.

    The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking under the Department of Justice is aware of the importance of public cooperation in the campaign against this abominable crime in which the Philippines ranks high as one of the source countries of trafficked persons.

    They want to involve the public, especially the people in the provinces, through an information campaign. And they also know that to do that, they have to speak the language or the dialect of the people they are dealing with.

    Yet, up to

    Read More »from Wanted: Tagalog word for “human trafficking”
  • Sumi Jo as Lucia di Lammermoor

    By Pablo A. Tariman, VERA Files

    From the looks of it, the opera odyssey of internationally acclaimed Korean diva Sumi Jo would make a good material for soap opera.

    Her mother enrolled her for a piano lesson at age four and voice at age six and spent eight hours a day studying music.

    Although the family lived on rented place, her mother bought her a piano she could practice on.

    Her mother dreamed of becoming a singer herself but decided her daughter Sumi Jo would pursue that dream. Obedient daughter never let her mother down and got the highest grade when she auditioned at Korea’s National University.

    She only had $300 when she went to Italy to study at St. Cecilia Academy and fainted on an Italian street probably from lack of sleep while diligently studying music and the Italian language.

    She was equally close to her father who died on the night she had a singing engagement in Paris. Her mother reminded her not to cancel the concert and instead offer the concert in memory of her

    Read More »from Dialogue with Sumi Jo
  • By Patrick King Pascual, VERA Files

    In life, it takes more than just talent and skill to succeed.

    As important as physical and emotional health is financial stability.

    ABS-CBN News Channel's, On the Money (airs on ABS-CBN News Channel every day at 3:30pm ) recently gathered a group of financial planners to share their expertise in managing personal finances.

    Online definition of personal financial planning is "a process of determining an individual's financial goals, purposes in life and life's priorities, and after considering his resources, risk profile and current lifestyle, to detail a balanced and realistic plan to meet those goals."

    Alvin TabañagRegistered financial planner Alvin Tabañag advises to start with the children. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone because teaching children about managing their money properly will also force parents to be also more responsible when it comes to their finances.

    “Even if you can afford it as a parent, do not give in to their every demand. If

    Read More »from Tips from experts on how to achieve financial stability
  • Liars all


    Bong Revilla delivering his speech.By Ellen T. Tordesillas

    Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., one of the three senators charged with plunder before the Ombudsman in connection with alleged anomalous use of Priority Development Assistance Fund, related Monday an incident that took place in December 2012, a few days before the conclusion of the impeachment of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona.

    Revilla said Roxas, who was then secretary of Transportation and Communication, invited him to a morning meeting at his residence in Cubao. From there, they went to Malacañang’s Bahay Pangarap, Aquino’s residence, with Roxas driving the SUV and he was seated at the back seat.

    Revilla said Roxas had the license plate of the SUV removed.

    At Bahay Pangarap, they were joined first by and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad and later by President Aquino. They were served breakfast and he remembered everything on the table: pan de sal, kesong puti, egg, ham, dried beef, friend rice and fruits. The main fare was Corona.

    Aquino in ANC presents dec 2011

    Read More »from Liars all

  • Photos by Little Wing Luna, VERA Files

    Text by Mitch Meñez

    Last Sunday, just like all the third Sundays of January of years past, the streets of Tondo teemed with devotees carrying the images of the Santo Niño.

    One of the oldest images in the country, the Santo Niño or the Holy Child, represents the Filipinos’ faith in the Divine Being.

    Sto Nino2

    The feast of the Santo Niño, a demonstration of faith and devotion, dates back to the colonial times when the Spaniards ruled the Philippines. Images of the Holy Child, dressed in the best outfit by the devotee- from the ornate to the silliest- are carried, hoisted up above their heads and marched to the Tondo Parish where they are blessed with Holy Water. The devotees talk of miracles in their lives attributed to the Santo Niño .

    (VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

    Read More »from The feast of the Santo Niño of Tondo
  • Carlo Deogracias

    By Isaiah Maru C. Deogracias, VERA Files

    I am no special kid, but I joined the Angels' Walk for Autism again last Sunday as I do every year.

    It's the18th year of kicking off the Autism Awareness Week with a walk with angels around the mall. But last Sunday was a treat to special children and their families as we were seated in the newest ultimate world class entertainment and sports venue, the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Among the most expensive dance concert held here was that of Jennifer Lopez, the kind that may not have a space for special children.

    When I stepped in The Arena for the first time, I began to imagine my favorite bands in a concert there, what a joy it could be. And I saw up close that joy in my brother in the songs and dances we both watched in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Autism Society of the Philippines there.​

    So what am I doing in this event and every year before this that I'd wake up early just to be here? It's for my brother. This means a lot to him.

    Read More »from A walk to remember with a special brother
  • Save the children from perverts



    By Ellen Tordesillas

    One of the memorable movies shown last year was “Alagwa: starting Jericho Rosales as the widower Robert Lim and Bugoy Cariño as the boy Brian.

    Directed by Ian Loreños, it’s a heartbreaking story of the young father’s search for his son who was kidnapped in a mall.. Lim (Rosales) left the son in the Men’s Room to attend to something. When he returned for the boy, he was gone. Later, in the CCTV which the police officers obtained, they saw a man approach his son as the boy stepped out of the Men’s Room. The man must have said something to convince the boy to go with him. (Warning to parents: never leave your children, even for a moment, in public places.)

    In Lim’s search for his son, he stepped into the harrowing world of child trafficking. Years later, he found his son a beggar in Hongkong.

    AlagwaIt is shocking to know that Alagwa is true. VERA Files has a project “Trafficking Casewatch “ supported by Embassy of the United States and the Embassy of Canada and

    Read More »from Save the children from perverts


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