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Jo-Ann Chats

Statement on PEP’s Facebook and Twitter accounts

Filed under: Opinion — JACM0d at 7:13 pm on Monday, October 15, 2012

This is Jo-Ann Maglipon, editor-in-chief of PEP.ph.

Today, October 8, 2012, PEP’s accounts on Facebook (PEP.Philippines) and Twitter (@scoopbox) were hacked.

Netizens calling themselves protectors of cyberspace, and supposedly enraged by the Cybercrime Law, are holding PEP hostage until, they say, their condition is met. This condition is that “important informations [sic] posted here must be retweeted/shared or in anyway [sic] possible that it can reach more people.” They add: “This account will be given back (if the owner wants it back) if a [sic] condition is met.”

All right. Some people just don’t know how to fight a war. You want to fight the bullies that created RA 10175, yet you bully an online portal? You want to rally society behind you, yet you violate the very tools in cyberspace that deliver the message? You want respect as legitimate dissenters, yet you disrespect us who work ploddingly to make our dissent known?

I’m really doubting if these hackers are in fact against the crazed Cybercrime Law. Sounds to me like they’re dark agents of those pushing this law in its original or revised-each of which is crazed!-version.

PEP has a series of stories already lined up exposing that law and its fallacies. YES!, PEP’s print affiliate, of which I am also editor-in-chief , is racing against deadline to include a biting commentary against that law, including sidebars of its completed interviews with lawyers, judges, journalists, militant individuals, and international human rights groups that have, wisely, spoken up against the deep dangers of the Cybercrime Law. Both PEP and YES! will be posting graphics-PEP on its homepage; YES! on the cover of its November issue-loudly announcing “NO TO CYBERCRIME LAW!”

I have taken a stand on this. The Web and print staff have taken a stand on this. We will fight this law. We did not fight Marcos to wrest back our small liberties, only to have them swept away by ill-informed and myopic legislators, backed by a President who pains the country as he has never had before. The President forgets those years when his own father was bullied, unsuccessfully, into giving up his right to expression and speech by the man in Malacañang.

That said, I wish to have nothing in common with these hackers. Nothing. They’re no different from those legislators; they simply used another pulpit..

NOTICE: PEP is officially dissociating itself from @scoopbox on Twitter and PEP.Philippines on Facebook. Here are the new accounts of PEP.ph: @PEPalerts on Twitter (or copy paste this on your browser https://twitter.com/pepalerts) and PEPalerts (or copy paste this on your browser: https://www.facebook.com/PEPalerts) on Facebook.

I know that, in PEP, we built a social-network community of nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter and almost 100,000 likes on Facebook. We did this in less than one year. Let’s do it again, and let’s do it now.

Richard Gutierrez shakes hands with PEP

Filed under: Feature — admin at 5:21 pm on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

After almost a year, PEP and the Gutierrezes have made peace.

This was the result of the behind-the-scenes work of Atty. Annette Gozon-Abrogar and Ms. Lisa Gokongwei-Cheng,  two officers of the Philippine Entertainment Portal, who are responsible for brokering this peace.

For those not in the know, Richard Gutierrez  filed a libel suit against the Philippine Entertainment Portal on April 13, 2009, claiming that an April 13, 2009 article in the site had caused him harm, hurt, and humiliation. He decried that the article, which reported “a heated altercation” and “fracas” between him and another actor at a showbiz party, was inaccurate.

I withdrew that article within minutes of learning that serious questions were being raised against it and, worse, that the article did not have either the side of Richard and the other actor mentioned in the alleged incident.

Within 24 hours of that withdrawal, PEP uploaded an apology to Richard and the other persons mentioned in the article, and within 48 hours of that same withdrawal, I had called for a tri-media press conference to apologize before the nation in behalf of my staff.

After another four weeks, when we had completed a more thorough investigation and discovered that, indeed, no altercation or fracas had occurred, and that the events witnessed by our reporter  had been misread,  PEP again released an apology. This time, it took the form of a four-part series detailing both the investigation and the correction.

Nonetheless, Richard remained dissatisfied, and proceeded to file a libel suit. As respondents, he named me, as editor in chief of PEP, Karen Pagsolingan as managing editor, and Ferdinand “Bong” Godinez as writer.

Today, February 9, or a long eleven months after, we gathered in the office of  Secretary Agnes Devanadera of the Department of Justice and buried the hatchet. Present were Richard  and his parents Eddie and Annabelle, Richard’s lawyer Angelica Ynares-Santiago, Atty. Annette Abrogar, Karen, Bong, our lawyer Felicitas Aquino-Arroyo, and Secretary Devanadera.

The arrangement was that I was to read the official PEP apology in front of the persons present, plus the media who had been invited to cover the amicable settlement. This, I did. The statement consisted of two paragraphs that PEP carries in its breaking news of February 9 (CLICK HERE). At the end of this reading, Richard and I were to shake hands. This we did. Secretary Devanadera extended her hand and said that all three of us had to clasp hands. This, we did.

Previous to the reading of the official apology, however, I read aloud a personal note that I had written for  the Gutierrez family. I had been asked to do this by my lawyer, Atty. Fely-who had taken over from her law partner Atty. Sandy Coronel, who had recently given birth—because Richard’s camp wanted more assurance that the PEP apology would be sincere.

I suppose all that legalese shears official statements of any emotional content, which makes them difficult for parties to read. I agreed. On the way to the DOJ, I scribbled my thoughts.

Here are those thoughts:

When we began PEP almost four years ago, we had the Gutierrez family as allies and friends. We found pleasure in that relationship. We would never have done anything willfully to destroy this relationship.

Certainly, the circumstances under which we meet today are not the most desirable or comfortable. I also wish we had not disturbed the courts for something that we, given our small friendship and uninterrupted goodwill in the past, could have managed on our own.

Be that as it may, we are here for something that may actually count in our future. I hope that this all leads to relations that will grow better and kinder as the days unfold.

It is integral to our profession to report both the pleasant and unpleasant. In performing this duty, however, we  can not allow ourselves to transgress the rules of journalism, and on the rare circumstance that we do, we return back to those same rules, which tell us that we must correct our mistake. In this instance, we correct ourselves—and, beyond that, apologize most sincerely.

I take pride in the fact that we, the Philippine Entertainment Portal, are a media platform that will do the right thing. I hope this fact is appreciated.

Bong Godinez is a young but fine reporter whose misstep with this story has only made him more diligent and intelligent.

Karen Pagsolingan is an earnest editor without bad habits or bias, who has only grown wiser with this experience.

For my part, I, as editor in chief, know that there is no darkness in my spirit toward the Gutierrez family—then or now.
Annabelle Rama has been a happy and charming ally, if a volatile one, for key stories that we have researched, and for this, we are grateful.

Eddie Gutierrez has, in my experience, treated us only with civility in the most trying of circumstance, and again, for this we are grateful.

The rest of the Gutierrez family have generally kept their peace even when their instincts must have prodded them to do otherwise, and again, for this we are grateful.

But in the end, Richard Gutierrez, accepting our apology, has shown a magnanimity that we may have earned but can only leave to his good nature to give. For this, we are most grateful.

Trust that PEP will remain a site that provides fair and accurate coverage, even when circumstances are not the most desirable. And we trust as well that the Gutierrez family will maintain their good will with us, as they have with the entertainment industry all their lives.

Thank you.

POSTSCRIPT. Elsewhere in the site are answers to the questions we have been asked multiple times today: Has PEP’s credibility suffered because of this settlement? Why is the apology being offered only now? What happens to the coverage of PEP of Richard Gutierrez after this? Is Annabelle Rama going to the YES! 10TH Anniversary party on February 23? The answer to the last is YES. As for the rest, we will have stories posted in Breaking News today and in the days to come that answer these questions. Karen, Bong and I have also given interviews to nearly all the TV stations about other matters. I hope that given all this, we put a closure to this, and begin to live our lives again.

Sex videos diminish us all

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin at 8:12 pm on Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We’re at an all-time low.

Today’s voyeur scene is alive and well and overrun by sex videos. There is the Katherine Luna and ex-boyfriend sex video. There are the Hayden Kho and Brazilian, plus celebs, sex videos. And there is the threat of even more sex videos exploding, one of them reportedly involving a young star with an impeccable image. But of these, it is the Hayden Kho-Katrina Halili sex video which is currently all the rage.

RAGE.

That, in fact, should be the dominant word in all this. Rage that has nothing to do with being hot, even if these videos are the hottest ticket in town; rage that has only to do with feelings of revulsion and repugnance.

For these are the exact emotions we must be feeling—if we’re to remain human, if we’re to deserve the consciousness that alone separates us from the animals we share this earth with.

Equally vital, we must feel just these for the right reason.

And the right reason has to be that, with every second these videos are viewed, a human being is violated, and that, with each violation, the entire human race is diminished just that little bit more.

The women on that screen did not know, and did not consent, to being the lead players in a sex video.

Or, if initially they had knowledge, they’d been made to understand that these were for their private use, and they never at any time consented to having the videos go public.

Those captured moments were part of the natural, transactional intimacy between the women and their lovers. That is obvious. And in that setting, certainly, they’d undress. Certainly, they’d kiss each other wherever and whenever. Certainly, they’d abandon reason to lust, be servile and slavish or dominant and in control, whichever makes them happy. And who’s to do otherwise? That is what lovemaking is!

Unfortunately, we’re a society with an unhealthy discomfiture and curiosity about sex. So caught up are we in our religiosities and small-mindedness and duplicities, we’re conditioned to see sex as a thing to hide. We’re prudes, in short. As such, many of us-the female species included—look on with both scorn and envy at women with fearless views about their bodies and their sexuality. (Say I’m wrong.)

Back-ending this ugliness is our double standard of morality. We’ve heard this line to death, but it was true then and it’s true now. We’re not distressed just by sex as a subject, we’re especially distressed by it when it involves women. We’re also idiotic enough to think that men lose nothing, even if they’re the studs in the sex video and never agreed to perform for strangers. We just assume the men score. We just know the women are ruined.

It’s not even because we put women up on a pedestal, or respect them inordinately, or feel this compulsion to protect them. No, every day that is getting harder to believe.

Because, if that were so, we wouldn’t be making a fiesta out of viewing these videos that violate women!

We wouldn’t be standing around our desks and calling everyone to come and watch—like it was just another television show, like it was entertainment, like no real lives were involved.

We wouldn’t be hosting small private parties and showcasing these videos via high-definition equipment, while we sipped our drinks and made polite dinner talk.

We wouldn’t be texting friends to provide the links to these sites.

And we wouldn’t be snickering and guffawing, while slobbering all over the place with lewd jokes.

Nope, the only reason we distress over women in these videos is because we think they’re cheap. We see them as beneath us. They give us a bad name. We fancy ourselves never getting caught up in something like this. From our safe little worlds, we think we’re above it all.

Wrong!

In the first place, why should making love be beneath us? What’s abhorrent about lovemaking? As to never getting caught up with love and lust—why, that’d be totally missing out on one really robust human experience! And if we actually place ourselves above all physical intimacy—not as vocation and choice, but as issue of distaste for the act—that must be when our hearts are shriveled, like sun-dried prunes.

And why can’t this scandal happen to us? Or to our sisters, nieces, cousins, daughters?

Katrina was a pretty, 21-year-old who was earning her keep in 2007, when she fell in love with Hayden, then a handsome, 27-year-old doctor of medicine. Except for the fact that the doctor was publicly known to be the boyfriend of Vicki Belo, a doctor much wealthier and far older than he, there was nothing especially scary about him. And except for the fact that Katrina was already FHM’s sexiest woman in the world the year before, and would be voted so again that year, there was nothing especially different about her.

She was just a young, liberated working girl, full of life, with the world before her—much like our sisters and nieces and cousins and daughters. And like many of these girls, at some point Katrina fell in love, and gave her all to her man.

She was also not an insensitive girl. In my interview with her early this year, for YES! Magazine, she acknowledged that Vicki Belo was an issue in her relationship with Hayden. This is how she handled it: She played the suffering wife. Her man and Vicki could go out in the open and enjoy their partnership; she would stay in the condo and wait for when he could find time for her. She never imposed on his schedule; she waited, even if oftentimes she cried while doing so. By denying herself the pleasures of having long conversations with him, of eating out in restaurants with him, of attending showbiz events with him as escort, she believed she was already paying for her sins to Vicki.

By her reckoning, she was behaving as decently as any woman in love could. A woman, by the way, who had been told by her man that she was his other partner “in a parallel life.”

Since then, she has admitted on national television: “Ang tanga-tanga ko. Pero na-in love ako. Pasensiya na po…”

Indeed, how was she to know this doctor would have a fetish for videos? How was she to know there would be a sick environment around the good-looking fellow—of a world seemingly measured by luxury goods and travel, with friends he has wronged and who hated him, of a whole value system neither educated nor decent?

It is she who has been violated here. It is Katrina who has been abused—not once, or twice, but thrice! First, when her lover took videos of their most sexual moments without her knowledge and consent. Second, when some heartless bastards uploaded the videos on the Net. And third, when an unthinking, unfeeling public viewed the videos and enjoyed themselves.

KATRINA’S VIDEOS. As early as May 9, with the rumblings of a Hayden sex video starting to mount, I told the PEP staff that no way would we upload. This didn’t even have to be about Katrina, whom I  know personally. This could’ve been about any girl, a complete stranger, and I would still say no.

I don’t even think anyone should ask why. It is just so plain and so clear, there is no need for reason or discourse. It just takes instinct. Intuition. Reflex. It’s a gut thing. A sense of right and wrong kicking in. A universal moral language, if you will.

This is a video, after all, that has pained, tainted, exposed, stripped naked, humiliated, and practically killed the soul of a girl of 23. This girl, whose only crime is that she fell in love with the wrong man, now suffers the once-pure joys of her affections and trust being made entertainment fodder by anyone with access to a computer. She is a woman against whom stones have been cast.

Let me make this clear again because I will not align myself with the censors of this earth: I am not revolted by a sex video because of its scenes of intimacies in bed—or on the couch or in the powder room or wherever two consenting adults desire to unleash their love and lust at each other. The moments between lovers—be they gentle or wild, physical or verbal, cerebral or carnal—are to me an issue of joy. I maintain that making love has to be one of the most powerful intimacies of all time.

But these sex videos circulating of Katrina Halili and Hayden Kho are a different matter altogether. They no longer fall under moments between lovers. They’ve become moments of monstrous aggression by one partner against another.

Hayden has shamed and disrespected Katrina, a woman who had loved him with all the faith of her youth. And whether he ever loved her back or not, he had no right to put her in harm’s way. Even if he never intended for the videos to be found by another soul, he had no right to include an unsuspecting girl in his inglorious playtime.

Hayden Kho should not be allowed to live this down for the rest of his natural-born life.

On May 10, the first video arrived in PEP, along with three screen captures. They were sent by some anonymous bloke who probably thought he/she was doing us a favor. Well, wrong again. I refused to even look at the video or the pictures. There was never any upload.

As the days passed, we heard about more videos. These were now reaching private emails and more sites. Still, PEP would not budge. Instead, I called Omar Sortijas, Katrina’s handler. Beyond my instinctive response, I wanted to know the facts.

Did Katrina know the videos were being taken?

Omar says, “Alam ni Katrina yong sumasayaw sila, at yong dalawa pa, na nagsasalita pa siya. Pero ang alam niya, pinapabura niya right away kay Hayden. Ang alam niya burado na.”

What about a fourth video that is said to be the most graphic?

Omar says, “Iyan talaga hindi alam ni Katrina. Naka-webcam ata iyon.”

Omar also says that they’ve spoken to Hayden, who finally admitted to having made four videos. Hayden has also given them the names of the only other people with a copy of these videos—people he is said to strongly suspect caused the upload of the videos on the Net. Katrina’s father and some lawyers are already meeting to help out Katrina. Prominent personalities have also begun to speak up on her behalf.

But overall, emotions aren’t stable. For a long time, Katrina felt down because her mother, who has not spoken to her because of this scandal, finally got on the phone with her a few days back, only to end up giving her a big, angry sermon. She may deserve it, Omar admits, but it is not something she needs now. In fact, Katrina told Omar, it is something she cannot handle now.

Then just before she went onboard for the May 16 StarTalk interview, Katrina seemed  all right, was neat, and fairly composed, Omar says. But when the questions started coming, she just broke down and couldn’t stop. Everything was captured on TV.

But more recently, she was buoyed up again, this time by calls from fellow young stars, all of whom felt very badly for her, and the seeming helplessness of it all.

I said to Omar that I was thankful Katrina was a strong girl. Another girl might have been suicidal by now. But I was taken aback by Omar’s reply. He said, “Natatakot nga ako. Kasi ang batang iyon, pabigla-bigla magdisisyon. At malakas ang loob niyang gawin ang gusto niyang gawin. Kaya hangga’t maaari, ayoko siyang naiiiwan mag-isa. Paggaling ko ng taping, takbo na ako run sa kanya kaagad.”

THE PRESS. I’m buoyed up myself by colleagues. All the ones I spoke to uniformly feel disgust and sadness with the sex videos. At a press conference for Sharon Cuneta’s latest album of kiddie songs, Children’s Rhymes and Lullabies, I was at a table with various writers. Here is what they had to say:

Mario Bautista, who writes for the Manila Bulletin, among other print outfits: “Hayden and the people who posted it in the Net should be taken to court.”

Rowena Agilada, columnist for Tempo: “Nakakaawa si Katrina kasi affected ang career niya. Wala na siyang trabaho. Di na siya kinakausap ng nanay at kapatid.”

Nora Calderon, contributor to PEP, referring to Hayden Kho: “Wala ba siyang nanay o kapatid na babae?”

Remy Umerez, columnist for People’s Journal: “Dios na ang bahala sa kanila.”

Another person at the table was Baby Gil, VIVA Entertainment Inc. vice president for corporate public relations. She said: “The people who did this are sick!”

I myself thought of all the sickos out there doing harm to Katrina, and I asked myself what the giant GMA-7 is doing for her at this time. She is now in the fight of her life. She’s fighting all these sickos on all fronts, and she needs every bit of help she can get from a company she has served well.

Finally, I asked Allan Madrilejos, the editor-in-chief of FHM, where Katrina is a favorite cover girl, how he felt. Allan, visibly affected by all this, did not want to say a few inadequate words that were no match for his thoughts. He sent this email instead:

“Katrina Halili’s thread in the fhm.com.ph (http://www.fhm.com.ph/board/index.php?topic=3139.0) is one of the most viewed threads in our forum.

“That it’s buzzing with tremendous outpouring of support for Katrina in light of the recent and rapid circulation of her controversial sexy videos with Dr. Hayden Kho says so much about how much FHM’s only two-time 100 Sexiest Women in The World Campaign winner is loved.

“This is not blind love at play here, but understanding, one that is rooted in respect for Katrina, her privacy, her right to defend herself.

“The unfortunate spread of these sexy videos is totally irresponsible, a low blow that’s very much undeserved. It has come at a time when the issue has been milked dry to its juiciest bit.

“Yes, we know Katrina has made a mistake. She has bravely and humbly faced the problem head on, coming out on national TV in December and later sitting down with YES! for an exclusive in its March issue.

“She has sincerely  apologized for all the hurt she had caused. Hasn’t she shed enough tears?

“We at FHM know Katrina to be a survivor and we sincerely wish she’d summon the courage to fight on. How and when she decides to launch her counter-attack is totally up to her.

“She rightfully deserves a moment to cry, to be outraged, to just be with herself, her family and friends, to evaluate her moves, to pick up the pieces, to move on. It will be a battle, true, but there is strength in knowing there are people who believe in her.

“We wish this could ease her burden somehow.”

If words can make things right… I wouldn’t mind pouring in the words and the emotions that would change things around. Not just for Katrina, but for all the other girls violated by these sex videos, and all the girls and boys who will yet be violated, if shame doesn’t visit us all soon.

GRETCHEN UNDER FIRE

Filed under: Uncategorized — at 4:45 pm on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

gretchen1.jpgSince I spend most of my waking hours in showbiz, and since YES!, the magazine I am editor of, is a monthly, there is all this stuff I pick up that I don’t get to write at all. Somebody said the stuff is plentiful enough to fill a daily blog.

A bright idea really, if we go by how people are amazingly interested in everything showbiz—even in such matter-of-fact things like Ruffa Gutierrez is all ready to set up home in Barcelona, where husband Ylmaz Bektas has already picked their new house, or such factoids like Richard Gomez, not Lucy Torres, is the real cook in the family.

Still, a daily blog may be tough. I have three dogs that expect me to drive them to the shaded paths of UP, where they walk and sniff, walk and sniff, then rest and drink and think. That takes up time. But a blog that’s irregular, updated as often as there is time and something to say, looks workable. So “Jo-Ann Chats” will now appear here in PEP, if with erratic frequency.

Where do we begin? Well, the hands-down choice has to be the woman who is possibly and arguably the loveliest face in local entertainment today—Gretchen Barretto.

Consistently, Gretchen—also called Gretch, Greta, La Greta in an ascending order of awe—is one of three most talked-about stars in the country. This, I gather from TV ratings, magazine print orders, and dinner-table talk among both Pag-Asa Bliss ex-neighbors, NGO workers, and Penn-graduate friends. (The other two, by my reading, are Kris Aquino and Ruffa Gutierrez.) (Read more… )