In the News: ‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’ (Rappler)

In September 2012, I was fortunate enough to have been one of the panelists of Mashable and Rappler‘s “Social Good Summit” in Manila. Here’s an excerpt of a feature about some insights that I and fellow netizen Jane Uymatiao shared with the audience.

To view my full segment, please watch the video on the right sidebar. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

Hope to see more of you “super citizens” online! 😉

‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’

Writter by Paterno Esmaquel II, originally published on Rappler (September 22, 2012)
NETIZENS' SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II
NETIZENS’ SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

MANILA, Philippines – The government should step up to protect Filipino “super citizens” who, through cyberspace, slam politicians and help their disaster-stricken countrymen, said a panelist at a netizens’ summit Saturday, September 22.

This is needed at a time when the tweet, in the words of another panelist at the Social Good Summit Manila 2012, has become “mightier than the sword.”

The Philippine government, in particular, needs to legislate a Magna Carta for Netizens, said Pipol Power Institute executive director Nina Terol-Zialcita at the summit organized by Rappler and Tweetup Manila.

In an interview, Zialcita told Rappler that various netizens have drafted a proposed Magna Carta, and will consult legal experts and legislators about this. She said the law would “protect netizens’ rights” and provide a framework “upon which we should guide how we regulate ourselves.”

“We feel that as netizens, we have a tool in our hands that is very powerful. We have to learn to use it responsibly. We want our freedom. We want to be able to act and share information in a certain way. We want to be able to deliver information in a certain way. But we also recognize that we also have a responsibility,” Zialcita explained.

This is an excerpt only. To view the full post, as well as the video interview about the Magna Carta for Internet Freedom, click HERE. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

Jay Ignacio: Unsheathing the bladed hand (

Published in (July 27, 2012)

DIREK JAY IGNACIO. Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich
DIREK JAY IGNACIO. Photography by Paelo Bunyi Pedrajas. Grooming by Tony Dusich

MANILA, Philippines – He has had no formal training in filmmaking, and his path had once led him to playing guitar for the band DaPulis and a year of culinary studies in Florence.

But for first-time filmmaker Jay Ignacio, the unspoken stories around Filipino Martial Arts became such a compelling theme that he spent 3 years of his life documenting some of the Philippines’ most prominent, living Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) legends in a full-length documentary called The Bladed Hand.

“I was searching for a cultural story to tell,” shares the frustrated history teacher and part-time improv actor. “I looked at Philippine dance, I looked at theater, but there is no other indigenous art that has had such a global impact as FMA.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full text, visit the website HERE.

Picket Lines: 100 Women and the Healing Power of Poetry

At today’s Backdoor Arts and Music Festival, I performed onstage with the spoken word group Romancing Venus and was reminded of how much more beautiful life can be with poetry in it.

I discovered poetry early on in life, using it as a means of expressing the pain and confusion that I often felt during my growing up years. I was a “child of a broken family” at a time when talking about parental separation was taboo, and back then I always felt that I had to either prove myself to the world or protect myself from it. Words were my form of escape, and poetry became a source of comfort. I never really immersed myself in the technical aspects of writing quatrains or in measuring rhythm and rhyme, but I let the words and images flow.

Decades later, poetry continues to be an active element in my life, and I have made a conscious decision to make it my primary medium of self-expression outside of work. I started “performing” poetry when I was invited to read some poems back in December of 2007, and when my husband and I discovered that we could actually fuse his percussive instruments and my voice, the dam broke wide open in a very rhythmic way, and we’ve been experimenting onstage ever since.

* * *

This is why I am truly honored to be part of the book Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves. It is a beautiful collection of images and words of 100 women from contemporary Philippine life, and it reflects how words have become our source of empowerment, strength, courage, and even emancipation.

Picket Lines: Dialogues Between Eves, Among Eves, and For Eves

Here, the reader will see women as they wish to be seen and remembered: sometimes completely naked, sometimes upside down, sometimes serious, sometimes quirky–but always, always with their words on their bodies.

My own photo was taken at a time when I wasn’t quite ready to put myself out there, when I felt that I was less than worthy to appear with my words. But Nikkorlai Tapan, the photographer who shot me, reminded me that my words screamed, “Break free!”, and I did my best to feel as unencumbered as possible. (I’ll let you be the judge of the outcome.)

In the end, I told myself that this project should be a reminder to always strive to overcome the challenges and the boundaries placed in front of and around us. I may not have looked and felt my best during this shoot, but, as always, my words never left me and they continued to be a source of comfort and strength.

* * *

The 100 women featured in this book are inspirations in their own right, and I am thrilled to be in the same compendium as the likes of Risa Hontiveros (one of my personal idols), Cynthia Alexander, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Gloria Diaz, Sonia Roco, Sari and Aba Dalena, Carol Bello, and many more amazing women (including one of Philippine cinema’s iconic actresses, Lilia Cuntapay). My most heartfelt congratulations go to the uber-creative and hard-working pair of Kooky Tuason and Marty Tengco and all of their collaborators (a full list appears below). This book is the product of pure love and passion, and I hope that more Filipino women in and outside the country will support the book.

The book comes in hardbound, coffee-table format, and is still in production. If you wish to help bring the book out into the market, here are some simple ways by which you can be part of this groundbreaking endeavor. As with most of Romancing Venus’ endeavors, proceeds will go to the Women’s Crisis Center.

How to help:

  • Pre-order your own copy from me (Php850.00 per copy; please email [email protected] for details)
  • Pre-order at least five (5) copies from Kooky Tuason and get a bulk price of just Php800 per copy or Php4,000 for the set of five. (Email Kooky at [email protected])
  • Encourage friends and corporate partners to buy their own copies or sets, and give them away as gifts. (The retail price will be at least Php1,000, so it’s best to order copies now.)
  • Like the Picket Lines Facebook page, and please help spread the word to more empowered women out there!
If you have other ideas for corporate or institutional partnerships, please let us know. 🙂
* * *
 A roll-call of collaborators
Models in the book:

1. Aganinta, Chung
2. Aguilar, Maegan
3. Alagao, Nina Ricci
4. Alcoriza, Judy
5. Alexander, Cynthia
6. Andrada, Viva
7. Añover-Lianko, Love
8. Apaling, PS1 Leonie Ann D.
9. Asistio, Abby
10. Aves, Tao
11. Barcelo, Roxanne
12. Barrios, Bayang
13. Bello, Maria Carolina Rodriguez aka Carol Bello
14. Beltran, Myra
15. Bordon, Jay
16. Buendia Ed.D, Lydia
17. Calma-Alcazaren, Beng
18. Calumpang, Ida Noelle
19. Canlas, Gee
20. Chanco, Reema
21. Collins, Nancy
22. Cortina, Joie
23. Cruz, Honey
24. Cruz, Marinel R.
25. Cuntapay, Lilia
26. Cuyugan-Asensio, Fides
27. Dalena, Aba
28. Dalena-Sicat, Sari
29. David, Triccia
30. De Borja, Julie
31. De Guzman, Nikoy
32. De Leon, Aia
33. De Villa, Henrietta “Tita”
34. Del Rosario, Andrea
35. Dela Cruz-Gaston, Ramona
36. Dela Merced, Gaby
37. Diaz, Gloria
38. Dolonius, Annicka
39. Duarte, Angie
40. Estrevillo-Tupas, Jana
41. Faraon, Hanah
42. Feanne
43. Ferraren, Twinkle
44. Grane, Lee
45. Guidote-Alvarez, Cecile
46. Hipos-Supan, Dr. Stephanie Cherryl
47. Hontiveros, Risa
48. Hoyumpa, Ging
49. Ibay, Angela Consuelo “Gia” S.
50. Ilic, Tara “Vedrina”
51. Jones-Dayupay, Angel
52. Jorge, Jing
53. Kunawicz, Karen
54. Lapid, Gigi
55. Ledesma, Cecile
56. Limpin, Vivan N.
57. Linda, Anita
58. Litton, Issa
59. Lobangco, Rachel
60. Maca, Nyko
61. Macatuno, Connie S.A.
62. Magnaye, Inka
63. Marcos, Aimee
64. Mata, Ginny
65. Maya
66. Moran, Natalia
67. Obligacion, Monique
68. Ocol, AK
69. Padile, Venus F.
70. Pallon, Katrina
71. Puyot, Marnelli
72. Quiambao, Miriam
73. Rallonza, Phd, Vene
74. Regala, Roma
75. Roco, Sonia
76. Sabal-Ventura, Dinah
77. Sanchez, Giselle
78. Santos, Opaline
79. Siy, Bebang
80. Skarlet
81. Smith, Sanya
82. Sta. Maria, Jodi
83. Syjuco, Beatrix
84. Syjuco, Maxine
85. Syjuco, Michelline
86. Tan-Arcenas, Llena
87. Tengco, Marty
88. Terol-Zialcita, Nina
89. Tevanny, Caren
90. Tianzon, Charms
91. Tionloc-Mendoza, Diana
92. Toledo, Drei
93. Torralba, Kate
94. Torres, Babzi
95. Tuason, Kooky
96. Uson, Mocha
97. Yao, Shawn
98. Sisters
Delmo, Toni
Santos, Patricia
100. Yoga Instructors

1. Cosme, Niccolo
2. Fernan, Tabitha
3. Mauricio, Mitch
4. Pallon, Katrina
5. Tapan, Nikkorlai

Make-up artists:
1. Bartolome, Boombee
2. Esmeralda, Eula
3. Lim, Kaycee
4. Lopez, Gab
5. Lorenzana, Trina
6. Maglaya, Abby
7. Silva, Krista
8. Tan, Charm

Islam on My Mind (

I have always been fascinated with Islam, this richly colorful and grossly misunderstood religion and culture that has formed a large part of our history and identity as a nation.

Growing up, I often found myself wondering about the veiled women that I would see on TV and in the streets, and our yayas’ and neighbors’ derogatory remarks about “the Muslims”, wondering what was so bad about this group of people that they (and “the Bombays”) were often used to scare us into obedience. When I would see images of mosques and Islamic architecture on TV and in the encyclopedias that kept me company as a child (yes, kids—we had those at home), I would stare at them in awe, thinking about the kind of work that went into them and the architectural genius that it took to create such intricate details. Shifting my attention between Islam and Buddhism, I would ask my mom why kids couldn’t choose their religions and had even asked, ever so innocently, if it were possible to choose my own religion once I was grown up. (In fairness to my mother’s open-mindedness, she didn’t panic when I asked that question and even said “yes” in response.)

I didn’t end up converting to Islam, but the fascination continued on to adulthood. In university, where I had minored in Hispanic Studies, I often found myself daydreaming about Granada, Andalusia, and the Alhambra, telling myself that I would someday visit these enchanting places. To this day, I am enamored of the rhythm and the seemingly rich textures of the Arabic language, enjoying Persian and Arabic music as much as I enjoyflamenco (which was also rooted in the Moorish and gypsy cultures), and wanting, in all earnestness, to learn more about this culture that we in urban Philippines (and many parts of the Westernized world) know so little about.

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain | Image by jamesdale10 (', under the Creative Commons 2.0 License (By 2.0)
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain | Image by jamesdale10 (’, under the Creative Commons 2.0 License (By 2.0)

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, visit HERE.

Why We Need The Joker… and 4 Other Political Lessons I Learned from The Dark Knight (Inquirer Blogs)

(Originally published in the blog Out of the Universeand in Inquirer Blogs)


The Dark Knight: The Joker
Photo from

In his piece on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight for Time, Richard Corliss writes, “Nolan has a… subversive agenda. He wants viewers to stick their hands down the rat hole of evil and see if they get bitten. With little humor to break the tension, The Dark Knight is beyond dark. It’s as black—and teeming and toxic—as the mind of The Joker.”

Having watched the film twice—first on Imax and next on a regular theater—I can’t help but agree that The Joker is a better reference for the film than its real protagonist, Batman. Spawned right from the center of Limbo, with all the qualities we find loathsome, pitiful, and yet terrifying, The Joker is a reminder of everything we DON’T want human beings to become. Quoting Corliss again, the late Heath Ledger’s Joker “observes no rules, pursues no grand scheme; he’s the terrorist as improv artist.”

But I’d take it a few notches further and say that The Joker is the film’s “inverted social conscience,” the dreaded, deadly disease that makes society work together to find a cure. It is he who asks the hard questions, he who challenges the taken-for-granted assumptions, he that pushes humanity to see how low they would really sink—or how far they could really rise. He is the ultimate “necessary evil” that forces us to see just what we’re really made of. A composite of everything that is wrong, perverse, and twisted in our society, it is he who nonetheless shows us our true potentials for greatness.

It just goes to show that, in the movies—as well as in politics and the rest of real life—there’s a lot we can learn from the bad guys. We cannot simply turn our eyes away from them, or pretend they’re not there, or make believe that they will simply go away. They will not—for they are here to stay. But instead of ignoring them because they’re such “bad examples,” we should study them, dissect them—even if we don’t understand them—and see how we can stop the rest of the world from joining their ranks.

Crooks (trapos included) DO have a purpose. They’re there to show us what can happen if we let ourselves slide too deeply.

Which brings us to Lesson # 2: Harvey Dent.

The Dark Knight: Harvey DentGotham’s fearless, charismatic new district attorney is the ultimate tragedy of human potential. He starts out as everyone’s hero, Gotham’s “White Knight” who has come to save the day—except that when he collides with the dark forces we find that his foundation was too weak to stand against the very forces that ultimately subsumed him. This is what happens when we depend on one person to be our Messiah. People are people—even in this age of celebrities, icons, and “modern-day heroes”—and they will slip, or slide, or sink (sometimes very, very low). When we pin all our hopes on just one person (or one entity, or one ideal), the results can be tragic. The solution is to empower everyone to be the source of the solution. (Which, ironically, is what The Joker attempted to do in the hospital and ferry scenes—regardless of his twisted definition of the “solution”.)

Lesson #3: When push comes to shove, trust people to do the right thing.

Speaking of the ferry scene, another point the movie made very well was that everyone, even the lowest scoundrels of society, has some emergency button of goodness within them that they can access and activate even at the most desperate times of their lives. Just give them a compelling reason and just enough time (but not too much) to think through their decision, and people will almost always gravitate toward the good. I’m no expert in human behavior and so I cannot vouch for this as truth, but I believe that when we put our faith in people—and they know how important their choices will be for everyone else on board—they will do their best to make the right decision. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible, even outside of Hollywood.

Lesson #4: Sometimes, the “right thing” (or person) is difficult to understand, or even recognize.

How will you know that you’ve done the right thing? How will you know that you’ve chosen the right person? You won’t—not at the onset, or not always. Because, sometimes, the person whom you thought was the answer will leave you disappointed and asking more painful questions. If Harvey Dent had lived and had been allowed to unleash the fullness of his newfound glory upon Gotham, what would have happened? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that we cannot allow something like that to happen HERE. We cannot allow ourselves to be bought by the winning smile, the boy-next-door look, or the Messianic pronouncements. Even when looking at one’s track record (as in Harvey Dent’s case), we have to go over every detail very, very carefully.

Conversely, we also cannot simply discount the “dark horse” as a nuisance entity or a subversive force that must be stopped. It’s possible for the totally misunderstood rebel to be exactly what we need. Sometimes, collective understanding arrives so slowly that we are not able to recognize a hero when we see one. So we cannot trust our gut or our intellect alone. When looking at people we need to understand the context of their actions, and also the context of the decisions we need to make. In Gotham, as in real life, nothing is truly black or white.

Lesson #5: Sometimes, we need to live with lies in order to find our truth.

The Dark Knight: BatmanNobody understood this better than Batman himself. He has had to perpetuate a lie in order to allow justice to prevail, even allowing Two-Face to be seen as the Knight in Shining Armor that everyone needed him to be. Sometimes, we need to live with a lie in order for truth, justice, and goodness to prevail—so that the delicate threads that weave our social fabric do not disintegrate and explode into chaos.

The challenge, then, is discerning which lies we need and which ones we should never entertain.