A fire, a map, and a WordPress theme

Fire gutted the landmark Plaza Fair building early morning Tuesday. Reports say the fire caused P20 million in damages. The blaze broke out just as we were finalizing the day’s newspaper issue. We no longer had time to include the story in the issue.

But I admit it was tempting to copy Michael Keaton in The Paper-the whole “Stop the press!” bit. Of course you couldn’t do that in Sun.Star Cebu, our printing plant is kilometers away and if you needed to “stop the press” for a late breaker, you’d either have to call or text the plant manager. Somehow texting “stp d prs” isn’t as dramatic as barging into the plant and screaming the words.

The fire was visible from our office canteen, two blocks away (check photos and map below).

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Close encounter of a different kind

If you looked up the Cebu sky last night, you’d have the crap scared out of you. At least seven balls of light were clearly visible in a linear formation (if you squint hard enough and connect the dots, it could be the Grim Reaper’s scythe.) The lights were stationary and stayed visible for minutes.

Text messages were being sent around, asking people to look up the sky. I ran to our office’s canteen and saw the lights for myself. It was eerie and beautiful. (Click on the photo to view the larger image.) Across the street, people were stopping to look at it. I couldn’t make out their faces, whether they showed awe or fear or fascination.

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Punk’s not dead, it has gone jogging

Or at least I did. I jogged four rounds at the Cebu City Sports Center oval today and walked another round, with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes and Ramones threatening to bust my eardrums.

I have an eclectic taste in music and my playlist leaves people I know bewildered. Bob Dylan gets mixed with Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Guitar Duo, Guns and Roses, Nina Simone, Celtic Awakening, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Coldplay, The Beatles, David Bowie and Bedroom Radio episodes.

But jogging is serious business and you can’t just listen to any song while running. Bob Dylan and jogging don’t mix. Bob Dylan songs, as with Beatles songs, are songs you listen to while writing an article that should have been submitted last week. These are songs you listen to while smoking, with a glass of Tanduay on the other hand, and discussing with friends how you can change the world.
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Cebu artists strip for Budoy

Cebus reggae king Budoy is a candidate for eviction from the Pinoy Big Brother show. To express their support and generate votes for Budoy, artists in Cebu, including UP Professor Raymund Fernandez, stripped in Kahayag Cafe. To view the photos (warning: may be not safe for work if you have as boss someone like Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, who thinks he was appointed by God to be Cebus morality guardian), click here. Help spread the word: text BB BUDOY to 231 for Smart and BB BUDOY to 2331 for Globe.

Iring is Bisaya for cat, iring-iring is…

Something else. I’ve been trying to find its English equivalent but failed. It’s close to flirting but without the sexual connotation. It shares shades of meaning with courting but is less formal and doesn’t mean that the person wants to go steady with the object of the iring-iring.

My kumpare and colleague Myke Obenieta says there isn’t an equivalent English word for iring-iring. Myke will launch his book “Iring-iring sa tingbitay sa iro” on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. in Kahayag Cafe.

Now, tingbitay sa iro is a curious phrase. It literally means “the time to hang dogs.” It means hard times. Cebuanos now just say “tingbitay” to describe hard times. I suspect, and Myke says this is the case, that Cebuanos of old slaughtered their dogs for food during hard times. Maybe they hang the dogs to kill them or to prepare the meat for cooking, I don’t know.

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Looking for the Cebu megadome? Use your nose

The Cebu Provincial Government is working on a really tight deadline to finish the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) in time for the city’s hosting of an Asean summit this December.

Capitol had long planned for an international convention center and even held an architectural design competition for a megadome but the project was stalled during the time of then governor Pablo Garcia because the Provincial Board refused to approve it.

The project has already been approved and awarded to a contractor this year. It will be built on a lot in the reclamation area in Mandaue City. And there’s the rub. It is located in a spot in Mandaue City notorious for its suffocating stink.

If you’re on your way to Cebu City from Mandaue, here’s how you can spot the site of the megadome.

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CEGP seminar: putting campus newspapers online

Among the things that I’m really passionate about is encouraging student publications to go online. Not only is online publication cheaper than dead-tree publishing, it’s also very easy to pull off right now because of the existence of easy-to-use content management systems.

Online campus journalism also allows student publications to go beyond the one-issue-every-few-months-or-so publication cycle typical of campus papers.

I discussed online journalism with members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines yesterday and I was a bit surprised that in a group of 20 plus participants, only two have blogs. I had expected more bloggers in the group, in fact I assumed more than half would have blogs.


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The glass cannot be half-full

Either there is press freedom or not, according to Sun.Stars pooled editorial.

The editorial points out the danger of making police the evaluators of media.

Why do cops make poor evaluators? They dont know the craft and its nuances. Their mind-set is that of victims, whipped frequently by media for lapses and offenses.

The paper (disclosure: I work for Sun.Star Cebu) says “The Government cannot claim to be free and democratic when it gags media by threats of takeover or shutdown.”

Proclamation 1017 declaring a state of emergency in the country has been described as a harmless weapon that should not instill fear among the law-abiding.

We disagree. It is a lethal weapon in the hands of those who exceed or abuse the power–out of ignorance, spite, or meanness.

Read the full article here.

Pity the policemen

It seems having sex during anti-prostitution raids is a sacrifice for them. Chief Insp. Romeo Perigo of the Cebu Provincial Police Office says so. Provincial Prosecutor Jane Petralba, however, says police should stop having sex in anti-prostitution raids because they are “not only exposing their butts, but also (themselves) to criminal case for having sex with these prostitutes.”

Did Budoy actually say gerger on Pinoy Big Brother?

Cebu’s reggae king Budoy of Junior Kilat is one of the celebrity housemates in Pinoy Big Brother and boy will he make this season interesting. I’m not a regular viewer of the program but I’ll be tuning in this season because of two Cebu-based housemates: Budoy and Angela Calina.

Suspicions that Budoy will sanitize his act for Pinoy Big Brother promptly vanished a few seconds after his introduction last night. He sang his version of the Big Brother theme, reworking the lyrics to sing about his entry into the program.

And at one point, when he was hugging one of the program’s host he said “Wa koy sa kung maka gerger ko ani.” I was only half listening to the broadcast because I was still finishing a news page but this made me stop everything I was doing. Everyone in the newsroom laughed. Gerger is a euphemism for sex. It’s one of those gayspeak words that have gone mainstream. Being a euphemism, it doesn-t sound as vulgar as kayat, though. I’m not good at translating but what Budoy said, for me, was: don’t blame me if I get to make love here (in the show?). I’m not as sure but he could also mean: don’t blame me if I get to screw her (the host). Any other bisdak who was able to hear what he actually said?

And when the host said hinihikayat after Budoy said a lot of people would be texting for him, Budoy actually told her it was bastos. Good thing she didn’t ask him what kayat meant.