Read this and weep

Here’s a quiz for you. Look at the photo below (don’t read the caption yet). Which is more expensive? Is it 1.) the street lamp on this road in Mandaue City in Cebu or 2.) the motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, and various other gadgets of my trade?

Here’s a hint: the lamp is part of the batch bought by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Cebu.

That hint was a giveaway, wasn’t it? That single lamppost, if you believe government officials, costs P224,600. The motorcycle costs, at a discounted cash purchase, P51,000. The laptop, again at a discounted purchase, costs P43,000.

mandaue lamppost STAGGERING PRICE. This lamppost on a street in Mandaue City, Cebu costs P224,600 per unit. More than double the cost of the parked motorcycle and the bag that contains a laptop, digital camera, voice recorder, and various other digital accessories. Click on photo to enlarge.

Even if you include the digital camera, micro tape recorder, USB stick, and various laptop accessories in the bag, it still wouldn’t add up to half of the purchase price of that single lamppost.

That single lamppost costs more than a second-hand car. And that lamppost is not even the most expensive model. Anti-graft investigators at the Ombudsman-Visayas found models, installed in Mandaue City, costing more than P300,000 each.

Multiply this cost by the hundreds of units DPWH bought and the amount is staggering. It would have been enough to turn some of the posts into Wi-Fi access points and then roll out a municipal Wi-Fi system for Metro Cebu. That would have been a massive boost for Cebu tourism and commerce.

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Do you have a complaint against a Cebu newspaper? File it online

And here’s the link to the complaint form.

Our editor-in-chief, one of the driving forces behind the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC), asked me to build the council’s website in time for the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration in September.

CCPC website CCPC WEBSITE, as featured in a recent issue of Philippine Journalism Reports. Click on image to enlarge.

The requirements for the site were simple: the ability to post articles and reports and an easy facility to get feedback–features easily managed by my favorite open source blogging platform, WordPress.

I briefly considered using another content management system (CMS) with more advance portal features, some form of document tracking or online file repository but the person tasked with updating the site said these aren’t needed. Complaints, she said, will be handled offline.

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My column has been republished by a sex site

I spotted this before but I just showed it to colleagues in the office and forgot about it. I got another email recently telling me that my column on porn in Globe’s mobile blogs had been reprinted by the Asian Sex Gazette.

Here’s the link (it’s not safe for work and may contain images some might consider offensive). When I first spotted it, I went around the newsroom to show to colleagues what I said was the new publication I’m writing for and everyone had a good laugh. It wasn’t the first time that a Sun.Star Cebu story got reprinted in the site.

The site had once reprinted this story (again not safe for work). When I showed it to the reporter, she blushed. The way the sites presented the stories, you’d think the reporter and I are their staff writers. You don’t see any hint it was lifted from Sun.Star Cebu.

I showed it to our editor-in-chief and the first thing he asked me was how I spotted it–“you mean you visit these sites?” I actually got it from an RSS alert on a search for Cebu. Maybe I should add porn site writer in my resume.


I’m in Cebu Journalism and Journalists 2, a glossy magazine that comes out during the Cebu Press Freedom Week celebration. The magazine’s purpose is “to put between its covers people, institutions, and activities that have helped bring Cebu journalism to what it is now: dynamic and thriving.” Cebu Journalism and Journalists

I wasn’t initially picked to be among the journalists featured in the magazine. I was, in fact, the last to be included in the volume.

A few days before the magazine was to be sent to the printer, I arrived at the office in my usual getup: jeans and shirt with scruffy hair on a face untouched by razor for a few weeks. I was surprised to be told to fix myself up, borrow a polo shirt and have my picture taken.

I was then told to write something about myself and, being the hardcore blogger that I am, I couldn’t resist including my weblog URL in the text. My late addition caused the relegation of a big-shot Cebuano broadcaster from a full-page treatment in the magazine into just half a page.

Max Limpag My half-page of fame in the Cebu Journalism and Journalists magazine. Click to enlarge.

The journalists included in the magazine were also featured in a photo exhibit in Ayala Center Cebu. I wasn’t able to visit the exhibit, which ended last night, because the past few days have been hectic for me and my family. As expected, I got ribbed for the drop in sales at the mall as my picture was scaring shoppers away.

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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How to eat a suman or why Dennis Rodman walked out

Can somebody tell me why organizers didn’t just serve Dennis Rodman’s suman without the banana wrapping? Basketball’s Bad Boy reportedly got mad yesterday when, after being served the glutinous rice delicacy, he ate it including the banana leaf wrapper.

Rodman is in Cebu for The Bad Boy Tour. He was scheduled to play at the Mandaue City Sports Complex last night in the NBA Legends vs. San Miguel All Stars matchup.

News of the walkout was all over the newsroom yesterday. I never got to talk to the reporters and photographers who were present during the press conference snubbed by the former Chicago Bulls and Pistons standout but this was confirmed by several sources.

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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.

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.”

Busted: Newspaper photo reveals married man’s affair

It was a picture of domestic bliss-a couple taking their child to a picnic in a public park in Cebu. The pair was laughing and appeared to enjoy an afternoon away from the demands of work and pressure of urban life.

The problem was the man wasn’t having a picnic with his legal family, he was spending time with his mistress. When his wife saw the photo in Sun.Star she had a heart attack (she’s okay or so the man says). The man called up the photographer to ask why he printed it when it was “obvious” that the woman was too young to be his wife. He also said he and his mistress had been able to hide the affair from the wife for so long “pwerte namong tago ani” (we really tried to keep this a secret).

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