Awesome storms and our obsession with landfalls

Author’s note: This article was first published on my GMANews.TV blog in October 2009. I felt that it remained relevant and so decided to revise and re-submit it to Nordis Weekly. Now that residents of Luzon have just gone through destructive typhoon Pedring, it seems appropriate to report it again, this time in my own Iraia blog.
An airplane's view of the wall of clouds that line the eye of a cyclone. Within the wall, the weather is calm and clear. Notice the blue sky seen from inside the eye. Photo from NOAA.

It is typhoon season once more, and those of us in media who have to file reports on a daily or hourly basis know how it is to be on typhoon-tracking mode—to be familiar with PAGASA terminology, to have some sense of geography, and to be on our toes for those instant weather bulletins.

This triggers in me a memorable if somewhat tragic time in October 2009, when my colleagues and I at GMA News Online were trying to keep up with reportage on two successive typhoons, Pepeng and Ramil. Continue reading “Awesome storms and our obsession with landfalls”

Lessons from the underground press of the martial law era

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

That quote might be a startling, almost cynical take on the meaning of press freedom. But it was a respected American journalist, A.J. Liebling, who coined the now-famous aphorism. The terse statement was supposed to emphasize the harsh realities of capitalist ownership behind the noble expectation that journalists freely exercise their right, nay, fulfill their duty, to always provide the public with honest information and informed opinion.

In any case, little did Filipinos realize just how painfully that saying would apply to them on September 23, 1972. On that fateful Saturday morning, we all woke up to find no newspapers delivered to our doorsteps or sold on the sidewalks. We twiddled our radio sets (in my case, set just right beside my pillow, the better to hear the early morning news), asking with great puzzlement why they only emitted static noise on that morning.

Continue reading “Lessons from the underground press of the martial law era”

Which will be the ‘next Internet’: Google or Facebook?

Note: This piece was first published in the Northern Dispatch (Nordis) Weekly ( on July 17, 2011. I made some minor editing for this post.


Facebook and Google have been battling it out for the title of 'The Next Internet'. Who is expected to win?

Of course there is only one Internet. It is composed of many parts, to be sure, and there are many ways of “surfing it.” But it is just one big whole, just as there is only one global ocean even if it’s composed of many parts and there are many ways of travelling through it.

So, why must the question be asked at all? Why should we be concerned whether the Internet takes this or that shape?

Continue reading “Which will be the ‘next Internet’: Google or Facebook?”